Down the tube

Yet another approach to getting personal information: a note from “YouTube Support” to tell me that my video has been approved.

At least they went to the trouble to putting up a valid fake YouTube URL. (It comes back “This video is unavailable.”) It might even have worked if they’d sent it to an address I actually use on YouTube, which they didn’t.

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Earth orbit not attained

The Houston Rockets, through last night, led the NBA in scoring, with an average per game on the far side of 105, and a big part of that offensive effort has been OKC expat James Harden. So it was a good time, evidently, for the Thunder to conduct a defensive clinic. Stare in disbelief at these numbers: fifty-three rebounds. Nine blocks. Sixteen steals. Twenty-four Houston turnovers. And the Beard went 6-17 from the floor, though he proved adept at garnering fouls; eleven of his 24 points were from the foul line. It was a two-point game with four minutes left in the first half, and then the Thunder went berserk, or something: a 16-0 run put them up 68-50, and things just got worse for the Rockets after that. We’re talking a 124-94 blowout, in Houston.

Which is not to say that the Rockets had nothing at all going for them. Second-year power forward Marcus Morris went 9-14 for 24 points, and Toney Douglas paced the bench with 17. (Unfortunately, Douglas’ effort left him -31 for the night.) Houston was held to just under 40 percent shooting, and of their 30 (!) attempted three-pointers, only eight paid off. Chandler Parsons (10 points) was 0-5 from outside. Heck, OKC seemingly tried to give it away — we’re talking 21 turnovers here — but no dice, son, you’re getting off work early.

Whatever it was that got Russell Westbrook going late in the Dallas game night before last, it was still doing the job tonight: he was 11-22 for 28 points with eight boards and eight dimes. (And, yes, five turnovers. You can’t have everything.) And something powered Thabo Sefolosha (15 points) to +39 for the night, one of the higher +/- figures I’ve seen. Kevin Durant deposited, quietly, 26 points; Kevin Martin added 19, 15 of them on 5-8 from beyond the arc. (The Thunder made 13 of 29, 45 percent; that’s a lot of Ka-Ching! from radio guy Matt Pinto.) And nobody had a double-double except Nick Collison. There’s a first.

New Year’s Eve, the woeful Phoenix Suns will pop into town, followed Wednesday by the Brooklyn Nets, who may or may not be coached by OKC expat P. J. Carlesimo, who assumed the position, so to speak, after Avery Johnson was sent packing.

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Bebe, it’s cold outside

This shot of Bebe Neuwirth comes from the 2005 International Emmy Awards, and while I haven’t been able to track down the dress, I did find some related snark.

First, the photo:

Bebe Neuwirth at the 2005 International Emmys

Now the snark, attached to another photo from the same event:

Okay, Bebe Neuwirth. You are a great dancer. You have great legs. You look much younger than you actually are. You’re very vital. We’re all very impressed.

PLEASE PUT ON SOME PANTS.

To address the “much younger” statement: she’ll be 54 on New Year’s Eve.

And it’s not like the world is running short of fabric, I suppose.

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So much to say

This is maybe the simplest About page I’ve ever seen on a blog, but the possibilities are a little overwhelming:

My name is George White, I was born in Hunwick, a small village in the South West of County Durham, in the year 1920. I’m 92 years old.

I duly looked up Hunwick, wondering if it had been a mining town. It hadn’t:

Hunwick is an attractive, ancient village dating from Saxon times when it belonged to the Cathedral church of Durham. Hunwick stands between Bishop Auckland and Crook. It was later given to the Earls of Northumberland, but it returned to the ownership of the church when Henry VIII re-endowed Durham cathedral. The village itself was probably destroyed during the Harrying of the North in the late 11th century, and was rebuilt with two rows of houses arranged around the village green.

The remains of the medieval manor house of Hunwick is now a farmhouse; its former chapel is now used as a barn, though the medieval east window can still be seen. Outside the farm gate is the remains of a gin gang, an engine designed to operate farm machinery and worked by horses. Helmington Hall to the north is also a farm, all that remains of a large house dating to about 1686.

