The standard Fate

They buried John Schroeder last week, which struck me as slightly odd, since he died back on the 31st of January following a long battle with cancer.

Schroeder’s musical career was long and varied; where it intersected with my life was right in the middle of the British Invasion, when he teamed up with pianist Johnny Pearson at Britain’s Pye Records to provide, for lack of a better term, easy-listening sounds that could compete for radio airplay, and maybe even sales, with the beat groups.

At the end of 1964, using the name Sounds Orchestral, they cut this version of a Vince Guaraldi standard:

Pye had no formal US distribution in those days. Cameo-Parkway eventually acquired the US rights, and issued the 45 on Parkway 942 this week in 1965; it climbed to #10 in Billboard, and the subsequent LP made it to #11. Said LP contains two “Scarlatti Potions,” Number 5 and Number 9.

Schroeder and Pearson and various players kept up the Sounds Orchestral name through sixteen albums, the last of which came out in 1977. I saw only the first two of them here in the States until the CD-reissue era.

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Clickbait for the eyes

“It is indeed a goddam noisy box,” Jubal Harshaw said to the Man from Mars. And of course he was right:

I think I’m done with local news. This morning they reported on a string of burglaries a couple counties south of me and spent about a minute on the story, and then lavished five minutes (roughly) on one of those “Florida Man” stories where someone gets themselves in trouble with the law in a highly stupid way and I was like, “I could use more detail about the LOCAL burglaries so I could know what to do to avoid becoming a victim” but of course, entertainment value and the freak-show that modern life has become seems to be more important and probably gets more eyeballs.

Once again, I think of my plan to offer a “Just News” channel that ran the important news stories — no celebrity fluff, no dumb-criminal stories, no oversweetened Human Interest stuff — and repeated it every 15 minutes or so. Or maybe devoted 15 minutes to Europe news, 15 minutes to The Americas, 15 minutes to Asia, and 15 minutes to Africa … and then loop it around. (And yeah: Australia would have to go in with Asia, I suppose.)

“You give us 22 minutes,” says WINS Radio in New York, “and we’ll give you the world.” And they’ve been doing that for over 50 years.

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Because it’s blue

I probably shouldn’t say anything here:

Whose idea was it to put that stuff in a pump jar, anyway?

(This is where she was.)

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You want a piece of this?

So this came in over the transom back in January:

I’m currently working with a brilliant business who operates in the education industry. I noticed your site has published a very interesting article, dustbury.com: Almost Yogurt Archives, which is why I think a collaboration between us could work well.

We would like to feature a bespoke piece of content on your site, which we think would be of great interest to you and your audience. For the privilege of being featured on your site, we would be happy to offer you a fee of $50.

We hope to hear back from you soon.

Obviously she picked a link at random to throw in there. When I ignored her, she repeated her request, a little louder.

At the other end of the spectrum:

I’m a freelancer who works for … an online media agency. Would you be interested in writing and posting an article for a fixed fee? The article should be relevant to the category and to the readers of your site.

If you are interested, please let me know and I’ll provide you with more details. Also, if you own other sites please send me their URLs, so I can review them.

It’s not like she thinks I’m swell or anything, either:

Depending on your local law, you may need to make it clear that the links you use are in fact adverts.

But of course they are.

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Sort of a bandwagon

And a short bandwagon at that, but surely no harm is being done:

A Birmingham radio station is taking women hosts off the air and will only play songs by men as part of [today’s] “A Day Without a Woman” protest.

WUHT/Hot 107.7, a Cumulus Media station, said the change reflects the absence of women for the day. Midday host Tasha Simone and station voice Jeannie Johnson will be off air for the day and all songs played during non-syndication hours will feature men only.

“This was an easy decision for us,” said Ken Johnson, Operations Manager, WUHT-FM/Hot 107.7, and Vice President, Urban, Cumulus Media, said. “Women are our core listeners and these women contribute a great deal to our sound. Honoring women by highlighting to the community how important they are is a no-brainer.”

Wonder if DJ Big Sweatt will get his hours extended.

“Plus,” said Johnson, “hearing more Marvin Gaye, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross is not a bad thing.”

True that.

(Via Kirby McCain.)

