Rejoice! For Carl Hiaasen, author of the funniest crime novels in the business, bar none, has a new book out! Bad Monkey has just arrived on shelves and it is every bit as hilarious as you could hope -- I spent the weekend reading choice bits aloud to whomever I could grab, and giggling noisily to myself when no one was around. This is vintage Hiaasen, which is to say it is absurdist, gross, human, sexy, weird, and as Floridian as a styrofoam snowman despoiling the Everglades.
Summarizing Hiaasen's many plot-threads and twisty-turns is a mug's game, but here's his publisher's synopsis:
Andrew Yancy—late of the Miami Police and soon-to-be-late of the Monroe County sheriff’s office—has a human arm in his freezer. There’s a logical (Hiaasenian) explanation for that, but not for how and why it parted from its shadowy owner. Yancy thinks the boating-accident/shark-luncheon explanation is full of holes, and if he can prove murder, the sheriff might rescue him from his grisly Health Inspector gig (it’s not called the roach patrol for nothing). But first—this being Hiaasen country—Yancy must negotiate an obstacle course of wildly unpredictable events with a crew of even more wildly unpredictable characters, including his just-ex lover, a hot-blooded fugitive from Kansas; the twitchy widow of the frozen arm; two avariciously optimistic real-estate speculators; the Bahamian voodoo witch known as the Dragon Queen, whose suitors are blinded unto death by her peculiar charms; Yancy’s new true love, a kinky coroner; and the eponymous bad monkey, who with hilarious aplomb earns his place among Carl Hiaasen’s greatest characters.
Which captures some of the spirit of the story, but what's missing is the fantastic satisfaction of reading a new Hiaasen, wherein the most baroque and evil villains and foils each get some form of karmic retribution that is both wildly unlikely and, in hindsight, inevitable. Hiaasen's a master of the revenge fantasy who makes the rest of us look like amateurs. And despite this -- or perhaps because of it -- he still writes some of the best, most likable antiheroes in the business, and Andrew Yancy is no exception. Lucky us, there's a new Hiaasen! Now, to begin the long, agonizing wait for the next one!
Previous Hiassen reviews:
* Star Island
* Basket Case
* Nature Girl
Laina, AKA "Overly Attached Girlfriend" (a YouTube comedian and memestar who trades on her ability to stare intensely while monologuing hilariously about her terrifying romantic attachment) has outdone herself with an Uncle Sam edition, commenting on Prism
Overly Attached Uncle Sam
In 1989, a bank-teller at the Old National Bank in Spokane, WA refused to validate the $0.50 parking stub of a shabbily dressed man who'd come in to cash a check. That shabbily dressed man was John Barrier, a 30-year customer of the bank with more than $1 million on deposit; which he promptly withdrew and took to Seafirst Bank
, down the street.
A German bank employee dozed off at his keyboard and accidentally triggered a 222 million euro ($293 million) funds transfer. Of course, the order didn't go through, but the man's colleague was fired for not catching the mistake immediately when verifying the transfer. According to the AFP
, the colleague sued and the court ruled that he should get his job back. No word on whether the sleepy employee is still on duty. — David
Today's XKCD What If? explores many of the benefits that would accrue to the human race if the Sun were suddenly extinguished.
Reduced risk of solar flares: In 1859, a massive solar flare and geomagnetic storm hit the Earth. Magnetic storms induce electric currents in wires. Unfortunately for us, by 1859 we had wrapped the Earth in telegraph wires. The storm caused powerful currents in those wires, knocking out communications and in some cases causing telegraph equipment to catch fire.
Since 1859, we've wrapped the Earth in a lot more wires. If the 1859 storm hit us today, the Department of Homeland Security estimates the economic damage to the US alone would be several trillion dollars—more than every hurricane which has ever hit the US combined. If the Sun went out, this threat would be eliminated.
Improved satellite service: When a communications satellite passes in front of the Sun, the Sun can drown out the satellite's radio signal, causing an interruption in service. Deactivating the Sun would solve this problem.
Better astronomy: Without the Sun, ground-based observatories would be able to operate around the clock. The cooler air would create less atmospheric noise, which would reduce the load on adaptive optics systems and allow for sharper images.
Stable dust: Without sunlight, there would be no Poynting–Robertson drag, which means we would finally be able to place dust into a stable orbit around the Sun without the orbits decaying. I’m not sure whether anyone wants to do that, but you never know.
Reduced infrastructure costs: The Department of Transportation estimates that it would cost $20 billion per year over the next 20 years to repair and maintain all US bridges. Most US bridges are over water; without the Sun, we could save money by simply driving on a strip of asphalt laid across the ice.
Twitter user Darth polled followers for satirical, surveillance-oriented kids' book parodies, and created illustrations for the best. They're collected by the Guardian.
NSA surveillance as told through classic children's books
The Han Solo in Carbonite light-switch cover combines the 1980s-era Empire Strikes Back kitsch with 1960s era novelty "boner" decor -- yours for $40 from Etsy seller Wicked Studio.
Star Wars Han Solo in Carbonite Light Switch
It's been just over a year since Anno NTK launched, a kind of Wayback Machine for the wonderful old-school UK tech newsletter Need to Know. Each week, Danny O'Brien will send you a fifteen-year-old edition of NTK, letting you catch up on the tech news of the late 1990s. This week's is especially grand:
Linus "Bigger than Elvis" Torvalds, accompanied by backing
singers Alan Cox and Jamie Zawinski, will be fighting off
the screaming teenage fans at Duke University's LINUX EXPO
'98 this weekend. You're not there, clearly, otherwise you
wouldn't be sober enough to read this. You can, however,
glean a vicarious buzz by reading the inevitable flurry of
announcements on the Website. Not least among them will be
the definitive answer to the "Emacs vs Vi" question
provided, not by a Magic Eightball, but by a magic
*Paintball* face-off. It's the only way.
