Archive for April 2016

Forget Part One

I was spinning a graft of Cozy Cole’s two “Topsy” sides, “Topsy Part One” and “Topsy Part Two” — Part Two was the single for some reason — and it struck me that Part Two-ism is actually a fairly popular trope in popular music: while far more Part Ones than Part Twos charted, there are plenty of worthy Part Twos out there. (And inevitably Cozy would move from “Topsy” to “Turvy,” which also had two parts, with the second a bigger smash than the first.)

Originally, Gary Glitter recorded 15 minutes of “Rock and Roll”; eventually six minutes came out on a single, divided into Parts One and Two. Part One was the hit in France and the UK:

You of course already know Part Two, the side that became a hit in the States, in which the one word of consequence is “Hey.” (In fact, if you search for “Hey Song” on Wikipedia, you will get the deets on “Rock and Roll.”) Didn’t keep Glitter from playing it live, and occasionally saying something more than “Hey”:

But perhaps the most remarkable of these bifurcated hits came from a blind 12-year-old kid from Detroit. “Fingertips Part Two” was of course the big debut hit for Stevie Wonder, but hardly anyone (Roger Green possibly excepted) ever played Part One. No visuals here, but what the heck. This is great stuff, with Stevie doing his Hey Harmonica Man routine and playing the bongos, and if they hadn’t faded it out, it would have segued right into Part Two:

And if you happen to think “That’s some darn fine drumming,” thank Marvin Gaye. He was darn good at it.

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Worst-class seating

Consumerist reports that airlines may continue to compress passengers ad lib:

Earlier this year, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he would try to get federal regulators to come up with limits for airline seat size and spacing. But yesterday, his fellow senators shot down that effort.

Schumer’s legislation — introduced as an amendment to the bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration — would have required the FAA to set a minimum standard seat size for commercial airlines. The goal, said the senator, was to establish a hard line that the airlines could not cross in their effort to squeeze more passengers on to planes.

Existing seat sizes and spacing would remain in place, but any future changes would have to remain above whatever minimum the FAA set.

Schumer has said some fairly arguable things in his day, but I think he absolutely nailed this one:

“Over the last few decades, between the size of the seat and the distance between the seats, the flying public has lost half a foot of their space,” said Schumer before yesterday’s vote. “You would think that by cramming in more and more passengers on each flight, the airlines could lower their prices. Instead, several major airlines went in the other direction: They started charging for the extra inches and legroom that were once considered standard. So it practically costs you an arm and a leg just to have space for your arms and legs.”

There are, I suppose, some people who are willing to allow themselves to be rolled up like last year’s duvet cover to save a few bucks. I am not one of them.

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Meanwhile on the Texas Gulf Coast

Geography classes, these days, are evidently about everything other than geography:

To misplace the nation’s seventh largest city is — well, actually, all you can expect from the dullards who believe themselves in charge of the National Agenda.

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It was twenty years ago today

The Bird, circa 1997I’m just as amazed as you are: this Web site was actually founded on 9 April 1996, and at the time, all of it would fit on a 3.5-inch floppy. (Okay, not a 720k 3.5-inch floppy, but let’s not get technical here.) I’m declaring an open thread for the day; however, I am not actually going to take the day off, because, well, I just don’t do that sort of thing. I never figured this place would last this long. Then again, I never really figured I would last this long, and we know how well that worked out.

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An example to follow

I would never, ever tell you that you really ought to blog the way I do. (Okay, I did reveal the trade secret just once.) But I am happy to endorse this particular advice:

You should blog like future employers have no idea how Google works. And by that I don’t mean that you should post nude pictures of yourself online. Never do that. Unless your last name is Kardashian, and then I think it will actually work out in your favor. But you should write what you feel and what you believe. Don’t worry about whether or not it jives with the view of a potential employer. I spent a lot of time blogging that way, and I can tell you that that way lies madness.

If you find yourself doing something that you don’t like, go ahead and delete it all. Some time last year I hit a wall, and deleted almost all of my blog posts. I did this because those posts didn’t feel like me. I realized I was writing a completely different blog. And since having deleted those posts and starting over, I’m averaging more page views, my social media interaction is up, and I’m proud of what I’ve put out there. When all the web gurus tell you to be authentic, they aren’t kidding. Just do it. Be real, and blog about what you want to write about.

And if your last name is Kardashian, what the heck are you doing here?

Seriously, this is what I think of as good advice. My boss reads this stuff on occasion, but I have no reason to think anything I say here has precipitated any corner-office discussion. (It helps that I’m somewhere below nowhere on the corporate org chart.) I haven’t deleted much stuff here over the years, but there’s not a whole lot here that doesn’t sound like me either.

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Future journalist

What am I saying? She’s already a journalist, and she’s already paid more dues than some of the pros in the business. Admittedly, her beginning was less than auspicious:

Hi. I’m Hilde Lysiak. I’m the publisher of the Orange Street News. I believe it is important to write this newspaper because I believe people need to know what is happening around Orange Street. I’m eight years old and love to play outside and also love holidays and birthdays. I hope you enjoy this issue of the Orange Street News and pick up the next issue.

But that was over a year ago. Last week:

A man is suspected of murdering his wife with a hammer at 9th Street in Selinsgrove, sources told the Orange Street News.

Law enforcement sources will not confirm.

“This is an ongoing investigation,” an officer told the Orange Street News.

Residents reported seeing a person taken out on a stretcher but were told by police not to talk to media.

