Insta-genuity

I have to believe that Instapundit has some fairly resourceful readers. At 6:36 yesterday, the Professor linked this piece, which got several dozen hits despite the link being broken, one of his commenters having popped the source window open and posted the correct link. (Which was actually correct all along; the anchor tag itself was broken.) I tweeted at him; he fixed it soon as he read the tweet, and of course then the floodgates opened. As of this writing, about 2100 have wandered by to read the piece, which is pretty darn good for a weekend.

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Hear, Here

Unexpected good news on the plastic wrapper of Here Media magazines Out and The Advocate this month:

YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN TO GET A FREE RENEWAL COMPLIMENTS OF TLA VIDEO.

Of course, they exchange mailing lists, and I’ve bought stuff from TLA before, though not in the last year or so. Perhaps this is TLA’s way of trying to reattract my attention.

For those of you who were wondering why a beyond-middle-aged straight guy would be reading either of these mags — well, admittedly, they’re not aimed at me, but then neither is InStyle.

This started, actually, some time in the late Nineties while I was still getting the usual package of magazine stamps from Publishers Clearing House. For some reason, I decided to scrutinize the sheet a bit more thoroughly than usual, and to my amazement, there was a stamp for Out, listed as “the leading gay magazine” or something like that. And I figured it was worth my twelve bucks, or however much it was, to encourage this sort of thing, so I sent in the subscription order. In 2010, Here Media started offering a bundle of Out and The Advocate together at not much more than the price of Out alone, so I took that deal as well. And if the information therein isn’t always, as the phrase goes, relevant to my interests, it’s probably of interest to friends, and I have this weird idea that I ought to pay attention to such matters once in a while.

Incidentally, I never saw Out offered again by PCH. Go figure.

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Here’s looking at Liu

Today is the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, and PEN International’s Flanders outpost has chosen to mark this day by reading Liu Xiaobo’s 1999 poem “You Wait For Me With Dust,” one line by each of thirty-three writers. Liu, you’ll remember, is serving his fourth term in Chinese prison, this time for “spreading a message to subvert the country and authority,” such a wonderfully bland phrase that I expect it to catch on here in the States.

This reading is in Dutch, with English subtitles:

PEN first organized a reading of this poem a year ago:

Since winning the Nobel Prize in 2010, interest in Liu Xiaobo’s essays and poetry has grown in the West, leading to a number of new translations. No Enemies, No Hatred, a collection of essays and poems curated by scholar Perry Link, Liu Xiaobo’s wife Liu Xia, and Independent PEN Center’s current president, Tienchi Martin-Liao, was released in January [2012]. June Fourth Elegies, Liu Xiaobo’s collection of poetry in memory of Tiananmen Square victims, translated by PEN Member Jeffrey Yang, will be released in April [2012].

Here at PEN, we believe that keeping Liu Xiaobo’s words alive is the best tribute to our imprisoned colleague.

You can imagine what China thinks of all this:

On 8 October 2010, the Nobel Committee awarded Liu the Nobel Peace Prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China,” saying that Liu had long been front-runner as the recipient of the prize.

China reacted negatively to the award, immediately censoring news about the announcement of the award in China, though later that day limited news of the award became available. Foreign news broadcasters including CNN and the BBC were immediately blocked, while heavy censorship was applied to personal communications. The Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced the award to Liu Xiaobo, saying that it “runs completely counter to the principle of the award and is also a desecration of the Peace Prize.”

Because, you know, the Nobel Peace Prize had never, ever before been desecrated in such a manner.

(With thanks to Tumbleweed.)

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The first rule of the ruling class

A reminder from Bill Quick:

Conservatives in government are in government first, and conservatives second. Their power comes from being in government, rather than in being conservative.

And, according to the vast majority of consensus opinion, right, left, and middle, in government, the task is to use government to do things. That’s what they all mean when they say they want to make government work. Because they sure as hell don’t mean that they want to make themselves work.

