Archive for May 2013

A load of sheet

Another one of those remarkable Karl Denninger comparisons:

The so-called “increase” in your wages are an intentional chimera which is thrown to you to make you “feel good” about your earnings “going up.” But in point of fact they’re not going up at all, they are going down because the divisor, the total number of dollars in the system that are available to buy the goods and services are rising much faster than your earnings are.

The fraud you’re being sold is exactly identical to going into a bakery and ordering a sheet cake. The baker asks you how many pieces you would like the cake cut into; your options are 2, 4, 8, 16 or 32. He then tells you that if you’re really hungry you should choose 32, because that way you can eat more pieces.

You’d either laugh at the baker or string him up by his necktie were he to pull that crap, yet this is exactly what Ben Bernanke along with all the politicians have been selling you for the last 30 years.

When I was in fourth grade, I read Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, which makes similar economic points. It’s stuck with me for half a century. No wonder students don’t read it anymore.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

Comments (3)




She has a snack for you

Just for the fun of it, here’s a photo from the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, at the College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. From left to right: Rusty McKee, Ellsworth McKee, Debbie McKee-Fowler, and Senator Bob Corker.

Various McKees at UTC

All those McKees are connected to privately held McKee Foods in nearby Collegedale: Debbie, 57-ish, is an executive vice president. Here’s a newly stylized rendering of how she looked at four:

Little Debbie logo

Uh-huh. And how did this happen, anyway?

Inspired by a picture of his four-year-old granddaughter in her favorite battered straw hat, O.D. [McKee] decided to name the new cakes after her — Little Debbies. Neither Debbie nor her parents knew that she was the new face of the brand until after the first package came off the assembly line.

And I’m out of Swiss Rolls, dagnabbit.

Comments (1)




Definitely pinworthy

Source: secret-stockings.com via Raquel on Pinterest


I have no shortage of female acquaintances, mirabile dictu, but maybe half a dozen of them at most could pull off this look.

Feel free to lecture me for looking fondly at this while spurning fishnets.

Comments (2)




Unkerncerned

You all remember Sally Kern: mid-60s, drives a minivan, represents House District 84 on the west side of Oklahoma County, agonizes constantly over LGBT matters but has presumably learned a modicum of discretion in such matters. Husband Steve has decided to take a few days away from his pulpit to run for Senate District 40 next year, what with Cliff Branan being term-limited out of the office.

Truth be told, I don’t think Reverend Steve ought to give up his day job: District 40 is decidedly bluer than Sally’s turf, extending as it does into old-money Democrat territories south of Nichols Hills. (I’ve lived here ten years; I keep track.) And there are two other Republicans in the race: deputy County Commissioner Michael Taylor and property-management magnate Brian Winslow. Both these guys come from the fiscal-conservative side of the aisle, and surely one of them could force Kern into a runoff. If there are any Democrats in the race, they haven’t filed campaign reports yet.

Comments off




Cabinet repairs

Penny Pritzker has been nominated to head the Department of Commerce, presumably on the basis of her cash-bundling abilities. She would replace Rebecca Blank, interim Secretary since John Bryson took ill last year. (That’s “Blank.” With an N.)

Is this worth three hundred words? Perhaps not:

It’s clear that presidents need the Department of Commerce, so they have a place to stash their friends who’ve brought in the cash. But it’s not clear that the rest of us need a Department of Commerce. A bit of research shows Americans were engaged in commerce even before we became a country. Colonists farmed, fished and traded like crazy. And that was more than a century before the Department of Commerce was formed in 1903. Amazing!

Everyone’s supposedly looking for places to cut wasteful government spending. Instead of laying off air traffic controllers, we could turn the knife toward Commerce. Don’t just leave it without a leader, go ahead and shut down the while thing and let’s see what happens. Probably nobody’ll even notice, as is the case with most of the sequester cuts.

Both Rick Perry and Ron Paul, during their 2012 Presidential campaigns, proposed the abolition of Commerce. And so did Barack Obama, kinda sorta:

Mr. Obama called on lawmakers to grant him broad new powers to propose mergers of agencies, which Congress would then have to approve or reject in an up-or-down vote. If granted the authority, he said, he would begin pruning by folding the Small Business Administration and five other trade and business agencies into a single agency that would replace the Commerce Department.

The White House estimated that the consolidation would save $3 billion over 10 years and result in reductions of 1,000 to 2,000 jobs.

Now $3 billion is to the Feds what the change under your sofa cushions is to you; still, the idea of anything in Washington being shrunk has a certain visceral appeal.

Comments (7)




You shouldn’t be out in this mess

But since you are, you might as well try to save your neck, or at least the other guy’s:

[P]ull off the road already and wait it out if the weather scares you so badly. No, not on the side of the road, dummy — someone will come along and rear end you, and you might get hurt as well. Nope, find a driveway or a side road and get the f&(k outta the way. If you are on an interstate or some such, do not pull under an overpass and park on the side of the road. For the same reason. Exit the damn road, stupid.

