Down at the heels

It’s probably a safe bet that we are never, ever going out together. If we did, I would of course take a look at your shoes, but otherwise they play no role other than transportation appliance and/or cultural artifact.

There are, inevitably, people with more prurient interests in that realm, and Cristina, who writes a shoe blog, is weary of them:

I have some amazingly engaged & supportive followers on Twitter that possibly sway towards a quasi-unwholesome shoe loving direction. But they know where to draw the line when it comes to my PG-13 rated shoe blog talking about shoes within the context of fashion, not fetish. The others get blocked.

I did leave her this comment:

On the subject of pervs, I sympathize: in at least some of the circles in which I operate, the mere fact that I can distinguish between styles invites suspicion. (“Why would you even know that?”)

Then again, I’ve been hit with that question so many times that I’ve had to resort to “Why would I not?” as a response.

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Dare we call it tart?

Just in time for breakfast, mental_floss came up with a list of breakfast-themed beers. One of them is “Toaster Pastry” from 21st Amendment Brewery in San Francisco, and they’re serious, kinda sorta:

Our first beer out of our new brewery is an homage to its former life as a toaster pastry factory.

Biscuit malts give the beer a slightly nutty, crust-like flavor, while pale and dark Crystal malts create the mouthfeel and flavors reminiscent of strawberry jam. Calypso and other experimental hops give this ruby ale a welcome bite, plus a few more in the hop back for a toasty-sweet aroma.

Yep. Kellogg’s used to produce Pop-Tarts in that very building. I’m sure it doesn’t actually taste like a Pop-Tart — a Pop-Tart other than strawberry, anyway — but the curiosity has been stirred. (And if you pour it properly, does it appear frosted?)

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Maximum dumbth

Warning light on dashboard? Who cares? It’s my sacred honor at stake:

My Mazda has the check engine light on but for one of the catalytic converters, But the light started to blink just about 2 hours ago. I was on the freeway and an Acura TL raced me. I hit around 105 before the transmission wouldn’t shift past 4th gear (automatic) and by this time I noticed the check engine light blinking. I began to slow down and the light kept blinking for around 5 seconds then stopped blinking and remained solid. My question is, is there anything I may have damaged other than the catalytic converter which was already damaged?

Your credibility, which will never, ever be repaired.

Seriously, what kind of stubby-fingered moron goes impromptu racing when he’s already facing a repair bill?

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Waiting for DIY-9000

I’m sure this seemed like a swell idea at the time:

A Sardinia [New York] woman is facing several charges after Erie County Sheriff’s deputies discovered her hand crafted license plate during a traffic stop.

A deputy pulled over Amanda Schweickert, 28, in the western New York town of Springville Wednesday morning after the officer noticed that Schweickert’s license plate just didn’t look right.

According to the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, Schweickert’s license plate had been fashioned from cardboard and then painted to look like a legit plate.

Well, it didn’t look that much like a legit plate:

Bogus cardboard New York license plate

And heck, we have people doing this all the time in Oklahoma.

Schwieckert was also driving a car with a suspended registration and without insurance.

[sigh] We have people doing that all the time in Oklahoma, too.

(Via Fark.)

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Not really dead tech

I was there the night Prodigy died. If you’d told me at the time that this obsolete technology would be the subject of a lawsuit a decade and a half later, I’d have broken out into guffaws, or at least snickers.

Well, tee-hee:

IBM has sued online deals marketplace Groupon for infringing four of its patents, including two that emerged from Prodigy, the online service launched by IBM and partners ahead of the World Wide Web.

Groupon has built its business model on the use of IBM’s patents, according to the complaint filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware. “Despite IBM’s repeated attempts to negotiate, Groupon refuses to take a license, but continues to use IBM’s property,” according to the computing giant, which is asking the court to order Groupon to halt further infringement and pay damages.

What the heck sort of Nineties-style code would even be relevant in 2016?