- Linus! Linus! Marry me! MARRY ME!
- looking forward to the cheers:
"H-J-K-L, what can we pipe through ispell? VI!"
"Give us a '(' - Give us another '('! Give us a '('!..."
If you liked Al Jaffee's Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions from MAD Magazine (and if you didn't, boy are you in the wrong place!), I think you'll enjoy this Reddit thread: "What was your best "comeback line" that left the other person totally speechless?" There's plenty of stuff that I'm betting is really esprit d'escalier, but if even half of it is genuine, it is proof of some fundamental rightness woven into the very fabric of the universe.
What was your best "comeback line" that left the other person totally speechless? (self.AskReddit)
davidtregaskis: While working at a paint store my assistant manager was giving me grief because I wanted to get off early to go take a final. She said, "when I was going to school and working if there was ever a conflict between school and work, work always came first." I replied, "that's probably why you're still working here."
Texanjumper: "Brother (our parent's biological child) was talking about how he was the favorite child. my response: 'Well they picked me, got stuck with you!' he had nothing left to say."
gschoppe: "LOL... my adopted sister used that on me once. Being the big brother, and thus obligated to have an immediate comeback, I said, 'Yeah, but have you seen the other choices they've made with their lives?' She never used that line again."
Andrew sez, "Sometimes I write silly emails to companies when I actually have a mundane request. Usually, they either ignore me or reply with boring customer-service talk (We apologize for... Thank you for shopping with...').
Recently I got a piece of mail from Canadian pharmacy chain Shoppers Drug Mart that was addressed to someone who doesn't live here anymore. I had fun with the email I sent them, and their response (can be viewed in the link) was pure gold!"
This really is rather good. Andrew's letter asked Shopper's if the letter had possibly been addressed to a future tenant at his address, fallen through a time-hole. Shopper's responded with a list of products from the future that he could look for in its circulars to determine whether this was the case:
1) Now at Shoppers Drug Mart: Everexis
Cure any disease instantly with Everexis! Great for headaches, colds, cancer and more! With no known side effects, nothing can possibly go wrong!
2) 20X The Points on Meat Products
Got the Everexis munchies? Fill your strange and unspeakable hunger and get 20X The Points!
3) 20% Off Everexis Antidote
Everexis left you slow, lumbering, and quick to anger? Take the Everexis antidote. It hasn't been fully tested, but it certainly can't make things any worse!
4) Hide in a Shoppers Drug Mart Refugee Shelter
With over 1,200 locations still standing across Canada, Shoppers Drug Mart is the ideal place to hold up and hide from the hoard. Ration Nativa Cheese Puffs and Life Brand Vitamins while you wait for rescue! Blood samples will be required for admittance.
5) Wheat, Glorious Wheat
Exclusively at Shoppers Drug Mart! Rebuild society with wheat, a traditional non-synthetic foodstuff from the before-times. Act fast, as quantities are extremely limited.
This list of the components of Satan's Spiritual Structure appears on handouts given to attendees at San Diego Comic-Con by evangelical picketers. It seems to originate with a Jack Chick Tract, though I'm not sure if the protesters elaborated on the original or if it came from ChickCorp itself. Still, it's a great party game: I scored 20. How'd you do?
: Mark posted this last year
and it turns out it's a hoax handout, parodying those infamous Chick tracts. Too good to be true, I suppose.
This terrifying Ronald McDonald/Joker mashup cosplayer was snapped at San Jose's FanimeCon 2013 by David Ngo.
"It's funny cause it's true," says my pal Jason Tester who posted the photo to his Instagram feed @guerrillafutures.
"Here's that bad advice you were hoping for" is a Tumblr that picks out letters to advice columns (as well as direct requests from readers) and writes scathing, hilarious responses:
NYT, Social Q’s, 24 May 2013:
Our group of close friends has spent the last few years attending one another’s weddings. We all give gifts to the newlyweds, except for one couple who hasn’t given gifts to anyone. Now the nongivers are getting married. Some of us do not want to gift them at all, whereas others think a more modest than normal gift is in order. What do you think? - Anonymous
It sounds to me like these non-givers are completely missing the point of getting married, which is to receive household items and cash. They may be misguided, believing that marriages are about celebrating a couple committing their lives to each other, or they may be malevolent, dooming their friends’ unions to sure destruction by depriving them of tea towels, the literal fabric that holds marriages together.
Or, it may be that the cost of attending several weddings in a short time period makes it financially difficult for this couple to buy a gift on top of funding their attendance, but I don’t see how a little electricity, or dinner or diapers, is more important than the sterling silver Crate & Barrel salt shakers you’ve all earned by falling in love with another human being and declaring it publicly.
Healthy friendships are built on well orchestrated passive aggressive punishments tailored specially for the people you care about most. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that everyone does it in a way that your friends will sort of notice but that you can all sort of deny doing later, that way you can all quietly judge-and-jury each other for the rest of your incredibly fulfilled lives.
here's that bad advice you were hoping for
(via Making Light)
(Image: Free Advice, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from swanksalot's photostream)
Mat Ricardo sez, "Here's what happened last time Piff The Magic Dragon (and Mr. Piffles the dog!) was a guest on Mat Ricardo's London Varieties.
What's going to happen when he pays us a return visit, this Thursday night at London's Leicester Square Theatre?
Find out by coming!"