Checking in with Dr. Smith

By the way, this is not Dr. Smith, the band, but Dr. Smith, the head of Surgery Center of Oklahoma, who has noticed something of late:

Surgeons are telling me that patients approaching Medicare age are having their procedures prior to turning 65, the opposite situation of just a short time ago. In order to avoid the personal out-of-pocket expense associated with a knee replacement, for instance, patients in the past would typically wait until their Medicare enrollment was effective. This is no longer the case. Patients are telling their physicians that they fear that the care they need will not be available once “health care reform” takes place. The Medicare beneficiaries or soon to be Medicare beneficiaries are particularly concerned that the looming bankruptcy of this program will increasingly result in rationing to them.

Hmmm. Last time I had knee surgery, I was advised that I’d probably be needing a full-fledged replacement by age 60. That’s twenty months away. On the other hand, apart from the usual creaks and twinges and such from osteoarthritis, I’m not in any significant pain — about a 1.5 on the scale of 1 to a Rob Schneider movie — so I’m not feeling any particular urgency here.

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Thunder über Dallas

Few things in life are quite as satisfying as sending the Mavericks home with a loss, mostly because it’s seldom easy to do. And it didn’t look like it was going to happen: Jason Terry and Dirk Nowitzki, of course, presented the greatest challenges, and Dirk drilled home a three — his fourth of the night — with two and a half minutes left, giving him a game-high 27. But that was all he would get; in fact, that’s all any of the Mavs got, as the Thunder shut them out the rest of the way en route to a 95-91 win, taking the season series 3-1 and indeed sending the Mavs home to deal with the Knicks.

This one, though, was tight all the way through: lead changes left and right, especially in the fourth quarter. The Thunder didn’t actually pull ahead until the 0:46 mark, when Serge Ibaka drew Ian Mahinmi’s sixth foul and sank two free throws. Three more freebies, one from Kevin Durant and two from Russell Westbrook, iced the deal. For those who were wondering if James Harden was going to come to life after a less-than-indifferent opening, wonder no more: The Beard owned the place starting in the fourth, garnering 14 of his 16 points. Twenty-four for Westbrook, 22 for Durant, and 14 rebounds for Kendrick Perkins, who was on his best behavior all night.

Jason Terry, arguably Harden’s only competition for Sixth Man of the Year, wound up playing 37 minutes, more than any of the Mavs except Dirk, and he was his usual fearsome self. Mahinmi, pressed into service in the middle thirty seconds in after Brendan Haywood rolled his ankle somewhere over Perk, was the most efficient shooter on the floor: five of six and all three of his free throws for 13 points. But if Rick Carlisle was hoping for some Vinceanity, it didn’t happen: Vince Carter checked out in ten minutes, having missed his only shot. And Sean Williams essentially scored four for the Thunder, having goaltended two OKC shots in rapid succession.

But hey, this is what happens when you play Dallas, and we don’t have to see them again until the playoffs. The Suns will be here Wednesday, the Cavs on Saturday, and neither of them figure to be quite as much of a handful as the Mavs.

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But can you bypass the warnings?

The trouble with remote controls, of course, is that sooner or later you attempt to use them on something that isn’t remotely controllable.

Which may, or may not, lead to something like this:

(Via this Tony Hanadarko tweet.)

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Pinkie Pie, your ride is ready

Ignoring for the moment the likelihood that ponies can’t actually drive, this Chinese-vended Lamborghini Gallardo seems perfect for Pinkie, even if it’s way too fast for the bucolic streets of Ponyville:

Lamborghini Gallardo courtesy of CarNewsChina

Or maybe it’s just that Pinkie Pie, in common with most Lamborghinis, pays little attention to the laws of physics.

Beyond this, we could place Applejack in an F-150, Rarity in a Lexus ES 350 (a Camry would so not do), Fluttershy in a mid-1980s Volvo 240 (polite, safe, and unassuming), and, well, we’ve already seen Rainbow Dash’s trick Mustang.

That leaves Twilight Sparkle, and to me the choice seems obvious:

Honda Civic in purple

Methodical, comprehensible, and no frills.

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Buy Terran!

Michael Karesh, reviewing Chrysler’s 300C with the SRT8 package:

A sign of the times: the most American sedan you can buy is assembled in a Canadian plant with a Mexican engine and a German transmission by an Italian-controlled company.

Meanwhile, your American-controlled companies have seemed more interested in building Japanese sedans in, for instance, Mexico.

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Strange search-engine queries (318)

This weekly feature highlights the lowlights of last week’s server logs, and it comes to you free, out of the goodness of my heart and at my own expense, totally unlike all the “free” stuff people think they’re getting from the government.

mazda 626 transmission exploded view:  Keep forgetting to change the fluid, and you can see it happening live in your own driveway.

naked man sitting down position:  Some people will be disturbed if he’s, um, standing up.

german sewerage treatment rachmaninoff:  It’s amazing how microbes respond to blatant Romanticism.

gambar background power point romantic:  It’s amazing how PowerPoint viewers respond to blatant Romanticism.

