Shacking down

Radio Shack, so-called because they’re usually not in shacks and they seldom if ever sell radios, has filed for Chapter 11; about half the stores — 1800 or so — will be closed in three waves, including, so far as I can tell, eleven in Oklahoma.

First group:

  • Broken Arrow, 1348 E. Hillside Dr.
  • Tulsa, 7454 S. Olympia Ave.
  • Tulsa, 10035 S. Memorial Dr.

Second group:

  • Oklahoma City, 5928 SW 3rd St.
  • Oklahoma City, 11725 S. Western Ave.
  • Owasso, 12305 E. 96th St. N.
  • Tulsa, 8518 E. 71st St.

Third group:

  • Altus, 1307 N. Main St.
  • Oklahoma City, 1841 Belle Isle Blvd.
  • Ponca City, 3000 N. 14th St.
  • Sapulpa, 126 E. Taft Ave.

And you probably should find another place to get your obscure batteries, since the remaining stores may end up going to Sprint.

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Slurped into the maw

The Pelicans got the last nine points of the third quarter, and the first five of the fourth, leaving the Thunder in a seven-point hole after having once led by a dozen. With 3:00 left, New Orleans was up 103-100, and Serge Ibaka was on the bench with six fouls. (Seven, if you count the technical, which you don’t.) This was not the best time for Kevin Durant, apparently healed of his toe sprain, to have trouble shooting. With 18 seconds left, it was NO 111, OKC 110; Tyreke Evans somehow missed two free throws, but the Thunder came up dry on the next possession, and Anthony Davis knocked down a pair to give the Birds a three-point lead with two seconds to go; incredibly, Russell Westbrook’s trey didn’t go, but he was fouled, and Russ scored all three free throws to tie it at 113 with 1.2 seconds left. Even more incredibly, Anthony Davis got in a trey just barely at the horn. New Orleans 116, Oklahoma City 113, and the Pelicans win the season series 3-1.

Between Davis, who got his 41st point of the night with that buzzer-beater, and Evans, who had a triple-double (22 points, 16 assists, 10 rebounds), it’s perhaps a surprise the Birds were held to a mere 116; they made 11 of 20 treys all night, shot 48 percent overall, got 25 of 30 free throws to fall, and held 26-19 advantages in assists and 46-40 off the glass. This is the number I’m looking at, though: the New Orleans bench, mostly Quincy Pondexter and Ryan Anderson, collected 36 points, while the Thunder reserves managed only 11.

Among the OKC starters, Westbrook was clearly on: those last three free throws gave him 48 points for the night, a new career high. (Not to mention an average of 46.5 for the last two games.) Durant, clearly off, still came up with 27 points, albeit on 9-26 shooting; Ibaka and Steven Adams (also the recipient of a T) had 10 each.

The Clippers, who have obligingly dropped three in a row, will be here Sunday at noon. Maybe I’ll wake up for it.

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And lo, down was gotten

You already know the story:

The bell tolls seven times and I arise;
my fast is broken with a bowl of gruel.

And twelve lines more, as Pop Sonnets takes on Rebecca Black’s “Friday.”

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Inelasticity

Somebody, I forget his name, said back in the Malaise Era that US energy policies were wacko, to the extent that if we had the last gallon of gasoline on earth, we’d probably sell it for 85 cents.

It would be more like two and a quarter today — with prices on the rise again, I got only one chance to fill Gwendolyn’s 70-liter tank with Shell V-Power at under two bucks a gallon — but while gasoline demand has been declining a bit, a reason for the previous price collapse that was popular among people who fear the wrath of Saudi Arabia, it hasn’t been declining that much, and current car buyers are paying even less attention to EPA fuel-economy estimates than usual. Demand, one might reasonably conclude, is relatively inelastic. And this is not the only commodity so affected:

What if it’s chocolate? What would people not pay for chocolate? The price elasticity for chocolate (whoops, now I’m going to make technical mistakes — beware) is negative. It might even be a Giffen good. In other words, you want it so badly that no matter what Hershey’s charges, you’re going to pay. With regard to the supply going tits up, Starbucks coffee drinkers will drink all of South America’s coffee plants bare. There will never be a point at which gasoline costs too much for us to not empty all the wells. We will eat all of the bluefin tuna sushi until there is no more in the sea, and the businesses between us and the raw materials of the earth will spin their flywheels until the whole enterprise crumbles. In other words, people will watch Robin Williams tell jokes until the day he dies, even if show business is killing him. And the day before his last show, there will be no indication by the price of the ticket that it is the very last ticket.

