Archive for April 2012

For instance, the Harold Tribune

Occasionally I’d find myself mentioned in something called paper.li, and I’d find a line or two of something I’ve written and a link to the rest of it, set on a screen that, were it not for its landscape orientation, would be a reasonable approximation of a news site seeking to look like a newspaper.

Late last night — I’d already gone to bed — the standard Twitter notification came out, and since I’m going to point you to the actual issue, I’ll use the actual tweet:

Diana’s Undead Daily is out! http://bit.ly/lRhira ▸ Top stories today via @jackjirou @vegaorion @scribe77 @raezorfxlauren @dustbury

The bit.ly link lands here, and yes, there’s that zombie legal action I posted about yesterday, alongside more than a dozen pieces from other folks addressing the matter of undeadness. For people who are looking to become news aggregators on specific topics, this might be extremely handy.

Paper.li explains itself:

Paper.li is a content curation service. It enables people to publish newspapers based on topics they like and treat their readers to fresh news, daily.

We believe that people (and not machines) are the ones qualified to curate the content that matters most. We also think that these same people can greatly help their own communities to find their way through this “massive content world” we live in. We’re here to help!

Diana Trees, the publisher of Diana’s Undead Daily, also puts out a general-news edition called the Diana Trees Daily, plus editions devoted to vampires and “Violent & Powerful Females.”

This is, I note, the third different paper.li publisher (so far as I can tell) who has found something of mine worthy.

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Starring Ward and Eldridge Cleaver

Back in 1998 I tossed up the notion of Convenient Fictions, “bits of silliness we cling to without any evidence that they represent anything that actually exists.” You might expect that things like this in aggregate would ultimately result in cognitive dissonance, or worse, and often as not you’d be correct: if two such fictions happen to conflict with one another, it’s as though you opened a box of antimatter in a room full of matter, and the destruction is practically instantaneous.

And so we are told that our nation is multicultural, that we benefit from a multiplicity of ethnicities with their variety of subcultures, and that we should glory in our diversity — yet every member of each of those ethnicities practicing said subcultures is exactly identical, perfectly interchangeable with one another, with no differences beyond the trivial. In mathematical terms, 1 equals 2, for certain specific values of 1.

So it was necessary to punish John Derbyshire for suggesting that this equation didn’t quite add up: forbidden arithmetic is forbidden for a reason, after all. Says Francis W. Porretto:

One cannot challenge the pieties of a society without provoking condemnation or ostracism. To question a piety, even along its margins, is to ask to be thrown out of the church. This is an absolute that applies to all peoples and times… If we are in thrall to a piety contrary to the actual facts of our society, we are in danger too. The question is only of degree.

Derb’s excommunication, you may be certain, was swift and merciless: if we say one doesn’t equal two, we’re questioning the very definition of equality, and how dare we do such a thing?

Not that I have any particular pity for Derb, who’s ticked me off before, but I was hoping this year for an improvement in the condition of the Emperor. We already knew about the transparency of his raiment, but now we see that he’s covered with boils.

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Frustrations vented

For a while, it was close. Late in the third quarter, it was OKC 58, Toronto 55, and Scott Brooks hadn’t quite figured out how to put away the Raptors. He needn’t have worried: the Thunder ran up 12 unanswered points to close the quarter, and twelve more to start the fourth. By then it was 82-55, and finally DeMar DeRozan stopped DeBleeding. The Raptors didn’t give up, but Brooks, noting that the 22-0 run was pulled off mostly by the second unit, opted to rest the starters, except for Thabo Sefolosha, in the fourth quarter, and the Thunder ultimately dispatched Toronto, 91-75.

Part of Toronto’s problem was losing Andrea Bargnani early to a calf strain; he’d gotten seven points and five rebounds in 13 minutes before exiting. However, José Calderón and Gary Forbes, both announced as day-to-day, were able to play. (Calderón led all Toronto scorers with 19; Forbes led the bench with eight.) And the Raptors outrebounded the Thunder 43-42, though offensive-glass grabs were even at 11.

With fewer minutes to work with — only Kevin Durant played even 30 — the big Thunder scorers did not score big: Durant had 23, James Harden 17, Russell Westbrook 15. You want numbers, look at Nick Collison: six points, three steals, nine rebounds (seven offensive). As glue guys go, he’s the real thing: 100 percent organic mucilage.

In this abbreviated season, we’re not seeing much of the East: this is the only matchup with Toronto this year. Tomorrow, a trip to Milwaukee to see if the Deer merit fear, and that’s it for cross-conference play: the last nine games will be against Western foes, including two against the Clippers and three against the Kings. (Season ends on the 25th with a visit from the Nuggets.)

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Sixteen and counting

An open thread for the 16th anniversary of this here site on the Intarwebs, and a few historical references for the sake of, um, history.

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Strange search-engine queries (323)

This feature dates back to the fall of 2005, and will probably keep appearing so long as I’m still alive and people keep showing up in the server logs looking for weird stuff. So far, I’ve seen no indication that either of these conditions is about to change drastically.

