Unidentical twins

Received last night as comment spam:

On the other hand, a bad credit history won’t customize the rates much until you have high valued collateral to aid your buy (in the case of Secured Auto Loans). Such things as prepayment penalties, interest amounts and any other fee included will directly impact on your repayment ability. Of course, one must pay for that benefits of obtaining instant cash easily available as interest.

Seven minutes later, attached to the same post:

On the other hand, a bad credit standing won’t modify the rates much if you don’t have high valued collateral to help your buy (in the case of Secured Auto Loans). All you have to do is to fill a fairly easy application with all the details. Of course, you have to pay to the benefits of obtaining instant cash easily available as interest.

This bot apparently owns a thesaurus, but not a very good thesaurus. You can block it at 37.229.35.169.

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More mud pie, sir?

Newspaper clipping about Ryan DirteaterIn the Oklahoman’s seemingly interminable notes of everything conceivably connected to last night’s OKC Thunder/Memphis Grizzlies game, I found this little squib without the least bit of snark, which tells me that this is no laughing matter:

Seldom does a day pass when bull rider Ryan Dirteater isn’t asked if that’s his real last name.

“They think it’s fake,” he said. “It’s ironic that I’m a bull rider. You don’t want to eat dirt. But it is my real last name. I grew up with it.”

Dirteater might be a cool last name for a cowboy, but it was ripe for getting picked on when the Oklahoma native was a boy.

“I’ve heard it since I was a kid growing up, especially in high school,” said Dirteater, [27]. “Some of them made fun of my name back then, and now most of them want my autograph.”

The best revenge, as the phrase goes. To which I say: “See what the gentleman is drinking.”

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Someone really blue it

I remember griping about blue nail polish, particularly on one’s toes, thusly: “an enamel color more appropriate for minor trim pieces in a pediatrician’s office.” I think, though, that this is closer to the true demotivation:

[O]ne of my students (who worked as an orderly in an ER) talked about he could never get used to blue nail polish because … well, because of MORGUE reasons.

That would do it, yes.

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Called for icing

They keep on ratcheting up the potential damage from the impending (Thursday night through Saturday afternoon) ice storm. The higher it gets, the greater my fright level. Last Big Ice Storm, I had to be rescued from a dark house, trapped behind stacks of broken tree branches. And I was in fairly good condition back then. Today, not so much. I am seriously worried about survival here.

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Contentious to the last

The Memphis Grizzlies came to town, and they came to be as Grizzly as they possibly could, because that’s what they do; you have to wonder sometimes if maybe Quentin Tarantino is drawing up the plays. “An absolute grind,” muttered radio guy Matt Pinto during a fourth-quarter timeout, and he wasn’t kidding: to the extent possible, the Griz will simply wear you down. The Thunder know; they have to play these guys three or four times every season, and it almost always happens this way: up eleven at the half, they couldn’t find any way to create any serious distance between themselves and Memphis. (Last time they played was the exception that proves the rule: the Griz simply ground them into sausage and claimed an easy win.) OKC finally got a break with just over a minute left: Steven Adams delivered a fearsome swat, and Victor Oladipo turned it into three points, opening the Thunder lead to seven. Shortly thereafter, Jerami Grant saved a Russell Westbrook fumble and came up with an and-one, providing some breathing room, and the last 15 seconds took about 15 minutes to play, the Griz fighting on every single possession, because that’s what they do. Oklahoma City 103, Memphis 95 at the horn, evening up the season series at 1-1.

If anything stands out here, it was the Thunder’s ability to contain Marc Gasol, who was held to a mere nine points, around half his average. Then again, they couldn’t stop Mike Conley (22 points) or Chandler Parsons (14 points in 18 minutes). And Enes Kanter was Kanterlike in his insistence, conjuring up 19 points and retrieving 13 rebounds. For the “Did Westbrook get a triple-double?” fans, the answer is Yes: 24-13-12 despite shooting a sub-meh 6-19 from the floor. The Thunder shot only 45 percent overall, but the Griz were under 40 most of the night and finished at 41.

That long six-game road trip begins in Minnesota on Friday; I bet the Twin Cities have better weather than we do.

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At exactly the right time

She was in the right place, not once, but several times:

Clare Hollingworth, the veteran British war correspondent who broke the news of the Nazi invasion of Poland, has died in Hong Kong at the age of 105.

Hollingworth, who was born in Leicester in 1911, was the first to report on the invasion that triggered the outbreak of World War Two. She went on to report from Vietnam, Algeria and the Middle East.