“They told us we can’t talk about anything,” one neighbor told the Orange Street News.

The woman is a former Selinsgrove borough employee. Many neighbors remembered her fondly.

“This is terrible. Just terrible,” one neighbor told the OSN. “I can’t believe this happened. She was such a wonderful woman. Very kind.”

The suspected murdered was a retired school teacher at Selinsgrove and the victim also worked as branch manager at a local bank manager on Market Street, according to neighbors.

Amazingly, she caught some flak for reporting on this. She ably defended herself in the Guardian (yes, the actual Guardian):

Here’s what happened. On 2 April, there was a homicide in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. It took place just a few blocks from my house, where I run my newspaper.

I acted on a tip from a good source that I was able to get through some of my other reporting. After confirming with the police department, I then went straight to the scene and spoke to neighbors and got more information. I worked very hard.

Because of my work I was able to keep the people of Selinsgrove informed about this very important event hours before my competition even got to the scene.

In fact, some other news sites run by adults were reporting the wrong information or no information at all while the Orange Street News was at the scene doing the hard work to report the facts to the people.

Consider yourselves called out, haters.

Me, I’m now subscribing to the Orange Street News, because this sort of enterprise needs to be supported. (As Robert Stacy McCain would say: “Hit the freaking tip jar!”)

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Meteoric rise

Canadian singer Lights, who won me over several years back with the crisply upbeat yet weepingly sad “Second Go,” continues to perplex and amaze. She circulated this photo earlier this week:

Thank you, Mom.

Lights finds a seat

Yesterday she unleashed upon us Midnight Machines, a new album containing acoustic versions of six songs from her previous album Little Machines plus two new tracks. The lead single is the revised version of “Meteorites,” and all of a sudden it’s haunting. A bit of photographic trickery merely makes it seem more so:

This is, incidentally, the third time she’s followed an album with an unplugged version. (How many albums has she done? Three, plus three acoustics.) Perplexing, perhaps; but also amazing.

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Why Microsoft doesn’t rule the Web

People trying to save Word documents as HTML end up with garbage like this:

And that’s before you ever get to any of the actual document.

Upside: at least it isn’t Flash.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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Nobody sleeping here

The last NBA game ever at Sleep Train Arena, formerly Arco Arena, might well have been every bit as loud as the games during the Good Old Days, one of which made it into Guinness, and the Sacramento Kings took full advantage of that noisy crowd to administer a thrashing to the Thunder, 114-112, evening the season series at two games each (1-1 in both Oklahoma City and Sacramento) and making some folks wonder how OKC is going to get through a whole playoff round if they can’t beat a team with 48 losses. It was mostly close all night, with the Thunder managing to win the first and third quarters, the Kings the second and fourth. This is not to say that the Kings had it easy in that final frame: with 24 seconds left, the Kings were up seven, but seventeen seconds later, that lead was cut to three, and Russell Westbrook knocked out three free throws to tie it. After “the longest five-count” radio guy Matt Pinto said he’d ever seen, a foul was called, Rudy Gay, who’d obligingly missed a few free throws in those waning moments, hit two of them, and that was the end of that.

Part of the problem for the Thunder was Curry. No, not Steph, but his younger brother Seth, coming off the Kings bench to collect 20 points, hitting six of ten treys. Darren Collison, running the offense while Rajon Rondo got some rest, had 27 points, his season high, and those Rudy Gay freebies brought him up to 22. The Kings, as noted, had problems from the stripe, hitting only 11 of 20, but they more than made up for that with actual field goals, 45-94 versus 39-80. (Weirdly, both teams were 13-32 from outside the arc.) And as has been often the case, the glaring number was 21: the number of turnovers given up by the Thunder. The Kings coughed it up only 11 times. Westbrook ended up with 24 points and 10 assist, the game’s only double-double; Kevin Durant made it up to 31, but he had to make 29 shots to get there.

None of this changes the playoff picture. OKC, third in the West, will play the #6 team; both Portland and Memphis lost tonight, leaving the Blazers in fifth, half a game in front of the Griz. The Rockets are in ninth, one game behind the Jazz with three to play. The marquee game tomorrow, of course, is Golden State at San Antonio: no team, not even the mighty Warriors, has beaten the Spurs at home all year. It says something about this season that even that game doesn’t change the playoff picture.

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From the Oxford files

Not everyone has an opinion on the Oxford comma; some people simply don’t give a fark. Still, there are times when you absolutely need that extra little bit of punctuation, and Michael Barone’s Friday column was one of them. As it appeared in the local paper on Saturday:

Ted Cruz showed an ability to adapt to terrain and vary his approach from his usual college-debater style. Appearing with his wife, mother and supporter Carly Fiorina, he spoke of the achievements and tragedies of women in his life.

I admit to a certain fondness for Carly Fiorina, but I had no idea she was that busy.

Someone at the Washington Examiner, Barone’s home base, has since rewritten the paragraph.

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The body in rebellion

And you wonder if it’s ever going to behave itself again:

I have a much higher pain threshold than a lot of people I know, but it’s a skill rather than an inborn trait.

I can train myself for this, if it lasts long enough, but this far into an ordeal that is costing me so much sleep, the long term is not high on my list of priorities.

This is not to say that he’s just sitting there and taking it:

I move around and stretch out as best I can to work the knots out, and for a man of my age and weight class I’m finding I can make my hip and knee joints do things that could probably have gotten me a spot on Johnny Carson, back in the ’70s or so.

