Days of antiquity

Definite +1 to this declaration:

I know this isn’t an official definition but I have a strong feeling that anything made in my lifetime cannot be an antique and anything made since I have been an adult cannot be vintage and that last is a bit of an emotional compromise because I really feel that anything made since I was about 10 cannot be vintage.

I’m willing to extend “vintage” up to my 16th birthday, but no farther.

What prompted this, you ask?

A couple of days ago I joined an antique sewing machines group on Facebook. (Oooo, big surprise, right?) It appears that some members were recently up in arms because someone had posted a picture of a sewing machine from the 1980s. The 1980s? Really? Well, you can bet that if I had been there I would have been in the group wielding torches and pitchforks.

Contemporary torches and pitchforks, I’ll wager.

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Meanwhile, on the trail

The Portland Trail Blazers have been on top of the Northwest Division for most of the season, a position that guarantees a seed no lower than fourth. The eighth-place Thunder had lost twice to the Blazers already this season, and drawing the Blazers on the second night of a back-to-back hardly qualifies as fun. Still, it’s not like anyone promised the Thunder, you should pardon the expression, a rose garden, and after trailing much of the first quarter, OKC opened up in the second and took a 12-point lead at halftime. The Blazers knocked off one of those points in the third quarter, the rest of them in the first seven and a half minutes of the fourth. Inside the two-minute mark, collars got hot under; one minute later, it was tied at 110-all. LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down one of two free throws with 44 seconds left; 33 seconds later, the Thunder plotted a final play; Russell Westbrook bounced it a little too hard, Aaron Afflalo nailed two more free throws, and the Blazers were up three. All Westbrook had to do was hit three free throws to tie it up; he missed the first, and Damien Lillard finished the Thunder off with two freebies of his own to make it 115-112 at the horn.

Lillard and Aldridge, between them, got more than half the Blazers’ scoring, with 29 points each; Aldridge also pulled down 16 rebounds. The only other scorer in double figures was newly-acquired sixth man Arron Afflalo, who had 18 of the 32 bench points. Still, the Blazers shot well enough, 44 percent from the floor, 10-26 on treys, and 27-31 from the stripe.

The Thunder, meanwhile, were shooting better, though not for distance (48 percent, 4-14 on treys), but didn’t get to the line quite so much, and while they outrebounded the Blazers, it was only by four (47-43). Russell Westbrook got yet another triple-double, his third in three games: 40 points, 13 rebounds, 11 assists. With Enas Kanter sidelined with a thigh contusion, points from the middle had to come from Nick Collison (six) or Mitch McGary (a career-high 20 with nine rebounds). The Thunder bench contributed 46 points from just four guys: McGary, Anthony Morrow (13), Dion Waiters (7) and D. J. Augustin (6). Serge Ibaka was good-but-not-great, collecting 14 points and six boards.

Which leaves a Sunday-evening clash with the Lakers as the one chance of getting a win out of this road trip. And the Lakers are wildly inconsistent: despite dwelling near the West cellar most of this season, they roused themselves tonight to beat a respectable bunch of Milwaukee Bucks. Me, I just hope the weather lets up enough to let the Thunder come home this week.

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The Vulcan passes to a higher sphere

The last tweet of Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015), aka Mr Spock:

The last cluster of letters, of course, means “Live Long and Prosper.” And thank you, Jenny Boylan, for remembering these lines:

You just know that was the kind of man he was.

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Fleek’s in

Are you baffled by “fleek”? I am, and I am not alone in my bafflement:

For anyone who’s been living under a rock for the past few months, there is a term, “on fleek,” that has been around since at least 2003, but which caught like wildfire on social media after June 21, 2014, when Vine user Peaches Monroe made a video declaring her eyebrows “on fleek.”

Since then, the apparently non-compositional phrase on fleek has been wildly popular, and has generated the usual discussion: both declarations that it is literally the worst and “should die,” and heated debates about what exactly on fleek even means. People seem to be divided on the question of whether it’s synonymous with “on point.” There is also a great deal of disagreement as to what can and cannot be on fleek, with “eyebrows” now the prototype against which things are measured.

For the moment, I’m figuring that “fleek” is half “flake” and half “fluke.”

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Obligatory Cat pictures

“What’s a Website,” asks Francis W. Porretto, “without a few cat pictures?” As it happens, while I was reading that passage, Cat Power came up on the shuffle, and, well, I can read an omen as well as the next guy.

“Cat Power” started out as the name of Chan Mitchell’s band; when she and the band went their separate ways, she kept the name for subsequent projects. She’s been recording now for over two decades; her most recent album, Sun, came out in 2012.

Chan Mitchell not standing

Cat Power on stage

At her best, Mitchell redefines “languorous,” and there’s no more languid version of a Rolling Stones classic than this, from Cat Power’s The Covers Record of 2000:

Yet somehow she’s not lethargic. Go figure.

I mention in passing that she used to date Giovanni Ribisi, but when they broke up, she cut off most of her hair.

