Feeding tube pulled

It has been ordered that Google Reader will die on the first of July:

While the product has a loyal following, over the years usage has declined. So, on July 1, 2013, we will retire Google Reader. Users and developers interested in RSS alternatives can export their data, including their subscriptions, with Google Takeout over the course of the next four months.

Of the 400-odd feed subscribers here, maybe a tenth are actually using Google Reader.

Doug Mataconis is not at all happy about this:

Perhaps the reason that Reader didn’t gain more users is because Google didn’t spend much time promoting it and, quite honestly, never really bothered to update it much after its introduction in 2005. I’d also assume that the fact that it’s not exactly a money maker for them played a part in the decision. Nonetheless, I’m really disappointed.

Google boasts, if that’s the word, that some 70 products and services have been killed off in the last year and a half.

Meanwhile, Adam Gurri doesn’t see this as the Death of RSS:

Imagine all the time lost going to sites when they haven’t updated. This was the original argument for RSS readers, one that I’ve made throughout my usage of them. With RSS readers, that time is not wasted. You only interact with a site when it has updated.

I currently follow dozens of webcomics. The post rate for these varies from 5 times a week, to 3 times a week, to once a week, to once a month, to whenever the hell the artist feels like updating.

Hmmm. Now I wonder if my five-posts-per-day regimen is actually counterproductive.

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Uneasy listening

The Jazz scored nine points in the second quarter. Think about that for a moment. Nine points in twelve minutes. Reggie Miller once scored eight points in less than nine seconds. The only question at that point was how much the margin of loss would be. The Thunder were up 50-28 at the half; Utah managed 28 points more in the third quarter and 31 in the fourth, but by then it was too late. OKC stomps yet another Western opponent at home, 110-87.

Despite the seeming one-sidedness of it all, there was a lot going on, much of it unpleasant: five technicals were assessed, along with 52 “other” fouls, two of them deemed Flagrant. The Jazz went a creditable 27-33 from the stripe, the Thunder 29-33. Away from the stripe, though, Utah wasn’t hitting; they were below 30 percent at the half, and managed to improve only to 35. (The Jazz put up 11 more shots than the Thunder, but hit nine fewer.) Then again, Utah had “only” 18 turnovers; OKC coughed it up 24 times.

With stuff like that going on, actual scoring seems irrelevant. For the Jazz, Gordon Hayward and Enes Kanter, reserves who played more minutes than the starters, were the only two players in double figures, Hayward getting 20, nearly half again his average. Kevin Durant had 23 (and ten boards) to lead the Thunder; Russell Westbrook checked in with 19, and the bench put up good numbers, led by Kevin Martin with 15.

The none-too-tricky Magic will wander into the city on Friday night. At this point, the best thing you can say about Orlando is that they’re still three games ahead of Charlotte.

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Where have all the meth labs gone?

Evidently, they’re along Interstate 44:

Meth incidents in the US 2012

Oklahoma, ranked eighth highest in 2004, has now risen to sixth, despite a modest decline in the number of methamphetamine “incidents” recorded. The biggest drop seems to be along the Left Coast, for reasons I’m not entirely sure of. (Oregon, it appears, now requires prescriptions for all products containing pseudoephedrine, though the effect of this law is yet unclear.)

Still, Missouri remains your go-to state for illegally produced meth. I assume they’re not crazy about that distinction.

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My knees are up here

On the left: Svetlana Pankratova, assistant basketball coach (girls varsity) at George Mason High School in Falls Church, Virginia, reported, and apparently certified by Guinness in 2009, to have the longest legs of any woman on earth: fifty-two inches. (She stands 6’5″.)

Svetlana Pankratova and friend

On the right: I have no idea. The Falls Church News-Press, whence this photo came, didn’t bother to tell us.

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Way too much way too soon

I never expect to see supermodels in Target, but there she was: hair carefully arranged to look 10 percent tousled — 15 would have been overdoing it — eyes expertly lined and shadowed, hemline positioned exactly where it should have been.

