Warning to Californians about the chemical hazards of playing pinball

From the creative geniuses at Stern, a James Bond Premium machine, NIB:

A harmless diversion? Only if you think that cancer, birth defects, and “reproductive harm” are harmless! The warning to Californians about what might happen to them if they are brave enough to unbox this machine:

Speaking of brave, an 8-year-old confronts Carcharodon carcharias, with a little help from Keith Elwin, the designer of #1-ranked Godzilla and, most recently, Jaws:

(The Premium and LE versions are the ones to buy because the shark comes up from underneath the playfield, but our favorite Jupiter, Florida pinball dealer has yet to receive any of those.)

Loosely related:

  • Straight Outta Compton… “Body of California pit bull breeder killed by his own dogs found in backyard kennel” (New York Post): “A California dog breeder was mauled to death by pit bulls he was raising, authorities said as his dog-ravaged body was found inside a kennel in the backyard of his home on Friday. … His father consented to sign over the dogs to Animal Care & Control for “impoundment and examination.” (the pups will be available for adoption soon and with no warning label?)
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Pinballnomics: How long did it take for the Limited Edition Jaws machine to sell out?

In October 2022, the James Bond 007 LE pinball machine from Stern sold out in about 45 seconds.

Let’s take the pulse of the economy by looking at Stern’s latest release: Jaws. Just after 1:00 pm on January 4, 2024:

By 1:05 pm:

It’s possible that it sold out prior to 1:05 because with the James Bond machine people reported adding it to their carts and being unable to check out.

The Jaws machine is actually cheaper than Bond was: $12,999 in 2022 dollars versus $12,999 in 2024 dollars. Bond might be considered a more desirable theme, but Jaws was designed by superstar Keith Elwin, the genius behind Godzilla (#1 on Pinside’s Top 100).

Sadly, we’re gonna need a bigger family room if we are ever to enjoy Jaws at home.


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The Dutch Pinball Museum in Rotterdam

Europeans who love Americana seem to be more passionate about their hobbies than we are. The Dutch Pinball Museum in Rotterdam confirms this general observation. I asked Gerard van de Sanden, the founder and collector, why he closed at 6 pm. “All of the American pinball collections stay open until midnight and sell as much alcohol as possible, which is how they make their money.” He replied that the late-night crowd didn’t treat the machines well and preserving the machines was more important to him than making a higher profit.

Compared to arcades in the U.S., the Dutch Pinball Museum is as quiet as a church. All of the machines have had their volume turned down low so that it isn’t deafening when the museum gets crowded. Visitors are friendly and enthusiastic. I talked to one couple where the husband has 11 machines in a backyard shed. They’d driven 3 hours from the farthest corner of the Netherlands to spend a Saturday here. The wife wasn’t an enthusiast, but joined nonetheless. On the way, they picked up friends, a couple where both husband and wife play. They have 5 machines inside their house.

For the Dutch lover of pinball, here’s the ultimate machine:

It’s made in Holland by the Dutch Pinball company. Despite the obscurity of the manufacturer, the owner says that the machine is not difficult to maintain (though metric tools are required).

Unlike the typical “play all you want” arcades that call themselves museums, this one makes an attempt to educate:

The collection includes an unusual modern game, a 40th anniversary Elvira’s House of Horrors (#31 out of just 199 made):

This is a great machine for playability, but I don’t love the theme, perhaps because I am not a horror movie fan and have never seen the Elvia TV show.

It’s Europe, so the collection must include a soccer game:

If you love space, the collection includes Black Hole and Stern’s fascinating innovative Orbitor 1:

With five technicians working in the background, the collection is quite strong on playable older machines. Example:

When you’re done, take the water taxi back to the city center.

Then hit the Markthal:

Where else can one experience great pinball in Europe? The owner suggested Krakow, Poland.

Separately, Rotterdam itself offers a mixture of Western debauchery and Islamic rectitude. A strip club is close to Halal Fried Chicken, for example:


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Steakflation: $60 per pound at Costco

From the Palm Beach Gardens, Florida Costco today:

(Never buy a steak that costs less than your grill!)

What if you’re on a budget and/or fleeing the Egyptians (who never enslaved any Jews, according to academics)?

As an experiment, I bought a $75 Wagyu steak and grilled it according to the instructions of a Costco member who was confidently buying some. He said “hot grill 1-2 minutes per side”. I chose a full 2 minutes per side, plus perhaps 1 minute extra in the middle of the grill because the thermometer showed only 115 degrees internal temp. It probably could have done without that last minute. Due to the high fat content, there was an immediate grill fire, which is probably why the Japanese sear this in a hot skillet.