I’d just bet the smallish sum I sent to a local shelter this week will do more immediate good than the decidedly larger sum that various levels of government vacuumed out of my paycheck this week, if only for reasons of lower overhead.

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A fine example of recycling

The following landed in the spam trap last night:

If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you goddamn idiot. This copypasta will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it.

Not that anyone is actually threatening me with furious fecal matter: that paragraph seems to have been adapted from this prodigious load of ragged braggadocio. God forbid a spammer should write something of his own.

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Quote of the week

Maureen Johnson fields a question from a young reader who aspires to be a young writer:

I’ve been looking into the whole male authors are treated better then female authors, how books are categorized as being boy books that girls can read or just girl books, how female authors seem to get more push back and hate. I’ve been reading quite ALOT of articles and such on this and I was just wondering: What are the perks of being a female YA author?

Apart from not having to pretend that “alot” is an actual word, there are some distinct joys:

The perks of what I do are so numerous as to be like the stars in the sky. Don’t weep for me. I’m ridiculously lucky.

But there’s also this:

Is it ALSO true that female writers tend to have a different FATE than our male counterparts? Yes, that’s true. It’s true in a thousand different ways that I often can’t even talk about, because it would involve talking about people and encounters and conversations. And it’s true in ways I CAN talk about, like when people ask me if I’ll ever write something boys can read (my books carry COOTIES that will make their penises fall off) or if I have an idea and a guy has the same idea, he is likely to get the credit (if it is good) or the fact that what I do has a far greater chance of being called slight, or breezy, or fun, or escapist, or a guilty pleasure, or light, or beach-worthy … and if a guy wrote it it is likely to magically become a masterful work of comic prose, or a subtle and humorous exploration of life and love the likes of which has never been seen before!

[insert vague Dave Eggers reference here]

I suppose, in some totally distended sense of the word, I write YA stuff: the median age of the readers of my fanfiction universe of choice seems to be well short of twenty, though my own material skews older. (Which doesn’t surprise me, given my relatively aged protagonists.) Gender considerations notwithstanding, however, I will insist that it’s slight, maybe even breezy in spots.

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We like your plan just fine

Our Insurance Commissioner weighs in:

The number of health insurance policies canceled in Oklahoma as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been minimized due to the efforts of Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak.

“Here in Oklahoma, my office has always focused on the consumer,” said Doak. “We recognized the possibility of cancellations early on and worked with the state’s largest health insurance companies to lessen the consumer impact. That collaboration led to our approval of their requests to modify policy renewal dates, which allowed a majority of Oklahoma policyholders to keep their existing coverage through 2014.”

Technically, this does not extend their existing coverage, but does permit renewals at some figure resembling the previous premium.

Doak, of course, is not impressed by the administration’s shenaniganza:

“After yet another failed initiative, President Obama is just passing the buck,” said Doak. “How can the federal government make this decision without offering any guidance to the state insurance departments or the insurance carriers? Cancellation notices have already gone out. Rates and plans have already been approved. How is this supposed to work? There are a lot of unanswered questions right now. This is what you get when you pass a bill you haven’t read.”

This is consistent with the NAIC statement earlier yesterday. Very consistent.

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Well, it wasn’t jet lag

The second night on the Left Coast looked as though it would prove no more fruitful for the Thunder than did the first, and the unwinding was eerily similar: OKC and Golden State were tied 62-all at the half, and the Thunder went pretty much to pieces in the third quarter, dropping back by nine; at a couple of times in the fourth they were down 14. (How bad was it? Kevin Durant, who made his first four shots, missed his next seven, and by then he’d piled up five fouls plus a technical.) And then Russell Westbrook decided he’d had enough. With OKC down two and time running out, Westbrook ignored both the clock and the defenders and sank the coldest-blooded trey he’d done all season, putting the Thunder up 115-114 with 2.3 left. But the Warriors weren’t done yet: Andre Iguodala’s fadeaway almost on top of the horn made it Golden State 116, OKC 115.

