A gentleman’s D

It’s almost like the Thunder really didn’t want to defend the ferocious Denver scoring machine until they absolutely had to. It would explain much about how OKC, up eleven at one point in the first quarter, managed to fall behind by twelve — more than once — and then suddenly turned into a lean, mean, shot-blocking machine. With 17 seconds left, it was tied at 103; Ty Lawson, who was otherwise having a fairly crummy night, dropped in a jumper at the 0.2 mark, and that was it: Denver 105, Oklahoma City 103, giving the Nuggets a 2-1 lead in the season series.

Or you could look past that porous defense in the middle quarters and note that the Thunder threw ten points away at the stripe, hitting a mediocre 71 percent. (The Nuggets took half as many free throws, hit half as many, throwing five points away, hitting a mediocre 71 percent, but I repeat myself.) But here’s the figure to frighten: Andre Miller (14 points) outscored the entire OKC bench — and he wasn’t even Denver’s top-scoring reserve. That would be Wilson Chandler, who had a season-high 35, tying his career high; Corey Brewer tacked on 14 more. Now you can look at this from the other direction: the Denver starters had 34 points, Russell Westbrook had 38 all by his lonesome. Leading the starters was Lawson, with a mere eleven — but he got the two that mattered most.

For those of you who were concerned: Derek Fisher played only five minutes, which still was time enough to hoist two bricks.

Coming up: two tests of L.A. fitness, a Sunday-afternoon battle with the Clippers, followed by the return of the Lakers to OKC on Tuesday.

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Plot complications

If this is supposed to be the story of my life, it needs a better editor or something.

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An equal and apposite reaction

We begin with the Abstract:

A two body interaction is studied over a period of time in a variety of locations, and with a multitude of additional bodies. Additional tests are conducted in the later period of the study, and a summary of the studies results are presented. Finally, the prospect of continued study is evaluated.

Okay, maybe scientific writing isn’t always all it could be. But you should probably read this anyway, because it has what I think is a happy ending.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh.)

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This seat’s taken

Contagious: Why Things Catch On is the title of a new book by Jonah Berger, assistant professor of marketing at the Wharton School, and one of the reasons things catch on, he says, is the presence of triggers: events or cultural phenomena that remind us of those things. This being Friday, which trigger do you think is being pulled? Right you are:

Citing Rebecca Black’s song “Friday” as an example, Berger illustrates the influence of triggers in the sharing of information.

“It’s not that the song is better on Friday — it’s equally bad every day of the week, but Fridays are a little environmental reminder, what I call a trigger … to encourage people to talk about it and share it,” he said.

And Professor Berger just might be right about that particular trigger; “Friday” video views tend to spike between Thursday (yesterday) and Saturday (tomorrow).

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An able cane

About the time I had my first knee surgery, I bought a cane: a menacing-looking black-enameled bludgeon ending in four rubberized do-lollies. (Note: Firefox spearchucker spellchecker doesn’t flinch at “do-lollies.”) With no second knee surgery in the offing, I’m afraid I can’t come up with an excuse to score one of these:

A walking stick with built-in sat-nav has been developed by Japanese technology giant Fujitsu.

The Next Generation Cane is designed to help elderly people find their way, as well as monitor things such as heart rate and temperature.

Its location can also be followed online — and can be set up to send email alerts if it thinks the user may have fallen over.

I shudder at the thought of how much this thing will cost when it goes into production. And I also shudder at the the thought of the inevitable two-minute TV ads with an 800 number and “Find out if you qualify.”

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Snow accounting for it

The last blizzard so designated by our local Weather Guys lived up to its description out towards the Northwest Passage; meanwhile, the Quarter Mile High City got basically squat. Still, we’d had just over five inches of snow this month, which is decidedly above average. (Average for a whole winter is about 8.6 inches, or about three hours’ worth of your standard garden-variety nor’easter.)

Then KOSU’s Ben Allen dropped this bombshell on Twitter:

Wow, *preliminary* total snowfall for Arnett (35 mi S of Woodward) in Feb: 42.5 inches (!!!!!!) Breaks OK record 4 any location, any month.