Consumers won’t know, because whatever it is, they can afford it. And then it’s a ghost town.

At the moment, I’m just grateful there exists no chocolate-covered gasoline — which would, of course, be premium-priced.

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Make mine drab

Hey, somebody has to keep this place from falling apart:

Sometimes I wish I were the creative one. Or the good singer. Or the athlete. Or more comfortable taking risks. Or something else. I don’t know why. I know that it’s valuable to be able to count on someone to get stuff done, and that there are a lot of people who aren’t reliable … but it’s kind of an awful thing to be known for, I think. If we’re talking Hollywood stereotypes, instead of the “fun dame” or the “manic pixie dream girl,” I’m the spinster schoolmarm who disapproves of everything.

Considering how much in everyday life deserves disapproval, I don’t see this as being so terrible.

And how many times has that “fun dame” been passed over to the next guy, and the next, and the next? Probably more often than we’d want to imagine.

I close with a quote from one of the most quotable people I know: myself.

Be wary of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. The most immediate effect of being swept off your feet is losing your equilibrium.

Some of us would just as soon not lose ourselves in the moment.

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Quote of the week

Almost a mocking tone here, one might say:

Well played, sir.

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It’s all just metal

Bark M. has a chat with the co-owner of a used-car dealership, and this bit of pragmatism pops up:

He told me about a beautiful 2013 E350 Sport 4Matic that he sold to a customer, and how finally getting rid of that car was going to enable him to go buy TWO used trucks at auction that week. “Those things we can really make some money on,” he excitedly shared with me. “People are still afraid of car payments in this economy. It’s much easier for me to move a few used trucks that I can get people into $210-220 payments on than these high-end cars. Those cars have two kinds of customers — over-educated pricks who come in here and tell me how much I paid for the car and how they don’t think I should be allowed to make any money on them, and then the people who don’t have any ability to actually pay for them.”

I certainly wouldn’t mind a 2013 E350 Sport 4Matic, but while I might be able to afford it (maybe), I’m not going in with the idea of intimidating dealer staff: they know more angles than I possibly can, and I pride myself on not being an overeducated prick.

Still, car payments, in many cases, are indeed something to be feared. There’s at least one person almost every single day on Yahoo! Answers who just bought a car in the last couple of months and is now, in that innocuous British phrase, being “made redundant”; invariably he wants to know if he can take it back to the dealership, the way he’d return a low-end power tool to Walmart. (No, he can’t.)

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Too young they awaken

“Nature hike,” they said. Those Cub Scouts had no idea what they were in for:

The troop was hiking in Torrey Pines State Beach in California last month when they “encountered some individuals who were inappropriately dressed,” according to a statement from Karl Shelton, the camping director for a San Diego chapter of the Boy Scouts of America.

“Inappropriately?”

Local news reports identified the beach the troop had mistakenly ventured onto as Black’s Beach, a naturalist or nude beach located below the Torrey Pines bluffs.

Oh.

You may be certain that the Scouts were diverted rather quickly after the discovery.

(Via Sophie Rolstad.)

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Origaming the system

Another example of the method of protest being more entertaining than the actual circumstance being protested:

According to a report from the Times Record News, police say a Wichita Falls, TX man refused to leave the county courthouse while trying to pay his tax bill.

Paying your bill is totally legal, of course, but a county tax official accused him of disrupting the operation and efficiency of the tax office because he handed over his $600 payment with $1 bills folded so tightly, each one “required tax office personnel approximately six minutes to unfold each bill,” police say.