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The elder statesman

Mike McCarville moves on to covering the Next Life:

It is my unfortunate duty to inform you that our friend Mike McCarville is no longer with us on Earth. After struggling with an illness, he has gone to his deserved rest. That familiar laugh and smile are now part of Heaven’s domain. It is the image of that twinkle in Mike’s eyes and his quick offer of a cup of coffee that haunt me as I write this piece to stay goodbye to the man who was my boss, my mentor and best of all, my friend.

McCarville is truly the dean of OKC bloggers, having started the McCarville Report literally before there were any such things as blogs: think “typewriter.” His radio appearances are legendary.

I expect Jason Doyle Oden will continue the McCarville Report for the foreseeable future. It’s an invaluable part of the local dialogue.

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Your Superb Owl ticket

These are definitely owls worth looking at. The OKC Owl Cam is trained, 24/7, on the nest built by a pair of great horned owls here in Oklahoma City. They’re at least seven years old:

We can’t know for certain, but based on what we’ve observed, we are certain they are at least seven years old. Mrs. Tiger has laid eggs 6 times at our house. The first two times, she did not brood (incubate) them. We believe it’s possible that she was not yet mature enough to brood eggs. However, we know that GHOs typically aren’t able to lay eggs until at least a year old. So assuming she hasn’t laid any prior eggs before she laid them at our house, she would have been at least one when she laid the first eggs, and has done so six consecutive years here, making her at least seven years old. We would assume Mr. Tiger is of similar age, though there’s no way to confirm that.

The most obvious question, to me anyway, is “Why are they nesting in that particular place?”

We can never know for sure, but observation has led many to conclude this is, albeit an unlikely, but very strategic choice for a nest location. It is atypical in that it is an urbanized setting, surrounded by human activity ranging from kids playing outside just feet away, to normal neighborhood traffic. However, the nest enjoys nearly 60% shelter, as it rests inside an in-set window box protected both by the wall of the house and the eve of the roof just above it. The color of the house provides potential camouflage very similar in color to their markings. From a strategic standpoint, it is almost fully protected from the predators they are up against in a typical nesting site. No roaming animals could access the nest, leaving it open only to other larger birds of prey, or the occasional curious human landlord.

At any given moment, there are several hundred owl oglers, and by all accounts they’re having a wonderful time.

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The triumph of Portlandia

For just a moment — okay, for twelve minutes — it looked like the Thunder were going to stomp the Trail Blazers. It was 40-29 at the first quarter break. Then Portland ran off 11 in a row to tie it up, and the Blazers didn’t let up. How dominant were they? We’re talking seven players (out of nine) in double figures, led by reserve guard Allan Crabbe with 23. (The word “reserve” matters here; seven Thunder bench players in aggregate managed only 26.) OKC did manage a tie or two, but with 31 seconds left the Blazers were up 120-116, those last four points contributed by Jusuf Nurkić. In the next five seconds, Steven Adams threw up a high screen, everyone went after Russell Westbrook, and Victor Oladipo sneaked through a trey, making it a one-point game. Inexplicably, Westbrook fouled C. J. McCollum, one of the stalwarts of the stripe. McCollum promptly swished his two charity tosses. Westbrook had a good look on his next shot, but it fell short, and Nurkić essentially finished the job. Yeah, there was one more Westbrook shot, but Damien Lillard drew a foul and knocked down two more, so it ended with Portland up 126-121, winning the season series 3-1.

It seemed like there was always one more Westbrook shot. In fact, the Thunder put up 85 shots, and Westbrook had 39 of them, making 21 and finishing with a career-high 58 points. (Before you ask: the rest of the team got 63.) I suspect he’s less impressed by that than the fact that it’s another L. The Thunder had a slight edge in rebounds (39-36), but the Blazers did that whole assist thing better (24-16). To look upward for a moment: Memphis has lost three straight and remains one game ahead of OKC for the sixth seed in the West. Denver remains in eighth, five and a half back, but the Blazers are only one and a half behind the Nuggets.

The crunch, though, is clearly on. There are only 18 regular-season games left, nine at home, nine on the road, and while the Thunder are a better-than-respectable 23-9 at home, they’re an indifferent 12-20 on the road. The next two are at home, but they’re against recognized powerhouses: first the Spurs on Thursday, followed by the Jazz on Saturday afternoon. I’m readying the fainting couch.

And about an hour after the game, ESPN’s Royce Young delivered the statistical blow:

What can we learn from this?