To develop the Prodigy online service that IBM launched with partners in the 1980s, the inventors of U.S. patents 5,796,967 and 7,072,849 developed new methods for presenting applications and advertisements in an interactive service that would take advantage of the computing power of each user’s PC and reduce demand on host servers, such as those used by Prodigy, IBM said in its complaint against Groupon.

“The inventors recognized that if applications were structured to be comprised of ‘objects’ of data and program code capable of being processed by a user’s PC, the Prodigy system would be more efficient than conventional systems,” it added.

Which system, of course, they abandoned in 1999, under the pretext of Y2K concerns.

(Via Consumerist.)

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The levers we pulled

The State Election Board has released preliminary precinct-level counts for Tuesday’s primary, and, well, I’m not above grubbing up a spreadsheet to look at my local numbers.

Democrats: Sanders 271; Clinton 227; others 11.

Republicans: Rubio 163; Trump 112; Cruz 102; Carson 19; Kasich 17; others 6.

Which is a total of 509 Democrats and 419 Republicans.

Countywide totals:

Democrats: Clinton 34,255; Sanders 32,368; others 1,716.

Republicans: Rubio 29,030; Cruz 26,912; Trump 22,117; Carson 4,992; Kasich 4,007; others 1,351.

Should anyone care, he who garnered the fewest votes was Lindsey Graham, with 49.

Note: Democratic totals may include independents invited to participate.

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As an actual Amazon Fire tablet owner, I knew some of this, but of course not all of it:

Amazon’s Fire OS is a fork of Android, based on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code but without Google’s apps and services or guaranteed compatibility with apps developed for Google-approved Android. Amazon has heavily customized the UI and provides its own app store, but it typically leans on AOSP code for under-the-hood, foundational features — in older Fire OS versions, the optional device encryption was handled the same way it was on any Android device. However, according to user David Scovetta and others on Amazon’s support forums, that encryption support has been deprecated and removed in recent releases of Fire OS 5, both for new Fire tablets and for older devices that have been upgraded.

We contacted Amazon for comment, and the company told us that local device encryption support was removed in FireOS 5 because the feature wasn’t being used:

“In the fall when we released Fire OS 5, we removed some enterprise features that we found customers weren’t using,” Amazon told Ars. “All Fire tablets’ communication with Amazon’s cloud meet our high standards for privacy and security including appropriate use of encryption.”

Which is fine and dandy, if your signals are confined to the Bezosphere. Otherwise:

[E]ncrypted connections between the Fire tablets and external servers are safe (or, as safe as the server involved and the method of encryption being used will allow for), but thieves and law enforcement officials will be able to grab user data stored locally without much trouble.

And is it my imagination, or are those two parties gradually becoming less distinguishable from one another?

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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This is not when to fold them

For 36 minutes, the Oklahoma City Thunder might be the best team in the NBA. Unfortunately, NBA games run 48 minutes, and the Thunder have developed a distressing tendency to fold in the fourth quarter. Admittedly, for a minute there — let’s say, between 5:00 and 4:00 left in the third quarter — this game looked almost doable; the Thunder had a nine-point lead over the mighty Warriors. Those of us who remember all the way back to last night, where OKC frittered away a lead far bigger than that against the decidedly less mighty Clippers, made a point of not mentioning it. Sure enough, the Warriors were back within one at the end of the quarter, and reclaimed the lead shortly thereafter. With 4:00 left, Golden State was up nine, and things would get no better for the hapless Thunder, who essentially were forced to watch the Warriors execute. The final was 121-106, with Steph Curry (of course) delivering the finishing touches before a delighted Oakland crowd which hasn’t had to witness a loss in over a year.

Several things went wrong tonight, but this number sums them up: 8-24. That’s Russell Westbrook missing 16 shots. From long distance, he was 1 of 8. You want more? Kevin Durant was one assist short of a triple-double (32-10-9), but he also had nine turnovers. (The Warriors played 11 men, and they turned it over a mere eight times.) But really, there’s no getting around Steph Curry, and while the Thunder curtailed his three-point game (5-15), Curry compensated by taking shorter shots, finishing with 33 on 12-23. Even lame stuff like “Hey, let’s foul Andrew Bogut!” failed to produce for the Thunder: big Andy swished three of four free throws. And does this sound familiar? Durant, Westbrook and Serge Ibaka all bagged at least 20 points, but no one else managed even ten.