She was maybe four feet, four inches tall, and almost certainly no older than ten or eleven.

This sort of thing has been bothering me since before she was born:

She might have been ten, she might have been twelve; it would never have occurred to me to ask. And she’d chosen the middle swing from the row of three, because there was much more room to swing, not only to and fro and up and down, but also side to side. I smiled at her as I stumbled down the hill towards the “cluster boxes” that the Postal Service finds so endearing and the postal patrons find so annoying.

“Whatever happened to my youthful exuberance?” I muttered to no one in particular while I pulled bill after bill out of its dingy receptacle. I mean, I don’t have the urge to clamber onto a swing and get myself airborne or anything; the cruelty of gravity is something I’d just as soon not face. But here she was, a pretty girl on her way to becoming a beautiful woman, seemingly paying no attention whatsoever to the unending pressures from a culture she barely knows. “Grow up! Find romance! Spend money!” Who needs this sort of foolishness? Let her fly while she can, and let her grow up when she’s ready.

Besides, heavy makeup is a serious drain on one’s allowance, even at Target prices.

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Double yellow swine

Eric Scheie contemplates the left-lane bandit (Decelerus scumbili):

What I would love to know is what it is that makes certain swinish people think that they have a God-given right to occupy the passing lane and refuse to move.

I suspect that, like so many others, they have remade God in their own image, and conflate His interests with theirs.

While I try to understand people by putting myself in their position, where it comes to this business, I’m stumped because I am in their position all the time. I have to drive in the left lane a lot, because here in Michigan, trucks are forced to stay in the right and follow the slower 60 m.p.h. speed limit, which means that cars that travel at their speed limit of 70 must either get in the left or be forced to slow down to 60. Under this system, naturally there are often people who driving faster coming up behind me. Sure, some of them are rude about it, but I always get over, just as I would expect the same from a driver in front of me going more slowly. It’s just one of the basic rules of driving on the highway, and I have been doing it for many decades. But it seems that there are more left lane road hogs than ever before, though. Is it because there are more drivers and they stand out more, or might the problem be that driving schools have stopped teaching that the left lane is for passing? Or are people just ruder?

The same two-tier speed limits prevail in Texas — on the fastest non-toll roads, cars go 80, trucks 70 — but Texas has some semblance of lane discipline, and similarly enlightened states, such as my own, will happily bust you for plodding along in the left lane.

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Box O’ Books

Mayfair Heights Little Library

One of the niftier ideas of recent years is the Little Free Library, bigger than a breadbox but just barely, located in urban neighborhoods and rural areas. And we’re about to get this one in our neck of the woods. The scoop, from our neighborhood’s Facebook page:

The SHINE program will install this one near NW 45 and Mayfair Drive in the park. It will be stocked with books, donated by Barnes and Noble and Full Circle Book Store. You can take a book and return it when you are finished or replace it with a new book. What a great way to encourage literacy, increase community involvement and spirit!

I have no idea what books will be selected for the initial load; I have several I plan to contribute to the cause.

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Left out

One thing we have in abundance in Oklahoma is former Democrats. This is not entirely a blessing, as one of them notes:

Detractors may like to point to the current GOP-run state legislature as a not-so-much-of-a-bargain bin of genuine knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers, but the accuracy of that assessment doesn’t eliminate the fact that it was not entirely different under the other outfit.

And my former party has done little in the last few years to correct some of their problems: nominating people almost guaranteed to lose given the political makeup of their districts, supporting establishment candidates over those who have a chance of winning, sacrificing some of their best and brightest in races they could not hope to win and so on. The few successes they’ve had did little to rebuild the party infrastructure or offer reasons why “Democrat” in Oklahoma doesn’t mean the same thing it means in San Francisco.

Were I running the Democratic organization out here — before you ask, I am not volunteering — I’d suggest that the nomination of a sacrificial lamb is a far, far better thing then letting an incumbent run unopposed. And you never know: the GOP might actually lose the 5th Congressional district one of these days, given the population growth pattern around here.