Freak Scoring Machine FOR TRADE:  How are freaks scored, anyway? Does it require a blade? Or is this a quantitative thing, as with, say, Rick James’ “Super Freak”?

i feel damn badly:  No. You feel “damn bad.” If you actually felt “damn badly,” it would imply that your sensory apparatus (touch subsystem) was malfunctioning.

dash off: commentary pony:  Wouldn’t surprise me. Twilight Sparkle, voluble as she is, would be far more likely to offer commentary than Rainbow Dash.

how did infinti maintain its loyal customers:  By canny recognition of the fact that Infiniti owners don’t want to be treated like they’re running around in Nissans fercrissake.

too attractive work:  Never been accused of that before.

who goes first at a four way stop nc:  From what little driving I’ve done in North Carolina, I’d say it’s the other one.

does cuttlefish expire:  The fish expired long before you gave it to your parrot, which may also be pining for the fjords.

did anyone ever drive into tinker air force base, break through fences and get a dui:  If someone did, he’s lucky if all he got was a DUI.

i always blow all my winnings:  So you won’t mind if I bought a ticket on your behalf on this goat being raffled off?

spell feces:  Careful, now. Romanian witches know this spell, and they’ll cast it when provoked.

is pantyhose becommon for men:  I should behope not.

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Something I might know something about

Now here’s a question I couldn’t resist:

Can a blog be too random?

Someone voted this up for me:

As I have arguably one of the most random blogs on earth — more than sixty categories, nearly 10,000 tags — I have to say that it’s not been detrimental for me. I average a bit over five posts a day, and seldom will any two of those five be on the same topic.

Truth be told, I’d love to get those tags down to about 7500 or so, but there’s no really good way to update them in bulk.

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Why your insurance is $13k

Things like this:

Picked up a plastic doo-dad from the pharmacy yesterday. It’s just a plastic tube that goes with an inhaler, makes it easier to get a full dose of medicine or something. Whatever. It’s just a piece of plastic, no drugs of any kind. Still, the pharmacy would not sell it to me without a prescription, probably because it’s a “medical device”, and insurance won’t pay for it unless a doctor specifically orders it, and because of all this administrative overhead what should cost a dollar ends up costing the insurance company a zillion bucks.

Which gives me an excuse to quote Dr G. Keith Smith of Surgery Center of Oklahoma:

Prior to Medicare, the cost of hospital care was affordable for all but the extremely poor. The hospital bill for my birth in 1961 was less than $100, a small amount even taking inflation into account. Retired orthopedic surgeons have told me that repair of hip fractures in the pre-Medicare days ran about $300.

What happened? Medicare happened. Physicians wanted nothing to do with this scheme in the early days of the program, so to sweeten the pot, the federal government offered to pay whatever the physicians wanted to charge.

Guess what happened to physician fees?

Yours truly pointed out in 2005:

In 1998, laser eye surgery cost more than $2200 per eye; today it’s about half that, though it’s not covered by insurance plans or by Medicare. Or maybe because it’s not covered by insurance plans or by Medicare, which have their own ideas about what medical procedures should cost.

Dr Smith, along these same lines:

If you walk in to an ophthalmologist’s office and ask them how much they will charge for your Lasik surgery, you will get an answer. An amount. No “ifs, ands or buts.” Try this at your local hospital. Ask them how much for your hernia surgery or your gallbladder removal. Good luck. You probably won’t get an answer, and if you do, the amount will shock you.

Then again, nothing about health-care costs shocks me anymore, except for the claims by various governmental types that they’re going to “control” those costs. Sure they are.

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Click away

The Twisted Spinster doesn’t like your autoplay whatever it is, and will tell you so:

Really, this isn’t 2002, “OMG I can put sound on my websites that start right up!” isn’t interesting any more and it never was necessary. Get that stupid crap off your websites if you want me to visit them ever.

I admit that I used to have rotating MIDI files playing under the index page — but I got rid of them before 2000.

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Deer cross

After the second game this season against the Golden State Warriors, I said something to this effect:

[H]aving beaten the Warriors in Oakland twice, there’s only one more game, and that in OKC. Still, one should not underestimate this team. You know Monta Ellis isn’t tired yet.

It did not occur to me that the Thunder would have to deal with Monta Ellis a fourth time: he was dealt to the Milwaukee Bucks in March, and we hadn’t seen the Deer all year. I can tell you that they weren’t in a good mood: seven technicals were called tonight, and the Bucks got five of them. (Larry Sanders got two, which earned him a free trip to the locker room; even Milwaukee coach Scott Skiles got one.) And after they’d fought their way back to .500, the Thunder waltz into Bradleyville and hand them a 109-89 loss. No wonder the Bucks were unhappy.

Ellis, for his part, did roll up more minutes than any other Buck — thirty-two — but he managed only nine points, though he dished up seven assists. Brandon Jennings, the Bucks’ other major offensive threat, was held to 13; Ersan İlyasova led Milwaukee with 18.

I think we can pronounce Thabo Sefolosha cured of his ills: he played thirty minutes and scored 14, fourth behind Russell Westbrook (26), Kevin Durant (19) and James Harden (16). OKC led the race for rebounds, 44-35, and while 17 turnovers won’t win bragging rights, the Bucks had just as many.

