Not that we’re busy or anything

News Item: Gov. Scott Walker said the University of Wisconsin could ask its faculty to teach more classes and do more work to offset funding cuts in Walker’s state budget proposal.

Why this will not go over well with the faculty, from Professor James Hanley, who does not teach in the UW system:

My department completed our program review document last week. On Tuesday I spent most of the day just writing the one page executive summary. (Have you ever tried summarizing a 100 page document in one page, while emphasizing your own tremendous awesomeness and how any imperfections could be solved easily if somebody outside your department would do the right thing while not offending that person who could do that right thing by making it sound like it’s their fault?) On Friday I spent 5 hours reviewing and editing the final draft. And today, Sunday, I am working on a new assignment for my American Government class that will require them to work with real data, which requires long pauses in writing while I think about how to make the directions clear to non-data oriented students.

There are, of course, worse ways to make a living:

This is not to say “pity us poor college profs.” It’s not a bad gig. I worked a lot harder, at much greater personal risk, and for much less pay as a bike messenger. One of my own profs had previously worked at a nitroglycerine factory, until the old guys there — who all had occupational-induced emphysema — told him to get out and go to college so he didn’t end up like them. It’s just to say that the job takes time; that classroom hours are not synonymous with workload; and that Walker can only get what he wants by damaging the impressive reputation of UW-Madison and thereby diminishing the reputation of the state as a whole.

As is often the case with politicians, Governor Walker got this idea into his head, and just having that idea proved to be so invigorating that worrying about things like mere consequences got pushed to the side.

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Romantic illusions made simple

Yours truly, from November 2013:

It is said that you will be perceived as much more desirable if you are perceived as taken. I’ve never noticed any such thing, but then it’s been rather a long time — about half a lifetime — since I’ve been taken.

At the time, there was the announcement of an app that would create that perception. That app is now a reality:

Invisible Girlfriend and Invisible Boyfriend offer one way of dealing with this situation. The apps promise to “give you real-world and social proof that you’re in a relationship — even if you’re not — so you can get back to living life on your own terms.” Plainly put, these apps, created by Matthew Homann and Kyle Tabor, help you lie about being in a relationship by providing believable social proof of significant others in the form of crowdsourced selfies, text messages, voice mails and even written notes.

If you’re already horrified, this may not change your mind:

Having an imaginary relationship can be a lot easier than explaining why you’re not in a real one. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to explain to bosses and friends why I’m not bringing a date to weddings, parties, company picnics and holiday events.

It’s not like I don’t want to find true love. But I have stuff to do. I like my freedom. I want to be in charge of the TV. My dog is usually first priority. And well, dating is a lot of work. I’m cool with being single. But after a while, it gets tiring to tell your mom that grandkids won’t be happening soon or ask your well-meaning friends to stop setting you up on blind dates with their newly divorced pals or friends who clearly just want a casual bed buddy. Sometimes white lies make everyone involved a little happier than the truth does.

There is a survey on that page — “Would you ever date an imaginary girlfriend/boyfriend?” — and as of last night, only 6 percent of respondents said they would. Then again, this is 5 percent higher than it was in the first hour after that report was published. (Disclosure: I follow author Bonnie Burton — @bonniegrrl — on Twitter, and she tweeted it the moment it went up.) Seventy-five percent said No, and I’m pretty sure at least some of them really mean it.

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Everything you wand

So much is said by this simple tweet:

OKC was in fact up as many as 22 during the third quarter, but the Magic didn’t start to fade until halfway through the fourth, when Nikola Vučević fouled out. At the time, he was Orlando’s leading scorer, with 20; Victor Oladipo eventually passed him. Just the same, the Magic kept pressing, and pulled to within seven in the waning moments. Still, it was an Oklahoma City win, 104-97, a sweep of the season series, though the Blowout call obviously never came.

The Magic, who’ve lost nine straight, were not punchless: they outrebounded OKC 44-40, including 14-8 off the offensive glass. During that late run, they pulled their scoring percentage up to 42 percent, and of their six treys (out of 23 attempts), four came in the fourth quarter. Five Orlando players reached double figures, led by Oladipo with 22; Tobias Harris came up with 18, and Willie Green added 13 from the bench. Still, the Magic blocked only one shot, and thereby hangs a tale: Mitch McGary, in his first appearance since ever, came on in the last minute, put up one shot, and Kyle O’Quinn (11 points) knocked it away.

Still, the Thunder did a decent job of scoring, despite the absence of Kevin Durant, whose toe is acting up again. Russell Westbrook got most of the glory with a triple-double, 25 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds. Dion Waiters got the start in place of KD, and turned in a 24-point performance. Both Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams were hitting tonight, 16 points and three blocks from Ibaka, 12 points (on seven shots!) from Adams. Anthony Morrow led the reserves with 15; for the first time in recent memory, Reggie Jackson scored zilch.