It turns out I have to do those things to keep up with my younger (and quite a bit heavier) self. And I have yet to adjust myself to thinking of “trick” as an adjective: “trick knee.” Which it is; though the nervous system seems to be tricker, and the brain interpretation of that nervous system may be the trickest of all.

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Salami hiding

Not surprisingly, they’re looking for him:

Thanks to tips from the public, Dallas police say they have identified an indecent exposure suspect who allegedly exposed himself in front of the victim and began masturbating twice in two days this week.

Now they’re asking the public if they know where the alleged suspect, Jibril Salami, is hiding.

At the very least, this guy needs to get a grip.

(With thanks to Kris Wood.)

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Someone planted a page in the score

Led Zep meets Ludwig Van:

Of course, the cello is a quintessential metal instrument — see, for instance, Apocalyptica — but it also works well on that classical-era stuff.

(Via Laughing Squid.)

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Presumably not working for tips

A small group of anti-circumcision protesters turned up at Penn Square around midday yesterday, the same group that had hit Springfield, Missouri on Friday:

The protesters here pulled out fake blood, splattered it on their pants and posters, and stood on the corner here for the past hour.

Despite the blood, and graphic pictures, they say the point is not to scare people, but to get you to see their signs which they say point out what they say is cruelty to boys.

The group “Bloodstained Men and Their Friends” are behind the protest. They’ve been traveling across the country with the same message against infant circumcision.

The protesters call circumcision torture to babies, and wear the blood to represent that. Protesters say boys should be able to choose whether or not to get circumcised when they become an adult — instead of being forced at birth.

When it hurts even worse.

Seriously, though: I am not particularly put out about my own foreskin, which hasn’t been seen in six decades or more, but I can’t help but wonder if this particular group has a problem with Jews, though nothing on their Web site suggests so. And to be upfront about it, female genital mutilation strikes me as even worse, but the Men don’t seem especially concerned about that.

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Strange search-engine queries (532)

Last Saturday, this site celebrated (sort of) its twentieth anniversary; this particular feature began about halfway through those two decades. The format is pretty much unchanged: find search strings that brought people to the site, and make fun of them if at all possible. Fortunately, there’s enough traffic — and there are more than enough wackos out there — to make this task relatively simple most of the time.

discreet search engine:  Oh, come on, you’re taking all the fun out of this.

bonds womens pantyhose 70d opaque electric blue average/tall:  If nothing else, this tells you that fetishists can be awfully darn specific.

according to research on the so-called 10-year rule, superstar achievers are distinguished by their _____:  Prodigious genitalia.

david ruffin memes:  My whole world ended the moment you read this.

by publishing information packed articles, you’ll soon enjoy unservicing:  I do this every week. When are you guys gonna quit servicing me?

artillery shell cases for sale:  I suppose they’d be pretty tricky to rent.

cool to be a fool:  This year, we must be experiencing the arrival of a glacier.

inseams on pants:  You notice nobody ever asks about the outseams.

police stole my car feliz navidad:  Well, you’re certainly taking it well.

wp-config.php i need to find a gas station:  And what better place to find a gas station than in a text file full of PHP instructions?

fourbucks:  Formerly the price of two bottles of Two-Buck Chuck.

batman bill:  Surely several million a year, which Bruce Wayne pays without complaint.

my life is ruined yahoo answers:  Yeah, that’s the way it happens. You start trolling to get recognition, and before too long you’ve told the entire world that you’re too stupid to live.

in 2004, congress passed a corporate tax relief bill with 276 provisions for tax breaks to groups such as restaurant owners, hollywood producers, and nascar track owners. this is an example of the:  Way things are, always have been, and probably always will be.

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Indebitably

For some inscrutable reason, the supermarket I was visiting Saturday requires that any actual Hot Food from the deli counter be paid for at that counter: you can’t just carry it over to the regular checkout stand. The person in front of me, a chap about my age, had bought a rack of ribs and various side dishes, coming to around $32, and slid his debit card — I recognized it as belonging to the bank just down the road — through the machine.

The machine told him no.

He tried again, and got the same result. “I don’t understand this,” he said. “I made a deposit just this morning.”

Well, yeah. It was Saturday. You’ll be lucky if that deposit posts by Monday. We have customers on our storefront who have yet to comprehend this fact.

He handed the package back to the clerk, and walked away. Apparently that basket in the middle of the aisle was his also, and it contained a lot more than $32 worth of stuff. He said he might go try the ATM. Yeah, good luck with that.

Once or twice in my life, I’ve sprung to cover a shortage of this sort, but never for more than $10. And even if I’d bought him the darn Ribs ‘N Stuff, he was never going to get through the line with that basket. Still, I felt lousy about the whole incident, a lousiness that will subside the moment I have to start slapping down deadbeats at work for creating basically the same situation. There’s no angle in doing them any favors.

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Meanwhile at the coffee bar

They now have actual bars of coffee:

GO CUBES Chewable Coffee by Nootrobox

It’s a matter of portion control, says the manufacturer:

How much caffeine is in your regular cup of joe? 25 mg? 200 mg? You have no idea. It depends on many variables, including, bean varietal, process, and barista skill. Know exactly how much caffeine you consume so you can stay perfectly in the zone.

