Rams to roam

The Cleveland/Los Angeles/St Louis Rams are the Los Angeles Rams once more [warning: autostart video];

NFL owners in Houston voted 30-2 to ratify the Rams’ relocation application for an immediate move to L.A., where the team will eventually begin play at owner Stan Kroenke’s proposed stadium site in Inglewood in 2019. It’s a seismic decision that returns the highest level of professional football to the country’s second-largest media market after a 21-year absence.

The Rams could be joined by the Chargers, who have a one-year option to decide if they want to relocate and join the Rams in Inglewood. The window creates the possibility — however slight — that the Chargers could remain in San Diego. The city is hosting a June vote for $350 million in public funding toward a new facility to replace Qualcomm Stadium. It is possible the Chargers put off a final decision until that vote takes place.

Naw. They’re outta there. (Unless, of course, they accept Roger Goodell’s offer of $100 million to stay put.)

The Raiders, however, will stay in Oakland; they withdrew their application for relocation. And they will cash a check from Goodell.

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Yeah, right

I don’t think you could prove it by me, but here’s the assertion [warning: autostart video]:

Older adults are not as good at detecting sarcasm as their younger counterparts according to research from the University of Aberdeen.

Led by Professor Louise Phillips, Chair in Psychology, the team reported that adults over 65 were more likely to misinterpret sarcastic comments and take the literal meaning, rather than the intended jibe.

So in 2020, watch for me to take everything totally at face value.

In the study, published in Developmental Psychology, older adults were shown examples of conversations between people and asked them to judge whether the exchange was sarcastic or not. Professor Phillips and the team, including collaborators from the University of Geneva and University College London, found that younger and middle-aged adults were significantly better at identifying sarcasm than older adults.

Professor Phillips said: “Until now, no one has looked at how older adults interpret sarcasm, and specifically, if they can flip the literal meaning to understand the intended meaning. So, we are interested in finding out how whether our ability to understand other people’s intentions changes as we age.”

It couldn’t be that we Ancient Ones were taught, first and foremost, to be polite, could it?

Of course not.

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Strictly off the rack

I sit through live tweets of the red-carpet arrivals of things like the Golden Globes because, well, sometimes I get stories like this one to pass on.

This is Bryce Dallas Howard, resplendent in Jenny Packham:

Bryce Dallas Howard at the 2016 Golden Globes

Contrary to usual Hollywood practice, she did not borrow this gown from Packham’s atelier. It’s not the way Howard plays the game: “I like having lots of options for a size six as opposed to maybe one option, so I always go to department stores!”

As it turns out, she’d bought it last week from Neiman Marcus for $4800, which, as red-carpet gowns go, seems almost comically inexpensive.

Checking the archives, I see that she’s generally done a good job of finding her own frocks:

Bryce Dallas Howard street-styling

Maybe this one was a wee bit small for a six:

Bryce Dallas Howard at Terminator Salvation

But no matter.

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Live by the link, die by the link

I should have left this tissue of organic fertilizer in the spam bin. It was titled “A few recommendations that can help both of us,” which inevitably means it will help the sender and may or may not do the recipient any good. Decide for yourself:


We are writing to alert you to the presence of harmful backlinks on your website. These links, that direct to [domain name redacted], were placed on your site by our former SEO management company. That company willfully violated Google’s Terms of Service, which resulted in a penalty being levied against our company. In order to remove this penalty, we must ask your assistance. Please delete the known backlinks to [domain name redacted], hosted on your site at:


Your compliance with this request is greatly appreciate. Have a nice day.

Generally, anyone who uses the word “backlink” unironically can be assumed to be a scoundrel or a fool.

What’s hilarious about this is the origin of said, um, links: this domain, once upon a time, belonged to a blog which once — well, twice, actually — hosted the Carnival of the Vanities, and I always linked to the Carnival host as a matter of historical reference, since I contributed the first piece to the very first Carnival, way back when. There’s now a storefront sitting there, and their current SEO management company apparently got its BVDs horribly knotted at the thought of an incoming link that would not sell any product.

