Just a hint of frivolity

The British Antarctic Survey is seeking a name for a new research vessel:

[Natural Environment Research Council] invites you to submit your suggestions for a name for the new polar research ship, currently under construction at Cammell Laird’s yard in Birkenhead. The closing date for entries is 16th April 2016.

Submit your suggestion online here and tell us why your idea is suitable for a polar ship. NERC will apply to register the new ship as a Royal Research Ship (RRS) so the name format is RRS NAME. An expert panel will review all suggestions before making the final decision.

Some sensible names have been proposed — among them, RRS Henry Worseley and RRS David Attenborough — but the current front-runner is, um, RRS Boaty McBoatface.

I’m sort of hoping British whimsy is honored here, no matter how ridiculous it sounds.

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You can look, but you better not touch

New York-based designer Monika Chiang has said that she only creates clothing that she would wear herself, and judging by her Instagram, I figure that (1) she’s not wearing these at the moment but (2) she almost certainly would, given an appropriate ensemble.

Model wearing Monika Chiang Barros sandals

“Barros” is not really barbed wire, of course:

This “barbed wire” lace thong sandal is carefully hand crafted with soft tan leather and fine burnished brass chains that effortlessly tie-up the leg. The “barbed wire” laces are entirely made out of leather and are soft to the touch. Gold zip along the back makes for easy fastening and removing. The 15mm inset heel is the perfect height for when you want to give your feet a break from your heels. Wear with a long flowing skirt or with shorts.

Still, it’s darn near impossible not to look at. Is that worth $575 to you?

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Same as it ever was

I may ask myself, “How do I work this thing without having to learn something new?” And, in fact, I do ask myself that on a regular basis.

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Breaking through in Circle City

Alex Roig predicted in the Pregame Primer: “This just feels like a game where [Paul] George will get hot from deep. Maybe 30+ points on 5+ 3’s.” Ask Roig whom he likes in the World Series, because Paul George got hot from everywhere through three quarters, right until the moment when Kevin Durant swatted away a sure thing, accompanied to the sound of the third-quarter buzzer. The Thunder were up one at that point, having frittered away a ten-point halftime lead, but a couple minutes into the fourth they suddenly seemed to remember that they could still play defense. With a minute left, OKC was up by eight; George, not dead yet, hit a wicked trey and got fouled, erasing half that lead, and with 13 seconds left, the Pacers were within three. George got a clean look, but backrimmed a trey, and Durant’s retrieval, followed by two free throws on the inevitable foul, made it a four-point game; Myles Turner came up with a dunk, but KD ended up back on the line; he missed the second foul shot, but he gathered the rebound, and the Thunder won over the Pacers 115-111, tying the season series.

Statistic of note: The Thunder bench scored 45 points. Paul George scored 45 points. (He was 4-10 on treys, just missing Roig’s prediction.) The Indiana bench managed only 14 points, one fewer than Enes Kanter, though you have to wonder how much that matters when all the Pacer starters hit double figures and, as noted, Paul George had 45 freaking points. Then again, Kevin Durant was doing Kevin Durant things all night, finishing with a 33-point, 13-rebound double-double. And only Russell Westbrook could collect a triple-double while shooting 4-17: he finished 14-11-14. You have to wonder how this would have looked with Kyle Singler in the rotation. (Singler apparently was a late scratch, after lower-back pain during workouts.) Or maybe you don’t. Saving Serge Ibaka for tonight didn’t prove miraculous; Ibaka logged only 24 minutes, scored eight, rebounded four.

So three in a row against the East, which was not something I would have predicted: the Thunder have lost 22 games this season, 11 against Western teams, 11 against Eastern teams — but they’ve played the East only 28 times, the West 42. Only two games remain against the East, both on the road: at Toronto a week from Monday, at Detroit the next night. Between now and then, three Western foes will keep OKC busy at home.

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alt.super.model

Carol Alt, fifty-five, is still among the super-est of supermodels: when she was 43, AskMen.com decided she was #5 of all time, and at 48 she did a pictorial for Playboy. We oblige with a couple of slides from the archives, starting with a shot from 1997, when she was appearing in Howard Stern’s movie Private Parts, playing a woman on a plane who was not overly anxious to hear Stern’s life story.

Carol Alt circa 1997

And this dates to 2013, when she was debuting a health-oriented TV program on the Fox News Channel. It ran for a year and a half.