So much for the East. Nine games remain against the West: two at home, five on the road, and two at home. As the phrase goes, it could be worse.

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Much back packed

But OMG, Becky!

Baby Got Back as a dialogue box

This has been floating around Tumblr for a while (50,000 notes!); I snagged it from Rebecca Black.

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The man who would be Commodore

My favorite Jack Tramiel story, from 2007:

Doing business with [Bill] Gates was decent, Tramiel said. “He came to see me, tried to sell me Basic and told me that I didn’t have to give him any money; all I had to give him was $3 per unit. I told him I was already married,” Tramiel said.

Tramiel instead told Gates he’d pay a flat fee of $25,000, rejecting the idea of paying $3 for each Commodore sold. “In about six weeks, [Gates] came and took that $25,000. Since then, he did not speak to me,” Tramiel said.

Which is not a worldbeater, really, but I’d just as soon not go into his childhood in Auschwitz.

Jack Tramiel, born in Poland in 1928, died Sunday at eighty-three. Someone left this on Fark:

10 POKE 53280,0
20 POKE 53281,0
30 PRINT “BYE, JACK :(”

Written in that very Basic, of course.

Addendum: Thoughts from Rob O’Hara, author of Commodork.

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Those were the days, my friend

McGehee, who’s been pounding a keyboard about as long as I have, wonders if it’s worth the effort anymore:

I really don’t think we’re making things happen anymore. Obviously I’m not, but the bigtime bloggers under their corporate umbrellas have become scared shitless of rocking the boat, lest the advertisers who fund their incomes become too jittery about the resulting controversy. And their worries are not altogether unfounded.

The early double-oughts were the Golden Age of new media. Ten years later it’s a Gilded Age where the former reformers are all smug, sluggish mugwumps.

Then again, I may retain just enough idealism to believe this still:

Few of us are big-time operators, and that’s not likely to change; but we’re right on the edge of the Era of Decentralization. Why else would the Bolshevik 2.0 crowd in Washington — which isn’t just government, by the way — be working so hard to build up their forces? Because they know they can be replaced. In such an environment as this, even the least of us matters more than he thinks.

Probably why I’m still here after sixteen years and a day.

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Following the Trend

Edward Loh’s editorial in the May Motor Trend is called “#bravenewworld,” and I admit to not taking it particularly seriously — until I looked over at the editorial masthead, as Loh suggests, and discovered that at least half of the names thereupon are accompanied by Twitter IDs. (Loh is @EdLoh.) At the very least, they’re not going to hide from us wired folk, which has got to be worth something these days.

This is what made me smile, though: they’re also on Pinterest.

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Clean as a whistle

Lubbock’s Fantasy Maid Service will clean your premises — $100 an hour for one staffer, $150 for two — dressed in as little as you desire. “There is nothing illegal going on,” says owner Melissa Borrett.

Sgt. Jonathan Stewart of the Lubbock PD says otherwise: it’s a sexually-oriented service, he says, and the maids don’t have the appropriate permit for such. Of course, he’ll have to see the operation for himself, and they will cut him some slack on the price:

We offer discounts to law enforcement and other public servants(heros), including but not limited to paramedics, fire fighters, and military (active and vets). We know how busy y’all are, so let us do your housework for you while you sit back, relax, and scope out the eye candy. :)

I would have to think long and hard before engaging such a service.

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Hence the term “cocksure”

Roosters, as a rule, are not easily cowed. (See, for instance, Lisa’s story of the Phantom Chicken of Sonoma, just about this time last year.)

Now comes this Tennessee-bred bird, who arrives every morning to hang with his breaded relatives:

A red rooster sauntered down South Street in Collierville three months ago and now makes daily visits to Gus’s Fried Chicken at 215 S. Center, cock-a-doodle-doodling to herald his arrival.

Can they get him to go? Not a chance:

Collierville Animal Services has tried for months to catch the rooster before he gets attacked by a raccoon or other predators the plucky, wily rooster may face. They want to take him to a farm where he can be with fowl that still have a pulse.

“I’ve tried reasoning with him,” said shelter manager John Robinson. “I told him it’s not good for him to be hanging around Gus’s and that he might get himself in trouble. He doesn’t listen. He fears no man or Gus.”

(Via Fark.)

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Straight outta Mumbai

Model Poonam Pandey, twenty-one this year, has enjoyed, or perhaps not enjoyed, the distinction of someone posing as her: apparently a fake showed up at a function in Ujjain, prompting this response:

“I’m aware of it and have already sent a legal notice to the event organisers. In fact, I was taken aback when the media of Ujjain informed me about this and soon after that I decided to take legal action against the organisers.”

The real Poonam Pandey looks something like this:

Poonam Pandey by the pool

Which is not to say she hasn’t invited controversy on her own. In 2011 she said she’d strip for the public if India won that year’s Cricket World Cup, drawing this response:

Speaking to The Hindu, Maharashtra BJP Mahila Morcha [women’s group] chairperson Neeta Kelkar said: “I have written a complaint to the Sangli Superintendent of Police. He has forwarded it to the Mumbai Police Commissioner. We all know this is a cheap publicity gimmick. The honourable President is going to be present in the stadium tomorrow (Saturday) to watch the match, along with the Sri Lankan President and the Prime Minister of Bangladesh. What impression will they have of our country if something like this happens in front of the huge crowds there? Ultimately, it is for the police to take action against her. The responsibility of maintaining law and order lies with them.”

