Lakers apparently refreshed

You think the Lakers have learned that they do better when it’s not a one-man show? The new-look Los Angeles offense — let Kobe run things, but insist that he pass if he’s double-teamed — worked almost to perfection today, and it doomed the Thunder, who’d played the Lakers more or less even through three and a half quarters but could not keep up the rest of the way. The final was 105-96, and it would have been much worse if Dwight Howard could actually hit free throws.

Seriously. The Lakers actually shot better from the floor (55.4 percent) than they did from the stripe (55.2). Still, D12 came up with eight points and ten rebounds, and half a dozen of his teammates hit double figures. Kobe Bryant was downright three-dimensional, coming up one rebound short of a triple-double (21 points, 14 assists, nine boards). What was most remarkable, though, was that Pau Gasol’s recent demotion to the bench — Earl Clark has been starting at power forward — didn’t make any difference to Gasol’s line: 16 points in 35 minutes. (Clark scored 11 in slightly less than 23.)

For a moment there, I thought Russell Westbrook was going to land a double-double without ever hitting any shots: he went one-for-everything early on and couldn’t buy a bucket to save his life, despite getting some good looks. He wound up, like Kobe, a board short of a triple-double; unlike Kobe, Westbrook shot a feeble 6-22 for 17 points. Kevin Durant did what he could to take up the slack, snagging a solid 35 for the day, but there was entirely too much “If all else fails, hoist a trey,” since those treys were falling everywhere except through the net. OKC did manage to hold on to the ball most of the time, logging only nine turnovers, but too often they didn’t do anything with it after not losing it.

It will take a few days to live this down, and guess who’s coming to town on Thursday? Yep: the Grizzlies. There’s a distinct lack of gimmes in this part of the schedule.

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Jeepening the memory

Murilee Martin at The Truth About Cars currently does the Junkyard Find series, presenting old, abandoned vehicles awaiting either final oxidation or a trip to China to come back as Harbor Freight Tools. This week Martin turned up a 1968 Jeep DJ-5A “Dispatcher Jeep” with a General Motors powertrain — four-cylinder Chevy 153 with two-speed Powerglide.

Given my own lingering interest in speed and how it is displayed, I took a look at the dash. Not being a safety regulator by trade, I did not cry out “Those knobs are dangerous!” However, my attention was distracted by a business card stuck to the dash:

Dashboard of 1968 Jeep

Dashboard of 1968 Jeep

Two possibilities present themselves:

  1. This could have been the insurance agent’s Jeep, once upon a time;
  2. This Jeep could have been owned by someone who needed to contact an insurance agent on a regular basis.

Noting that there’s just something about women in Jeeps, I of course lean toward the first alternative. Not that I’m going to write her and ask if this Jeep was hers, of course: there may be unpleasant memories involved.

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Hizzoner makes the pitch

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, somewhere between pragmatist and evangelist, in an interview with Streetsblog:

I will say that one secret to our success is that we’ve been able to convince the suburbanite that their quality of life is directly related to the intensity of the core. And so they have continually passed initiatives to support inner-city projects, sometimes at the expense of the suburbs.

It helps that a lot of us outside the core remember what it was like thirty years ago, and don’t want to see it like that ever again.

I try to win an intellectual argument. I stand toe-to-toe with a lot of retired suburbanites who don’t like downtown, don’t like me, are tired of funding taxation. I’m serious, they have more negativity than you could possibly imagine.

And when I’ve lost on every turn and every argument in this debate that takes place in neighborhood after neighborhood I close with this: “We’re creating a city where your kid and grandkid are going to choose to live.”

My own neighborhood, just outside the I-40/I-44/I-235 loop, has skewed much younger in the ten years I’ve been here: the empty-nesters (like, um, me) are still around, but the influx of young families has transformed the area. They don’t necessarily like taxation any more than the folks out on 199th Street do, but they’re seeing things get done, and they like that.

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Déjà views

Begging for Web traffic is one thing. This, however, is something else:

Yahoo! Answers screen shot: How do I view a webpage repeatedly but make it so the website thinks its my first time?

