About a year from now

Inevitably, this came up today:

Super Bowl 50 logoWell, actually, none of the above:

The NFL announced … that Super Bowl 50 will be graphically represented using standard Arabic numerals instead of Roman numerals, which the league has been using since Super Bowl V in 1971.

It’s a one-year break, said Jaime Weston, the league’s vice president of brand and creative, because the “L” isn’t as pleasing to the eye.

“When we developed the Super Bowl XL logo, that was the first time we looked at the letter L,” Weston said. “Up until that point, we had only worked with X’s, V’s and I’s. And, at that moment, that’s when we started to wonder: What will happen when we get to 50?”

The NFL assures us that this is not a permanent change or anything:

The NFL will go back to using Roman numerals for Super Bowl LI in Houston in 2017.

I’m not even going to think about Super Bowl C/100/whatever, presumably to be held in 2066.

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Declining utility

I’ve never been this old before, and I definitely feel like it.

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Just shut up and eat

The days of Massive Family Meals are down to a mere handful, and perhaps one of the reasons, beyond a most lamentable lack of time for such things, is the upsurge in finicky eaters, and I don’t mean two-year-olds in a high chair either:

We live in the golden age of man when it comes to food. We have more than enough to feed all of us, even the poorest of us. We also have every variety of food imaginable. In addition to turkey, I’ll make an authentic Mexican dish with material from Mexico. I’ll have sides and appetizers with ingredients from around the world. Despite this bounty, everyone is now afraid of their food. Food allergies, moralizing and whack-a-doodle dietary fads have everyone looking at their plate with suspicion.

Back when this annual event started, it was easy to cook a bunch of food for a bunch of people. Besides the turkey and sides, we had beer and some store bought desserts. Then vegetarians started to show up followed by vegans. That meant adding dishes for people who don’t eat meat and those who don’t oppress their food, whatever the hell that means. Of course, beer was no longer enough so a variety of wines and cocktails were added to the menu. All of which came with a lecture from the food cultist about the morality and science of their new thing.

My first reaction is “You invited these people?”

Then again, I suppose I myself could be considered a food oppressor, a decimator times ten: I fix enough to eat, and nothing is left — nothing but bits and pieces that would disappear into the dishwasher, had I a dishwasher.

There are two basic types of pathological foodies: men and women, as follows:

My read on this faux-allergy stuff is it is mostly women. The yogurt makers have figured out how to capitalize on their psycho-somatic stomach discomfort by claiming “probiotics” are the cure. Slap a new label on the old yogurt, double the price and you have a whole new revenue stream for the Acme Yogurt Company. I wish I had thought of it.

That said, men have their own food superstitions these days. I know guys who swallow dozens of supplements every day, believing they are the key to losing weight, staying young, getting a boner, living forever, etc. If the label says good things with words containing “-trophic” then they will shell out fifty bucks for a bottle. The more made up words the better. I read some of these bottles and start laughing as the neologisms are usually nonsense.

I operate on the notion that the death rate for this species is 100 percent, that it has been for some time, and if I have [name of food you can’t abide under any circumstances] once in a while, the odds won’t change one bit.

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I won’t back up

When word came down that Sam Smith’s “Stay With Me” was sufficiently similar to Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” to warrant cutting in Petty (and cowriter Jeff Lynne) on the songwriter royalties, I shrugged; it’s not like we’ve never heard this sort of thing before.

Just to aggravate the matter, consider the Nick Lowe composition “I Knew the Bride (When She Used to Rock & Roll”), first recorded in 1977 by Dave Edmunds for his Get It album. Lowe put out his own version on The Rose of England in 1985; this video comes from Yep Roc, which issued a best-of compilation for Lowe a few years back.

Half Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” half Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass,” right?

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Neither black nor ice

During the winter, you get lots of warnings about frozen zones on the road that you can’t see at night; you don’t get so many about unfrozen zones on the road that you don’t notice in broad daylight. One of the latter got me yesterday afternoon after a grocery run.