India did win, but Pandey kept her clothes on.

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It couldn’t be simpler

Marko, riffing on a search-engine query — apparently some people actually curate these things — explains how to write a military novel:

Just write whatever novel you want, and then make an editing pass and insert ranks in front of every character name. Presto!

“Corporal Bella woke to find Lieutenant Edward watching her from the foot of her bed…”

Twilight: Breaking Camp at Dawn? I would so read that.

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Bugging in

The city says it’s bugging out, but what do they know? From City News, attached to the monthly utility bill:

Bring your little ones to the Myriad Gardens May 11-12 to help release thousands of hungry ladybugs into the Crystal Bridge Tropical Conservatory. Games, crafts and other hands-on activities will make for family fun. Bugs available on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 9 a.m.

Emphasis added, simply because I’m amused by insect-availability statements. There are times during the year when we’re awash in the little buggers.

If you’re not familiar with the Tropical Conservatory, or “Supertube” as no one calls it, this is what grows in there.

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L.A.ed to rest

You’re forgiven if you weren’t thinking of the Los Angeles Clippers as a defense-minded outfit. I mean, yeah, they have Blake Griffin, though he’s known more for dunkaliciousness. But Blake was hauling in the rebounds left and right tonight — he finished with 12 — and Chris Paul, held to seven points in the first half, exploded; the Clips held the Thunder to a mere 13 points in ten minutes and took a five-point lead at the two-minute mark. Then Serge Ibaka did one of his patented Air Congo dunks, and Kevin Durant fired a three-pointer right over Griffin’s scalp, and suddenly with 32 seconds left, it was tied at 98. CP3 was not done yet: he managed to use just over 23 seconds to drive to the rim for a layup, Durant backrimmed a trey, and the Blakers, who always seem to have the Thunder’s number, pulled off a 100-98 win.

By “exploded,” incidentally, I mean “24 points in the second half.” That’s 31 for Paul. Then again, the Clips’ big push in the fourth started with the second unit, while Paul rested for the stretch run. Reserve swingman Nick Young, in fact, had the highest plus/minus of the night: +11. The Clips outshot the Thunder, 47-41 percent, though OKC had two more rebounds. (And the Thunder made 12 of 26 treys, though the question remains: why are they trying 26 treys?) L. A. didn’t get to the foul line that often, but they made 19 of 21, not bad for a team that is known for clanking them. (Even Griffin, arguably the worst, only missed one.)

The problem for OKC was too many shots that didn’t go anywhere useful, although you can probably thank the Clippers for some of that. Durant went 7-21; Russell Westbrook was 3-14. (Westbrook did put up 15 free throws, making 13 of them.) I mean, when your most efficient offense comes from Derek Fisher — 3-5, 2-2 from three, 8 points in less than 15 minutes — someone needs to raise the You’re Doing It Wrong flag. All the role-playing guys played their roles; it’s just that the stars were misaligned, or out of position, or something.

The Kings will be here Friday night. Saturday night, it’s off to Minnesota. As Scott Brooks might say, these guys can play. We’ll see the Clippers once more, at the Staples Center, as if having to play the Lakers there once more wasn’t bad enough.

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All things Kernsidered

Filing for state political offices began yesterday, and I’ve already been dealt my first surprise: Sally Kern is being primaried.

Curtis Moore, filing as a Republican in House District 84, lives in Bethany; I am not entirely certain if he’s the same Curtis Moore who sells insurance and who represents Ward 1 on the Bethany City Council, but if so, at least he’s not a political novice, as is often the case with sacrificial lambs in both parties.

I have little personal stake in this race, since I don’t live in 84 and I expect the GOP will hold a comfortable margin in the House anyway, but this race is always interesting. The 2010 Democratic candidate, Brittany Novotny, has moved out of the district; at this writing no Democrat has filed in 84. There’s still plenty of time, though: filing ends Friday at 5 pm.

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Larger than lint

I’ve never quite believed that there’s an alternate dimension which occasionally swallows up a single sock, but what other explanation is there?

Research has been proposed:

Maybe it was my idea to end the plight of the refugee sock orphans? All I suggested was that we take a picture of every sock orphan and tape them to the sides of all the laundry hampers and baskets. Like they used to do on milk cartons. Let’s face it. Laundry for 7 means a LOT of hampers and baskets! Then, if no family members were found, we could decide their fates as needed.

Personal observation suggests that sock orphans increase with the square of the number of sock wearers on the premises, so if I lose one sock a year, they lose one just about every week. Come to think of it, I haven’t lost one this year, though I can think of two that could probably be dropped into the rag bag. Do they match? Not a chance.

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Stop me if you’ve heard this one

John Johansen’s Mummers Theatre in downtown Oklahoma City has always had its detractors; it is said that upon its completion, civic booster Stanton L. Young ran a campaign to plant enough foliage to hide it.

