Archive for April 2009

Also, keep your head down

From the “I never even thought of that” files:

So we are just a little alot addicted to playing Wii Sports Golf, but here’s a conundrum for you. How well I play all depends on my bra choice — seriously!

If I wear the my “push ’em up and in yer face” bra, then I slice it strongly to the right and nothing will stop it!

But if I wear my “slung lower and minimised” bra then I hook it slightly left, but with a bit of maneuvering I can lessen it!

However without doubt my best performance is “sans” bra, straight as an arrow every time!

I have got to start paying more attention to the LPGA.

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Couch tomato

The last two times I posted about something Mrs. Obama was wearing, I picked up more than fifty comments, so I figure I may as well work this trend. And this time it’s something I actually sort of like, from her March Vogue cover story:

In J.Crew, from 3-09 Vogue

Yeah, yeah, I know: J.Crew. She plugs them a lot. Then again, despite the oh-so-serious facial expression, she seems more comfortable here than she does in some of those pricey designer duds.

(Seen at Suzette’s, alongside a note to the effect that Jackie would never have sprawled like that.)

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Ford bails itself out

Well, not completely, but the Blue Oval boys have rid themselves of almost $10 billion worth of debt:

On March 4, 2009, Ford and Ford Credit announced the major components of a comprehensive debt restructuring: (1) a conversion offer in which Ford offered to pay a premium in cash to induce the holders of any and all of the $4.88 billion principal amount outstanding of its 4.25% Senior Convertible Notes due December 15, 2036 (the “Convertible Notes”) to convert the Convertible Notes into shares of Ford’s common stock (the “Conversion Offer”); (2) a $500 million cash tender offer by Ford Credit (the “Term Loan Offer”) for Ford’s senior secured term loan debt (the “Term Loan Debt”); and (3) a $1.3 billion cash tender offer (the “Notes Tender Offer”) by Ford Credit for certain of Ford’s unsecured, non-convertible debt securities (the “Notes”).

The second and third items are mostly bookkeeping items between Ford and Ford Credit, but the conversion offer paid off big: $4.3 billion worth of notes were redeemed, and at settlement Wednesday Ford will fork over 468 million shares of common stock (which went up by 16 percent Monday) plus about a third of a billion in cash.

The reduction of debt, $9.9 billion in all, will save the company about half a billion dollars in interest per year; at the end of 2008, Dearborn was $25.8 billion in the hole, so this is a decided improvement in their position.

And an attorney working on the project commented:

“It is refreshing to see a company doing something without the government, and not going to the government and waiting to be bailed out,” said Michael Kaplan, a Davis Polk & Wardwell lawyer who worked with Ford.

They’re not out of the woods yet, but it’s a start.

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Mission: 2012

Morgan Freeberg has a nice little comic rendering of Sarah Palin, but I like this one better:

Sarah Palin as Nemesis

She stands between Barack the Barbarian and the Treasure of Stimuli.

No, really.

(Via Webutante.)

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Strong to the finish

The Spurs, evidently sick of losing to the Thunder, kicked up the defense a notch and evened up the season series at 2-2 with a 99-89 win at the Ford Center, San Antonio’s 50th win, a figure they’ve reached every year since 1999-2000. The Spurs, trailing by seven after the first quarter, struggled to a one-point lead at the half, and gradually pulled away from Oklahoma City, executing with precision in the waning minutes while holding the Thunder to 17 fourth-quarter points.

Both Tim Duncan and Tony Parker recorded double-doubles, Duncan with 25 points and 15 boards, Parker with 21 points and 10 assists. Roger Mason filled the Manu Ginobili-sized hole nicely, logging 13 points; Drew Gooden got 20 from off the bench.

The lethargy the Thunder seemed to exhibit in the last two contests was less in evidence tonight: OKC shot a respectable 45.3 percent and nailed six of nine treys (three of them in a row in the first quarter). San Antonio outrebounded the Thunder, but only slightly: 43-42. But the Spurs blocked seven shots, Duncan knocking away three of them, and San Antonio committed only 13 fouls all night. The official Kevin Durant counter reads 24; Jeff Green had 16 points, Thabo Sefolosha 13, and Russell Westbrook 10 (with three steals).

Tomorrow night in Denver, and the Nuggets have won seven straight. This may not be pretty.