Gawd. That’s, like, a whole year in Saskatoon.

Previous monthly record: February 1971 in Buffalo, about 60 miles north of Arnett, 39.5 inches, 36 of which came in one fell swoop on the 20th through the 22nd.

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Derpy Day open thread

Treat yourself to a muffin. (This smiling pegasus — you can’t see her wings at this angle — has done more for muffins than anypony this side of Otis Spunkmeyer.)

In Derpy We Trust

(Original “In Derpy We Trust” by ~BattlefieldBrony on deviantArt. In color, yet.)

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Quote of the week

Several years ago, the normblog profile of yours truly disclosed the following High Truth:

I keep changing my mind on the death penalty. At the moment, I favour it, but this is subject to change at any given moment.

Now Roberta X gives me a moment:

What’s with this notion of the death penalty as “punishment,” anyway? What, so they’ll act nicer in the next world? That’s not really our department. If they are killed, they don’t learn anything. Some people are, after a fair trial, determined to be too dangerous to have around. The State kills them or locks them up forever; I favor the latter, as it is usually cheaper and if it turns out the results at trial were in error, they can be (to some degree) corrected.

And maybe I have this sense that in our new Drone Utopia, sentencing will become rather, um, detached.

Yes, yes, I know: deterrent value. At least it deters the individual who gets it. Beyond that?

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Keys to the world

From our perhaps-jaded post-Soviet perspective, we might be tempted to describe Van Cliburn, who died yesterday at his home in Fort Worth, as some sort of Cold Warrior. Not so, as this PBS news clip makes clear:

I mean, the judges at that first International Tchaikovsky Competition were faced with having to give the top prize to an American, and worse, an American who’d just gotten eight minutes’ worth of standing ovation from delighted Muscovites. What to do? They asked Khrushchev, and Khrushchev said “Is he the best? Then give him the prize.”

He earned rather a lot of prizes after that.

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Joined at the waste

The irony is strong with this one:

A Finnish anti-piracy group has copied the design of The Pirate Bay website for their latest anti-piracy campaign. The Pirate Bay is outraged by this move and says it will sue the group for breaking their site policy, which clearly states that organizations are not permitted to steal the site design for nefarious purposes. “People must understand what is right and wrong,” The Pirate Bay says.

Quick (yes!) summary by Bill Quick:

So the people aiding copyright “infringement” want it enforced for their “intellectual property”, and the people allegedly enforcing copyrights are violating it as well as, it appears, other laws.

Think of it as a pair of conjoined twins, picking each other’s pocket.

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Someone call Bernanke

A review of my bank statement turns up the unexpected news that I am now earning twice last year’s interest rate on my savings account.

I was hunting around for a suitable term, and the one that seems to fit best is “semi-meager.” I suppose I have the grim satisfaction of knowing that it’s not likely to push me into a higher tax bracket.

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The first-born unicorn

Had she lived, 1980 Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten would have been fifty-three today, and I suspect she’d still look good standing next to a custom Firebird:

Dorothy Stratten and a 1980 Pontiac Firebird by George Barris

This shot comes from a photoshoot by William LaChasse. (You can see rather a lot more of it at Autoculture.) Remember when 60-series tires seemed to have proportions as improbable as Dorothy’s?

(Title is an example of Californication.)

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Put it on their bill

The New Orleans Hornets will be the New Orleans Pelicans next season. This season, they’re sitting ducks. I mean, 119-74? Okay, Anthony Davis was unwell, and Eric Gordon hasn’t been doing the second night of back-to-backs lately as a precautionary measure, but still, this has to be viewed as a debacle in the Big Easy. Monty Williams had said that if the Bees didn’t bring their A-game, they could be “embarrassed”; give the man points for prescience.

