Not a puff piece

Mr Truman, having experimented with e-cigarettes and found them to be an improvement over the burning-leaf variety, now wonders if maybe these, too, will be taken away in the name of safety:

[B]y god I have found something that works for me. Not just because I don’t smoke anymore, but because it allows me the ability to continue to do the things that drew me to smoking in the first place. I may quit the ecigarettes or I may not. But I have finally found myself not having to obsess over this question. Do you know how amazing that is? A world has been lifted from my shoulders. The monkey that has been on my back for years and years is gone. At worse, replaced by something by all measures benign by comparison. It makes me want to kiss the skies. And it makes me furious at those who see this as some nefarious new threat to the public health.

Right now I am just waiting to find out how bad it’s going to be. Whether the thing that right now costs me twenty-five cents a milliliter will shoot up to seventy-five cents (a very real possibility). Whether the people I get my supply from will be allowed to remain in business. Whether I am going to have to throw everything out and start all over with an FDA-approved device. I’m concerned about the number of people out there who could take the same path as I did to recovery, but as much as anything I just want to keep doing the thing that has put more distance between me and cigarettes than I have had in over ten years. Or whether it will be made more complicated and disrupted with right-now unthinkable consequences. In the name of public health. In the name of my own well-being.

In matters of government, all consequences are unthinkable: lawmakers — and people assuming the role of lawmakers in contravention of the Constitution — insist that their solutions are not only correct, but inevitable. To this day we have people defending Bolshevism; in 2100 we’ll still have people defending ObamaCare. It might be prudent to expect the worst.

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Be there!

“Eighty percent of success,” said Woody Allen, “is showing up.” Motivated perhaps partly by this, and definitely by Nicole’s plan for Olympia Detroit (cited here), we now have a scheme for education reform:

We eliminate all the actual course work. All the student must do to graduate is show up. On time, every time.

For elementary school, the child must be at the library at 8:00 a.m. every weekday for the whole school year except holidays. Once there, he may read, color, or turn around and go back home. But that’s it. Everything else is up to the parents to require.* Show up every day for the school year, and he can advance to the next grade. Do it eight times and he can start high school.

As for the asterisk:

* This part is actually pretty important.

And perhaps the hardest to pull off.

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The Suns persist in rising

This game can be summed up in a single Telltale Statistic: with 3:47 left in the third quarter, the Thunder were up 96-80. When the horn sounded to end the quarter, Phoenix was leading 101-98.

But what else could you expect? The Suns are not even slightly comfortable in 8th place in the West, with the Grizzlies on their heels and twenty games to play: they’ve got to go full tilt, full time. Two and a half minutes later, the Suns had opened up a seven-point lead; Russell Westbrook, who’d already done 20 minutes and scored 23 points, was called back in and basically took over the joint. Three minutes later, it was tied and Westbrook had 36. But nothing was going to stop the Suns on a night when Gerald Green had a career-high 41 points, when Goran Dragić knocked down six points in a minute and a half, when the Morris brothers combined for 39 of 41 Phoenix bench points. The final was 128-122, and hey, how often do you get to see 250 points scored in a 48-minute game?

The Suns were proficient with the long ball, sinking 15 of 27 — Green made eight of 13 himself — and outrebounded the Thunder 44-33. And you have to do things like that when the Thunder shoot 50 percent and don’t miss a free throw all night.

Both Westbrook and Kevin Durant put up three-pointers on that last OKC possession; neither of them connected. Durant finished the night with 34. And Westbrook came awfully close to another triple-double (36 points, nine rebounds, nine assists.) But this is basketball, not horseshoes or grenades, so “awfully close” might as well have been out in the farging desert somewhere. We did get to see more of Caron Butler, who played 29 minutes and led the bench with 14, including four of eight treys. (The Thunder were 13-33 from Way Out There.) Reggie Williams, called up on a 10-day from Tulsa, drew a DNP-CD, but perhaps that was to be expected.

There are the Lakers to be disposed of Sunday, and then a visit from the reliably scary Houston Rockets on Tuesday.

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And unto dust

I suppose this sums it up as well as it can be summed up:

“Never liked” is putting it mildly: one of Draper’s dreams was to have the structure entirely hidden by foliage, if not actual camouflage.