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Let ’em wait

Anyone who’s messed with Google AdSense knows the threshold: you don’t get a cent until you pass the $100 mark, after which remittances come monthly.

I, for my part, misunderstood this process: I thought you only got paid again after you’d rolled up another hundred. Admittedly, I have never carried AdSense, so I have at least some excuse for this particular misapprehension. And besides, it’s consistent with music-industry practice:

Up until the last quarter, if a songwriter earned less than $50.00 BMI wouldn’t issue a check until the amount owed exceeded that minimum. Now they have raised the minimum amount to $250.00, FIVE TIMES THE AMOUNT IT WAS A FEW MONTHS AGO, before they issue a check!

Are they crazy? Yeah crazy like a fox, it sounds like someone in accounting came up with this brilliant idea to hold onto millions of dollars of the songwriters diminishing royalties for as long as possible … and who’s going to complain?

Most songwriters who are affected by this are too old, too tired, or too stoned to fight for what is rightfully theirs … so they let it slide.

So far as I can tell, this is an effort by BMI to avoid cutting checks at all and shift everyone to direct deposit of royalties earned. (I have no idea what the ASCAP rule is.) Still, a lot of BMI oldtimers are going to wonder if maybe they’re not getting anything anymore.

Last I looked, the royalty was 9.1 cents per song, or 1.75 cents per minute, whichever be greater, per copy.

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Bat out of pseudonyms

At first I thought she was talking about dinner, but a couple more words clarified the matter: Meat Loaf, said Trini, had appeared on this week’s episode of House, and what’s more, he had been billed as “Meat Loaf Aday.” His real surname, I noted, though to me (and to at least one wag at The New York Times) he’s always been Mr. Loaf.

Seeking something resembling Final Authority, I checked iTunes, where I have him listed under the M’s; the IMDb lists several alternate names, including “Michael Lee Aday,” “Michael Meat Loaf Aday,” and “Marvin Aday.” The title song to Loaf’s 1983 album Midnight at the Lost and Found, cowritten by Loaf, has that credit listed at BMI as “Aday, Michael Lee.”

In view of the above, I’m thinking that the big guy should pull a Shyamalan and declare himself “M. Loaf Aday.”

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140 or bust

Suddenly I have an idea, based on this perfectly-rational musing: try to come up with the maximum-length Twitter tweet (not to be confused with Swisher Sweets) with the fewest number of actual words but which still makes some sort of grammatical sense. (For instance: if you come up with ten 13-letter words, plus closing punctuation, you have 130 + 9 spaces + stop = 140.)

Please don’t floccinaucinihilipilify this idea until you give it some thought. (And “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” falls short, alas.)

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The machine that wouldn’t die

Vintage 2009: the Commodore 64 Laptop.

Your 38,911 BASIC bytes were never so spiffy.

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John Beresford Tipton buys me a car

Well, not really. But play along with Francis W. Porretto here:

1. Michael Anthony (if you’re too young to remember the old TV show The Millionaire, look it up) has come to your home and offered to buy you the car of your choice, no matter what that car might be or cost. But there are conditions:

  • It has to be in current production;
  • You have to foot all running and maintenance expenses;
  • It will be the only car you’ll get to drive or use in any way for the next ten years, no matter what happens, where you might need to go, or why.

What would your choice be?

2. Defend that choice, with specific reference to your circumstances — and remember that you’re not allowed the use of any other car, including that of your spouse if you have one.

3. Now describe a set of circumstances you could plausibly face in which, no matter how carefully you chose your new car, you’d rather have some other car for those conditions.

Under present-day circumstances, I think I’d opt for Infiniti’s small crossover, the EX35. Justifications:

  • It’s essentially a wagon version of the G sedan, a highly-covetable little darb in its own right;
  • It still drives like a G, apart from a couple extra inches of height, separating it from the general run of SUVs that aren’t really SUVs;
  • It should fit nicely in my existing garage;
  • Operating expenses would likely not be much different from what I’m spending now on Gwendolyn. (The EX will burn a tad more fuel, but most repairs will be covered under warranty for four years.)

The EX is not a particularly good off-road vehicle, though, so were I to move way out into the sticks, I’d be better served by something with more rock-hopping capability.

