A whole beakful

There were at least two burning questions going into tonight’s match with the Pelicans at the BOk Center in Tulsa: “Can Steven Adams play extended minutes?” and “Can’t anyone here hit the damn 3-ball?”

The answer to both is Yes. When starting center Hasheem Thabeet got into foul trouble at his usual heady pace — five in 14 minutes — Adams took over in the middle and posted an actual double-double, 10 points and 15 rebounds, before hefouled out in the waning moments. And the Thunder put up 22 treys, sinking twelve of them. (Ryan Gomes had three of them in three tries, in case you were wondering why he was on the roster in the first place.) Despite these obvious assets, however, the Pelicans, tenacious (and unbeaten) birds that they are, would not go away, and with 5.4 seconds left, New Orleans had worked their way to a 105-102 lead with Austin Rivers at the stripe. Then Rivers bricked both free throws, and the Thunder’s last offensive effort was smacked away by Anthony Davis.

New Orleans put five guys into double figures, led by Eric Gordon with 21; Ryan Anderson paced the bench with 18. Both teams shot around 49 percent; the Thunder had a better percentage from the stripe, but took ten fewer shots. And seven Thunder players hit double figures; as usual, Kevin Durant was the first one there. (He finished with 25.) OKC’s still turnover-prone: they coughed up the rock 21 times, resulting in 24 Pelican points.

Last year, the then-Hornets were swept by the Thunder in the regular season. I have a feeling that’s not going to happen this year.

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The nerve of some people

Left overnight in the spam trap:

Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one and i was just curious if you get a lot of spam feedback? If so how do you protect against it, any plugin or anything you can recommend? I get so much lately it’s driving me mad so any assistance is very much appreciated.

In general, I think spammers should be drawn and quartered — then eighthed, and finally sixteenthed.

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Around the corner

Once in a while I will brag on this neighborhood, a neat little postwar strip (two blocks wide, half a mile long) about four and a half miles from the middle of town, an area I always assumed would be beyond my resources ever to live in. (I’ve now been here almost ten years. Go figure.)

This particular house, now being offered at about $10k less than I might have guessed, is probably a cut above most of the single-story houses within a half-mile radius, and it’s been done up nicely. It’s owned, of course, by someone I hate to see leave, but life is like that sometimes.

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Stickery dock

Will Truman goes 0 for 2 getting his cars inspected in his new state, and he’s wondering if it’s really worth it:

Replacing the windshield was no real burden on my part. It was less than the exhaust repair. But it’s a pretty clear case of something where the danger to myself — much less others — was positively minimal. While $250 isn’t much for me, it is a significant burden for some people. All for access to the thing they need to make money to do things like repair cars with actual problems.

A fair number of accidents on the road may indeed be attributable to car malfunction, but that shouldn’t be the question. The question should be the extent to which an annual (or less) check of certain things reduces them to any significant degree. And whether each thing we are forcing people to address, in itself, would save lives. How many lives, and at what cost?

We abandoned the annual inspection around the turn of the century, on the basis that to do a proper evaluation of everything safety-related would cost a whole lot more than the inspection station was allowed to collect for doing it, and besides the state was generally in compliance with emissions standards and therefore didn’t actually have to require drivers to, as the Californians say, smog their cars.

But then there’s this consideration:

The aggregate costs of these checks are enormous. To the extent that there are externalities to be addressed, there is already a venue to do so: insurance companies. An optional inspection for a cut on your insurance rate could price out the total costs quite easily. They’d certainly have an incentive to know how much that would save in lives and property damage.

Now if we could just get more than about 75 percent of our drivers to actually have insurance for which rates could be cut.

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A small but deep groove

In this clip from the 2013 Montreux Jazz Festival, pianist Emily Bear performs a medley of five of her compositions from her album Diversity.

This item appeared on YouTube on the 9th of August, which was exactly three weeks before Emily’s birthday. Her twelfth birthday.

Oh, and she’s no slouch at the classics either: see, for instance, her performance of Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A Minor, Op. 54, with the Santa Fe Concert Association. Or, perhaps more remarkably, her own “Santa Fe.”

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Hailing frequency

When I bought the palatial estate at Surlywood, insurance on the place was a hair under $900 a year, which sounds high until you consider that we have every known disaster here except tsunami.