How much do these links harm me? I have a better chance of winning the freaking Powerball. Just the same, I took them out, on the basis that I don’t want to hear from these whimpering sons of bitches ever again.

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Competition intensifies

In the summer of ’14, the New York Post mocked the rival Daily News for increasing its newsstand price to $1.25; the Post was holding at $1.00.

This week, the Daily News struck back:

The weekday print edition of the Daily News will drop from $1.25 to $1 in all five boroughs of New York City beginning Monday.

New York’s hometown paper will roll back its cover price while maintaining the city’s best coverage of national and local news, sports and entertainment.

“As New York’s hometown paper, we look for every opportunity to bring our loyal readers the news they need at a lower price point,” Daily News CEO William Holiber said in a statement.

The key here is “weekday”: Saturday and Sunday editions will remain at a buck and a quarter.


Worn down under

About three years ago, I did a piece on the French unmentionables company Clio, finishing with this paragraph:

There exists an Australian brand called CLiO — usually typeset that way — which is, to my knowledge, not related to the French company. This is not the most unheard-of thing I ever heard of, either; the down-under CLiOs can be found at Target stores in Australia, which have no connection with the Target stores in the US.

This Australian ad, and their Web site, indicates that CLiO is these days selling through Woolworths Limited, an Australian firm which is not actually related to other stores of that name worldwide — where have we heard that? — and through Woolworths Big W chain.

Advertisement for CLiO Hosiery, circa 2011-12

I do marvel at those shoes.

Their Facebook page occasionally coughs up some memeworthy commentary:

CLiO says: Some days you go eat salads and go to the gym.  Some days you eat cake and refuse to put on pants. It's called balance.

I understand. Really I do.


That perches in the sole

There are always stops along the annual Architecture Tour, usually private residences, where Trini and I will be asked to remove our shoes, which of course we do because it’s the respectful thing to do in someone else’s house, and in all those years I’ve messed up only one pair of socks, and Trini’s never lost any. (Then again, she’s hard-nosed about socks; if I didn’t know better, and technically I don’t, I’d swear she wears socks in the shower fercrissake.)

I doubt, though, that anyone was actually worried about germs:

Unless you have a special circumstance, you probably wear shoes inside your house.

But several scientific studies suggest why that’s a bad idea — and the reasons are pretty gross.

Though some bacteria is good for us, if you’ve ever gotten a stomach virus, you’ll know that other kinds of bacteria are not.

A study done by the University of Arizona found an average of 421,000 different bacteria on shoes. Coliforms, a bacterial indicator of the level of sanitation of foods and water (and universally present in feces), were detected on the bottoms of 96% of shoes.

In addition, E. coli was detected on 27% of the shoes, along with seven other kinds of bacteria, including Klebsiella pneumoniae, which can cause urinary tract infection, and Serratia ficaria, which can cause respiratory infections.

Various cautions:

  • This study goes back to no later than 2008, and the supporting video has long since 404ed;
  • God only knows what might be living on the surfaces of our socks;
  • Since my normal (non-winter) after-work wear consists only of shoes, I should probably be dead by now;
  • Then again, I go through a hell of a lot of mop heads.

Conclusion: The guys who wrote the linked article were hard up for material.

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Facing the no longer strange

From almost fifty years ago, or so it seems, David Bowie responds to his first American fan letter:

From just yesterday, or so it seems, David Bowie responds to the world at large:

Rest well, Starman. You have earned your place in history.


Do the Cram

Last week, I speculated that the National Football League, having received applications from three teams to relocate to Los Angeles, would probably approve one but might approve two.

Comes now the question: “Well, why not all three?”

Part of me thinks it would be fun if they decided to screw their fellow owners over by saying “Yes” to all three. Either the city of Los Angeles would finally bankrupt itself trying to sweeten the deal for three football teams with some ridiculous publicly funded stadium deal or the three teams would shred each other to pieces squabbling for adequate pieces of the metro fan pie.

If NFL owners are anything like NBA owners, they vote their pocketbooks first, and also second through fifth. When the Thunder moved from Seattle, there were two negative votes, and fairly obvious ones: Paul Allen of Portland, who liked the existing I-5 rivalry, and Mark Cuban of Dallas, who didn’t much like the thought of another I-35 rivalry. I’m wondering who thinks he has something to lose by moving Oakland or San Diego or even St Louis.