The Telltale Statistic for the night is this: the Warriors, worst in the league in turnovers — averaging somewhere around 23 a night — managed to cough up the rock only seven times. That and Golden State’s 3-point prowess — they went 14-23, the Thunder 9-22 — managed to offset a career night for Serge Ibaka (27 points, 13 rebounds), 31 from Westbrook on 13-20, and KD checking in with 20, somehow never having fouled out.

But it’s not like you can score a bunch of points in Oakland and expect a W to be handed over. The Warriors score every way there exists, and several that seemingly don’t. Klay Thompson had 27 to lead Golden State; Stephen Curry and David Lee were right behind. The Ig’s last-second hit gave him 14.

Still: seven turnovers. The Thunder handed it over nineteen times, not far off their average, but not at all good in front of an enterprising bunch like the Warriors.

The Thunder will be in Milwaukee Saturday night; the Bucks will have just arrived from what may have been an epic trouncing at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. Maybe.

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Sweet spot apparently found

A couple of years ago, I did a piece on The Incredible Shrinking Consumer Reports Buying Guide Issue, which over a five-year period had dropped from 360 to 221 pages. The following year, I noted that the Buying Guide had actually grown to 223 pages.

How big is it now? [#twss] Once again, two hundred twenty-three pages. (As with last year, that last page is devoted to the mandatory Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation.)

I said in that first piece:

By 2015 at the latest, you’ll have to be subscribing to their Web site and/or installing their app to get any of this information. Count on it.

I mention this mostly to make it impossible for me to backpedal, should I be proven wrong.

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Strewn about

In 1937, Sylvan Goldman invented the shopping cart, which someone probably left in the parking lot:

For many years I have used every platform and every tool at my disposal to fight against the terrorists who leave their shopping carts chaotically strewn about the surface of the Earth. Every time I drive into a supermarket parking lot these days it looks like 9,000 people were raptured into heaven right as they put their last grocery bag in the trunk. Or maybe they’re all bomb technicians and they had to go diffuse explosives somewhere. Or maybe they’re Batman. Yes, maybe they saw the Bat Signal and had to go find the Penguin and foil another of his dastardly plots. They must be SOMETHING important if they couldn’t carve out the requisite half-minute to shuttle those cart back from whence they came.

Or, or, or maybe they’re just lazy.

There are exactly two ways to deal with this. One of them is used by the German discount chain Aldi: charge you a nominal sum for the cart, which is refunded when you return it to the proper location.

The other is a bit harder to pull off: it requires (1) a store with a marginal cart supply and (2) a weekend when EBT cards and such are recharged. If there are no carts waiting at the door, people can, and occasionally will, fetch them from the lot themselves. (Hard as this may be to believe, I have actually seen it happen.)

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I suspect this may be truthful

I mean, I have been on the receiving end of something very much like this:

What you drive matters. Sorry. I’m sure you’re saving a ton of money for our first house payment by driving that rolling embarrassment from the decade in which I was born, but you’ll never get to spend it on me because you’ll never get me in the passenger seat. Feel free to call me shallow. Also, feel free to never call me at all.

Okay, it was technically the decade after that, but “rolling embarrassment” might do it justice. So this list of What We Think About Your Ride by Caroline Ellis, not yet thirty, persuades me of her credibility, especially with examples like this:

Chevy Corvette

You think: I look sexy driving this thing.

We think: You’re at least ten years older than you’re telling me you are. Your ex-wife was right to tell you that you weren’t allowed to buy that thing. I’ll take some drinks from you but you’re getting a fake number at the end of the night.

Ouch. And there’s this:

Honda Civic/Toyota Corolla

You think: This is a really reliable car and … sorry, I really don’t have any idea what you’re thinking here.

We think: Great, you’re boring AND poor.

Finally, since I spent a good part of the week in one of these:

Infiniti G35/37/whatever they call it now

You think: It’s just as cool as a BMW.

We think: No, it isn’t.

Side note: Women to whom I have recommended this page — I plugged it briefly on Twitter — were generally delighted. Not one word from the men.

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Pavlova and friend

I don’t do exuberance very well anymore, unlike this delightful youngster:

Child dancing in front of painting of Anna Pavlova

And I miss that.