So it’s back to .500 again, two games behind the Pelicans. By some quirk of scheduling fate, the next two games are against the Pelicans, Wednesday night in New Orleans, then Friday back at the ‘Peake. And you have to figure that the Sea Birds will be on an emotional high, having tonight cleaned Atlanta’s clock, 115-100, to end the Hawks’ 19-game winning streak. It doesn’t get any easier, folks.

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And still working it

We begin with a word of wisdom:

To be a good model isn’t really about good looks. It’s about work ethic. A lot of people aren’t really that pretty, but they’ve got something, maybe a good personality — an indefinable something.

Daphne Selfe, born in 1928, wasn’t overly impressed with herself as a model when she started in the 1950s: “I wasn’t anything very special — I was a big, horsey girl — but I managed to earn my living modelling.”

Daphne Selfe during her first modeling career

She went into semi-retirement shortly thereafter, to raise her three children. After her husband died in 1997, she took an assignment from trendy British label Red or Dead. This led to an appearance in Vogue, in a feature on older models, and the offer of a contract with major London modeling agency Models 1. She’s scarcely slowed down since.

Daphne Selfe today

Still working the cleavage at eighty-six. She can’t wear heels anymore, though. And she can’t abide the thought of facelifts: “I haven’t had anything done,” she says, “because your entire history is in your face.”

(Suggested by Not Dead Yet Style. This last photo came from a Spanish-language interview in El País.)

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Quote of the week

Severian’s heard it all before:

The entire apparatus of academic-leftist discourse, stem to stern, top to bottom, exists solely to justify the raging narcissism of rich white kids. They have everything in the world, yet still feel empty inside. They’re deathly afraid that they only exist because of their massive head start in life, and they’ll do anything to ease that pain. If you’re endlessly searching for “microaggressions,” and you’re the ever-vigilant champion of the oppressed, you’ll never, ever have to be alone with your own thoughts.

Where are the macroaggressions, now that we need them?

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Sauron will be displeased

Threat assessment just ain’t what it used to be:

A Kermit [Texas] parent said his fourth-grade student was suspended Friday for allegedly making a terroristic threat.

His father, Jason Steward, said the family had been to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies last weekend. His son brought a ring to his class at Kermit Elementary School and told another boy his magic ring could make the boy disappear.

Steward said the principal said threats to another child’s safety would not be tolerated — whether magical or not. Principal Roxanne Greer declined to comment on the matter.

Kid clearly is lacking ambition. This is One Ring to Rule Them All, not just One Ring to Make The Classmate Vanish.

(Via io9.)

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Strange search-engine queries (470)

Of course, for me, the great disappointment of the 49th Super Bowl was that the 49ers didn’t make it. I’m funny/weird/creepy that way.

what is eternal server 500:  What you get when the machines have recognized your presence and have vowed to thwart you.

transmission extraction barin kit:  Barin? Wasn’t he a friend of Flash Gordon’s? And why would he be doing transmission work?

mckuen friendly sounds:  Most of Rod McKuen’s works were friendly, with the possible exception of his English lyric for “Seasons in the Sun.”

what size tires on my 87 626 mazda:  Should we tell him that’s it’s right there on the tire? (Naw. Let him wonder what sort of wizardry is performed in the back room at Pep Boys.)

mazda 626 transmission positions:  I hear Pep Boys is hiring.

my o/d light flashes with a harsh engagement on drive and reverse and gears on mazda 626:  And you haven’t called the tow truck yet? Tsk.

Transmission Problems with changes:  The major issue is wallet depletion, though this doesn’t affect the transmission directly.

what chemical is in wtf:  Tungsten and fluorine, bonded by disbelief.

o daddy your big hamster:  You’ve been getting into the WTF again, haven’t you?

www.poynhvb.com:  If you know the name of the site, why would you have to search for it?

credit card company fico score bank of america providian:  Because those scores are right there on the Web where everybody can see them. (And Providian is dead, dead, dead.)

senator robert milacek and jim inhofe:  “I’ll take Politicians Past Their Sell-By Date for $1000, Alex.”

what happened with rebecca black at playlist:  She didn’t tell you, either? Damn.

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About a year from now

Inevitably, this came up today:

Super Bowl 50 logoWell, actually, none of the above:

The NFL announced … that Super Bowl 50 will be graphically represented using standard Arabic numerals instead of Roman numerals, which the league has been using since Super Bowl V in 1971.

It’s a one-year break, said Jaime Weston, the league’s vice president of brand and creative, because the “L” isn’t as pleasing to the eye.

“When we developed the Super Bowl XL logo, that was the first time we looked at the letter L,” Weston said. “Up until that point, we had only worked with X’s, V’s and I’s. And, at that moment, that’s when we started to wonder: What will happen when we get to 50?”

