In practice

A brief bit of facepalm-worthy goofiness from a Rebecca Black rehearsal last week:

She did a second Ustream Thursday afternoon, fraught with sound issues. (Which perhaps was an improvement over the first one, which had no such technical problems but which was marred by side commentary from various low-level griefers.) She blamed the dubious audio on having to use her manager’s Mac instead of her own, which was hors de combat for some reason. Points, though, for remaining cool under pressure. And I admit to something of a grin when someone streaming the show sent her a marriage proposal, and she replied demurely, “Isn’t this a little early in the relationship?”

Yes, I’m acting like an overstewed fanboi. Deal with it.

Meanwhile, Peter Larsen reports in the Orange County Register:

Even Black sees how her trajectory doesn’t exactly follow the norm for overnight sensations, and admits it wasn’t always easy to stick to the well-considered career path she and her advisors have followed.

“It definitely was hard a lot of the time,” she later says of the methodical way her post-“Friday” career has unfolded. “It’s so easy — we could have just recorded a bunch of songs really fast and just put them out there while ‘Friday’ was ‘the thing.’ And yeah, they would have gotten a lot of attention. So it was hard.

“But everyone told me, ‘It’s OK, you can wait.’ And I’m so glad I waited. It’s a hard thing to understand when you’re young, and being that I’m impatient, too.”

The getting of wisdom, a little at a time.

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And oh, what Heitz we’ll hit

On with the show, because this is it for Marc Heitz:

Marc Heitz is going on vacation. He’ll have some time now. On Wednesday, he sold his remaining car dealership to David Stanley Auto Group.

“We’re going to travel,” Heitz said.

He didn’t say whether this had anything to do with his little tiff with General Motors.

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A somewhat darker cloud

Of late, Apple has been stashing copies of one’s iTunes Store purchases in the cloud, and then making them available to all one’s authorized devices automagically, once said devices are noticed. This is wonderful when it works.

And then there was this incident. I was playing through the BT album If the Stars Are Eternal So Are You and I (reviewed here), and track four, “Seven-Hundred-Thirty-Nine,” which normally runs nearly eleven minutes, quit after seventeen seconds and didn’t record a play. I halted iTunes and brought up the track in Winamp, which normally doesn’t choke on unprotected AACs. It played for seventeen seconds, after which time the sound muted and the timing bar slid to the right at a prodigious speed.

I wondered, for a moment, if Apple would spaz out if I asked them for another try. But first, I wanted to check my copy at home, inasmuch as I was at home when I bought the album in the first place. And it was just fine.

Ultimately, I suppose, this is a good argument for CDs, which you can always rerip, unless the surface is marred with hoofprints or something.

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Open thread for the end of the world

(Alternate title: “Apocalypse HA!”)

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None of that 13 stuff

Well, let’s see. The Thunder had won twelve straight; they’d beaten the Timberwolves twelve consecutive times. What were the chances they’d pull off a pair of thirteens? After going down 30-18 in the first quarter, slim, diminishing to none in the fourth after J. J. Barea, having made his case for Sixth Man of the Year, decided to try for an Academy Award in special effects, doing a flop that could only be recreated in CGI. Kevin Durant bought the flop, raised a fuss, drew a tech, and then Barea missed the free throw. By then, though, it was too late: the Thunder were erratic all night, and the T-Wolves methodically disposed of them, 99-93.

Object lesson: contrast Kevin Love with Russell Westbrook, formerly teammates at UCLA. Love’s line: 28 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists, one turnover, 9-20 from the floor. Westbrook’s: 30 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, eight turnovers, 9-28 from the floor. Sums it up nicely. Want more? Barea finished with 18, nine in the fourth quarter. The OKC bench had seven for the entire game: four from Reggie Jackson, three from Eric Maynor, who not incidentally were the only Thunder players to finish the night as high as +1. (Kevin Martin was out with a contusion.) Durant had a semi-sparkling 33, but clearly that wasn’t enough.

