Eight arms, one shutter

This had to be the experience of a (fairly quiet) lifetime:

Ben Savard was photographing an octopus at Middlebury College in Vermont on Monday when the animal suddenly grabbed the camera and snapped some photos of its own.

Savard, a digital media producer, wanted to capture some photos of the octopuses the school’s neuroscience students have been studying.

“I put a GoPro in a waterproof casing, set it to take a rapid number of photos per second and, with the help of the neuroscience student behind me in the photos, placed the camera in the octopus tank,” he told MNN. “We did this a few times with different octopuses and one of the more cheeky cephalopods grabbed the camera and turned it around on me for a quick couple of pictures.”

The cephalopod in question is Octopus bimaculoides, the California two-spot octopus, renowned for its friendly temperament:

Middlebury neuroscience students have been observing to see if the species can open boxes of food more quickly after seeing other octopuses do it.

I’m guessing they’re probably fast learners.

(Via Fark.)

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Mehthod acting

I’ve now placed two orders with meh.com, and two things seem worth mentioning:

  • One’s order “number” is not a number at all, but three random words. Harder to fake, I’m guessing.
  • While they get a credit-card authorization the moment you place an order, they apparently don’t actually finalize the charge until the product ships.

Well, that and the fact that the product descriptions are about 40 percent nastier than Woot’s ever were.

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Models of consistency

And the formula never failed them:

Although Bill Lava’s latter-day music was arguably not quite as inspired as Carl Stalling’s or Milt Franklyn’s. Still, that’s not a script problem.

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Longevity bonus

Then again, you can only take advantage of this special offer once a year:

A 101-year-old New Hampshire man had breakfast on the house at a Manchester restaurant that rewards customers dining on their birthdays with a discount based on their age, reports WMUR.com.

So for example, if you’re turning five years old, the restaurant covers 5% of your bill. If you’re 85, you get 85% of your tab paid. That means that at 100, your birthday meal is free — and at 101, you actually get 101% of your meal paid for — or a 1% refund.

Thus, after chomping on scrambled eggs and ham and a piece of chocolate cake for free, the World War II veteran got $0.07 back from the restaurant.

Heck, scrambled eggs and ham with a piece of chocolate cake for $7 sounds like a pretty decent deal on those other 364 days.

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Absolute zero confidence

This was not the best thing to say in the midst of swirling snow, especially when it’s said by a Professional Meteorologist:

You can imagine some of the responses. (Hint: Lord Kelvin is invoked by proxy.)

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Really spirited 76ers

So much has been written of late about the 76ers’ alleged tanking that I have to believe that someone in Philadelphia took enough umbrage to do something about it, which is one way to explain the Sixers’ 32-17 lead with five minutes left in the first quarter, 15 of those points coming from guard Isaiah Canaan, who hit five treys in six tries. Weirder still, the Thunder had a 37-34 lead when that quarter ended, the Man in the Clear Mask — that would be Russell Westbrook, recovering from surgery to his jaw — having knocked out 16 points in that quarter. Philly was not impressed; they were up 59-56 at the half and opened the third with a 13-4 run. The Thunder persevered, cutting a 16-point Sixer lead to six by the end of the quarter, tying it two minutes later, and finally taking the lead, 93-90, on a D. J. Augustin trey. It was about this point that the Philly scoring machine ground to a halt: through eight minutes of the fourth they’d hit exactly one bucket, and OKC was up eight. Still the Sixers would not go away: just inside the 1:00 mark, Hollis Thompson, who hadn’t scored all night, swished a trey to pull within three, and then Jason Richardson, who’d scored plenty, knocked down another one to tie it at 110-all. With 4.3 seconds left, Philadelphia got one more shot, Dion Waiters blocked a Nerlens Noel layup, and — “Who’d have foreseen this?” asked radio guy Matt Pinto.