Sir John Lavery did several portraits of Anna Pavlova; this 1910 canvas hangs in the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow. The Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College in Florida has another.

Pavlova herself once said:

When a small child, I thought that success spelled happiness. I was wrong, happiness is like a butterfly which appears and delights us for one brief moment, but soon flits away.

But oh, for those moments when it’s there!

(Via Boned Jello.)

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Portable banshee

Gwendolyn’s brakes were not looking good, and there was this growling noise which I interpreted as a sticking caliper — which, for all I knew, might actually have caused that bit of scoring around the edge of the discs. It was oil-change time anyway, and I had a coupon for $50 off per axle on the brakes, so I scheduled a spa day on Tuesday for the poor girl.

I would have been happier with a stuck caliper. The noise didn’t meet the usual criteria for wheel-bearing woes, but the industry-standard knock-the-wheel-back-and-forth test confirmed it: both bearings were close to the point when they would bear no more.

While the techs messed with that, I was sent off in a ’12 G37. I was wondering if maybe I’d get a Q50, but no. Not this time. And this particular G threw a tire-pressure warning at me the moment I started it up, which I attributed to it being colder than the very dickens Tuesday morning. It did not recur. I remain persuaded that the 7-speed automatic fitted to most of these things is okay, but not much better than that, though the manual shifting mode works well. And just because, I tried the sort of launch that would aggravate the traction control. (It did.)

The drive home was quieter, anyway. And the brakes? Fronts passed muster, rears needed new pads and a rotor refinish. Things could have been worse.

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And then it fell apart

It’s seldom you can see a pivot point, a moment when things change irrevocably, especially in something as aggressively ephemeral as a basketball game. Yet something happened in the waning moments of the first half in the Staples Center, with the Clippers fighting back from a 14-point deficit. The Thunder were up six when Serge Ibaka and Matt Barnes got into an altercation of some sort. Both players were thumbed; Russell Westbrook put up a zinger just before the horn, but the third quarter was all Clippers — 30-16 — and the fourth started out more so.

Not helping the OKC cause was the sudden shortage of bigs: Kendrick Perkins wasn’t with the team — a death in the family — so Steven Adams started, Hasheem Thabeet was pried off the bench, and Nick Collison got into foul trouble with amazing speed. Facing a Los Angeles team that can hit you from any direction — six Clippers made it into double figures — the Thunder wandered in the wilderness until halfway through the fourth frame, when somehow they put together a 9-2 run over the next two minutes. OKC would eventually pull within four, but no closer: the final was 111-103.

The Clips were utterly commanding on the boards, 50-35, and stalwarts Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford broke the 20-point mark. The Blakester also reeled in 12 rebounds; over at the point, Chris Paul rang up 14 points and 16 assists. (“And one foul,” grumbled radio guy Matt Pinto.) In the wake of these numbers, OKC clearly needed even more than Westbrook (19 points, 10 assists) and Kevin Durant (33 points, 10 assists) were able to provide, and the bench had a so-so night at best.

Tomorrow night against Golden State. How much recovery time does this team really need?

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Oh, come on

The Get Laid Now spam — once I actually got one with that very subject line — is, of course, never going to go away, given the persistent nature of both human desire to get lucky and spammers’ desire to get past your filters. Still, this subject line seems a bit lamer than usual: “CynereMoses44 granted access to her private vidz!” How generous of her.

Then again, the sender, per the header, was one “Neria Brainless,” which perhaps is redundant. Superfluous, even.

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Ladies and gentlemen, your new electorate

I saw this, and thought “This must be some kind of joke, right?”

Do you got insurance?

Afraid not. Here’s the source:

Got Insurance is a project of the Thanks Obamacare campaign, created by the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado Education to educate everyone about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

This is apparently some nonstandard usage of the word “education.”

There is, however, an upside: the sort of person who would respond to a campaign of this sort is clearly too dumb to be allowed to reproduce, and it’s probably worth the effort to keep them in a nonparental state.

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