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Contact sport

Thunder radio guy Matt Pinto questioned the sheer number of fouls called on Oklahoma City at the Pepsi Center, noting that Denver put up 36 free throws, making 30. On the other hand, you have to figure that if there was that much going on, the Thunder had to be getting physical, something they haven’t been doing consistently, and in the end they were simply overrun, the Nuggets earning a sweep of the four-game series with a 122-112 win.

Then again, OKC made 25 of 29 from the stripe, .862 versus .833, so there was plenty of banging around on both sides. Rebounds were even at 40; the Nuggets shot a little better (53.8 percent to 47.1). What Denver really did well was to force turnovers: they got 13 blocks (seven by Chris “Birdman” Andersen) and 11 steals, versus 6 and 9 for the Thunder.

As always, the major threats were Carmelo Anthony (31 points) and Nene (23 points, 10 boards). Chauncey Billups rang up 18 points, 16 in the third quarter when the Nuggets started pulling away; both J. R. Smith and Linas Kleiza managed double figures from off the bench. From beyond the arc, Denver hit six of 17.

Kevin Durant put together a 31-point night, with Jeff Green adding 24 and Nenad Krstić 17. Russell Westbrook got his ninth double-double, 14 points and 11 assists. OKC made 5 of 12 treys.

Overall, a decent showing, but still an L, the 57th of the year. There’s one home game left, against the Bobcats; the team finishes with a three-game road trip.

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A little gore, a little Grease

For two weekends only, CityRep and UCO team up for Zombie Prom. Set in 1950s Enrico Fermi High, Zombie Prom is the story of a love between two students, one of whom is still alive, and you can’t get much more high-concept than that.

Lots of spoilers here.

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Tenure (I has it)

On the 16th of April, 1996, France Télécom, not yet privatized by the French government, set up an Internet portal at wanadoo.fr. At the time, I’d already been on the Web for a week.

Now Wanadoo is gone, replaced by orange.com, but I’m still here after thirteen years.

It occurred to me some time last week that I have one person on the blogroll who wasn’t even born when I started out. And I’m pretty sure that when I put up Vent #1, I wasn’t even coming close to envisioning Vent #624.

It took almost three years to push the counter over 6,000. Today it’s at 1.7 million, not counting people who just read the feed. I am grateful to the regulars, who make this more of a joy and less of a chore, and to the search-engine drive-by types, who make Monday mornings a tad funnier. (“Strange search-engine queries” dates back to September 2005; there’s even an explanation of sorts in the comments.)

And now, back to the Same Old Stuff.

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Just to be sure we’re on the same page

Gear Live reminds you that iTunes may not be used as a weapon or as a component of same. From the most recent EULA, under “Export Controls”:

You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of missiles, or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

So if you’re planning to force a dictator from his hidey-hole by playing loud music at all hours, take note: Steve Jobs does not approve, and he might just take away your iPod.

(Suggested by this Fark thread.)

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You don’t have to tell me twice

As seen here:

Take heed, blackhearted reactionaries of international blog non-linking, for this is your final warning! All those who foolishly refuse to contribute to peaceful blogospheric cooperation through trackbackery will taste the hot sting of Iowahawk’s radioactive weapons of singlehearted unity!

If this doesn’t work, blame TypePad. I plan to.

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As part of the anniversary celebration

It seems like a good time to put up a picture of Angie Harmon, who when this site started was still on Baywatch Nights.

Angie Harmon

(Click to embiggen. You know you want to. Picture snagged from fan site angieharmon.nl.)

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329

It’s the 329th Carnival of the Vanities, with a nod to the upcoming Tea Parties all across this land.

Some people wonder why these gatherings are even taking place. Mostly, it’s to point out a bit of old country wisdom: if you find yourself in a hole, the first thing you should do is quit digging. Washington, alas, can’t seem to grasp this simple concept: it’s as though visions of Bobcat 329 Excavators are dancing in their heads.

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A platform we can get behind

Or around, or something:

When I was in that dressing room on Sunday, there were clothes that ran from size 2 to size 6, size 36 to size 40. There were 2s that were too big and 6s that were too snug. The YSL skirt? A 40, and needs to be taken in. The Graeme Black? Also a 40, and absolutely perfect. That isn’t about me or that extra glass of wine or piece of chocolate cake, that’s just the Randomness of the Fashion Universe, about which I can do absolutely nothing. I am more than my number, I have finally come to know.