And why has Mr White taken keyboard in hand? This post, titled “Into the unknown,” explains it all.

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Also usable for left turns

I’ve pulled this stunt before, and I’m doing it again. The gimmick: bring up Mappos, the new name for the Zappos.com order map, and report on the first pair of shoes I see. These are on their way to Albuquerque:

Sizeup by Stuart Weitzman

This is “Sizeup” by Stuart Weitzman, intended to “inject a little fiery passion into your attire.” I dunno. I like the look, generally, but I don’t think of these as being particularly passionate, especially in “Slate Guinea Croco.” (There is also an “Espresso” variant, which I see as a little more emotional but a little harder to match with one’s wardrobe. Your mileage may vary.) And that wide heel doesn’t look as tall as it is (four inches). Zappos normally asks $385 for these, but our bargain hunter in New Mexico bagged ‘em for $249. The readership here is known to contain some non-fans of Weitzman, but that’s just the chance I have to take.

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Bricks passed

Everything you ever wanted to know about wombat dung:

Okay, maybe more than you wanted to know.

(Via Neatorama.)

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Renew Leaf

As anyone who has had a laptop for more than a few months knows, fully charged lithium-ion batteries aren’t quite so fully charged after multiple cycles; your usable time drops a little, then a little more, and then finally a lot. If this is bad in a computer, it’s horrendous in a car, and Nissan, which has come under some criticism for not being able to subdue the laws of physics, is adding a new provision to the warranty on their all-electric Leaf: if, in the first five years/60,000 miles, your battery pack can’t make it up to at least nine bars on the 12-bar dashboard display, they will replace it with one that can.

This warranty covers all Leafs sold thus far in the States, and these questions come up in Nissan’s press release:

Q. Why did you decide to enhance the warranty policy and implement this program now?

A. The expanded warranty is intended to put customers’ minds at ease concerning battery capacity loss, although it is expected that the great majority of LEAF owners will not have to use this enhanced warranty. Nissan’s decision is to demonstrate its confidence in the integrity and performance of its battery system.

Q. What is the status of the class-action lawsuit against Nissan related to battery capacity issues?

A. The lawsuit has been settled as part of our effort to address customer concerns including those expressed by the two customers who filed the class-action lawsuit.

The original eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on the battery pack covers only complete abject failure, not routine capacity loss, so as CYA maneuvers go, this is pretty thorough.

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Quote of the week

Remember that Pelosian nonsense about “we have to pass the bill to know what’s in it?” Well, the bill got passed, and we still don’t know what’s in it:

In America today you might be “legally” part-time even though you work fifty hours a week, or “legally” full-time even though you only work twenty-five hours a week. You might be a full-time employee for the purposes of one law, and unemployed for the purposes of another law. The law could say clearly and unambiguously that teachers are part-time, and the judge could rule that they work full time. What’s “legally” true is whatever the judge says; what’s “legally” true no longer has much connection with reality.

In which case, this is the next stage:

It seems like Congress would find it less painful simply to pass a bill that’s a collection of random words — or letters, if words are too constraining. Title it “An Act for Amelioration of Problems,” and fill it with greeking. The Republicans can say it’s a tax cut for all Americans. The Democrats can say it’s a tax increase on the rich. They can both say it balances the budget and eliminates the deficit. The courts will tell us what we must do to avoid a fine and prison.

On second thought, this might be the current stage.

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Meanwhile in the trench

“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” — Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

This strikes me as sort of negative:

Google recently stripped over two billion views away from videos uploaded by major labels RCA, Sony, and Universal. The embarrassing punishment comes after YouTube discovered the record companies had made arrangements with services like Fiverr that specialize in falsely boosting the popularity of content.