Nootrobox, the creators of GO CUBES, are experts at cognitive enhancement and nootropics. In addition to caffeine, GO CUBES contain precise amounts of other safe, effective supplements like L-theanine, B6, and methylated B12 that improve caffeine for enhanced focus & clarity.

They don’t seem expensive, either: the four-pack includes the equivalent of two cups of coffee, and a box of 20 four-packs from Amazon is $59. You don’t get latte decoration and such, but what the hey. And it’s got to be more interesting than Vivarin.

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Overlooked too often

This particular story is somewhat disturbing:

Lauren Buniva explains what’s going on here:

The video, originally posted on YouTube, featured emotional anecdotes of “leftover women,” or those unmarried after 25, in China. These “leftover women” receive shameful treatment as well as intense familial and societal pressure for not being married as they “should be.” The video shows the women interacting with their families and includes some of the brutally harsh and hurtful comments that parents of these “leftover women” spit out regularly. The storytelling is enhanced by compelling visuals, contrasting scenes from the young women’s modern lives with images of traditional China: families, parading dragons and the marriage market.

The marriage market becomes the an important feature of the video; it is both the scene that epitomizes the women’s frustration, embarrassment, and societal isolation, but also where they eventually stand up to their parents and reaffirm their own lifestyle choices. The marriage market is where Chinese parents display their children as marriage potential, detailing intimate information like their height, weight, salary, values and personality.

A meet market, or maybe something that just sounds like “meet market.”

SK-II, headquartered in Japan but owned by Procter & Gamble, decided to do something about it:

SK-II took over a marriage market, and did so beautifully, by posting photos of hundreds of “leftover women” accompanied with simple statements that assert their desire for independence and self-driven happiness. Viewers are then shown the parents’ tearful acceptance of their daughters, coming to the realization that these “leftover women” are actually outstanding, confident, beautiful and something to be proud, not ashamed, of.

Apparently this campaign is running through the Singapore office; the SK-II US site has no mention of if whatsoever.

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Calling on the party line

It was the last home game of the season, which was one event: it was Kobe Bryant’s last-ever road game, which was another. The combination of the two was a bit baffling at times, but the desired results were obtained: Kobe knocked down 13 points in the first quarter, in Kobe-like fashion, and the Thunder, after a 10-point lead at halftime, went on to trounce the Lakers 31-13 in the third quarter on the way to a 112-79 blowout. And there was lots of purple and gold in the house, an appreciation for a man who almost always played like he had his eye on the Hall of Fame. Sentimental value, even in a 33-point loss.

Also evocative: a decent line from Metta World Peace. The Artist Formerly Known As Ron Artest hasn’t been taken seriously since returning to the NBA from China, but World Peace played a darned good game, 12 points and six rebounds in 23 minutes. Like all the Lakers, he shot relatively poorly: at 3-10, he was actually ahead of the team average for the night; but once again, sentimental value, despite his checkered past. And those 12 points were second only to Bryant.

The Thunder contributed to the festive atmosphere by jacking up a ridiculous 37 treys, managing to make 12. (L. A. was 7-31.) Kevin Durant went over 20 by, um, 14, and Russell Westbrook put together a triple-double in a stirringly negligible 18 minutes, one off the league record. Kyle Singler hit two treys; Josh Huestis missed one. Just another night at the ‘Peake.

At this point, of course, nothing really matters. There’s one more game in the regular season, tomorrow night at San Antonio, where the Spurs finally got beaten — by, of course, the Warriors. (Golden State now has 72 wins. Will they get a record 73? Their last game is at home, against the Grizzlies, and any year other than this I’d go with Memphis.) For all I know, both Gregg Popovich and Billy Donovan will rest everyone possible. If you’ve nailed down your playoff spot, you’re like the Armed Forces short-timer: at this point, nothing really matters.

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And then you die

The suicide rate has gone off the scale among members of a Canadian First Nation:

The chief and council for the Attawapiskat First Nation on remote James Bay have declared a state of emergency, saying they’re overwhelmed by the number of attempted suicides in the community.

On Saturday night alone, 11 people attempted to take their own lives, Chief Bruce Shisheesh said.

Shisheesh and the council met Saturday night and unanimously voted to declare the state of emergency. That compels such agencies as the Weeneebayko Health Authority in Moose Factory, Ont., and Health Canada to bring in additional resources.

Including Saturday’s spate of suicide attempts, a total of 101 people of all ages have tried to kill themselves since September, Shisheesh said, with one person dying. The youngest was 11, the oldest 71.

On the upside, that’s a 99-percent failure rate among those attempting suicide, which must be considered a Good Thing. A 13-year-old girl was apparently the only one who died:

[Jackie] Hookimaw’s great-niece Sheridan took her own life in October. She was 13 years old. Hookimaw said Sheridan had a big heart, but she was plagued with multiple health conditions and was bullied at school.

More recently, Hookimaw said, she was at the community’s hospital where she saw a number of teenage girls being treated after purposely overdosing on drugs. As she was leaving, a man came in for treatment. Later, she would learn that he, too, had tried to take his own life.

Saddest of all, perhaps, is that this really isn’t anything new:

Overall, First Nations individuals have some of the highest rates of suicide globally. Suicide rates are more than twice the sex-specific rate and also three times the age-specific rates of non-Aboriginal Canadians. Residential Aboriginals between ages 10 and 29 show an elevated suicide risk as compared to non-residential Aboriginals by 5-6 times.