The scene: Eastbound on NW 36th at Portland. There’d been about a quarter-inch of rain, and everywhere the pavement is irregular, there’s likely to be a puddle of some sort. (And as anyone who drives 36th knows, there are lots of places where the pavement is irregular.) The light turned green; I gave Gwendolyn a light tap on the throttle, she moved forward a couple of inches, and suddenly we found ourselves separated from the pavement by a thin layer of either greasy water or watery grease. (There are two filling stations at that intersection, which may or may not be a factor.) The tach rose with vigor, topping out at about 5400 rpm, before the transmission felt compelled to shift and the tires started to bite again.

To the presumed delight of the folks in adjacent lanes, I did not spin; my progress out of the pond was straight and true, if a little nerve-wracking. (Traction control? Never heard of it.) As is typical with jackrabbit starts in this car, the 1-2 shift happens faster than the accumulator can accumulate, so there was a palpable thump. No harm, no foul; but I kept the speed down a bit for the rest of the trip home.

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Loaded for bears

In the first three and a half minutes of the fourth quarter, the Thunder scored exactly two points, a layup by Anthony Morrow. Two minutes later, they still had just those two points, and had turned the ball over seven times. But by then, everyone had seen the writing on the walls of the FedEx Forum, and that writing said “Visitors unwelcome.” With 2:10 left, Scott Brooks acknowledged the truth of the matter, and pulled his starters. The victorious Grizzlies got a standing O from the crowd. It was 85-74 at the horn, the second Memphis win over Oklahoma City in two games, with two left to play.

Weirdly, the Griz shot a terrible 37 percent from the floor. Still, Memphis’ 34-92 was definitely better than OKC’s 27-78, less than 35 percent. And the Griz dominated the other columns on the box score: 54-47 on rebounds, 22-15 on assists, 11-5 on steals. Zach Randolph got his 13th straight double-double (21 points, 18 rebounds); Marc Gasol got one too (15 points, 12 boards). Mike Conley, a game-time decision due to a wrist injury, rolled up 10 points early on. The arrival of Jeff Green meant that Tony Allen could return to his sixth-man position; both scored eight.

Meanwhile, OKC had lots of underachievers, including its two All-Stars: both Kevin Durant (15 points) and Russell Westbrook (14 points) went 5-16 from the floor. (Westbrook hit one of three treys; KD missed all five of his.) Serge Ibaka did squeak out a double-double with 13 points and ten retrievals; nobody else approached double figures, and in that plus/minus stuff, the only plusses belonged to Perry Jones and Jeremy Lamb, who weren’t summoned until after the white flag had been raised. (Glue guy Nick Collison held his ground with a zero.)

The Orlando Magic, who were waxed at home by the Mavs tonight, will be in OKC Monday night, possibly without coach Jacque Vaughn, whose job is reportedly in jeopardy. If Vaughn shows up and the Thunder play like they did in the fourth quarter at Memphis, he may get a brief reprieve.

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I hope you’re not disappointed

So says James Bond (Sean Connery) to Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) in a bed scene in From Russia With Love, the second and last of the purely dramatic Bond films. (From Goldfinger apparently until infinity, you could always see the finger pressing the Irony button.) Says Tatiana: “I will tell you … in the morning.” Pretty shrewd for an ingenue.

Daniela Bianchi as Tatiana Romanova

Bianchi, first runner-up to Miss Universe in 1960, was born in Rome on this day in 1942; at 21, she was, and is, the youngest actress ever to play a leading Bond girl. And if it seems odd that an Italian woman should be playing a clerk at the Soviet consulate in Istanbul, well, consider that Bond’s contact in Turkey, Ali Kerim Bey, is played by, um, Pedro Armendáriz — or was, until his death during production. (In the last few scenes to be shot, he was doubled by director Terence Young.)

Her career didn’t exactly take off, though she did get steady work in Europe (and three episodes of the US television series Dr. Kildare) through the 1960s. In this shot, Bianchi is an heiress with the wealthy-sounding name Mercedes, in a film with several titles: for the US, The Balearic Caper, which sounded ever so much more cerebral than the original Italian title Zarabanda Bing Bing.

