set syllables = 17

This has serious charm, given its alleged mechanical origins:

The AIs are coming for us.


Warriors subdued

As Thunder/Warriors games go, this one was closer to the norm than the last two: major ball movement, lots of scoring, and close until the very end. There was an odd and-two at the end of the first half. Steven Adams hit the first of two foul shots with one second left; he missed the second, but Russell Westbrook batted it back in just before the buzzer. Steve Kerr complained, and continued to complain during halftime, which explains why the third quarter opened with a free throw, shot by Kevin Durant. That made it 70-60 Thunder; OKC was up seven to open the fourth. And after appearing to stumble, the closers earned their coffee: the margin was 13 with three minutes left, and a minute later, it was still 13. “Lots of scoring” did materialize: Durant knocked down 36, Westbrook had a triple-double (17 points, 17 assists, 15 rebounds), Dion Waiters had 21, and Serge Ibaka recorded 27, tying his career high. The final: 127-115, with Klay Thompson putting up 32 for the Warriors.

Golden State didn’t overwork the bench, exactly; the Warriors’ starters contributed 94 points, though no one expected Stephen Curry to be the third scorer. (Steph had 19, ahead of Harrison Barnes but behind Mareese Speights.) David Lee, unaccustomed to coming off the bench, did the best he could, coming up with nine. GS came out popping threes, but eventually the Thunder found some perimeter defense, holding the Warriors to 9-24 from outside. (OKC was 10-22.)

So it’s 1-3 against the Warriors. Then again, one win against arguably the best team in the Association is nothing to grumble about.

Next outing: Sunday at Orlando.


What the Huck

Well, isn’t this sweet?

Former Arkansas governor and talk show host Mike Huckabee, who recently hung up his microphone in order to explore running for president again, says his 2016 campaign (if it happens) will differ from his 2008 run at the GOP nomination. He will only run this time if he funds his campaign at a level necessary to duke it out at full speed for the long haul.

One thing Huckabee has going for him: he’s not named Bush or Romney. Still, I expect several candidates to surpass those fairly minimal standards. And I figure I may be able to trot out this 2008 quote once more:

“We started this effort with very little recognition and virtually no resources. We ended with slightly more recognition and very few resources.”

History, sometimes, is stuck on replay.

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Ludicrous speed

Tesla has brought out a P85D version of the Model S, with a smaller motor out back but an auxiliary motor up front for all-wheel-drive use. Apparently it also provides something of a performance boost, as suggested by this shot from the car’s touchscreen:

I don’t think I’d want both Insane and Slip Start pressed at the same time, though.


Bullseye missed

Target’s Canadian operation is winding down:

Target says it plans to discontinue all operations in Canada and seek protection from creditors.

In a release early Thursday, the U.S. retail chain said it will close all its locations in Canada. There are 133 stores across the country with about 17,600 employees.

The company says it is setting up a $70-million fund to ensure all employees affected by the move get at least 16 weeks in severance pay.

The stores will remain open while the company completes the liquidation process.

File this under Giving Up Early: Target didn’t open any Canadian stores until 2013, and most of them were converted Zellers locations.

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An insistent voice in the dark

This has been passed around 125,000 Tumblrs so far:

brain: i see you're trying to sleep, can i offer a selection of your worst memories from the last 10 years

There are times that I think this must happen to everyone, with the only difference being the number of years.

(Via Rebecca Black.)

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They’re Joshing us

I blame Josh Smith. The Pistons waived him, the Rockets signed him, and by all evidence both teams were improved.

That said, the Thunder boomed out to a 4-0 lead early. And that was the end of that: the Rockets responded with a 16-0 run and never trailed again. It was 40-18 after the first quarter; a 35-point second quarter brought OKC to within 11 at the half, though they’d never quite get within 10, and inside the three-minute mark, with Houston up 108-91, the white flag was hoisted. James Harden hung around a little longer, perhaps in search of a triple-double — he wound up with 31 points, 10 assists but only nine rebounds — but after a 5-0 run by the Thunder reserves, Kevin McHale presumably saw the light and pulled all his starters except for Donatas Motiejunas. Just as well: all five of those starters made double figures, as did, um, Josh Smith, on the way to a Houston win, 112-101. (There will be only one more game between these teams, so the Rockets win the season series.)

