Stuck to one’s guns, as it were

The National Rifle Association, presumably having noticed that I overpaid the next three years’ dues, sent me a spiffy NRA-branded baseball cap, black with gold trim, with an American flag embroidered on the back. (Or, I guess, on the front, were I the sort of atavistic throwback who wears baseball caps backwards.)

Not that they spent the maximum amount possible on this headgear, given the blatant “MADE IN CHINA” label. Still, it is 100-percent cotton (per the same label), and it’s infinitely adjustable, for a small number of values for infinity. For now, I may let Twilight Sparkle wear it.

Comments (4)




Vaguely mature

Cristina up in Toronto has been going off about “grandma shoes,” and she’s evidently serious enough to call them “fuddy-duddy-esque.” Some, she conceded, might be wearable, but the others, not so much. I weighed in with faint praise for this Aquazzura shoe, from the more-wearable group, though I was forced to admit: “I can’t envision it, though, on any of the grannies I know.” Then again, I know few grannies who can pony up high-triple-digit sums for a pair of shoes, even these shoes:

Alexa by Aquazzura

I think it’s that feeble-looking strappage that makes “Alexa” here look unreasonably jaunty.

Oddly enough, the same day I came up with that response to Cristina, I got a shoefie dropped into my timeline, yet another Aquazzura shoe:

Wild Thing by Aquazzura

Presumably this one, tagged “Wild Thing,” will not appeal to your grandma. But I could be wrong: actually wearing those shoes in this picture is former Homeland Security Advisor (2004-07) and occasional CNN contributor Frances Townsend, who at sixty is probably old enough to be a grandma, but isn’t one.

Should you wish to own either of these two styles, you will get some insignificant change back from a $700 bill — if you live somewhere where there’s no sales tax, anyway.

Comments off




T owed

The Raptors administered a fair thrashing to the Thunder in Oklahoma City in early November, so payback was the first order of business. But this would not be an easy proposition: Toronto is a better team now than they were then, and hey, it’s their house. It was going to take at least another 20-point, maybe a 30-point performance by Kevin Durant, and at least a double-double, maybe even a triple-double, from Russell Westbrook. Even harder, the Thunder would have to figure out some way to DeTer DeMar DeRozen. How did they do? KD, 34 points; Westbrook, 26-11-12; DeRozen, 8 of 22 for a team-high 19. The occasional lapse aside, OKC made it look sort of easy, dispatching the Dinos, 119-100.

In fact, this game was so unexpectedly uneventful that radio guy Matt Pinto spent a fair amount of time speculating who, if anyone, might be given the night off tomorrow against the Pistons. Of course, resting a starter or three — or four, as the Spurs did the other night — puts additional pressure on the reserves to perform, and the OKC bench has been somewhat inconsistent of late, rolling up only 25 points tonight, 15 of which came from Dion Waiters. (How hard can it be for both Waiters and Enes Kanter to get hot on the same night?) And the DeFense against DeRozen, largely the work of Andre Roberson, gave the too-lightly regarded Norman Thomas — how lightly? Not even his own Wikipedia page — the opportunity to crank out 18 points on 7-13.

Still, one should shed no tears for the Raptors, who still enjoy a five-game cushion over the third-place Atlanta Hawks. And perhaps one should think forward to Detroit tomorrow night; the Pistons lead the Bulls by two, the Wizards by two and a half, to hold, however tenuously, the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. And they’re 24-13 at the Palace, nothing to sneer at. Then again, the Raptors were 28-8 at the Air Canada Centre until tonight.

Comments off




Evergreen onions

I have the Pergelator to thank for this nifty little video set to the R&B classic “Green Onions” by Booker T. and the MGs:

Of course, having read the description before actually watching the video, I went into Anachronism Overload: how in the pluperfect hell are there late-1950 performers dancing to a song composed and recorded in 1962? They’re not, of course; this is just some swell editing.

The first color segment, though, from It Started in Naples, rang a memory bell, and this is what’s actually being sung:

There’s always a good reason to check out what Sophia Loren is doing. (She was twenty-six in this 1960 film.)