The NFL assures us that this is not a permanent change or anything:

The NFL will go back to using Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI in Houston in 2017.

I’m not even going to think about Super Bowl C/100/whatever, presumably to be held in 2066.

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Declining utility

I’ve never been this old before, and I definitely feel like it.

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Just shut up and eat

The days of Massive Family Meals are down to a mere handful, and perhaps one of the reasons, beyond a most lamentable lack of time for such things, is the upsurge in finicky eaters, and I don’t mean two-year-olds in a high chair either:

We live in the golden age of man when it comes to food. We have more than enough to feed all of us, even the poorest of us. We also have every variety of food imaginable. In addition to turkey, I’ll make an authentic Mexican dish with material from Mexico. I’ll have sides and appetizers with ingredients from around the world. Despite this bounty, everyone is now afraid of their food. Food allergies, moralizing and whack-a-doodle dietary fads have everyone looking at their plate with suspicion.

Back when this annual event started, it was easy to cook a bunch of food for a bunch of people. Besides the turkey and sides, we had beer and some store bought desserts. Then vegetarians started to show up followed by vegans. That meant adding dishes for people who don’t eat meat and those who don’t oppress their food, whatever the hell that means. Of course, beer was no longer enough so a variety of wines and cocktails were added to the menu. All of which came with a lecture from the food cultist about the morality and science of their new thing.

My first reaction is “You invited these people?”

Then again, I suppose I myself could be considered a food oppressor, a decimator times ten: I fix enough to eat, and nothing is left — nothing but bits and pieces that would disappear into the dishwasher, had I a dishwasher.

There are two basic types of pathological foodies: men and women, as follows:

My read on this faux-allergy stuff is it is mostly women. The yogurt makers have figured out how to capitalize on their psycho-somatic stomach discomfort by claiming “probiotics” are the cure. Slap a new label on the old yogurt, double the price and you have a whole new revenue stream for the Acme Yogurt Company. I wish I had thought of it.

That said, men have their own food superstitions these days. I know guys who swallow dozens of supplements every day, believing they are the key to losing weight, staying young, getting a boner, living forever, etc. If the label says good things with words containing “-trophic” then they will shell out fifty bucks for a bottle. The more made up words the better. I read some of these bottles and start laughing as the neologisms are usually nonsense.

I operate on the notion that the death rate for this species is 100 percent, that it has been for some time, and if I have [name of food you can’t abide under any circumstances] once in a while, the odds won’t change one bit.

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I won’t back up

When word came down that Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” was sufficiently similar to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” to warrant cutting in Petty (and cowriter Jeff Lynne) on the songwriter royalties, I shrugged; it’s not like we’ve never heard this sort of thing before.

Just to aggravate the matter, consider the Nick Lowe composition “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock & Roll”), first recorded in 1977 by Dave Edmunds for his Get It album. Lowe put out his own version on The Rose of England in 1985; this video comes from Yep Roc, which issued a best-of compilation for Lowe a few years back.

Half Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” half Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” right?

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Neither black nor ice

During the winter, you get lots of warnings about frozen zones on the road that you can’t see at night; you don’t get so many about unfrozen zones on the road that you don’t notice in broad daylight. One of the latter got me yesterday afternoon after a grocery run.

The scene: Eastbound on NW 36th at Portland. There’d been about a quarter-inch of rain, and everywhere the pavement is irregular, there’s likely to be a puddle of some sort. (And as anyone who drives 36th knows, there are lots of places where the pavement is irregular.) The light turned green; I gave Gwendolyn a light tap on the throttle, she moved forward a couple of inches, and suddenly we found ourselves separated from the pavement by a thin layer of either greasy water or watery grease. (There are two filling stations at that intersection, which may or may not be a factor.) The tach rose with vigor, topping out at about 5400 rpm, before the transmission felt compelled to shift and the tires started to bite again.

To the presumed delight of the folks in adjacent lanes, I did not spin; my progress out of the pond was straight and true, if a little nerve-wracking. (Traction control? Never heard of it.) As is typical with jackrabbit starts in this car, the 1-2 shift happens faster than the accumulator can accumulate, so there was a palpable thump. No harm, no foul; but I kept the speed down a bit for the rest of the trip home.

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Loaded for bears

In the first three and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, the Thunder scored exactly two points, a layup by Anthony Morrow. Two minutes later, they still had just those two points, and had turned the ball over seven times. But by then, everyone had seen the writing on the walls of the FedEx Forum, and that writing said “Visitors unwelcome.” With 2:10 left, Scott Brooks acknowledged the truth of the matter, and pulled his starters. The victorious Grizzlies got a standing O from the crowd. It was 85-74 at the horn, the second Memphis win over Oklahoma City in two games, with two left to play.

