Netflix and chafe

(Note: This ran in the Chicago Tribune in late December. The Oklahoman picked it up yesterday.)

It’s almost 8 p.m. on a Sunday as you pour a glass of wine and settle into the couch to watch The Good Wife. It’s your weekly ritual.

Your significant other, meanwhile, is in the basement watching Homeland, which airs at the same time.

Couples are bound to have varied tastes in television, but what if it starts to pull the two of you apart? One of you keeps binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy in the living room while the other lies in bed watching Sons of Anarchy.

“When couples spend what little time they have to hang out together in separate rooms watching their own programs, they often lose their sense of intimacy and connection,” said John Sovec, a psychotherapist in Pasadena, Calif.

This apparently has been going on for about as long as multiple TV sets have been a thing; the only reason it never affected me was simply that we — for those few years when I was part of a couple — had only the one set.

Still, doesn’t at least part of the definition of “couple” imply doing things together?

Dr Sovec says a single set should suffice:

“One TV is enough,” Sovec said, recommending that couples who can’t agree on what to watch should consider using a DVR. Decide which shows you must watch in real time, plan accordingly and record the rest. Watch Scandal one week and Thursday Night Football the next. (Although, admittedly, recording sporting events to watch later might be a tough sell.)

Then again, if both are on Twitter or even Facebook, the chance of seeing SPOILERS! is probably quadrupled.

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My, Texas, how you’ve changed

I mean, really:

CBS News infographic for Texas GOP primary with illustration of South Carolina

Then again, both Texas and South Carolina have cities named Greenville. Maybe that’s it. Yeah. That’s the ticket.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Connections unimagined

How is it I know all these people I don’t really know? I barely know the people I know, if you know what I mean.

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Rickety curriculum

Regular as clockwork come the newest examples of unintelligent design:

The first state bills of the year that would interfere with science education have appeared in Oklahoma. There, both the House and Senate have seen bills that would prevent school officials and administrators from disciplining any teachers who introduce spurious information to science classes.

These bills have a long history, dating back to around the time when teaching intelligent design was determined to be an unconstitutional imposition of religion. A recent study showed that you could take the text of the bills and build an evolutionary tree that traces their modifications over the last decade. The latest two fit the patterns nicely.

The Senate version of the bill [pdf] is by State Senator Josh Brecheen, a Republican. It is the fifth year in a row he’s introduced a science education bill after announcing he wanted “every publicly funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.” This year’s version omits any mention of specific areas of science that could be controversial. Instead, it simply prohibits any educational official from blocking a teacher who wanted to discuss the “strengths and weaknesses” of scientific theories.

We are on record as describing Senator Brecheen as “not the sharpest tool in the shed.”

Meanwhile, in that Other Chamber:

The one introduced in the Oklahoma House [pdf] is more traditional. Billed as a “Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act” (because freedom!), it spells out a whole host of areas of science its author doesn’t like:

“The Legislature further finds that the teaching of some scientific concepts including but not limited to premises in the areas of biology, chemistry, meteorology, bioethics, and physics can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on some subjects such as, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”

Do I really have to tell you who came up with this bill? No, you were right the first time, it’s Sally Kern. This is her fourth such bill. And really, “human cloning”? I can see a debate over “global warming,” inasmuch as the temperature of the globe isn’t exactly fixed and never has been, but what’s with the Clonus Horror?

If these two knuckleheads want to do the schools a favor, let them craft a measure to tell the US Department of Education to go fart up a flagpole, and then fill the existing funding holes, already fairly deep, with local money and local control.

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Yankees without number (1.9999…)

About three years ago, I did some whining about how the New York Yankees, having retired more numbers than any other Major League Baseball club, actually might not have enough numbers to outfit their spring-training squad.

There was one angle I apparently missed:

All told, the Yankees need 97 uniform numbers, give or take, in order to field a spring training team, and they only have 101 to choose from, even if they distribute 0 and 00, which seems cheeky for a team that won’t let its players wear beards.

Except, they don’t only have 101 numbers to choose from. Here’s MLB rule 3.03 (a), which is the only official instruction in the rulebook about uniform numbers: “All players on a team shall wear uniforms identical in color, trim and style, and all players’ uniforms shall include minimal six-inch numbers on their backs.”

That’s it. Doesn’t that seem crazy? Almost every other sport lays out specific instructions as to which uniform numbers can be worn, but not MLB. Everyone freaked out about Eddie Gaedel’s one stunt plate appearance, but it’s a historical footnote that it was 100 percent legal for him to wear 1/8 on the back of his jersey. It doesn’t say they have to be one or two digits, or integers, or even Arabic numerals.