I wonder if this is one of those guys who F5s himself into apoplexy trying to snag a Woot Bag O’ Crap.

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Oyez, oyez

The traditional Town Crier delivers the material he’s been given; he does not make it up on his own. If he did, they’d have him drawn and quartered, or maybe eighthed or sixteenthed, once they found out.

Then there’s the Dubuque Town Crier. We grant him no link, on the basis that the stuff he posts has often been lifted from elsewhere, yet he gives the impression that he made it up on his own:

Several months ago, I wrote this blog post about the inherent coercion of government. It’s good, you should read it.

It was posted in full (with a pingback link, but no text clearly crediting me at the bottom of the post) at The Dubuque Town Crier, a website administered by one William K. Hammel of Jaeger Drive, Dubuque, Iowa.

Now part of that original post was an image macro with a statement by Penn Jillette; it didn’t contain his name, but it did feature a picture of him, so I would consider that to be more or less properly attributed. If Hammel had just lifted the image … but no, he decided to scoop up the entire post. And pingbacks, I submit, do not qualify as proper attribution, since all they contain is a URL and maybe a scrap of text.

To qualify the word “often,” in the context in which I used it, I point you to the aggrieved author’s post, which cites several other instances; one might reasonably describe him, based on these cites, as a serial plagiarist. It’s a heck of a production model, I suppose, but it runs counter to that whole “integrity” business.

I should note here that in a couple of incidents in which I myself apparently had run afoul of “fair use” standards, the owners and/or their legal representatives registered complaints, and I duly removed the material in question.

(Via this Gabriel Malor tweet.)

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Strings from eternity

Jacqueline du Pré would have been sixty-eight today, and of course the saddest words are “would have been”: the great British cellist was struck down in her prime by multiple sclerosis — she gave up performing at twenty-eight — and her musical achievements were gradually obscured by a memoir written by her estranged sister, which later spawned a film.

Jacqueline du Pré with her cello

Jacqueline du Pré in her wheelchair

The cheerful fellow behind the chair is du Pré’s husband, conductor Daniel Barenboim, who here conducts the London Philarmonic, circa 1967, in the first movement of her signature piece: the Cello Concerto in E minor of Sir Edward Elgar.

(With thanks to Tom Shakespeare.)

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In which I am not mentioned

Buzzfeed has compiled a somewhat-subjective list of The 35 Dumbest Things Ever Said On The Internet. Surprisingly, no politicians were involved, despite the prodigious bounty of exploitable stupidity that was the 2012 election.

Side issue: In general, the names of the participants are obscured to protect their privacy. I can’t help but wonder if this practice might actually be disservice to the species, inasmuch as it prevents the embarrassment of its dumber members, who end up with no incentive to be Less Stupid. To the extent that stupidity goes unpunished, the evolution of the species is thwarted, is it not?

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Quote of the week

“We love ponies, and we’re going to change the world!” Hold your, um, horses, says Gendid at DerpyHoovesNews:

Bronyism is not a movement. This is an insult to those who truly do struggle to change things in the world. A pony fan will not be paid less in the workplace because of liking a children’s cartoon show. A pony fan will not be prevented from marrying because they enjoy a children’s cartoon show. A pony fan will never see war, or create peace, by liking a children’s cartoon show. Lauren Faust may have pushed feminism by creating a children’s show for girls that isn’t terrible, but fans of the show have no right in sharing that claim. Faust and her colleagues put their livelihoods and their reputations on the line by breaking away from the norm in their industry. Their success is theirs alone, paid for in blood, sweat and tears. Pony fans have paid nothing of the sort. They simply watch television.

Which is not at all to say that pony fans don’t do good things: for example, their charitable works are remarkable. But one question has not been, and perhaps will not be, answered: does being a pony fan make you a kind and charitable person — or does being a kind and charitable person make you a pony fan?

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Insufficiently authoritative, or something.