Although I will say that when I rule the world, there will be universally consistent sizing. Honestly, I could probably get elected to the Presidency just by running on that platform, huh? “Vote for Style Spy, and all your pants will be the same size!” Record numbers of women voters would sweep me into office in a landslide.

Not being a woman voter, I find just as admirable — and, yes, voteworthy — the fact that she scored the YSL and Graeme Black skirts for a total of $112. (Manufacturer’s suggested retail price: $1,900.)

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Chaste across many lands

Having already plugged Dawn Eden’s The Thrill of the Chaste, and having speculated wildly about the Chinese-language version thereof, I figure the very least I can do is mention the new Polish version, Dreszcz czystości, for which she’ll actually be doing a book tour later this month.

Chinese and Polish covers for The Thrill of the Chaste

Contrast and compare: Chinese cover, left; Polish cover, right.

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A record you’d rather not set

Winds up to 55 mph, temperatures in the 80s, dew points in the teens — we all know what that means. And when the fires started in eastern Oklahoma County, they spread like, well, that’s what they do.

The first fire was reported yesterday afternoon around SE 29th and Post Road; through this morning, about 100 homes had been destroyed. Jerry Lojka of the MCFD reported that all 89 of Midwest City’s firefighters were fighting the fire late Thursday, perhaps the first time the entire force had been deployed in the same area. So far, no serious injuries have been reported, and most of the folks close by have been evacuated.

Winds have shifted to a more northerly direction, cooling temperatures into the 40s, but they’re still stiff, with gusts near 40 mph, which means that it’s going to be another long day for firefighters. Next expected rain: Saturday night.

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Taking leave of the Census

An argument for boycotting the damned thing:

It was all fine and good in 1810 when they were mainly allocating Congressional Districts, but today the census is the main vehicle for allocating huge amounts of extra-Constitutional federal spending, and provides the information legislators use to justify any number of new taxes and spending programs. It’s time for us to all take those census forms and just circular file them. I think that this is a particularly powerful act this time around given the emphasis the Obama administration has put on the census as part of its policy initiatives.

In my own business, I get Federal census forms and labor department surveys and tourism board surveys — stacks of these things — and I toss every one of them into the trash. I have zero need to help provide government with the ammunition to further rape my wallet and trash my rights.

A possible counterargument, from the comments to that post:

You may chose to remove yourself from the population and/or voter’s lists, but I assure you the many, many dead people registered to vote in Chicago and Detroit will not.

Then again, inasmuch as every question on the Census (or its more-intrusive sister, the American Community Survey) is presumably vetted by Congress, if we don’t like the questions asked in 2010, there’s an election conveniently scheduled for that very year.

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Saved by Zero

This doesn’t happen too often, you may be sure:

A couple days ago, while doing the usual grocery shopping, I spotted some Zero bars sitting on the rack at the cash register. Usually, I couldn’t care less about candy — most of the time I only buy it because it’s Halloween and I need to give something away. But Zero bars are another thing altogether. It’s not because it tastes better than other candy or that I’m fascinated by its novelty or that I have weird cravings for it. It’s because its appearance — when or where — is so unpredictable. While I was growing up, even in the southeast where it is supposedly abundant, a store might carry the candy bar one day and not the next. So who knows when it’ll show up again.

Of course, you can always order them through Amazon.com, but somehow it’s just not the same.

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They should cram it

Kay gets scammed by scum:

Yesterday I got online to pay my utility bills (I’ve become a paperless kind of gal) and got pretty cranky when my AT&T bill had an extra $36.99 on it. This month is tight as hell as I’ve mentioned here. I paid the damned bill in bad humor and after I paid the others, I got on the phone to AT&T and hollered about the extra charges. It turns out that they were bogus charges was from a “crammer” and AT&T knows all about them.

And when I called the numbers for the offender that the CSR gave me, I was told that someone gave my phone number and name to get email and fax service. I asked what address they gave and was told that she couldn’t give me that. She got an earful as y’all can well believe. She finally gave me the confirmation numbers I needed for AT&T to take them off my bill. I called AT&T back and gave them the info and asked more questions. She credited the $36.99 and told me to report it as identity theft.

She’s not alone, it appears; this crap goes on all the time despite an alleged government crackdown.