Carol Alt circa 2013

Those of us who follow her on Twitter (@ModelCarolAlt) have been treated of late to glimpses of her shoe collection. This pair of Valentinos stood out:

Carol Alt wearing Valentino shoes in 2016

Although what I really wonder about is that helmet (?) sitting next to her.

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Two doors, no waiting

For Road & Track, Jack Baruth makes the case for a big Lincoln coupe to top off the line, picking a proper platform (same one as the current Mustang), a proper engine (the modular V10 given the Coyote treatment, buzzed up to 500 hp or so), and even a proper price point:

It should cost exactly $100,000. That price should be front and center in every advertisement. Your neighbors should know that your new Mark Nine cost $100,000. There should be no guessing. Think of all the free advertising Lincoln would get. “The Hundred Thousand Dollar Car.” Make the price part of the story. That’s the smart way to do it. Cadillac does the opposite with the Escalade; in my mind and the minds of my neighbors, an Escalade costs about 50 grand, but in fact they run well above 90 with the right equipment. The Mark Nine, by contrast, should embrace its six-figure price tag as a true exemplar of a revitalized American luxury aesthetic. The same person who spends $800 on cordovan Alden boots and $5500 on a Chicago-sewn Oxxford suit will sign right up. If 40 grand of the price is pure profit … well, then you only need to sell 25 thousand of them to recoup a billion dollars’ worth of development.

What’s neat about this, of course, is that if you look around, you can find domestics with even stiffer Monroney stickers: it’s no trick, for instance, to worry a Dodge Viper to well beyond $100k. But people are going to think that the Mark is the most expensive car in America — Dodge isn’t making a great deal of obvious effort to sell Vipers at all, let alone sell them on the basis of the price tag — and there are people who will respond to that. And Lincoln’s been there before: the Continental Mark II of 1956 was priced at $9995 — air conditioning was the only extra-cost option — at a time when you could get a heck of a lot of luxe for three grand. Then again, Ford somehow managed to lose money on every one they sold, and they almost certainly remember that.

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Among the OGs

Francis W. Porretto remembers Steven Den Beste:

One of the early pioneers of blogging, Steven Den Beste, became well known for a number of reasons. One of them was his dislike of any reader feedback, however delivered. His site didn’t permit comments, and he became famous for repeatedly pleading with his readers not to write to him. Those pleas weren’t always heeded.

Den Beste was/is — I have no idea whether he’s still on the sunny side of the sod — an intelligent and accomplished man. For some time he indulged in the expression of his opinions about a wide variety of things here on the Web, even though his ROI appeared to be decidedly negative. Moreover, he would occasionally take up cudgels with those who disagreed with him: a strenuous undertaking that’s seldom brought anyone any meaningful gain.

He quit this madness after a few years. There were several reasons, but one was undoubtedly that he was unable to express himself without getting feedback he didn’t want to cope with. Those of us who valued his thinking and writing mourned the loss.

I am pleased to report that SDB is still on this side of the grass, running something called chizumatic.mee.nu. It is decidedly less Calculated to Outrage than USS Clueless ever was — and comments are open!

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Desperate for amusement

This guy clearly has no idea about the size of the task he proposes:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How do i make the steering wheel in my friends car turn the back tires instead of the front tires?

That said, someone willing to go to that much trouble and expense just to prank a friend should probably be exiled to Lower Slobbovia, just as a precautionary measure.

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What’s fappening now

The guy who stole all those nude photos of celebrities is pleading guilty:

Ryan Collins, a 36-year-old from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, will plead guilty in the theft of female celebrities’ nude photos.

Collins is charged with felony computer hacking and unauthorized access of a protected computer, which are illegal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

From November 2012 to September 2014, Collins used a phishing scheme to collect personal account information. Collins sent emails imitating the help desks at Apple or Google and collected the victims’ usernames and passwords. From there, he accessed at least 72 email accounts and 50 iCloud accounts, where he stole personal information and photos.

The case drew wide attention in 2014 after nude photos of celebrities, including Lea Michele and Jennifer Lawrence, appeared on Reddit, 4chan and other online forums.

We know what J-Law thinks about this:

“It is not a scandal. It is a sex crime. It is a sexual violation. It’s disgusting. The law needs to be changed, and we need to change. That’s why these Web sites are responsible. Just the fact that somebody can be sexually exploited and violated, and the first thought that crosses somebody’s mind is to make a profit from it. It’s so beyond me. I just can’t imagine being that detached from humanity. I can’t imagine being that thoughtless and careless and so empty inside.”