I picked up about 1400 visits yesterday from a Yahoo! Answers answer, which had to do with a recent class-action suit against Facebook, and the settlement thereof.

Weirdly, I didn’t get the vote for Best Answer, the massive amount of traffic notwithstanding. (Total visitors for the 24-hour period numbered 1734, the 14th busiest day here since, well, ever.)

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At sub-Sonic speeds

The Kings are still in Sacramento, for the moment. And for the first 12 minutes tonight, they were an offensive powerhouse. After that, not so much: the Thunder outscored them 59-37 in the middle quarters, and while the Kings mounted a rally in the fourth, OKC managed a ten-point win, 105-95, strangely reminiscent of the last ten-point win by the Thunder over the Kings, also marked by a Sacramento rally in the fourth.

Interestingly, all ten Kings on the floor got at least a couple of baskets, though none of them scored big: Tyreke Evans picked up 16, DeMarcus Cousins and Jason Thompson 14 each, and Marcus Thornton 13 from the bench. Sacramento was fairly reliable from beyond the arc, making eight of 15 treys, but they managed only 42 percent shooting overall.

Batman and Robin did the double-double thing tonight: Kevin Durant 24 points and 11 rebounds, Russell Westbrook 18 points and 14 assists. (Westbrook didn’t even play in the fourth quarter, the Thunder having been up by 19 when it started.) Former King Kevin Martin remembers this place well, and lit it up for 24 points. The most interesting line, though, may belong to DeAndre Liggins, who in 14 minutes scored only two points, both at the foul line, but retrieved seven rebounds and blocked a shot.

This is the Thunder’s last visit to Sacramento this year, and perhaps ever: the Maloof brothers are planning to sell their controlling interest in the team to a Seattle-based group which intends to relocate it to America’s Most Unironic City next season. Whether this portends a division realignment remains to be seen, though it’s hard to imagine the Sonics v.2 not being in the Northwest. And if OKC in the Pacific makes no sense, well, we play baseball in the Pacific Coast League.

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The years my voice broke

The first time was in the middle 1960s. Why is it happening again?

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Biden: his time?

Emily ponders the possibility of a Joe Biden Presidential campaign in 2016:

I would normally say “no, oh, please, God, no,” but the GOP have yet to debut a leading candidate with (1) any chance of winning and (2) any chance of making it through the election process without completely embarrassing the party, the party’s history and all party progeny through time immemorial. Granted, Ol’ Uncle Joe is an original drafter of the PATRIOT ACT and has an unfortunate tendency to say exactly what he’s thinking, but Joe’s good with the ladies, can pass off the subtleties of faux compassion with the best of them, and the Democratic bench isn’t all that deep unless you want Sandra Lee that painfully close to being First Lady … and unless you’ve got your eye on President Debbie Wasserman Schultz, that is.

Perish the thought. Besides, there is an upside:

[L]et’s face it, if Joe were in office, the Presidency would be a hell of a lot more interesting. And you know exactly what I mean: kegs in the China room, official state-sanctioned beer pong tournaments, Presidential Chex Mix and formal events that involve formal leather jackets.

And if it should come down to Joe versus Hillary? I will be observing at a safe distance through heavy lenses.

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The six-percent solution

State law requires retailers to sell their goods at a minimum of six percent above cost, unless a lower cost basis can be proven. This curious legislation is designated the Unfair Sales Act [pdf]; it was enacted in 1984 to replace a similar law dating to 1941. Even Matthew Yglesias finds it risible:

The theory of the case is that absent such legal protection a deep-pocketed national chain could come to town and operate at a loss until all the local competition is driven out of business. But real world discounting can serve many other purposes. A typical retail discounting strategy involves amazing bargains on a relatively small number of items, with the purpose of the bargain being to get shoppers in the door in the first place.

Now what deep-pocketed national chains can you think of? No, not them. The first-ever Sam’s Club, intended to beat local competition over the head, opened on SE 29th in, um, 1983.

