Happier endings

Or at least recognizable ones. I’m not as picky as I used to be.

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Pesky children

I run several sites besides this one, devoted to even narrower niches. I was working on one Saturday night when WordPress spun the black circle at me, telling me there was an update — to the theme, fercrissake. Now I hadn’t done a whole lot of modifications to that theme, though I’d deployed half a dozen widgets in the sidebar, so I figured nothing much would happen.

And, of course, I was wrong. They’d added some nav buttons to the sidebar which duplicated the widget arrangement — and which pushed said arrangement a couple hundred pixels down the page. It wasn’t particularly difficult to restore the functionality I had, but it was something of a jolt. (The theme in use here is pretty much dead, development-wise; I screw around with it more or less ad lib with no ill — other than aesthetic — effects.)

So it looks like I’m going to have to study up on child themes, to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

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Strange search-engine queries (350)

From around the world, across the nation, and up your street, here are the latest goofy search strings from straight out of the server logs.

i dont begin any sentences with:  Capital letters, anyway.

your ponderous seemed to me inteed much more to emphasize your own brilliance:  Some call me the Ponderous of Love.

“this is the sort of man we mean when we use the word playboy”:  I presume this caption was not attached to a picture of Mitt Romney.

knickerless girl:  As seen in the Dickens classic “Knickerless Knickerby.”

what other problems can occur when transmission goes:  For one, bankruptcy.

how long do earthquakes last:  Until the ground stops shaking. (This does not include any aftershocks.)

her naked silhouette shown thru the window:  So back away from the window, Tom. Sheesh. You want to get yourself in trouble or something?

your girlfriend does not look like Zooey Deschanel:  Neither does anybody else’s.

is it common for squirrels to chew weatherstrip on garage door:  It is common for squirrels to chew anything, with the possible exception of anvils.

how to draw an anvil:  Figure out how to draw a coyote plummeting off a cliff. The anvil will appear, as if by magic.

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The Band of ’59 in triumph

Smashing Songs of Stage and Screen survives stall, succeeds successfully:

Kickstarter Screen for Big Daddy

I got the word from Roger at 8:54 Central, and Kickstarter’s official notification spot-on at 9.

So there will be a new Big Daddy album, circa 7/13. And once again, my presence on a Kickstarter backers list guarantees success. (Hey, I lead a charmed life.) What’s more, in the four minutes between that screenshot and the closing, three more backers signed on, adding $100 to the take.

Life is good sometimes.

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Hate to say I told you so

But hey, I told you so. Yours truly, May ’11:

Convention business isn’t exactly booming, and the grisly pas de deux of government policies and energy prices insures that the nation’s once-vaunted mobility is trampled underfoot: whether by design or merely by default, travel is rapidly becoming as inconvenient and as expensive as is humanly possible. There will always be some convention business, but it’s going to be confined to the handful of top-tier cities with which we already arguably fail to compete. If it is deemed necessary to remind the rest of the nation that Oklahoma City actually exists, a quarter of a billion dollars would buy a hell of a lot of Kevin Durant backpacks.

The Wall Street Journal, October ’12:

The nation’s slow-growing economy has hurt attendance. With budgets tight, companies and associations aren’t holding as many conventions or sending as many employees or members to them. And a glut of convention space has sharpened the competition among cities.

Between 2000 and 2011, convention-center exhibit-hall space expanded by 35% nationally while attendance fell 1.7% in the same time, said Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and an expert on convention centers. Attendance is down 5% since 2007.

Yet we’re going to spend $280 million (or so) on trying to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie. Dr Sanders knows why:

He blames cities’ hired consultants, who he said predict “all these people are going to come and do wonderful things to your economy.”

As they did here in the Big Breezy for Roy Williams and the OKC Chamber:

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber commissioned a study [in 2009] to determine how much convention space the city needs. The results showed the Cox Convention Center to be inadequate. Worse still, the building is landlocked by major streets and can’t be expanded. The Cox Convention Center brings in an estimated $30 million a year to the local economy, including $10 million in salaries and 400 jobs, Williams said.

“Essentially the new convention center would triple that,” Williams said. “The impact would go up to nearly $80 million. Salaries and wages would go to about $30 million and employment would go to 1,100.”

Unless, of course, they don’t, as Dr Sanders predicts:

“But the problem is they aren’t coming anymore, because there are lots of other convention centers … that desperately want that business,” he said.

We are, of course, going to build this monstrosity. I just hope they’ll come up with a more plausible justification for it: the elevation of civic pride, the desire for shiny new stuff, the ability to attract a higher class of hookers — anything but actual return on investment. Because that’s not happening.

