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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Fair-weather Federalists

Principle? Not if we can help it:

In the last several years, I can count at least four “principled” positions taken by AZ Republicans on Federalism:

  • State law should not pre-empt Federal law (marijuana criminalization)
  • State law should pre-empt Federal law (Obamacare)
  • States should enforce Federal laws that we think the Feds refuse to enforce sufficiently aggressively (immigration)
  • States should prevent the Feds from enforcing Federal law when we think they are being too aggressive in enforcing (Grand Canyon National Park closure during shutdown)

At least Democrats are consistent on Federalism: wherever it is, they’re against it.

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This guy’s the limit

Erin Palette talks about guys, and she means to include herself:

One guy is always male. (Which isn’t surprising, since Guy has been a man’s name for over a thousand years.) Therefore it follows that if someone says “It’s a guy thing” or “Guys’ night out” you know with 100% certainty that said guys are male.

But I have seen a woman address a group made up entirely of women with “Hi guys!” in which case those guys are now 100% female. However, even though a group of women can be called “guys”, I have never seen that group subdivided such that one woman would be a “guy”, regardless of how logical that might be.

This isn’t exactly egalitarian: except in very specific circumstances, groups of men are not referred to as “girls.” Still, it’s an interesting evolution of the language:

Many women feel that the word “mankind” is sexist when used to refer to all humanity, but I have yet to see any woman seriously object to “guys” even when used in nearly the same way.

I don’t really have a point to this other than Huh. A distinctly gendered noun has become a gender-neutral collective through cultural drift.

Now I wonder what the non-binary among us would think about this.

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Not the best approach

Obviously I’m not the only person who gets spam. I usually don’t reply to it, though:

Then again, her initial reaction was less kindly:

Stabbiness is not an uncommon reaction to particularly noxious spammage.

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Hey, defrost this

On the 25th of November, I went out to the garage and located my ice scraper. Amazingly, it was right where I’d left it back in March. Maybe someday I won’t have to do this sort of thing anymore:

Fed up with the dismal winter ritual of chiselling ice off their car windows, a group of engineering students from Waterloo, Ont. came up with a way to ensure they never have to scrape another windshield again.

What began as university project two-and-a-half years ago to solve a pet peeve has evolved into Neverfrost, a startup company that’s developed a transparent film for vehicle windows to prevent frost and deflect harsh elements like snow and freezing rain.

The concept has already grabbed the attention of the trucking industry and its founders are so confident in Neverfrost’s future that one of them brushed off a job at Facebook and another sidelined plans for grad school, to chase their dreams of making the ice scraper obsolete.

And this isn’t some crummy plastic like your neighbor’s kid has stuck on the inside of his windows so you can’t see him picking his nose at the wheel, either:

The film incorporates nano technology, or the manipulation of objects on a molecular level, to prevent the windshield surface from reaching the conditions necessary for condensation and temperatures low enough to freeze.

Neverfrost also claims to be resistant to the impact of stones and insulates the vehicle cabin from outside elements, which its founders say can lessen the scorching heat of the summer sun.

Heck, it’s too bad they can’t make a whole car out of the stuff.

(“The Nobel Prize is such a lock this year,” says the Fark submitter.)

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Lance’s revenge

You may remember Lance Thomas, a Thunder training-camp invite who actually made the team when the injury situation got out of hand. Eventually he was dealt to the Knicks in the three-team deal that brought Dion Waiters to Oklahoma City, with the expectation that New York would waive him. They did. But they signed him to a 10-day contract three days later, and another one when that one ran out. What better way for him to demonstrate his value to the Knicks than to lead them to a victory on his previous team?

It didn’t work out quite that way. Thomas is still, after all, a second-string player. But he had 17 of the 31 points scored by the New York bench, his season high, and the Knicks were up nine halfway through the fourth quarter. This is normally Kevin Durant’s cue; but KD is still sidelined with that toe jam, or whatever it is, and a 7-0 run by Russell Westbrook in just under 60 seconds was followed by ten in a row from New York, and as the phrase goes, that’s all she wrote. OKC would come no closer than five after that, and the Knicks earned their third straight win at the Garden, 100-92.

There’s a brace of Telltale Statistics here. Consider Westbrook’s line — 13-30 shooting for 40 points — and the assist count: NYC 29, OKC 10. It’s not so much that Westbrook was trying to play hero ball, although there were obvious moments when he was, but that nobody else could shoot either. Reggie Jackson had 13 points; Serge Ibaka 10 and 10 rebounds; the rest didn’t matter much. (Dion Waiters, you should know, finished with eight.) Oh, and 5-22 on three-pointers, versus 8-17 for New York.

What’s more, the Knicks, among the sorriest rebounders in the Association, hauled in 51 of them tonight, against 47 for the ostensible league leader. They took six more shots, made six more shots. And Carmelo Anthony was being Carmelo Anthony, racking up 31 points and 10 rebounds. Jason Smith had the other Knicks double-double, 11 points and 11 boards. And Tim Hardaway, the only other Knick reserve to score, got the 14 points that Lance Thomas didn’t.

So it’s back to .500 again, and the Grizzlies waiting Saturday night. Pray for snow. Or something.

Update, 29 January: Lance Thomas will be signed by the Knicks for the rest of the season.

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