Low and inside

Some 2015 data gathered by Major League Baseball suggests that the umpiring is good, but it could be better:

2015 data on taken pitches

Better than 90 percent of calls at the plate are correct — unless the next call will finish the at-bat, either with a strikeout or a walk. The umpires are evidently reluctant to make that last call. This is, suggests MLB, a reason to justify robotic assistance.

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Air biscuits under examination

Admit it, you’ve wondered yourself. Now you know:

[I]t’s impossible to say exactly how much space a generic fart takes up in the body. I can, however, tell you about the range of specific farts, as captured in scientific experiments. For instance, a 1997 study of 16 Americans found a volume-per-fart range of 17 milliliters to 375 milliliters. Imagine a bottle of nail polish — that’s a rough analogy for the volume of the daintiest of poots. Now imagine a can of soda. That’s the volume of a really big stinker. Your body is a wonderland.

Your mother, of course, is aghast.

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Please don’t tab away

I was looking up Nissan OEM automatic transmission fluids here, and then tabbed away for a moment. The tab changed, and this was the text under it:

Z1 Motorsports Rickroll via Javascript

Yeah, I laughed. I admit it.

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Where peacocks once roamed

During a Dodgers/Phillies game, I heard a reference to “NBC News Radio,” and wondered where that came from.

Now I know:

NBC News Radio has been distributed by iHeartMedia and its TTWN Networks since July 2016. It is provided to the network’s 24/7 News Source affiliates and includes a top of the hour newscast along with other audio content which is heard on over 1000 radio stations.

The original NBC Radio Network was purchased by Westwood One in 1987 as General Electric, which acquired NBC’s parent company RCA, divested most properties not pertaining to the NBC television network. NBC Radio’s news operation was merged into the Mutual Broadcasting System, then into Westwood One’s then-corporate sibling CBS Radio, and eventually assimilated into the syndicator itself. Initially just a service limited to one-hour reports from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. ET, on March 5, 2012, Dial Global — who had acquired Westwood One — announced NBC News Radio would expand to a full-time 24-hour radio news network, replacing CNN Radio (that itself replaced both NBC Radio and Mutual in 1999).

Awfully convoluted, this story, but then that was to be expected.

Far as I know, they have no affiliate here in the 405; iHeartMedia’s one news-oriented station in this market is, like many of its corporate sisters, emotionally wedded to Fox.

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Gratification still delayed

Around the first of the year, the deal was offered: you can have the Playboy Mansion for a mere $200 million, provided you put up with the presence of Hugh Hefner for the remainder of his pajama-clad days.

This being August already, you might have guessed that the price had sagged a bit, and you would be correct:

The deal is done, and the Playboy Mansion has a new owner. Daren Metropoulos, who lives next door, said Tuesday that escrow has closed on his $100 million purchase of Hugh Hefner’s man cave.

The 33-year-old principal in the investment firm Metropoulos & Co. won’t necessarily be moving in any time soon. Under the terms of the deal, Playboy’s 90-year-old founder may stay there for the rest of his life.

After Hefner leaves, Metropoulos plans to connect the 5-acre Playboy estate to his 2-acre digs next door.

Which makes sense, since apparently it was all one big estate to begin with. And one probably shouldn’t bet againt Metropoulos, who wheels and deals with the best: he bought Pabst Brewing in 2010 for $250 million and sold it four years later for around $700 million, and he is one of the principals in Hostess Brands, the Twinkie folks, who just did an IPO last month.

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Slap-happy

It was easier when all you had to deal with was “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”:

The [Chicago] Cubs have terminated the stadium disc jockey who played the song “Smack My Bitch Up” after Aroldis Chapman’s outing Sunday night at Wrigley Field.

“We apologize for the irresponsible music selection during our game last night,” Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said in a statement on Monday. “The selection of this track showed a lack of judgment and sensitivity to an important issue. We have terminated our relationship with the employee responsible for making the selection and will be implementing stronger controls to review and approve music before public broadcast during our games.”

After Chapman closed the ninth inning against the Cardinals, The Prodigy’s 1997 song was played. Chapman began this season serving a 30-game suspension covered by Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy after a dispute with his girlfriend in South Florida last October.

Chapman’s usual walk-up music is Rage Against The Machine’s “Wake Up.”

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What I’ve become

And if you think I ought to be ashamed of myself, I’ll probably agree with you.

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Not being particularly observant

This has been a particularly rough day, and I wasn’t in any mood to deal with someone handing out political flyers at the door. The mind was sufficiently fogged, I think, for me not to notice that I’d gotten to the door wearing nothing but my watch and a pair of sport sandals.

Of course, I was surrounded by my Horrible Walking Appliance, which might have blocked some of the view for the poor woman working the block, and she didn’t shriek in terror or anything.

I am not, you should know, in the habit of doing this: there is a tiny number of people who are aware that I normally don’t wear much of anything and who have let me know that they don’t mind, but the operative word is “tiny.” Fewer than six. I think only one actual current neighbor is clued in, but she’s never had a reason to visit here. (Used to be a woman around the corner who’d chat through the fence, and she was utterly indifferent to my lack of garb.) Still, I have to wonder if I somehow foreclosed a political discussion; and if I did, I have to wonder if it’s justification for doing it again.

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An institution unto herself

Over the weekend, Halle Berry turned 50.

Fifty.

Halle Berry in something shiny

Halle Berry takes a walk

Halle Berry in something else shiny

Halle Berry takes a Lexus

You gotta figure she’ll make it at least to 91, equaling the old Cleveland department store Halle Brothers Company, for whom she was named.

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You’re not dying fast enough

And this sort of thing matters to insurance providers and similar types:

When someone is receiving hospice care, it usually means they’re very close to the end of their life. But what happens if that person simply refuses to die?

