Gone in 48 minutes

After two hard-fought overtime Thunder/Mavs battles, you had to figure that it would eventually get easier for one of those teams, and fortunately for the downtown crowd, it was OKC who disposed of Dallas rather handily tonight, running up a 33-point lead at one point and ultimately finishing off the Mavs 112-91.

And it didn’t take a 40-point-plus explosion by Kevin Durant to do it, either; KD had a quiet double-double (19 points, 10 rebounds, and the chance to sit out the fourth quarter). The Good Russell Westbrook showed up tonight, hitting 8-16 for 24 points and serving up seven dimes. Kevin Martin led the bench attack with 17 and a preposterous +31 for the night. And all 13 active players got minutes.

I’m not quite sure what went wrong for the Mavs, unless their X Factor really is Vince Carter, who in the past has been quite effective in OKC, and who sat tonight with the infamous flu-like symptoms. Dirk was present but barely recognizable, shooting an unDirklike 3-11 for 10 points, leaving Shawn Marion to carry the offensive load. Marion did what he could, scoring 23 points and accounting for three of Dallas’ seven steals, and the Thunder obligingly committed three technicals to help out, but after breaking out of a 22-22 tie near the end of the first with a 7-0 run, the Thunder simply crushed any further Dallas resistance. Maybe I should have called this “Gone in 11 minutes.”

So it’s three-up on the Mavs with one to play. Next: the Golden State Warriors, who thrashed the Thunder in Oakland during that distended road trip. On the upside, they have to get through Houston tomorrow before arriving in OKC Wednesday.

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You can see where this is going a mile away:

The University of Michigan is accused of kicking an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter off campus because the group requires its leaders to be Christians — an apparent violation of the university’s nondiscrimination policy.

The nerve! Don’t they know about diversity?

In other news, the Pope is still Catholic, and I’m sure you can find someone in Ann Arbor who’s annoyed about that.

(Via Dyspeptic Mutterings.)

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The rhythms of the heart

The other day, Fillyjonk, in tribute to her high-school French teacher, kindly treated us to the first poem she’d ever memorized for his class: Victor Hugo’s “Demain, dés l’aube.” I’d never memorized it myself, not having progressed far in French, but I did remember reading it, circa 1967.

And then I wondered: Do students memorize poems anymore? Perhaps unsurprisingly, the answer seems to be No:

As a college professor of writing and literature, I regularly impose memorization assignments, and I’m struck by how burdensome my students typically find them. Give them a full week to memorize any Shakespeare sonnet (“Hey,” I tell them, “pick a really famous one — Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? — and you’ve already got the first line down”), and a number of them will painfully falter. They’re not used to memorizing much of anything.

And what are they missing?

The best argument for verse memorization may be that it provides us with knowledge of a qualitatively and physiologically different variety: you take the poem inside you, into your brain chemistry if not your blood, and you know it at a deeper, bodily level than if you simply read it off a screen. [Catherine] Robson puts the point succinctly: “If we do not learn by heart, the heart does not feel the rhythms of poetry as echoes or variations of its own insistent beat.”

Rhythms. “This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks.” The heart picks up the beat, the eyes turn skyward, and something in the soul, however briefly, is satisfied.

But rhythm alone isn’t enough, or we’d all be memorizing pop tunes. “Demain, dés l’aube” carries an emotional wallop, even if you didn’t know that Hugo wrote it for his daughter Léopoldine, married at eighteen and drowned with her husband in a boating accident on the Seine barely six months later.

(With thanks to Joanne Jacobs.)

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Imminent failure

Too big to fail? Cobb says that there’s a point where they must fail:

Xerox, for example, once owned American Express. Hard to believe, but true. While I was working there, ostensibly for the workstation business, Xerox’ most profitable division was Van Kampen Merritt Investments. They were playing money games on Wall Street but failing to be Xerox, the innovative product company. Soon, small companies like the PC printer division of HP and a company called Adobe kicked Xerox in what used to be some of their core competencies.

And then HP and Adobe started down the slippery slope, and so it goes.

As for Robert Van Kampen, who left his securities business in the hands of Xerox — who sold it to Morgan Stanley, who sold it to Invesco, who reduced it to a brand name — he spent his latter days in contemplation of the Rapture, Prewrath version. I’m pretty sure he didn’t believe in “too big to fail.”