And 1:56 into the overtime period, the Masked Man did it again: notched a triple-double, his fourth in succession and sixth for the season, delivering his tenth dime to Augustin. Serge Ibaka, who’d logged more blocks than points for the evening (four swats, two points), set up Westbrook’s 40th and 41st points; Ibaka fouled out, and Westbrook got two more. The Sixers came back: three free throws by Richardson and a Jerami Grant trey, to make it 117-116. Inevitably, this was followed by a Westbrook bucket and a free throw, giving him 46. Richardson swished two more foul shots to make it a two-point game; Grant was called for a blocking foul, and Westbrook went back to the stripe, hitting one of two. Richardson’s last trey ended up out of bounds, and yet again, Westbrook went back to the stripe, hitting both of them. The last Sixers shot would not fall, and, as one of the records guys noted, “Russell Westbrook joins Vince Carter as the only players with 45 points, 15 rebounds, 10 assists in a game over the last 30 seasons.” In fact, he had 49 points, 16 boards and ten dimes, new career highs in points and rebounds.

Still, despite the 123-118 win, there’s a Telltale Statistic waiting in the weeds: all five Thunder starters were minus for the night (even Westbrook, -12), all five reserves were plus. The bench, in fact, scored more than the starters: 62-61. Waiters, in fact, had a double-double: 20 points, 10 rebounds. Augustin finished with 17, and Anthony Morrow (+34!) checked in with 11.

And dammit, these Sixers are no slouches no matter what you read. Richardson finished with 29, Canaan logged a new career high with 31, and Philly made 15 of 35 treys. (On two-pointers, they were 19-61. Go figure.) What’s more, they managed to earn 44 free throws, hitting 35 of them, and held a 58-54 rebounding advantage. This is called hard work.

After all that, it’s off to the plane for tomorrow night at Chicago. Is anyone tired? Let’s hope not.

Addendum: Oh, and there’s this:

Wow.

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Dome on the range

This really needs Dan Aykroyd yelling “Gaia, you ignorant slut” at Mother Nature:

Mother Nature decided to ice up the roads this morning, making me just one of what the Network TV News tells me is over 125 million in the U.S. under some kind of weather Watch or Warning. We need to grow thicker skins — and start settling some other planets. The domed-over or dug-in cities with central heating, air-conditioning and air renewal are looking better and better.

And it will certainly happen off-planet before anyone gets a chance to do it on anything but the smallest of scales on this one, perhaps because the stakes are higher: survival and all. The late, unlamented Biosphere 2 might have poisoned the well for any future earthbound experiments.

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Gathering on the right

One of the more interesting people on both the right side of the aisle and my left column on TweetDeck is Lisa De Pasquale, author of the novel Finding Mr. Righteous and for five years the head of the Conservative Political Action Committee. Amazingly, Jezebel snagged her for an interview, and while their angle was primarily CPAC’s lack of, um, diversity of a specific nature, they did pop a lot of good questions, one of which drew my attention because her answer ends with a universal truth:

Who is the nicest politician or personality you’ve dealt with behind the scenes? The meanest? (If you don’t want to name names, can you drop a general hint or two?)

Aside from people like Ann Coulter who I already knew, the nicest was Rush Limbaugh. Not only was he extremely nice, but very humble. He didn’t have an entourage or any backstage demands. Backstage he asked what had been the biggest news from the conference. I don’t remember what I said, but the reality was he was going to be the biggest news of the conference. That he was genuinely interested in the conference made me proud of the work my team and I had done. He also personally signed 100 or so Limbaugh Letters for our volunteers. I should mention that the man responsible for making his speech happen was the recently departed Kit Carson. He was a great man who, like Limbaugh, was always interested in other people’s opinions.

I won’t name names on the meanest, but I will say it’s never the A-listers. It’s always the B or C-list people who are demanding and impatient. They act like divas because they think that is how important people act.

This may be one of the reasons why I’m still on the D-list after all these years.

The description of Limbaugh is consistent with others I’ve seen: he saves his bombast for the airwaves. (If you didn’t know Carson, he was the “Chief of Staff” at Limbaugh’s EIB Network; he passed away in January after a four-year battle with brain cancer.) And Rush will happily tell you that he’s not really interested in other people’s opinions, which is why he has no guests on the show, but this, too, is part of the act.

Nor was this the only worthy maxim De Pasquale uttered:

CPAC has a history of allowing groups that are controversial. If you put two conservatives in a room they will fight about something, so it’s impossible to get consensus on anything.

Ain’t that the truth.

