Wrenching torque

You always have to wonder what Gregg Popovich is going to throw at you. Tonight, the Spurs didn’t put up so many treys, and David West was turned loose to wreak havoc. West delivered, Tony Parker turned in another sterling performance, and it was obvious that something was going to have to happen if the Thunder were going to climb back into this thing. That something, like so many times before, was Kevin Durant, with 17 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter, while Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge — and possibly even Pop — wondered what the hell happened. With Durant in the middle of a pair of free throws — he got one — Pop pulled the big men, and it was window-dressing from that point. The Thunder won this one decisively, 111-97, and the series is tied up 2-2. “What was going on here tonight?” asked TV guy Brian Davis. “Basketball,” answered Dion Waiters laconically. And he could afford to be laconic; he’d just played keepaway for 24 seconds to burn up what was left of the clock.

Except for free throws, the Thunder owned the major box-score numbers: 51-47 shooting, 39-17 on treys (the Spurs hoisted twelve, hit only two), 40-30 rebounding, 23-12 on assists. Neither Aldridge nor Leonard got a shot from the floor in the entire fourth quarter. Neither Tim Duncan nor Danny Green got a shot from the floor in the entire game. Still, you want a hero here, you go to Steven Adams, +21 for the night, 16 points and 11 boards, much of this late alongside Enes Kanter, Billy Donovan having concluded that going small late in the fourth wasn’t working. (Kanter checked in with 11, and Waiters was a thumping 7-11 for 17.)

Beforehand, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth: what if this were the last game ever for Kevin Durant in Thunder home white? And we’ll probably hear that again before Game 6. The important thing for right now, though, is that there will be a Game 6.

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We are all roadkill

The Hour of Indecision presents: “There’s a dead squirrel on the curb!”

For comic relief:

Hope it works.

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No joy of six

After fifteen years, the government of Ontario has decided that this plate is offensive:

Ontario license plate VI6SIX, expires November 2017

In vain did Daniel D’Aloisio try to explain what it meant:

“My relationship with my father was very short. He passed away when I was 19 years old due to cancer,” said D’Aloisio.

The pair shared a passion for the Habs.

D’Aloisio explained there were only so many characters, so VI is short for vie, French for “life”.

“‘6’ is from ’76, I was two years old and Montreal won their cup, and ‘six’ being six Stanley Cups my dad and I celebrated together in his short life with me.”

Their favourite player of all time, Mario Lemieux, wore 66.

A lot of sixes. The provincial government, however, saw exactly three:

If you read VI as the Roman numeral for six, the plate becomes 666.

In the New Testament, that’s the “number of the beast” and some see it as representing Satan.

Sheesh, Toronto. You want fire and brimstone, look westward; Fort McMurray is going through hell right now.

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Taking no chances

I have to admit, I wouldn’t have thought of this as a precautionary measure, but it makes a certain amount of sense:

I wasn’t sure which size to go for with these Valentino Rockstud City Sandals as I’m a 40 in the heels in patent leather, but I know with sandals you always need to size down if there’s an open back and an open toe. I ordered both the 39.5 and the 39 on my credit card and I kept the 39. The 39.5 did fit me, but there was too much gapping at the toe area and the straps weren’t as tight, so they were definitely too big. I recommend you size down if you are buying these as they need to fit securely and will probably stretch a bit from the heat during the hot months.

A 40 on the Continent is about a 9½ in the States, so she ended up with what we would call an 8½. (I’m not about to compare our “hot months” with theirs.)

And I did not know about downsizing for sandals. Maybe it’s something specific to women’s shoes; me, I tend to be grateful for anything that comes close to fitting.

There’s just one potential hangup with this procedure: these shoes were priced at £650 — $940 a pair. Charging two pairs might be beyond some people’s credit lines.

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Right across from the Sofa King

If this doesn’t actually exist, it should:

Radio announcers can practice this along with “She sells sea shells by the seashore.”

(Via Tabitha St. Germain.)