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I’m a duckling and what is this

Why, it’s H-two-O:

Previously hoarded by a Crazy Bird Lady, these ducks had never even been within quacking distance of a place to swim. They’ll adjust.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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Somebody oughta Sue

The Nightfly discovers that Johnny Cash and Shel Silverstein anticipated Information Technology. First verse (you’ll want to see, and maybe sing, them all):

Well, my boss left the company when I got hired
Gave me a cubicle and then retired
My training was a stack of post-its in a drawer
Now I don’t blame him that he run and hid
But perhaps the meanest thing he did
Was before he left, he hung “IT” on my door

Somebody did that to me, I’d kill the [BLEEP].

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Honda wants to buy you some gas

Some compressed natural gas, anyway:

Honda just released an incentive, a big one, for those interested in buying the Civic Natural Gas. American Honda has an alliance with Clean Energy Fuels to provide a debit card pre-loaded with $3,000 that can used at Clean Energy fueling stations around the country. Another perk, for those living in California, is the ability to drive a 2012 Civic Natural Gas Vehicle in the High Occupancy Vehicle carpool lanes through January 1, 2015.

If you’re in my neck of the woods, the downside to this, apart from the fact that the Civic Natural Gas (formerly the Civic GX) is the priciest Civic, is that Clean Energy has only about 180 stations, more than a third of which are in California. We have something resembling an actual CNG infrastructure in Oklahoma, but none of it is owned by Clean Energy. On t’other hand, Honda is claiming an average $2.05 per gallon-equivalent at CE stations; the going rate around here is more like a buck-fifty.

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Eternal Beverly

Today marks the 60th birthday of Beverly Johnson, champion swimmer turned criminal-law student turned model, who smashed a color bar in September 1974 with her appearance on the cover of Vogue’s US edition, the first time an African-American woman had ever been there.

On the off-chance that you might think it unkind to slip a picture of a sixty-year-old into the weekly roundup of Major Babe pix, we’re turning the clock back just a little for this:

Beverly Johnson in 2009

This shot comes from designer Tracy Reese’s show at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week, Spring/Summer 2010, which of course took place in the fall of 2009, just before Beverly Johnson’s 57th birthday.

For comparison, let’s go back thirty years more. Here’s the jacket (minus a corner, this being a cutout) from her 1979 LP Don’t Lose the Feeling, issued as Buddah BDS 5726.

Beverly Johnson LP sleeve from 1979

Dayum, girl.

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Approaching pandemic

Is this something related to Blogger? Fillyjonk reported a few weeks back:

I deleted a good 60 “anonymous” comments that were either just a long list of dodgy links, or were those weird, enigmatic, vaguely positive things with one link hidden at the end.

I’m kind of fed up. So I’ve tried turning word verification back on. I know this will probably cut the already-small number of comments I receive, but it’s really a pain to delete all the junk comments from my e-mail, and it’s disheartening to get a big whack of comments and realize not one of them is from someone who is NOT a ‘bot.

More recently, from Jeffro:

Man, it seems like this blog has been besieged with spam lately. Fifty or sixty spam comments are usually waiting in the ol’ folder after twenty four hours. I don’t think Feedjit or Site Meter are tracking them, but they do show up on TraceMyIP. Most are just the generic blast a bunch of drug names and a link, presumably where I can get fleeced thinking I’ll be able to buy Ambien. Or maybe I’ll really be buying Abmien or however they misspell it. Wonder what it does…

These numbers seemed unusually high to me, so I dug into my Akismet stats. Since the first of September, forty-three days ago, I’ve had 99 spam comments — and 527 nonspam comments. (“Missed spam” and “false positive” balance out at 1 each.) This is a hair over two spams a day. Now I have had worse periods than that — the Worst Month Ever, December ’08, saw 2988 spams, nearly a hundred a day — but in the last six months or so, the volume has tapered off considerably. Maybe the bot networks have refocused for the moment.

Whatever the explanation, I am forced to conclude that Google, which owns Blogger, should swallow their pride and trade whatever feckless anti-spam measures they use for a fresh copy of Akismet, even if it is owned by the people who own WordPress.

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Bolshevrolet

One obvious effect from the post-WWII partition of Germany:

Take a society of diligent, hardworking people with the same heritage and cultural values, put half of them under Communism and half under Capitalism, and come back and check the cars forty years later. Capitalism gives a range of vehicle choices ranging from the diesel Golf to the Benz 600SEL, and Communism produces the Trabant, and so few of those that they have to be rationed at that.

Of course, it wouldn’t be history if it didn’t repeat itself:

In the follow-on experiment, Capitalism produces the Hyundai Genesis and Equus, and Communism produces the … the … does North Korea even have an auto industry?

In a manner of speaking, yes. You should know that the new-for-2008 (more or less) Pyeonghwa Hwiparam, which bears a “II” designation, is a Brilliance BS4, licensed from the Chinese and scorned by the British.

