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29 posts from February 2008

This Week In Internet: Mugshots, Apostrophes, Baby Thumb

The links for this week:

  • Cool article about scientists trying to make black blacker
  • Look at people's mugshots and try to guess what their crimes were.  I'm pretty bad at this.
  • Old and politically incorrect (and hilarious) ads
  • A list of skills that have become obsolete
  • Song made from Windows sound effects
  • Bebbeh pig adopted by mommeh puppeh
  • An apostrophe catastrophe
  • Sweet graphic about the new $5 bill

Also, some relatively recent Flickr action:

Here is my nephew's thumb compared to my own.

Comparing thumbs

He is a tiny, tiny human.

If I Keep Saying "Dude," I Will Stay Young Forever!

Pop quiz.  Who is this man?


A.) A preppy high schooler with some sort of facial disorder
B.) Gary Busey
C.) KELLYq's boyfriend
D.) The 61-year-old CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch

The answer, of course, D.  His name is Mike Jeffries and he was profiled in 2006 by a Salon writer, but I randomly came across the article this week when it was linked over at Cynical-C.  It seemed particularly relevant in light of Monday's post.  The article is basically so full of amazing quotes that I want to copy and paste the whole thing here, but I will restrain myself to just a few, like the opening paragraph:

Mike Jeffries, the 61-year-old CEO of Abercrombie & Fitch, says "dude" a lot. He'll say, "What a cool idea, dude," or, when the jeans on a store's mannequin are too thin in the calves, "Let's make this dude look more like a dude," or, when I ask him why he dyes his hair blond, "Dude, I'm not an old fart who wears his jeans up at his shoulders."

Not surprisingly, Jeffries' obsession with youth and masculinity will be a key theme in this profile.  Oh, and speaking of obsessing:

Mike Jeffries is the Willie Wonka of the fashion industry . . . Examples of his strange behavior abound. According to Business Week, at A&F headquarters Jeffries always goes through revolving doors twice, never passes employees on stairwells, parks his Porsche every day at the same angle in the parking lot (keys between the seats, doors unlocked), and has a pair of "lucky shoes" he wears when reading financial reports.

Now, I will never fault anyone for being OCD, because that would be just a tad hypocritical.  In fact, this is one of the quotes in the article that had me feeling pity for this crazy man.  But it's hard to stay sympathetic when he says things like this next quote.

Our first bump came when I mentioned the 2002 uproar over the company's thongs for middle-school girls, which had "Eye Candy" and "Wink Wink" printed on their fronts. "That was a bunch of bullshit," he said, sweating profusely. "People said we were cynical, that we were sexualizing little girls. But you know what? I still think those are cute underwear for little girls."

Something tells me that if the audio of this video were available, we'd find that the way he says "little girls" is shudder-inducing.

And what about those T-shirts I was so outraged by this week?

Remarkably, Jeffries says he has a "morals committee for T-shirts" whose job it is to make sure this sort of thing doesn't happen. "Sometimes they're on vacation," he admits with a smile. "Listen, do we go too far sometimes? Absolutely. But we push the envelope, and we try to be funny, and we try to stay authentic and relevant to our target customer. I really don't care what anyone other than our target customer thinks."

Touche, Mr. J.  I see my opinion matters not. 

There's plenty more in the article--it goes into detail about what it's like to work at A&F's corporate headquarters, for example, and talks about the various lawsuits the company has faced for its discriminatory hiring practices and general douchebaggery.  It also touches on more of Jeffries' eccentricities and insinuates that he is gay.  Read the whole thing here.

LMNOP Investigates

Maybe I'm just being paranoid, but doesn't it seem like the buttons on this gas pump are specifically arranged to trick you into buying more expensive Plus gasoline?


When is Plus ever on the left?  Every other pump I have ever seen has the gas in order from cheapest to most expensive.  This is clearly the work of a conspiratorial Lukoil manager who is lining his profits with the money of unsuspecting automatic-left-button-pushers.  SCAM.

The Perfect Gift for That Kid You Just Know Is Gonna Grow Up to Be a Douchebag

Walking by the Abercrombie kids' store at the mall yesterday, I saw this T-shirt:


And this one:


And this one:


And this one:


There were others, but due to constraints on my camera-phone memory and personal level of tolerance for being in the Abercrombie kids' store, I was unable to photograph them.