Kay says “their corporate officers should be jailed.” I think “castrated with a dull spoon” is more like it.

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And then it turned into a catfight

Last time in Charlotte, it was seriously close, the Bobcats squeezing out a 103-97 win. Didn’t look like it was going to happen tonight: the Thunder got to a 14-point lead in the second quarter and were up 11 at the half. But the Cats weren’t going away quietly — they actually took the lead briefly in the fourth quarter — and stayed close all the way. With 48 seconds left, Nenad Krstić put up a jumper to put OKC up by five, 83-78; D. J. Augustin answered with a trey, and neither side could put up a basket. Kevin Durant sank a free throw, missed another, and the Cats failed to get a trey for the tie, the Thunder escaping with an 84-81 win.

You might look at that score and think “titanic defensive struggle,” and you might be right: Charlotte put up 87 shots and connected on only 29. Durant, who got most of his 20 points in the first half, spent the second half swatting away Bobcat shots, finishing with three steals and two blocks despite playing the last six minutes with five fouls. And much of this display of D was done without Thabo Sefolosha, who dislocated a finger early on; Kyle Weaver stepped in, blocked three shots and pulled off four steals. OKC recorded 50 rebounds, versus 39 for Charlotte, and while the Thunder were hopeless beyond the arc — zilch until Durant swished one in the final frame — they made 37 of 79 from the floor for a comparatively-respectable 46.8 percent.

Four Charlotte starters did make double figures, and Gerald Wallace had a double-double (10 points, 14 boards), but Augustin, who played 35 minutes off the bench (!), led the Cats with 20. Wallace did some serious damage to the Thunder, executing five steals and making some timely runs at the rim. Emeka Okafor, not so much: five points, albeit with nine rebounds.

All three of the Musketeers picked up double-doubles: Durant with 20 points and 10 boards, Jeff Green with 10 points and 11 boards, Russell Westbrook with 10 points and 11 assists. But the sharpshooter of the night was Krstić, who hit 9 of 12 for 19 points.

Never again will this many people (19,163) see a Thunder home game; after tonight, the Ford Center remodeling begins, and next season there will be 500-600 fewer seats. (I’m hoping the final figure is 18,625, which would put the Ford exactly one seat up on Boston’s TD Banknorth Garden.) Eighteen of 41 games, including this one, were sold out; for the year, the Thunder moved 97.7 percent of the available seats. It’s been a fun run, even if we did lose 26 of those 41. We won’t next year.

Now begins a three-game road trip to finish the season. The Bobcats are complaining that they got hit with a four-game road trip to finish the season, which surely sucks 33.3 percent more. Then again, they only hit 33.3 percent of their shots in this game.

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Quote of the week

I’ve been buying wind power for five years now, with no regrets, but realistically, it’s a drop in the bucket:

Sure, I think it would be fantastic if we could harness wind and solar power for residential electricity; transmission costs being what they are, I think we’ll end up with some form of local power generation sooner or later. But we don’t have the technology to get all of our juice from sun and storm just yet, and even if we did, we don’t have anywhere near the infrastructure we’d need to store it against times when it gets calm or cloudy. We could (and should) build a big whack of fission powerplants — sure, the waste is scaaaaawwwy, but unlike coal-plant exhaust it can easily be kept in one place — but a CANDU reactor, say, isn’t exactly something you throw together over a weekend. Local solar and wind plus enough large-scale fission to make a difference is a glancingly plausible medium-term strategy: we know how to do it; it’s just an engineering (or in the case of fission, testicle-finding) problem at this point. I’d bet that honest-to-balls fusion power becomes practical before large-scale solar and wind does.

But well-understood engineering problems aren’t exactly rhetorical scaffolds suitable for grandiose demagoguery, now are they? So instead we get wild pipe dreams about “solar farms” pumping compressed air into abandoned mines and beaming “energy” across the country with the magical power of benevolent unicorns.

And all of these leprechaun jobs, of course, require some sort of taxpayer subsidy, so to level the playing field, we’ll make sure everyone has to pay an extra half a buck a kilowatt-hour.

Everyone except Congress, anyway.