Mr Young probably never saw this:

Orange County Government Center

Now that’s Brutalist. Paul Rudolph designed the Orange County [New York] Government Center in 1963; it was completed four years later.

Does this sound familiar?

The Orange County Government Center, closed all last week because of water damage and a power outage caused by Hurricane Irene, shut down again Thursday — indefinitely this time — for the county to remove water and mold attributed to the continued rainfall.

“The unrelenting rains have caused considerable building-related issues which have impacted the operations of the County Government Center,” County Executive Ed Diana said in a statement after the 3 p.m. closure. “As a result, I have ordered that the building be closed until further notice as we evaluate and remediate the situation.”

Demolition is being pondered. The New York Times asks:

Many want to preserve it, even though, like many examples of Brutalism, it has not aged well. Do even ugly, unpopular buildings deserve to be saved if they are significant? Or should a community, or owner, be allowed to eliminate architectural mistakes?

I think you know where I stand. But I’m not the guy who has to sign the checks for the preservation money.

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A lower higher-education bubble

Santa Monica College, a two-year school in the California Community Colleges system, came up with a way to continue to meet student demand while dealing with budget cuts: offer high-demand core classes at a higher tuition rate. A typical three-credit-hour course might run $150; under the SMC plan, the courses most in demand would be repriced to $600. This went over about as well as you think it would:

The Board of Trustees at Santa Monica College voted Friday to postpone a two-tiered fee increase that led to angry campus protests where students were pepper-sprayed… The trustees had approved the two-tier fee scale last month.

Students called for a referendum on the measure, and California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott asked [President Chui] Tsang to put the plan on hold, expressing concerns about its legality. The school has said its lawyers have concluded the plan is legal.

The California Assembly had considered, but did not pass, a bill to make such plans legal.

(Via Joanne Jacobs at Community College Spotlight.)

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Not getting any cheaper

Somehow this seems like a ton of money:

According to TrueCar.com’s data, the average selling price of a new car sold here in the U.S. last month was $30,748, marking an all-time record (last year’s figure was just $28,771). While buyers are currently looking toward smaller, less expensive and more fuel-efficient models, overall vehicle sales have jumped ahead of the rest of the slowly recovering economy. In addition, manufacturers are keeping production more in line with demand, resulting in significantly scaled-back incentives.

That new number looked strangely familiar, so I dug into the archives and came up with $30,519, the original sticker price of my ride. Then again, that was in 2000; adjusted for inflation, that’s more like $40,348.

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So here it begins

Is it just my imagination, or does Shining Armor look like he’s awaiting instructions from the Borg?

Shining Armor with Princess Cadence before the Royal Wedding

And now that I think about it, given vaguely similar circumstances, I probably had exactly the same expression way back in nineteen mumblety-mumb.

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Value-subtracted manufacturing

Last month I grumbled a bit about a rather lengthy piece of spam that embedded a paragraph from Wikipedia in its otherwise-nondescript verbiage, the better to get past Bayesian filters and such. It would, I admit, never have occurred to me that this practice had been raised to a higher level, so to speak:

Last October 24 the brilliant Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. And on the same day another book was also published, by an alleged publisher called CreateSpace: It was called Fast and Slow Thinking, and advertised as having an author named Karl Daniels. Only it is not really a book. It is a compilation of snippets from Wikipedia articles and the like, dressed up like a book.

Amazon reviewers so far have been unanimous in their scorn for the book — nine reviews, a total of nine stars, as low as you can go — though one fellow did find some redeeming social value in it:

What you really need is a book you don’t care about, that’s worthless, and ideally, is a convenient size for squishing spiders with.

That’s where this paperback edition of Fast and Slow Thinking by Karl Daniels really shines. It’s a small size with a decent amount of weight, perfectly sized for medium to small hands. It’s reasonably well balanced for emergency throws (when you can’t be bothered to get off the sofa, for those hard-to-reach spiders, or for “runners.”) I appreciated the glossy cover, which makes it easy to wipe the legs and squishy innards off later. Since you’ll never want to read it, you won’t feel bad for soiling it.

At this writing, the Daniels “book” is out of stock. Must be a lot of spiders in the nation’s living rooms.

Addendum: Perfect Fark blurb: No, no, Dickens wrote David Copperfield with two Ps. This is David Coperfield with one P by Edmund Wells.

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Quote of the week

A report Carl Cameron of Fox News — or indeed any of the tools at any of the cable newsers — would never have given, as imagined by Robert Stacy McCain:

“Top strategists for so-called ‘front-runner’ Mitt Romney, the worthless RINO flip-flopper who is trying to buy the Republican nomination, today gave reporters in Boston what I can only describe as The Mother of All Spin Jobs. Presenting the gullible national press corps with a transparent flim-flam about the delegate count, a top Romney adviser laid down such a thick layer of putrid dishonest bullshit I nearly vomited.”

Which is a shame, because I can’t remember a single day in this election year when some form of putrid dishonest bullshit wasn’t being propagated.

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RBs for all

Fond as I am of bashing Tinseltown, I must admit that even if you’re on the periphery of The Industry, you get to meet some pretty remarkable people.

