Dead man answering

It takes a lot to stand out in my email box these days. This item today definitely stood out:

Your Facebook friend Jeff Borland is on Quora

Now on Quora? Have you ever met anyone who waited until he had been dead for two years before signing up for a Web service?

Mind you, I’d love to see the guy there; Jeffro had a way with words and a willingness to shoot down total idiots, both of which are useful commodities on a Web site devoted to answering questions, and I’ve missed having him around. But somehow this rubs me the wrong way: if this is a family member using the man’s name, this is Bad Form, and if it’s just some scrub who hacked his way in from Jeffro’s FB account, this is unforgivable.

Incidentally, the Borland account is “following 26 topics.” And there is a function in Settings called “Find Facebook friends,” which makes me wonder if this might be sub-Turing-level bot work. He has 8 followers, one of whom I know.


You’re not getting enough fiber

Google Fiber, once believed to be coming to OKC, is apparently not coming to OKC:

Google parent company Alphabet has halted its plans to expand fast Google Fiber internet service to Oklahoma City and other cities throughout the country, the company confirmed Wednesday.

“Going forward we’re focusing on new technology and deployment methods to make superfast internet more abundant than it is today,” a Google Fiber spokeswoman said in a statement. “For now, that means we’re going to pause our operations and offices in Oklahoma City while we refine our approaches. We remain grateful to the city electeds and staff, and especially the communities, for their ongoing partnership and patience, and we’re confident we’ll have an opportunity to resume our discussions once we’ve advanced our technologies and solutions.”

Fiber guru Craig Barratt, then CEO of the Access subsidiary, did not explain, but perhaps this has to do with an earlier acquisition:

The future of Access, to a large extent, seems to lie in wireless. Access purchased the internet provider Webpass in June, giving it the technology to begin deploying over-the-air gigabit internet to homes. In theory, it provides the same service that fiber would, but without as many deployment hurdles.

What I want to know, of course, is whether this will delay Cox’s rollout of Gigablast.


Looking out for Number Three

There are alpha males, and there are beta males, and the two are generally fairly easily distinguishable from one another.

SF writer/philosopher Vox Day offers a definition for gamma males:

The introspective, the unusual, the unattractive, and all too often the bitter. Gammas are often intelligent, usually unsuccessful with women, and not uncommonly all but invisible to them, the gamma alternates between placing women on pedestals and hating the entire sex. This mostly depends upon whether an attractive woman happened to notice his existence or not that day. Too introspective for their own good, gammas are the men who obsess over individual women for extended periods of time and supply the ranks of stalkers, psycho-jealous ex-boyfriends, and the authors of excruciatingly romantic rhyming doggerel. In the unlikely event they are at the party, they are probably in the corner muttering darkly about the behavior of everyone else there … sometimes to themselves. Gammas tend to have have a worship/hate relationship with women, the current direction of which is directly tied to their present situation. However, they are sexual rejects, not social rejects.

I suppose I escape this definition by dint of never actually “hating the entire sex.”

But a lot of that hits just a hair too close to home.

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Not quite replicated

Having dropped the print edition for lack of ability to walk down the driveway to pick it up, I generally find myself reading what the Oklahoman calls the Print Replica: it’s a fairly accurate copy of the paper paper, available in some obscure native format or as a PDF. The Print Replica, however, is out of its depth when it comes to those little half-pages of advertising that wrap around other pages now and then, so I missed this miscall. The Lost Ogle, fortunately, did not:

Front page of the Oklahoman, 10-26-16

At least it’s kerned, and I don’t mean Sally.

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Flosses mounting

As was announced online several weeks back, mental_floss has ceased print publication: the November/December issue was the last. Says executive editor Foster Kamer:

Shit happens. Doesn’t mean print’s dead, or mental_floss is, either. Magazines come and go. Christ, they re-launched Radar like fifteen times, and Tablet — which launched a print mag after seven years of being digital-only — is putting out one of the best print publications I’ve ever seen, and those guys only have four issues out the door.

Perhaps ironically, the death of the dead-tree edition might actually mean fewer trees:

Since Felix Dennis’ death in 2014, Dennis Publishing has been owned by the Heart of England Forest Charity, a charity set up by Felix Dennis with the mission of “the plantation, re-plantation, conservation and establishment of trees for the benefit of the public, together with the education of the public by the promulgation of knowledge and the appreciation of trees”.

And in lieu of a further year and a half of mental_floss, I will have a couple of months of The Week, a magazine founded by, yes, Felix Dennis, added on to my subscription. At some point I figure there will be only one print magazine left, and its subscriber base will be in the tens of millions from having absorbed all those other magazines.