One theory for the increased incidences of suicide within Aboriginal populations as compared to the general Canadian population is called acculturation stress which results from the intersection of multiple cultures within one’s life. This leads to differing expectations and cultural clashes within the community, the family and the individual. At the community level, a general economic disadvantage is seen, exacerbated by unemployment and low education levels, leading to poverty, political disempowerment and community disorganization. The family suffers through a loss of tradition as they attempt to assimilate into Canadian culture. These lead to low self-esteem in the individual as First Nations culture and tradition are marginalized affecting one’s sense of self-identity. These factors combine to create a world where First Nations individuals feel they cannot identify completely as Aboriginal, nor can they fully identify as mainstream Canadians. When that balance cannot be found, many (particularly youths) turn to suicide as a way out.

The nearest major employer is De Beers, which operates a diamond mine about 90 km from the settlement of Attawapiskat. De Beers pours some money into the community, but generally they employ only about 100 members of the First Nation, which is not exactly overrun with experienced miners.

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Your daily requirement of Eurodance

It’s Saturday night in 1994, and say hello to Whigfield:

Whigfield in red

“Saturday Night” went straight to Number One in the UK and did well generally on the Continent, though follow-ups were not so successful, and after five albums, the last one in 2012 titled W, she retired from the limelight.

Whigfield a little farther along

Sort of. Reclaiming the name given her when she was born in 1975, Sannie Charlotte Carlson, billing herself as Sannie, has come up with a new song:

Before you ask: Sannie is behind the bar.

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A small break

Last year, the bank declared that I somehow had way too little in escrow, and duly commanded me to fork over an extra $130 a month to bridge the gap — or send them a check for a rather large sum I didn’t happen to have at the time. I did some calculations, because that’s what I do, and after some third-grade arithmetic I determined that the escrow shortage would have been cleared with a mere $80 a month, but there’s no arguing with the bank on these matters. Perhaps, I figured, they will drop it next year after they’ve taken a few dives into the vault, à la Scrooge McDuck.

Comes the notification. Payment is dropping by $75 a month. In response, I spent rather a long time in Told You So mode, though it didn’t seem useful at the moment to tell them so.

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The running dead

Just as I walked past the computer that runs the office phone system, a popup appeared, the same one I’ve seen several times in the last two years:

Windows XP nnd of life

I hit OK, but didn’t bother with “Don’t show this message again,” since someone else down the line may need it:

Even though Microsoft retired Windows XP two years ago, an estimated 181 million PCs around the world ran the crippled operating system last month, according to data from a web metrics vendor.

Windows XP exited public support on April 8, 2014, amid some panic on the part of corporations that had not yet purged their environments of the 2001 OS. Unless companies paid for custom support, their PCs running XP received no security updates after that date.

Consumers were completely cut off from patches, with no alternatives other than to switch to a newer operating system or continue running an insecure machine.

But two years after XP’s support demise, nearly 11% of all personal computers continue to run the OS, data for March from U.S.-based analytics vendor Net Applications showed.

Since the first of the year, 2.8 percent of the traffic to this Web site has been from XP boxes. Scary? Not as scary as the 0.9 percent on Vista, newer but deader. (There were still a couple of Windows 98 users as of last year, but they seem to have gone away.)

And the lack of patches might be a selling point to some:

Sometimes, she just nails it.

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Almost with a flourish

Perhaps I spoke too soon. Billy Donovan did opt to rest Durant/Westbrook/Ibaka tonight; however, the only Spur getting time off, other than the wounded Boris Diaw, was Manu Ginobili. And it is the last home game in San Antonio before the playoffs; why not give them a spectacle? The Thunder certainly did that for Loud City last night. That said, the Spurs came to life rather slowly tonight, bottoming out 18 points behind during the second quarter and still down 10 at the half. Came the third quarter, and suddenly things were different: OKC managed only 19 points, with the Spurs picking up 31, and we had a barn-burner on our hands. With 1:50 left, the Spurs were up five, up to that point their largest lead; at the :16 point, the game was tied at 93 on a Dion Waiters and-1. Kawhi Leonard went up for a buzzer-beater jumper, but Andre Roberson was having none of that, and for the only time this season, the Spurs had to play overtime. Not that this worried anyone: Leonard kept on scoring, Tony Parker knocked down two freebies with ten seconds left to put the Spurs up 102-98, and that’s where it ended.

And really, it’s fitting that Parker and Leonard would finish the job; they were the only guys out there into the 20-point range. (In a reversal of the usual Thunder two-guys-get-all-the-shots scheme, four OKC players finished at 17, though Enes Kanter, the only bench player to score that much, also reeled in 16 rebounds.) Pop will rest some guys, we are told, tomorrow night in Dallas.

So it’s 55-27 for the Northwestern champs. By coincidence, the 2010-11 Thunder finished 55-27; they made it through two rounds of playoffs before losing to the Mavs in five. And we still don’t have all the Western seeds in place, so we don’t know the first-round opponent yet: it might be Memphis, it might be Dallas. The Griz are half a game up on the Mavs right now, but they’re on their way to Oakland to hand the Warriors their 73rd victory. Maybe. Weird things can happen, even at this stage.

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The stars should never die

Eleanor Tiernan thinks that celebrities always deserve one more day. What does she say?

Ah, look at all the wacky people.

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Wandering every which way

Yesterday was Taco Tuesday, and at some point in the proceedings I was sufficiently bored to read the label on the jar of taco sauce. “Old El Paso. Harrumph.” Mindful of a rival’s derisive TV spots of yore — “Why, this stuff’s made in New York City!” — I prepared myself for, at the very least, more harrumphing.