Prosecutors have recommended 18 months in the slammer for Collins; nothing, of course, will happen to any of those Web sites.

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Tricky clinch

The math is settled: the Thunder will be in the playoffs, the third team in the West to clinch a postseason berth. God only knows when the 76ers were mathematically eliminated, but it must have been pretty early in the season, inasmuch as they lost their first 18 games and they’ve now lost 60 games out of 69. Still, Philly played it close in the first half, aided and abetted by a ridiculous number of Oklahoma City turnovers, and murmurs of “trap game” were heard in the Thunder fandom; there is, after all, a game against a really good team, the Indiana Pacers, tomorrow night. Up six at the half, the Thunder waxed Philly 32-21 in the third quarter, and there would be no more surprises: the final was 111-97, which fell into the category of “Hey, it’s a W, what do you want?”

Well, fewer turnovers would be nice: the Thunder coughed up the rock 20 times, the Sixers only eight. And Philly was far defter at forcing the turnovers, with 11 steals. What’s more, the Sixers drew lots of fouls: they earned 27 free throws, the Thunder only 18. But being the Sixers, they missed ten of those freebies, and fell short of 40-percent shooting from the floor. (Rebound count was absurd: OKC 63, Philly 36.) Still, reserve shooting guard Nik Stauskas outscored everyone on the floor except Kevin Durant, bagging a season-high 23 points; Durant had a fairly typical 26, and Russell Westbrook had yet another triple-double, 20-15-10.

Something we hadn’t seen from Billy Donovan this year: a player given a rest. Serge Ibaka did not play, presumably so he can be fresh for the Pacers; Nick Collison started in his place. We can call this, I suppose, Not a Scott Brooks Move.

After Indiana tomorrow, the Thunder come home to meet two, maybe three, playoff teams in a row: the Rockets, the Jazz (just barely behind the Mavs), and the Spurs. But after that, there are only two home games left, one against each of the Los Angeles clubs. File away under Scheduling Quirks, and go get your playoff-game tickets.

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Failure to remain vertical

I seem to be falling down a hell of a lot these days.

Today’s spill was at the office, while moving boxes of paper around. (Which I wouldn’t have had to do if someone hadn’t asked for something wholly worthless, hint, hint.) Straight backwards; honestly, trying to pull myself up probably hurt worse than the fall, at least at the time. Left shoulder and right knee were twinged, but the worst of it was around the beltline. I discovered rather quickly that I wasn’t walking anywhere without help.

The manager sent me to an occupational clinic on the opposite side of town — no, I didn’t drive — where the lack of obvious damage led to the decision to perform an ECG. It’s full of weird little timing issues, though without the rest of my medical records handy, it was impossible to say much of anything about them other than that they were weird. I was able to drive home without incident, and the shoulder quit hurting almost immediately, but the beltline discomfort remains. I am starting to believe it’s a combination of one banged-up bursa and a sudden onset of stress-related indigestion: I got home after 2 pm, not having had lunch, and warmed up a sausage biscuit, which came this close to inducing pole-vault vomiting (performed in a parabola), the same sort of feeling I had after my first drink of liquid after the fall.

Still, I need to get a second opinion on this, so I’ll be hitting up my regular doctor Monday, a couple weeks in advance of my usual appointment.

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Nor was the seat belt fastened

A chap from Googlevania, in the letters column of Motor Trend (May ’16), describes the experience of happening upon one of the Big G’s self-driving cars:

I was driving to the gym one evening when I encountered Google’s prototype SDC as it was waiting at a stoplight. (It was easy to recognize, looking like a cross between a Fiat 500 and R2-D2, with its rooftop lidar pod and “Google self-driving car” inscribed on the rear bumper.) It didn’t seem to have any human occupants. This didn’t surprise me, as I’d heard that Mountain View had given Google limited permission to do driverless testing. Still, I was curious, so when the light changed, I pulled alongside and confirmed — no one inside.

I was struck with two conflicting thoughts simultaneously, one rational, one irrational. Rational: There is virtually no complex software that is bug-free. Irrational: This is strange, weird, and just not right! I was surprised at the later reaction since I knew exactly what was happening. I decided to pass by, just in case.