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F as in Fail

Remember when grades were considered unchangeable? (After all, they went on your [shudder] Permanent Record.)

No more, apparently, which leads to “Dear Student: No, I Won’t Change the Grade You Deserve,” which includes sample letters as envisioned by various professors and such. I’ll quote just one, from Angela Jackson-Brown, assistant professor of English at Ball State University:

It always amazes me when students feel like their English paper grades should be based on effort. I sometimes wonder: Do you ask the math teacher if she will give you points for trying even though parts of your mathematical equation are incorrect? If you took an astronomy course, would you want partial credit because even though you identified a star as a planet, you at least recognized they both are in the sky? Get out of here with that, my friend. Your working hard should be a given. You’re in college, not kindergarten. Every single person on this campus’s default is to work hard.

Every single solitary day that I enter into my classroom, I find a room filled with hard-working students who pushed themselves beyond their capabilities. You, my friend, have the audacity to send me a sad, tired little email asking me to reward you for breathing in and out and taking up space in my classroom? A place where geniuses are birthing themselves into existence every single day, and not a single one of them is asking for the “I worked hard” epidural to make this journey easy. I have officially laid my head on the desk, which is the universal signal for “I’m done.”

So much for the Gentleman’s C.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Somewhat dissociated

I’m pretty sure who wrote this wire-service story [behind paywall], maybe not so sure of their employer:

Garbled version of Associated Press

Sloppiness, or entropy? You make the call.

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Solar flair

The Suns started the game with a 9-0 run and never looked back; it was 25-15 after the first quarter, and Russell Westbrook missed nine shots before finally nailing one halfway through the second. Frustration? Even Scott Brooks drew a technical. Still, the Thunder made up half of that ten-point deficit by halftime, largely due to buckets by the bench: twenty-four minutes in, the reserves had made ten of 16 shots, versus seven of 28 for the starters. And then those starters ran off six points to begin the third quarter, giving OKC its first lead at 54-53; it was three minutes in before Phoenix hit a basket. The Suns stabilized, and were up two to begin the final frame; they then knocked out nine consecutive points for an eleven-point lead, against those OKC reserves who had been so effective two quarters ago. Then again, it’s a game of streaks; the Thunder tied it at 102 on a D. J. Augustin trey, Phoenix ran off four straight, OKC followed with four straight, one of the Morris twins got an and-one, and then Westbrook got an and-one with 13.4 left. Serge Ibaka blocked the last Phoenix shot, and overtime ensued; with 11 seconds left, it was Suns 115, Thunder 113, Westbrook missed his last shot, and P. J. Tucker, the last of the Sun starters to go to double figures, sank two free throws to bring things to a very late conclusion, 117-113.

Eric Bledsoe put up a very Westbrookian line: 28 points, 13 rebounds, nine assists. (Westbrook’s own line: 39 points, 14 rebounds, 11 assists, yet another triple-double.) Still, Bledsoe was a tad more efficient, 11-16 from the floor, versus Westbrook’s, um, 12-38. Both Markieff Morris and Alex Len showed double-doubles: Morris 29 points, 11 boards, and Len 12 points, 11 boards. Morris’ brother Marcus led the bench with 11 points; the Phoenix reserves came up with 21 points total, versus 36 for the Thunder second string.

What undid the Thunder, in the end, was simply lousy shooting. Take out Westbrook’s 12-38 and OKC went 27-63, a plausible 43 percent — but the Suns were at 50 or above most of the night, finishing at 49.5. The Suns outrebounded the Thunder by two, 52-50. In double figures: Ibaka 13, Augustin 13, Dion Waiters 16, and ex-Sun Enes Kanter 18.

Friday night: Portland, struggling lately but still atop the Northwest Division, and already two up on the Thunder in the season series.

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Making it mo’ better

The big viral video this week has been a performance by the Louisville Leopard Percussionists of two classic Led Zeppelin songs, “Kashmir” and “Immigrant Song,” which actually drew the attention of Jimmy Page. I, of course, was curious as to what else these kids have done, and found the beginning class (second and third grade) working out on Branford Marsalis’ title theme from Spike Lee’s Mo’ Better Blues:

This clip is identified as a rehearsal, but I have no doubt that the finished product was superb.

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Probably no warranty, either

I feel like hell these days, what with that plumbing scare a couple of weeks ago and the refusal of Old Man Winter to bugger off already. I don’t think, however, that this is quite the cure I’m looking for:

A surgeon says full-body transplants could become a reality in just two years.

Sergio Canavero, a doctor in Turin, Italy, has drawn up plans to graft a living person’s head on to a donor body and claims the procedures needed to carry out the operation are not far off.

Canavero hopes to assemble a team to explore the radical surgery in a project he is due to launch at a meeting for neurological surgeons in Maryland this June.

Given transplant statistics generally, you have to figure that you’re not going to have much choice in donor bodies.

According to the procedure Canavero outlined this month, doctors would first cool the patient’s head and the donor’s body so their cells do not die during the operation. The neck is then cut through, the blood vessels linked up with thin tubes, and the spinal cord cut with an exceptionally sharp knife to minimise nerve damage. The recipient’s head is then moved on to the donor’s body.

