Category Archives: Random

A Headline Perfectly Designed for Kids

No, not that one.

This one: “This beetle’s butt is basically a machine gun

And the article, at the Washington Post backs up the bluster. The lede:

Ever heard of the bombardier beetle? It’s aptly named: When threatened, the beetle doesn’t just excrete deadly chemicals. It actually mixes them up in an internal chamber, then fires the reaction off as a near-boiling, high-speed spray from its rear end. Now researchers have figured out how the beetles manage to aim and fire these noxious rounds at enemies.

Bonus, there’s a University of Arizona connection. They research the serious stuff.

Changing WordPress Links to Alphabetical Order

Been loathe to change anything about the basic ZBench theme I downloaded a few years ago. I don’t mean I haven’t wanted to change the look of the site; it doesn’t mean I haven’t do ne just a little customization.

It means I haven’t wanted to get into the code. I have been burned pretty badly by that in the past even with backups and me copying code elsewhere before proceeding.

But I just changed the alphabetical order of my links.

Now that I think about it though, I don’t know if it was because I installed the My Link Order plug-in or simply because I changed a bit of code.

So I went to and searched for “alphabetical links” and found “My Link Order.” Version 3.5. Rashly, without backing up, I installed it.

Then it took me a few steps to find out how to get to the themes and to the Edit Themes part.

The page for the My Link Order plugin had a “Breaking Change Made in 3.1.4”

“If you do not use widgets to display links you must do the following: replace your call to wp_list_bookmarks() ** with mylinkorder_list_bookmarks().”

I wasn’t sure if I used widgets – yeah, it’s been that long since I messed with my code and theme – except to replace it twice in recent months.

First I went under Plug-Ins and then I went to Widgets. Yes, that means I didn’t think I was using Widgets; that and My Link Order was found under “Plugin Directory” of Then I hit “Editor” under Appearance to get to the Edit Themes / code chapter of this story.

By the time I got to the code, I copied it into TextPad (its equivalent, anyway) and found the “bookmarks” part mentioned above:

<h3><?php _e(‘Links’, ‘zbench’); ?></h3>
<ul><?php wp_list_bookmarks(‘title_li=&categorize=0&orderby=id’); ?>

So, yes, I had worked out that it was part of the sidebar.php file and that what was already in the parentheses ** should stay in the parentheses. So, I changed out wp_list_bookmarks … and nothing happened. Nothing happened.

Pygmies. And frak.

I went to Links where I now had My Link Order in the menu. That allowed me to physical move the links in alphabetical order (Or any order I wanted.) There should’ve been an Alphabetical Order button I could just click because that has to be the most common use for this plug-in.

Nothing happened. Frakking Pygmies.

I stepped away for a few minutes. … and went back to the WordPress page for the My Link Order plug-in. There are several tabs, I noticed and it defaults on Description. And the next was Installation. And it had something different inside the parentheses. So I left the wp_list_bookmarks code there and added the something different.

So the new code is:
<h3><?php _e(‘Links’, ‘zbench’); ?></h3><ul>
<?php wp_list_bookmarks(‘orderby=order&category_orderby=order’); ?>

And that works. I’m not even sure I need the plug-in at this point, but don’t want to mess with it. On that front, anyway.

And along the way, I reduced the size of the biggest word in my Tag Word Cloud from 18 to 15.

Now I’m going to work on lessening or removing the Archives – or producing them better than a giant list of months.

UPDATE, about 5 minutes later: So, going back to the sidebar.php page of code I changed “monthly” to “yearly.” That worked. Not ideal because now when I click on the year under Archives it just lists every post, instead of offering another list of months. … Then I moved “Search by Tag” and “Archives” down below my list o’ links.

The Tesla Model X

It’s a CVU. Arrives 2015.

Three rows of seats, $54,000. Electric. “Gull-wing” doors, but hinged so they can open in tighter spots (doesn’t sound completely safe – a weak point in a crash?)

More from PC Mag: Tesla to Deliver Model X

You Signed Up for This – and Other Bullshit Reasoning

Whenever someone criticizes a company that they have investment in (time, energy, connections, etc.) for changing something, you hear one or often both of two things. 1) It’s free, quit yer bitching 2) This is what you signed up for.