And there it was in boldface: “Distributed by General Mills Sales, Minneapolis, MN 55440.” The harrumph began, but broke off during the next line: “©2014 Pet Incorporated.” Um, say what?

As it turns out, Old El Paso originated in not-all-that-old El Paso, at an operation called Mountain Pass Canning Company, dating to 1938. After that, things got really complicated:

  • In 1968, Pet acquired the Mountain Pass Canning Company, maker of the Old El Paso brand of Mexican food products.
  • Acquired by IC Industries (ICI) in 1978. Hussmann and Pet were made into separate divisions of ICI.
  • In 1981, ICI sold off the Musselman division.
  • In 1982, the William Underwood Company was acquired, bringing with it the brands B&M and Ac’cent.
  • In 1985, the PET Dairy division was sold to the Challer Foods subsidiary of Finevest Dairy Holdings. This did not include the canned milk products.
  • In 1986, Pet acquired Ogden Food Products (including the brands Progresso, Las Palmas, Hollywood, and Hain) and Primo Foods, an Italian foods marketer.
  • in 1988, ICI changed its name to Whitman Corp.
  • Acquired Orval Kent, a prepared salad maker, in 1989.
  • In 1990, Pet, Inc. was spun off of Whitman.
  • In 1993, Pet sold the Whitman’s chocolate brand to Russell Stover Candies.
  • In 1994, Orval Kent was sold to Horizon Partners, a private equity group in Milwaukee.
  • In 1995, Pet was acquired by the Pillsbury Company division of Grand Metropolitan. Major brands of interest are Old El Paso and Progresso.
  • In 1997, Grand Met merged with Guinness to form Diageo.
  • In 1999, Pillsbury sold the William Underwood business to B&G Foods.
  • In 2000, General Mills acquired Pillsbury (incl. Pet) from Diageo.
  • In 2001, to satisfy the US FTC, Diageo and General Mills agreed to sell several, but not all, Pillsbury brands to International Multifoods. This included the PET Evaporated Milk and PET dry creamer products.

I think I’ll paste that entire list at the next person who tries to lecture me about the importance of branding as an indicator of stability.

And after that litany, we know the distributor, but we still don’t know where this stuff is made.

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Protection without racket

After wearing them pretty consistently for 40 years or so, I think I (mostly) understand seat belts. And despite having never seen them deploy, I have a reasonable grip on the concept of air bags, four of which can be found in my current car. But some of the new safety gewgaws simply astonish me. Eric Tingwall, in the May ’16 Car and Driver, reveals a couple of options for the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class:

The optional Pre-Safe Impulse system adds radar units to the front corners of the car and inflatable bladders in the outboard bolsters of the front seats. It predicts an imminent side-impact collision, and inflates the bladders — without damaging the seats — two-tenths of a second before impact, pushing the occupant inward, away from the B-pillar and the intruding car.

Spiffy. But this goes beyond:

Pre-Safe Sound plays pink noise (it sounds like a TV that’s lost its signal) through the speakers to contract the stapedius muscles in your ears prior to a crash, reducing the risk of hearing damage during an accident. This is what a successful civilization looks like: fixes for problems you never even knew existed.

An E-Class with these goodies will likely cost around $60,000: base price, guesses C/D, will be $52k. Still, you know these things will gradually start showing up in cars within my budget.

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Live with Kelly

Last week, Rep. Jason Nelson (R-Oklahoma City) announced he would not seek reelection:

The Republican floor leader of the Oklahoma House says he will step aside from his northwest Oklahoma City seat after eight years in office.

Rep. Jason Nelson said Wednesday he will not seek re-election to his District 87 House seat in November. The 44-year-old Nelson announced his decision on the floor of the House where he was congratulated by Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb and Republican and Democratic House members.

As an actual resident of District 87, I am of course interested in Nelson’s successor. And the first flyer has arrived, on behalf of Kelly Meredith. Her political affiliation is not disclosed, but let’s read between the lines, specifically these lines from the flyer:

Kelly will bring her experience as a strategic planner, an educator, and a mother to the Capitol. She is tired of seeing reckless budgeting, wasteful legislation, and political games that hurt our children and our state.

Got to be a Democrat. (Republicans have a 70-31 majority in the House, so at least two of those charges will presumably be blamed on the GOP.) Which means I will eventually meet her; in the 12 years I’ve lived in 87, every single Democratic candidate — and no Republican — has come out to knock on my door at a time when I could conceivably have answered it.

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It followed me home

Debra Monroe, Professor of English at the University of Texas at San Marcos, is a Facebook friend in an unexpected manner: she appreciated the reception I gave to her memoir My Unsentimental Education. Now it’s hardly unexpected for a woman on Facebook, even one with serious intellectual heft, to comment on her new shoes, and I, being, well, me, duly said something about them, with a consequence I should have expected: Amazon, having apparently heard from Facebook that I had said something about this shoe, sent me an actual email offering to sell me a pair of my own, and probably will bother me about them for several weeks.

Anyway, this is “Carissa” from Miz Mooz:

Carissa by Miz Mooz

“They make me euphoric,” said Professor Monroe.

“Who puts a price tag on euphoria?” I replied. “Not me, not ever.”

The current Amazon price depends on color and size: might be $82, might be $140. That heel, 2.75 inches high, is described as, um, “moderate.”