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Which explains the sudden urgency

TechDirt reports, in the classic TechDirt manner:

The FCC recently announced that it plans to craft rules requiring that cable operators deliver their existing content (at the same price and with the same copy protection) to third-party hardware without the need for a clunky CableCARD. The cable industry has been having an incredible, epic hissy fit over the announcement, not only because it would endanger $21 billion in captive annual revenue from set top box rental fees, but it would drive consumers to hardware delivering a wider variety of legacy TV alternatives than ever before.

Part of the cable industry’s ingenious plan to stop the FCC has involved funding an ocean of misleading editorials that try to claim the FCC’s plan will somehow boost piracy, hurt privacy, “steal the future,” and even harm ethnic diversity. Spend a few minutes perusing the news wires and you’ll find hundreds of such editorials, all penned by a wide variety of cable industry-tied consultants, think tankers, and others, suddenly pretending to be objective analysts just really worried about the welfare of consumers. It is too much, as usual, for news outlets to bother highlighting any financial conflicts of interest these authors might have.

Meanwhile, our local cable provider has rushed out a new, or new-ish, box which will have to be installed before the FCC can possibly complete its rulemaking, and which, after 12 months or so, will cost $36 a year. Per TV set. I have two of them sitting here in the living room, and I figure in a day or two I will get a nastygram from them for not having installed them yet. At least they’re providing an HDMI cable with each box.

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Neither Super nor Sonic

I’m wondering just how much I should read into this:

When the Seattle City Council this week blocked a developer’s effort to build a new sports arena and bring professional basketball back to the city, the disappointment among the city’s basketball fans was no surprise.

Many were still pining over the loss of the SuperSonics franchise to Oklahoma City in 2008.

But nobody seemed prepared for the vitriol unleased against the female gender.

The plan was shot down in a 5-4 vote — or more specifically, five women to four men.

I mean, I don’t think this was girls vs. boys, necessarily:

The proposal for a $550-million arena — with $200 million coming from taxpayers — was San Francisco developer Chris Hansen’s attempt to bring a National Basketball Assn. franchise back to Seattle and attract a National Hockey League team.

Disappointed fans couldn’t fathom the council’s refusal to accept a $20-million offer from Hansen to vacate part of a street needed for his arena site near the Seahawks’ and Mariners’ stadiums downtown.

“I think someone should smash Kshama Sawant’s head into a brick wall,” one Twitter user wrote, referring to one of the women who voted no.

“So this is why Ann Coulter has said that women shouldn’t be allowed to vote,” said another online commentor.

Contrary to popular belief, Sawant is the only full-blown socialist on the council.

“Perhaps I risked the promise of new, future jobs,” Councilwoman Lisa Herbold said Thursday, “but my vote was decided in favor of protecting industrial and maritime jobs that we have now so that we can maintain the diversified economy that has kept our region strong in good economic times as well as the downturns.”

Priorities.

And maybe some distaste for Hansen’s ways:

Weeks after his aggressive bid to buy and relocate the Sacramento Kings to Seattle failed, hedge fund manager Chris Hansen bankrolled an effort to undercut a deal the team’s new owners made to build an arena in Sacramento.

Hansen, who donated $100,000 on June 21 to a political action committee attempting to halt the $448 million deal to build the Kings a new downtown arena, says he “made a mistake” by giving a Los Angeles law firm $100,000.

The firm of Loeb & Loeb secretly funneled $80,000 to a group gathering signatures to force a public vote on the arena plan, which includes funding of at least $258 million in public money.

Leaving ten grand for each Loeb, I guess.

(Via Fark.)

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Insufficiently Boaty

Well, it didn’t work out quite the way we hoped:

The UK’s new polar research ship is to be named RRS Sir David Attenborough, despite the title “Boaty McBoatface” previously topping a public vote.

A website inviting name suggestions had attracted huge interest, with Boaty McBoatface the runaway favourite.

But Science Minister Jo Johnson said there were “more suitable” names.

On Friday, days before Sir David turns 90, it was announced that the £200m vessel will be named after the world-renowned naturalist and broadcaster.