So congrats to Golden State for their 3-0 sweep and their 55-5 record; the Warriors are now on pace for 75 wins, something unheard of in an 82-game season. And if you ask me, they have the sharpest home whites in the league. But I tell you, I’m glad we don’t have to play them again this season. (Post-season? We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it, if we haven’t burned it down already.)

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An earful of Bollywood

Bollywood movies — indeed, South Asian cinema is general — can be expected to contain a whole lot of original, in the sense of “written for this picture, anyway,” music.

And with terrestrial radio hard up for programming of late, this was probably inevitable:

Cumulus Media has ended its LMA of Universal Media Access’ 92.3 KSJO San Jose CA.

Universal Media Access has flipped the station to Indian music as “Bolly 92.3”. They had registered anonymously in late January and the site is now live promoting it as “The Bay Area’s Bollywood Station.”

You didn’t think Cumulus would come up with this on their own, did you?

Not much so far on the Web site but a link for livestreaming: the stream has been somewhat erratic, but what I’ve heard has been great fun.

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Slightly incendiary remarks

This may be the best line ever delivered by a customer to a supplier:

We are all in the big conference room. The heavies from the plant were present — plant manager, department heads, production control, and little insignificant me. Mr. VP ranted and cursed. The team from our side told how we have striven to fix the various problems in procurement, production, and quality. We described our heroic efforts in spite of nearly insurmountable issues to get the big customer his product.

“I get it,” he said. “You guys are great firefighters. The only problem is it looks like every single damn employee here is a fucking arsonist.”

It was harsh, but apparently it broke the ice.

Certainly none of our customers ever came up with anything quite that pointed, but then we’re in an industry that would pat itself on its back for its passive-aggressiveness if it could do so without disturbing the knife repository.

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Small potatoes

Notice how all these cities fit within the boundaries of Los Angeles.

Then again, you can take the entirety of the City of Angels, park Sacramento next to it, and still not fill up Oklahoma City.

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Multiple elbows

I’m sure this appeals to somebody, but for now, I think I’ll pass:

Stephanie Richard thinks insects are the protein of the future. The French chef runs L’Atelier a Pates, a pasta shop that sells a range of homemade pastas, including several made from crickets and grasshoppers. Richard’s customers have embraced her strange insect pastas with such enthusiasm that she’s struggling to keep up with demand.

According to CTV News, Richard pulverizes crickets, grasshoppers, or a combination of the two insects to create a special flour, which she then mixes with normal pasta ingredients like eggs and wheat flour. She claims the insects add to the flavor of the pasta and turn it into high-protein cuisine. “It’s protein of high quality that is well digested by the body,” Richards told CTV News. “People with iron or magnesium deficiencies will also eat these products.”

I am not at all keen on the prospect of actual pests taking up space in my pesto.

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A state of Blakelessness

If you were wondering how much depth the Los Angeles Clippers might have in the absence of Blake Griffin, the answer, for this evening anyway, seems to be “Almost enough.” Still, whenever the Clips were in a deep hole, they were able to dig themselves at least part of the way out; down 22 late in the third quarter, L.A. ran off eleven straight before the Thunder were able to knock down a shot. It took a pair of Wesley Johnson treys inside the five-minute mark, though, to get the Clips within single digits, and they kept coming: by 2:30, L.A. was down only four, and a DeAndre Jordan stickback with 1:12 left gave them the lead. (“What a meltdown,” sniffed Royce Young.) L.A. was up 101-98 with 30 seconds left; a Russell Westbrook trey failed to connect, and the Clips pocketed two J. J. Redick free throws to finish the job at 103-98. That fourth quarter: Clippers 35, Thunder 13. This is called “not giving up,” and someone in Thunder blue — Kevin Durant, maybe? — probably should have been taking notes.