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The steaks have never been higher

The George Pub and Grill in County Durham, says Metro.co.uk, “is selling a steak dinner that weighs more than a newborn child.”

Did you say you want some more? Well, here’s some more:

With seven items on its “challenge” menu, including the UK’s largest mixed grill and a kebab sandwiched between two chicken parmos, the George could well be the meatiest place in Europe.

This makes Arby’s “We Have The Meats” claim seem rather, um, undernourished.

Pub owner Craig Harker has set the challenge for four diners to eat the mammoth six kilo rump in 45 minutes.

The Holy Cow 220oz Steak Sharer costs £124.95, and requires 24 [hours] notice so Craig can get the meat from the butchers.

Harker said the piece of beef, which is so big it has to be served on a metal tray, takes two and a half hours to cook to medium rare before it is served with with chips, onion rings and coleslaw “to help it go down.”

Then again, 220 ounces — 13 pounds, 12 ounces — makes for an awfully large newborn child.

And if it doesn’t quite go down?

Harker said that losers will win a free ride to hospital once cardiac arrest sets in.

Try that at Arby’s.

(Via Fark.)

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Not suddenly slinky

Singer Işın Karaca was born in London on this date in 1973 to a Cypriot mother and a Turkish father. (Perhaps understandably, she shortened her surname from Büyükkaraca.) Despite a degree in theatre, she didn’t start singing in earnest until her middle twenties, when she recorded songs for the Turkish version of Disney’s Hercules.

Işın Karaca in blue

Işın Karaca in red and blue

Işın Karaca with singing partner Sefa Chesmeberah

By the middle of last decade she’d put on something like 30 kg, and in 2005 she wrote a book titled Büyümek İçin Küçümek Lazĭm (“Need to get smaller to grow”), which, she said, would not be published until she got down to a size 36. The book came out in 2007.

The chap with her in the third picture is singer Sefa Chesmeberah, who duets with her on the single “Sevmekten Anladığım” (“What I understand about love”), from her so-far-unreleased album Eyvallah (“Okay,” more or less):

The single, the second from the album, was released this past January.

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Infinite headroom

For some reason, these didn’t catch on:

Dodge Dakota Convertible

This is what you’re looking at:

In a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too moment, Dodge decided the public wanted a convertible pickup truck for the 1989 model year. Based on the Dakota Sport, the convertible was modified by ASC in California with a manual folding roof. You could buy two- or four-wheel-drive variants, both powered initially by the 3.9-liter V6 and hooked to an automatic transmission. They were optioned up with air conditioning, velour seats and full gauge packages. In 1990, Dodge offered a lower spec SE model with the 2.5 hooked to a five-speed manual.

Not many bought into the idea in either configuration, and Dodge barely managed to fulfill its contract with ASC to produce them. In total, just shy of 4,000 were sold over the three model years they were available.

That 3.9, if I remember correctly, was a cut-down version of the trusty 318 (5.2-liter) V8.

The one and only person I know who owned any sort of Dakota Sport would probably have laughed at the very idea of this.

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A TV smarter than its distributor

There are people who believe that everything should be connected to the Internet, and these people must be stopped at any cost:

So if you hadn’t been paying attention, most of the “smart” products you buy are anything but intelligent when it comes to your privacy and security. Whether it’s your refrigerator leaking your gmail credentials or your new webcam being hacked in minutes for use in massive new DDoS attacks, the so-called “smart” home is actually quite idiotic. So-called smart-televisions have been particularly problematic, whether that has involved companies failing to encrypt sensitive data, to removing features if you refuse to have your daily viewing habits measured and monetized.

Last month Vizio joined this not-so-distinguished club when it was discovered that the company’s TVs had been spying on users for the last several years. Vizio’s $2.2 million settlement with the FTC indicates that the company at no time thought it might be a good idea to inform customers this was happening. The snooping was part of a supposed “Smart Interactivity” feature deployed in 2014 that claimed to provide users with programming recommendations, but never actually did so. In short, it wasn’t so much what Vizio was doing, it was the fact the company tried to bullshit its way around it.

And just in case they thought they were off the hook:

And while Vizio may have settled the FTC investigation into its snooping televisions, the company now faces an additional class action after a California federal judge late last week denied the company’s motion to dismiss. The court ruled that Vizio customers’ claimed injuries were “sufficiently concrete” to bring suit under the Video Privacy Protection and Wiretap Acts.

