Meanwhile on the Mad River

Welcome to Springfield, Ohio, population 120,000:

That’s sixty thousand humans, and sixty thousand crows:

Residents, business owners and police in Springfield have joined together in a bid to get rid of the “dirty” birds, which leave droppings everywhere and create noise pollution.

Volunteer armies have been brandishing lasers at the buildings from dusk until early night, while a biologist also recommended using sound machines.

Crows, however, are not dumb:

“The crows adapted quickly and realized that’s just a fake,” Roger Sherrock, CEO of the Clark County Heritage Center and one of the leaders in the fight against the crows, told the Springfield News-Sun.

CROWCON 2: Flare guns.

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Axe it anything

Sometimes it’s not always obvious where Apple should be going with a product line. And this is where the user base stands tall:

Of course, as an Apple accessory, it won’t be cheap, but so what else is new?

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For which they stand

Because, you see, this kind of stuff is important:

Ruling [Thursday], Oklahoma County District Court Judge Bernard M. Jones denied Oklahoma City Public Schools’ request for an injunction that would force Locust Grove and Oklahoma City Douglass High Schools to replay their Class 3A quarterfinal game, or to replay the last 64 seconds of the game, starting from when a mistaken rule enforcement cost Douglass a touchdown to which it was by right entitled.

And God forbid anyone should fail to get something to which it is by right entitled. Meanwhile, there exist issues of lesser import:

You, O Fine Reader, being the perceptive sort of person that you are, will probably have noticed that no one is threatening to go to court over Douglass test scores or building facilities, or the fact that the statewide testing mark for the school dropped from a C+ in 2013 to a D- in 2014, or that nobody noticed that school staff had let so many academic requirements slide for the class of 2013 that the discovery only a fifth of them could graduate was not made until November 2012.

None of those things are worth disturbing a judge and packing a courtroom for, apparently.

It’s all in the priorities. And in this state, that’s football, followed by Everything Else.

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Welcome to Batman

Street scene in Batman, Turkey

This is beautiful downtown Batman, Turkey, population 350,000, so named for its location on the Batman River, a major tributary of the fabled Tigris. It’s an oil town: the Batı Raman oil field, Turkey’s largest, is located just outside of city limits, and there’s a pipeline to the Mediterranean. In 1986 carbon-dioxide injection was introduced, later supplemented by polymer gel flooding, maintaining Batı Raman’s production level at around 7,000 barrels a day through 2007 or so.

There is some dispute as to the origin of the name “Batman,” which may be derived from an old Ottoman Empire unit of weight (approximately 16.5 lb), or from the Batı Raman — not the oil field, but a nearby mountain, height 1200 meters.

In 2008, Batman mayor Huseyin Kalkan made noises to the effect that he was suing Warner Bros. and director Christopher Nolan over The Dark Knight: trademark infringement, doncha know. Nothing came of the suit; presumably someone showed Mr Kalkan a copy of Detective Comics.

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Until he took one to the knee

The absence of LeBron James, sidelined with a sore left knee, proved to be less of an issue than anyone thought: guard Matthew Dellavedova, averaging a hair over three points per game, started at small forward and dropped in four of five treys, contributing a great deal toward the collapse of what once was a 20-point Thunder lead. With 2:00 left, the Cavaliers had pulled to within four; back-to-back buckets from Kevin Durant, though, stretched the lead back to eight, and the Cavs would see no more daylight. Final: Oklahoma City 103, Cleveland 94.

King James was missed, yes, but it’s not like the Cavaliers were way outmanned: no team with Kyrie Irving really can be. (There were some anxious moments on the Cleveland bench late in the second quarter, when Irving came down hard on a knee; but he was back after halftime, good as new.) To go with Irving’s 20 points, Cleveland also had Kevin Love, 18 points and 16 rebounds, and Tristan Thompson, 14 points and 13 boards. (Cavs outrebounded the Thunder, 48-48.) Add fourteen points from Dion Waiters and fourteen more from the aforementioned Matthew Dellavedova, and here’s a team that can play with the best even without that James fellow.