A pretty full life for a newsperson.

Hollingworth was a rookie reporter for the Daily Telegraph when she fell upon “the scoop of the century”.

It was she who spotted German forces amassed on the Polish border while travelling from Poland to Germany in 1939.

The Daily Telegraph headline read: “1,000 tanks massed on Polish border. Ten divisions reported ready for swift strike” — but it did not carry her byline, a common practice for newspapers at the time.

She scored another scoop when the Nazis launched their invasion three days later.

A later exclusive, about the British spy Kim Philby, was spiked by The Guardian in 1963.

That figures. How did that happen, exactly?

In 1963 Hollingworth was working for the Guardian in Beirut when Kim Philby, a correspondent for the Observer, disappeared.

She was convinced that he was the fabled “third man” in a British spy ring that already included Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean.

After some detective work, she discovered that Philby had left on a Soviet ship bound for Odessa and filed copy to that effect with the Guardian.

But this second huge scoop was spiked by the paper’s editor, Alastair Hetherington, who feared a libel suit.

Three months later, the Guardian ran the story, tucked away on an inside page. The following day the Daily Express splashed it on the front page, prompting the government to admit that Philby had, indeed, defected to the Soviet Union.

Philby died in 1988 and was buried with honors in Moscow; nothing was said about Stalin’s suspicions that Philby was actually a triple agent, spying for MI6 while spying for the Soviets while working for MI6.

Hollingworth retired to Hong Kong at seventy, and was a regular at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.

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Now, the gut news

The general opinion of the medical profession is that the appendix exists so that we can have appendicitis; it has no other function.

Then again, it might:

[T]he appendix has evolved independently in several mammal lineages, over 30 separate times, and almost never disappears from a lineage once it has appeared. This suggests that the appendix likely serves an adaptive purpose. Looking at ecological factors, such as diet, climate, how social a species is, and where it lives, they were able to reject several previously proposed hypotheses that have attempted to link the appendix to dietary or environmental factors. Instead, they found that species with an appendix have higher average concentrations of lymphoid (immune) tissue in the cecum. This finding suggests that the appendix may play an important role as a secondary immune organ. Lymphatic tissue can also stimulate growth of some types of beneficial gut bacteria, providing further evidence that the appendix may serve as a “safe house” for helpful gut bacteria.

Says Rand Simberg: “I’m always amazed at the hubris of people who think that, just because they can’t figure it out, something evolved in humans has no purpose.”

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That whatever-it-is over there

Contemporary automobiles are largely indistinguishable, to the annoyance of the Z Man:

The root of this, I suspect, is the dominance of the Left in American culture. The neo-Puritan hags have been screeching at us about how form must always follow function for so long we have lost our sense of style. You see that in cars where the goal of designers is to make them more aerodynamic and pack them with useful functions. The result is a fleet of well-built cars that look like they came from East German film noir during the Cold War. Our cars are ugly because inside, we have become an ugly people.

If you doubt this, look at pics of parking lots from 40-50 years ago. They were a carnival of colors, shapes and sizes. A person’s taste in cars said something about him, a form of advertisement. A people embracing life and its potential were out buying all sorts of cars in all sorts of colors. We are now a people marching to the inevitable end of our miserable existences so we buy cars that are suited for the task. The top three car colors in America are black, grey and white, with dark gray the top interior choice.

Disclosure: My car is white, with a dark-grey interior.

And actually, I’m kind of used to this particular shade of cheese-mold grey, which I’ve had for two of my last three cars. (In between was a Mazda 626 in Mojave Beige Mica, a name I never quite understood; I’ve driven through the Mojave, and it ain’t beige. Its interior, rather than cheese-mold grey, was more of a butterscotch-pudding shade.) At least it’s relatively free of brightwork: there’s a chrome bezel on the clock at the top of the center stack, which occasionally passes on some glare, but that’s about it. The logo on the steering wheel is sort of intaglio; I suspect that in later models they cut out a chrome-y looking brand emblem and pressed it into the embossed shape.

Still, next time around, if there is a next time around, I’d like something a bit less funereal.

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Prank level: expert

I have to admire the way this unfolded:

David Trott wrote about this in Creative Mischief.

Then there was the middle-management type I worked with who was visibly disturbed that maintenance had hung a ceiling fan directly over his desk: he just knew it was going to fall and decapitate him.

How would you exploit this fear?

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Several units of epicity

After running up $160,000 in health-care bills last year, I figure I deserve this particular accolade:

Epic Patient Refund

Apparently “Epic” is not actually an adjective, but the name of the hospital’s accounting system. Still, I needed a laugh, though not as much as I needed a hundred bucks.

