It never gets that warm

ComfortMeter by LaCrosseYou’ve seen this contraption before; it sits by the bedroom door “so I can feel some sort of justification when I start kvetching about how frakking uncomfortable it’s gotten all of a sudden.” In that photo, it is reading 74.3° F. In the six years since then, it has never once read 74.4°.

In fact, it routinely skips various possible temperatures. It will show 74.5, but not 74.6; if a warming trend is afoot, it will update at 74.7. After noting that it seems to skip three or four out of every ten conceivable readings, it dawned on me what the issue might be: the manufacturer has to sell this device in lots of countries, most of which measure their temperatures in Celsius, thank you very much, and this would require the little electronic brain to update in tenths of a degree Celsius — and 0.1 Celsius degree is 0.18 Fahrenheit degree. This explains it well enough: 74.3° F is 23.5° C, 74.5 is a hair over 23.6, 74.7 is somewhat thicker hair over 23.7. And it will display 74.8, which rounds to 23.8.

I’m not sure which is less useful: the fact that it took me so long to notice that, or that it took even longer to explain it. And while I’m thinking that maybe the Canadians might be pleased, forty years ago they had few kind words for Celsius.

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And yet it used to move

You want symbolism? We got symbolism:

Galileo Galilei’s middle finger has been meticulously preserved and can be viewed today at the Museo Galileo in Florence, for eight euros. The digit was plucked from his dead body by a souvenir-hunter named Anton Francesco Gori in 1737 when Gori detached the finger while moving the body from a storage closet to a nearby chapel. For a great man who was tried by the Inquisition, found “vehemently suspect of heresy,” forced to recant, and who spent the rest of his life under house arrest, isn’t it fitting that Galileo is still flipping the bird to the Catholic Church for condemning him for his theory of heliocentrism?

Even then, everybody knew that the bird is the word.

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Marginal improvements

Any human endeavor which requires spending money eventually reaches a point of diminishing returns, and health care is no different:

Health care reached the point of diminishing returns about fifty years ago. 100 years ago America spent 3% of GDP on health care and people lived to about 60. Today we spend about 15% on health care and people live to about 80. A good portion of that increase in life expectancy is due to better food and less violence. It is axiomatic that as things like health care improve, the cost of further improvement escalates. The marginal return on investment declines.

Getting people to about 100 would cost — what, 75% of GDP? Inevitably there will be some starry-eyed character who cries “But you can’t put a price on people’s lives!” Sure you can. In fact, it’s the only thing you can do, inasmuch as the money tree in the back yard is not producing.

I figure everything that threatens me on a regular basis — blood-sugar anomalies, hypertension, osteoarthritis, Al Gore — will be gone shortly after I am. However, I don’t even want to imagine the price tag for any one of those developments.

Then again, we do know how to do health care right. We just don’t:

America has the greatest health care system on earth. It is super cheap, with lots of options and a high degree of customer satisfaction. It is called veterinary medicine. American pets get better health care than 95% of the world population for pennies. The reason is there are few barriers to suppliers so there are many options along the price curve. There’s also incentives to innovate. My Vet has world class lab equipment because it helps attract business.

On the other hand, few pets live to 100 or 80 or even 60.

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Mayo presumably to be held

Because standing in the parking lot and taking a deep breath just isn’t enough:

For hamburger aficionados who can’t get enough of it, Burger King has an answer: a grilled burger-scented fragrance.

Burger King said Friday that the limited “Whopper” grilled beef burger-scented cologne will be sold only one day on April 1, and only in Japan.

And no, the date is not the joke. The King is serious enough about this to ask 5000 yen (forty bucks) for the bottle — with purchase of an actual Whopper.

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Strange search-engine queries (478)

This is that March-going-out-like-a-lamb period, and the flock here has been pretty placid, but some parts of the country are experiencing Killer Sheep, which may explain that new supermarket up the road which looked like it was designed by a cocker spaniel. In the meantime, we have search strings.

warner brothers “the greatest hits album” spirit in the sky pata pata:  Miriam Makeba has passed on, so I’m guessing this is Norman Greenbaum on patrol.

lesley gore on Ellen:  It’s a rerun; LG is no longer with us. And incidentally, she was never on Warner Bros.

heir to the massengill fortune:  Wait for probate. Should happen on a Summer’s Eve.

el ford gearbox problems:  Shouldn’t that be Los Ford Gearbox Problems?

mazda 626 gear box replacement costs:  A tonne of money. Perhaps you can borrow a box from one of los Fords.

why does odo light stay on my 2003 mazda tribute:  Wait until he finds out that it’s not Odo, or indeed any shapeshifter at all.