In other words, you have no right to complain…

… what are you a customer or something?

While I have some small (minor, tiny, barely there, infinitesimal ) sympathy for the 1st point, the second is always bullshit. Let’s say it’s iTunes. You start with Version 1. You get through versions 1-5 and you even take the time to look at the User Agreements or at least read summary’s of what has changed. You can deal. Bu then there’s something that says (this didn’t happen but) they will be releasing all your music choices to a public information area (Ping) so people can find their friend’s music choices. But they offer an opt out where your name won’t be attached but your music list will be.  Or anything not bought in iTunes won’t be available for others to see. Whatever.

That’s painful but you like their adherence to privacy and keep going. Then, they say, GOOD NEWS, we’re going to make your user experience better. We are introducing 25 different filters for you to work with and you can opt-in privacy for each of them. If you do nothing, it’s all out there.

Fuck that. A lot of other people say fuck that and Apple retreats and says, well, OK, if you don’t do anything everything will be private. Good company, they got it.

Then three years later they casually make a mention – or more likely someone accidentally finds out – that a lot of that information IS out there. This forces Apple to say, yeah, sorry but we’re also going to be attaching your name back to all that data and well, sorr-y, we’re just a company.

Fuck that. But, you signed up for it and if you don’t like it you can go somewhere else. After all, it’s a free organization tool. Sure, except now it’s part of your life and really, no, there isn’t a great alternative.

Perhaps you’ve seen through the charade here but substitute Facebook for any mention of iTunes or Apple above and you come to Facebook’s announcement today that people can find you by name even if you don’t want them to and had previously deliberately stopped this ability.

Great. As you say i don’t have a right to be pissed as a customer? Because I am a Facebook customer who is tired of having to spend so much time just to protect privacy – something that shouldn’t have to be protected from the very company who should be helping me out on this front. Just read this section of that linked TechCrunch article:

To be fair, the “Who can look up your Timeline by name?” feature was likely misunderstood by lots of people. At first glance, you might assume it means that strangers can’t find your profile. But that’s incorrect. There have been lots of ways to navigate to your profile, like clicking your name on a photo you’re tagged in, finding your name in a friend’s friend list, or combing through Likes on a mutual friend’s News Feed post.

With the roll out of Graph Search, the avenues for sniffing out someone’s profile grew exponentially. Basically every piece of personal information (and soon the content you post about) could bring you up in a search.

Even in that short paragraph it shows you the level of effort needed to protect details. Or, more importantly, kids details. you thought you were safe, but then whiiiip, that carpet gets pulled out from underneath you. Should we asked to abandon this tool that has become part of our lives. And by many reports, even if we do , even if we deactivate our account, a large entirety of information stays up.

How does one truly opt-out once you’re in. People who have trusted get screwed. People who were never trusting, are OK, but who wants an Earth full of people who believe everything is untrustworthy? Trust no-one is a catchy phrase for the X-Files and generally a sentiment to be applauded. But how much of your live do you need to change every-time someone or some company shows a total lack of respect for you – yet you have, in some way, become dependent on them. I could call and e-mail and mail my far flung friends. But that isn’t shared conversation.

Replacing the Battery on a Buick Century

My battery could not be resuscitated this morning. After a short illness it died at 6:55 this morning.

I was trying to hold out until payday because these super-sucker, super-charged boxes are expensive $135.36). But it was not to be. Ever since last Wednesday, (August 6), the future demise of the AAA battery has been “manifest destiny” personified. That’s when I stopped at the YMCA to drop off Bug for his swimming lesson (and to stay there with mom and Smacky). I went back out to the lot to drive away and get an Exersaucer (no really) (but damn not one that effing expensive) and the car just ticked at me when I turned the key. That’s when I remembered I’d turned on the internal lights a few days ago to check, uh, something. You’d think they’d just go off or something with doors closed but apparently some dim bulb put that design together.