I admit to having breached this protocol once: on I-75 in north-central Florida, where the traffic was moving at a brisk 80 mph despite the fact that you couldn’t see as far as the trailing edge of your wipers. I found the very edge of the pavement — the breakdown lane was nice and wide — and sat there until the storm had passed. There was a little Mazda3 about 100 feet in front of me; I’d been following it since Georgia, but hadn’t been able to see it at all for the past twenty miles, and never saw it pull off.

Comments off




Forever and a day

This forgotten (though not by me) Lesley Gore track from the middle 1970s is perfect for the subject at hand:

Our days are numbered. Must they be?

Comments (3)




Google knows best

While Google’s Chrome browser is now firmly ensconced in the top three — some sources actually have it at number one — it’s at best a poor fourth around here. Then again, I have readers like this:

[W]hen I am doing a lot of scrolling it seems to switch into some mode where it keeps scrolling. The cursor changes and this little four-arrowed floating icon appears. Click anywhere and it reverts back to normal mode, usually. I am not sure what it’s for, or how it works exactly. All I know is that somehow it is not doing what I want it to do anymore, it’s doing what it thinks is best. Perhaps someday I will try it out and see if it could possibly be useful, but for right now I cancel it as quick as I can. Do what I tell you, you stupid machine, not what you think I want you to do.

Or what it secretly wants you to do in the first place, which is always a possibility.

Comments (1)




Dad, will you please get off the computer?

Once again, something I didn’t notice is noticed:

Funny observation popped up in discussion [on an irrelevant topic]: among man-bloggers who are fathers majority are those with daughters. Women-bloggers, as noted, do not exhibit this particular trait — they are mothers as often to boys as to girls.

Which prompts some speculation:

[U]nderlying connection between man’s ability to write coherent texts and raising a female? what could be genetic condition for this correlation? Etc, etc.

I’m not quite sure what, if anything, I can extrapolate from my own experience. When my daughter was born, I was a terrible writer; today, 35 years later, I am, um, less terrible. Does my son, 32 this year, affect this in any way? How about the grandchildren (four boys, two girls)?

Comments (4)




Get clicking

WordPress, for some reason, prefers to create a new dynamic page when you click on the Comments link, though there’s still some code in the base that supports an actual pop-up window. (Now and then I’ve thought about implementing it, but so many browsers today have pop-up blockers enabled by default that I just couldn’t find it in my heart, which is cold and flinty anyway, to go through with it.)

Bill Quick used to have Daily Pundit set up to do comments inline — click the link and they’d appear under the post automagically — but no more:

The problem is that they are apparently a major security risk. I spent most of yesterday trying to figure out how to do comments inline — all of them automatically appearing beneath the post — but with the newer versions of WordPress, this becomes quite difficult, and is beyond my coding skills.

I hadn’t heard this, but I tend to be suspicious of Ajax stuff on general principle.

So, unless and until I can come up with something that will actually work and not expose my server to constant hack attempts, we’re going to have to do it the way just about everybody else does: If you want to leave a comment, or read them, you’ll have to click through to do it.

Life is like that sometimes.

Oddly, I had inline comments — in read mode, anyway — more than a decade ago, but that was when the whole site was hand-coded and there were fewer black-hatted types trying to weasel their way in.

Comments (2)




Everybody must get stone

But perhaps not thirty stone:

Tammy Jung, 23, was once a healthy eight-stone teenager who wore skinny jeans, loved playing volleyball and going out with friends.

But in a bizarre reversal of a crash diet, Tammy turned her back on her slim good looks, and spends her days indoors stuffing herself with fried chicken, donuts and whole blocks of cheese.

If the first three letters that popped into your head were WTF, you are not alone.

The once svelte young woman is piling on the pounds to earn money as a Big Beautiful Woman on internet websites and hopes to one day top 30 stone.

This is more than I’ve ever weighed, and I’ve been on the chunky side of the ledger for some time now. Then again, I’m still alive:

Dr Claude Matar, of the Pasadena Weight Loss Center, said: “It’s very straightforward, she is causing her life to be shorter.

“She has taken the risk of dying early. Her potential for dying early was over 100 per cent.”

Over 100 percent? It’s a wonder she can even hold her Bloomberg-disapproved soft drink.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (2)




Fark blurb of the week

Florida restaurant pulls controversial lion tacos off the menu after huge uproar.

(Linked to this. Note this prime remark: “Now, however, serving lion meat is becoming a point of pride.”)

Comments (1)




Augusta wind

“As Maine goes,” said ancient political wisdom, “so goes the nation.” Here’s one case where I’d like to see us follow their lead:

The Maine House on Wednesday took a decisive stance against blending ethanol into gasoline, giving initial approval to a bill that would ban the corn-based additive from motor fuel if two other New England states pass similar laws.

The House voted 109-32 in favor of LD 115, a bill sponsored by Rep. Jeffrey Timberlake, R-Turner, that would ban the sale of ethanol-containing gasoline in the state. The prohibition would only take effect if two other New England states passed similar laws.

Opponents united under the “But … but … the Feds!” banner:

“The federal government requires significant use of renewable fuel, and currently ethanol is the only viable option,” said Rep. Joan Welsh, D-Rockport, who is chairman of the Legislature’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee. “There’s no cost-effective source of nonethanol fuel currently available.”