Comments off




You did Nazi this coming

Yet another reason why you do not want Everything In The Fricking World connected to the Internet:

The notorious hacker and troll Andrew Auernheimer, also known as “weev,” just proved that the Internet of Things can be abused to spread hateful propaganda. On Thursday, Auernheimer used two lines of code to scan the entire internet for insecure printers and made them automatically spill out a racist and anti-semitic flyer.

Hours later, several people started reporting the incident on social media, and eventually a few local news outlets picked up on the story when colleges and universities all over the United States found that their network printers were spilling out Auernheimer’s flyer.

Auernheimer detailed this “brief experiment,” as he called it, in a blog post on Friday.

Said weev:

After a little investigation it seemed that to print to a printer with port 9100 exposed, all you have to do is netcat a postscript file to that port.

And how likely is it that port 9100 is open and listening? Very:

For network-connected print devices, the standard TCP/IP port monitor is the best choice. Standard port monitor is the successor to line printer remote (LPR), that has been widely adopted as the de facto standard in network printing for the past several years. Standard port monitor is faster, more scalable, and bidirectional. In contrast, LPR is limited in all of these areas. Although Windows NT 4 and later provided registry modifications to help extend the capabilities of LPR printing, these changes do not compare with the benefits of using standard port monitor… The RAW protocol is the default for most print devices. To send a RAW-formatted job, the print server opens a TCP stream to the printer’s network interface. For many devices this will be port 9100.

“We were only following instructions.”

@SwiftOnSecurity feigned astonishment at the ease of the hack: “I’ve always wondered how the hell you even get a printer on the _Internet_. Plugging it into a DSL modem? Who? Why?”

Anything on the wrong side of a firewall can be presumed open, be it a printer, a computer, or a refrigerator.

Comments (4)




Imagine the directory structure

At any given moment, I have several side projects going, though “going” implies a destination, and many of those destinations may never be reached.

This is because I am not as organized as those people who can describe the whole process far in advance:

Caffeine –> Idea –> Caffeine –> Boredom –> Caffeine –> Another Idea –> More Caffeine –> Idea For Something I Think Is Hysterically Funny –> Execution of Something NOT Funny Because I Quickly Decided That My Hysterically Funny Idea Was Really Not Very Funny –> Caffeine –> Think About Disappointing My Five Readers –> Make That Four –> More Caffeine –> Feel Bad About Not Achieving Anything Or Writing A Book –> Side Project Executed But May Never Be Shown To Anyone –> Caffeine –> Repeat.

Dissolute soul that I am, I get bogged down somewhere in the vicinity of “Execution of Something NOT Funny.”

Comments (1)




Strange search-engine queries (530)

Yep, here we are, back at the old stand, trying to figure out just what brings people to this site, and reporting on the explanations we find least explicable.

529:  No, that was last week. This week is 530.

and the ursines remain on the sylvan glades:  And probably taking a dump thereupon.

if anamarie’s parents send her to a(n) _____ school instead of a public school to enhance her learning, they are probably doing it because the standards may be higher than local public schools:  Um, “expensive”?

“td bank” “erotic”  Well, compared to Scotiabank, anyway.

perverse adolescent lesbo seduces eastern milf:  It happened just outside a branch of TD Bank.

mcgyver is faced with the problem of opening a safe with 10 buttons numbered from 0 to 9. the safe can be opened by pressing three buttons, not necessarily distinct, in correct order. what is the probability that mcgyver will hit the right combination?  100 percent, even if the numbers have been obscured by time and dust and the safe itself is covered with scorpions. You never bet against MacGyver.

opposite of bondage:  Blofeldage?

damascus girls:  You can’t be Syrias.

we’re gonna get married randy newman:  Unless, of course, you’re Short People.

pictures of wastes:  A waste is a terrible thing to mind.

evisceration plague tab:  We’ve been trying to get Google to add this to Chrome for years now.

toe tales:  See, for instance, Parliament’s “Agony of Defeet,” a classic toe-jam session.

where do grape nuts come from:  Kroger, aisle seven.