So the high point of the game, perhaps, was seeing Ricky Rubio, declared recovered but still limited to under 20 minutes, work his particular brand of magic. He didn’t make any of his three shots, but he grabbed three boards, served up three assists, and pulled off a steal. Heaven help us when he’s healthy.

And really, wouldn’t you rather have your winning streak broken by Minnesota than by Miami? Oh, you wouldn’t?

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Affairs to be wrapped up

DreamHost, host of this site for the last eleven years, puts out a monthly newsletter, which always ends with unsubscribe instructions. This is the December version:

If the world doesn’t end this month you’ll be on the receiving end of another DreamHost newsletter in January. If it DOES end next month, unsubscribing now would largely just be symbolic. If I were you I’d just let it ride.

Yeah, I can see that.

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Insufficient data, to say the least

The Oklahoma Gazette’s Chicken-Fried News this week quotes a tweet by Chase Kerby of local band Defining Times:

I'm unimpressed with women in okc. Come on ladies, there's nothing wrong with being beautiful and intelligent.

Obviously he’s never been to my neighborhood.

Of course, that could be the problem: we have a virtual monopoly. (And in general, they’re spoken for, which perhaps doesn’t help.)

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Q, and some A

Apparently the reaction to Infiniti’s spading over its current nomenclature in favor of a whole line of Q-ships was sufficiently negative to prompt Johan de Nysschen his own bad self to issue an explanation, which went like this:

1. We are embarking on a massive product offensive, and these new cars need names. There are no suitable combinations of Alphanumeric naming options remaining which are not already trademarked by another automaker. In order to expand our line up with the fascinating new models we are developing, we must create a more flexible nomenclature philosophy.

Not flexible enough to eschew alphanumerics entirely, though. Remember the Acura Legend? Or the Integra? Now, do you remember any Acuras since then?

2. Our new advanced technology engines under development will be smaller, lighter, more fuel efficient yet more powerful. And we will introduce some exhilarating performance machines in the future. I’m sure you will agree, it would be a bit odd to have a powerful, luxurious and refined V8 powered Infiniti M56, then position a new high-tech 550+ horsepower performance flagship for the Infiniti M range above it, using a potent charged induction V6, but then call it Infiniti M30, which we would be obliged to do, following our current naming logic.

The M isn’t the flagship. (If it were, it would be something like Q90, a step ahead of the dreadnaught QX80 — previously QX56 — SUV.) This is where the Q should be. I will be generous and not mention the second-generation Q45, which actually had a 4.1-liter engine.

3. Infiniti is becoming a global brand now, we are already active in almost 50 countries, the majority only very recently. Our new customers are unfamiliar with the brand and struggle to understand our range hierarchy. Is a JX above or below an FX? Where does an EX fit? What is the relationship between G and Infiniti M? Research confirms the majority of newcomers to our brand consider the naming to be somewhat arbitrary and confusing.

M, then G; QX, JX, FX, EX. Reverse alphabetical order. Of course, the JX, being a thinly-disguised Nissan Pathfinder, is way out of position, but it doesn’t even fit the brand, let alone the hierarchy. (Lowest power of any Infiniti, and a CVT besides? Shoulda been the DX. This had to be Carlos Ghosn’s idea: only someone comfortable with ripping the roof off a Murano fercrissake could possibly imagine such a thing.) And please note: two actual cars, four SUV-like things. What’s wrong with this picture?

4. Infiniti owns the naming assets of Q plus double digit, and QX plus double digit. And it is a permanent part of our heritage.

So you stretch it over the entire line? This isn’t as insane as Lincoln’s MK[whatever] branding strategery, but it’s close.

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Flaying down to Rio

Somehow I find this news startling:

Over the past decade, the number of emergency room visits precipitated by pubic hair “grooming” has risen 500%. Now, with those figures, we’re left to ponder whether genital owners are getting increasingly clumsy, or if more people are ridding themselves of the tremendous burden of pubic hair.