Sir David said he was “truly honoured” by the decision.

On the upside:

Score this as “better than nothing.”

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Still pretty

As the phrase goes, you must remember this:

1990 Pretty Woman poster

You could have knocked me over with the proverbial feather when I found out that the actual poster for this big hit film was seriously doctored: that’s Julia Roberts’ head, all right, but everything from here down belongs to actress Shelly Michelle. (Never you mind about Richard Gere’s hair.) I didn’t understand this: it seemed to me, based on the evidence of the actual film, that Roberts had some perfectly nice gams.

A quarter-century and more later, this flashed back to me, with Julia on the cover of the June InStyle, and in a relatively leggy pose at that. As a subscriber, though, I knew I could count on this portrait being ruined by an address label. (The version you see here comes from the British press, probably the Daily Mail.)

Julia Roberts on InStyle June 2016

As counterpoint, two relatively recent red-carpet looks: the 2014 Emmy Awards, followed by the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Julia Roberts at the 2014 Emmy Awards

Julia Roberts at the 2015 SAG Awards

Still, my favorite picture of Julia might be this page from a late-1990s fashion spread, complete with inscrutable caption:

Julia Roberts in a director's chair

I wonder what situation she was trying to escape at the time.

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Bare out there

It’s the 12th annual World Naked Gardening Day, and today’s forecast in the Big Breezy is a sunny 83°F; there will be participants all over the world, with the possible exception of the polar ice caps. (Can we really call them “participants,” though, if they’re not wearing pants?)

I of course approve, though there are some disadvantages to doing it this way.

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Another uphill slog

Things were frustrating enough this evening for me to pick out my most transcendent moment early: it was during the second quarter, when the image of Governor Fallin appeared on the big screen at the ‘Peake, and Loud City erupted in a gleeful chorus of boos. Then came the fourth quarter, and with eight minutes left the Thunder, previously down as many as 15, had pulled to within two. Then Serge Ibaka knocked down a trey — his fifth! — and Russell Westbrook added another one. Suddenly it was Thunder by four. The Spurs, of course, were not going to take that lying down; with 1:19 left, having scored on eight of nine possessions, were up seven. Over the next thirty seconds, Westbrook would knock down five; two Tony Parker free throws ran the Spur lead back to four. It took most of the clock for OKC to respond, with a Dion Waiters bank shot; Kawhi Leonard hit two more free throws, and time ran out on the Thunder. San Antonio 100, Oklahoma City 96, and now the Spurs are near, if not precisely in, the catbird seat.

Moral victories, of course, are still recorded as losses, but the Thunder did manage to hold LaMarcus Aldridge down to a mere 24 points, after 38 and 41 in the first two. The problem with that, though, is that it gave Kawhi Leonard more space, and Leonard was really good at using more space, collecting 31 points and 11 rebounds. (Leonard was 9-17 from the floor; Russell Westbrook also scored 31, but he went a startling 10-31.) OKC had the rebounding edge, by five; but they also fouled a whole lot, and they should probably consider themselves fortunate that the Spurs somehow missed 10 of 34 free throws.

The maddening inconsistency of this Thunder squad proved, once again, to be its undoing: they can put together runs, but they still yield them up much more easily. They know this. Pop knows this. Everybody knows this, except possibly Governor Fallin.

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A-peeling we will go

Chinese girl enjoying a CavendishChinese video-streaming services have apparently had it up to here with saucy banana clips, or something:

Chinese live-streaming services have banned people filming themselves eating bananas in a “seductive” fashion.

New regulations mean that live-streaming sites must monitor all their output round-the-clock to ensure nothing untoward is going on, keeping an eye out for any “erotic” banana-eating, according to New Express Daily. It’s not just fruit that’s on their radar though — the paper adds that wearing stockings and suspenders while hosting a live stream is now also forbidden.

The move is the authorities’ latest attempt to clamp down on “inappropriate and erotic” online content, state-controlled CCTV reports. In April, the Ministry of Culture announced it was investigating a number of popular live-streaming platforms for allegedly hosting pornographic or violent content that “harms social morality”.