Staff attempted to eject him; when he wouldn’t go, they hauled him off to jail. They didn’t say what he used to post $500 bail. Me, I just want to know how someone in Texas has a property-tax bill of only $600.

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Teenage dream marked for dashing

There’s one in every crowd:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How to get enough money for a lamborghini 3 years?

Well, that depends on your earning potential, and whether you can come up with $70-100k a year for the next three years, and … wait, what?

Ok I’m 14 and my dream car is a Lamborghini. How can I get enough money for a Lamborghini in 3-4 years. Thank you so much.

Fourteen?

Estimated lifespan of a teenager whose first car is a Lamborghini: 30 minutes/60 miles, whichever comes first.

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A whole new class of victims

There are apparently people who sit alone in the dark of night, muttering to themselves: “God damn it, I want to be a victim too!” Because, you know, sympathy. And federal programs that have dollars attached.

There can be no other explanation for this:

According to Bella DePaulo and Rachel Buddeberg, the singles activists and authors who wrote a Truthout.org piece titled “Do You, Married Person, Take These Unearned Privileges, for Better or for Better?” discrimination against single people is a problem so huge that it’s actually “jarring” that our culture doesn’t talk about it the way it talks about racism and sexism.

The piece defines “singlism” as “the stereotyping, stigmatizing and discrimination against people who are not married” and “marital privilege” as “the unearned advantages that benefit those who are married,” an “emotional privilege” where “other people express happiness for people who marry but pity for those who stay single.”

“Someone is happier than I am, and it can’t possibly be my fault.”

And apparently there are Jim and Sheryl Crow(e) laws thwarting their happiness:

One example: Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, married workers can take time off to care for their spouse, but single people can’t take time off to care for a person “just as important to them, such as a sibling or close friend.” Note that they did not just describe this as “unfair,” but specifically as “discrimination.”

I surmise that there is a world-wide shortage of big-girl and/or big-boy pants, as no one — no one in the spotlight, anyway — seems to be able to put them on anymore.

Lileks observes:

[E]veryone and every state and every condition needs to be celebrated, or it is not validated; if it is not validated, it is marginalized. If it is marginalized, it is oppressed. If it is oppressed, it is virtuous. Then again, if it’s celebrated, it is virtuous as well. So either way you’re covered.

I think we can just about retire the word “marginalized”: with everyone and his half-sister’s llama crowding into the margins in search of that sweet, sweet victimhood, those of us who stay the hell off the edge are slowly becoming official nonpersons. Obviously it’s discrimination.

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Pinch that beak

Were this the end of the season, instead of just before the All-Star break, you’d think the schedulers rigged it: the Thunder are two games behind New Orleans, and the next two games are with, yes, New Orleans. Better yet, it’s a home-and-home deal. But the battle here is for ninth place, still out of the playoffs, and jaded Thunder fans noted that hey, Nick Collison signed up for two more years, and is Kevin Durant still out with that toe sprain? (Yes.) Besides, the Pelicans won the last two times these teams met.

And it looked like they’d do it again. The Sea Birds were up six at halftime, 57-51, thanks to a Quincy Pondexter trey at the horn; OKC recovered in the third quarter, to take a 77-76 lead. Said lead passed back and forth for six minutes or so, until a three-minute-long 9-0 OKC run put the Thunder up by seven, 98-91, with 2:25 left, and the defense, previously stiffish, became even stiffer: the Pelicans would not score again. The final was 102-91, setting the stage for one hell of a fourth game at the Peake Friday night.

How stiff, you ask? New Orleans shot 39 percent, 28 percent from Way Out There; Anthony Davis collected 23 points, but it took him 21 shots to get there; Tyreke Evans got 11 points from 20 shots. Perhaps the least-intimidated of the Birds was Ryan Anderson, who scored 19 on a relatively efficient 17 shots, and he still finished -14 for the night.