But Stan, who died in 1976, would likely have been equally delighted to see what actually will happen to Stage Center, now that the Downtown Design Review Committee has decided it’s not worth saving.

Then again, Cash for Gold, west of May on 39th, is flourishing.

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Forget the Motor City

Let’s imagine that this fallen metropolis might be destined for a Higher Purpose:

Why don’t we just make Detroit a permanent Olympics zone? Level the whole thing and put in permanent hotels, permanent stadiums, permanent facilities, housing for event workers, etc. But no one lives there any other time. Install a huge, secure dome over it with an artificial snow generator for the winter Olympics (hey, they do it in Dubai — surely we can do it here).

Average snowfall in Detroit is about 44 inches a year, or about half what they’ve gotten this year. There will presumably have to be a skeleton crew on hand 24/7/1461, but not necessarily a large one.

Though that’s not the problem. This is:

[N]o one has to bribe the IOC, no one country or city would stand to make millions (or billions) in graft and corruption. Yeah, that right there is the main reason why it would never happen. Not enough of the usual suspects making obscene amounts of money off of something that should be about the athletes.

On the other hand, you have to figure that Detroit knows something about graft.

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Harry, the feckless Senate runner

Smitty turns a Warren Zevon song into an ode to, or at least about, Harry Reid. And it’s not “Lawyers, Guns and Money,” either.

(Working title for this piece, for the minute and a half it had a working title, was “Werewolves of Searchlight.”)

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Only the dreggiest

I had mentioned earlier that I was unable to reinstall Adobe Photoshop Elements on the new Win7 box because, well, I couldn’t find the install disk, which wasn’t in its box and wasn’t in my Small Stack O’ Disks. (Adobe recommends against this sort of thing anyway.) So I went further into the stacks and found some horrifying things that should have been consigned to Sheol long before:

  • Windows 98 (retail version)
  • Sony SonicStage CP 4.1
  • Win95 drivers for a Umax parallel-port scanner (no XP drivers were ever issued, and I don’t even have a parallel port anymore)
  • Nero Burning ROM 5.5
  • America Online 6.0 (with 1000 hours free!)
  • America Online 8.0 (with 1045 hours free!)
  • Microsoft Works 8.5

I should probably blowtorch the whole drawer; there are also a couple of dozen unlabeled CD-Rs in there.

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Are they ill-tempered?

The scientists had one simple request, and that was to have sharks with frickin’ cameras attached to their heads:

The footage from 14 tiger sharks, six Galapagos sharks, five sandbar sharks, five bluntnose sixgill sharks and a prickly shark is the first to be taken of sharks, by sharks in their natural environment.

One clip from a camera attached to a male sandbar shark show the pursuit of a female; another shows its wearer’s point of view as it meets up with dozens of other sharks in a mixed group — including sandbars, oceanic blacktips and scalloped hammerheads — and swimming together for most of the day.

This is, you may be certain, a Serious Scientific Inquiry:

Sharks are among the top predators in the world’s oceans, and so where they go and what they eat can have huge effects that reverberate through their ecosystem’s food web. Scientists have attached sensors to sharks before to get an idea of their movements, but until recently they haven’t had the technology necessary to get good video footage — or to get their cameras back.

Did this cost one million dollars? Maybe, maybe not.

(Tweeted at me, complete with Austin Powers references, by just another prof.)

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The non-nuclear option

Mitch McConnell is making noises about reinstating the filibuster should the GOP recapture the Senate, an idea which does not sit well with Bill Quick:

How about this: Remove the filibuster entirely. It is an artifact of political operators, not of the Constitution. And Congress doesn’t need “more restraint.” The Framers deliberately designed it to be the most powerful, by far, of the three branches of government.

The notion that Congress should to make rules to “restrain itself” is, at bottom, an argument that Congress should not exist — because if doing less is desirable, doing nothing at all is most desirable.

And there’s always the question of why anyone thinks the Republicans will somehow ride their imagined Senate results into some sort of Chuck Norris mode, given the presence of squishes like, well, Mitch McConnell.

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Just after someday

Is it possible to get tired of ex-Bangle Susanna Hoffs? I contend that the answer is No:

Susanna Hoffs in 2012

This particular photo was part of a session to promote Hoffs’ 2012 album Someday. After the jump, the song “Picture Me” from that album:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Or you could just call 1-800-DOUCHE

Or whatever the prefix is in Britain:

A supercar fanatic fed up with missing out on offers of dates from women who spotted him diriving his Ferrari F430 has launched an app that he hopes will be the key to revving up Britain’s sex lives.