“search pollution”:  When the pr0n links outnumber the links you actually wanted.

why does my mazda 3 need a new transmission:  Because life is unfair. Deal with it.

come to me softly with piano:  Trust me, it will be a lot easier to sneak up on you with a flute.

why is mid grade cheaper than regular in iowa:  It’s ten percent corn squeezings. Maybe more.

what is the distance between toilet area and the farthest point at the building per ibc:  Approximately the distance over which you can hold it in, plus thirty-five percent.

girls neon dc shoes:  But of course. If they ran on AC, they’d have to be plugged into the wall.

why is even in his youth not on nevermind:  Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go want to do look more like?

“consumer reports” “best rated condoms”:  Nice to see you too, Ms Fluke.

is political blogging trustworthy:  As much so as politics itself.

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A fabric that stands up

Mr. Hicks Casuals would like you to know that these slacks are made with 50 percent Fortrel® polyester:

Glo-Tone slacks by Mr. Hicks

Ah, if only we could still buy slacks for nine bucks a pair.

(This was Found In Mom’s Basement.)

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Lizards in Texas

And you thought your state’s Congressional districts were strange-looking:

Proposed Travis County Congressional districts

You’re looking at the middle of Austin, Texas, under a recent redistricing proposal. Chris Bradford explains it all:

Downtown condo dwellers, UT students who live in West Campus, and South Austinites vote with Kerrville ranchers. UT students who live on campus, most of east Austin, Hyde Park and West Lake Hills vote, naturally, with the southern Fort Worth suburbs. The portion of east Austin that doesn’t vote with Fort Worth votes with central San Antonio. And the Triangle and north Austin vote with west Houston.

Elbridge Gerry, having died 198 years ago, was not available for comment, though I’m sure he’d have approved.

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Question of the ages, settled

“Only question I ever thought was hard,” said white’n’nerdy Weird Al, “was do I like Kirk or do I like Picard?”

Easy one, Alfred:

Remember when The Riddler took control of the USS Enterprise and started flying it in the wrong direction? It was the first appearance of the self-destruct routine in Star Trek. What did “need a wheelbarrow for my balls” Captain Kirk say about that? Huh? Anybody? Bueller? What was the famous line?

“I am captain of this ship, and it will follow whatever course I set for it, or … I will destroy it.”

In the Picard era, the self-destruct device was used to illustrate the willingness with which the individuals would sacrifice their lives for the greater good. See, this is why Kirk beats Picard. Kirk was all about the triumph of the human will, ultimately, the triumph of the individual against chaos, misery, strife, insurmountable situations and impossible odds; Picard was all about subordination of that individual to the nebulous calling of the greater good.

Picard, of course, was quick to point out the necessity of that presumed Greater Good:

“The Prime Directive is not just a set of rules. It is a philosophy, and a very correct one. History has proven again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous.”

Then again, Picard wasn’t exactly blind to the universe around him:

“Villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well-camouflaged.”

And these days, the latter far outnumber the former.

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Splendor on the grass

Spring is darn near sprung, and Splendid, previously known more for its flirty shirts, has introduced a shoe line appropriate for the season.

Lustful by Splendid

Heirloom Shoe, their local retail outlet (NW 44th and Western), is promoting this particular style on their Facebook page, and a friend expressed some enthusiasm for it, which is more than enough reason for me to put it up here. This color is called River Rock; there’s also a Rainbow version, both sitting on this 4½-inch high woven-bamboo wedge. The price, at $109, is not eye-popping. And I swear, I’d already started on this post long before I discovered that Splendid calls this shoe “Lustful.”

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This has to be an early frontrunner for Sentence of the Year:

If anyone ever asks me who I am, all I need to say is: I am the type of person who did ecstasy once, and afterwards had to look up the word in the dictionary in order to verify the etymological roots of my experience.

More than usual, I urge you to read the whole thing.

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No shortage of talons

You might have thought the Atlanta Hawks, missing Joe Johnson for the week and Al Horford for the season, might have had some trouble tonight. You would have been wrong. For most of those 48 minutes, the Birds simply out-hustled the Thunder, and while OKC did manage to tie early in the fourth quarter, Atlanta ran off eight consecutive points and never trailed again, posting a 97-90 win.

“Three-point happy,” said radio guy Matt Pinto, and he wasn’t kidding: the Thunder tossed up twenty-three from downtown, and only six actually dropped in. What’s more, they turned the ball over 21 times, resulting in 22 points for the Hawks, and if someone tonight was supposed to be clutch, well, the disc was slipping or something. Russell Westbrook, for the most part, did not look like someone who’d suffered a sprain two days ago, and he did rack up 25 points, but he didn’t snag so much as a single rebound. Kendrick Perkins showed some ferocity, enough to get himself six fouls in barely 15 minutes; this opened some time for Cole Aldrich, who pulled down seven boards, five offensive. And, yes, Kevin Durant scored his usual 106 35.