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Strange search-engine queries (366)

And how was your weekend? Doesn’t matter now: it’s Monday morning, time for another wallow in the search strings. For those of you who care: this site is not hosted on GoDaddy.

whats the transmission in el ford:  Probably the same one you’ll find in los Mercurys.

kurt cobain is a loser:  Um, no. Beck is a loser (just ask him).

email address of products shipped in china -fraud cop scam 419.hackers spy web nigeria:  Do I need to mention that this came in from a Nigerian IP?

we want joe!! we want joe!! cmon joe stop foolin them. we all know you want to go to toros, have some hot dogs, deep dish pizza and of course be nba champs.lets start shall we? triple deal: toros get: joe johnson:  One assumes this isn’t just some average Joe.

i am 20 percent cooler than i was 2 years ago:  Say thank you to Rainbow Dash.

contact walmart about old bad check:  Or you could just call the district attorney directly and eliminate the middleman.

Rolf, a citizen of New Mexico, wants to file a suit against Sandy, a citizen of Texas, relating to a motorcycle accident in which Rolf’s injuries resulted in medical costs of more than $75,000:  Never mind that. Did either of them ever bounce a check at Walmart?

was ucsc ever university of santa cruz clothing optional:  Not formally; it was rare that you got to see anyone’s banana slug.

the church of bob dole:  First commandment: “Bob Dole is the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not have any gods before Bob Dole.”

meaning of are you into big tits or a huge ass:  I can’t tell whether this was sought by some nine-year-old kid or by Bob Dole.

how to spell fubar:  Now that’s got to be Bob Dole.

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You can no longer bank on these

For those who may have forgotten that such things existed, we bring you a Series 1902 banknote that listed on eBay last month for $267:

1907 National Bank Note obverse

1907 National Bank Note reverse

In 1863, the National Banking Act provided that nationally-chartered banks could issue banknotes, backed by US bonds purchased by the issuing banks. This practice continued until the Great Depression, when the government decided that all currency should be issued from a single source.

Hugh McCulloch, portrayed on this $20 note issued in Oklahoma City, served as Secretary of the Treasury in Abraham Lincoln’s second, rudely interrupted term, and continued into Andrew Johnson’s; he returned to Treasury for the last few months of the Chester A. Arthur administration. Interestingly, he had opposed the idea of paper money without gold backing, and in his first report called for the gradual replacement of greenbacks with specie.

The text on the lower reverse:

This note is receivable at par in all parts of the United States, except duties on imports, and also for all salaries and other debts and demands owing by the United States to individuals, corporations and associations within the United States except interest on public debt.

(Via user Praedura on OKCTalk.com.)

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Pine-tar Doritos

There being, I am told, some sort of football game today, it’s probably a good time to contemplate the appeal of sports. Fortunately, Francis W. Porretto has done the dirty work for us:

If there’s any rational reason for Americans’ enthusiasm for pro sports, it has to have something to do with our disgust with politics. There might be some politics in the operation of a sports league — in the sense of owners and franchisees jockeying for some financial advantage or other, at least — but once the players are on the field, the rules, however complex, don’t change in mid-game. At least, they’re not supposed to, and we don’t expect them to. That’s why the “Pine Tar Tragedy” of a few years back, in which Billy Martin’s citation of George Brett’s illegal bat — and it was illegal, by the rules under which the game was being played on that day — was retroactively overruled by the American League, was so reaving. That sort of nonsense belongs on Capitol Hill, not in the pure and undefiled cathedrals of pro sports. The demagoguery and ex-post-facto rationalizations were even worse. Don’t tell me about “the spirit of the rule;” tell me what the rule says in plain BLEEP!ing English — and abide by it.

Of course, we had this enthusiasm for sports before we became disgusted with politics, but that merely demonstrates our desire for simple, and, more important, immutable rules.

As for the disgust, start with Earl Wilson’s observation that “we have 35 million laws trying to enforce Ten Commandments,” and consider that now we have just as many trying to find loopholes therein.

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A note before the end of time

It is so daring, so brash, so fitfully frightening to be alive. It means smiling in the face of oblivion. It means galloping at full force when you know that a cliff is waiting for you at the end of of the next bend in the road. It takes a mad euphoria — an insane whimsy to be so courageous when all of the darkness around us begs that we accept defeat. To do anything but roll over is to be absurd, like chasing the rainbow, or performing the “running of the leaves” in July… in a town that has no living trees…

(From The End of Ponies by shortskirtsandexplosions, chapter fifty-two.)

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Dung and groove

There’s been an MP3 file sitting in the stacks here for about ten years, a speedy little number called “The Girl I Love,” credited to a group called, um, the Beatles. This didn’t perplex me greatly — there were Supremes before there was Motown, after all — but I didn’t know anything about Quest Records in Hollywood, whence it came. The label says something about “A Miracle Production: If It Sells… It’s A Miracle.” And you may as well hear it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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The second-best solution

Bill Quick puts in a kind word for Malwarebytes, which I used to clean up my ex’s computer back in December:

[O]ver the past several years it has been my most dependable tool in combating stubborn malware infections.