Comments (2)




Grist for the diploma mill

There exists, to my delight and/or amazement, a Wikipedia page called “List of animals with fraudulent diplomas.” The gist of the matter:

Animals are often used as a device to clearly demonstrate the lax standards of the awarding institutions. In one case, a cat’s degree helped lead to a successful fraud prosecution against the institution that had issued it.

The “standards” most often in use, one might assume, derive from the question “Did the check clear?”

This one apparently did:

The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office … sued an online university for allegedly selling bogus academic degrees — including an MBA awarded to a cat.

Trinity Southern University in Texas, a cellular company and the two brothers who ran them are accused of misappropriating Internet addresses of the state Senate and more than 60 Pennsylvania businesses to sell fake degrees and prescription drugs by spam e-mail, according to the lawsuit.

Investigators paid $299 for a bachelor’s degree for Colby Nolan — a deputy attorney general’s 6-year-old black cat — claiming he had experience including baby-sitting and retail management.

The school, which offers no classes, allegedly determined Colby Nolan’s resume entitled him to a master of business administration degree; a transcript listed the cat’s course work and 3.5 grade-point average.

Obtaining the transcript, incidentally, cost an additional $99.

Texas subsequently froze all the assets of “TSU” and its operators, and enjoined them from further mischief; trinitysouthernuniversity.org is up for sale by the Chinese domain-parking operation that currently owns it.

(Via Jen Myers.)

Comments off




And another one gone

Another newspaper, this one in Britain, goes Web-only:

The final print edition of The Independent newspaper went on sale Saturday, ending its 30-year appearance on British newsstands with an exclusive on an assassination plot against a former Saudi king.

A poignant wrap-around front page carried the words “STOP PRESS” in red lettering on a white background, followed by the words “Read all about it in this, our final print edition — 1986-2016”.

The newspaper will now be available online only, with its final editorial claiming history would be the judge of its “bold transition … as an example for other newspapers around the world to follow”.

Were it truly “bold,” they’d have done it in 1996.

And it’s not like this came like a bolt from the blue:

The Independent‘s Russian-born British owner, Evgeny Lebedev, who announced the closure of the print edition last month, wrote that journalism had “changed beyond recognition” and the newspaper “must change too”.

Not that Mr Lebedev is playing Jolly Executioner here; the paper was slated for closure in 2010 before he bought it. Daily circulation, which peaked at 420,000 in 1989, has declined to barely a tenth of that, though the Sunday edition sells decidedly better. Still, independent.co.uk is reported to have 70 million unique visitors per month.

(Via Fark.)

Comments off




This earth in fast thick pants

Elizabeth Farrelly, fulminating in the Sydney Morning News:

Our ongoing inertia on climate change suggests that the problem is deep; not at root technical or political but spiritual, a direct consequence of the seven deadly sins run every bit as wild as the carbon we spew into the air. Easter, properly understood, is still the best antidote but its healing powers (since we’re in Harry Potter land here) are neutralised by the patriarchal corporation — the church — that holds it captive.

Tim Blair of the rival Daily Telegraph calls this dreamy drug-induced vision what it is:

Elizabeth left Harry Potter land a long time ago. She’s presently in a land more familiar to people who ate the entire contents of Samuel Coleridge’s medicine cabinet.

The nearest field of poppies thanks you for your support in the form of carbon dioxide.

Comments (4)




Drawing lots of lines

The other day, I asked Roger this: “What would be the one change you’d most like to see in the governance of the State of New York?” His response:

Generally, I disdain term limits, because I believe philosophically the people should be able to elect who they want. But I also recognize that the state legislature gets to pick the gerrymandered boundaries of the state legislature.

I like the idea of a truly independent board that would redraw the lines every ten years, pretty much ignoring the previous boundaries, and primarily paying attention to finding the population balance, still with some consideration of neighborhoods, would be nice. I just don’t know what that looks like.

Neither do I. But it would definitely be nice to find out.