Family verdict: Superb. It turns out that even real Japanese A5 Wagyu like this is not ruinously expensive because people are satisfied with a third of a pound.

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Happy International Day of Families

(with somewhat unfortunate timing given the tragedy in Buffalo) … the United Nations says that today is International Day of Families. The site has some statistics:

Maternity leave, which was offered in 89% of countries in 1995, was available in 96% of countries by 2015.

What about birthing persons who don’t identify as “mothers”? Based on the photos, the UN’s site seems to be plagued by cisgender-normative and heteronormative concepts of “family”.

Only 57% of women, who are married, or in a domestic union, are able to make decisions about sexual relations and the use of contraceptives and reproductive health services.

How is the term “women” defined? What about “men” who are capable of giving birth? Isn’t their decision-making power relevant? Also, the implication is that it is bad when people (“women”) can’t decide what medicines to introduce into their bodies. Should women also be able to decide whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine?

Here in the Florida Free State, where vaccine coercion is banned by statute, living together as a family means that we solve problems together… problems that we wouldn’t have if we had been more proactive about using contraception.

Readers: What are you doing to celebrate this day?

From yesterday, home of a future sea turtle’s family is staked out on Juno Beach:

(Performing 84 abortions on human pregnant people would yield nearly $100,000 in revenue for Planned Parenthood or similar. But 84 sea turtle abortions earned Lewis Jackson of Brunswick, Georgia 21 months in prison (justice.gov).)

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The special challenge of being a Jewish wartime leader

Tucker Carlson took a break today from spreading Russian disinformation and Covid misinformation to interview Rymma Zelenska, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s mother.

Fox News: Mrs. Zaxby’s, the whole world admires your son Voldemort for his
personal courage, determination, and brave leadership. You must be very proud.

Rymma Zelenska: My other son is a doctor.

(The above makes me wish that there was a web page that would generate a Facebook fact check PNG to add to non-Facebook pages. The kinds of images that we see in “Facebook versus the BMJ: when fact checking goes wrong” for example (note that folks at the 180-year-old medical journal claim to know more about medicine than Facebook’s independent fact checkers). Fact checking myself, I can’t find any Internet source suggesting that Volodymyr Zelenskyy has a brother.)

Meanwhile… Shabbat Shalom! (and I hope this is not too soon)


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Italian funeral customs

A suburbanite came to Boston’s North End, the historic Italian neighborhood, and was enjoying cannoli and espresso at Mike’s Pastry, which opened in 1946. He noticed a funeral procession down Hanover Street. A black hearse was followed by a second black hearse. Behind the second hearse was a solitary man wearing a Juventus jersey walking a dog on a green, white, and red Italian-flag leash. Behind him, keeping a respectful distance, were nearly 200 men walking in single file.

The suburbanite couldn’t stand the curiosity. He respectfully approached the Italian man walking the dog and said, “I am so sorry for your loss, and I know that this is a bad time to disturb you, but I’ve never seen an Italian funeral and I’m trying to understand the protocol. First, whose funeral is it?”

“Mia moglie. Scusi. My wife’s.”

”What happened to her?”

“She-a yelled at me and my-a dog attacked and killed her.”

The suburbanite was horrified, but still curious. “Why is there a second hearse?”

“Mia suocera… I’m sorry. My mother-in-law. She-a came to help my wife and the dog turned on her and-a killed her also.”

In a poignant and touching moment of fellowship and brotherhood, silence passed between the two men.

After a decent interval, the suburbanite lowered his voice almost to a whisper and asked, “Can I borrow the dog?”

The Italian man replied, “Get in line.”

North End of Boston (mid-ground), during Month 3 of 14 Days to Flatten the Curve (May 2020; Tony Cammarata behind the camera and me behind the cyclic):

Mini-Goldendoodle with the heart of a lion in Stuart, Florida last month:

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Soviet management tips for the American executive

To celebrate having gotten through one month of winter, let’s turn our attention to things Russian (since they are the true masters of the cold).

Last year, I was invited to a family dinner in which the husband’s father is retired from managing a large Soviet enterprise (many bonuses and incentives for performance, so not actually all that different from running a bureaucratic U.S. company). The wife had recently been promoted to manage five divisions of a substantial U.S. company instead of just one. She described her frustration with workers who didn’t want to come back to the office. “Can you make it in every Wednesday?” was an unreasonable ask. Productivity was unimpressive and a lot of people had gotten comfortable with the previous manager, whose standards were low-to-mediocre.