Weirdly, the Griz shot a terrible 37 percent from the floor. Still, Memphis’ 34-92 was definitely better than OKC’s 27-78, less than 35 percent. And the Griz dominated the other columns on the box score: 54-47 on rebounds, 22-15 on assists, 11-5 on steals. Zach Randolph got his 13th straight double-double (21 points, 18 rebounds); Marc Gasol got one too (15 points, 12 boards). Mike Conley, a game-time decision due to a wrist injury, rolled up 10 points early on. The arrival of Jeff Green meant that Tony Allen could return to his sixth-man position; both scored eight.

Meanwhile, OKC had lots of underachievers, including its two All-Stars: both Kevin Durant (15 points) and Russell Westbrook (14 points) went 5-16 from the floor. (Westbrook hit one of three treys; KD missed all five of his.) Serge Ibaka did squeak out a double-double with 13 points and ten retrievals; nobody else approached double figures, and in that plus/minus stuff, the only plusses belonged to Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb, who weren’t summoned until after the white flag had been raised. (Glue guy Nick Collison held his ground with a zero.)

The Orlando Magic, who were waxed at home by the Mavs tonight, will be in OKC Monday night, possibly without coach Jacque Vaughn, whose job is reportedly in jeopardy. If Vaughn shows up and the Thunder play like they did in the fourth quarter at Memphis, he may get a brief reprieve.

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I hope you’re not disappointed

So says James Bond (Sean Connery) to Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) in a bed scene in From Russia With Love, the second and last of the purely dramatic Bond films. (From Goldfinger apparently until infinity, you could always see the finger pressing the Irony button.) Says Tatiana: “I will tell you … in the morning.” Pretty shrewd for an ingenue.

Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova

Bianchi, first runner-up to Miss Universe in 1960, was born in Rome on this day in 1942; at 21, she was, and is, the youngest actress ever to play a leading Bond girl. And if it seems odd that an Italian woman should be playing a clerk at the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, well, consider that Bond’s contact in Turkey, Ali Kerim Bey, is played by, um, Pedro Armendáriz — or was, until his death during production. (In the last few scenes to be shot, he was doubled by director Terence Young.)

Her career didn’t exactly take off, though she did get steady work in Europe (and three episodes of the US television series Dr. Kildare) through the 1960s. In this shot, Bianchi is an heiress with the wealthy-sounding name Mercedes, in a film with several titles: for the US, The Balearic Caper, which sounded ever so much more cerebral than the original Italian title Zarabanda Bing Bing.

Daniela Bianchi as a wealthy heiress

In 1970, having found True Love with a shipping magnate from Genoa, Daniela Bianchi retired from film; she returned only once, in We’re Nothing Like James Bond (2013), the story of two fiftyish guys who wonder where their youth has gone, and decide that they should try to talk Sean Connery into revealing the secret of immortality. Bianchi, inevitably, plays herself.

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Telltale signs of junk

How many ways does this envelope front tell you the contents are totally worthless?

Here Is Your New Policy Kit: Junk mail from an insurance-sales operation

The experienced recipient of utter crap will be able to spot several right away, to include: the absence of a return address up front; the checked boxes, supposed to look handwritten, which don’t; the “Your application” statement, which pretty much says that you didn’t ask for anything like this in the first place; the “Deliver only to:” statement — why would they deliver it to someone else?

There are other hints. But the most egregious one really doesn’t show up on the scan: that green “sticker” up top isn’t a sticker at all, but is printed directly on the envelope. I find things like this so offensive that even in the unlikely event that there’s a good deal being offered, I’ll be double damned and pickled in brine before I’ll take it.

Oh, and at the bottom of that “Do Not Write In This Space” area, extending at least an inch below the address, is a fake rubber stamp that says “DO NOT BEND.” I am pleased to report that my postal carrier bent the hell out of it.

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Sixteen K

Down in the lower left corner of this Big Check Facsimile, there’s the legend “Rural Economic Action Plan.”

REAP funds a firehouse in Roosevelt, Oklahoma

To explain:

The Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) Grant was created through legislation in 1996 to improve life in rural Oklahoma. Its purpose is to assist small communities, towns, counties and unincorporated with populations under 7,000, and which have little or no funding capabilities. REAP grants fund a variety of projects that enhance economic development, promote intergovernmental cooperation, promote and enhance public health and safety, and/or implement regional or local plans.

In this particular case, REAP issued a grant to the town of Roosevelt, population 250 or so, to convert a barn to a fire station, clearly a public-safety enhancement. But truth be told, what caught my eye was the amount of the check: $16,384. Those of you who have spent too much time hanging around binary stuff will recognize this number instantly as 214; old 16k RAM boards contained 16,384 bytes. Now I’m wondering if there’s some sort of binary grant formula.

(Photo from Jennifer James’ Instagram.)

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