I have to believe that our current crop of Fuel Economy Über Alles types actually aspire to the DPRK model: we must conserve our precious resources, so that they can keep driving their Benzes.

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Quote of the week

Fillyjonk, on the ubiquity of geekitude:

I honestly can’t say I really know any people I’d call boring. People who have few interests that intersect with my interests, yes, but I’ve found that people generally have something interesting about them if you look a little bit. As I said to a colleague the other week, when we were standing around while our students collected data: “Everyone’s a geek about something. There are people who are geeks about barbed wire. Or trains. Or old books. If someone says they’re not a geek about anything, they’re either lying or they have a very limited imagination.” And actually, it’s the place where a person IS a geek that makes them interesting — because they know stuff about that topic and are interested in sharing it.)

Now I find myself wishing I were on a train, reading an old book about barbed wire. Or something like that.

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Perhaps a black comedy

All I know about it is that it opens on the 20th of October:

Imagine sitting in a theatre without seeing anything. It’s pitch black, and someone strokes your arm. A “cause celebre” in a number of European theatres, the Odyssey brings a unique experiment to its own stages. Theatre, all in the dark! Anticipate the ever present potential of the unexpected. What can happen during an evening theatre experience in complete darkness with audience intimately confronted by actors, constantly changing spatial and sound perspectives, utilizing voice, music and sound?

Short answer: I have no idea. This is not a huge theatre — the Odyssey is one of those Showcase Code (formerly “Equity Waiver,” and I’ll bet a tale hangs thereby) houses with exactly 99 seats that have flourished in Los Angeles over the past couple of decades — and given how easily I’m baffled by low-light scenes, I have to figure I’d be utterly discombobulated by this pair of productions, which are sensibly titled Dark and More Dark.

It may be, though, that I am merely insufficiently cynical. As Nancy Friedman tweeted yesterday: “Can’t decide whether Theatre in the Dark is a brilliant creative concept or just a way to save on set decoration.”

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Relatively motionless

What single word describes the Thunder offense tonight? My first thought was “nonexistent,” but since they did score once in a while, I’ll go with radio guy Matt Pinto’s offering: “stagnant.” As in “not moving when you could be.” As in “never once led.” The usual preseason cautions apply, and Russell Westbrook had the day off — just resting — but the Jazz still seemed a lot more organized, and won it on their home court 97-81.

How dominant was Utah? All but one OKC player finished minus for the night, the exception being Perry Jones III, who checked in with a zero. PJ3, who played 30 minutes, led all Thunder scorers with 14. Once again, Hasheem Thabeet led all Thunder foulers with six in just over 16 minutes. Meanwhile, the Jazz, which leads the entire NBA in players named M. Williams, started both of them. Mo scored 15, Marvin 10, in identical 22:36 stints, the only amusing aspect to the box score.

And Enes Kanter, second-year Jazz center, was actually formidable, leading the bench with 12 points and 12 rebounds in 18 minutes. From the sound of things — no TV except for a dubious stream — Kanter managed to irritate Cole Aldrich no end in the fourth. (Aldrich had the only other double-double on the floor: 11 points, 10 boards.)

Scott Brooks, right about now, is trying to explain how you don’t win games shooting 37 percent. Or putting up 15 treys and hitting three. Not even against the Bobcats, who will be in town on Tuesday.

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Surrounded by words

Photo from Rebecca Black videoTwo Fridays ago, I learned that one of the two new songs on Rebecca Black’s concert setlist was an original called “In Your Words.” And that’s apparently the next single, because this week they shot the music video, and from the looks of things, they put her in a glass cage with a Sharpie. (She posted this picture to her Instagram account Thursday. Of course.)

Nobody except the little WordPress gizmo is actually keeping count, but this is apparently my 97th Rebecca Black-related post. If I’m really lucky, the video will come out for the 100th. Not that she owes me any favors or anything.

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The appearance of thrift

There are some among us who think it would be perfectly fine to keep filling GSA parking facilities with the last-generation Chevrolet Impala, which is dirt-cheap to buy yet is big enough to keep J. Random Bureaucrat from thinking he’s been consigned to a penalty box, no thanks to those ungrateful citizens.

Does this work in Israel? Kinda sorta:

50 Cabinet ministers, judges and high ranking police officials in Israel were offered the choice of a new state car this past summer, and had the option of a BMW 528i or a Citroën C5. 28 of the 50, mostly cabinet ministers, picked the Citroën after a significant public backlash surrounded the BMWs.

The Bimmer’s $30k-higher sticker was the official reason given, though Munich served notice that it was ready to deal. Apparently not a factor: the fact that said BMW was built in, um, Germany.

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