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Wells Fargo waggin’

Early on, an aggrieved 76ers fan shot Russell Westbrook the bird. (Actually, a pair of birds; it was a two-hand job.) The chap was escorted off the premises, and the consequences were contemplated:

Nobody does angry quite as well as Russell Westbrook, but most of that ire was dissipated in just trying to stay even with the (usually) lightly regarded Sixers, who earnestly lost 72 games last year. They will not do that this year: Philadelphia has apparently learned some of that grindhouse stuff from the old Memphis Grizzlies playbook, and they maintained a small lead through much of the game. It was tied at 51 at the half; with 35 seconds left, it was tied at 97, at which point Westbrook swished a pair of free throws to put the Thunder up by two. Just outside the 10-second mark, Andre Roberson swatted away a Sixer floater, the ball changed hands several times, and finally Enes Kanter stuffed it into the cylinder for a 101-97 lead. Joel Embiid (20 points) made a valiant effort to put the Sixers back into it, but he wound up putting a knee into Victor Oladipo. The ex-Magic man finished the job with two more free throws, and that was that: Oklahoma City 103, Philadelphia 97.

A lot of this, of course, was Westbrook, who came up one dime short of a triple-double: 32 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists. In a suggestion of future lineups, Billy Donovan started Domantas Sabonis at power forward, subbing in Kanter every chance he got. (Kanter played 24 minutes, Sabonis just over 16.) Both Alex Abrines and Semaj Christon put in decent showings from the bench.

This is a more balanced Philly lineup than we’ve seen in a while, with rookie Embiid installed in the middle and veteran Gerald Henderson keeping a eye on the wing. Regrettably, there was no time tonight for Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot, rookie swingman with the greatest name since Luc Mbah a Moute; he drew a DNP-CD.

Home opener is Friday against the Suns. It’s a wholly different attack: Phoenix will kill you from the wing, while the Sixers do their best bothering in the middle. Too early in the season to make any meaningful predictions, though.


Plangent commentary

Me, I mock Yahoo! Answers users one at a time. Others, more industrious, make it up in volume:

The opposite of eugenics must be whatever encourages these losers to reproduce.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Satisfactorily sneaky

This is Mayrah, a waterproof (!) sneaker from Geox in Italy, available in burgundy or black:

Mayrah by Geox in burgundy

Says Geox, this series was inspired by skateboarding and snowboarding women. List price is €140.

But here’s what they’re not telling you online: they also make this model in white. Well, slightly off-white, anyway:

Mayrah by Geox in white

Apparently the white ones are sold in Geox stores only. Cristina likes:

With their thick but smooth leather exterior, they’re also easy to wipe clean. Not to mention that they’re treated with patented technology that repels water, and keeps your feet warm. And at the same time, their outsole is breathable. Yep, nothing goes in, but air goes out. I still don’t know how they do it, but I’m glad they do!

There apparently also exist high-top versions of this sneaker.


A thousand and one eyes

When I first heard the news:

After which, Dawn Eden Goldstein was kind enough to point me to this 2014 video in support of Bobby’s last album:

Rest well, Robert. You’ve earned it. (And 2016? Would you knock it the fark off already?)


Aspiring to permanency

Severian remembers the options:

A tenure track job, in case you don’t know, looks like a decent bit of scratch on paper — 40-60K, depending on where you go, and of course the chance of guaranteed lifetime employment for no further work. But it’s also about an 80 hour a week gig, when you factor in grading, endless “university service,” committee work, directing dissertations, advising students, etc., not to mention your own research (publish or perish). You can’t make that kind of dough out of the gate as a letter carrier, but — short work hours, decent bennies, an even easier set of job duties than preaching Marxism at hungover undergrads, and of course once you’re on that G pay scale, guaranteed lifetime employment, all for the low low price of some union dues and a pledge to vote Democrat forever (and bring three or four of your deceased relatives to the polls with you). So, you know, the same deal as getting tenure. Being a quasi-numerate sort of guy, I’d rather work 20 hours a week for $1K than 80 hours a week for $2K. And that’s just delivering mail!

Many years ago, I actually went through the official government training routine, at my own expense yet, in the hope of getting to operate one of those mysterious machines that sort the mail; ultimately, I was not selected, on the basis of what boiled down to “We think you’re weird and unstable.” Weird and unstable? I should have gone, um, postal on them.

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Asleep at the switch

ESPN Radio, bless them, actually provided radio coverage of the first game of the World Series, which suited me fine since they generally go to the trouble to pretend to be unbiased, something that wasn’t going to happen with the Cubs network (WSCR) or the Indians network (WTAM).

Unfortunately, KWPN, the local ESPN Radio affiliate (640 AM), gave an indication of being woefully short of clues. Unable to determine whether to run ESPN’s national spots or their local commercials between innings, they ran both simultaneously. This is the manner of radio stations that aren’t paying attention to their business.

(They finally figured this out in the middle of the fourth; I have no idea whether they saw my none-too-gentle tweet on the subject. Unfortunately, the malpractice resumed half an inning later; eventually I gave up and returned to WTAM.)

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Don’t tick her off

Most of the stereotypical stuff about Women Drivers has evaporated, at least partially due to the vast quantity of male maleficence findable on YouTube. I would not have suspected, though, that She Who Is Not To Be Cut Off is actually angrier:

New research from Hyundai Motor UK has discovered women drivers are angrier than men.

The recent study of 1,000 UK drivers reveals women are, on average, 12% angrier than men when they’re behind the wheel.

