All because of “It”

Washington Wizards guard Paul Pierce, before the NBA playoffs even got under way:

“We haven’t done particularly well against Toronto, but I don’t feel they have the ‘It’ that makes you worried. There isn’t a team I look at in the Eastern Conference that makes me say, ‘They are intimidating, we don’t have a chance’.”

Said Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri at a fan rally before Game 1 of the Toronto/Washington playoff series: “People want me to say something about Paul Pierce, but we don’t give a shit about ‘It’.” The NBA promptly fined Ujiri $35,000 for such untoward language, and added $25,000 more for the entire Raptors organization, presumably for not keeping its GM in line. (The Wizards, you should know, beat the Raptors in overtime, 93-86, with Pierce scoring a team-high 20 points.)

This is the second time Ujiri has gotten in trouble with the NBA’s Language Police; before last year’s playoffs he said something even terser about the Brooklyn Nets. Toronto dropped Game 1 that time, too. You’d think the guy could take a hint.

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Getting a move on

The season’s just started in Triple-A baseball, and I haven’t dragged my miserable self to the ballpark just yet, so I missed the big Pitch Counter, the dictates of which will be enforced starting the first of May:

Pitchers will be allowed 20 seconds to begin their wind-up or the motion to come to the set position.

The pitcher does not necessarily have to release the ball within 20 seconds, but must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position to comply with the 20-second rule.

For the first pitch of an at-bat, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.

The timer will stop as soon as the pitcher begins his wind-up, or begins the motion to come to the set position.

If the pitcher feints a pick off or steps off the rubber with runners on base, the timer shall reset and start again immediately.

Umpires have the authority to stop the 20-second timer and order a reset.

Following any event (e.g., pick-off play) that permits the batter to leave the batter’s box, the timer shall start when the pitcher has possession of the ball in the dirt circle surrounding the pitcher’s rubber, and the batter is in the dirt circle surrounding home plate.

Following an umpire’s call of “time” or if the ball becomes dead and the batter remains at-bat, the timer shall start when the pitcher is on the pitcher’s plate and the batter is in the batter’s box, alert to the pitcher.

And should there be a Pitch Clock Violation, the count increments by one ball; presumably, if the count is already at three balls, the batter walks.

This isn’t the only rule change intended to speed up the games:

Inning breaks will be two minutes, 25 seconds in duration. The first batter of an inning is encouraged to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with 20 seconds left on the inning break timer. The pitcher must begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position at any point within the last 20 seconds of the 2:25 break.

Beginning May 1, should the pitcher fail to begin his wind-up or begin the motion to come to the set position in the last 20 seconds of the inning break, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 1-0 count.

Beginning May 1, should the batter fail to be in the batter’s box and alert to the pitcher with five or more seconds remaining on the inning break timer, the batter will begin the at-bat with a 0-1 count.

Should any of this prove Not Heinous, we may see it at the major-league level eventually. I’m not sure what I think of this yet, largely because I have yet to see it in an actual game; I have yet to hear the guy doing the radio call make any mention of someone getting a warning from the umpires for dawdling.

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The fourth-idiot theory

So how about this Marco Rubio dude? The Z Man is not overly impressed:

After eight years of Obama, the GOP is convinced they must have a non-white at the top of their ticket. So much so Jeb Bush is ready to change his name to Juan Eduardo Arbusto. Since that’s not likely to fly, the GOP has Marco Rubio warming in the bullpen, ready to step in as their man for the nomination. Rubio has the added benefit of the immigrant’s back story. He’s a meat head, but charming with a good narrative to sell.

That’s the thing with Rubio. He’s basically a Cuban Sarah Palin. He’s not stupid, but he is not sitting around working physics problems in his free time either. He’s also a man of pedestrian tastes and sensibilities. Unlike Palin, he has the brown force field around him so no one dare call him stupid or even hint at it, for fear of being called a racist.

A good argument for None of the Above? Not as good as this is:

The last 25 years seem to prove that we could just do away with the office entirely. After all, if the last three idiots could not bring down the nation, the office must hold no power at all, relative to the rest of the country.

But watch that next step: it’s a doozy.

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Chopping down the shade tree

Your average automaker would much rather you visit the dealer for your service needs instead of doing it yourself. (Said automaker is kind of a skinflint when reimbursing the dealer for warranty work, but that’s another issue.) Imagine their delight if they could force the issue:

Automakers are supporting provisions in copyright law that could prohibit home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.