Hence this shot — Instagrammed by her manager — of Rebecca Black and Ryan Bingham, arguably the two most dissimilar voices in all of southern California at that moment, enough to make me wonder what it would take to get these two into a duet:

Rebecca Black and Ryan Bingham, photo by Debra Baum

This was titled “RB Squared,” because, well, why wouldn’t it be?

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A right abdication

The Kings made a game of it for about twelve minutes — they trailed 23-21 after the first quarter — but the Thunder evidently decided that the best way to expunge the last remaining memory of that three-game losing streak was a good old-fashioned blowout, and that’s what they delivered, sending slumping Sacramento on its way, 115-89.

And they did it without James Harden, who was scratched due to a sore knee. (Will we see him tomorrow at Minnesota? I’m betting we do.) As usual, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook got the big numbers (29 and 22 points respectively), and Kendrick Perkins grabbed 11 rebounds in addition to scoring 11 points. In the absence of Harden, the bench was led by Derek Fisher (14) and Daequan Cook (13). And what with tornadoes south of the city, there was some early, um, rumbling about the end of the team’s season-long (and then some) stretch of sellouts. Didn’t happen: same old 18,203.

Sacramento, whose on-again-off-again deal for a new arena is off again, might have been slightly distracted, maybe. The wingmen, Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas, led the scorers — Thomas had a highly-respectable 21 — but Tyreke Evans, who averages around 17, managed only two in a meager 14 minutes. Perennial pest DeMarcus Cousins, though, scored nine and hauled in 12 boards. The Kings shot a sub-blah 39 percent and were outrebounded 58-41.

Amazingly, with seven games left, two are against the Kings. They may not be pushovers next time. But first, the Timberwolves, who are much depleted these days: Rubio’s been out for weeks, Luke Ridnour is sidelined, and Kevin Love suffered an apparent concussion Wednesday at the hands — er, elbow — of Denver’s JaVale McGee. Still, Rick Adelman can beat you with half a dozen nuns and a professional Richard Simmons impersonator, so Scott Brooks will give his usual “Don’t underestimate these guys” speech before tipoff.

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A small piece of the secret history

You’ve already seen what Google looked like in the 1960s, and you’ve presumably seen what it looks like today.

Now to split the difference: Google in the 1980s, with its old BBS interface intact.

(Snagged from Aaron Schmiedel on FB. Incidentally, you should have seen Facebook in the 1990s.)

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From the bridle section

Oops, sorry. That’s the bridal section. Of the Sunday New York Times, no less:

NYT Wedding Announcement

Hasbro is evidently pulling out all the stops for this My Little Pony wedding. (And evidently they’ve decided that the Princess spells her name “Cadance” rather than “Cadence,” which is okay with me; it’s better than confiscating a name.)

Just incidentally, Hasbro will be hawking a Wedding Castle in the near future, just to remind us all that the first order of business is Selling The Product.

(From Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch via Equestria Daily.)

Addendum: Fark blurb for the EW story: “The New York Times ran a wedding announcement for two characters from My Little Pony. Subby won’t trust the story until he reads it in the Foal Free Press.”

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Walk right in, sit right down

Rather a lot of Oklahoma legislators got a free pass to the next session, having drawn neither primary opposition nor an opponent from another party. From the State Election Board’s official list:

Senate:

    19. Pat Sullivan (R-Enid)
    21. Jim Halligan (R-Stillwater)
    23. Ron Justice (R-Chickasha)
    29. John Ford (R-Bartlesville)
    35. Gary Stanislawski (R-Tulsa)
    47. Greg Treat (R-OKC)

House:

      1. Curtis McDaniel (D-Smithville)
      4. Mike Brown (D-Fort Gibson)
      5. Doug Cox (R-Grove)
      6. Chuck Hoskin (D-Vinita)
      7. Larry Glenn (D-Miami)
      8. Ben Sherrer (D-Chouteau)
      9. Marty Quinn (R-Claremore)
    10. Steve Martin (R-Bartlesville)
    11. Earl Sears (R-Bartlesville)
    13. Jerry McPeak (D-Warner)
    15. Ed Cannaday (D-Porum)
    17. Brian Renagar (D-McAlester)
    24. Steve Couplen (D-Beggs)
    30. Mark McCullough (R-Sapulpa)
    31. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie)
    33. Lee Denney (R-Cushing)
    34. Cory Williams (D-Stillwater)
    35. Dennis Casey (R-Morrison)
    38. Dale DeWitt (R-Braman)
    40. Mike Jackson (R-Enid)
    41. John Enns (R-Enid)
    43. Colby Schwartz (R-Yukon)
    45. Emily Virgin (D-Norman)
    46. Scott Martin (R-Norman)
    50. Dennis Johnson (R-Duncan)
    52. Charles Ortega (R-Altus)
    54. Paul Wesselhoft (R-Moore)
    55. Todd Russ (R-Cordell)
    57. Harold Wright (R-Weatherford)
    58. Jeff Hickman (R-Fairview)
    61. Gus Blackwell (R-Laverne)
    62. T. W. Shannon (R-Lawton)
    65. Joe Dorman (D-Rush Springs)
    67. Pam Peterson (R-Tulsa)
    69. Fred Jordan (R-Jenks)
    73. Kevin Matthews (D-Tulsa)
    74. David Dudley (R-Owasso)
    75. Dan Kirby (R-Tulsa)
    77. Eric Proctor (D-Tulsa)
    80. Mike Ritze (R-Broken Arrow)
    81. Randy Grau (R-Edmond)
    85. David Dank (R-OKC)
    89. Rebecca Hamilton (D-OKC)
    90. John Echols (R-OKC)
    91. Mike Reynolds (R-OKC)
    92. Richard Morrissette (D-OKC)
    93. Mike Christian (R-OKC)
    94. Scott Inman (D-OKC)
    95. Charlie Joyner (R-Midwest City)
    96. Lewis Moore (R-Arcadia)
    97. Mike Shelton (D-OKC)
    98. John Trebilcock (R-Broken Arrow)