But hooray, Carrie and I happened to be parked right next to each other. Yessss! This is when I also discovered or re-discovered that Carrie did not have jumper cables. Noooo!! Driving Carrie’s Equinox, I got them at Autozone- $29.99 for the 12-foot ones. This is “significant” because I then had to move Carrie’s car very close as, of course, the batteries were the furthest apart possible. I coulda got the 16′ ones for $39.99.

In the Arizona heat, I navigated exactly where to put the clamps on the very weird Chevy battery set up and got it going. I persevered and got the Exersaucer for Jasper to bounce around in. Side note, he was very excited and bouncy when he was put inside a couple of days later. Except I went to a Babies R Us that turned out not to be the right one where we had pre-ordered for pick-up. There’s a Toys R Us, less than a mile away from it that was the one I should’ve gone to. Both times, in both lots, it felt like the battery was not going to excite its electrons. But both times it grinded and grrrrinded away and lit the fire.

So the next day it did start, barely and that’s when I knew it would have to be replaced, soon. I didn’t turn off the car when dropping off Bug and it worked. The weekend, the car stayed in the driveway and I meant to start the car Sunday. But didn’t. So Monday, by some miracle I still can’t fathom it started. And after work, by some further miracle as it took at least two minutes to get it live and charged, and died twice as I thought I had it going, I was able to drive away. I hustled in and out of Fry’s after driving mostly home and it started up fine.

Not so much this morning.

I took Bug and Smacky to O’ Reilly’s with me. They decided they wanted every toy car in the place and a few other things. Nope. “Oh daddy, that battery is really expensive.” Yup. They got home and everyone drove away. It turns out I had all the right tools AND I knew where they were. The Buick Century manual DIDN’T actually show how to replace a battery. I was fine except I had forgotten the bottom screw actually held the battery in, so I went briefly to the Internet and with this Car Care Kiosk video, I realised my oversight.

I was in a hurry, so no photos available. I screwed everything back in place and it got me to work.

Welcome to the Super Start National Battery Ride to the End. Now I just have to go back to O’Reilly’s and bring my old battery in for $15. Sounds like a deal, because I don’t want it but I do want it disposed off so it won’t burn the hair off squirrels.

Quadcopters, Juggle, Pong and Ping

Saw this link from friend Matt Clower — and at first I didn’t know whether people were controlling them or they were responding themselves. That it’s on Model Airplane News should be a clue, of course – but turns out it’s not a clue at all. These machines quadcopters / quadrocopters ARE responding to the world around them.

My Two New Favorite Words

Perihelion, the farthest distance between the Earth and the sun. That’s 91,402,560 miles from the sun.

Aphelion, the closest distance between the Earth and the sun. That’s 94,508,960 miles from the sun.

file under, Book Research

Haven’t Forgotten – Glow in the Dark Dinosaur Coin

Sold Out at the Canadian Mint but I haven’t forgotten.

Colella Square Coin Containers

So a simple search for a sturdy coin holder that I like very much results in finding out the company has gone out of business because its founder died.

Alfred S. Colella patented his invention (picture of tube included. Another good link) in 1966. The Nevada company closed down after he died in 1998. But why? Further research required.

I want the quarter size to keep American state quarters in, but you have to go to eBay to get them now, and who knows if the price is going up and up.

What I want to know is, how I got one?

Google News disclaimer 2012

This is at the bottom of Google News. I don’t remember seeing it there before; anyone seen it there before.

The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program. The time or date displayed (including in the Timeline of Articles feature) reflects when an article was added to or updated in Google News.

So What Don’t I Know About Groupon?

And what should I know about Twitter?

I’m cringing inside at the idea of Google buying something else – growing beyond its means, thigh deep in a culture that … anyway, I’m thinking Groupon? Sure, they get some $$$ from companies to highlight them, but how the unholy hell are they worth, first $4 billion and then – the latest figure I heard today – $6 billion?

Their scope is global, to a point. Coupons are a big deal to many people. But money that big usually doesn’t just involve networks. There’s usually a heavy weight of physical assets.