Senator David Holt (R-OKC) is introducing a measure to repeal this law:

Holt said the outdated law puts Oklahomans at a competitive disadvantage with neighboring states where retailers can legally offer significant bargains for “Back-to-School” and holiday sales, including “Black Friday”, the biggest shopping day of the year. By forcing Oklahomans to leave the state to shop, retailers, consumers, and core government services are all negatively impacted.

One perhaps might wonder how much out-of-state shopping it takes to offset the $40 worth of gas it takes to get across the state line and back to Holt’s district on Oklahoma City’s northwest side.

Oh, and Holt’s Senate Bill 550 excludes fuel and prescription drugs, two of the heavier items in my budget. I’m sure he didn’t mean it personally.

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Now with Customer Repellent

Once upon a time, we had record stores. (Records, for you young folks, are flat vinyl — occasionally styrene — disks which, when spun at the correct speed under a suitable tracing device, will yield up music. Never mind what happens when they’re spun at the incorrect speed.) And these record stores would occasionally spin those records in the hope of spurring sales.

Not all of them, though:

A Fye Music Store I used to visit was frequently, for some reason, playing uniquely vapid tunes over its PA system (and often no other kinds of music, which would sort of make you wonder about their inventory). Unless I had a specific purchase in mind, I usually didn’t linger when one of those albums showed up and left to shop another day. I recall one day cutting my browsing short and heading to the counter to check out. The clerk asked, “Find everything you were looking for?” and I answered, “No, but I can feel myself getting stupider with every second of that song.”

Sometimes the temptation to break that record becomes overwhelming.

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It’s also your little pony

The possibly-pseudonymous (ya think?) Twilight Farkle defends My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, not for its cultural impact, but for its near-seismic shift in attitudes toward intellectual property:

The traditional business model:

1) Make content.
2) ???
3) PROFIT! (sell ad space, sell toys)

Step 2 is the hard part. The sensible move is to lock down the IP, keep it in the vault, and let it out only on special occasions, or when the price is right. Disney is the traditional example of this approach. But then, what fun is there in making sense?

There are times when I wonder if there is any sense in making fun. But maybe that’s just me.

Hasbro took the opposite tack. They’ve been incredibly generous with permitting the use of their IP. In part, because they never expected this to happen in the first place, and it takes a while for a large corporation to react to anything. When they realized that something was happening, even if they didn’t understand what or why, they made the brilliant (but highly unorthodox) move of just going with it.

Letting the internet remix your IP turned out to be a low-risk, high-reward bet. If it’s just a fad, it dies out in a few months and doesn’t affect sales. If it actually goes viral, the experiment succeeds. In this case, it succeeded beyond any expectation. There are now hundreds of thousands of young adults who will be watching reruns of the show with their kids in 5-10 years, and Hasbro doesn’t have to spend a dime to reach them.

This assumes we’re not presented with Generation 5, which I suspect will be a trifle less inspired than G4, if only because there will be a bunch of new faces in the Hasbro conference rooms.


Step 2 — the magical step that comes before profit — is that you maintain ownership of the IP, but otherwise let the fans run wild with it. It’s profitable to let your fans remix and mash your property up, than it is to lock it down.

If the Brony phenomenon teaches content producers that lesson, and nothing else, the world will be a better place for it.

It may be too much to assume that content producers can be taught anything, but it’s surely worth the effort.

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I have long been skeptical of efforts to “strengthen” passwords by throwing in oddball characters — if they were serious, they’d allow us to use dîacritiçal märkß and such — but the system has problems at a more fundamental level:

I have difficulty remembering what the username and passwords are anyway. As soon as I finally hit the jackpot, I go into the accounts section and change the username to something I am going to remember. Then I go to change the password, knowing that the old password didn’t meet requirements anyway.

Well, okay. I can see that. But:

The problem is that because my old password didn’t meet requirements, they wouldn’t let me change to a new password. I get logged off, and then it won’t let me log back in because the password doesn’t meet the new requirements. Not that the password is wrong, mind you. And nevermind that it let me log into the password a half-hour before.

An awful lot of tomfoolery for something that can’t save you anyway.

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