I told a friend at lunch that I didn’t know what I’d do if anyone actually started sending me shoes for review. She smiled and said “I wear a 7 wide.”

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Reputations at stake

Remember when seemingly minor incidents drove people to buy up — or steal — all copies of the local newspaper, to prevent the world from finding out? Now scale that to a non-minor incident in the Internet Age, and this is what you get:

UC Davis contracted with consultants for at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative online postings following the November 2011 pepper-spraying of students and to improve the reputations of both the university and Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi, newly released documents show.

The payments were made as the university was trying to boost its image online and were among several contracts issued following the pepper-spray incident.

Some payments were made in hopes of improving the results computer users obtained when searching for information about the university or Katehi, results that one consultant labeled “venomous rhetoric about UC Davis and the chancellor.”

Venomous? What, did someone not like being pepper-sprayed or something?

And maybe this needs to get around, too:

The release of the documents comes as Katehi is once again under fire, this time for her acceptance of seats on private corporate boards, including a textbook publisher and a for-profit university that was under scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission. First revealed in The Bee, her outside board positions have sparked calls for her resignation as well as student protests.

Students have occupied the reception office outside Katehi’s office since March 11 in a sit-in that they say will last until Katehi resigns.

(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)

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You must be this flush to buy this car

Ford will apparently not sell its new GT to just anyone:

Ford estimates the price of the 2017 GT as being in the low- to mid-$400,000 range (USD), but money probably isn’t a huge consideration if you’re actually considering a GT purchase.

The cumbersome ordering process is meant to weed out the reputable buyers from the shifty hoi polloi, with special consideration given to buyers of the first-generation (2004-2007) GT.

“Ford is conducting this application process to identify from a host of deserving candidates those individuals who will be invited to discuss a potential Ford GT purchase,” the automaker states on its application webpage. “Completing an application does not guarantee that you will have the opportunity to purchase a Ford GT.”

Not that this is particularly unusual: makers of high-end Italian exotica, and of some other cars that compete in this price range, long ago let it be known that you had a better chance of getting to own one of their Special Editions if you’d already owned one or three or a dozen of their previous models.

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Technically, it’s a highbrid

Two bad tastes that probably taste bad together, but who cares?

A Brooklyn-based lab has successfully bred the world’s first Kale x Cannabis hybrid. The company, Williamsburg Wonders, announced today that the new cross, called Kaleabis, would be available as a superfood juice shot in Oregon dispensaries this summer.

The successful cross is the culmination of a two-year project that began with a Kickstarter campaign by Williamsburg Wonders’ founders, Mark and Todd Takota. When the Takota brothers announced their desire to breed a plant with the dietary benefits of kale and the therapeutic properties of cannabis, funding poured in. The project reached its investment goal in less than a week, significantly outpacing other local investment opportunities like DIY mustache wax and kombucha colonics.

Where do they go from here?

The Takotas plan to launch a line of Williamsburg Wonders Kaleabis superfood drinks. A spokesperson confirmed the beverages will be available in dispensaries but acknowledged the ultimate goal of being the first cannabis product sold at Whole Foods.

It’s certainly more likely than a kombucha colonic.

(Via Christopher Johnson.)

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Wheels within wheels

This device is none too cute, but I have to admire the sentiment that made it possible:

That said, there remains one problem: this sort of thing has been tried before, and the outcomes were deemed ungood.

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Frugal crook

As thieves go, this guy was remarkably unambitious:

I got a call from my credit card provider. They were questioning certain transactions made in California last month: to wit, a charge for gas at a Shell station, and a purchase from In n Out Burger. The two together were less than $50.

At least he’s picking name brands. Still:

I’m struck by the modesty of their desires. Why not buy an expensive camera or a set of tires? (These are the items a thief bought on my credit card last time I was robbed.) Why would anyone risk getting a criminal record for a hamburger?

So if you’re planning to steal a credit-card account — skimmers were found at a Circle K in Edmond this week, so clearly somebody is — you may as well spend big; the jail looks the same regardless.

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Department of Subtle Reminders

For just about as long as I can remember, whenever OG&E has had a rate case pending, there’s been a note stuck into the electric bill with all the other detritus. And yes, there’s a rate case pending; the Corp Comm is scheduled to open hearings on the third of May, and my particular rate class would go up by about 6.6 percent.

Nothing too surprising here, except that on the bill itself, for the first time I can remember, there is a LARGE PRINT statement:

*** PLEASE SEE ENCLOSED SPECIAL NOTICE TO OKLAHOMA CUSTOMERS. ***

(They do have a few Arkansas customers, who would not be affected.) And the notice itself is marked SPECIAL NOTICE, so there’s presumably no excuse for missing it.

The April bill, for me anyway, is typically the lowest of the year, so the rate increase looks like a mere four bucks or so. In August, it’s going to hurt a little more.

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He made it after all

The true hero of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, contends Lileks, was Ted Baxter:

He was a silly puffed-up man, and yes he was cheap and vain. But he was a decent fellow. I’ve said this before, but Ted’s the real hero of the show. Lou was a grumpy curmudgeon wounded by divorce. Murray was a pill, his sarcasm masking the fact that he knew exactly how small his skill-set really was, which is why he was working at the low-rated station; Mary couldn’t keep a boyfriend for more than two episodes, which may have been a clue to something in her personality we never saw on the show.