But nobody seemed quite as motivated as Atlanta’s Josh Smith, who was playing as though he was assuming personal responsibility for blowing the Thunder off the court. And here’s your telltale statistic: Smith had 30 points, 12 rebounds — yet still wound up -2 for the night. This tells me that the other Hawks were feeding off Smith’s energy, and even the occasionally tough Thunder defense, which blocked ten shots, would not be getting them down. Four of five Atlanta starters got double figures, and Zaza Pachulia had a double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds). Off the bench, Jerry Stackhouse didn’t score, but he served up five dimes, more than any Thunder player. And both Jannero Pargo and Vladimir Radmanovic came up with timely treys.

So the road trip ends on a sour note, and there’ll be no coffee on the flight home. Not that anyone has time to think about that, with the Mavs coming to town on Monday.

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Upbeat, not uptight

Tomorrow is Patsy Kensit’s birthday — she’ll be 44 — and it occurred to me that I hadn’t seen her since Grace of My Heart, fifteen years ago, in which she played a songwriter trying to establish herself in the Brill Building pop-music factory of the early 1960s.

She dropped out of American sight shortly afterwards, but she’s been a regular on British television, and the following photo comes from the BBC series Strictly Come Dancing, season eight (2010), in which she was paired with dancer Robin Windsor:

Patsy Kensit on SCD

The Daily Mail places this shot in the first week of November, for which Kensit and Windsor did the cha-cha to Kylie Minogue’s “All the Lovers.” I’m trying not to imagine what they looked like the week before, doing the Monster Mash; they would survive for two more weeks, and at the time Kensit estimated she’d lost close to two stone — 28 lb — since she began training for the show.

The title here comes from Grace of My Heart: it’s what Kensit’s character wants from the girl group for whom she has written a song.

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Ole! data

I don’t often have occasion to go digging around in Microsoft’s Knowledge Base, since rebranded “Support” — despite my occasional frustration with Windows, my computers work more often than not — but here’s the bulk of article Q222330, for reasons which will be disclosed shortly:

When sending HTML messages with an attached Microsoft Office 2000 document, the message is sent as an Outlook HTML message, not an Office Envelope message. The Oledata.mso file contains necessary information to properly render the attachment in the message in its originating program. This is known as “round tripping.” There is no useful information for the user in this file and it is not editable. Do not delete this file; doing so could render the attached file unuseable.

If an HTML message is opened on a computer that does not have Outlook 2000 installed, you will see the Oledata.mso file as an additional attachment.

I mention this because Keith Kelley, of Insurance Commissioner John Doak’s office, dropped three such messages in my inbox yesterday, each containing a largish .docx file, a .wmz file (a zipped Windows Metafile), a couple of PNG graphics, and the aforementioned oledata.mso. This, of course, guarantees I won’t read the silly things. Considering the fact that Doak’s previous PR underling was sacked for a Pythonesque reference to bewbage, I’m almost starting to miss Carroll Fisher, and he was impeached fercrissake.

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They’re playing our song

When word got around that the city of Norman was seeking a Municipal Anthem of sorts — see, for instance, Mia Cantu’s writeup in last week’s Gazette — I, of course, wondered why they didn’t just hit up John D. Loudermilk, who’d already written a tune, sort of, on the subject.

But Norman’s ambitions were higher than that, as we can see from composer Libby Larsen’s notes:

Symphony: Forward was written to celebrate the inaugural concert of the Norman Philharmonic on January 15, 2012. Commissioned by the citizens of the city of Norman, the piece is a result of the long friendship between composer Libby Larsen and Richard Zielinski, director of the newly-formed ensemble. Taking inspiration from the city of Norman flag, the music reflects the artistic energy, enthusiasm, and culture of the people of Norman. The symphony is in three movements. The musical energy of the first movement, “Boundless,” surges upward and outward, unfettered by boundaries. The second movement, “Here,” is an aria for the heart, a musical depiction of home. “Forward,” the last movement, is an American ride into the future, incorporating the Norman Anthem into a fabric of symphonic grandeur combined with fiddling, jazz, and unquestionably American rhythms.

This is approximately the place where I’m supposed to throw in a remark like: “So, chicken-fried Copland, then?” But Larsen, and Norman, deserve better than that, so I’ll have to figure out some way to hear this piece without waiting for the 2086 Moore Winter Olympics.

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Yes, we have no mechanics

Aaron Robinson, in the April Car and Driver, on some seriously skewed priorities:

Somewhere along the line, America forgot that getting paid to replace a clutch, weld steel, or work a lathe is as respectable a pursuit for a 21-year-old as earning an English degree or carrying an M-16 in Afghanistan. Germany hasn’t forgotten. There, a bedrock system of trade schools preserves the nation’s historic excellence in technical arts. Meanwhile, the country whose welders once built the Saturn V rocket is having trouble finding people who can change an oil filter.

Perhaps they can rebrand the vocational option as “Physical Studies.”

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