Now what are the chances that two other New England states will follow suit? Probably next to nil. Previous versions of New Hampshire might have, but the current state motto, “Live Free, Or At Least Cheaper Than Boston,” doesn’t allow for that sort of thing. And Connecticut would make you pour Dom Perignon in your tank if they thought it would cut carbon emissions. At least it’s cheaper than inkjet refills.

(Via Autoblog Green.)

Comments (1)




Quote of the week

Steve Sailer reviews a section of George Orwell’s track record:

Orwell turned out to be wrong about secret policemen: over the course of the 20th Century, even they tended to get tired of killing and beating massive numbers of people. The KGB stopped shooting political prisoners or working them to death in the uranium mine, and instead just locked them up in psychiatric hospitals.

But Orwell’s real subject, the one he knew best from introspection and socializing, was the intellectual mind (e.g., Eric Blair). And, for his kind, he hasn’t been proven wrong yet about the metaphorical “intoxication of power … the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless.”

Granted, vastly swelling the population of America with disposable diaper-dropping Mexicans in the name of protecting the environment sounds pretty prima facie stupid. But that’s not the point. The point is to grab any available tool to hammer The Enemy: i.e., other white people whom you find disagreeable.

And that never gets old.

The quarter of my family tree that originated in Mexico is actually pretty sanitary, but then they’ve been here quite a while.

Comments (1)




Now watch people forward this

Used to be, phishing attempts contained clickable links. This item contained no links whatsoever, and I looked at every last bit of it:

We at the Internal Revenue Service would like to inform you that, you have qualified for 2013, subsidy benefit.

Simply reply to this secure message with the following details below & you will be notified shortly.

Full Name:
Complete Address:
Telephone Number:

Social Security Number:
Date of Birth (mmddyyyy):

ID Type:
Issuing State:
ID Number:

Bank Routing Number:
Deposit Account Number:
Account Type:

Please disregard this message if you have already mailed your response.
©2013 Internal Revenue Service | U.S. Department of the Treasury

The key here, of course, is “reply to this secure message,” since any fool can hit the Reply button, and many do. The ostensible address is IRS.DESK@IRS.GOV; however, the Reply-To address in the header is emailn.irs-office@emailn.de. Who knew the IRS had a branch in Germany?

Comments (6)




This ain’t the Cubs

Sometimes basketball is like programming: you work diligently to get rid of all the bugs, and suddenly there are fresh new bugs. After dropping a close one in Oklahoma City to the Grizzlies, the Thunder went to work on getting fast-break points when possible, and offensive rebounds when not. And that’s what they did, or tried to do, today in Memphis. What they forgot to do was actually score. They trailed most of the game; just inside the two-minute mark, they managed to tie it at 81 on yet another unexpected Derek Fisher trey, but that was the end of it, while the Don’t Care Bears calmly dropped in half a dozen free throws to take Game 3, 87-81.

And speaking of free throws, OKC went 12-19. They missed seven. Two of those bricks came from Kevin Durant during that closing 6-0 Memphis burst. It’s almost like learning to get points in the paint made them forget how to get points from the stripe. Nobody wins a playoff game with 36-percent shooting. To their credit, the Thunder did try to coax Serge Ibaka out of his offensive slump; the big guy missed his first three, but did eventually come up with 13 points to go with his 10 rebounds. KD had a reasonably KDish day, despite those two last-minute clanks: 25 points, 11 retrievals. And what’s this? Reggie Jackson with a double-double: 16 points, 10 boards, and only a single turnover. Kevin Martin voted Present with 13 of the bench’s total 23.

What kind of game was this? Tayshaun Prince was relatively subdued (two points, four boards, no blocks), Zach Randolph had a lousy day by Z-Bo standards (eight points, though he did snag ten rebounds), Marc Gasol (20 points) actually got fouls called on him, and Griz shooting was less than stellar at just over 40 percent. But this is the telltale statistic: Memphis went 30-74 from the floor, OKC 32-88. When 14 additional shots get you only five additional points, as Scott Brooks is sure to mention some time this evening, you’re doing it wrong.

Game 4 is Monday night in the Fed Up Forum. The Oklahoman sports dudes (I include Jenni Carlson among the dudes, because why not?) generally think it’s Memphis in six. I’m starting to think it might be Memphis in five.

Comments off




Well, that didn’t last long

Earlier this week I professed to be puzzled at the very un-Zooey-esque Tommy Hilfiger dress Zooey Deschanel wore to the Met Ball, which looked for all the world like seersucker, as though ZD were the sucker who bought it at Sears. (Mr Hilfiger would like you to know that this is in fact gingham, which is even haute-r couture.) Perhaps more to the point, though, was the complete absence of bangs, making her look like — well, like her older sister Emily, sort of. Not that Emily is a slouch or anything.

But that was Monday. Here’s Zooey, hanging around outside before her appearance on David Letterman’s Late Show on Tuesday:

Zooey Deschanel at the Ed Sullivan Theatre

I’m almost afraid to hunt down pictures of whatever the heck she was doing Wednesday.