Gaedel, three foot seven, pinch-hit for the St Louis Browns in one game in 1951; Detroit Tigers pitcher Bob Cain, more amused than annoyed, walked him on four pitches. (Duh.) Gaedel was then pulled for a pinch-runner. (Duh squared.)

The Yankees obviously aren’t going to play any dwarves, even in spring training, but triple digits, fractions, and even irrational numbers are open to them:

The story goes that Yasiel Puig wears No. 66 because Dodger clubhouse manager Mitch Poole said he was a “little devil,” but there is nothing stopping Puig from wearing No. 666 if he so chose. If you can fit Avogadro’s number on your back, it’s within MLB uniform regulations to take the field wearing it.

Hmmm. 6.02 × 1023, rounded off. That’s a lot of six-inch digits.

(Via Fark.)

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Strange search-engine queries (521)

The West Coast is being spattered by liquid; the East Coast is covered by what used to be liquid before it froze. Here in the middle, we’re seeing a big yellow ball in the sky that hadn’t previously been detected for about a week. But while everyone’s routines are disrupted, some things go on, and one of them is this “Let’s see all the search strings!” bit.

todd rundgren misprint something anything:  Hello, it’s me, you’ve thought about this for how long?

sarah palin squirmish:  Perhaps she was uncomfortable.

people who hate reality shows are really just old, humorless sourpusses. what propaganda technique does the writer employ in this statement?  See section 6.2 of the National Association for a Kardashian-Free Society bylaws.

palestinians cheering 9/11:  Well, they’re just old, humorless sourpusses.

“ways to” “persuasively” towel:  The trick is to get her dry at the exact moment you get her wet.

“membership to this website is public” wall mount gun rack:  And the public never, ever acts up. Wonder why?

we’ve found that lots of messages from are spam:  These days, it doesn’t matter whom they’re from.

shoe retry timeout exceeded:  Geez, how long does it take to put on a pair of shoes?

maybe he’ll know cyndi lauper:  She will be waiting, time after time.

refrigerator not cold:  Did you check to see if it was running?

something different with steak:  A small lump of feldspar.

intj stare:  We do not stare. We brood.

buy-o-mart sells magazines at a 10% discount. what amount will you pay the cashier for a magazine that costs $5.99 and has a sales tax of 4%?  If I tell you, you’re going to be so screwed when the teacher tells you to show your work.

Also, there were several dozen instances of “received the verification code, you will be able to choose a new password for your account” followed by a single random word. This is the level of hacking engaged in by the sort of people who can’t figure out the price of a magazine with a discount and a sales tax.

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Bruised in Brooklyn

The Nets, everyone said, were terrible. Eleven wins in 44 games would certainly sound terrible. But tonight, in a game postponed by four hours, Brooklyn looked almost unbeatable, and the Thunder contributed to that appearance by not beating them. The Nets led by two after the first quarter, eight at the half, eight after three quarters, and never once had to look back: as close as OKC would come would be five, halfway through the fourth. “Just not firing on all cylinders,” said radio guy Matt Pinto, and fortunately, we can’t much extend automotive metaphor in this context, though it would be fair to question the brakes: when they needed stops, the Thunder couldn’t get them. Brook Lopez, in fact, worked his way to a season-high 31 points as the Nets walloped the Thunder, 116-106, to tie the season series at one each.

It wasn’t just Lopez, either. All the starting Nets scored in double figures except Wayne Ellington, and he missed by only one. Bojan Bogdanović paced the bench with 18. Points in the paint were pretty even (OKC 60, Brooklyn 58), but in every other statistical category, the Nets were dominant. It did not help that Steven Adams, who might have been able to hold back Lopez, was out for the second time with his elbow ailment, and in the second quarter, Andre Roberson plowed into Russell Westbrook, leaving Westbrook unharmed but messing up Dre’s knee. Westbrook did come up with 27 points, and Kevin Durant 30, but the support troops were conspicuous by their absence.

Fortunately, there’s no travel time to the next game, against the Knicks at the Garden. New York is playing around .500 ball, and they’d like nothing better than to thrash Oklahoma City. Watch this space, if you can.

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Well, they do own the name

This was trending on Facebook — at least, the Facebook they send me — last night:

Facebook screeshot: iPhone: Apple May Release New Smartphone Named After iPhone 5, Report Says

Um, say what?