Daniela Bianchi as a wealthy heiress

In 1970, having found True Love with a shipping magnate from Genoa, Daniela Bianchi retired from film; she returned only once, in We’re Nothing Like James Bond (2013), the story of two fiftyish guys who wonder where their youth has gone, and decide that they should try to talk Sean Connery into revealing the secret of immortality. Bianchi, inevitably, plays herself.

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Telltale signs of junk

How many ways does this envelope front tell you the contents are totally worthless?

Here Is Your New Policy Kit: Junk mail from an insurance-sales operation

The experienced recipient of utter crap will be able to spot several right away, to include: the absence of a return address up front; the checked boxes, supposed to look handwritten, which don’t; the “Your application” statement, which pretty much says that you didn’t ask for anything like this in the first place; the “Deliver only to:” statement — why would they deliver it to someone else?

There are other hints. But the most egregious one really doesn’t show up on the scan: that green “sticker” up top isn’t a sticker at all, but is printed directly on the envelope. I find things like this so offensive that even in the unlikely event that there’s a good deal being offered, I’ll be double damned and pickled in brine before I’ll take it.

Oh, and at the bottom of that “Do Not Write In This Space” area, extending at least an inch below the address, is a fake rubber stamp that says “DO NOT BEND.” I am pleased to report that my postal carrier bent the hell out of it.

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Sixteen K

Down in the lower left corner of this Big Check Facsimile, there’s the legend “Rural Economic Action Plan.”

REAP funds a firehouse in Roosevelt, Oklahoma

To explain:

The Rural Economic Action Plan (REAP) Grant was created through legislation in 1996 to improve life in rural Oklahoma. Its purpose is to assist small communities, towns, counties and unincorporated with populations under 7,000, and which have little or no funding capabilities. REAP grants fund a variety of projects that enhance economic development, promote intergovernmental cooperation, promote and enhance public health and safety, and/or implement regional or local plans.

In this particular case, REAP issued a grant to the town of Roosevelt, population 250 or so, to convert a barn to a fire station, clearly a public-safety enhancement. But truth be told, what caught my eye was the amount of the check: $16,384. Those of you who have spent too much time hanging around binary stuff will recognize this number instantly as 214; old 16k RAM boards contained 16,384 bytes. Now I’m wondering if there’s some sort of binary grant formula.

(Photo from Jennifer James’ Instagram.)

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All about that search

Yesterday, I was looking up something in Alaska, and before I ever got to the second A, this is what was thrown up on screen:

Screenshot from Google Instant Preview

Remind me to have a word with one of their staff Trainors.

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Could’ve been anticipated

You remember Tiffany, the singer, right?

This is a perfectly serviceable cover of the Tommy James hit, if maybe a tick or two behind the 2007 version by the Birthday Massacre. I bring this up because I wandered onto Tiff’s Facebook page, Tiffany (The Singer). (Extra amusement value: I got the link from Debbie Gibson.)

And I bring that up because if you start looking for Wikipedia hints and you type “Tiffany (singer)” thinking that well, it’s Tiffany (The Singer), you may well end up here:

Stephanie Young Hwang (born August 1, 1989), better known by the stage name Tiffany or by her Korean name Hwang Mi-young, is an American singer-songwriter and actress. She is a member of both the South Korean girl group, Girls’ Generation and its subgroup, TTS.

Of course, I went looking for some of her stuff, and found this solo track:

Our Tiffany, if I may be presumptuous for a moment, could sing that.

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Wholly mackerel

Actually, most of the news these days is bad, but this really ought not to surprise anyone:

The reason is the increasing — today near to absolute — unwillingness of our political class to confront reality when doing so might make it look bad.