It was a big deal in the 1970s when Playboy actually showed you a bit of shrubbery, because they’d never done such a thing before; it’s a big deal today because something like 9 out of 12 Playmates have been clear-cut.

Further statistics:

56% of 2010’s 11,704 emergency-room-worthy genital slicing injuries were made by women. So, I guess that means that 44% of them were dudes … and that astounds me, being one who has never entertained the notion of mowing his junk, or anyone else’s come to think of it.

This might almost be an argument for frickin’ lasers.

(Via this @OneFineJay tweet.)

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Not featherbedding

When you’ve had a 17-point lead dwindle to four, who you gonna call? Yep. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook appointed themselves Hawksbusters tonight in Hotlanta, with the Russmeister controlling the first half (21 of his 27 points) and Kid Delicious taking care of the second (28 in those 24 minutes, finishing with a season-high 41). Which is not to say there weren’t some dry spells here and there; if there hadn’t been, Atlanta wouldn’t have mounted a comeback. But the Not-Too-Dirty Birds couldn’t pull within a single possession, and OKC avenged a home loss to the Hawks to the tune of 100-92, the Thunder’s 12th straight win.

Westbrook served up 11 assists for the other end of a double-double; Durant grabbed 13 rebounds, ditto. With 68 percent of the scoring accounted for, the rest of the team played defense. Serge Ibaka had an off-night offensively — 2-9, four points — but he reeled in 14 boards. Kendrick Perkins (two points) got seven; Thabo Sefolosha (nine points) also got seven. The bench didn’t do a whole lot, but then they weren’t out there very long.

Josh Smith was very Josh Smith-y tonight, playing all but six minutes and bagging 17 points and 12 rebounds. About the only thing he couldn’t do was make free throws (0-3). Jeff Teague, perhaps unexpectedly, had the team-high 19 points; Lou Williams, who started out cold, warmed up appreciably as time went on, winding up with 13 to lead the reserves. The Hawks’ strength is defense, and most of the time you’d figure that 44 rebounds, 11 steals and six blocks would do the trick — until you look at OKC’s 52-8-12. If they’d shot better than 38 percent, they might have pulled this one off.

But the Thunder have already left the building and the season series behind. Tomorrow night, the inconsistent but plucky Timberwolves in frigid Minnesota. (Low tomorrow night in Minneapolis: 6°F. Tonight’s snow, we can safely assume, isn’t going to melt much.) After that, we await jolly Saint Nick and surly King James.

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Such a comfort

Miss Cellania picked up this bit of newsprint, sourced from Freakonomics:

Miracle cure kills fifth patient

After a few minutes of eyestrain, I was able to locate a Web version of the story, with a different headline. It dates to 1993:

A fifth volunteer died Tuesday from an experimental drug touted as a miracle cure for hepatitis B, beyond medical rescue even as scientists unraveled the mystery of what went gravely wrong in a clinical trial.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health have agonized over the fact that the first clue was in sight a year ago, but they didn’t know enough about how the drug worked to recognize what it meant, the study’s lead scientist says.

And he wasn’t kidding, either:

The drug, Fialuridine, or FIAU, had shown great promise for fighting the hepatitis B virus, which can cause deadly cirrhosis and liver cancer. When animals passed toxicity tests unharmed, the Food and Drug Administration approved FIAU for human trials.

Too late, scientists would discover that in humans, FIAU stealthily attacks the very building blocks of cells in livers, kidneys and nerves.

Two decades later, there are some drugs that actually seem to help.

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Just hurry up and croak already

The French, they are a faster race:

France should allow doctors to “accelerate the coming of death” for terminally ill patients, a report to President François Hollande recommended Tuesday.

Hollande referred the report to a national council on medical ethics which will examine the precise circumstances under which such steps could be authorised with a view to producing draft legislation by June 2013.