A woman who’s outlived her prognosis has lost hospice care for that very reason, CBS New York reports. She wasn’t supposed to still be alive, after doctors gave her less than six months to live … two years ago. But despite battling stage 4 lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she’s hanging in there.

Because, you know, rules:

Medicare rules define hospice care as for the actively dying only, and “terminal” means you have less than six months to live. Now that her hospice provider has done what’s called “graduating” the woman from hospice care, she’ll have to go back to her private doctor and supplemental insurance.

I’m going to ponder that phrase “actively dying” for a while.

And while I do, I’ll think about my dad, who back in 1999 was told he had maybe six months to live.

He made it just past Christmas 2006. Then again, he was a right ornery cuss.

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As the dogs and the cats frolic together

We have here a curious case where The Oklahoman thinks some of us are insufficiently taxed:

[S]ome Oklahoma counties have failed to assess properties at market value and collect the associated property taxes.

A study prepared by the Oklahoma Tax Commission at the request of State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones and Oklahoma Watch found 52 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties failed to collect $192 million in property tax revenue in 2014. That shortfall was created by county assessors who didn’t appraise property at market values.

The big counties, which have their own systems, seem to be doing okay, but the smaller ones, part of a multi-county computer system, maybe not so much:

In Pottawatomie County, for example, the study concluded residential property valuations were 16 percent below market value, and commercial property valuations were 24 percent too low.

In Pittsburg County, residential properties were 19 percent undervalued and commercial property was 54 percent below market rates.

Assessors in 16 counties have done such a bad job that the state Board of Equalization has warned that those counties’ assessors could have their paychecks suspended and their offices taken over by the state. Those counties are Adair, Bryan, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Johnston, Latimer, McCurtain, Murray, Nowata, Okfuskee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Seminole and Texas.

Of course, trying to fix this will cause all manner of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

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Bar exam evidently failed

Or something like that:

I mention purely in passing that WBBH-TV, the Channel 2 in question, is licensed to Fort Myers, Florida, and that according to Wikipedia, “in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among all Big-Three affiliated broadcast television stations in the United States.” We’re talking 45 hours a week. You’d think they’d have hired someone who passed first-year stats. Then again, this Channel 2 is not on Channel 2 at all, but on 15 (virtual channel 20); the local cable companies have it on 2, so they decided to brand themselves as NBC 2.

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Remote forage

From early on in The Sparkle Chronicles:

Next day at 5:56, the doorbell rang, and my heart did a couple of half-gainers off Kilimanjaro. It was the evening repast: bean sprouts and hummus and stuff Fluttershy wouldn’t dare feed Angel and sort-of-freshly baked bread and a couple of bottles of what was probably filtered tap water from Wichita. I was sufficiently crazed to demand no change from two twenties. The fellow’s truck — what, he didn’t ride a bicycle? — had just barely cleared the driveway when the feeble little bleep of my thirty-year-old wristwatch announced the hour, and an oval of light appeared on the concrete.

This paragraph was done with a local firm in mind, though I admit I hadn’t actually patronized that firm at the time. Now I have.

Dining Delivery Express of Oklahoma City, better known by its phone number — 858-TOGO — takes orders for participating eateries and arranges for delivery to your very porch. For those of us who aren’t in the mood to go crawl across town, this is ideal, if a tad pricey: a flat $5.99 delivery fee, plus an appropriate tip to the driver. Anyway, this was tonight’s decidedly not vegetarian repast:

858-TOGO invoice for Oklahoma Station BBQ

Ended up being close to $30 when it was all done, but it was worth it, and delivery took less than half an hour, competitive with the pizza parlors. Considering that my typical pizza order ends up over $20, and that barbecue joints are not known for being economical, I’m not about to complain.

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Sort of soft-boiled

This year’s winner in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is William “Barry” Brockett of Tallahassee, for this bit of noirishness:

Even from the hall, the overpowering stench told me the dingy caramel glow in his office would be from a ten-thousand-cigarette layer of nicotine baked on a naked bulb hanging from a frayed wire in the center of a likely cracked and water-stained ceiling, but I was broke, he was cheap, and I had to find her.

Honestly, I preferred, or maybe just disliked less, this Crime/Detective winner:

She walked toward me with her high heels clacking like an out-of-balance ceiling fan set on low, smiling as though about to spit pus from a dental abscess, and I knew right away that she was going to leave me feeling like I had used a wood rasp to cure my hemorrhoids.

Courtesy of Charles Caldwell, Leesville, Louisiana.

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I’m all about that baseball

While I was hospitalized, I rediscovered an old friend: baseball. In the period between the time they take the dinner dish away and the time they bring the nightly pain meds, baseball did a wonderful job of filling up the time I would otherwise use bewailing my fate and wishing I was dead.

Unfortunately for me, I managed to be in bed during the All-Star break, so there were a couple of rough nights to be faced. When I finally got out of there, I stayed with it, going back to the ancestral home of baseball: AM radio. No trick to pick up the local Triple-A club, the Oklahoma City Dodgers: they have a deal with one of the smaller stations. Getting the parent club is trickier: they have a nominal local affiliate, but not all the games get through the endless web of tedious talk shows.

When I discovered Sunday that the Pittsburgh Pirates/Los Angeles Dodgers game would not be carried here, I took action. I cranked up the tablet, which doesn’t get enough work, and installed Major League Baseball’s At Bat app, which gives me all the audio I can stand for twenty bucks a year. About halfway through the first inning, I had everything in place and running.

Standard MLB blackout rules apply to the Rangers, the Astros and the Cardinals, though not to the Royals.

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Thereby causing a brouhaha

This is perplexing:

I suspect that this is a regional phenomenon, and that this product can be purchased elsewhere as “Healthy Hoo-Ha.”

Wait, twat?

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