For about six years the premium stayed about that level. After a 35-percent increase, I changed carriers. Then came this:

Then came the spring, and suddenly every insurance company from Mangum to Miami was paying out bazillions of dollars in claims; my new insurer forked over $7500 or so to replace my roof.

So I figure that I may as well eat this year’s 35-percent increase, because all those guys are going to have to reprice their policies, presumably making shopping around a waste of time. Besides, Current Insurer did a creditable job of handling my claim, and more than a few people in this state were sent cancellation notices instead of renewals.

The following year, it went up 44 percent. I was not looking forward to this year’s bill. I did have one faint hope: after all the tornadoes this spring, the paper ran an article on how insurance coverage was inevitably going to get even pricier, and as a sidebar included a list of companies filing for a rate increase. Mine wasn’t on that list.

Comes the bill. It’s down $4. Main difference: wind/hail damage, which used to be a 1-percent deductible, is now a 2-percent deductible. I can live with that, I think.

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Not even just for the day

TTAC had a piece up on how electric cars are not exactly knocking ‘em dead at the rental counter, and the reason why this is so was detailed beautifully by commenter Kenmore:

You’re traveling for work, you don’t want to be, your flights were botched, a 300-lb. blue-shirted decerebrate spit truculent “verbage” at you as he cupped your nuts, you’ve never much driven in this city and it’s construction season. And you have diarrhea.

Oh, yeah … NOW is the time to try a car from Mars.

Last year’s Impala, anyone?

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The Gas Game (suspended?)

About this time last fall:

After a one-year hiatus, Oklahoma Natural Gas has decided to reinstate the Voluntary Fixed-Price Plan, which freezes the Cost of Gas section of one’s bill for twelve months, this time at $4.257 per dekatherm.

According to their Web site, there wasn’t an actual hiatus, so apparently they couldn’t be bothered to send me a renewal.

And as it turns out, the actual cost of gas, as quoted on actual bills, ranged between $4.68 and $5.55, so they presumably lost money on the most recent incarnation of the scheme, which just might be why they once again couldn’t be bothered to send me a renewal.

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No MSG

Most of my Twitter followers are aware that I have some, um, unorthodox musical tastes, which is why I get stuff like this:

ARK co-founder Patrice Wilson, best known for a song about a day of the week that went viral, is indeed back with something new:

As the phrase goes, downright catchy. Will I remember it an hour from now?

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More fake-o than FICO

This dropped into the mailbox yesterday, and it’s a mailbox I use for next to nothing, so it had one strike against it before I even looked at the subject line, which was “Class action against the 3 bureaus got you a major credit increase.”

In a closed door meeting this morning, the Consumer Credit Advocacy Group met with the 3 major credit bureaus. It was determined that those consumers whose credit scores had not been reviewed in over 12 months be given an automatic one time increase as punitive action against the 3 credit bureaus for sitting on your scores. See score.

You have now ascended to a higher credit standing.

Yeah, right. Tell me another one.

Lest this look phish-y to one’s filters, they also tacked on several hundred words of dialogue from Braveheart.

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Shannyn is gone, I heard

With an eye toward Umbrage Day, I went looking for someone born on the third of October, and wound up with Shannyn Sossamon, a founding member (drums/vocals) of the band Warpaint, which got some attention on these pages three summers ago.

Well, she has left the band — she was replaced by Stella Mozgawa after the release of Exquisite Corpse — but over the years she’s piled up some seriously interesting credits as an actress. Before Warpaint, she starred opposite Heath Ledger in A Knight’s Tale; during Warpaint, she starred in Wristcutters: A Love Story, set in a semi-afterlife reserved for suicides; after Warpaint, she starred in Monte Hellman’s Road to Nowhere. You can’t get much more eclectic than that.

And to me, anyway, she looks like someone who’s done three startlingly dissimilar films:

Shannyn Sossamon

She’s raising two boys: the older, Audio Science, is 10, and Mortimer was born last year.

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There’s no space like home

The first game at the ‘Peake, like most games at the ‘Peake, sold out; unlike most games at the ‘Peake, there was no TV coverage to speak of, so we didn’t get to see the spectacle of five-nine Nate Robinson dropping a flagrant-two on seven-oh Steven Adams. The Nugget-est Nugget was duly escorted off the premises. Shortly thereafter, Adams himself disappeared, having rolled up six standard garden-variety fouls. But hey, that’s preseason, so it seems almost superfluous to mention that the Thunder won this one easily, 109-81.