“abuse of police authority” “Washington State” -domestic: So: imported, then?

jedediah bila upskirt:  For those of you who were wondering if there was any reason in the world to watch Fox News.

sextube meta search.app:windowslive:  For those too jaded to get their jollies from Fox News.

ivy retardation:  This is the phenomenon that makes people come out of Cornell dumber than their peers at the University of Southern North Dakota at Hoople.

aol transition to apple id:  You have through today. Get with it.

Imaginary haters:  Approximately 30 percent of Twitter traffic at any given moment.

“To you I’m sure Twilight Sparkle is just a cartoon character you think is really hot”:  Well, not just.

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Solar flareout

So here we are at a back-to-back. From the very beginning, it did not look good: the Suns were up eleven after the first quarter, and the Thunder cut that lead only to eight at halftime. Then things started to move. From that 62-54 deficit, OKC, with Russell Westbrook running at about 105% of top speed, tied it up at 71. Phoenix eventually righted themselves, and the Suns led 79-76 after three. The Thunder scored the first four points of the fourth to take the lead; there were a couple of bucket exchanges, and suddenly OKC went on a 13-0 run to go up a dozen — while Westbrook was resting. With 3:30 left and the Thunder up 11, the Suns decided that fouling Steven Adams was the thing to do. Adams duly missed two foul shots, Phoenix started moving again, and Scott Brooks replaced Adams with Enes Kanter. That was it for the Suns, with the Thunder finally winning one on the road, 109-97, taking the season series 3-1 and probably (though not mathematically) eliminating the Suns from the playoffs.

For reasons known but to Scott Brooks, only eight Thunder players saw action; seven scored, and six scored in double figures. It was the end of Kanter’s double-double streak: he had 11 points and nine rebounds. Next door, Adams, despite 1-4 foul shooting, came up with 13 points and 16 boards. Anthony Morrow and D. J. Augustin were hitting left and right in that final frame, with D. J. scoring 19 (4-5 from beyond the arc) and AMO 11 (3-5). Westbrook engaged in the usual Westbrookery: 33-9-7 despite missing his first five shots. And there’s an object lesson here for Dion Waiters (18 points), who was 7-14 inside the circle, 1-6 from without.

The Morris twins started for Phoenix; Markieff had 20 by halftime, but finished with only 24. Marcus had 15, as did Eric Bledsoe. Brandon Knight, back from an ankle sprain, had the worst possible night: 1-10 for three points, and then he sprained the other ankle. In his absence, T. J. Warren rolled up 18 points for the Sun reserves.

And that ends March. April opens with a visit from Dallas on Wednesday, followed by a trip to Memphis on Friday, after which there are only six games left, four at home, three of them consecutive. It doesn’t get any easier.

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A time-killer in its own way

What does this tell you about Thunder-Jazz?

Yep. At some point during the third quarter, I turned down the sound and started the long annual trudge through the financials. It doesn’t take that long — I finished the Federal before the end of the game, and the state return is pretty simple — but the local roundballers should not consider this an endorsement, if you know what I mean.

One new line on the back of the 1040 is labeled “Health care: individual responsibility (see instructions)”. From said instructions:

Beginning in 2014, individuals must have health care coverage, qualify for a health coverage exemption, or make a shared responsibility payment with their tax return. If you had qualifying health care coverage (called minimum essential coverage) for every month of 2014 for yourself, your spouse (if filing jointly), and anyone you could or did claim as a dependent, check the box on this line and leave the entry space blank. Otherwise, do not check the box on this line. See the instructions for Form 8965.

You know, it would have been easier for all of us if they’d just called the damn thing a tax. After all, it’s grouped under Other Taxes on the return.

There’s a line — line 69, as it happens — for those who might be getting a credit for coverage purchased through the Marketplace, but this requires yet another form and another set of instructions. Last year, this line did not exist, but there was a blank space, baby, called Reserved.

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Goodness, me

There might be as many ways to answer this question as there are possible answerers:

Are you good at what you do? I’m pleased to hear it, but allow me to ask a question: How do you know?

Lots of possibilities there, as you can see.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you were to become determined to find out exactly how good you are at your trade. What metric would apply? Can you think of an absolute standard against which to measure yourself? I can’t. Among other things, most human qualities are immensurate. They simply can’t be expressed in numbers, and as Robert A. Heinlein has told us, if it cannot be expressed in figures, it’s merely someone’s opinion.

That throws us back to relative measures: “how good you are” as a ranking against others who do the same thing. How would you go about determining that?

About the only metric I have to go by is deadlines, of which I have an abundance. I’ve missed a few over the last quarter-century, but at most two were due to something I did, or to something I didn’t. (Being in the middle of the pipeline is hazardous to one’s sense of well-being.) How this compares to the competition is unclear, since there’s so little of it and no one has time for proper corporate espionage these days, but nothing I hear in industry scuttlebutt suggests to me that anyone is doing any better than I do. Then again, this is merely an opinion, and frankly I’m not one to think myself all that and a bag of organic sun-dried chips.