Comments (1)




User disexperience

Friday night I happened upon a nifty piece of software called Visual Similarity Duplicate Image Finder, made by MindGems, which looked like just the thing to tame my ridiculous picture archive. I downloaded their demo, ran the installer, and gave it a 10,000-file directory to read. Even on my ancient desktop (2.66 GHz P4), the program turned up 281 duplicates in nine minutes flat. The demo version doesn’t allow you to delete the extras: you’d need to look ’em up yourself in Explorer, or pay for the full version, which was a reasonable $24.95. So I blew the dust off my American Express card and prepared to start typing purchase information.

Nope. Not with these guys. You must go out to their third-party retail site, complete the purchase there, uninstall the demo and wait for them to send you a download link for the full version, which, they warned, could take up to twelve hours. (In fact, it took six minutes.) I duly installed the full version and ran exactly the same routine, which took slightly less time; deleting the duplicates — the AutoCheck system, unless you select otherwise, marks as deletable the smaller version, either in pixel count or bytes — took about 35 seconds. Very efficient, and it didn’t melt down the CPU.

So I’m still recommending VSDIF, because it by-gosh works, and because they offer multi-license deals if your shop needs such things. But if you’re sure you’ll like it, don’t bother with the demo: show up with plastic in hand and save yourself a bit of aggravation. For the next version, they should work on making this easier to buy.

Comments off




Debaser, debetter

Discounts for senior citizens? Black Francis isn’t having any of that. In fact:

Fans of Black Francis who plan to see the Pixies frontman’s solo-acoustic show in New York City next week who are older than 30 — and let’s face it, that’s a lot of us — might want to consider something they haven’t done in a couple decades: investing in a fake ID.

That’s because the venue that the erstwhile Frank Black is playing this coming Friday is charging fans who are older than 30 an additional $30 for tickets. That’s three times the price.

Then again, Francis may not be the one who needs to lighten up here:

A quick glance through the ticket links for Black Francis’ remaining tour dates, as well as some already-completed shows this month, reveals no other such age-based pricing — suggesting he’s likely unaware of this rather unique pricing structure.

As for Symphony Space, which is obviously trying to draw younger fans to next week’s concert, a look at other performances listed at the performing arts center shows discounts for seniors, children or students, but we saw no other price breaks for the 30-and-under crowd.

Mr. Grieves was not available for comment.

(Via Fark.)

Comments off




Go thou and do likewise

I strive at all times to inspire my readership:

I had despaired of ever wearing sandals again after the plantar fascitis and resulting physical therapy diagnosis of stretch every day and never go without orthotic inserts. Then I saw a post over at Dustbury wherein CGHill opined upon a recent sandal purchase. (Sorry, I know that post is ancient in weblife but it took me awhile to work up to a purchase) So I went to Zappos and started looking around. Searching with “orthotic” and “sandal” led to these:

Orthaheel Porto III

“The ultimate in functional fashion,” says the blurb for the Porto III slide by Orthaheel. The pseudo-wood design is unconvincing, but this probably doesn’t matter unless you’re planning to seduce Hans Brinker. The verdict from our buyer:

The reviews seemed favorable enough to outweigh the assumption that has to be made with any consumer reviewed product — namely that most reviewers will be complete idiots. So I gulped hard at the price, closed my eyes and ran up the credit card debt. (I really hate wearing socks and shoes in the summer.) So far, I wore them to work yesterday and my feet were fine. I’ve stood up quite a bit today in the kitchen and outside doing some plant repotting and my feet are still pretty good.

Pictured is the Pewter color; the one she actually bought appears to be Brandy, and there are Black and Ivory variants as well. I gulped at the price, because it was about eight bucks more than the shoes I’d bought this spring. Then again, resistance to pronation ain’t exactly cheap, and besides, girl-type persons are for some inscrutable reason expected to pay more for shoes.

Comments (1)




In case you missed Winter Wrap-Up

The sheer volume of music inspired by My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, in every conceivable genre, became overwhelming quite a while back, to the extent that “quite a while back” can apply to a fandom that has existed for less than three years.

This piano piece by a chap named Callenby comes from the classical aisle; it’s even titled, classically enough, Sonata in C# Minor “Forest and Snow.” (C-sharp minor? Not exactly going for the low-hanging fruit, is he?)

If you’re compiling a catalog, this appears to be Op. 3.

Comments off




Don’t put that there

In urban-development-speak, Houston has long been known as the definitive no-zoning town: you want to put a 32-story highrise across the street from a row of duplexes, City Hall has your back.

That’s the stereotype, anyway. What’s left of it is about to be shot into space:

Last month the City Council voted to update Houston’s development rules, extending to the city limits a push for single-family home density, among other changes.

To address concerns about incompatible development, the rewrite includes protections allowing neighborhoods to impose minimum lot sizes for up to 500 homes at a time, preventing the subdivision of lots for townhomes. The restriction, which can last 40 years, also would restrict any residential or vacant land to single-family homes, keeping out apartment towers and condominiums.

The city actually came up with the minimum lot-size rule in 2001; this is its first major extension. How it spreads:

Under the change to the ordinance, 10 percent of property owners in an area must apply, triggering a balloting process through which 55 percent of owners must vote yes to impose the restriction. City staff could revise an area’s boundaries to secure the necessary support.