What goes around, they say, comes around. The fact that the GOP has not been able to enact everything on its wish list, despite an overwhelming legislative majority, tells me that the wheel continues to turn.

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Buckle down

T-shirt with seat belt print designThe young lady in the BMW is not actually wearing a seat belt: it’s a T-shirt with a picture of a seat belt printed on it. From this angle, it’s fairly obvious, but the proper combination of interior upholstery color, viewing angle and duration can make it much less so. Chinese drivers can buy this shirt for 35-50 yuan; it’s legal, although the police don’t seem to be particularly amused. Being caught unbelted means a 50-yuan fine and two points out of a possible twelve, so this is a fairly high price to pay to avoid buckling up, but apparently there are people willing to pay it.

(Found at CarNewsChina.)

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Worn by Forties scene kids

Okay, maybe not:

EMO hosiery ad 1947

Not a cultural reference, but a French brand name of long standing. This page dates to 1947; they were still around into the 1960s.

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Pinoy puns

A friend in the UK sent over a link yesterday, and I have to admit that it took me a while to catch on. It’s a TV show for children, produced in the Philippines; it’s called Wansapanataym, and I had to say it out loud before it dawned on me.

There are over 100 episodes, and I must single this one out for sheer wackiness: “Juan To Tree,” about a ten-year-old kid who chops down a tree in his yard to make room for a basketball court. To his horror, he finds that he has to replace the tree — in person. I suspect even Fluttershy would balk at that.

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The 17-ounce solution

You probably always suspected that Nanny Bloomberg’s soda-cup fixation was full of holes, and the New York Supreme Court (I think that’s the one) has now pointed out those holes using the mighty Permanent Injunction.

The biggest hole? Capricious and arbitrary rules:

[T]he Big Gulp didn’t fall under the Board of Health regulations, which is part of the reason the Supreme Court was so keen on striking down the prohibition. Convenience stores like 7-11 were excluded from the law, meaning that while a person couldn’t Super-Size their beverage at a corner McDonalds, they could obtain a bucket of soda easily twice as large at the Stop ‘n Shop across the street. Supermarkets, which like most major businesses are licensed and regulated by the state of New York, were also exempt, laying enforcement of the law at the feet of independent restaurants, mobile food vendor stands, and food truck proprietors who got their licenses to operate from the city. And, of course, there was no ban on simply purchasing multiple 16oz drinks instead of just one exceedingly large drink. All the ban really would end up doing is cutting into the profits of New York businesses that pay their taxes directly to the city, and cutting into the choices that New Yorkers should, by all rights, be allowed to make for themselves.

But that’s an insignificant detail when people’s health and well-being are on the line! And you know Mayor Bloomberg hates having to share a subway seat with an overweight rider. When he rides the subway. Which is probably never. But still.

Nanny’s minions will of course appeal. In the meantime, I’m opening up a two-liter (67.6 ounces, dammit) Dr Pepper to celebrate.

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Would you like a turnover with that?

I swear, the Thunder were coming up with turnovers faster than Arby’s at lunchtime. Seriously. The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry, livetweeting from San Antonio: “I can’t type fast enough to keep up with OKC’s turnovers.” I assure you, Darnell is no slouch. And this debacle occurred in the absence of Tony Parker, mind you; stepping up with great vigor was Tiago Splitter, a punch line last year, a hero in Spurville tonight. San Antonio, down double figures early on, wound up outscoring OKC 35-18 in the second, and the Spurs never looked back, pocketing a 105-93 win that put them up two games over the Thunder in the West.