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Strange search-engine queries (519)

Already weary of January? Well, this little excursion into the search-string logs will not do anything for the midwinter blues or the Christmas bills, but it will kill some time, time which might otherwise kill you.

two cars on a straight road at time zero are beside each other. the first car:  is hogging the faster lane at five under the speed limit, and you wish you had a grenade launcher at your command.

sex 1030:  Don’t worry, it will be over by eleven.

“securely and privately show videos to your friends and family around the world” wall mount gun racks:  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I see no advantage in letting everyone see how I store guns.

a texas city has a population of 100:  Well, it’s not in Loving County (population 82), then.

something different with steak:  Try making a smoothie out of a baked potato.

do they sell viagra at gas stations:  No, that’s not the secret ingredient in Shell V-Power.

rhymes with yell:  Gargamel?

what kind of sexualized, audacious, political, and scatological comedy was considered fit material for translation or publication only in recent times:  I’m gonna say U.S. News and World Report.

on a given morning, franco sold 40 pairs of shoes for a total of $80 at his shoe store:  Thereby posting a loss of $3,700.

how can i get more girth:  Right now, what you need is more depth.

sheila believes that all news reporters are cynical, doubting individuals who would sell their souls for an exclusive story. in this case, sheila’s beliefs about the traits and behaviors of news reporters are one example of:  Fallacious interpretation, since she assumes that all reporters have souls.

is artillery fungus harmful to humans:  Both artillery and fungus, in fact.

how to tell my girlfriend i love her yahoo:  That’s a laugh. You’ve never even seen her yahoo.

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There can be no victory

Portland’s Moda Center isn’t exactly Mordor, but just the same, one does not simply walk into it; the Thunder has a history of going to pieces in Portlandia, and at halftime it looked like the fragmentation had already begun. A 39-point Thunder burst in the third quarter sent OKC up five, and they gradually stretched out that lead to eight — until the Blazers, with about three and a half minutes left, connected on five consecutive three-pointers and tied it up; a sixth gave Portland a three-point lead, which grew to five at the horn, 115-110.

A lot of credit for turning this game around must go to Damien Lillard, who got 15 of his game-high 31 points by knocking down five treys in the fourth; he’d already hit three of them. Next to him in the backcourt, C. J. McCollum put up ten long balls, hitting four; the Blazers actually sent up forty-four attempts, cashing in 19 of them. That’s 57 points out of 115, as close to half as you can get. The key to this, perhaps: 20 offensive rebounds (versus 8), enabling the Blazers to put up 100 shots, 24 more than OKC. And while Oklahoma City actually outshot Portland, the Blazers ruled the boards, and the Portland reserves ginned up 35 points, while the OKC bench was held to a mere 16. Still, some individual performances stood out: Russell Westbrook had 25 points and 15 assists, Steven Adams 17 points and 10 rebounds, and Kevin Durant had rolled up 28 through three quarters, to finish with, um, 28. The season series stands at 1-1, with two yet to play.

So 1-1 on the West Coast trip, and then off to frigid Minnesota on Tuesday, followed by three home games: the Mavs on Wednesday, the Timberwolves (again!) on Friday, and the Heat on Sunday. Somewhere in all that activity, there’s got to be some perimeter defense.



These have been around a while, but this is the first time I’ve seen them pitched specifically to this market:

Support toward the outside, not so much pressure in the center. What’s not to love?

Well, maybe this:

We all tend to underestimate the danger from old-fashioned, familiar technologies, particularly when the effects aren’t immediately obvious. Young athletes focus on victory today, not the future damage to their bodies. And if the winner of the Tour de France doesn’t ride a no-nose saddle, then neither will riders who want to look like him.

Perhaps it will meet greater acceptance in non-competitive activities, such as the World Naked Bike Ride (hence the #wnbr hashtag). Lady G’s own bicycle, last I looked, still had a traditional saddle.