As city Planning Department spokeswoman Suzy Hartgrove said before the rewrite passed, “In Houston, because we’re not a zoned city, deed restrictions are the one thing that’s relied upon to keep your neighborhood consistent and retain that character. (Minimum lot size) is a protection that really is akin to a deed restriction that will be established for these neighborhoods that apply and are designated.”

My main problem with this measure is that bit about “City staff could revise an area’s boundaries to secure the necessary support,” which sounds rather high-handed of them, especially if you’re not one of the supporters.

Still, if you had illusions of Houston being a bunch of free-wheeling Texans for whom the sky’s the limit, you’ve just gotten a glimpse of the brakes.

(Via this Otis White tweet.)

Comments off




Strange search-engine queries (380)

The good thing about this weekly feature: it pays tribute to the idea that People Want To Know, and that they should have access to the things they want to know. The bad thing: just look at what they want to know.

joni mitchell: nice legs:  But have you looked at them from both sides now?

find stanley gray birthday ssn [redacted] lives in trosper ky:  Once you start throwing in actual Social Security numbers, I have to assume you’re not doing this so you can bake a cake for him.

you betcha for a jolly vow is a part of what song of the 70s johnny mathis:  Chances are he’s really looking for the Stylistics’ “Betcha By Golly Wow.”

Compared with democratic and authoritarian states on both ends of the spectrum the political conditions of hybrid regimes are subpar, but not distressing enough to engender rage on the part of citizens:  You just keep right on telling yourself that, Senator, bless your heart.

The Oklahoman DMVs shorthanded:  Amazingly, citizens are distressed. Enraged, even.

“driving is not a contest” bumper sticker:  Oh, yeah? Then how come you’re ahead of someone?

how to change LA4A-EL filter for cd4e yourself:  If you can’t distinguish Mazda’s part designations from Ford’s, you probably have no business trying to disassemble a transmission.

science fiction as an act of political interpretation:  Imagine the US Congress as a ragtag collective of bug-eyed monsters. Oh, wait, you said “fiction,” didn’t you? Never mind.

Woman claims Victorias Secret stole her bra:  Reverse shoplifting? O brave new world!

da um role de opala pode vim canbar paga pal:  Yeah, that’s easy for you to say.

Comments (1)




Insufficiently mad

Fond as I am of the styles that we now think of defining the Mad Men era, I really didn’t have the proper retro mindset to appreciate them when the series started; I was young and dumb in the years being portrayed, and I really wasn’t attuned to what was supposed to be going on around me. (The first episode of Mad Men was set in March 1960, at which time I was passing myself off as six and a half years old, which was almost correct.)

1962 Oldsmobile dashboard badgeI suspect I still don’t have the proper retro mindset. In the June issue, Automobile Magazine asks “What would Don Draper drive?” and suggests three reasonably suitable vehicles: a ’62 Oldsmobile Starfire, a ’63 T-Bird and a ’64 Crown Imperial. Of the three, the Bird appeals the least: I never did warm to that sharp crease at the prow, and the seriously lame Sports Roadster — “Hey, let’s cover up the entire back of the car and pass it off as a two-seater!” — screwed up the car’s proportions. The Imperial is imposing enough to justify its name, maybe too imposing. Which leaves me with the Starfire, perhaps because it’s just pretentious enough — [p]erhaps it is the sense of pride you feel when you quietly tell a parking lot attendant, “Mine’s the ’62 Olds” — but mostly because I took one look at that dashboard badge and thought “Now how do I get Twilight Sparkle into one of these things?”

And suddenly I wasn’t in the Sixties anymore. Imagine that.

Comments (2)




Ducking and covering

Ten and a half hours of being beaten upon is no way to live. Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot that could have been done about it short of fleeing, and I don’t flee well:

Our admin team is continuing to roll out the fix and monitoring where needed. They are confident the source of the connectivity issues are due to large-scale brute force attacks to wp-login pages. These attacks are overloading affected servers and the fix being applied will limit the rate these attacks are hitting wp-login pages. In addition to the fix that’s being applied everywhere, we’re also mitigating the attack by blocking IP addresses all around our data centers.

While they didn’t get too specific, it was most likely something like this that brought us down, and there’s a practical limit to how much you can harden something like WordPress without killing its usability.

It’s still slow around here, but it’s not dead, and there’s a lot to be said for not being dead — though it was two hours before I was actually able to log in.

Comments (2)




Still up against the wall

[Previously posted here.]

Just when you thought the return of Serge Ibaka’s shooting mojo might save the day, the Thunder fell back into their “Do we have to have a third quarter?” funk, and an erstwhile 17-point lead was vaporized. It was tied at 76 at the beginning of the final frame, and when Kevin Durant missed a layup (!) at 2:55, things began to unravel. The Grizzlies were up 94-92 with ten seconds left, and everyone knew Durant would be getting the ball on the next possession. KD, undaunted, pushed to the rim for the layup to tie it. The Griz had six seconds left; Zach Randolph went up for the win, and Kendrick Perkins swatted it away. Welcome to overtime. The Thunder didn’t even score in the bonus period until 1:55, when Derek Fisher made his first trey of the night, at which time it was 98-97 Memphis. “Dripping with drama,” said radio guy Matt Pinto. Durant’s subsequent pullup jumper was rather drippy itself, and Mike Conley delivered a nifty pass to Marc Gasol to put the Griz up by three. Gasol subsequently added a free throw to make it 101-97, and Pinto and Grant Long got to complain about a call while Lionel Hollis plotted the Thunder’s demise. It was Tayshaun Prince, arguably the poorest of the Memphis free-throw shooters, who finished the job with two more, to put the Griz up six (again!), 103-97.