And really, the Thunder didn’t have to hand the ball over that often: the Spurs were shooting exceptionally well, and none of them better than Splitter, who shot 9-11 for a team-high 21 points while gathering ten rebounds. Splitter didn’t put up any treys, but Danny Green tossed up four and hit them all. San Antonio shot over 50 percent almost all night, finishing a hair above 52; OKC scraped in with just under 43, Russell Westbrook trying his best to move things along but winding up 11-27 for a very hard 25 points. Meanwhile, Kevin Durant collected 11 of his 26 at the free-throw line. (Much was made of Terrible Officiating tonight, but the Spurs got called for more fouls than did the Thunder, and OKC got ten more foul shots.) And the Thunder’s +8 in rebounding was more than offset by their +5 in turnovers.

The Spurs now have a 2-1 edge in the season series, with one left to play (at Oklahoma City on 4/4). If Pop is worried, he isn’t acting like it.

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Beware of online frauds

One “Mr. Max Marcus” left this in my email box with exactly that title. Let’s go ahead and see what he wants to tell me:


Ministry of Finance

Address: Plots 745 & 746, Ahmadu Bello Way, Central Area, P.M.B 14 Garki, Abuja.

Website: http://www.fmf.gov.ng

ATTN: Beneficiary

Records show that you are among the individuals who are yet to receive their overdue funds. Well we want you to know that your compensated fund worth the total amount of $ (One Million United State dollars Only) that was suppose to be deliver as an ATM CARD to you was return back to our Head Office due to the fact that you refuse to contact the right person with your fund. The Cyber Crime Division of the FBI gathered information from the Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) of how some people have lost out sums of money to these impostors.

As a result of this we hereby advise you to stop dealing with any one not referred to you by us.Because most of the early transactions made by you, where illict and not backed by law.So follow the necessary process,so that your $ (One Million United State Dollars Only) will be released to you via a custom pin based ATM card with a maximum withdrawal limit of $3,000 per day which is powered by Visa Card and can be used anywhere in the world and Visa Card Logo must be on the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM). We have advised that this should be the only way at which you are to receive your payment because its more guaranteed, since over 500 thousand people have fallen victims of those fraudsters and was ripped off their hard earned money on fake bank draft, years ago till date.

To redeem your fund you are hereby advised to contact Mr. James Jeffery via email, who is in charge of your ATM Card. Note, he’s a legal personnel,that understands the law,and will never do anything to deopardise that. For the requirement to proceed and procure your Approval of Payment Warrant and Endorsement of your ATM Release Order on your behalf, it will cost you $300.00usd Three Hundred United State Dollars only nothing more and no hidden fees as everything else has been taken cared of by the Federal Government Of Nigeria, so all you will ever need to pay is $300.00 Three Hundred United State Dollars only which is legal to enable us deliver your fund to your door step.

Don’t be deceived by anyone and you are advice to Reconfirm the below information
that is needed.

Full Name…………………………
Full Address……………………..
Phone Number……………………
Date of Birth………………………
Scan copy of any means of your Identity, eg. Driver’s license/National Id Card

Well, I certainly wouldn’t want to deopardise anything here, would I?

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Temporary to permanent

Though the “permanent” you might not actually want:

Satanic ritual advertised on Craigslist

It is a measure of my own level of dementia, I suppose, that my first thought was “Migod, and people want to buy cars off this site?”

(Via Jeff Thompson on Facebook.)

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It’s just grass

I was delighted to see a fifth of an inch of rain two days after the first lawn treatment of the season — I bought a package of eight — and said so; and then by the sheerest of coincidences, Dan B, a regular in these parts, told this story on Facebook:

The home was bought from an older couple, and he was METICULOUS about his lawn, including yelling at kids to get off of it. He always had the best lawn in the neighborhood, and he made sure EVERYONE knew he worked hard for that perfect lawn.

The older couple sells the house to a family with a 5 year old boy, who has many of the toys typical to a suburban/exurban 21st-Century Lonely Only, including a battery-powered mini-truck that destroyed the old man’s 3 DECADES of effort in less than 6 months.

A hit, a palpable hit.

That said, I note for the record that I have never once told a kid to get off this lawn, not even on the day when several of them were lined up to run through the sprinkler.

And I do have one rule: never have the best lawn — or the worst lawn — on the block. I do believe I have been at least somewhat successful.

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