I think he could have left off “virtually”; any program longer than a few lines has bugs. And we’ve seen the irrational reaction before:

Then again, our prankster here, disguised as the seat, was not driving an easily recognized, purpose-built vehicle; he was driving a fairly ordinary Japanese sedan. When fairly ordinary Japanese sedans start showing up without drivers, I plan to let out a scream or three.

Oh, and the guy from Mountain View? He got increasingly paranoid when the Googlemobile started following him.

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Bury amusing

Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune, is a smidgen (okay, seven whole years) older than I am. It’s not too surprising to see him expressing the occasional dark(ish) thought:

I mean, that’s worse than BANKRUPT.

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Still doing it wrong

The standalone TweetDeck client is being killed off:

Twitter announced today it is shutting down the TweetDeck app for windows on April 15.

Which they buried in the third paragraph of a new-features promo.

And why would they phase out arguably the most popular version of an application for which they paid £25 million five years ago? Why do you think?

Twitter’s plan is to push all users to Twitter.com for their advertisement revenue.

Yeah, right. They just dished up a 4.0 version; I’m betting that they tried, and failed, to wedge ads into it.

In the meantime, tweetdeck.com will continue to work in browsers. Maybe. They did mention Chrome.

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I suspect something up his sleeve

Does anyone see a motive for this?

A Congressional resolution to recognize magic as a national treasure was introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday.

The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), with six additional Republicans also attaching their names to it.

The problem, the resolution says, is that magic gets no respect. It has “not been properly recognized as a great American art form, nor has it been accorded the institutional status on a national level commensurate with its value and importance.”

Yet, magic is an art, the resolution insists, going on to cite a number of prominent magicians, including, eight times, David Copperfield.

Let’s see if we can come up with the Top Ten Reasons Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) is pushing for official recognition of magic:

  1. Someone turned him into Newt Gingrich
  2. There must be some way to make Donald Trump disappear
  3. Houdini’s escape-artist expertise inspires weary Congressmen hoping to get out of yet another boring hearing
  4. Mistakenly thinks David Copperfield is the coach of the Orlando Magic
  5. Princess Celestia has asked for funding for a second year of Magic Kindergarten
  6. Wants a tax deduction for his collection of Doug Henning memorabilia
  7. Magic Johnson, if you know what I mean
  8. If the government can’t guess which way the economy will go, at least it can guess what card you picked
  9. Just once, we ought to levitate Chuck Schumer
  10. The only way to beat Hillary is to saw her in half

(Via Fark.)

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Madness beyond March

While the Thunder are on the road, the ‘Peake will be overrun with March Madness: four first-round games in the West will be played here in OKC, and everyone watching will presumably have access to all manner of statistics for the duration.

Then again, that’s the men’s tournament. The women’s tournament, not being held here but going on at the same time, presumably won’t draw as much interest. But what’s maddening, to me at least, is that so many of the metrics are gone:

Until recently, the one repository for advanced statistics such as usage, true shooting percentage, pace-adjusted player statistics and adjusted team ratings for women’s college ball was WBBState.com, a vertical of data company National Statistical. But that source disappeared Feb. 29, when ServerAxis, the company that provided server space to National Statistical’s hosting company, suddenly took all its equipment offline. There are reports that ServerAxis was having financial problems, but the company has so far not responded to requests for comment. National Statistical also declined to comment on the situation on the advice of lawyers as it works to recover its data and bring the site back online.

Exactly how a web hosting company pulls up anchor, ditches its Miami headquarters, and ends up 1,300 miles away in Chicago, allegedly waiting for its servers to find their way home, is almost certainly a fascinating story, but it’s secondary to the reality that an entire sport’s advanced metrics wing can be wiped off the map by a few nerds absconding with a few hard drives and turning off their phones. This is a corollary to the more global lack of statistical interrogation of women’s basketball — the data isn’t just shallow, it’s scarce, and that scarcity makes it fragile.

Okay, you may not be a stats freak. I’m not that much of one. But I have to believe that there’s a demand for this sort of distaff data:

In the landscape of women’s sports, college basketball in general and the NCAA Tournament in particular are enormously important. The nation’s attention has turned to college basketball, expecting rich, compelling and thorough analysis, and the women’s side, already handicapped by neglect, has lost one of its legs to a freak woodchipper accident. This leaves the writers who cover the tournament, missing servers be damned, in quite the lurch.

One might argue, perhaps, that if the audiences were equal, statistical availability would be maintained in some sort of equal measure. But if these numbers aren’t available, it becomes harder to build that audience.

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