Five Clippers nailed double figures, with Jordan (20 points/18 rebounds) and Chris Paul (21 points/13 assists) collecting double-doubles. And by the end of the game, the Thunder’s shooting percentage had dropped a point below L.A.’s; they finished just below 40. There were three Thunder double-doubles — Durant (30 points/11 boards), Westbrook (24 points/12 dimes), and Serge Ibaka (11 points/11 rebounds), but no one else came up with even 10 points.

So two splits: 1/1 for the road trip, 1/1 for the season series with the Clippers, with two to come. Before that happens, though — in fact, before anything else happens, because it’s tomorrow — there’s another meeting with the Warriors, who haven’t lost at home since approximately the War of 1812. Things are not looking pretty right about now.

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The sound of (relative) silence

The pitch for these boots: not only do they come in three lengths — in the same boot! — but they’re a whole lot less noisy. To illustrate, a video that’s occasionally a bit loud:

There’s a complete text review to be had, but absent, say, a table full of SPL data in decibels, the video does a better job of demonstrating the comparative quiet.

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Formerly freewheeling

When the news came down, I was even more startled than I might have expected to be, mostly because I’ve visualized this scene so many times it seems like part of the background now: pretty much any time the phrase “bridge abutment” occurs on this site, there’s a thought of crashing into one for some reason.

And really, if your destiny lies in the concrete on the underside of an overpass, that might well be the one you’d pick: genuinely sturdy — the Turner Turnpike sits on top — and far enough out in the sticks that you wouldn’t be noticed quickly. We’re talking Midwest Boulevard between 122nd and Memorial Road, from which Aubrey McClendon’s crushed Chevy Tahoe was extracted earlier today. Was this deliberate? For what it’s worth, he wasn’t buckled in.

Then again, “restraint” wasn’t in McClendon’s vocabulary; the man built a remarkable empire on a perfectly ordinary commodity. More than once he ran afoul of protocol. When Clay Bennett’s syndicate, of whom McClendon was a member, purchased the Seattle SuperSonics, it was McClendon who let slip the destination of the team, which everyone knew but which everyone was bound to deny. (The NBA fined him a quarter of a million dollars, which would be like fining you or me a Quarter Pounder with cheese.) In Michigan, McClendon tangled with conservationists, and did not prevail. In 2013, his own board of directors sent him packing. Undaunted, he set up a rival firm just down the street from the Chesapeake campus where he’d once ruled. That campus, incidentally, was another bit of McClendon willfulness: while other oil barons went vertical downtown, he built horizontally out towards the ‘burbs.

And the day before yesterday, a little incident from his Chesapeake days came back to haunt him, in the form of an indictment: during the acquisition of new oil and gas leases, said the Feds, he’d engaged in a sneaky form of bid-rigging. Whatever he’d been doing, it must have worked; at one point, Chesapeake was the largest natural-gas producer in the nation.

But those days are gone, natural gas is selling for a comparative pittance, and McClendon burned up a few BTUs of it this morning to get to the last place he’d ever get to. The unraveling will fill several books: if there’s anything to that indictment, perhaps several sets of books. One should be written, I insist, about how Aubrey McClendon left his brand all over this town, and how we’re a better place for it.

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The car that wouldn’t die

Remember the guy with the Volvo with almost three million miles on it? In the three years since, he’s run up another quarter of a million:

A Long Islander’s revered red Volvo — known for having racked up more than 3 million miles — is still hitting the pavement in mint condition.

Irvin Gordon says he has cranked out another 273,895 miles in his 1966 P1800 convertible since he hit the triple-million mark in September 2013 — with no signs of stopping.

“It’s better than new,” the 75-year-old retired teacher told The Post. “Everything is 100 percent. It has never broken down and it always starts right up no matter how hot or cold it is outside.”

Of course, this kind of reliability takes a bit of elbow grease, either your own or a technician’s:

Gordon has given his baby 28 oil changes, four tuneups and changed the transmission fluid four times in the last year.

Which sounds like a lot until you consider that he probably did 90,000 miles in those twelve months, in which case he’s right on the service schedule for a ’66 Volvo.

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