Which means that Wednesday could be the end of it all, especially if the Bears keep coming up with double-figure performances like Gasol’s (23 points, 11 rebounds), Z-Bo’s (23 points, 12 rebounds), and Conley’s (team-high 24). OKC registered some reasonable figures, but when Durant’s game-high 27 ends up -7, it’s a lost cause.

Besides, the Heat barbecued the Bulls, 88-65, to go 3-1 in that race. Suddenly I am very, very tired.

Comments off




Color me antediluvian

Hmmm. Maybe I am really older than dirt:

This is a great headline: Carbon dioxide levels highest in recorded human history.

OMG! That’s a long ti… wait, how long is the “recorded human history” of carbon dioxide levels anyway?

But then we’d have to read the article, which says:

The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has steadily risen from 317 parts per million in 1958, when measurements began, to 400.

Emphasis added. It takes a certain amount of bravado / innumeracy / cranial-rectal inversion [choose as many as necessary] to come up with a definition of “recorded human history” that lies entirely within my lifetime. Or, for that matter, Al Gore’s.

You want to know why we have low-information voters? Because we have no-information media. And they’re damn proud of it, too.

Comments (5)




About those April showers

Raquel Pomplun at GlamourconThe lovely lady on the end of the line is April 2012 Playboy Playmate Raquel Pomplun, recently named Playmate of the Year; one of the perks of the job is to get to wheel around in a hot car, in this case a brand-spanking-new Jaguar F-Type. (This is the second type I’ve had occasion to mention the F-Type in connection with an, um, interesting-looking female; the first was a short promotional film complete with promotional music video. The operative word here, evidently, is “promotional.”) I note for record that of the 54 women so far officially designated Playmate of the Year — the first was Ellen Stratton, Miss December 1959, later PMOY 1960 — no fewer than seven came from April issues, including, for some reason, three of the last four. This doesn’t matter to you, and it probably doesn’t matter to Hef, but as a thirty-year subscriber to the magazine, I’ve made my own prediction for PMOY every spring, and every single year I’ve been wrong. (Ten PMOYs so far have come from December, but only one from June or July. I defy anyone to explain that distribution. Inevitably, Wikipedia has the complete list.) There exists a stereotype of long standing, which I may or may not have taken into account, to the effect that the PMOY winner tends to be a twenty-year-old top-heavy blonde; however, Raquel is 25, not blonde, and reported as a B-cup. Incidentally, she reports that she had a 103-degree fever during her PMOY photoshoot, but, as the phrase goes, the show must go on.

Oh, and here’s an earlier shot, still on the modest side, just because:

Raquel Pomplun seated

I am not, I hasten to add, complaining in any way about this selection, except to the extent that it continues my Streak O’ Futility.

Comments (2)




No Dick for you

The sheer Richardness of this incident is astonishing:

When Ruth Levy went online to create a personalised birthday card for a 90-year-old friend called Dick, it turned out his common name of yesteryear has been banned as a modern profanity.

After typing in her message to her friend of 50 years, 77-year-old Mrs Levy was turned down and warned by the Marks & Spencer website against using bad language.

Horrified, the tech-savvy grandmother closely checked the e-card for typing slip-ups, but still could not get approval for: “Many happy returns on your significant birthday.”

But after complaining to the store, she was told her card had been banned simply because her friend’s name was Dick — the shortened version of Richard.

Marks & Sparks were total farks: they suggested Mrs Levy call poor Dick instead — on the phone, fercrissake — and insisted: “We must ensure [our] system is robust to protect our content standards.”

(Via Fark.)

Comments (2)




And that revenue is lost forever

This letter to the editor of the Oklahoman — well, its heart is in the right place, but its brain seems to be on backorder from Amazon:

“U.S. Senate passes bill to let states tax online sales” (Business, May 7) quotes the Oklahoma Tax Commission in saying the state loses $185 million to $225 million in tax revenue from Internet sales each year. If the state loses that much, then some citizens gained an equal amount in savings. And where would these citizens most likely spend that savings? Right here at home! The state would get its pound of flesh when those savings were spent.

So does the state really lose on Internet sales? Time and effort would be better spent in figuring ways to cut government spending to reduce taxes, including eliminating the sales tax on food and clothing.

Which would result in savings to some citizens, which would be spent — where, exactly, and on what?

The real problem here, though, is not so much with the letter as with that gratuitous term “loses”: why, we’d have that $185-225 million if it weren’t for, um, the fact that no law currently allows us to take it. Obviously we should have more laws to allow the state to not “lose” money, right?