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One less guitar

Billed at one point as “The Many Guitars of Jørgen Ingmann,” likely in reference to his fondness for Les Paul-ish overdubbing, the man born Jørgen Ingmann Pedersen in Denmark in 1925 had an enormous US hit in 1961 with Jerry Lordan’s “Apache,” first recorded by Bert Weedon, later turned into a worldwide smash by the Shadows — except here in the States, where Capitol Records’ relationship with then-parent EMI was decidedly rocky, giving rival Atlantic a chance to score with Ingmann’s cover.

In 1963, Ingmann and then-wife Grethe won the Eurovision Song Contest with “Dansevise” (“Dance Ballad”). In the States, his one-hit wonder status continued until his death on the 21st of March.

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Reasons for leaving

Probably most of us have had jobs like this at one time or another:

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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Just slightly out of tune

This promised to be an emotional event, simply because of Enes Kanter’s public dissing of the Jazz organization. “It wasn’t just a one game, two game frustration,” he said: “it was a three and a half year frustration.” And typically for Kanter, he was playing at an extremely high level early on, as the Thunder jumped to a 32-21 first-quarter lead. And then it all went poop: Utah outscored OKC 55-34 over the next 24 minutes. It wasn’t that the Jazz defense was all that wonderful, although it was certainly adequate; it’s simply that the Thunder offense disappeared early in the second and was scarcely ever seen again. Blame Rudy Gobert, occupying Kanter’s old slot in the Jazz lineup: he was seemingly everywhere at once. A late Thunder rally made it a two-point game; Gobert went to the foul line with just under nine seconds left, nailed them both, and that was it. Utah 94, Oklahoma City 89, and it’s scary to contemplate what this game could have been had the Thunder not turned the ball over twenty-three times.

In fact, you might argue that Thunder ineptitude was Utah’s leading scorer: the Jazz got 28 points off those miscues. Of flesh-and-blood players, sixth man Trey Burke led the team with 22, with Gordon Hayward adding 20. Gobert recorded a double-double, 13 points and 15 rebounds. Still, the Jazz did not shoot well: 32-84 (38 percent), 6-29 (21 percent) on the long ball, and 24-35 from the stripe. Only twelve turnovers, though, and the Thunder got only eight points from them.

Russell Westbrook scored most of OKC’s 23 points in the fourth quarter, finishing with 37. As expected, Enes Kanter had another double-double, with 18 points and 11 boards; not as expected, the only other Thunder player in double figures was Anthony Morrow, with 12. OKC shot 43 percent (31-73), 38 percent on treys (6-16), and 21-32 from the stripe. (This was not a great night for people who enjoy seeing the net pierced.) OKC did outrebound the Jazz, 48-42, but Utah came up with six more offensive boards, 16-10.

Redemption, if there is to be any, will have to come tomorrow night against the Suns in Phoenix.

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The Certs of fonts

Yes, it’s two, two, TWO fonts in one!

Presenting Comic Papyrus. You heard right — COMIC FREAKIN’ PAPYRUS! Your two most favoritest fonts ever have FINALLY been smooshed together typographically, just as Darwin intended. Cross-bred. Cross-awesomified.

So stop wasting hours switching back and forth between your two old favorites, and just use your new favorite instead. Comic Papyrus combines the timeless rustic qualities from centuries past with the hilarious fun-loving wit of today’s funny pages. It’ll make you laugh (like a joke) and cry (like a mummy). Simultaneously!

This wondrous example of typographic hybridization can be yours for a mere five bucks. Admit it: you’ve paid more and gotten less.

(Via Fark.)

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Joining in

The old Orkut social network, put to sleep by Google last year, had one lasting effect on me: it got me on several Brazilian mailing lists, none of which I particularly wanted to be on.

A couple of the regular senders reference the city of Joinville, about which I knew nothing. Off to Wikipedia I go:

Joinville is the largest city in Santa Catarina State, in the South Region of Brazil. It is the third largest municipality in the southern region of Brazil, after the much larger state capitals of Curitiba and Porto Alegre. Joinville is also a major industrial, financial and commerce center.

The South Region is slightly smaller than Texas — about 230,000 square miles — and has a similar population: just under 30 million.

Now how about that name?

Even though it is considered a German-Brazilian city, its name is French (Joinville was named after François d’Orléans, prince of Joinville, son of King Louis-Philippe of France, who married Princess Francisca of Brazil, in 1843).