So, obviously Google could integrate Groupon into its Maps and its advertising. They can upsell in a big way. Compared to most of their latest efforts and acquisitions, it makes sense. And – I guess – they have to stay in stride with Facebook’s Deals and Places, though unless they kick it in gear Facebook’s design and lack of ease, will be its downfall.

But $5.3 or $6 billion is truly, really, a crazy figure for what is still referred to as a start-up. And there’s some doubt as to why.

And then I hear today, that the latest “bidding war” has Twitter valued at “just” $4 billion. The direction of this company is skyrocketing. They’re developing into a portal – albeit one that’s vastly different from the dinosaurs of the recent past. It’s core demographic is laden with cash that it likes to spend on shiny things. It’s a solid deal. It’s the real deal.

So why “only” $4 billion compared to Groupon’s $6 billion. Are Google owners just flashing cash like Saturday Night Live’s Roxbury boys?

Face of Foothills Magazine Competition

Not sure why – but Arizona Foothills magazine needs a face. Here’s loads of them in the competition. No idea the criteria.

Upgraded to WP 3.0


Remind me to watch the video? Tah.

Masturbation – It’s What’s For Dinner

Or something. This short article about making female masturbation “bad behavior” on par with cutting and low self-esteem, diddles around a bit before a great eye-opening climax:

Sexuality is more like a muscle, and if you don’t use it, you lose it. One reason many women have trouble orgasming in a sexual relationship is they don’t masturbate enough, and they have trouble knowing what works and what doesn’t. Indeed, the research links losing your virginity later in life to experiencing more sexual dysfunction. And anecdotally, most of us can think of times when we’ve been so busy that we don’t have time to think about sex (i.e., experiencing those lustful thoughts so condemned by Christians fundies), and so when we get home and are expected to perform, we have trouble getting aroused. Following the fundamentalist list of sex rules seems like the quickest way possible to drain a marriage of any passion, which strikes me as a bad idea if you want to hold those marriages together.”

Shtuff I Read Today

[Post-haste? Um, no. This post is post-posted. That is, I posted it July 8 for June 28, because I forgot to wrap it up then.]

So The Shtuff is a collection of blogs and sites, and news pages, I visited. Some I finished reading. Not all necessarily caught my attention but some I’m thinking others might get something out of. Started at Twitter, then my still anemic Google Reader feed – but the capillary web of bloodshot goodness exploded from there. In no particular order:

•• The Happiness Project: Eight Excellent Tips for Living That My Parents Gave Me …

•• The Happiness Project: Why You Should Force Yourself To Wander …

•• Don’t Be Fooled By Apple … The Street

•• The President vs. the Pop Star on Facebook … The Big Money …. Also, enough with the metaphorical idea that we all like to see a star fall. Try the actual. She has no style because she’s all styles. Truly a mess.

•• Fashion Victim! Lady Gaga takes a bad fall …

•• … The Big Money

•• When Print Becomes Precious … The Big Money (with typo in URL :) )

•• Burger King Blows Its Marketing Wad … The Big Money / Daily Bread … Yeah, juicy, dripping burger’s have never looked so good. (NSFW)

•• Let’s hope it was accidental. And she’s still a damn stunner, honestly on and off court. But the last two paragraphs don’t bode well. –> Jennifer Capriati resting in hospital after ‘accidental overdose’ of prescripition drugs … NY Daily News.

•• HOLY SHIIIIT. God Forbid, ‘My Baby Is Black’ – The Root. — A little treatise on part of a trailer to a film released in 1961.

•• Why Can’t Twitter Handle It’s Record Traffic … The Big Money

•• Airline Food Is More Disgusting Than You Know

•• Michael Jackson: The Writings On The Wall … The Root

•• The most idiotic thing I read today? — Please, Dear Lord, Do Not Let Soccer Become An American Obsession drezner: Foreign Policy …. And WTF, commentators here are verbose

•• Postcards From Hell … Foreign Policy — Um, prepare to tear up. Stunning images