The Rockets shot 48 percent and 16 of 36 treys. (Thunder: 43 and 11-29.) Most of the other numbers were pretty close, so you have to look for other factors, and one of the most obvious was Trevor Ariza’s stifling defense against Kevin Durant. KD got off only 12 shots all night, though he hit eight of them and finished with 24 points. And there was progress on another front: getting good production out of both Dion Waiters and Reggie Jackson, each of whom scored 16, as did Russell Westbrook. Serge Ibaka anted up 13, but no one else in Thunder blue (actually, it was those black-ish alternates) managed more than six.

Good news: after this single road loss, the Thunder go back home. Bad news: the Golden State Warriors, already 2-0 against OKC, will be waiting for them. And instead of five days between games, this time the Thunder get zero. After that, five games on the road against the East, a brief stop at home to welcome the Timberwolves, and back on the road again. If you haven’t fastened your seat belt yet, what’s holding you back?


And I thought I was observant

So this appeared in my tweetstream (it’s from someone in protected status, so no embed):

Just watched Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” vid for the 1st time. Anyone else notice she throws a Galaxy S5 into the water? It’s waterproof!

“Migawd,” I thought, “that’s brilliant.” I was all ready to go frame-by-frame through the video, when this popped in:

Taylor Swift dangles a Galaxy S5

Yep! Just watched it again & paused. That’s a Galaxy S5! Oh, Taylor.

I’m not sure who impressed me more in this incident: Taylor Swift, for being shrewd enough to trash a fairly pricey phone without actually trashing it, or my correspondent, for having a really good eye for detail.

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Convenience for all, like it or not

The IBM Model M keyboard on my desk has been on said desk more or less continuously — there was a brief period when I took it out of service because I thought I’d ruined it, only to discover that it was stronger than my stupidity — since my very first “PC Clone” in 1991, a wondrous little XT-compatible box running off an NEC V30 CPU at a startling 10 MHz. In the two dozen years since then, I’ve never once considered moving to a wireless keyboard, and apparently it’s just as well that I haven’t:

If you use a wireless keyboard you may be broadcasting everything you type to hackers — from passwords to credit cards numbers and private emails — as a researcher shows how a homemade bugging device can be made for just £6.

The creator of the listening device — who has also built a predatory drone which chases and hacks into other drones — has posted a list of components, instructions and source code online to allow anyone to make their own.

Samy Kamkar built the “KeySweeper” after discovering that Microsoft’s wireless keyboards sent keystrokes to PCs in a way that could be easily intercepted.

The tiny device cost just a few pounds to create and looks exactly like a USB charger that is shipped with any number of phones and other devices.

Ah, the charms of obsolete hardware — and, I suppose, software, since I didn’t actually move to Windows 7 until right before Microsoft took XP out behind the woodshed and shot it, and Windows 10 is now imminent.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Driveover zone

Lynn’s been reading the Extinction Point series by Paul Antony Jones, and she has a question. maybe two, to ask:

A mysterious red rain falls, destroying almost all life on Earth. Emily Baxter, a journalist for a NYC newspaper heads off on a cross-country trip to find other survivors. (And I have another small quibble. Emily is from Iowa. Is it just me or does it seem like young women who move to New York are always from Iowa? More bothersome is the fact that she does not know how to drive. If she was from Iowa and moved to New York City as an adult she would at least know how to drive. She might not own a car and might not have got a license in NY but she would know how to drive.)

There is the theory that the moment you take up residence in the Big Apple, your ability to drive instantly atrophies, since theoretically you don’t have to anymore.

And if you live in Iowa and want something seemingly better for yourself, you’re probably not going to go to [redacted to avoid nasty letters].

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Allergen detection kit (home version)

If you ask me, this can’t happen soon enough:

“It would be really nice if a person with food allergies could get test strips that they could dip into a food they were concerned about, and it would turn color if the allergen was present.”

I was thinking about the glucose test strips we use in one of the labs I do — they are a product sold for diabetics, so they can test their urine. There are also color-changing tests for lead in paint, and I am sure other things I am not thinking of.