Meanwhile, Westbrook watchers were treated to Russ at his literal best: 45 points (18-31), tying his season high, with six rebounds, six assists, a steal, and, just for the hell of it, a late-fourth-quarter block. (Blocks for the night: Serge Ibaka 6; other Thunder players 4; New Orleans 3.) Dion Waiters, starting in place of Perry Jones, who ordinarily would start in place of Kevin Durant, scored 12 in his second Thunder start. Ibaka, scoreless in the first half, came to life in the second, finishing with 13; ex-Pelican Anthony Morrow led the bench with 14.

Friday night: The Rematch. After that, the Thunder will hang at home through Sunday, with a matinee against the Clippers, followed by a quick trip to Denver.

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Quatre-vingt

A Monopoly set in France contains €20,580. (This is consistent with the US version, which as of 2008 contains $20,580, thirty of each denomination.) However, this being the 80th anniversary of Monopoly in France, Hasbro has decided to drop actual euros into 80 boxes:

Only one set will land the major jackpot, in which every game note is replaced by real money — for a total windfall of 20,580 euros ($23,268).

In addition, 10 sets will contain five real 20-euro notes, two 50-euro notes and one 100-euro note.

A lesser prize can be scooped in 69 sets, which will have five 10-euro notes and five 20-euro notes.

Oh, that “as of 2008” reference? Before that, the standard American set contained $15,140, or about sixty quadrillion old-style Zimbabwean dollars.

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Embiggenment resisted

The March Consumer Reports has a page called “How to Win at E-Mail,” which struck me as odd: the only way to win, says the server looking over my shoulder, is not to play. Still, some of the statistics seemed valid, especially this one:

2 in 5 Americans have received email in the past year promising to enhance their libido or certain parts of their anatomy. (It annoys women more than men.)

I thought nothing annoyed women more than men; I know I’ve annoyed several.

But I understand why women object to this sort of thing, since the “certain part” most commonly specified is one they genitally generally lack.

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Comfort is for closers

“If you liked it,” declared Beyoncé, “then you should have put a ring on it.” It’s a sentiment Robert Stacy McCain can appreciate, having observed some very likable types who were nonetheless ringless:

They kept wasting time in “relationships” with men who refused to close the deal. These romantic involvements would last anywhere from a few months to several years, and it was always — always — the guy’s aversion to a permanent commitment that prevented these relationships from becoming marriages. The real problem, it seems to me, is not merely the widespread phenomenon of “Peter Pan Syndrome,” but that (a) young women unwittingly enable such male immaturity because (b) they miscalculate the economics of love, and therefore (c) they waste one of a woman’s most valuable resources, her youth.

How this works:

If you graduate college at 22, you have eight years before you turn 30. Those are very valuable years. However smart, beautiful and nice she may be, a woman is more attractive to the average male when she’s 22 than when she’s 30. You can complain that this double standard that places a premium on female youthfulness is unfair, but you can’t avoid the fact that it is nevertheless real. A woman who is very attractive may think she can defy the odds and that it will be no problem for her to find Mister Right when she’s 30, but what if she’s wrong? She fritters away her 20s in a series of pointless relationships — six months with this guy, two years with that guy, etc. — and before she even notices the pattern, the clock is ticking down.

Similarly, the smart, beautiful and nice Garfunkel and Oates [NSFW]:

Of course, anything I would have to say on the subject would be totally irrelevant.

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Trefoiled yet again

Prepare to peel off more dollars for your Thin Mints:

Secure in the knowledge that the general public is always jonesing for cookies and their position as purveyors of said revered items, Girl Scout councils in some cities are charging more for their cookies this year, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Because it’s up to each local council to decide how much to charge per box, prices could vary depending on how far you’re willing to drive: Cookie inflation is coming to Southern California, for example, where councils in San Diego, Orange County and Greater Los Angeles have hiked the price from $4 to $5, after San Francisco’s council did so.

Local Scouts have quoted me $4 — up from $3.50 — for this year’s trefoils and Samoas and whatnot.

But hey, say the Girl Scouts of Orange County, $5 a box is still a bargain, especially compared to the $5.84 they could be charging if cookie prices had advanced apace with inflation.

File that under Cold Comfort.

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