Ted, on the other hand, got married, stayed married, adopted a Vietnamese orphan, was utterly enthusiastic about life in general, and kept his job. There are times you fear you’re really Ted, and then there are times you think: could be worse.

And better yet, no one ever told him he had spunk.

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Deprecated squirrel

Actually, that sounds like a swell Twitter username: @DeprecatedSquirrel. It’s here because my mail service is switching away from SquirrelMail to something different:

Atmail was chosen as it is a step up from former DreamHost Webmail clients in that it’s faster, offers more features, and is in constant development.

Of the features mentioned, two might be of use: drag-and-drop attachments, and a mobile user interface.

There are a couple of downsides, and they’ll admit to them:

Requires more bandwidth to send complex HTML interface compared to SquirrelMail (approximately 100x to get from login screen to empty inbox; about 15 KB in 8 HTTP requests for SquirrelMail versus 1,500 KB in 35 HTTP requests for Atmail.)

Yeah, a hundred times as much bandwidth. Mobile users will just love that.

And there’s this:

Atmail needs more maintenance because it is less mature and more complex: it has more bugs. SquirrelMail has not required a fix since June 12, 2011.

Noteworthy: originally, “Atmail” (typically styled “atmail”) was known as “@mail.” Imagine that.

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The root to serfdom

Quite reasonably, we fear computer attacks from without. But the worst ones, sometimes, come from within:

A man appears to have deleted his entire company with one mistaken piece of code.

By accidentally telling his computer to delete everything in his servers, hosting provider Marco Marsala has seemingly removed all trace of his company and the websites that he looks after for his customers.

Mr Marsala wrote on a forum for server experts called Server Fault that he was now stuck after having accidentally run destructive code on his own computers. But far from advising them how to fix it, most experts informed him that he had just accidentally deleted the data of his company and its clients, and in so doing had probably destroyed his entire company with just one line of code.

That’s one heavy line of code. This is it:

The problem command was “rm -rf”: a basic piece of code that will delete everything it is told to. The “rm” tells the computer to remove; the r deletes everything within a given directory; and the f stands for “force”, telling the computer to ignore the usual warnings that come when deleting files.

Together, the code deleted everything on the computer, including Mr Masarla’s customers’ websites, he wrote. Mr Masarla runs a web hosting company, which looks after the servers and internet connections on which the files for websites are stored.

Oops.

I once deleted 9,000 or so files, and it was pretty scary to watch them dissolve. Then again, I started in a subdirectory down low enough to insure that the important stuff would remain untouched.

Potential amusement value: Mr Marsala ran this command from Bash, a standard *nix shell. Guess what’s being added to Windows 10.

Update, 18 April: The whole story is starting to unravel a bit.

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An effing good song

Danish singer/songwriter Medina has just unleashed this single, which you will never hear on the radio in the States, even if she records an English-language version.

Make that especially if she records an English-language version:

Translation of the chorus: “I freaking love you.” Except, of course, it’s not “freaking.”

(Via Strong Language.)

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At the very edge of the soda shelf

The folks at mental_floss have come up with something called “The Tragic History of Royal Crown Cola”, and as a genuine RC fan, I read it, wincing as I went along, and while I didn’t weep into my beverage, I did occasionally make regretful-sounding noises.

Lucille Ball for Royal Crown Cola

I have no idea if Lucy actually drank this stuff in 1946, when The Dark Corner was released, but at the time, Royal Crown — they, meaning Nehi, the drink’s parent company, had only just adopted “RC” as a nickname — was on a roll:

In 1944, the courts ruled that Coke did not, in fact, own the word “cola,” thus allowing Royal Crown to become Royal Crown Cola, or RC Cola. With nationwide distribution and sales on the up and up, Nehi shoveled money into print and television ads featuring stars like Bing Crosby, Joan Crawford, Shirley Temple, and Lucille Ball. “You Bet RC Tastes Best!” magazine ads crowed. And this wasn’t just an empty boast: Nehi had staged public taste tests across the country pitting RC against competitors Coke and Pepsi, and declared itself the winner. It was the first time a beverage company had ever done such a promotion. Whether or not the tests were rigged in some way is up for debate; what mattered was that people believed them.

And hey, it’s not like anyone paid attention to the Pepsi Challenge.

RC was a Southern drink, first concocted in Columbus, Georgia, and it was in the South Carolina lowcountry where I first discovered it, as an adjunct to rock and/or roll: the leading Top 40 station in the area gave away tons of the stuff, in the form of store coupons for a six-pack, and in those days, I could dial a phone with the best of them.

The “tragedy” apparently was caused by RC’s sister product, Diet Rite Cola, formulated in 1958 and sweetened with that miracle stuff, cyclamate, which was declared Very Bad For You a decade later:

Controversy developed when, in 1966, a study reported that some intestinal bacteria could desulfonate cyclamate to produce cyclohexylamine, a compound suspected to have some chronic toxicity in animals. Further research resulted in a 1969 study that found the common 10:1 cyclamate:saccharin mixture to increase the incidence of bladder cancer in rats. The released study was showing that eight out of 240 rats fed a mixture of saccharin and cyclamates, at levels of humans ingesting 350 cans of diet soda per day, developed bladder tumors.

Too much risk, said the FDA, always mindful of rat health. RC, which then had almost 10 percent of the soft-drink market, went into a slow, then a not-so-slow, decline. There was one two-liter bottle left at the supermarket tonight, and I grabbed it.

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