And actually, New Orleans was in it for the first 20 minutes or so, having cut a double-digit Thunder lead down to four. Then the OKC Dominance Mode kicked in: the Thunder ran that lead back to seventeen at halftime, to thirty-six after three, and after that you had to wonder if the third string might be pulled to give the Thunder Girls a chance to play. As it was, we got to see the New Guys: Derek Fisher (now wearing #6 before they’d had a chance to finish Eric Maynor’s laundry) sent up four long-range bricks, but did the playmaker thing pretty well, and Ronnie Brewer pulled down four boards in twelve minutes. And we got to see Russell Westbrook dominate things early on and finish with a nice 29 points, while Kevin Durant tossed up his third triple-double (18 points/11 rebounds/10 assists) and Serge Ibaka asserted himself as a shooter (9-11 for 18). Let the record show that Reggie Jackson got one minute more than Fisher, and scored 14, tied with Kevin Martin for bench high — and with the Hornets’ Ryan Anderson, the only New Orleans player to finish in double figures at all. You have to figure that the Hornets are glad this series is over.

Now things get complicated. Western powers must be dealt with on their home courts: the Nuggets Friday night, the Clippers Sunday afternoon. And then, just for fun, the Lakers will be coming to the ‘Peake. Here’s to a little inhospitality.

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Sixty-one dollars per sneeze

This week’s health-care buzzword — we’re going to have them on a regular basis until the entire system drops to its artificial knees, or a week from Thursday, whichever comes first — is “fee for health,” as distinguished from “fee for service.” It doesn’t sound too distinguished to the Crimson Reach, though:

Quick doctors/hospitals, who wants to get to administer time-consuming experimental or at least palliative care to this incurably-diseased patient on a ‘fee for health’ basis? Don’t all raise your hands at once.

And besides:

[W]hat would ‘fee for health’ even mean? Someone appears to have forgotten that actual healthy people mostly aren’t even seeing a doctor, for anything, in the first place. That’s part of the definition of ‘healthy’. Isn’t it?

Then again, some of us old codgers have the preposterous notion that health care ought to have something to do with health. The Discordable Care Act destroyed that idea forever.

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Pretty little budget liars

Now if you ask me, this is the definitive word on the Dread Sequester:

[T]he Sequester has become the high school drama queen of budget cuts. Instead of working the problem out rationally, making strategic cuts to bloated, ineffective or, even better, non-existent government programs, the Sequester levies 2.3% cuts across the board to useful and non-useful programs without critical distinction, tears its $200 prom dress to shreds, pulls out its hair extensions by the roots, locks itself in the bathroom, takes six days worth of Vitamin D caplets and claims to be thiiiis close to killing itself over the toilet unless you extend its curfew by one hour. You want budget cuts, fine. Consider yourself to have one less budget to cut.

And what do the perennial adolescents in the Congress do? Exactly what you’d think:

Republicans are responding to this in typical Republican fashion. You want to slice up the federal government and make us fly coach where we don’t get free alcohol and those fluffy fleece blankets? Fine. I hope your Medicaid patients who will determine the public relations results of this disaster starve to death in the streets. The Democrats, on the other hand, have taken to scaring the sh*t out of Americans. First, the government was going to shut down. Then, everyone’s paychecks were going to be late.

After living for nearly three years with a 32.3-percent budget cut, I figure I’m overqualified for Congress. Then again, I have a conscience, which makes me fundamentally unfit for the job anyway.

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Same state, more swing

I seem to recall mentioning once upon a time that northeast Ohio, at least in the summertime, is a pretty decent place to drive:

[D]espite a nonexistent road-repair budget, a baffling grid — 18th and Euclid [in Cleveland] to 81st and Euclid (which I actually drove one evening) is less than 2.5 miles — and the presence of money-grubbing enclaves like Linndale, driving through northeast Ohio was always a breeze for me.

And now Linndale is about to cease grubbing:

After March 22, motorists driving along Interstate 71 near Cleveland will have a little more breathing room. That’s because new state legislation will be shutting down eight of the mayor’s courts in Ohio, including one in Linndale, the state’s most notorious and controversial speed trap city. According to The Cleveland Leader, Linndale has but one exit and a quarter-mile section of the interstate inside its borders, yet “in 2011, Linndale police issued 4,000 traffic tickets, which accounted for over $400,000 in revenue.”

Not bad for a town of 180.

Linndale’s predecessor as Most Egregious Buckeye Speed Trap, the village of New Rome, west of Columbus, fared far worse: the municipality was dissolved altogether, slightly before I went to see it.

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