But hey, this spate of pooch-screwing was aggravated by having these alleged “sales tax holidays” in which tax is charged, no matter what you heard: the prices are simply adjusted downward by the amount of the tax. Sales tax, we learn from these things, is purely arbitrary, and subject to the whim of the government. And of late, fewer of us are inclined to indulge their whims.

Comments (2)




My little doxxer

Jack Baruth’s had one:

[S]everal years ago, I was the subject of a thorough and costly doxxing by a fellow who was, apparently, upset that I’d criticized some ultra-crappy article he’d written for a startup web publication. He distributed a pretty wildly exaggerated report of every terrible thing I’ve ever done to some contacts he’d cultivated at a couple of auto manufacturers. The way I found out about this was by having my flight to a press event canceled while I was sitting in the airport lounge. I had the dubious pleasure of spending the next couple of days calling people to get the stories straightened out. It was frankly unpleasant, to put it mildly.

I have a pretty healthy dose of contempt for my little doxxer. There’s something uniquely duplicitous about telling a bunch of people that someone you hate is a violent, dangerous individual while simultaneously personally trusting that said individual won’t do anything violent or dangerous to you as a consequence for your actions. It’s a coward’s move, this doxxing. But most importantly, it’s a one-way kind of tool that is employed by a certain type of person against another type of person. Rarely are “doxxers” counter-doxxed. This is because the doxxers, almost without exception, haven’t ever done anything in their lives.

I’m not saying they haven’t done anything bad.

I’m saying they haven’t done anything. Good or bad. Noteworthy or otherwise. They’re people who have always run away from anything that looked like a challenge or a confrontation. And if you always run from a challenge, you’ll never put anybody in the hospital or on the LifeFlight, but you’ll also never win any races. You’ll never spend a night in jail for assault, but you’ll probably also never create anything unique or worthwhile. You’ll never do something you wish you could take back, but you’ll also never do something that you look back on with complete and utter satisfaction.

I dunno, Jack. Some of these guys seem awfully damned satisfied.

Comments (2)




The easy consumer choice

Well, this was difficult. I got both an email and a proper letter from the fulfillment house for The Week, the only newsmagazine worth my time, offering me a 54-issue (about 14 months) subscription renewal. I decided I would write them a check, but before taking pen in hand, I took a quick look at the email link. And that deal was $5 pricier.

What’s more, they picked up the postage on the return envelope. So I save five bucks, minus whatever pittance it costs me for that one single check (whatever it is per box divided by 120), and I don’t have to fork over my Visa number. Win/win all around.

Comments (2)




How hissy a fit?

The answer is none. None more hissy:

An angry owner of a Maserati Quattroporte in China hired three thugs to destroy his car in the great city of Qingdao in Shandong Province. The owner has a long standing conflict with a local Maserati dealer and an insurance company over maintenance costs. A new Maserati Quattroporte costs 2.6 million yuan in China, or $423,000.

The Italians are evidently sticking it to the Chinese, since the infamous Maser four-door — yes, the brand-new sixth-generation version, which the smashed car wasn’t — can be had here in the States for under $200k no matter how many options you check off.

The conflict started in 2011, when the owner and the dealer got into a row about a repair costs and the quality of some replaced parts. The dealer apparently replaced a broken part with another used part, and not with a new part. The dealer then charged 2400 yuan ($390) for the “repair”. The insurance company backed the dealer and a long and painful process of angry letters and angry phone calls started.

Of course, what I want to know is this: what can break on a Maserati that costs only $390 to fix?

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

Comments (2)




Although it doesn’t clobber them

And who knows? Maybe it will work:

A new law signed by Governor Fallin Friday will help deter copper thieves that have plagued rural communities in Oklahoma, according to the bill’s author.

House Bill 1740, by state Rep. Harold Wright (R-Weatherford) and state Sen. AJ Griffin (R-Guthrie), prohibits a scrap metal dealer from paying cash in purchasing more than $1,000 of copper and requires them to issue a check instead after establishing the identity of the seller. The new law, which takes effect Nov. 1, also increases the penalty for providing false information for a scrap metal log book to a felony punishable by a $5,000, imprisonment for up to 2 years or both fine and imprisonment. It also requires scrap metal dealers to be licensed through the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry.

Not just rural, either: the house next door had its air-conditioning unit disassembled in the dead of night several years ago.

The really smart thieves, of course, manage to create their own penalties.

Comments (2)




Dorkestrations

Were you looking for college men with IQs in triple digits plus a dash of hawtness? Janie Jones laughs at your futile pursuit:

We don’t have hot young guys, we have spindly, acne-pocked geeks who desperately chug protein shakes hoping to someday have some mass on their lanky frames and look a little less like greasy-haired fuzzy-teethed nerds.

That was me circa 1970, except for the protein shakes. The grease receded nearly as quickly as my hairline. I did, however, succeed beyond everyone’s wildest expectations at the task of accumulating mass, to the extent that I eventually found it necessary to shed some of it.