“The existing legislation does not meet the legitimate concerns expressed by people who are gravely and incurably ill,” Hollande said.

Not to mention those people who aren’t in a position to express any concerns, legitimate or otherwise.

But don’t you worry, M. le Président; by the time you get this disposal unit working, we’ll be ready to copy it here in the States.

(Via Christopher Johnson.)

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Victim of Elvin

Final score, WordPress 3.5, Pejman Yousefzadeh 0:

So, last night, WordPress demanded one of its periodic updates. I complied, only to find out that I had lost my Visual Editor screen and my media buttons, all of which would make regular blogging here a pain. There may be some fix for all of this, but neither I nor the technical staff here at A Chequer-Board of Nights and Days — and yes, there is a technical staff — can seem to find one. What’s more, we are not inclined to waste time trying to find one when more productive things — like, you know, blogging — could be taking place.

He has duly fled to Tumblr.

I note for the record that following this update, my Visual Editor screen and media buttons are in their proper places. At least, I assume they are, since I never use them. (Maybe that’s the trick.)

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For the modern play kitchen

For the first time ever, the classic Easy-Bake Oven will be offered in a stylish black-and-silver model, in addition to the current purple/pink version. This is not so much a ploy to reach kids who sneak a peek at Architectural Digest as it is a way to de-girlify the product:

In her petition, the teen had told Hasbro that though the Easy-Bake had long been a favorite toy of hers, it “promotes gender roles in society. Your packaging for the product and its promotional materials advertise baking and cooking as a solely girls hobby. Also, its … coloration of purple and pink make it seem as though cooking is ‘girly’, which it is not by any means.”

Iron Chef was not available for comment, but I can’t imagine any dissent from that corner.

And you’d think Hasbro would have figured this out on their own, what with
grown men buying cartoon-pony stuff in vast quantities.

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You’re too old for that sort of thing

Pushing sixty? You’re supposed to be pushing these items away:

There is a time to start aging gracefully, and UK beauty product company Nurture Replenish Skincare surveyed 2,000 women age 45-plus and found out that most of you think that’s at age 59. This is the age that women thought it was time to ditch high heels, red lipstick, tight clothes and false nails and try to look “more natural.”

Further particulars:

Women shouldn’t wear baseball caps or apply a fake tan after age 40, respondents said. Miniskirts and leather pants are off the rack at 41, knee-high boots and even conservative tight tops should be retired by age 45. And tattoos start to look bad by the mid-50s.

Except in winter, tattoos start to look bad by 6:30 am.

And if you’re 59 and despairing, here’s Dolly Parton right around her 66th, gleefully ignoring all of this:

Dolly Parton at the premiere of Joyful Noise January 2012

Although I admit I’ve never seen Dolly in a baseball cap.

(Via Not Dead Yet Style.)

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Put your slush in the box

Nell lusts after a Nissan Z, until she sees what’s between its seats:

[I]t had an awful glaring flaw: an automatic transmission.

These are cars for 1) enjoying the road 2) in full and total control of the vehicle. This is part of why there is no backseat. Children typically go into a backseat, and those of you with children know full well that children prohibit the enjoyment of anything that isn’t their idea.

What these cars are not for:

These are not cars for talking on your cell phone while driving, hands-free or otherwise, which detracts mightily from the enjoyment of the road. These are not cars for members of the Anti-Destination League. These are not cars for going to Wal-Mart and buying presents for your grandchildren, hence the lack of backseat and trunk space. These are not cars for automatic transmissions, you determine when to shift and when not to, you don’t leave this decision for the car. Make that downshift to blow by that turtle who’s been blocking you for the last half-mile.

Nissan will cite the take rate on the stick and tell you they’re just giving the people what they want. Apparently what they want is to yak up a storm with one hand on the wheel. (I have to clear my phone’s Missed Calls log regularly, lest it eat up all the available memory, since I am loath to answer when I’m driving. And I have a farging automatic, yet.)

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