Marc Ackerley found himself swamped with date requests from attractive women who caught sight of him behind the wheel of his £170,000 Ferrari.

Fuelled by this new-found female attention and his worry that he was missing out on offers from women who had admired him (and his car) from afar but wouldn’t think of contacting a car dealership, the businessman set up Platewave.

The app which allows admirers to contact any car owner in the country. All you do is sign up to the website or app and send a message or a ‘wave’ to any registration plate.

The recipient can only see it if they sign up to the app themselves and when they do, their messages will be waiting for them.

If something like this were ever to catch on in the States, I predict roughly half the messages will be variations on “So you think you can go 15 under in the left lane, do you?”

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This explains the BLINK tag

Apparently we are even less tech-savvy than we think:

If you’re talking tech with Americans, you may want to avoid using any jargon.

A recent study found that many Americans are lost when it comes to tech-related terms, with 11% saying that they thought HTML — a language that is used to create websites — was a sexually transmitted disease.

Now we know why keyboard condoms are selling so well.

Perhaps more heartening:

77% of respondents could not identify what SEO means. SEO stands for “Search-Engine Optimization.”

When it gets to 100, we will have reached nirvana.

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I’ll tell you what you can do with your damn sauce

BBQ sauce to cure hemorrhoids?

(Another scary-but-funny clipping from Bad Newspaper.)

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The one you’re supposed to win

Much was made of these teams’ records goine in: the Thunder were 45-15, the Sixers 15-45. (This latter is explained, said radio guy Matt Pinto, by Philly’s “lenient” defense.) And well, when it’s 98-76 after three, you don’t expect a whole lot of superstar action in the fourth. With OKC’s starters taking a twelve-minute breather, the Thunder coasted to a 125-92 win — which means, you’ll note, that the reserves outscored Philadelphia’s mix of starters and reserves in the final frame, 27-16.

Then again, if anyone deserved superstar attention tonight, it was Russell Westbrook, who knocked down a triple-double — 13 points, 10 rebounds, 14 assists — in a mere 20 minutes. Give him a +25 for the night, one higher than Kevin Durant, who collected 42 points on 14-20 shooting. Missing only six shots is impressive; missing six free throws, as KD did, is a bit less so. Caron Butler’s debut in Thunder home white was perhaps more protracted than he expected: 26 minutes, during which he scored two points and retrieved five boards. Reggie Jackson paced the bench with 12.

Former OSU star James Anderson provided Philly with offense to the tune of 20 points; Michael Carter-Williams, who played the longest (33 minutes), was good for 14. And Thunder expat Byron Mullens led the bench with 15, including three of four treys. (Byron Mullens hits treys? You better believe he does.)

The six-game homestand ends at 3-3; the next two are on the road, at Phoenix on Thursday and against the Lakers on Sunday afternoon.

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Not a whole lot of fun

I got back from the polls at just after 5 pm, and the far corner of the garage was soaked. Weirdly, the water was warm, which meant only one of one thing: the hot-water line to the laundry apparatus was leaking.

Stuff like this, ever since I moved into this place, has motivated me to keep specialists on retainer. The plumber arrived right at six, and he couldn’t believe his good luck: he didn’t have to cut into the wall, just unscrew it from the studs. (The garage was insulated in 1997; they hung plywood over it.) Then he couldn’t believe his bad luck when he got to see the shape of the water lines.

He muttered the occasional imprecation, and under the circumstances I don’t blame him. (Even an insulated garage still gets down to 40°F or so now and then; the record is 29°F, set on a day when it was -5°F outside.)

It took about two hours to button everything up; I wrote a largish check, pressed a Jackson on him so he could buy dinner, and life moved on at subsonic speeds.

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Not so much interest

Apparently there’s less interest in the mayoral race than the vast quantity of hype suggested: I showed up at 4:58 and cast ballot #358. This is not a sign of heavy turnout. (Second in line at check-in is similar.)

Of course, the polls opened at 7 am, and roads were generally impassable at that hour. (I know. I was already at work.) Maybe it will pick up when the usual morning crowd gets off work.

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