Comments (2)




A tragedy of errors

You had to figure that something was a trifle askew when the Thunder managed only fifteen points in the second quarter and went into the locker room trailing 50-38. But the tone was truly established in the third, when Derek Fisher popped up one of his what-was-he-thinking? treys and Tony Allen, watching in horror from the Memphis bench, hurled his towel onto the court, drawing a technical. This prompted a mini-rally, in which OKC climbed back to within two; but halfway through the fourth, they’d made exactly two buckets, were down twelve, and it was painfully obvious that any further Thunder chances would be dependent on Grizzlies mistakes. Then the Grizzlies obliged them: up two with 11 seconds left, Zach Randolph bricked two free throws. Kevin Durant shed Allen, put up a jumper that backrimmed, and Allen tossed in two from the stripe to finish off the Thunder, 88-84.

Those two late clankers were about the only things Randolph did wrong all night: he finished with a game-high 28 points, 8-17 from the floor, 12-16 from the line, and 14 rebounds. The ever-underrated Mike Conley contributed 13 points and 11 assists; Allen finished with 10, Marc Gasol with 11. And while most of the statistics were pretty close, this one wasn’t: the Griz gave up only nine turnovers, just two more than Kevin Durant.

KD, by any reasonable standards, had an off night, though few players can have an off night and still score 21. Playing all 48 minutes, he was a dismal 5-21 from the floor, 0-4 on the long ball. (Both sides were pretty terrible from three: Memphis 3-14, OKC 6-25.) Both Reggie Jackson and Serge Ibaka were hitting fairly well, though Ibaka fouled out late.

So like I said: Memphis in five. The next question: Can the Grizzlies beat Miami? (I have to figure that they can dispose of San Antonio or Golden State.) They split the season series 1-1, each winning at home. A Grizzlies-Heat Finals would have a level of physicality that might scare MMA types. And at this point, we have to have something to hope for.

Comments (1)




And not a word about VisiCalc

If you were wondering how I put together the search-engine roundup every Monday, well, it’s actually pretty simple: grab the data in CSV format, and then dump it into Lotus 1-2-3, where I can just read down the column.

And I will continue to do that despite the fact that IBM, owner of the Lotus software line since 1995, has decided, once and for all, to kill 1-2-3 and the package-deal SmartSuite next month. (Software support will end in the fall of 2014.)

Then again, IBM didn’t buy Lotus to get 1-2-3; their goal was to make something out of Lotus Notes, the lumbering mail/collaboration tool/office suite/passenger airbag that, by order of The Powers That Be, sits on my work box. And Notes, now in version 9 and sheared of the Lotus name, will probably last forever, or at least until it’s no longer profitable for IBM to vend Domino servers.

(Via this Anil Dash tweet.)

Comments off




A story of Doomed Love

The Associated Press, of course, couldn’t believe that they were being subjected to Official Scrutiny, and inevitably they flailed about in confusion:

I think it is singularly awesome that the administration wiretapped the press. It was absolutely wrong, and I believe it is unconstitutional. What makes it so delicious is that the press is finally a victim of the administration. They are like the mistress that marries the guy after he finally leaves his wife and is shocked to find out he’s unfaithful to her too. Bu…bu…you promised to protect our rights! You said you loved us! We fawned over you! We covered for you, and now you’ve betrayed us!

Frog, meet scorpion.

So they drown together. How utterly romantic.

Comments (1)




Physician, socialize thyself

How come everywhere I look they show me risk factors?

Just as we once knew that infectious diseases killed, but didn’t know that germs spread them, we’ve known intuitively that loneliness hastens death, but haven’t been able to explain how. Psychobiologists can now show that loneliness sends misleading hormonal signals, rejiggers the molecules on genes that govern behavior, and wrenches a slew of other systems out of whack. They have proved that long-lasting loneliness not only makes you sick; it can kill you. Emotional isolation is ranked as high a risk factor for mortality as smoking. A partial list of the physical diseases thought to be caused or exacerbated by loneliness would include Alzheimer’s, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and even cancer — tumors can metastasize faster in lonely people.

I plan to take this with a grain of salt. In fact, several grains, which probably won’t affect my blood pressure in the least.

(Via the staggeringly popular Pejman Yousefzadeh.)

Comments (1)




But it looks official

Yours truly, several snowfalls ago:

It takes a certain warped genius to send out junk mail in an envelope that looks for all the world like it contains a W-2 form — in January, of course. Inasmuch as I already have my W-2 for 2011, I could easily have justified consigning it to the circular file, but curiosity won out. (The terrorists have won.)

Of course, I’m not the only person who gets this kind of crap:

It’s been a while since I have received a fake “check” whose cashing obligates me to a four year contract, or a deceptive yellow pages solicitation, or even my favorite, the board minutes services that masquerade as an official government form. So I will highlight Paramount Merchant Funding for this over the top message on the front of their envelope they sent me, again in an apparent bid to masquerade as some sort of official mail that must be opened.

The fakery, as you might have guessed, is a rewording of 18 USC § 1702, which a commenter identified quickly as “the generic ‘don’t mess with anybody’s mail but your own’ clause.” As though someone would tamper with this crap enroute.

Somewhere the mailer has to indicate whence it came. In this particular case, it was “ZIP CODE 11779,” the sleepy village of Ronkonkoma, Lawn Guyland, New York, not exactly a hotbed of Federal regulatory activity.

Comments off