In comments filed with a federal agency that will determine whether tinkering with a car constitutes a copyright violation, OEMs and their main lobbying organization say cars have become too complex and dangerous for consumers and third parties to handle.

Allowing them to continue to fix their cars has become “legally problematic,” according to a written statement from the Auto Alliance, the main lobbying arm of automakers.

The dispute arises from a section of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that no one thought could apply to vehicles when it was signed into law in 1998. But now, in an era where cars are rolling computing platforms, the U.S. Copyright Office is examining whether provisions of the law that protect intellectual property should prohibit people from modifying and tuning their cars.

Of course. Everyone thought the DMCA was all about people pirating movies and such — until all sorts of unrelated oxen were subjected to governmental gore. The one thing you can always be sure of with intellectual property: the word that matters is not “intellectual.”

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One out of twelve

The Friar notes that his particular calling might make his selection for a jury rather problematic:

My own profession is also sometimes considered a disqualifier; in the minds of some people the opinion of a clergyperson carries more weight than do the opinions of others. I am pretty well sure that none of those people are close friends or relatives of clergypeople.

Oh, that’s bad:

On the one hand, my low chances of service are kind of sad, because some aspects of the judicial system are pretty interesting when seen up close, as I remember from my previous profession as a newspaper reporter (protected by the same Amendment, just a different clause).

No, that’s good:

But on the other hand, no jury service means a reduction of the number of hours I am required to listen to lawyers, as well as judges — who, more often than not, used to be lawyers.

Like seemingly everything else in life, it’s a trade-off.

I filled out the county’s questionnaire for the jury pool a few weeks back; my guess is they’re starting to run low of potential jurors. Mostly, I was surprised: I’ve been a resident of this particular county for the last 25 years or so and this is the first time I can remember actually seeing this form.

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Sturdy yet jaunty

An artifact from about nine decades ago:

Iron Clad Hosiery Number 883

And you know, “jolly sassiness” is an attitude I tend to appreciate, even way out here in The Future. “Artificial silk,” usually shortened to “art silk” in the trade, was officially renamed “rayon” in the middle 1920s, about this time this Iron Clad ad appeared.

Cooper, Wells was in business back in the 1880s; they survived at least until 1936, by which time the other major industry in St. Joseph, Michigan, Upton Machine Company, had been making washing machines for twenty-five years. Upton had merged with the Nineteen Hundred Washer Company of Binghamton, New York, and kept that name until after World War II, after which they came up with a new one: Whirlpool.

Incidentally, Frederick Upton, one of the two Upton brothers of St. Joseph, had 18 great-granchildren, one of whom was supermodel Kate Upton, born there in 1992.

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Ancient diet plan

While researching a novel set Way Back Then, author Michael Z. Williamson experiments with possible methods of prehistoric food preparation:

How do you cook a tasty meal with minimal spices and no cooking utensils? Well, it turns out you can create quite a few spices and seasonings from plants in the carrot family.

There are a lot of edible plants and quite a few spices in the Apiaceae family. In fact, almost all edible plants come from about six families, and do so in the last 7000 years or so. Before that, there’s some evidence of rice and wheat, and occasional possible evidence of fruit domestication (versus actual agriculture).

However, it’s obvious from the evidence that vegetarianism is just a modern ideal. No matter how many believers bleat about it being “natural,” it not only wasn’t natural then, it was a complete myth. There just aren’t plants in the temperate or boreal latitudes that you can gather for enough protein, fat and calories to stay alive. Even if you could, you won’t find them in December. This is a world nothing like our own. No domesticated grains, no herded animals. Even modern “wild” berries are usually contaminated, and sweeter, because of cross-pollination with domestic breeds. I’ve had vegetarians insist we were mostly vegetarian at the time, but they’re unable to name the plant species we allegedly derived our calories from, especially fat. I’ll save you time: There are almost none. Gathering non-fruit comestibles is a net calorie loss and a waste of time.

Not that your present-day Carnivorous Man is in a position to brag, either:

Most of the Paleo diet people won’t be happy either. There was a lot of meat, but most of it was stringy and lean. Humans need fat for brain development and to maintain the skin, among other organs. When you can’t get gorged, winter-ready animals with a layer of fat to eat, you wind up eating brains, livers and kidneys. They also provide salt, minerals and flavor. Hunter gatherers cherish the organ meats for nutrition. You’ll want a lot of fatty fish, too.

After a week of this diet, I was ready to kill someone for some french fries or a peanut butter sandwich.

He is, however, kind enough to offer a couple of what could be Vintage Recipes (see the link).