I find it just slightly disturbing that more than half the House is already technically elected.

The primary will be on the 26th of June; any runoffs will be on the 28th of August.

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Not that flashy thing again

Liam (see announcement here) is home, and evidently none the worse for wear, though he seems uninterested in this whole photography business:

Liam at 11 days

Then again, this family has always learned the concept of boredom quickly, and I’m not at all surprised he’d discover it before finishing two weeks on the planet.

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A melody looking

A couple of years ago, I got my first taste of Cantopop, and I was quite unreasonably delighted: I speak absolutely no Cantonese, but I know bubblegum when I hear it, and I’ve always been a sucker for breathy girl singers in foreign tongues. (I blame Jane Birkin.)

Appropriately enough for a performer of Timeless Teenage Music, here’s Janice Vidal with a prop tube of skin cream:

Janice Vidal for H2O

And while we’re at it, here’s an actual song, from her 2008 album Serving You, which appears not to be a cookbook:

Two things you should know: (1) she just turned 30, and (2) her Cantonese is apparently not much better than mine.

And that title: a long-form music video I haven’t seen.

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Far from extinct

I might have mentioned last time out that the Timberwolves were hurting for personnel, but I’m pretty sure I also suggested that they weren’t going to roll over and die. Which they didn’t. The Thunder kept running up the score on Minnesota, and Minnesota kept coming back: it was 34-31 after the first quarter, 59-58 at the half, and with 15 seconds left, 112-110. Russell Westbrook, who’d helped enable the last Wolves rally with two last-minute fouls, subsequently drew two fouls himself and cashed in three of four free throws to put the poor growlers out of their misery, 115-110.

Worse yet for the Wolves, they’d outshot the Thunder, hitting an even 50 percent from the floor, though they were outrebounded 52-39. J. J. Barea, always a threat, racked up 24 points and 10 assists; Nikola Peković also double-doubled with 14 points and 13 rebounds. And the two mainstays of the Minnesota bench, Michael Beasley and Anthony Randolph, rolled up 26 and 22 points respectively; Randolph also picked up 11 boards. (Weird plus/minus statistic: the Wolves starters were all minus, the reserves all plus; the exact reverse was true of Oklahoma City.)

The usual suspects weighed in for OKC: Westbrook finished with 35, and Kevin Durant wound up with 43, twenty in the fourth quarter despite being in foul trouble for most of it. James Harden did return as predicted, but he was off his game, shooting 1-11, though he did hit all four of his free throws. The bigs reeled in their share of boards: Serge Ibaka had 12, Kendrick Perkins 10, Nick Collison 8. Collison also dropped in 10 points to lead the bench.

You could look at this and say “Big deal, we swept the Wolves. We swept ’em last year.” Which is true; but at no point in those two seasons did the Wolves act like a team you could beat seven times in a row. It is, as the local broadcast crew said, never easy against Minnesota. Nor is it easy against the Clippers, next on the schedule, Monday night in Los Angeles.

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Saturday spottings (ahead of the storm)

The local chapter of the American Institute of Architects schedules several events during its spring Architecture Week, the last of which is the Tour, in which several members get to show off some of what they’ve been up to. This is my sixth time on the Tour, and I was delighted to see that they were allowing an extra hour — noon to 6 pm — since there were nine exhibits this year instead of the usual eight, and they were all over the map, from east Edmond to downtown Norman. They decided to cancel that last hour due to Impending Dreadful Weather, but no matter: we were done before five. Some of what we saw:

1) 104 East Main Street, Norman

Nichols Law Firm

It wasn’t easy to get to downtown Norman today: tornadoes ripped through the town last night and several roads were closed due to downed power lines. Attorney Drew Nichols owns this former storefront, redesigned for maximum modern efficiency without sacrificing that turn-of-the-century (and that’s the last century, not this one) look: that aisle to the left is red brick on the outside, lovely wooden storage walls on the inside. A very nice place to conduct business. (Photo by Butzer Gardner Architects.)

2) 2116 Covell Lane, Edmond

Creek House

This sixty-foot-long bridge starts at the deck of this rural residence, and finishes somewhere out in the woods: the ten-acre site features a fair-sized pond and more trees than you can possibly count. Still under construction — the SIPS exterior is done, the interior just begun — this is the sort of place that Trini aspires to: not far from anything, but far enough from everyone. I can appreciate her thinking. (Photo by me.)