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Reversion therapy (2)

Remember MS-DOS 4? The Vista of its day, it allowed for some amazing advances in the state of the operating-system art — imagine, support for 2-GB partitions! — but it was buggier than a Minnesota lakeside. Microsoft eventually got around to fixing the issues, but some of us slid over to DR DOS, a Digital Research product already at a 5.0 level, rather than jump through Microsoft’s hoops. (Digital Research, cannily, never had a version 4.x; they went from 3.41 to 5.0.)

If nothing else, eventually you get over the notion that Newer is Better. A couple of years ago, I supplanted XP’s woefully-inept search function with something called Copernic Desktop Search, which, once it had indexed however many thousands of files I had, did a splendid job of finding stuff.

That was version 2.x. Version 3 revealed a development fork: a small amount of advertising would support the free version, and an industrial-strength version would cost you. Fine, I said, I can stand a few ads. What I couldn’t stand: the reduced functionality, and the amazing number of CPU cycles version 3 wanted to consume. I’d have paid for the functionality, but maxing out my processor is unforgivable. So the current project is to restore version 2 (already done, reindexing under way) and to keep it from phoning home and demanding updates (in progress).

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History in the remaking

Tonight the Thunder are playing at Milwaukee. I happened to be thinking of this while I was checking over the NewsOK site for stuff I might have missed in the paper this morning, so I hit a couple of links in the sidebar that eventually brought up the box score for the first Bucks-Thunder clash this season, on the 29th of October, opening night at the Ford.

And while the scores were in place, something was very wrong. In the Thunder half of the box, seventeen players are listed: the NBA roster limit is fifteen. Eleven played, which is correct; but six are listed as Did Not Play—Coach’s Decision, which isn’t. In fact, of the six DNPs, five weren’t even on the team at the time: on the night Malik Rose was supposedly benched by the Thunder, he was actually putting in six minutes as a reserve for the Knicks, who were beating Miami at Madison Square Garden. Hell, Nenad Krstić was still in the Russian league at the time.

Somebody at The Sports Network, which dishes up these data dumps, isn’t paying attention, or something.

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How to drive a very long way

During the various World Tours, I’ve logged somewhere around 30,000 miles, which is a pretty fair distance, considering it took not quite 90 days of actual driving to accumulate those miles. And it’s a relatively painless process if you stick to a few simple rules:

Keeping the cruise control on at ten over out on the open highway is a lot more relaxing and doesn’t require any head-on-a-swivel behavior, really. I’ve never attracted a hint of interest from Johnny Law at ten over on the interstate, probably because I practice good lane discipline, leave adequate following distances, and signal my lane changes. In town, I just keep up with the flow of traffic around me; I don’t want to stand out from the herd.

I don’t get quite as much use out of the cruise control, but I don’t have any trouble maintaining a steady speed without it. (Force of habit, based on not actually having had a car with cruise control until the middle 90s, is my only explanation.) And not attracting attention to yourself is paramount: all else being equal, the gendarmes tend to prefer the easy bust, and that’s the idiot wandering all over the road at from five to twenty-five over.

Disclosure: For about four minutes during one of the Tours I was in the next lane over from her. Didn’t realize it at first. Then again, it’s not like she was attracting attention to herself.

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The elephants of style

Strunk and White? Who needs ’em?

The Elements of Style does not deserve the enormous esteem in which it is held by American college graduates. Its advice ranges from limp platitudes to inconsistent nonsense. Its enormous influence has not improved American students’ grasp of English grammar; it has significantly degraded it…

[B]oth authors were grammatical incompetents. Strunk had very little analytical understanding of syntax, White even less. Certainly White was a fine writer, but he was not qualified as a grammarian. Despite the post-1957 explosion of theoretical linguistics, Elements settled in as the primary vehicle through which grammar was taught to college students and presented to the general public, and the subject was stuck in the doldrums for the rest of the 20th century.

One sentence is singled out for sheer didactic ineptitude:

“The adjective hasn’t been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place.”

That’s actually not just three strikes, it’s four, because in addition to contravening “positive form” and “active voice” and “nouns and verbs,” it has a relative clause (“that can pull”) removed from what it belongs with (the adjective), which violates another edict: “Keep related words together.”

One assumes that offenses of this sort are precisely the motivation for this author’s own grammar book: the contemporary polemic hasn’t been written that fails to criticize everything that has gone before.

(Via Fark.)

Update: One should not, in fact, so assume: see Comments.