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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All static, all the time

Two years from now, there will be no FM radio in Norway:

Norway’s Minister of Culture announced this week that a national FM-radio switch off will commence in 2017, allowing the country to complete its transition over to digital radio. It’s the end of an era.

As notes, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) will provide Norwegian listeners more diverse radio channel content than ever before. Indeed, DAB already hosts 22 national channels in Norway, as opposed to FM radio’s five, and a TNS Gallup survey shows that 56% of Norwegian listeners use digital radio every day. While Norway is the first country in the world to set a date for an FM switch-off, other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also in the process of transitioning to DAB.

The US can be expected to lag behind, mostly because the three major commercial radio formats — Rascal Flatts, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and Sports Guys Yelling — aren’t willing to give up their existing playgrounds.

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Strange search-engine queries (481)

The reason this weekly feature exists is simply that one day I was glancing at the logs, noting that some of the URLs contained embedded search strings, and that some of those search strings were slightly weird. (Not that the things I search for aren’t weird, but that’s another matter.) I figured the least I could do is get some blogfodder out of it, and here we are, about a decade later.

Голая слилин дион:  So far as I can tell, this is “naked Celine Dion.” More than that, I don’t want to know.

wile e. coyote breakaway mug:  So Acme’s getting into housewares now. Hmmm.

cavitational force:  In the new Disneyfied Star Wars universe, this is part of the Dark Side, in which Darth Decay sends forth his minions to infiltrate your gums.

“bobby russell” cd “go chase your rainbow”:  Is there a place you can buy it on Franklin Pike Circle?

personal items from estate of late karen carpenter:  Including six sets of drumsticks, a case of Chloraseptic, and birds who suddenly appear.

what happens when you hold your breath and bite your tongue:  You survive yet another presidential campaign.

how do i know if my transmisson is going on my 2000 mazda 626:  It’s 15 years old. Of course it’s going.

cast your fate to the wind the original hit:  This is not the one you were expecting, but it’s the correct one:

Black Orpheus by Vince Guaraldi

That Sounds Orchestral British Invasion version was still a couple of years away.

enjoy blues ocaine boggie my way home messing with the blues:  Sounds to me like you’re messing with something already, and it rhymes with “ocaine.”

imagine the us congress is considering legislation that will ban mtbe:  You get enough people whining about it, you could get Congress to consider legislation that would ban stretch marks, peach pits, or the heartbreak of psoriasis.

it didn’t down on me that there might be a few holes in my education:  For instance, how to spell “dawn.”

“bob licht” basketball divorce:  It was inevitable, once he caught her Spalding.

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With bluebonnets on it

You may wish to grow Lupinus texensis, the Texas bluebonnet, yourself. You may even be in Texas. But you will probably not succeed:

You want a yard full of them? Good luck with that.

You see, bluebonnets prefer well-drained places that are untouched, unmowed, un-stepped-on, un-anything. Texans want to grow them in their yards, and they are consistently foiled in this endeavor. These rascally little plants want to bloom in places nobody messes with.

And I’ll just ‘fess up right here — my mother is the only human on this earth who has successfully gotten bluebonnets to grow in her yard — at least, the only human I know personally.

But it was only in flowerbeds that she LEFT ALONE.

Bluebonnets do not like to be messed with. EVER.

And you can’t get a whole lot more Texan than that, right?

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Loyal plastic robots

“Brown shoes,” observed Frank Zappa, “don’t make it.” How prescient he was [warning: autostart video]:

One of St. Louis’ oldest public companies, Brown Shoe, is stepping out with a new name, Caleres.

Brown has been part of the corporate name since the company’s founding in 1878. Next month, however, that name will be dropped once shareholders approve the change on May 28.

“Brown Shoe doesn’t conjure up the image of who we are today,” Brown Shoe’s CEO, president and chairwoman Diane Sullivan said in an interview. “Our name has to be more than a name — it must be managed as a brand. It’s hard to be emotional about a brown shoe.”

Late last year, Brown Shoe announced plans to pursue the Stuart Weitzman brand, which was eventually sold to Coach.

On the rebranding, I’m with Brian J. on this one: “‘Caleres’ conjures up what, exactly?” And what happens to Buster Brown?

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First meal: snap

Followed, inevitably, by crackle and pop:

A young woman says she lives on almost nothing but Rice Krispies — and insists she is still healthier than most people.

Natalie Swindells, 26, eats four bowls of the cereal every day. She can’t face eating much else and has not tasted a vegetable for nearly two decades.