Unfortunately, there were no shirts carrying the slogan "My mom has a poor sense of judgment and a lousy sense of humor--and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."

Punctuation: The Good, the Bad, and the ODB

It's been a long time since I posted anything grammar-related on this site, but I've got a very healthy update today.  First, there's this delicious NYT piece about semicolon use on subway signage.  Emily forwarded it to me earlier this week with a subject line that said something like, "You MUST read this," and I gotta say I am downright thrilled that I am the type of person people e-mail grammar news to in an urgent fashion.  Like, if I can't be the person you think of when you inherit $1 million and want to share it with someone, then I want to be the person you think of when you read an interesting article about punctuation marks.

Also on the topic of grammar-related things people send me, I'm posting these pictures LMNOP reader Meg sent me a while back.  They are of a product called Rap Snacks--


--and the writing on the back of the bag (below) is so bad I assumed it was translated from Japanese or something.  However, Wikipedia (which I have cited, like, 12 times this week) informs me that Rap Snacks are made in the USA.  That means there is no excuse for what you are about to read.


The last thing I'll mention today is this "What Punctuation Mark Are You?" quiz, which is worth a go because it's only five questions long, but be warned: the results are kind of dubious.  It told me I'm a comma, and here is the rationale it gave:

You are open minded and extremely optimistic.
You enjoy almost all facets of life. You can find the good in almost anything.
You keep yourself busy with tons of friends, activities, and interests.
You find it hard to turn down an opportunity, even if you are pressed for time.
Your friends find you fascinating, charming, and easy to talk to.
(But with so many competing interests, you friends do feel like you hardly have time for them.)
You excel in: Inspiring people
You get along best with: The Question Mark

Fascinating?  Charming?  Inspiring?  There is no rationale offered for why these traits are comma-esque, and I'm not sure I see the connection.

That's all.  Any Question Marks out there looking to have an Exclamation Point of a time?

10 Reasons to Cringe

If you have a few minutes to commit to watching all the various clips, this look at 10 terrible celebrity interviews is very worthwhile indeed.  Ben sent it to me the other day and I proceeded to watch every single one.

A good many of these are painfully awkward, from the college reporter in #10 who is interviewing John Cusack under the mistaken impression he was in American Beauty, to the extremely tense Tom Green clip at #2.  #8 is the Tracy Morgan clip that I love, the one where he goes on a daytime talk show in Texas and predicts that at some point during his two days in the state, "Somebody's gonna get pregnant."

Ulysses S. Grant: At Least He Wasn't Racist

The Mayor wants a Reconstruction-era President, the Mayor gets a Reconstruction-era President.

714Today we look to 1868 and the election of one Ulysses S. Grant, who is notable because although he was a bad president, he tried really darn hard.

Although there is no way to overlook the widespread graft and corruption that occurred on his presidential watch —it was at the time unprecedented in scope— he was in no way a beneficiary of it. "My failures have been errors of judgment," the popular former Civil War general admitted, "not of intent." (Source)

Come on, Grant!  If you're going to preside over a totally sketchy administration, you should at least get something out of it, like some sweet brass cuff links or whatever it was people thought was cool in the 19th century!

Grant's opponent in the Election of 1868 was Horatio Seymour, and in this case it seems like he actually would not have been an improvement.  To the right, check out the slogan Seymour ran under.

That should be sufficient evidence that Grant was the superior choice.

In fact, it turns out that one of the only bright points of Grant's presidency was his progress on Civil Rights.  From the same site quoted above:

More important, the 18th president now receives plaudits for his aggressive prosecution of the radical reform agenda in the South. His attempts to quash the Ku Klux Klan (suspending habeas corpus in South Carolina and ordering mass arrests) and his support for the Civil Rights Act of 1875 were controversial and may have produced only short-lived gains for African-Americans, but Grant's intentions were laudable and brave.

And this concludes my two-day attempt to be all historical and whatnot.  I guess the main lesson is that being well-meaning but ineffectual gets you nowhere, but being extremely racist (even with a catchy slogan) will get you even less.