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Buckshot

We have a choice of excuses here: fourth game in five days, a general dearth of defense with both Nick Collison and Thabo Sefolosha out, mental letdown after a triumphant final home game. I’m leaning toward “the Bucks finally snapped after a 1-9 stretch and vowed to take it out on whomever.” Whatever the reasons, the Thunder’s one trip to Milwaukee resulted in a 115-98 near-blowout at the Bradley Center, the Bucks taking command late in the second quarter and pounding OKC 37-21 in the third.

Richard Jefferson, in fact, matched his season high with 35 points, and Luke Ridnour, a Sonic last year subsequently dealt to the Bucks, didn’t miss a shot all night: he was 8 for 8 from the floor, including two treys. Milwaukee put up 22 three-balls, making nine; the Bucks shot 52.4 percent from the floor, 10 percent better than the Thunder, and blocked six OKC shots.

Then again, maybe there’s something to that lack-of-defense bit after all: the Thunder managed to block exactly zero shots by Milwaukee. But they compensated with a lack of offense: Jeff Green came up with a mere 7 points despite taking 12 shots, and Kevin Durant, though effective from downtown, was less so closer in: he was 3-4 from beyond the arc, 3-9 (!) from within. It would have been worse were it not for Shaun Livingston, who put on another show, nailing all seven of his shots. (Livingston, in fact, was second only to Durant among OKC scorers, with 14.) And Earl Watson, spurned by Scott Brooks for weeks now, actually got 30 minutes tonight, more than any of the starters except Kyle Weaver; the Earl scored only five, but he served up seven assists, the team high.

That’s 80 games. Number 81 will presumably be a thwacking by the Trail Blazers; number 82 will be God knows what against the Clippers.

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Yeah, but can they climb stairs?

Ladies and gentlemen, the Dalekettes:

Dalekettes

(Via io9.)

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Failure of sin tax

The Nevada Senate has killed a measure to impose a state tax on bordello services, which might have brought as much as $2 million a year to the empty coffers in Carson City.

My first thought was that legislators wouldn’t want to tax whores anyway: professional courtesy, doncha know. But this is what really got me: the brothel owners were actually in favor of the tax.

George Flint, chief lobbyist for the state’s prostitution industry as head of the Nevada Brothel Association, called the proposed tax a kind of “insurance policy” against future efforts by the state to end legalized brothels.

Flint testified in favor of the bill earlier this week along with several working ladies.

[Insert “restraint of trade” joke here.]

In other news, there is a Nevada Brothel Association.

And I have to figure that the counties that permit this activity, which do collect fees from the practitioners thereof, would complain if the state were to try to shut it down.

(Via Hit & Run.)

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Beyond our understanding

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Rolled in a different sense

Pete Waterman, co-author/co-producer (with Mike Stock and Matt Aitken) of Rick Astley’s big hit, is making no money from Rickrolling:

The 62-year-old said the Rick Astley classic “Never Gonna Give You Up”, which he co-wrote and which was the subject of a YouTube craze last year, had earned him just £11 from Google, despite being viewed 154 million times.

Waterman, whose fortune was estimated at £47 million by The Times in 2004, compared this treatment to the “exploitation” of migrant workers in the Middle East.

PRS for Music, the successor to Britain’s Performing Rights Society, has been battling YouTube (and owner Google) since March; YouTube has been pulling videos as a result. From the YouTube blog:

Our previous licence from PRS for Music has expired, and we’ve been unable so far to come to an agreement to renew it on terms that are economically sustainable for us. There are two obstacles in these negotiations: prohibitive licensing fees and lack of transparency. We value the creativity of musicians and songwriters and have worked hard with rights-holders to generate significant online revenue for them and to respect copyright. But PRS is now asking us to pay many, many times more for our licence than before. The costs are simply prohibitive for us — under PRS’s proposed terms we would lose significant amounts of money with every playback. In addition, PRS is unwilling to tell us what songs are included in the license they can provide so that we can identify those works on YouTube — that’s like asking a consumer to buy an unmarked CD without knowing what musicians are on it.

Truth be told, I never did figure out how YouTube got any money in the first place, unless they’re getting the spare change from Sergey Brin’s couch.