When reality slaps you across the face with a wet mackerel, the only imaginable evasion is rhetorical: “No, no! While it did look like a mackerel, it wasn’t an authentic mackerel, as these variances along the lateral fins and the belly scales should make obvious. Besides, I turned forty-five degrees in the instant of the first impact, so it didn’t get my right cheek, so I wasn’t really slapped across the face. Anyway, we’re still good friends.”

That ridiculous word “optics” gives the game away: the important thing is how you look, not what you said or what you’re going to do.

The marvel of political journalism in our time is that anyone still bothers to ask a politician a question, when we all know that the answer will be self-serving rather than honestly responsive.

There are, it seems to me, only two political questions still in use: the softball and the gotcha. Which is served up at any given moment is purely a function of whether the asker is politically aligned with the askee.

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Or just wait fifteen minutes

Lynn defends the nine-season climate around here:

For the most part I actually like Oklahoma weather. We rarely have the same kind of weather long enough to get tired of it (except maybe the heat and drought in mid to late summer) and it’s an endless source of entertainment, especially if complaining is your favorite sport.

Hey, I run a blog. What do you think my favorite sport is?

(“Climate? I didn’t even see it!”)

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Subspeciesism

There are, according to Equestrian lore, three pony tribes, or subspecies, or whatever. There are also similarly-configured creatures which are not ponies at all:

And then I thought, wait, there are donkeys … or are they mules? (The show seems to use the term interchangeably, which bugs me ever so slightly, because donkeys and mules are different). And then I got to thinking: wait. If there are mules in Equestria, if they are like the mules that exist in the human world, that would have to mean a donkey and a horse got married at some point and …

Heh. Inter-species marriage. And you thought some people had a hard time accepting inter-racial marriage.

This chap is apparently a mule:

There exists a fanfic in which a dragon and a pony mate, and the offspring has characteristics of both and is accepted by neither.

I caught a fair amount of flak a couple of years ago for suggesting that a pony/human relationship might be possible; I suspect it might be easier, if only for logistical reasons, if both partners are quadrupeds.

And in a couple of places I’ve advanced the notion that despite all these years of Harmony, there might be some lingering inter-tribe resentment, which drew me further flak.

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The unchanging of the guard

James Lileks, on the occasion of the (presumed) retirement of Andrew Sullivan:

I can’t imagine not doing this, and I hope you can’t imagine not expecting something. I mention this because Andrew Sullivan announced he was retiring from blogging today, and given his longevity this was seen by some as one of the great tent poles of the Golden Age of Blogging toppling over. Perhaps. The notion of individual sites with individual voices has been replaced by aggregators and listicles and Gawker subsites with their stables of edgy youth things, and public squares like Medium where dross and gold abound. But there will always be a place on the internet for individual sites like this one, because there is nothing from stopping all the rampant egotists from braying bytes over this matter or that. I’ve always been a diarist, and this iteration happens to be public.

As the edgy youth are wont to say: +1.

It was a home page, and then personal website, and then a blog, depending on the terminology of the era, but it really hasn’t changed at all. Next month, I think, is the 18th anniversary of the Bleat.

The mind boggles at the thought of keeping a Web site open for eighteen whole years.

Not going away. Why would I? This is fun.

Make that +2.

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In care of Mummy

By general agreement, the first of the Gospels was Mark’s, which appeared around 70. No copies of Mark earlier than 100 or so were known to exist, until (maybe) now:

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published… This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy.

Waste not, want not.

Roger Pearse suggests that this may not be quite what it’s represented to be:

On the one hand we have a drip-drip of non-academic reportage, excitedly making all sorts of claims, possibly based on no more than a video by somebody who may (or may not) be involved in the project at all. This feeds the fever of speculation; which, of course, increases the price that may be asked for publication, and generally increases the commercial value of the property. It seems to benefit nobody in any other way that I can see.

On the other hand, we have an entire silence on all the matters that would allow professionals to form a judgement.

Pearse, whose interest in patristics goes back a long way, sums it up: “To me, all this is too good to be true. But let’s hope not.” Fair enough.

(Via Monday Evening.)

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