Comments (5)




No, the other third day

The Eastern Orthodox church celebrates Easter this year, not today, but on the first of May. This is partly due to the fact that the Orthodox rite is still derived from the Julian calendar, which has been getting farther and farther out of sync with the Gregorian calendar for the last four centuries and odd. Will this situation ever change? Well, it might:

The heads of the Christian churches are close to sealing a deal to fix the date of Easter, the Archbishop of Canterbury has revealed, ending more than a thousand years of confusion and debate.

The Church of England’s Archbishop of Canterbury Most Reverend Justin Welby said the agreed date would be either the second or third Sunday of April.

He expected to make the change within 5-10 years, though he admitted that churches have been trying to agree on a date without success since the tenth century.

Archbishop Welby, Pope Francis, the Coptic Orthodox Pope Tawadros II and the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I (head of the Greek Orthodox church) are all working towards a common date, he said.

This does not necessarily portend a reunification of the separate bodies of Christianity, but it still seems like a promising development.

(Via @BethAnnesBest.)

Comments (5)




The JV comes to town

Gregg Popovich has rested players before, but usually not so many that Boban Marjanović actually gets to start at center: tonight four starters — Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge — plus super sixth man Manu Ginobili were given the night off. That said, the Substitute Spurs outplayed the Thunder for the first 15 minutes or so, until OKC started to get a grip on the situation, and the Thunder were up four at the half. A 35-19 third quarter settled the matter, and OKC went up 2-1 in the season series with a somewhat unsatisfying 111-92 win.

There are things Billy Donovan will not like, and one of them is that the Thunder bench scored only 22 points — and Enes Kanter had 20 of them. (Randy Foye got the other bucket; forget the other guys, especially Kyle Singler, who missed one shot and collected three fouls in seven minutes.) On the upside, shooting was a more-than-respectable 52 percent, Kevin Durant went up for 31 plus 10 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook, despite one little bout with temper that cost him a technical, threw down 29.

The Spurs, perhaps unsurprisingly, were led by two bench guys, David West and Jonathon Simmons, each with 17 points. And Andre Miller’s line — 11 points and eight rebounds in 19 minutes — is pretty darn good for a guy who just turned forty, you know? And yes, Marjanović got into the act, with 13 points and six boards. Still, you have to wonder if at least one of the chaps on the bench cringed at the debacle.

With Sunday off, the Thunder now face a road trip consisting of a single back-to-back: at Toronto on Monday, at Detroit on Tuesday. Both are playoff-caliber teams, the Pistons having fought their way from ignominy back to eighth in the East, the Raptors comfortably ensconced in second. The Clippers come to OKC on Thursday, and then it’s back to the road once more.

Comments off




Thine own self

This is the person to whom, Polonius said, we must be true. The tricky part is figuring out who that person really is.

Comments off




The Parker house rules

The least-explicable picture of Sarah Jessica Parker I’ve ever seen showed up on a fashion site — I seem to remember it was InStyle.com, but I can’t remember the context — late last year:

Sarah Jessica Parker from here down

Since the big news with SJP last year was with her shoe line, I’m thinking that shot may have been connected somehow, although there’s only one shoe in the picture, plus its reflection, and she’s not wearing it. I would have expected something more like this, from her Instagram last summer:

Sarah Jessica Parker with some of her shoes

And I have to admit, I’ve been watching her for a long time, ever since L. A. Story in 1991, in which she played a pseudoditz named SanDeE*. (Not a footnote; the asterisk is part of the way she spells her name.)

Sarah Jessica Parker from L. A. Story

That was, of course, half a lifetime ago. (SJP turned 51 yesterday.)

Comments off




Lives up to the name

After six albums for Capitol in five years, Leo Kottke signed a deal with Chrysalis in 1976 and subsequently delivered an album called simply Leo Kottke. After the lead track, a cover of the Buck Owens classic “Buckaroo,” you’d find ten original tunes. (What you wouldn’t find, alas, was any credit for the sidemen.) The one stunner in the bunch, running a mere 1:41, was called, disarmingly, “Up Tempo,” and it was exactly that.

While spinning this disk, I got to wondering how it sounded in Kottke’s live shows, and, well, now we know:

Twelve strings, no waiting.

Comments (1)