Meanwhile, Emily Zanotti provides an overview of CPAC today:

CPAC is an event for choirs and not conversions. In the last few years, it’s gained a notoriety that has made it a public spectacle, but the true purpose of the Conservative Political Action Conference is to impress the hordes of College Republicans, with their Brooks Brothers finery and their as-yet-unpickeled livers, and the elderly crowd that has been coming to these things since the first Republican presidential candidate painted his foreign policy on a cave wall — not to preach to the disenfranchised independents and unmoored moderates. The candidates have all the depth of a Lego mini-figurine and the speeches are as nuanced and complex as a made-for-television marine life-motivated disaster movie. And that’s just how it’s supposed to be, especially at the start of a presidential election cycle, when potential candidates are trying to live up to impressive double standards set for them by a party that is, itself, in flux. Everyone who presented himself to the crowd amassed at National Harbor had something to prove, specifically to conservatives, whether that was that they were conservative enough, that they were thoughtful enough, that they were tough enough, or that they were capable of mounting a campaign that did more than annoy network television anchors forced to divert more than thirty seconds of their broadcast away from fawning coverage of Hillary Clinton’s breakfast choices.

How seriously you take this event, it appears, depends on a lot of things besides ideology.

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No longer just a maybe

Eventually, the record industry is going to shift from dropping new titles on Tuesday to shoveling them out on Friday. (Guess who’s already done that?)

I was hanging around the iTunes Store trying to snag Charlie Puth’s song “Marvin Gaye” (which you just might have seen here), when the usual Applehype™ called my attention to a new track, only just released by, um, Carly Rae Jepsen.

Yes, the “Call Me Maybe” singer. And if you thought that was an earworm, get a whiff of this:

Already purchased. I have no shame.

Update: Actual video replaces the placeholder.

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Four-cylinder butterface

Last month, we were treated to a three-quarter-rear look at the upcoming Infiniti QX30 crossover-wagon-thingie. At Geneva this week, they’re letting us see the front:

Infiniti QX30 concept at Geneva Auto Show 2015

I can see why they wanted you to see the back first.

(With thanks to Cameron Aubernon at TTAC.)

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Silence for sale or rent

Opponents of hydraulic fracturing have been blaming the process for the upsurge in earthquakes in this state in recent years, and there’s very likely something to that, though obviously more research needs to be done, if only to figure why out it’s happening so much more here than it is elsewhere: are Oklahoma oil and gas operators doing something different? Is something in the fault-line pattern contributing to these incidents? A lot of factors merit consideration, and the Oklahoma Geological Survey in general, and State Seismologist Austin Holland in particular, have been strangely silent on the matter.

Or maybe not so strangely:

In October 2013, OGS joined the U.S. Geological Survey in issuing a statement about Oklahoma’s growing earthquake risk and possible links to oil and gas industry disposal wells. A week later, Holland was “summoned” to the Oklahoma Corporation Commission for a meeting with Jack Stark — then a senior vice president of exploration, now president and chief operating officer at Continental Resources — and then-Commissioner Patrice Douglas. Mike Soraghan of Energy Wire [behind paywall] reports:

“Douglas and the Continental executive were ‘concerned’ about the joint statement with USGS and a story about it by EnergyWire, Holland recounted later in an email.

“At the time, Douglas was about to run for Congress. She got more campaign money from Continental executives in 2014 than anyone except Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) and the Republican National Committee, according to OpenSecrets.org. The $14,775 she received from Continental includes $6,575 from Hamm, who did not contribute to her Republican primary opponent, Steve Russell. Russell beat Douglas in the primary and is now a congressman.

“In the meeting, Douglas said she ‘wants to, of course, protect the safety of Oklahomans, but also balance that with industry in the state,’ according to Holland’s email.”

One meeting may mean nothing. But two?

After the OGS “cautiously” agreed with scientists about links between disposal wells and earthquakes, Holland in November 2013 was called into a meeting with University of Oklahoma President David Boren and oil executives, including Continental Resources Chairman Harold Hamm, “a leading donor to the university.” Boren also serves on Continental’s board of directors, where, in 2013, “he received $272,700 in cash and stock for his service,” Soraghan reports.

This is not to say that OGS presents a united front:

In April 2013, another OGS scientist, petroleum geologist Richard Andrews, said in a note to a family member on his agency email account that OGS shouldn’t be telling the public that the earthquakes are naturally occurring.

“Myself and a few other geologists that know of the Hunton dewatering oil operations in the affected areas and subsequent re-injection into the Arbuckle [are] the culprit,” wrote Andrews, who is now the interim director of OGS. “I am dismayed at our seismic people about this issue and believe they couldn’t track a bunny through fresh snow!”