Researchers found driving sparked ancient “defence” instincts from when humans were hunter-gatherers. These evolutionary traits kicked in during the test when women were either undertaken, shouted or beeped at, had to deal with a back-seat driver (women 14% angrier) or were faced with a road user who failed to indicate (women 13% angrier). In all test scenarios, women were more likely to respond with anger than male drivers.

The experiment, conducted by Patrick Fagan, behavioural psychologist from Goldsmiths University London, “sense tested” the 1,000 drivers to see how sound, sight, smell, touch and taste provoke emotional responses in different driving scenarios.

Dr Fagan’s explanation for the results:

“Psychologically, women score higher than men on emotional and verbal intelligence, and on the personality trait of neuroticism. Evolutionary theory suggests our early female ancestors had to develop an acute sense of danger for anything that threatened them and their young if their cave was undefended while men were out hunting. That ‘early warning system’ instinct is still relevant today, and women drivers tend to be more sensitive to negative stimuli, so get angry and frustrated quicker.”

And if there’s one thing we have in abundance on our roads, it’s negative stimuli.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Sew what’s new

Patterns have been sold under the brand name Simplicity since 1927. (They’re still active today.) This 1974 advertisement, aimed at the teenage market, plays up the value of separates: why, you could come up with nine different looks with but a single top!

Simplicity ad 1974

Forty-odd years later, I wonder if anyone made all nine of those skirts. And I admit, 6789 (wrap skirt with patch pockets) reminds me of someone.

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Pinch hitter

The fact that singer Bat for Lashes is of Pashtun descent and British and Pakistani ancestry doesn’t tell you anything about, well, for one thing, why she goes by “Bat for Lashes.” (It says “Natasha Khan” on her birth certificate.) Her second album, Two Suns (2009) yielded up her largest-selling single to date, “Daniel,” which she described at the time as “the most straightforward, naive and purposely simple song I’ve ever done.”

This video drew a nomination for Best Breakthrough Video at the 2009 VMAs, which may or may not say something about MTV.

Bat for Lashes in 2012

Bat for Lashes wears a cap

Bat for Lashes in 2015

In 2015, she started a side project with the band TOY and producer Dan Carey, under the name “Sexwitch”; they released an EP with tracks like “Helelyos,” which turns out to be, um, Iranian funk.

In 2016, she has an album called The Bride, a narrative by a young woman whose fiancé was killed in a car crash on the way to their wedding. “Joe’s Dream,” track two, was the third single.

I’m not quite sure what musical niche might easily accommodate Bat for Lashes, though my first thought was “a more subdued Siouxsie Sioux.”

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Still with the band

From Wikipedia’s article on Negativland: “On July 22, 2015, former lead vocalist Don Joyce died of heart failure at the age of 71.”

This past week, segments from the band’s radio show were released as Over the Edge Vol. 9: The Chopping Channel, with a special appearance, so to speak, by Don Joyce:

In keeping with the album’s theme, and while supplies last, each mail order copy of this new project comes with two very unique extra items: two grams of the actual cremains, or ashes, of deceased Negativland member Don Joyce, and one of Don’s handmade audio tape loop “carts” used in the creation of Over The Edge and Negativland live performances between 1981 and 2015.

This is not a hoax. We’ve decided to take the Chopping Channel concept to its logical conclusion by “productizing” an actual band member. It is also a celebration of the degree to which no idea in art was ever off-limits to Don, and offers a literal piece of him, and of his audio art, for the listener to repurpose and reuse. We are pretty sure he would have wanted it this way.

I am compelled to admit that Don Joyce, so far as I can tell, does not appear on my single favorite Negativland release, U2, which combines a cover of “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” with a profane rant by the late Casey Kasem in apparent forgot-the-mic-was-hot mode. (Link is pretty well NSFW, as I found out one day.)


A Colossus lost

I got the word this afternoon from Brickmuppet:

Steven Den Beste has passed away.

I just received word from Steven’s brother, graciously thanking me for making the welfare call to the police and confirming that what many of us feared had indeed come to pass. I did not inquire as to specifics, but Steven had been in very poor health of late, having had a stroke just under four years ago.

SdB was one of the pillars of the blogosphere, almost from Day One:

Steven was brilliant, a former engineer with a crackerjack mind. His old blog, U.S.S. Clueless was tremendously important in the early days of the blogosphere. It is hard to overstate the importance of U.S.S. Clueless and the brilliance of his analysis. Sadly, that site went down this past week as well, when Steven’s server failed. That site was immensely influential to many of us, and I am far from the only person he inspired to blog or helped along.

Worse, he was about my age, which reminds me — as though I needed reminding — of my own fragility.

Something to remember him by? How about this, from 11 September 2012?

I always thought that attacking an embassy was considered an act of war. But 1980 seems to have established a new precedent: if a Democrat is President, then Muslim mobs may despoil American embassies as much as they wish. Once a Republican gets elected, then they lay off.

Our hostages in Tehran were released a few hours before Reagan was sworn in. If Romney manages to defeat Obama in November, will we see something of the same happen next January?

Well, even if it does, it won’t bring that man back to life. Not even The One, for all his assumed divinity, can do that. (Stopping the rise of the oceans is easy by comparison.)

If only we could bring that man back to life.

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