We kicked around some ideas for motivating the workers and gradually acclimating them to the new higher standards. After 10 minutes of mostly unproductive suggestions, the father-in-law offered some advice…. “Old Russian saying: When whorehouse is losing money, you don’t change the beds. You change the whores.”

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Elon Musk pinball machine

Here are some photos from a recent excursion to the Silverball Pinball Museum in Delray Beach, Florida. Statistics that folks in NY, MA, and CA are passionate about watching showed that Florida was in the midst of a raging COVID-19 plague at the time, but patrons were not discouraged nor, typically, masked.

A 1984 Space Shuttle machine reflects the period’s enthusiasm about NASA’s can-do spirit (first launch 1981, ultimate cost 250X more than planned by the best and brightest government scientists (who were following #Science)):

Here’s one from 1976 that celebrates an individual, Elton John:

What if we combine and update these ideas into a modern machine: Elon Musk!

The score is in dollars and the player’s goal is to hit $300 billion for a replay. The game follows the authoritative biography. The first challenge is to move X.com and Confinity together to form PayPal by hitting a bunch of targets. Once that is accomplished, the score goes up by $1.5 billion. The next goal is to move NASA, represented by a lumbering dinosaur, to award a contract to SpaceX. Success results in the score going up by $1.6 billion. Then there is the “build a roadster” challenge in which all of the world’s batteries have to be gathered up by endlessly repeated cycles of hitting bumpers. Once the roadster is built, the Tesla component of the score goes up by $10 billion. Plaintiff Justine Musk comes out from the sidelines to attack Elon in family court. If the player can successfully unlock the prenuptial agreement, she goes away without significantly denting the score (otherwise the player loses 50% to the plaintiff and 10% for legal fees). SolarCity is represented by an albatross and, if captured by the player, results in the score going down by $2 billion. If the ramps are used successfully, a tunnel opens up labeled “Boring Company”. A platoon of Covidcrats pops up to close the Tesla factory. If the player can hit each one with a ball “Reopen Factory and Move to Texas” mode is activated (score boost of $50 billion). Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates run in from the sidelines trying to grab the “world’s richest douche” trophy in the middle. If the player can get the ball into two traps, family court plaintiffs come out to attack both Bezos and Gates, reducing them in size by half. Bill Gates, whether or not reduced in size by half by years of family court action, comes out with a massive syringe and attempts to jab all of the other characters with a COVID-19 vaccine. If the player can get the ball to escape up a ramp, the machine enters “Knucklehead mode“.

Elizabeth Warren pops up in full Native American elder regalia. If the player can hit each feather on a headdress with the ball, Senator Karen disappears. In the “Philip the Sourpuss” special edition of the machine, 600 lb. gorillas named “Toyota”, “Honda”, “Hyundai”, “Ford”, “GM”, and “Volkswagen” come out to attack Elon with electric vehicles that cost less than whatever Tesla can produce, that are much quieter and more comfortable on the highway, and that don’t have an iPad stuck in the middle of the dashboard as the only interface. In this special edition game, there is no way to beat the gorillas and the player’s score goes to $100 billion, reflecting only the value of SpaceX.

Here’s some artwork from another machine at the same venue that can be adapted for the Elizabeth Warren segment:

Readers: What do you think of this idea for a pinball machine? Or it could also be a videogame. In general, wouldn’t it be awesome to have biography-based pinball and videogames?

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The police department job interview

Herschel Mendelbaum goes to the Boston Police Department and applies for a job. He’s interviewed by Sergeant O’Leary, who concludes by saying, “You will be a strong candidate for the job if you can tell me who killed Jesus.”

“Sorry, I don’t know,” answered Herschel.

“Come on now,” winked Sergeant O’Leary. “Everybody knows who really killed Jesus!”

“Sorry – I still don’t know,” said Mendelbaum.

“Tell you what I’ll do,” O’Leary said. “You go home and ask all your little Jew friends who killed Jesus. Come back after St. Patrick’s Day and if you can tell me the answer, the job is yours!”

Mendelbaum got home and his wife asked, “Did you get the job?”

He answered, “Not yet, but I think I’ve got the inside track. They’ve already got me working on a big murder case!”

aaaaand…. Happy Hanukkah for those who celebrate religious intolerance! (“… everyone agrees that the Maccabees won out in the end and imposed their version of Judaism on the formerly Hellenized Jews. So Hanukkah, in essence, commemorates the triumph of fundamentalism over cosmopolitanism.”)

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