Like all right-thinking people, I view The State’s amazing and perfect Porcupine Racetrack skit as the pinnacle of 1990s television.
They must also remember it fondly, because in quarantine, they remounted it in Zoom.
It’s still lovely.
The resulting MeFi thread includes links to a few other nice State-related bits, including:
- An NYT piece about the skit from 2009 (ie, YEARS after it ran);
- This article about them from back-then, which includes the fascinating datum that, on one show, they were meant to have Blue Traveller as a guest, but SNL snagged them, so they had to “settle for” Sonic Youth; and
- a Youtube link to their “43rd Annual All-Star Halloween Special,” which aired on CBS in prime time in 1995. It’s an AMAZING and RIDICULOUS long-form bit of comedy, complete with actual celebrity cameos about “incidents” from their supposedly-4-decade tradition of such specials. (CBS flubbed the marketing for this so badly that I didn’t even know about it, and I was a HUGE State fan at the time.)
Well, for certain values of “never;” the device in question includes a Googol-to-one gear ratio. It’s a sequence of 100 gears, each with a 10:1 ratio to its neighbor.
In the “similar prior art” department, turns out this guy was inspired by a Arthur Ganson’s sculpture “Machine with Concrete,” which includes a sequence of gears and a drive shaft, with the gearing such that the final step is literally embedded in concrete — which is fine, because that particular part turns 1 time every 2 trillion years.
Both links feature video fo the machines in question.
Surprising though it may be, it appears there is no overlap between the List of animals with fraudulent diplomas and the List of fictional badgers.
Make of this what you will.
There are certain things you can’t name a file in Windows 10 due to design choices from MS-DOS.
Tom Scott has more.
Now, he tries to soften the suck here, noting the degree to which MSFT does things like this to ensure backwards compatibility. Bollocks. There’s no reason to continue this shit, especially when it comes (as it does) at the expense of modern function and stability — or correctness.
It’s that last bit that really points out MSFT’s ridiculousness here. 30 years ago, when Excel was first introduced, there was a well-known bug in Lotus 1-2-3 (the prior spreadsheet king); Lotus treated 1900 as a leap year, which is was NOT. Even so, 2/29/1900 was a valid date.
And Microsoft broke Excel to mirror the behavior, and continues to “honor” this bullshit to this day — in fact, the bug is a part of the requirements for the Open Office standard as a result.
(Don’t @ me about leap years. No, it’s not just every 4 years. It’s ever 4 years UNLESS it’s a century year that is NOT divisible by 400. This is why, for your whole life, every-4-years works — because 2000 was an exception to an exception that only comes around every 400 years.)
It’s come to my attention — via the ever-reliable Jon Frazer D — that Uncle Tupelo’s barn-burner of a debut album No Depression was released 30 years ago this year.
In commemoration of said anniversary, please enjoy this YouTube of “Whiskey Bottle;” it’s not a video per se, but it does include a whole lot of contemporary snapshots of the band from those long-ago days.
Somehow, I had never seen this. It’s wonderful. She had just recently retired — as, at the time, a Commodore, which was eventually renamed Rear Admiral (Lower Half) for complicated Navy reasons — but you can see here she’s just as quick as a whip even with someone like Letterman. She even gives him a nanosecond.
I’ve posted here before about her; she is a giant and without her, modern computing would be very, very different. Hers is the only grave I’ve sought out at Arlington. As they said of Wren,
LECTOR SI MONUMENTUM REQUIRIS CIRCUMSPICE
Patricia Lockwood eviscerates John Updike, deservedly so, in this longest piece at the London Review of Books. Make time, book nerds; there are few literary traditions more delightful than this sort of body slam.
In a 1997 review for the New York Observer, the recently kinged David Foster Wallace diagnosed how far Updike had fallen in the esteem of a younger generation. ‘Penis with a thesaurus’ is the phrase that lives on, though it is not the levelling blow it first appears; one feels oddly proud, after all, of a penis that has learned to read. Today, he has fallen even further, still in the pantheon but marked by an embarrassed asterisk: died of pussy-hounding. No one can seem to agree on his surviving merits. He wrote like an angel, the consensus goes, except when he was writing like a malfunctioning sex robot attempting to administer cunnilingus to his typewriter.
The whole thing is brilliant. My hat’s off to Lockwood, for the piece and for the sacrifice of reading so much Updike in order to write it.
An insane doofus railway engineer took control of a fucking TRAIN and used to to try and ram the USNS Mercy in an LA port on the grounds that it’s “suspicious” and that he does not believe “the ship is what they say it’s for.”
The train crashed into a concrete barrier at the end of the track, smashed through a steel barrier and a chain-link fence, slid through one parking lot and then a second lot filled with gravel and hit a second chain-link fence. It came to rest after passing under a ramp leading to the Vincent Thomas Bridge. The train remained in that position Wednesday.
He allegedly made statements to a CHP officer that included “You only get this chance once. The whole world is watching. I had to. People don’t know what’s going on here. Now they will.”
The best part of this, if there is a best part is that he “has been charged with one count of train wrecking, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison.”
I love the specificity.