The Kevin Durant show was kind of schizzy. In the first half, KD was doing that playmaker thing and moving the ball around seemingly at will. In the second, he just tossed up buckets. Scott Brooks, who’d said Durant would play at most thirty minutes, pulled him with five left in the third; by then he’d hit 13-20 and 6-7 from the stripe for 36 points. Serge Ibaka looked like he wanted to grow up to be a low-post man. Jeremy Lamb looked — well, he’s still young. Both Reggie Jackson and Derek Fisher handled the point with aplomb. And rookiest rookie Andre Roberson rang up nine rebounds in 17 minutes, which is downright Ibakian. (Serge had, um, nine.)

Telltale statistic: Durant outscored all five Denver starters combined. (Team high was ten, by Nate Robinson and Andre Miller.) OKC outrebounded the Nuggets, 55-33; Denver shot only 38 percent. The Nuggets did pull off nine steals, which is impressive; unfortunately, this was a night when the Thunder would swipe 13.

Then again, it wasn’t all glorious for the home team. Kendrick Perkins, who did not play tonight — busted finger — drew a technical, because that’s just how he rolls. There’d better be video of this.

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Virb unmodified

There was a time when Virb was thought of as a serious rival to MySpace and even Facebook. But Virb’s site builder-plus-social networking scheme never quite caught on, and eventually it was rolled into Web host Media Temple.

Well, it’s about to be rolled back out again:

Media Temple has been acquired by GoDaddy, the Web’s largest platform for small businesses. I’m lucky to have been part of this process from the very beginning, and I truly cannot wait to see what the future brings for these two companies. But more on that shortly. First things first: What does this event mean for Virb, YOU, and your website?

Well, this changes absolutely nothing, while also changing absolutely everything.

After early meetings with GoDaddy, it quickly became apparent that we shared different visions for our website builders. So … I’m thrilled to announce, GoDaddy has decided Virb will be sold back to its original founder and investors, Brad Smith (that’s me) as well as Media Temple’s co-founders Demian Sellfors and John Carey.

“We shared different visions” = “Hell, no, we won’t GoDaddy!” Maybe.

(Via this Andy Baio tweet.)

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Calm down already

This is, we are told, the “most relaxing tune ever”:

There is apparently some science, or at least something science-y, involved:

Carefully arranged harmonies, rhythms and bass lines help to slow the heart rate, reduce blood pressure and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

Manchester trio Marconi Union worked with sound therapists to create the soothing tune, which also slows breathing and reduces brain activity.

Scientists played the song to 40 women and found it to be more effective at helping them relax than songs by Enya, Mozart and Coldplay.

The study — commissioned by bubble bath and shower gel firm Radox Spa — found the song was even more relaxing than a massage, walk or cup of tea.

And you’re not supposed to listen to it while driving.

The original version runs eight minutes and change; someone made a ten-hour loop of it, which strikes me as counterproductive, since one of the bits of technotrickery here is gradually to drop the tempo, from 60 bpm to 50; jumping back up to 60 defeats the purpose — unless, of course, you’re about 90 percent asleep already.

(Via a bug and her beau.)

Addendum: “Poppycock,” says Lynn.

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Umbrage Day

This item from yesterday prompted the following reaction [in Comments] from Lynn:

If we can’t be offensive on Halloween then someone needs to invent a holiday specifically for the purpose of offending as many people as possible.

Fillyjonk subsequently suggested this holiday be named “Umbrage Day,” which idea Lynn endorsed, adding:

There are so many people who would have no idea what it means. Now we only need to set a date, preferably on the anniversary of some particularly notable historic umbrage.

This thread, therefore, is to solicit suggestions for when Umbrage Day should be held, and justifications for same. I’m leaning toward the third of October, for the following reasons:

There are, of course, 364¼ other days which could be pressed into service, and your ideas may well be better than mine.

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Thirty points for sure

The generic name — tofacitinib — is not exactly euphonious either. But Xeljanz? Huh? Nancy Friedman? Anyone?

Oh, and Pfizer thinks highly of this stuff: it’s two grand a month. Wholesale. No credit for knowing that the pill was originally developed by a guy from the National Institutes of Health.

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