The bank worker, who says she has never taken a day off sick, stopped eating most other foods from the age of two. She now believes overeating causes more health problems than having a very restricted diet like her own.

Well, the key word here is “almost”:

She will also occasionally eat milk chocolate, ready salted crisps and chips. Although she consumes fewer than half of the recommended 2,000 calories for women Miss Swindells still has an active lifestyle. She lives in Macclesfield with her boyfriend Daniel Walsh, 26, who she says has grown accustomed to her strange eating habits.

Maybe it’s just one of the quirks of being Maxonian. Macclesfield is the only English mill town that was not bombed in World War II, and their current MP is a Mormon. Further, it’s the home of Mr. Methane, a flatulist. I’ll bet he doesn’t live off Rice Krispies.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Can two be as bad as one?

Remember the old “Advice to the Lovelorn” columns? Useless in the Internet age, says Robert Stacy McCain:

Whereas in the Dead Tree Age, it was possible to be clueless about sex and relationships, in the Information Age, the only clueless people are (a) stupid or (b) quasi-autistic nerd types with impaired social perception. Everybody else is able to Google up their own particular issue and figure it out. By 2006, all potential relationship problems (“Is my penis too small?” “If you have to ask, the answer is yes.”) had already been answered somewhere on the Internet.

The only reason anyone would still be publishing an online Relationship Advice column in 2015 is to serve that niche readership of Pathetic Nerds Who Just Don’t Get It.

A sample of PNWJDGI:

Q. I think the attractive woman in the next cubicle likes me. How do I find out for sure?

A. No, she doesn’t like you. Nobody likes you. You are an ugly man with Asperger’s Syndrome and nobody likes you. This woman on whom you have a sick fixated obsession doesn’t like you. If she smiles at you, that’s because you’re creeping her out. You make her nervous, staring at her constantly. Her smile is a sort of defensive shield. She has nightmares about you stabbing her in the parking lot, you disgusting weirdo. Leave her alone. Leave women alone, period. Don’t even look at a woman.

No, I didn’t ask that. For one thing, there is no “next cubicle” involved.

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Murrah plus twenty

If you were anywhere within four or five miles of downtown Oklahoma City on this date in 1995, it’s a pretty safe bet that you heard it. Felt it. First you wondered what; then you wondered why. We’ve pretty much settled the first question.

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Career dehancement’s parent company Mediocre Laboratories is hiring, and at this writing they’re looking for a “Member Engagement Specialist (Evenings / Nights / Weekends, PT or FT),” which boils down to this:

Do you enjoy receiving soulless, robotic emails? Do the typical customer service experiences you have make you happy? Do you loathe the opportunity to take ownership of a new process? If yes, stop reading now. But if you truly enjoy engaging with people, creating unique and memorable experiences and generally spreading sunshine and happiness with creative flair, you may have what it takes to join our mediocre staff as a member engagement specialist. If you can do all that while enduring gracefully the unavoidable rants, cranks, and jerks you’ll encounter, and say NO when required without being a jerk yourself, we should talk. Oh yea, and you’ll need to have the ability to work some unconventional hours — the mediocre shifts, if you will.

I’m not in this particular field myself, but I know from rants, cranks, and jerks; they’re dialing in more or less continuously from the moment the phone system starts letting them in to just before they get dismissed to voice mail.

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For those who think Jung

Girls' Generation

This was SNSD, circa 2012. SNSD — So Nyeo Shi Dae, “Girls’ Generation” — is a K-pop group assembled over the last eight years. The first member, sixth in line, in the dress the color of dried ketchup, is Jessica Jung, who had signed her first contract with S. M. Entertainment in 2000 when she was eleven; S. M. named her as the first member of SNSD in 2007. And seven years later, Jung was the first member of SNSD to be sacked, apparently for having too many outside interests conflicting with group activities, starting with her appearance in a Korean production of the musical Legally Blonde. (How blonde is she? Not very, I suspect.)

Jessica Jung not brushing her hair

I have no idea what that black box is for, unless it’s to obscure a brand name that didn’t pony up for promotional money.

Jessica Jung looking vaguely domestic

There were also a number of non-SNSD singles, including this song from the TV series Dating Agency: Cyrano, which ran for 16 episodes in 2013:

Incidentally, Jessica Jung was born in San Francisco, and didn’t actually relocate to South Korea until 2000, when she and younger sister Krystal, then on a family vacation, were offered tryouts by the S. M. conglomerate. Krystal, now 20, is a member of singing group f(x), which was the first K-pop act to appear at SXSW.

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