But that James fellow is a formidable shot blocker, and in his absence, OKC shot 44 percent and 7-26 on the three-ball, most of which came in the fourth quarter. KD, right on top of his time limitation at 30:07, chunked in 19 points; Russell Westbrook checked in with a game-high 26 on 12-24 shooting, eight assists and seven rebounds. Steven Adams collected 10 boards. It was another weird night for Serge Ibaka, who fouled out in just under 26 minutes: he scored seven and blocked two shots, but grabbed absolutely no rebounds whatsoever. Reggie Jackson and Anthony Morrow contributed two dozen points between them.

Tommorow night in the Twin Cities: the 9-13 Thunder versus the 5-16 Timberwolves. You kind of figure both of these teams would be doing better than that. Then again, they could be 1-2 in the division, or 14-15 in the conference, and they’d still go at it with hammer and tong.

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New noises in the night

It started about 10:30. The furnace went through its usual startup routine, the piezo starter clicked, and then — nothing.

And then BAM! A very loud thump, and things continued normally. This had all the signs of being Not Good, so I turned to the keyboard and sought answers. Apparently the most common cause of this ailment is grunged-up burners which pass insufficient gas. (A problem I myself have never had, I noted.) The furnace is legally old enough to drink, and I don’t trust myself around things that might explode, so I cut it off for the night and the next morning summoned the pros from Dover.

And of course, my YouTube-enhanced diagnosis was wrong. Combination of two things: bad capacitor at the blower motor, and gas pressure about 20 percent off spec. Total outlay: just under $200. And at least it didn’t happen on a day when the temperature was down in the ridiculous zone.

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Sooner than you’d think

I went public with this Saturday, once I had something to work with:

It was received well in the tweetstream, for the most part. I left the second part of the story unspoken, since it hadn’t come to fruition just yet.

Monday night it did: the school board voted 8-0 to change the teams at Capitol Hill High School from “Redskins” to, well, almost anything else. This didn’t go quite so smoothly, but ultimately I have to agree with board chair Lynn Hardin:

“We all have feelings about this and whether it’s right or wrong we have an obligation to be sensitive to our community,” Hardin said. “Once you know the truth, it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. So we might as well address it and figure out how we can proceed.”

I have no doubt at least some of the folks who sat in on the meeting were also thinking about Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins, though if you ask me, the truly hurtful word in that name isn’t “Redskins.”

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Rabbit is retrying

We begin with a paragraph from Hugh Hefner’s The Playboy Philosophy, December 1962:

Some seem to feel that a happy, even frisky and romantic attitude toward life, and a savoring of its material pleasures, preclude seriousness, work, sensibility, a viable aesthetic. In our book (literally and in the slang sense) this position is untenable. It belongs with such other evidences of semantic dysfunction as the unreasoning suspicion that medicine can’t be good for you if it doesn’t taste bad; that robust profanity bespeaks a limited vocabulary (rather than one equipped with condiments as well as nutrients); that dullness is the ordained handmaiden of seriousness; that the well-dressed man is an empty-headed fop, perforce, and that conversely, the chap who can’t distinguish a fine Niersteiner from a plebeian bottle of hock is probably possessed of more intellect of character than the man who can.

In the Age of Dudebros, this sort of claim to the epicurean high ground gets exactly the amount of respect you’d think, which is why the keepers of the Rabbit are actually considering turning away from its signature offering:

“You could argue that nudity is a distraction for us and actually shrinks our audience rather than expands it,” says [Playboy Enterprises CEO Scott] Flanders. “At the time when Hef founded the company [in 1953], nudity was provocative, it was attention-grabbing, it was unique and today it’s not. It’s passé.”

So passé that he predicts it will eventually vanish from the Playboy brand altogether. Probably not as long as Hefner still owns a third of the company and personally selects all of the nude spreads in the magazine, along with each Playmate of the Month and Year.