California, you may know, is not exactly well-known for granting absolution to medium-sized companies that have sinned.

(Via Holly Dunagan.)

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The Energizer Bunny of phones

You may remember this little love token from years gone by:

A Nokia 3300-series phone is forever

The revived Nokia 3310Well, it’s back:

Is your current phone screen in smithereens? Maybe it’s packed in rice in your hotpress after it slipped from your pocket straight into the loo. We have all suffered the heartbreak of injuring our smart phone somehow. Yes we got apps that tell us we’re fat and lazy, high def cameras to capture every passing moment and geolocation which has some creepier applications. But what we really want is to return to a simpler time when a phone was primarily a phone with one game on it. And also make it indestructible please … Step forward the NOKIA 3310 for the 21st century.

Considered by many as indestructible (because in fairness it was) there’s been many calls for the 3310 to be put back on the market and it seems that Nokia are about to do just that. Originally in 2000 the NOKIA 3310 was in many ways the beginning of modern day mobiles.

I got mine at the turn of the century; I did eventually kill it, but it took me nearly nine years to do so, and while I was selecting a new phone, the store clerk informed me that this contraption’s SIM card looked like nothing she’d ever seen before. Well, of course not.

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Selective umbrage

I mean, really, can we stay on the subject, people?

The full story, should you be interested.

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Cheap wheels at a price

The government would really like you to buy an electric car, and there are incentives in place. The result is something like this:

Fiat’s 500e can currently be had for roughly the same price as a decent pair of sneakers, continuing the trend of bargain basement pricing on small electric cars. At $69 per month for 36 months with no money down, it’s also a better deal than the shoes — which typically only manage a few hundred miles before becoming a tattered mess. With some evening reprieves to recharge, the Fiat can manage that in a week with only the slightest hint of tread-wear. However, this incredibly low leasing rate for the $33,000 EV isn’t even the best deal of the last few months.

On Black Friday Orange Coast Fiat in Costa Mesa, California, had the little electric listed at $49 per month with no money down — 20 dollars below the current unbelievable price.

Who could possibly object? FCA chair Sergio Marchionne, for one:

Why is the 500e going for so cheap? One big reason is that Fiat Chrysler never really intended to sell any. “I hope you don’t buy it because every time I sell one it costs me $14,000,” FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne said at the Brookings Institution of the 500e in 2014. “I’m honest enough to tell you that.”

The EV was developed by Fiat Chrysler specifically as a compliance car to satisfy emissions regulations in California and other states mandating the sale of zero-emission vehicles. The company never had any intent to make this vehicle a sales leader or profitable, it only exists to keep its other, less environmentally friendly, vehicles in those markets.

Still, if you’re in the right place and can deal with a maximum of about 87 miles range, this may be the around-town buggy for you.

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Kindness misplaced

Like Alfred E. Doolittle, he’s one of the Undeserving Poor:

Several months ago my elderly neighbor allowed a homeless young man named Anthony to live in his garage in exchange for work around the yard and allows him to make modifications to the garage to make it more livable. The neighbor did this out of the kindness of his heart and has a reputation for helping those less fortunate. He is involved in AA and recovery and hoped that by providing Anthony a place to stay and work to keep him busy, plus his guidance. He might be able to influence Anthony and help him to get clean from Alcohol and Drugs.

Sadly, as is the case many times. Anthony is not ready to get clean and sober.

Anthony has not only continued to use drugs, Anthony now has a homeless young lady, also doing drugs, living with him in the garage now as well as frequent visitors doing drugs.

The garage was meant to be a temporary condition to to give Anthony time to get on his feet and get clean. Instead it has given Anthony a level of stability that allows him to do even more drugs.

And worse than that:

The elderly neighbor cannot make Anthony leave. Because he has allowed Anthony to stay there. Anthony now has rights. Anthony has to be served by a Oklahoma County Sheriff with a 30 day eviction notice. Anthony know this, because he has pulled it in others before.

So now the elder gentlemen is a prisoner in his own house until such time as we can get this all sorted out proper through proper legal channels.

This is apparently happening about three miles from me. I’m not at all sure what, if anything, can be done about it.

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