Mark Gurman of 9to5Mac reported Friday that the 4-inch “iPhone 5se” would replace the iPhone 5s, with features including an 8-megapixel camera, an A8 processor and Live Photos.

Oh. Why couldn’t you have said “Apple May Release An Updated iPhone 5”?

Update: Someone wised up. It now says “New Smartphone Model to Replace 5S.”

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Decorum in Topeka

From this moment on, ladies, if you’re going to testify before the Kansas Senate, you will be properly dressed:

A dress code imposed by a Kansas Senate committee chairman that prohibits women testifying on bills from wearing low-cut necklines and miniskirts is drawing bipartisan ridicule from female legislators.

Wait, what?

[Mitch] Holmes, a 53-year-old Republican from St John who is chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, said he wrote the instruction because provocatively dressed women are a distraction. The guidelines don’t detail a minimum skirt length or a permissible neckline for blouses.

“It’s one of those things that’s hard to define,” Holmes said. “Put it out there and let people know we’re really looking for you to be addressing the issue rather than trying to distract or bring eyes to yourself.”

Of course, there’s a punchline:

Holmes said he considered requiring men to wear suits and ties during testimony but decided males didn’t need any guidance.

I once had a longish talk with a lovely woman of a Certain Age who (1) had quite the nicest legs I’d ever seen up to that point and (2) damned well knew it; at no point during the proceedings did I find myself breaking either my non-furtive gaze nor my rhetorical stride.

So my sentiments here echo those of Senator Laura Kelly (D-Topeka): “Oh, for crying out loud, what century is this?”

(Via Rita Meade.)

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You live here too

Call this the Generic Judgmental Map:

Numbers 8 and 16 have particular resonance where I live.

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And then there was 4

The lounge room in the dorm had a classic old-style console stereo, in which the furniture was arguably worth more than the audio componentry. Still, it could blast when we wanted it to blast, and one of the albums we blasted on a regular basis was the first album by Santana, the one that finished off with the fearsome “Soul Sacrifice,” a song the band had had the audacity to play at Woodstock before they’d ever put it on wax. I snagged a copy for myself, grabbed the next one (Abraxas) the day it came out, and waited intently for the third.

Santana IVAnd now, after all these years and lots of lineup changes, the original band brings us a fourth:

Santana will release their highly anticipated album Santana IV with the return of the band’s original lineup.

Carlos Santana (guitar, vocals), Gregg Rolie (keyboards, lead vocals), Neal Schon (guitar, vocals), Michael Carabello (percussion) and Michael Shrieve (drums) have come back together for the first time in 45 years to record what is, essentially, their follow-up to Santana, Abraxas and Santana III. All three of the original albums went two-times platinum while Abraxas achieved three-times.

Santana IV features 16 all-new tracks written and produced by the band that burst with the same unparalleled energy and musicianship that made Santana a pioneering force in world music and a household name across the globe. Joining the core band in the studio are current Santana members Karl Perazzo (percussion) and Benny Rietveld (bass), with the legendary vocalist Ronald Isley guesting on two cuts.

By jingo, I’m interested. And for the, um, record:

Santana IV will be released on April 15, on Santana IV Records and is distributed by Thirty Tigers/RED Distribution. It will be available for pre-order on Amazon in CD, Double 180 Gram Vinyl with Download Card and Digital configurations.

Already got the pre-order in.

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Beyond “birthers”

Now here’s a losing loser who loses:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How can I change my birth certificate so that no one finds out I was born in a city with a Spanish, not Anglo-sounding name?

The justification offered for this is totally absurd:

I’m sorry, but this is a problem some of us face. I know a lot of fine people who have to cover up the fact that we were born in cities in the USA with Spanish names like San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Santa Cruz, etc.

It is not refined. Places like Newport, New Haven, Manhattan, etc. are refined. I don’t want to be associated with a place that has a name derived from people who are Romanist in religion and whose colonies are not of the right social standing.

Update: Yes, but a birth certificate can be forged. Sorry, but I will not go through life with a birthplace associated with Roman Catholicism, spicy food, and antagonism towards the British Crown.

Shorter version: “My parents weren’t WASPs, therefore my life is ruined.”

Troll possibility: Rather high. Then again, someone who would go to this much trouble to come up with an incredibly stupid tale of woe doesn’t have much of a life anyway, by definition. Once I get the time machine working, I’m sending this doofus back to 1884.

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Never heard of you

I had fun putting this together, because not only had I never heard of her until yesterday, but her notability has been questioned by Wikipedians, meaning her entry is subject to deletion at any time.