Long version: I suspect this sort of action is inevitable from any government that has something called the Ministry of Culture.

Shorter version: This sucks.

(Via Keaton Fox.)

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Dollars to Harare

In 2009, Zimbabwe essentially gave up on its existing currency, inasmuch as even the highest denominations were worth more as toilet paper than as an actual medium of exchange. And I don’t think any of us were quite visionary enough to ship those bills to Venezuela.

To replace that failed dollar, Zimbabwe came up with the idea of officially recognizing certain stable foreign currencies. Among them: the US dollar. Now where do you get US dollars in Zimbabwe? They’ll be printed in Zimbabwe:

Zimbabwe is set to print its own version of the US dollar in order to ease a cash shortage in the country.

Central bank governor John Mangudya said the cash, known as bond notes, will be backed by $200m (£140m) support from the Africa Export-Import Bank.

The specially-designed two, five, 10 and 20 dollar notes will have the same value as their US dollar equivalents.

Except the $20 probably won’t have Andrew Jackson on it.

(Via Fark, which thought of the Jackson joke before I did.)

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Too weird for soap opera

Some people probably should stay the hell away from social media, and I suspect this is one of them:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is it a bad idea to send a Facebook friend request to someone whose name circulated in embarrassing rumors about me?

Tedious exposition follows:

I used to work in a corporate office. During my 7 years there, one of my co-workers kept repeating everything I said about my taste in women and who at the office I think is pretty. Apparently since I am socially awkward, he treated me like a 4-year-old who said something adorable, as opposed to keeping it confidential, i.e. locker room talk. Eventually, it was implied by everyone that I was “in love” with the office manager, when in reality, I only said she was pretty and nothing more. So my co-worker obviously fabricated what I said. I felt so violated, and It really hurt me how not only betrayed my trust, but made me look like a desperate virgin who lives with mommy. Well, 4 years ago, I was laid off. Despite my dismay for my co-worker, we’ve been friends on Facebook since before I was fired. I want to send a friend request to the office manager for the purpose of greasing the wheels in case I need a future job reference. She was fired 2 years before me, so there’s no hard feelings. But since we have many mutual friends, I don’t think it’s a good idea to send her a request, because then the rumors will continue. I know I shouldn’t care what they think, especially since I don’t work there anymore. But I don’t like the idea of ex-co-workers possibly snickering behind my back if they see I’m friends on Facebook with the office manager. Perhaps if she and I remained NOT friends on Facebook, then those rumors about me being in love with her will stop. Suggestions?

Truth be told, nothing makes someone look more like a “desperate virgin who lives with mommy” than a sob story like this. I will be really surprised if this bozo doesn’t already have a Tumblr.

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Bellowing phish

This one is almost self-explanatory:

Not a message from EarthLink

The actual link goes to a subdirectory at web-work.de. And the rotters had the effrontery to mark this as High Priority, which of course earns my wrath on general principle; what’s more, their subject line was “Your account has been limited,” which is almost always a dead giveaway.

Still, “link bellow” is sort of amusing.

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Let it ring

I have yet to replace my aging Samsung flip-phone. There are very good reasons why I’d want to replace it, though the main reason I haven’t yet is simply that I have yet to settle on something that costs less than half as much as the Smartphone of My Dreams.

That said, the secondary reason is fairly compelling in its own right. Once the phone has determined that there is a Missed Call, returning that call becomes its priority; several keystroke combinations that used to do something else now dial that number for you. If you just ignore it, a few hours later it will put up a Missed Call dialog box that, yes, defaults to redialing this number. And it never gives up: I let one go by for three days once, and the damned number would not go away. The only way to avoid it is about three menus deep, where it can be deleted manually.

Perhaps it’s never occurred to some phone manufacturers that there was a perfectly good reason why a call might not be answered. (My usual reason: “Who the frack are you? Go away.”) Misbehavior of this sort, alas, is not disclosed in the usual specification sheets.

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