That practice runs directly against YouTube’s policies, which clearly state “the purchase or gaming of subscribers, views or any other channel feature” to be a violation of its terms of service. “If views from a video are considered artificially inflated — whether as a result of spam, malware bots and other suspicious or non-user initiated actions — the video and/or channel may be suspended,” it says. And inflated they were: Universal instantly lost over one billion views. Sony’s overall count plunged from 850 million all the way down to 2.3 million. RCA saw a less drastic (but equally humbling) fall from 159 million views to 120 million.

So far as I can tell, Fiverr does not actually specialize in this sort of thing, though it’s not inconceivable that there are Fiverr users who watch videos endlessly as part of their gigs. And I suspect that there are other factors involved:

In a strategic move, Universal, Sony and EMI in 2009 jointly put their music videos in the VEVO basket with the belief that by aggregating the videos, they could command better advertising rates as well as grow viewership.

That meant high-profile videos that once lived separately on the Universal and Sony YouTube channels have been relocated to VEVO. As a result, the views that those videos received during their time on the dedicated label channels were taken away in YouTube’s latest “clean up” effort.

So how many of those vanishing views are due to VEVO, and how many to finagling? YouTube, of course, isn’t talking.

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Real live Rebecca Black

There was apparently an upsurge in death rumors again, but no, you can’t get rid of that “Friday” girl that easily. Lots of folks at her Sunday concert at House of Blues in Anaheim, one of whom shot this highly unofficial video:

This was the debut of “Take Me Away,” which will presumably be on the oft-delayed album. Also on the set list: “In Your Words,” the current single; a cover of Ed Sheeran’s “The A Team”; future album track “Carried Away”.

And, oh yes, this was the finale:

Rebecca has often spoken of rearranging “Friday,” but I never imagined it as reggae.

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Clouds in my crystal

Let’s see. We were supposed to get six inches of snow on Christmas; we got six-tenths of an inch. Wednesday it was supposed to clear up. It did not. Thursday it was supposed to clear up. It did not. Today we were supposed to have a slight chance of freezing fog. What we got was snow.

Of course, they can tell you within half a degree what it’s going to be like in 2023, or so they say, so there’s that. Then again, I expect to be here in 2023, and to tell them that they were wrong.

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Fontella

The New Look by Fontella BassThe first Fontella Bass album was titled The ‘New’ Look; once “Rescue Me” broke out in the fall of 1965, Checker, a Chess sublabel, resisted the temptation to retitle it. Then again, she’d already had a hit of sorts: “Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing,” a duet with Bobby McClure, keyed to the briefly popular (in Chicago, anyway) dance known as the Uncle Willie. “Good Thing” made Top Five on the soul chart and Top 40 pop; for some inscrutable reason, Checker didn’t bother to include it on The ‘New’ Look, preferring to fill up the tracks with cover versions. Then again, Bass was able to make “Our Day Will Come” sort of funky.

Still, “Rescue Me” was a monster, and we quickly worked it into our school-bus singing rotation. (You gotta kill half an hour somehow.) What we couldn’t do, being young and shrill, was duplicate Louis Satterfield’s cosmic bass line. The follow-up, “Recovery,” got lots of airplay locally but barely dented the Top 40, and Bass and Checker parted on something less than the best of terms: for some reason the label had never bothered to note her cowriting credit on “Rescue Me.” Bass and her husband, jazzman Lester Bowie, relocated to France; she sang on two albums by Bowie’s Art Ensemble of Chicago. The second of them, the soundtrack to Moshe Mizrahi’s film Les Stances a Sophie, features Bass on the idiosyncratic “Theme de Yoyo”, arguably farther out than anything conceived by George Clinton’s Parliafunkadelicment Thang.

She kept a lower profile after that, recording the occasional gospel album and contributing guest vocals here and there. Still, everyone remembered “Rescue Me,” and in the 1990s she established her claim to part of the take. Her death the day after Christmas left many of us feeling stranded.