With that in mind, meet Felicia Brandström, twenty-nine today:

Portrait of Felicia Brandström

Felicia Brandström up against the wall

What reputation she has, apparently, is based on her appearances on Idol 2006 in Sweden, in which she made it to the final four before being eliminated. Just about all of those appearances have been YouTubed, though, so let’s look at a couple of them. First, doing the Corrs’ “What Can I Do”:

But that’s not the performance that grabbed me. This is:

While Caesars’ original is fairly ubiquitous, having shown up in commercials, videogames, and what have you, I’ve never heard anyone else sing it. (And Caesars were a Swedish band, so it’s no surprise Brandström would have known it.)

She got to the Top Five on the strength of a couple of Motown covers, survived one more round, and then, well, bye, Felicia. I have no idea what’s happened to her in the nine years since. She has one credit in IMDb, for När karusellerna sover (“When the carousels sleep”), the 1998 installment of Sveriges Television’s Christmas Calendar, but after Idol, the trail ends.

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Exception noted

Monday morning, Twitter was glitching all over the place, prompting this observation:

I’d say that Brian J. begs to differ, except for the fact that I can imagine no circumstances under which Brian J. would beg.

Anyway, I put up a correction.

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You say you have more than one room?

I swear by the antique Honeywell Eyeball thermostat, one of which I’ve lived with for at least half my life, including twelve years here at Surlywood. It is not programmable in the least, unless you consider twisting its dial a form of programming. But the newer ones that talk to your smartphone suffer from one of the same limitations as the Eyeball:

[T]hey only measure temperature in one spot. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if you had only one room in your home, but chances are your house is a little bit bigger. If you do have a home with more than one room, you inevitably have hot and cold spots.

Yea, verily. My bedroom (with windows on three walls, mind you) is about 2°F warmer than the rest of the house in the summer, 2°F cooler in the winter. If I were sufficiently exercised about this to want to do something about it, there’s this contraption:

I’m not sure I want a thermostat so smart that it knows when I’ve moved from the office to the bedroom and tweaks the system accordingly, but rampant gadget-happiness might counteract at least some of my paranoia.

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More arbitrary levels

Bill Peschel had to go rooting, so to speak, around his Web site:

I had received an email from HostGator telling me that they couldn’t back up PlanetPeschel because of “inode,” which was about as unhelpful a message as one could get.

Fortunately, HostGator had a page explaining what the heck inode means. In plain English, I have too many files on my shared hosting. More than a 100,000 of them. They don’t mind my having them, they said, they’re just not going to back up all of them. And if you get to 250,000, they warned me, I’ll have to pay them and make some changes.

(Shared hosting, if I remember right, means my website’s on a server with a bunch of other sites.)

This is indeed what shared hosting is. I have it. I have five sites on that machine, but I’m not alone.

Anyway, this surprised me. I’ve got a lot of files on Planetpeschel, but 100K?

Depending on what the cache has done lately, I have somewhere around 25,000 files.

I have a different backup issue. On my WordPress installs, a plugin called wp-db-backup gzips up the database and emails me a copy once a week — except here. The issue is that this database is freaking huge: on the order of 75 megabytes. Doesn’t sound like a lot for nearly 20,000 posts and about two and a half comments per, but the catch is that gzip brings it down to 21 or 22 MB — and the host’s email facility won’t handle anything in excess of 20 MB. Workaround: while I’m not working on the site, I set the backup to run manually, and drop the resulting gzipped file on my desktop.

Bill’s excess-files problem, however, isn’t related to this at all:

I have a plug-in on WordPress called Autoptimize, which saves bits and pieces of the site to call them up quickly. Turns out my settings told it to save a lot of files. Like, 65,000 of them.

Once I got rid of them, HostGator thanked me and said they’ll back up my site next week. Everyone’s happy (except me; I had to put a note down on my calendar a week from now to check my inodes and see if they’re swelling again).

I hadn’t heard of this plugin, so I went looking:

Autoptimize makes optimizing your site really easy. It concatenates all scripts and styles, minifies and compresses them, adds expires headers, caches them, and moves styles to the page head and can move scripts to the footer. It also minifies the HTML code itself, making your page really lightweight. There are advanced options and an extensive API available to enable you to tailor Autoptimize to each and every site’s specific needs.

Which sounds nice. Then there’s this:

If you consider performance important, you really should use a caching-plugin such as e.g. WP Super Cache or HyperCache to complement Autoptimize.

Hmmm. I went straight to the caching program, myself. It saves bigger pages — full-fledged HTML static pages — but a lot fewer of them.

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