•• Gun-Rights Decision May Have Limited Impact

•• Why Is It So Hard To Make a White iPhone? The Big Money

•• It’s Been Such a Pleasure Working With You The Big Money

•• It Gets Worse: Apple Censors a Gay Kiss in Oscar Wilde Comic The Big Money

•• Civil Rights Organizations Call Out Kagan The Root

•• Mexico vs. Argentina 2010: At World Cup, Carlos Tevez scores twice as Argentina wins, 3-1 Washington Post

•• West Virginia’s coal country pays tribute to Byrd, who never forgot it Washington Post

•• Kagan’s Hat Trick / Supreme Court Breakfast Table

•• The Narcissism of the Small Difference — It’s hard to find in all the garbage, but occasionally Christopher Hitchens makes a point worth reading and even pursuing

•• One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists

•• Presidential Memorandum: Unleashing the Wireless Broadband Revolution — Seems an important milepost to the future. Potentially, anyway.

•• Broadband Availability to Expand New York Times

•• Why We Check In: The Reasons People Use Location-Based Social Networks Read Write Web

•• 21 Unique Location Examples from Foursquare, Gowalla, Whrrl, and MyTown Social Fresh


•• Greg Sargent at a WaPO blog forgetting about his own weak-on-the-facts past. His bio is also horribly twee “(in those days people mostly did journalism on paper”) crouched permanently in the defensive position that is the charge against “old media.” As if Politico isn’t old media, as if old media hasn’t moved to the Internet. AS if they’re separate. Exactly the charge he levels against others. Yawning inconsistency or just, yawn?

Which was in response to this quick update from Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg on the Washington Post’s firing of yet another blogger (though for different reasons than others of the past, Dan Froomkin and Ben Domenech.) His previous post on the subject

•• Dan Froomkin Fired From Wa Welcome Back To Pottersville — In the way back machine related to the latest Washington Post fracas Along with the following posts: Was Dan Froomkin Fired For Declining Traffic? Froomkin Says No. (Andrew Sullivan/The Daily Dish) …… The Washington Post, Dan Froomkin and the establishment media (Glenn Greenwald/ …… The Washington Post fires its best columnist. Why? (Glenn Greenwald/, 6/18) ……

•• Who Runs Gov. beta. Seriously Washington Post bloggers are “partnershipped” with them and it’s a fairly innocuous, pretty close to anonymous, in-house entity?

•• A series of Slate articles that I followed solely based on headline worthiness – but then read neough to want to inclue here. Happiness Myth No. 3: Venting Anger Relieves It.” (Or is that Relieves IT. Nice take, didn’t like that the studies cited were mostly not referenced or even linked to. So, “studies” get to an unsupported (to the reader) conclusion. …. Dear Prudence. The Daily Bump and Grind – about a company that makes employees dance when they get rewards / recognition? Seriously, WTF? Wish I knew which company it was. … “On game shows, female host usually lose big.” wherein “lose” wasn’t really supported but “unsupported” was. Surprised, too, that the link was from 2001. Missed shows on The Game Show Network, but the date most likely a factor there.

That one also includes a link to this “poem“:

A quiz-master I’d like to be,
But as I am a girl, you see
Perhaps I will apply to go
As his assistant on his show.
I’ll have to usher in each guest,
Persuading them to do their best:
But if they lose, I’ll have to say
“Bad luck, dear,” or “It’s not your day!”
Each night a different dress I’ll wear,
And not forget to style my hair.
Apart from this I must display
A personality bright and gay.
Won’t mother have a grand surprise—
She hardly will believe her eyes:
“Quick, Dad,” she’ll cry, “Look on the screen—
Just see who’s on with Hughie Green!”

•• No Orgasms, Please. We’re Women (Or ladies if you follow this link??

•• Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia died today, aged 92. He was, famously, still working. The Associated Press had a comprehensive and good article going. Found at the Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune.

••, “Yo Senators: Here’s What You Should Ask Petraeus” Questions inquiring Senators could ask the shoo-in Gen. David Petraeus upon his confirmation hearings. Including, “Let’s be real. That July 2011 drawdown date is bullshit, right?”

•• A nifty Slate piece called, The Agnostic Manifesto, which won’t change my beliefs at all, but has started to make me think I should define them for myself so I can articulate them if anyone asks.