You might want to ask the Bunny Protection League about that, Dr. Andrews.

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Turning every which way but out

Some of the folks I follow on Twitter were grousing earlier about sparse turnout at today’s City Council election. And they weren’t kidding: at 5:07 this afternoon I shoved the 207th ballot into the machine. A couple of thousand people live in this precinct; not all of them are of voting age, obviously, but still, that’s not all what anyone — other than the winner, of course — would call wonderful, especially if there had been as much dissatisfaction with the incumbent as I was led to believe. As local auto mogul Jackie Cooper used to say, “Go with the name you know,” and lots of people do. Pols depend on it.

Addendum: From the Gazette’s Ben Felder:

Population of each of the city’s eight wards: around 75,000.

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Coup de foudre

I own a reproduction of this vintage poster, in need of reframing:

Mistinguett poster Casino de Paris

“Paris shining,” kinda sorta. Jeanne Florentine Bourgeois made her debut at the Casino de Paris in 1895; she was just twenty and given to theatrical routines which were somewhat saucy for the times, and she appeared in both silent and sound films, the most recent being Carosello del varietà, from 1955, the year before her death.

Mistinguett poster Moulin Rouge

You might infer from the posters that the Mistinguett gams were highly regarded, and so they were: in 1919, it is reported, she had them insured for half a million francs. Actual photographs are not quite so easy to stumble across, but it’s possible. First, an extravagant stage appearance:

Mistinguett on stage Moulin Rouge

And away from the footlights:

Mistinguett offstage

Le coup de foudre — “Love at first sight” — was the title of a 1912 short film in which she appeared opposite Charles Lorrain.

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Emotions definitely under control

The occasion is sad, but I still wish I’d come up with this:

(Via Twisted Spinster.)

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Call it negative feedback

Earlier this year, reasoning that saving a single sheet per copy per week would save several million sheets of newsprint over a twelve-month period, the Oklahoman cut the Sunday comic section from six pages to four, shrinking the strips to fit. The reaction was decidedly unfavorable, and this past weekend the six-page section was reinstated.

Then again, there’s “decidedly unfavorable,” and there’s this complaint to an Indiana daily:

An 8-year-old boy named Mac got on the phone Sunday and complained to Bloomington (IN) Herald-Times editor Bob Zaltsberg about some of his favorite comics no longer appearing in the paper.

“OK, I want back these comics now,” the boy demanded. His list included Peanuts, Dilbert, Nancy, Garfield, For Better or For Worse, Ziggy, and others.

“I’ll give you all my money” if the comics are returned to the paper, the boy said before ending his call by blasting the “idiots, jerks, [and] shitholes” at the paper.

This wasn’t a newsprint-volume issue, though; in this case, the paper actually lost those strips, and a few others, when they couldn’t negotiate a lower rate from the syndicator.

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Cooperation

Like many of you, I’m pretty much in an anti-incumbent mood right about now, and with City Council elections coming up tomorrow — the first day with non-horrible weather in some time, which is a twist — I get another chance to act upon that particular impulse.

I had kind words for Major Jemison early on: he’s definitely on the side of the angels, and I have no doubt that he could fill this spot on the horseshoe with a measure of gravitas. But his insistence on robocalls Every. Damned. Night. has soured me on the man, or at least on the men behind the man, and I worry that if he’s going to take advice from the kind of people who think a Jayne Jayroe endorsement is worth something, he might be susceptible to all manner of bad ideas once sworn in.

So I turn to James Cooper, who, poor fellow, had to endure a chat session with me at the doorway one weekend. (This makes about the fifth candidate in twelve years who’s had to deal with me in bathrobe mode.) He’s appallingly young, but I figure I can overlook that, especially since my own advanced age has manifestly conferred no wisdom on me. More to the point, he’s willing to deal with specific points in preference to grand generalities: he told me that he envisions the next round of MAPS, for instance, gradually moving northward with extensions of the streetcar line, and he’s willing to spend some serious dollars out of the next set of the city’s General Obligation Bonds to finish up the largely undone sidewalk work in this part of town. If that sounds like he’s favoring his own ward at the expense of others, well, that’s what we pay our guy on the Council to do, and it’s not like we’re paying him a whole lot ($12k a year) either.

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