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A little passive, not very aggressive

For a while now, Web sites that complain about ad blockers have been turning up the pitch, from grumbly to shrill to shrieky to feigning coma (Forbes.com, which won’t even budge beyond the lecture page, and you don’t want to know what happens if you give in).

It does not have to be that way, guys:

Ad-blocker request from knowable.com

Just to see what would happen, I turned off the blocker, and was not subjected to the usual advertising crapfest: they were running only three spots, one banner where you’d think a banner would be and two in the sidebar. By the standards that prevail, this was downright modest. The blocker stays off for them.

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From some other time

There were two great eras of rock and roll pseudonyms. The later one was sustained mostly by punk bands, and featured names like Johnny Rotten and Rat Scabies and Poly Styrene and a whole handful of Ramones. The earlier one probably ended with Richard Starkey, aka Ringo Starr, but it featured names like Bobby Day and Bo Diddley and Del Shannon and Frankie Ford and, perhaps the most influential, not so much in music but in sheer nomenclature, was the late Troy Shondell, born Gary Wayne Schelton in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Shondell would have only one big hit, but it was a monster:

Sourced from Shondell’s official YouTube channel, this is (mostly) the original 1961 version, cut for infinitesimal Gaye Records, then issued on Goldcrest, a regional label distributed by Liberty; when it started gaining traction, Liberty reissued it themselves and watched it spend four months on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #6. I say “mostly” because the guitar solo in the middle was clumsily overdubbed long after the fact; the record as released had a piano break and nothing more.

Shondell’s last release for Liberty was “Na-Ne-No,” a Lloyd Price cover produced by Phil Spector, no less; after it went nowhere, he decamped for Nashville, where he cut a few sides for the TRX label, of which only “Let’s Go All the Way” managed to Bubble Under the Hot 100. The money, Shondell decided, was better on the publishing side, though he’d occasionally cut a side for the hell of it. The last one I know of, from 1981, was a cover of John Sebastian’s “Lovin’ You”.

In late 1964, a band from Illinois took the name The Shon-Dels, and self-released one single before changing their name to the Ides of March. An entirely different group of Shondels assembled in Winnipeg about the same time. But neither would be quite as successful as Tommy James’ Shondells from Michigan, originally the Tornadoes (not to be confused with Joe Meek’s British instrumental group), who would not be a factor on the charts until “Hanky Panky” in 1965, by which time they’d broken up. (James went on tour to support the record, and hired a bar band to be the new Shondells.)

As for Troy Shondell himself, he toured in 2001 in a show called “The Masters of Rock and Roll,” featuring some other wonderfully named guys like Ronnie Dove and Jimmy Clanton. He died last week of complications from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, two names that aren’t so wonderful.


Delayed gratification defined

Then again, exactly how long it would be delayed is not at all clear:

The Playboy Mansion could be yours for $200 million — there’s just one catch.

The playboy himself, Hugh Hefner, comes with the property.

The 6-acre estate will be up for sale within the next month, TMZ reports. Built in 1927, the Holmby Hills mansion has 29 rooms — including a wine cellar, screening room and game room — in addition to three zoo and aviary buildings, koi pond, citrus orchard, tennis and basketball courts, a swimming pool and a waterfall.

However, the future owner has to provide Playboy founder Hefner, 89, with a life estate that will allow him to live in his infamous mansion until he dies.

Hmmm. What of the current Mrs. Hefner? I assume Hef will leave Crystal a ton of money when he goes, but I hate the idea of her being ordered off the premises. (Which she almost certainly will; the Mansion is probably worth more as a teardown than as an actual residence.)

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And lo, there was debugging

A cry from my techie side (which is actually barely more than a corner) from last month:

After installing WordPress 4.4, I encountered a minor anomaly. Short version: In posts included in two or more categories, the categories are now listed in the post heading, not in strict alphabetical order as they used to be, but in the order of their assigned ID numbers, whatever they may be. I left a note at the support forum, indicating what I thought might be the issue, and expressing some nominal amount of dismay.

Unusually, no one at the forum deigned to respond to my dismay, but the problem was quietly fixed in 4.4.1, possibly as a by-product from this bug.

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