Which, notes this thirty-year reader, do tend to be repetitive, though there does seem to be life in the old leporid yet:

Though he claims he has no actual editorial pull, Flanders nudged others within the company to contemporize the overall look and feel of the publication. He felt it had grown “stale,” mostly due to using essentially the same pool of photographers for more than 25 years. Updating the visual aesthetic, he says, particularly the eye candy, of Playboy was far from an easy sell.

“People said, ‘Oh, we know what Hef likes. He likes this type of photography,’ and I said, ‘Well that’s bullshit. That’s like saying he likes the same meatloaf he’s been eating for 25 years. Let’s give him a piece of steak and see if he likes that,'” Flanders says. “And, sure as hell, as soon as they gave Hef more contemporary photography he loved it.”

Still, Hef is nearly 90. (Note: This Web site started on his 70th birthday.) At this point, we have no idea of the sensibilities of younger son Cooper, who is the designated heir to That Which Is Hef. And Playboy is trailing the recently de-fratboyed Maxim by half a million copies a month, which proves, if nothing else, that there’s a market for sideboob alone.

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This morning’s instructional

A decade or so ago, I put out a threadbare little template for those who wanted to post the way I do, which turned out to be no one at all. The idea, however, has been steadily improved upon, and the current state of the art, I think, is in Jennifer’s “Eye Catching Title Referencing Something Controversial,” which offers not only a better title but the potential for actual controversy, something de rigueur in this age of fifty million blogs chasing the same ten million clicks.

(Oh, and read the comments. They’re actually in the spirit of the thing, for once.)

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Emissions beyond control

When you get right down to it, nobody burns hydrocarbons like UN climate-change types burn hydrocarbons. And the next lovefest, in Peru, will burn the most of all:

The Lima conference is expected to have the biggest carbon footprint of any U.N. climate meeting measured to date. At more than 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the negotiations’ burden on global warming will be about 1½ times the norm, said Jorge Alvarez, project coordinator for the U.N. Development Program.

The venue is one big reason. It had to be built. Eleven football fields of temporary structures arose for the 13-day negotiations from what three months ago was an empty field behind Peru’s army’s headquarters. Concrete was laid, plumbing installed, components flown in from as far as France and Brazil.

Standing in the midday sun here can get downright uncomfortable, but the Lima sun is not reliable. That’s one reason solar panels were not used. For electricity, the talks are relying exclusively on diesel generators.

They’re claiming, of course, that all this is being offset elsewhere:

Nor is there a guarantee that the 580 square miles (1,500 square kilometers) of forest — the size of Houston, Texas — offsetting the talks’ carbon pollution won’t someday be gone. It must lie unperturbed for a half century in order to neutralize carbon emitted at the conference.

By which time, of course, all these self-appointed aristocrats will be long gone and justifiably forgotten.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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6 things we never want to see lists of again

Lynn was grumbling about yet another list, this one called “9 Things Middle-Aged Women Should Stop Doing Immediately.” Things got meta down in the comments when Nicole said there should be a list of “6 Things We Never Want to See Lists of Again,” and I said to myself, “Self? There’s your cue.”

  • “Ten Bands We Really Hate.” The only possibly interesting factor here is whether someone comes up with a way to mention Nickelback twice.
  • “Twelve Ugly Celebrity Body Parts.” Most of the time, this ends up being pictures of orange-peel deposits on the backs of their legs, or shots of their feet. (And if the latter, you will see Halle Berry, who really, truly does not have twelve toes, no matter what you heard.)
  • “Eight Ways to Reduce Carbs.” Scrape out the inside of the burrito, then give the hollowed-out husk to the stray cat from three doors down.
  • “Seven Shows You May Not Have Considered for Binge-Viewing.” At least four of them could be, and should be, According to Jim.
  • “Five National Conversations We Need to Have.” Inevitably, this translates to “Five issues on which you need to be lectured, since obviously you haven’t been taking the subtle hints we’ve been giving you all along.”
  • “Nine Ways to Look Better Naked.” You may reasonably distrust any of these that don’t begin with “Turn off the damn lights.”

Now I’m sorry I brought it up.

Addendum: Lynn herself weighs in.