3) 2801 Northeast 120th Street

Kliewer House

George Seminoff (see the 2007 Tour) built this place for himself in the late 1960s; over the years, it had deteriorated to the point that extensive reconstruction was deemed necessary. This is what it’s supposed to look like:

Original Kliewer House

(First photo by me; second courtesy of the Getty Foundation.)

4) 6614 North Pennsylvania Avenue, Nichols Hills

Weiland House

Nichols Hills is an enclave of old money and mostly old houses, and this one, on the town’s main drag (and at 25 mph all the way through, a drag it is), is getting a refresh from Brian Fitzsimmons (see the 2007 Tour). The old Colonial was lovely but outdated and seemingly light-resistant; the Fitzsimmons plan was to open up the place with more glass and to break up the perceived monotony with an off-center front porch. (The house used to look like this.) Lots of work still to do, but the result should be delightful. (Rendering by Fitzsimmons Architects; I took several shots, but none of them proved satisfactory.)

5) 1000 Northwest 37th Street

1000 NW 37th

Marked for demolition by the city, this fourplex on the edge of Crown Heights was taken over by Brent Swift, the same Norman developer who worked with Drew Nichols on his law office (see #1 above), and Butzer Gardner were brought in for the design work. The late-1930s apartments will be updated with as much of the original floor plans intact as is feasible, and a similar structure with three units is going up on a side lot. (Rendering by Butzer Gardner Architects.)

6) 1228 Northwest 36th Street

1226 NW 36th

This house, a 1916 Craftsman-turned-duplex owned by architect Kenneth Fitzsimmons (not connected to architect Brian Fitzsimmons), was on the 2010 tour; in the two years since, they’ve further spruced up the interior and turned a 1940s building on the back of a lot into a proper studio.

1226 NW 36th

(Exterior photo by me; interior shot courtesy of TASK Design, Inc.)

7) 1300 North Broadway Drive

Saxum HQ

John Kirkpatrick — residents of OKC will say “Oh, that John Kirkpatrick” — ran his oil company from this vintage-1950 building between Broadway and the Santa Fe tracks. (George Seminoff — see #3 — had an office in the building at one time.) When the company moved north, the building was donated to the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, which rapidly outgrew it; Saxum, a public-relations firm headed by Renzi Stone, acquired it in 2010, and engaged HSEarchitects to open up the inside while preserving the exterior look. (It did not occur to me that “Saxum” is in fact the Latin word for, um, “Stone.”) (Photo by Nick Archer.)

8) 21 North Lincoln Boulevard

Fire Station 6

The last time I mentioned Fire Station #6, it was at 620 Northeast 8th, and um, it was on fire. Which is not why there’s a new Station #6 on the eastern edge of Bricktown, which was in the planning stages already. However, nobody seemed to like the original design — for a Bricktown structure, it was deemed deficient in brick — and a new proposal was submitted by Norman-based LWPB. The new station has individual dorm-type rooms and the latest support gear, and was built to LEED standards. (Rendering courtesy of Steve Lackmeyer; the history of Station 6 is worth a read.)

9) 824 Northwest 7th Street

824 NW 7th St

If you’re paying attention, you might have noticed that this is the fourth house within one block of 7th and Francis in the last six years of the Tour. The availability of relatively cheap (for close to downtown) lots and the fabulousness of the views obtainable thereupon have made this section of the Cottage District relatively hot, architecture-wise. Randy Floyd, a major player in this district, came up with this nicely-stacked “urban cottage” that feels a lot larger than its stated 2230 square feet. (Photo courtesy of Leonard Sullivan.)

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Reawakening the Ship of Dreams

We pause for just a moment to give James Cameron’s Titanic the attention it deserves:

Shined up like a new penny, it is.

(Bob Wayne of Big Daddy, who sang backup here, sent me this, and I thank him.)

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A marquee for which I am not prepared

“Zooey Deschanel is Twilight Sparkle.”

Hmmm…

“Dear Princess Celestia: What is your stripper name?”

I’m not seeing it. Though I appreciate the effort to push two of my smaller obsessions into a larger one.

(This is not going over well at EqD.)

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Advice to the young spammer

Links to this bit of verbiage were swimming in the spam trap this morning, and I got the semi-bright idea of actually trying to see what was being hawked. “Amazon Money Machine” contains the following advice:

The following step will probably be so that you compose the ebook and also accomplish it, making sure that you will find absolutely no spelling errors as well as grammatical faults in it. Bear in mind, this can be distributed to the common people and Amazon is not going to allow any kind of stories that contain grammatical faults only if they really are intended kinds (for example those used in fiction novels for talking). To prevent errors, use an experienced to verify and also revise your ebook for you to ensure a brand new point of view could be presented. Moreover, it could be wonderful when you can seek the services of one to build a story book cover to suit your needs particularly if you aren’t any good with artwork or design. A cover is very important because that could be at which your prospective buyers are going to analyze you to start with. Having an ill-drawn design would move clients off from your e-book, regardless of precisely how decent it will be to read.

You think maybe “Karl Daniels” read this?

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The Ides of April

Thoughts upon writing a rather large check and expecting the proceeds thereof to be utterly wasted.

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