Speaking of the Germans, many of whom settled in this area of Brazil back in the 19th century, one of their auto companies is now settling in:

The latest BMW Group production site is located in Araquari, a town in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. This allows the BMW Group to draw on the structures established in Joinville, located about 20 kilometers north of the new plant. At Joinville’s Perini Businesspark, the BMW Group is presently setting up a training center for the new plant. The centerpiece of this facility is an assembly line for training purposes, which is in keeping with the global BMW Group production standards.

And how’s the weather?

Although Joinville lies outside the tropic zone, and because of its low altitude and proximity to the Atlantic Ocean it sees little temperature variation throughout the year, with every month seeing average highs in the 20s C.

This picture of beautiful downtown Joinville is somehow enthralling:

Central Joinville, Wikimedia photo by Unmoralisch

At least from this angle, this town doesn’t look like it’s a mere 14 feet above sea level. And one expects a whole lot more traffic. Then again, Joinville’s 550,000 inhabitants are spread over 400 square miles — kind of like a Texas town.

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Fugmobile

The May Automobile Magazine has a Robert Cumberford article purporting to name the 25 greatest automotive designers. I’m not at all quarreling with his selections — hey, at least he found a place for Erwin Komenda — but this bit jumped out at me:

England is the home of the most extreme styling variations in the automotive world. For every magnificent Jaguar XK-E hit, there are three or four equivalents to the Lea-Francis Lynx.

I suspect the “XK-E” reference to be an editorial judgment on behalf of us Americans, since everywhere else in the world this car was simply called the E-Type, and Cumberford obviously knows that. More perplexing is the Lynx, a 1960 model which I had never seen in the flesh sheetmetal, not even in a photograph.

And apparently there’s a very good reason for that:

1960 Lea-Francis Lynx

Sorry, no eye-bleach dispenser. This vehicle, to say the least, was not a success:

Despite the high hopes of both staff and management, the somewhat unique styling of the Lynx failed to impress the car-buying public, and no orders were received. Three Lynx roadsters were built before Lea-Francis abandoned the project. It was unquestionably a very expensive project for the struggling factory, and doubtless contributed to the eventual closure of the factory.

Although it should be noted that all three cars survive today, indicating that the model wasn’t entirely unloved.

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Quote of the week

Governor Pence has already signed it, but this is what one of his constituents thought about it:

The Religious Freedom law wending its way to the Indiana Governor’s desk should have been easy for the Legislature to write. All they had to do is dig up some of the Jim Crow laws from the Deep and not so Deep South one hundred years ago.

One of his commenters elaborates:

I’m tired of people filing lawsuits because some dumbass narrow-minded idiot uses a religious reason to deny service to someone who violates their sense of right and wrong. The dumbass narrow-minded idiot has a right to his opinion, and the last I looked his business wasn’t owned by the government. A normal person thus dismissed would simply nod and walk away, and make it clear to everyone he met that the dumbass narrow-minded idiot was a bigot and should be boycotted out of business. That’s his right, too. Then the free market can take over and either the shop stays in business or goes out of business, depending on what the market thinks.

The lawyers who dominate legislatures, however, have thoroughly imbued the American public with the notion that anybody should sue anyone anytime over anything, down to and apparently including mere butthurt.

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1600 and all that

Mister, we could use a man like Calvin Coolidge again:

I want to see — just once! — a competent Chief Executive, someone who appoints the various Directors and Cabinet members on the basis of ability, not on how much money they donated, how stalwart a partisan they are or even plain chumship. I want a President who’ll hold ’em to account and send them packing if they screw up.

I don’t care if he or she is any good at giving speeches. I don’t care if the rest of the world loves them or hates them. I don’t care about the President’s age, ugliness, gender, ethnic background, marital status or religion. I’m hoping not for a hawk or a dove but for someone who is slow to anger and measured but decisive in action, who acts only when action is truly necessary.

The problem, of course, is that someone meeting this general description isn’t likely to run for high office: (s)he knows the primaries are going to be filled up with knaves and fools and such, and those who would be power brokers are attracted to those individuals and to no others.

A pertinent Coolidge quote, from an address he gave in Baltimore in 1924, at the dedication of a monument to Lafayette:

Great changes have come over the world since Lafayette first came here desirous of aiding the cause of freedom. His efforts in behalf of an American republic have been altogether successful. In no other country in the world was economic opportunity for the people ever so great as it is here. In no other country was it ever possible in a like degree to secure equality and justice for all. Just as he was passing off the stage, the British adopted their reform measures giving them practically representative government. His own France has long since been welcomed into the family of republics. Many others have taken a like course. The cause of freedom has been triumphant. We believe it to be, likewise, the cause of peace. But peace must have other guarantees than constitutions and covenants. Laws and treaties may help, but peace and war are attitudes of mind.

That “shining city on a hill” business still works, if we work to maintain its light. Otherwise, darkness spreads, and not the romantic sort with the full moon and the gentle breezes either.

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