—Yes, Related Pages links works

I Think I Like Andrew Romanoff

I haven’t paid attention to this Colorado race much – but I know Romanoff was likely asked not to run by the Democrat Party machine. I also know after this letter he sent to supporters today that I like him. Dana Milbank I generally do like, but he’s got several agendas he pursues regularly that can get too inside the deskjockeystrap and just too political, without enlightening anything,.

Romanoff’s letter to supporters starts: “Dana Milbank got my name right — but that’s about it. Mr. Milbank’s attempt to malign my character consumed 13 paragraphs in Sunday’s Washington Post and Monday’s Denver Post. Nearly every paragraph is false or misleading. The newspapers’ decision to publish this work of fiction is disappointing enough. What makes matters worse is Mr. Milbank’s decision to discard the evidence he made a pretense of seeking.”
Read more »

Payday Loans Sunset, Attorney General column

Funny, someone just asked about joining a social media team for Terry Goddard. And I believe this is the second or third column I’ve printed at my site. This one is about an industry I have mixed feelings about. It does make you pay extraordinary high interest rates – but on the other hand, it’s not like they hide or try and slip in hidden fees. It’s all up front.

Obviously people in Arizona voted the industry out. My feelings are still mixed and I voted for the industry to say. It’s just another option another tool, people have to stay afloat. If used wisely – and sparingly.

Note – at some point media should stop giving Goddard “My Turn” columns since he’s running for governor and most of his columns are feel good “This is what I’m doing” turns. And he has done a lot of good – and well, my feelings are somewhat mixed here, leaning more positively. So essentially free ad space and more importantly, not giving the same space to opponents.

Making Sure Payday Lenders Don’t Evade Law’s Sunset

(Phoenix, June 14, 2010) Attorney General Terry Goddard has written the following “My Turn” column about his efforts to ensure that the payday loan industry complies with the expiration of the state’s payday lending law on June 30.

Read more »

Coming Home from Home: Tucson-Phoenix playlist

I drove from Tucson last night, cruising for two hours listening to .. well, no bum notes. It hit the best of several bands, and coming home from a very special day with Carrie (yup, midweek; today is when she flew in from Montana (via drive to Spokane and layover in Denver) it just truly fired – on all cylinders .

Not all music plays well when driving, when cruising or when trying to stay full of energy.

With the window down, the playlist was.

Metric – Lou
Soul II Soul – Back To Life
The Might Mighty Bosstones – Someday I Suppose
Lily Allen – Back to the Start
Madonna – Secret
The Donnas – Don’t Break Me Down
The Raveonettes – Wine
The Airborne Toxic Event – Some Time Around Midnight (timely)
Lacuna Coil – Our Truth
Tor / Sufjan Stevens – The Tallest Man / I like it
Will.I.Am – I got It from my mama
The Gits – Precious Blood
Deftones – My Own Summer
Love Me Nots – You’re Really Something
Ke$ha – TiK ToK
Flyleaf – All Around Me
Lacuna Coil – Spellbound
Lisa Stansfield – All Around the World
Justin Timberlake – Senorita (Thick Dick Mix)
Barenaked Ladies – One week
Social Distortion – Ring of Fire
Lily Allen – Nan, You’re A Window Shopper
Surfside IV – Surfari
The Airborne Toxic Event – Wishing Well
Karen O and the Kids – All Is Love
The Gits – Rose (Live)
Incubus – Drive (I Swear)

And after I got home and closed the door, it continued.

Johnny Cash – Cocaine Blues
Prince – Sign of the Times
The Gits – Italian Song
Poe – Hello
The Raveonettes – Gone Forever
Deftones – Teething
Bassnectar – Heads Up
Cake – Never There
Sade – Bring Me Home
Ben Harper – Walk Away
Rademacher – On Yr Marks
Paul Simon – Homeless
Scars on Broadway – Serious
Deftones – Shove It
Jane’s Addiction – Sex is Violent
The Gits – Social Love
Rehab – Last Tattoo
Love Me Nots – Shuffle
The Gits – I’m Lou
Poe – Angry Johnny
Bassnectar – Kick It Complex