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No shrugs

Casey Cornett was wondering if, given the crappy recent weather and an indifferent opponent, the Thunder’s string of umpty-eleven sellouts might be broken. I assured him that it would not: “The roads are really bad only to the southwest. And there’s just a hint of bad blood between these clubs.” Um, yeah. Just a hint. And the Mavericks, blah 12-16 record notwithstanding, more than made a game of it: they took the lead four minutes in, and didn’t relinquish it until just inside two minutes left. The Thunder, seemingly miraculously, burned up two thirds of the time remaining, Serge Ibaka grabbing two consecutive offensive rebounds. With the Mavs down three, Darren Collison landed a 25-footer at the horn, and regulation time ended at 98-all.

Then with the Thunder up 107-104 with half a minute left, Kevin Martin fouled O. J. Mayo, who was awarded three free throws. Mayo missed two of them. This should have been a warning: Oklahoma City almost always wins in overtime. Which they did, 111-105. There’s something about those extra five minutes. Russell Westbrook, who was a miserable 4 for 16 in regulation, went 3-4 in overtime, and splashed two free throws besides. That gave him a double-double, 16 points and 10 assists. Ibaka, on the other hand, had entered double-double territory before halftime, and finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds. (The Thunder outrebounded the Mavs, 57-46.) Kevin Martin led the bench with a sparkling 18, and — oh, yeah. Sorry. Forgot. Kevin Durant scored 40.

Dirk Nowitzki was back, sort of, though his minutes were supposedly limited. He still ended up with 26 minutes and nine points. With a -17 for the night, worst on the floor, he was almost ready to be a Telltale Statistic — until you look at the other end of the scale and see Dahntay Jones standing tall with a +7. Jones took two shots all night (a mere 15 minutes as a starter, which explains why we saw so much of Dirk), and missed them both. Then again, Dallas had plenty of offense; Darren Collison ended up with 32, Chris Kaman 17, Shawn Marion 14. It was obvious, though, that OKC was working on throttling Mayo, and it worked: he got a single trey and that one free throw, and that was it. (Bitter statistic: the foul shots he missed were the Mavs’ only two misses.) And really, that buzzer-beater of Collison’s was a thing of beauty in a perverse sort of way: one-handed, one-legged, barely launched in time.

Oh, and attendance? 18,203, same as always. Told ya so. Now to Houston, to deal with The Beard and the Rockets, not necessarily in that order.

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No, but she might throw a fit

Damned autocorrect:

Will a blown head harlet throw a CEL code?

Or maybe he had no idea how to spell “gasket.”

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Between the sheets

You may have read this here in 2009:

There aren’t any firm figures on how many people actually do sleep in the buff, though Esquire claims that 31 percent of men and 14 percent of women decline to play the pajama game.

More recently, we have this:

Costa Mesa-based Anna’s Linens, which sells sheets and home decor, has released a bedtime survey of 3,700 people to draw publicity to National Sleep Day, Jan. 3.

Among the findings: 8 percent of Americans sleep naked, 74 percent wear pajamas and the rest are clothed in something else.

Not that I have any worthwhile personal data to contribute, but I suspect Anna’s local customers — this is Orange County, after all — might be understating the case just a bit, and Esquire’s respondents might be overstating it.

I looked at Anna’s available sheets, which sport thread counts from 200 to 1000. (I remember a set I bought from JCPenney in the 1980s, which seemed to have a thread count of 12; it has long since been retired.) For what it’s worth, I don’t bother with anything under 300 anymore.

(With thanks to Nudiarist.)

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Security Theater presents a heartwarming comedy

Holidays, right? So let’s say something nice about the Transportation Security Administration:

My father agreed to take the cat back to California. Naturally, the cat would fly with him.

First of all, this was no ordinary cat. He was big, fuzzy, orange, and extremely friendly … Dad took him through the line and offered to put the cat through the x-ray. Naturally the TSA ladies shouted him down and said they would need to search Fred manually for, you know, WMDs.

The first lady put her hands in the bag, and felt up Fred, front and back, paws, belly, tail, etc. Fred LOVED it. She then called over her coworker, insisting that she had to check too. Fred purred some more.

A satisfied customer! There had to be at least one out there, right?

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