The next stage is trickier. Canavero believes that the spinal cord nerves that would allow the recipient’s brain to talk to the donor’s body can be fused together using a substance called polyethylene glycol. To stop the patient moving, they must be kept in a coma for weeks. When they come round, Canavero believes they would be able to speak and feel their face, though he predicts they would need a year of physiotherapy before they could move the body.

You’re not getting me near polyethylene glycol. I had to drink about a gallon of it before colonoscopy.

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Fark blurb of the week

Purina. Dog? Ciao.

(Linked to this.)

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Second thoughts

There are times when it seems that national patience is at an all-time low:

[S]omething has happened to us as a society since about the end of the 1970s. We’ve lost track of time.

Arriving at a party plus or minus 30 minutes was typical. When you took some photos, it then took a few days to have them processed and get the prints back. Waits of 25-35 minutes between ordering your meal at a restaurant and the arrival of the entree were considered normal. Just the very idea of “waiting” was okay — it wasn’t a big deal. Time was divided into blocks of 30 minutes; it was rare to have to narrow things down to 15 minutes. To put it simply — life was slower, more relaxed, and less clock-driven.

Now, with computers, cell phones, iPads, and their ilk, we have instantaneous communication. And we time things in MINUTES. Not half-hours, quarter-hours — our days seem to get eaten up as fast as we can live them, with nary a spare few moments to catch our breath.

“But what about productivity?” they ask. Tell me why it’s worth my time, my health, my life, to live on your cockamamie schedule.

There are darned few things that can’t be put off for a few hours, or even a few days.

Tell that to the manager whose entire self-image is based on wishful thinking masquerading as scheduling. Surely you know one, or more.

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Nay, they may say

I’m pretty sure I would, anyway:

Note the semi-subtle misspelling to avoid running afoul of Federal food definitions.

In other news, expeller pressed oil is evidently a Thing. No substitute for Valvoline, though.

(Via Dawn Summers.)

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Springtime, if you will

Some time in early 2016, the first German edition of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf since the end of World War II will be hitting bookstores and libraries, and to no one’s surprise, some people have a problem with that:

Charlotte Knobloch, head of the Jewish community in Munich, said she had not vigorously opposed it when the project first surfaced. But her position, she said, hardened after hearing from outraged Holocaust survivors.

“This book is most evil; it is the worst anti-Semitic pamphlet and a guidebook for the Holocaust,” she said. “It is a Pandora’s box that, once opened again, cannot be closed.”

Mein Kampf was never actually banned in postwar Germany, though the copyright for the book ended up in the hands of the state of Bavaria, which never granted permission for reprints. (Prewar copies still exist, but they are generally kept out of sight.) And under German law, that copyright expires on the first of January after the author has been dead 70 years. (Hitler himself expired on 30 April 1945.)

The book’s reissue, to the chagrin of critics, is effectively being financed by German taxpayers, who fund the historical society that is producing and publishing the new edition. Rather than a how-to guidebook for the aspiring fascist, the new reprint, the group said this month, will instead be a vital academic tool, a 2,000-page volume packed with more criticisms and analysis than the original text.

I suppose there will be a Downfall parody video showing what happens when Hitler finds out Mein Kampf is going to be back in print. He wouldn’t be pleased, I’m sure; after becoming Reichskanzler, he distanced himself from the book:

[Hitler] dismissed it as “fantasies behind bars” that were little more than a series of articles for the Völkischer Beobachter and later told Hans Frank that “If I had had any idea in 1924 that I would have become Reich chancellor, I never would have written the book.”

Based on my own copy of an English translation, which runs just over 1,000 pages, I have to assume that this is indeed a hell of a lot of criticism and/or analysis.

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Maybe you shouldn’t ask

Bark M. doesn’t have time to waste on stuff like Yahoo! Answers’ Cars & Transportation section, but he knows precisely what sort of questions are posed therein, because he gets hit with them himself, and they all boil down to this:

“Can you use your years of knowledge, experience, and expertise to give me an answer to a wildly uneducated, unrealistic, and ill-informed question that I will then entirely ignore and do what I wanted to do in the first place?”

Further, Bark reports that exactly one person, out of hundreds, has actually followed his advice. This is, I suspect, one better than I’ve done.

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Thirst priority

Lawton is considering cloud-seeding to try to get some additional water into the city’s supply:

The Lawton City Council will consider adding a $1 surcharge to residents’ water bills to find alternate water resources.

Councilman Doug Wells, who put the item on the agenda, wants it to go toward cloud seeding. If passed, the surcharge will take effect on March 1.

He says it is an emergency situation and we can’t wait another month to make a decision that could be made now. The drought is one of the biggest problems plaguing the city, and he says something needs to be done immediately.

Wells says that over a year, this surcharge could bring in $400,000, enough to hire an expert for 12 months.

Some of us can remember when you could bring in a proper rainman for $100:

Then again, that was a long time ago.

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