Still, you’d think Stock/Aitken/Waterman would be realizing more than fifty bucks per annum off something that everyone this side of Tierra del Fuego has clicked on at least twice. Maybe there should be a Rickrolling Fund, whereby those who have committed this ghastly crime against humanity are allowed to expiate their guilt by kicking in a quarter to S/A/W.

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Strange search-engine queries (167)

Time to shake out the old referrer logs for another week and see what falls out:

africans who bought maybachs:  I’m just wondering how many quadrillions of Zimbabwean dollars those would cost.

chandler cornerstone church music sucks:  Um, have you considered, say, going to another church?

french riviera nude mamas:  Also, occasionally, papas.

do you walk barefoot before you go to bed?  Sometimes up to my chin.

gatorade and sex drive:  Suddenly those “Is it in you?” commercials seem creepy.

yogi bear putting ketchup on filet mignon in paris:  Well, I guess that’s okay, so long as he doesn’t wash it down with Gatorade.

why women hate perves and creeps:  Isn’t being pervy and creepy enough of a reason?

mayor nagin looks like squidward:  Come to think of it, I can see Kathleen Blanco as Sandy Cheeks.

duffer geezer coot:  I resemble that remark. Now get off my lawn.

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An elevated perspective

Jeffro uncovers a video of a runway model who can’t cope with her high heels, and wonders about the cost-benefit ratio:

I like seeing a nice set of female legs showcased by high heels as much as the next guy, but I have to wonder about the comfort vs gain equation — does wearing a pair gain “enough” to warrant the discomfort? I had a pair of pretty tall platform shoes in the late seventies with some lift in the heel — and I can guarantee you the concentration level for mere walking was highly increased. Run in those shoes? It is to laugh. The cool thing about those shoes was how much more I towered over people. I’m 6’3″, so I found out what being a few inches taller would be like — if I could only walk without tripping on bird doo on the sidewalk.

There are, says Fetiche Nouvelle, three steps, so to speak, involved in the mastery of this particular art:

  • Keep your legs close together.
  • Put one foot directly in front of the other.
  • Take short steps; don’t be in a hurry!

This is one case where a Meat Loaf-ian two out of three is bad; a failure in any of these areas can result in anything from temporary discomfort to, in the case of the young lady in Jeffro’s video, multiple faceplants.

And I suspect, if only because of the laws of physics, that the higher the heel, the greater the potential for mishap. (Perhaps it’s exponential: a four-inch heel might be sixteen times more likely to give you grief than flats would. I have no actual data on this matter, however.)

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Leveling the playing field burial ground

Comparable worth? Yeah, right. When are we going to get comparable death?

Statistics show that women outlive men by a substantial margin. There is nothing fair about this. Seriously, what could be more unfair than death? So, I propose some sort of “comparable death” rule. I’m no policy wonk (so the details will have to worked out by the usual committees), but the bottom line is that it is high time we spared men from having to continue their struggle against this most deadly form of discrimination. Seriously, we often hear talk of the “glass ceiling” that women face. Bad as this is, it pales by comparison with the plight dead men face each day.

Yes, many women do remain on the wrong side of the “glass.” But can that misfortune really be compared to being on the wrong side of the “grass”?

Sauce, goose, gander, apply as needed, no warranty expressed or implied.

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Four letters, starts with F

Yep:

Our Teachers Make a Differance

(Given an F by Joanne Jacobs.)

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Revolting door

From last summer, Renuka Vembu on the dodgy subject of personnel retention:

Salvaging the talent pool is a tough task for companies and HR departments alike. However, this is an inconvenient truth in the stark reality of attrition versus the desperate efforts of retention. Any organization suffers when the most efficient and valuable employee decides to part ways — be it the top notch or lower down the ranks, they create a vacuum — either for the company in large or in their immediate frame of surroundings.

Employees are said to be a company’s greatest asset. Attracting, safeguarding, nurturing and preserving them is a mission in itself, which takes total commitment and endorsement. While the middle management has a career chart well in place to take on the next position, the top hierarchy has a contingency plan laid firm. It is the group which is lower down the ranks for whom there is no succession planning strategy in place, and who comprise the volatile lot. They are easy targets of poaching in the competitive talent market.

Then again, that was last summer. An eternity ago. About the time of my last vacation, in fact.

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All this crap looks the same

Oh, wait. No, it doesn’t.

Come to think of it, neither does this.

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