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If you’ve had your fill of fillings

Perhaps they’re on the way out:

Researchers at King’s College London found that the drug Tideglusib stimulates the stem cells contained in the pulp of teeth so that they generate new dentine — the mineralised material under the enamel.

Teeth already have the capability of regenerating dentine if the pulp inside the tooth becomes exposed through a trauma or infection, but can only naturally make a very thin layer, and not enough to fill the deep cavities caused by tooth decay.

But Tideglusib switches off an enzyme called GSK-3 which prevents dentine from carrying on forming.

Scientists showed it is possible to soak a small biodegradable sponge with the drug and insert it into a cavity, where it triggers the growth of dentine and repairs the damage within six weeks.

The tiny sponges are made out of collagen so they melt away over time, leaving only the repaired tooth.

This wasn’t what they had in mind when Tideglusib was developed: it’s also been investigated as a treatment for Alzheimer’s. But hey, it’s not the first time a drug intended to treat A ended up treating B.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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No fourth-graders were available

Had there been, we likely wouldn’t have seen this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I have used 0.01 GB out of 2 GB. How many GB do I have left?

I suppose she was told there would be no math.

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And Ken never knew

This Barbie typewriter has Hidden Talents:

Barbie typewriter with encryption

Slovenia’s Maheno corporation manufactured a series of Barbie-branded and white label typewriters for kids, with a hidden feature that allowed their owners to use them to produce messages encrypted with a simple substitution cipher.

That’s fairly sophisticated stuff for the presumed target market.

The devices came with four ciphers, and went through several iterations before being discontinued.

(Via @JenLucPiquant.)

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Somehow the eighth

I was mildly dismayed to learn that Octavia Spencer is just one of seven children; I was so hoping that there would be one more sibling, to make the name fit. Not that she’s concerned about such silly things: she’s very busy these days, what with the recent opening of Hidden Figures, now in theaters, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe.

Octavia Spencer at the HFAs

Octavia Spencer head shot

Octavia Spencer has just arrived

In the upcoming The Shack, she plays God, which bothers some people:

The Shack, a film based on a New York Times bestseller of the same name, is stirring controversy among evangelicals because a black woman — Octavia Spencer — is playing God.

Is this a major overreaction?

The fictional book written by William P. Young about a father who finds his way back to faith and healing after the brutal murder of his daughter, has drawn the ire of many Christians who have labeled it heresy.

I think the operative word here is “fictional.” Here’s the trailer:

It seems to me that if George Burns or Alanis Morissette can play God, so can Octavia Spencer.

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Butler didn’t

Chicago forward Jimmy Butler has not been well of late, but the Bulls organization decided he was probably good to go tonight. Well, maybe partially: he led the team with assists, with seven, but missed all six of his shots and one of two free throws, retiring for the night after 29 minutes and one point. If Butler, or for that matter Robin Lopez, had been up to speed, the Bulls might have made a game of it. As it stands, the Thunder’s 109-94 victory was nowhere near as close as it sounds: through three quarters, OKC was up 89-67, but they loosened up their grip in those final 12 minutes. Still, it’s a road win, something OKC has not had a lot of recently, enough to climb back into a tie with the Jazz for Northwest Division dominance.

The Chicago guards did what they could, with Michael Carter-Williams posting a season-high 15 points and Dwyane Wade looking something like the Dwyane Wade of old while picking up 22. The Bulls did gather rebounds, with reserve center Cristiano Felicio collecting 11 to go with 11 points, but a reasonably alert Thunder defense kept the Bulls from scoring much: Chicago shot a mere 41 percent from the field, while OKC was blithely pumping in 57. (Statistical oddity: both teams took 83 shots, but the Thunder hit 13 more.) Top scorer for the Thunder: Steven Adams, with 22. (Enes Kanter, your Sixth Man of the Year candidate, dropped in 20.) Russell Westbrook just barely missed another triple-double, recording 21-9-14. And in the Battle of the Grant Brothers, Jerian (CHI) scored 11, Jerami (OKC) seven.

Good news: the Thunder play next at home. Bad news: it’s against the Memphis Grizzlies, who have already walloped them once this year, albeit at the Fed Up Forum. Then on the road again, where the marquee game is the fourth of the trip: at Golden State, new home of some guy we used to mention a lot here.

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Still silken after all these years

The ads have changed, but the product hasn’t:

Advertisement for L'Eggs Silken Mist pantyhose

The price has probably risen, though.

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