But what nice peace of mind that would be — “I don’t know for sure if this broth might have miso in it, so let me check.” or “Could there be peanut proteins in this smoothie?” (I can see how it would only work for liquid things.)

I doubt you could get every possible allergen detected by a single strip. (Then again, I am not a biochemist, nor do I play one on television.) But even if you have to special-order strips for your one-in-a-million sensitivity, it’s still better than hives.

Disclosure: I don’t have any food allergies, or at least I’m not aware of any. I still think it’s a swell idea.

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50 shapes of something

There are many brave souls willing to risk themselves for truth, or a reasonable facsimile thereof:

There is a tradition of human guinea pig pieces in the world of journalism. Morgan Spurlock, of course, in Super Size Me. Chuck Klosterman, who ate only McNuggets for seven straight days. Gawker’s Caity Weaver did an amazing job chronicling her 14-hour attempt at conquering TGI Fridays’ endless mozzarella sticks. Our willingness to torture ourselves for the sake of entertaining and informing readers is well documented. But they all had a point to make, or a hypothesis to see through.

I have none of this.

What he did have, though, was fifty Chicken McNuggets. It’s not as easy as it looks — and it doesn’t look easy at all.

I’m estimating my maximum McNugget capacity at twenty-seven, and no, I’m not going out to test this. I did once polish off nineteen at a sitting, and I was woozy for the next half hour, and not the good kind of wooz either.

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A neck for a neck

It’s gonna be hard to top this headline. Indiana Senate panel passes bill for harsher beheading penalties:

Decapitation soon could be punishable by death in Indiana. The state Senate criminal law committee unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty for beheadings.

Said penalty presumably will be lethal injection; I doubt these dead-serious Hoosiers are inclined to build a guillotine in Michigan City, although the idea has some marginal charm in terms of sheer symmetry.

Supporters of the bill cite an increase in beheadings including one last year in Oklahoma as a reason for the change.

So: one, then? Because what the Daesh-heads do doesn’t really count, except maybe as encouragement from afar.

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We don’t care who’s your daddy

The Z Man suggests that the very idea of a Jeb Bush candidacy would have been anathema in the early days of the nation:

The Founders certainly had a dim view of political dynasties. They had that in mind when designing the national government. They wanted the best and brightest to be attracted to state and local government, not the national government. This was, in part, to make political dynasties difficult to establish. A look through the biographies of the Founders say they knew a thing or two about the children of powerful men turning out to be nitwits.

There is an expression that goes, “shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.” The first generation builds the family fortune, starting from the working class. The next generation does its best to maintain it, but mostly lives off the fruits of their fathers. The third generation blows through what’s left and ends up back in the same level as the founding generation. The Kennedy family is a good example.

No matter how it looks, this is not an argument for the estate tax. Then again, if we argue that there must be upward mobility for those at the bottom, we can’t really complain about downward mobility for those at the top.

I think the children of the king probably do, on average, possess more of the magic stuff that makes for a good king than most children. I also think they have precisely the wrong environment to cultivate that magic stuff. Poppy Bush served in WW2 and almost died in the Pacific. In other words, as a young man he had to cultivate his leadership assets under duress. His kids cultivated their assets getting drunk and chasing tail at elite preparatory schools. Seeds amongst the stones.

This does not sound hopeful for George P. Bush, son of Jeb. Let’s hope George P. has no political aspirations beyond Texas Land Commissioner.

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Just say no to drugs

Wait a minute. Not these drugs:

Is this some quirk in New York law, or does someone simply not know how to set prices?

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C plus

I remember, from way down the timeline, a bumper sticker to this effect: “186,000 miles per second. It’s more than just a good idea. IT’S THE LAW.”

But apparently it’s not as ironclad as I’d heard:

Turns out you can, in fact, move faster than light, and when you cross that threshold you create a “photonic boom” the way a jet does when it crosses the speed of sound. The only problem is that in order to do so you must have zero mass, and that state is probably not going to be reached by switching from ranch to vinaigrette on your lunch salad.

Still, it’s worth the shot, if only because you’re no longer eating ranch. And keep in mind: Hidden Valley Ranch brand, which started it all, is owned by Clorox.

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