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Winter tires

Not for use when it’s warm out:

Pumpkin Spice Rubber

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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Hanging a bit too low

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root…”

At what point do you finally catch on?

A local public relations agency says it’s changing its name after a firestorm on social media over the weekend.

In a flurry of tweets and retweets that started late Saturday and continued into Sunday, people from across the nation and around the globe chastised Austin-based Strange Fruit Public Relations, which shares its name with a Billie Holiday song dealing with racism.

It is widely accepted that the song, based on a poem written in 1937 by Abel Meeropol, uses the term “strange fruit” as a metaphor for lynching victims hanging from trees.

It’s not that they were unaware, exactly:

Mary Mickel, who co-founded the firm with Ali Slutsky, told the American-Statesman the duo was unaware of the song when they first settled on the name in 2012.

“We thought the name would be perfect for a hospitality PR firm that specializes in food and drink,” Mickel said via email. “We of course Googled to ensure that it was not taken elsewhere and found the Billie Holiday song online. Thinking it would have nothing to do with our firm, and since it was written in 1939 it wouldn’t be top of mind in the public consciousness. We now know we were naïve to think that, and should have known better.”

I’m betting there probably isn’t a Dred Scott Real Estate, either.

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Usually a dollar extra

I have to wonder whether this was actually planned, or somehow just happened:

Workers fled a Tim Horton’s restaurant in Canada after a patron threw a live snake behind the counter during an argument over sandwich toppings.

According to the Saskatoon Police Service, two 20-year-old men are in custody after they allegedly engaged in the snake throwing incident at a Saskatoon Tim Horton’s Monday morning.

The report indicates the men wanted their onions diced and as the argument escalated, one of the men reached into the pocket of his friend’s coat, pulled out a live snake and threw it behind the counter. According to police, no one was injured, but employees fled the store in fear.

On the upside, you have to figure that had they diced it for him, a man eating a snake, even at a Tim Horton’s, has to go over better than a snake eating a man.

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Inflating the bounce rate

There was a report yesterday of domain hijacking, which proved to be a little bit less heinous than that but no less annoying.

It’s a third-party script, which apparently piggybacks onto the existing SiteMeter code. Fortunately, it was easy to identify. If you’re using some form of ad- or popup-blocker, this is something you’ll want to block:…

If you’re not, well, why not?

(Hat tip to @GLHancock, who saw it here first.)

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Fallen deer zone

Payback can be so sweet sometimes. The Bucks, who so thoroughly thrashed these Thunder in Milwaukee earlier this season, managed to lead by five after the first quarter, and were never heard from again; Scott Brooks, always cautious about proclaiming garbage time, pulled the last of the starters — except for Andre Roberson, who replaced the fouled-out Anthony Morrow — with three and a half minutes left and OKC up by double digits. It was 114-101 at the horn, and the Restored Thunder are now 3-1 — but still 8-13 overall.

This was yet another game in which O. J. Mayo started out sort of slow and then gradually stepped up his production; he’d made it up to a game-high 18 points before fouling out late. His frontcourt served him well: Giannis Antetokounmpo had 17 points, Jabari Parker 15. The reserves were headed by Jerryd Bayless, with 11. Somehow, the Bucks managed only three fast-break points all night; even weirder, they were outrebounded 54-31. The Bucks did well at the stripe, though, with 29 hits in 35 tries. And while their bench was good for 36 points, the OKC reserves came up with 42, led by Reggie Jackson with 18.

Jackson, incidentally, played 30 minutes tonight, second only to Russell Westbrook. (Kevin Durant knocked out 29.) This is consistent with the last couple of games, indicating that Jackson’s spending nearly as much time subbing for Durant as he is for Westbrook. Russ kicked in 28 points tonight on 8-16; Durant went 7-11 for 23 and gathered nine boards, four more than even the mighty Serge, who was 5-5 from the floor and 5-5 from the line, +25 for the night. Nick Collison drew an unexpected DNP-CD, which I’m inclined to attribute to all manner of potential height mismatches.

Thursday, the Cavs come to town, and everyone says they’re ready. Me, I’m just grateful LeBron stayed in the East.

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