I highly recommend it. The only thing I recommend more is hunting down virus writers, skinning them, dousing them in boiling acid, hanging them from lamp posts, and lighting a slow fire under them after stuffing their gullets with their own genitalia.

Which process I also approve; however, you can’t buy that from Amazon, whereas you can buy Malwarebytes there.

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Speights of greatness

That year and a half Marreese Speights spent in Memphis evidently taught him something: coming off the Cleveland bench tonight, Speights was downright Grizzly in his approach, and while Kyrie Irving rested, Speights brought the Cavs back out of a deep hole and into contention again. Then Irving returned, scoring 13 points in the last three minutes, which gave him 35, and which gave Cleveland an unexpected, but definitely deserved, win over the Thunder, 115-110.

The Cavs put up a startling 39 points in that final frame, with Speights contributing 13 himself. (He finished with 21.) Cleveland trailed in a couple of specs — they were outrebounded 47-44, and Oklahoma City inflicted ten steals and 11 blocks on them — but 48-percent shooting (versus 49) was good enough, especially since they hit half of their 18 attempts from three-point land. (OKC tried more, hit fewer.) Worth mentioning: C. J. Miles, with 16 off the bench; Tristan Thompson, with one of two Cav double-doubles (Speights had the other); and ex-Thunderman Shaun Livingston, who scored only two points but dished up six assists in 17 minutes. You have to wonder what will happen when Daniel Gibson, nursing a toe sprain, comes back. (Anderson Varejão, who suffered a blood clot in one lung in December, is out for the season.)

The Thunder, for their part, got the usual numbers, including 32 from Kevin Durant despite a rib contusion in the third (he was back in the fourth) and 28 from Russell Westbrook. KD also had 11 rebounds; Serge Ibaka snagged 12 to go with 18 points. Kevin Martin led the bench with 15. But there was no stopping Speights and Irving, no matter what sort of defense the Thunder threw at them, and you have to figure that no night in which DeAndre Liggins (!) gets a technical can possibly end well.

Next: a week at home, against Dallas (Monday), Golden State (Wednesday), Phoenix (Friday). Anything less than 3-0 is dangerous at this point: both the Spurs (#1 seed) and the Nuggets (second in the Northwest) are surging.

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Things remain Shetty

Groundhog Day has given us much: an unreliable rodent, a really good film, and Shamita Shetty, the younger sister of Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. Shamita was born 2/2/79, and followed Shilpa into the movie business.

Shamita Shetty

After fading from the scene, Shamita decided she needed a career change, and after six months of study, accepted a design internship with a Mumbai architect.

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Message delivered

Remember when New York was plagued with malparkage by minions on UN duty claiming diplomatic immunity? Apparently the US Postal Service thinks that this was a model worth following:

In a Jan. 22 letter sent to both the city of East Cleveland, Ohio, and the company that operates the city’s photo-enforcement program, Postal Service attorney Jennifer S. Breslin says two school-zone speeding citations and five red-light infractions by postal trucks in December should be ignored… “[A]s you are probably aware, the Postal Service enjoys federal immunity from state and local regulation.”

That company, American Traffic Solutions, shot back a letter to Breslin noting that USPS procedures and case law make postal drivers accountable for their actions, and that future failures to follow traffic laws would result in more tickets.

Slyly, ATS sent two copies of its response: one by fax, the other via FedEx.

(Via the Instant Man.)

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I’m assuming it wasn’t Tang

The original title of this piece, judging by the URL, was “Energy drink with controversial name unwelcome in neighborhood store.” And, judging by the circumlocutions, unwelcome in the news copy:

There are dozens of energy drinks on the market, but a new product has a name that’s causing a stir in a Houston neighborhood.

“I think it’s disgraceful,” said Emma Broussard, an officer with the Independence Heights Super Neighborhood Association. “I don’t want this out here.”

Other members of the association agreed.

“This is not the kind of thing we want our children to see,” said John Branch.

The drink uses a slang term that refers to part of the female anatomy.

And if you’re a normal person of an age in double digits, you might well have thought something worse than the actual name of the product.

No, really. Consider “Greenback Dollar,” a hit for the Kingston Trio in 1963. On the 45, the first line of the chorus is “And I don’t give a [guitar strum] about a greenback dollar,” leaving you to imagine what went ungiven. (If you paid five bucks for the LP, you found out.)

Mulva Dolores was not available for comment.

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Border song

Holy Moses, I think KingShamus has the Metaphor of the Month:

The only reason why you bring immigrants into the country is to make it better. Any immigration policy that doesn’t make America a more powerful nation, in observable quantifiable ways, is idiocy soaked in stupidity slathered in mendacity wrapped in a zesty bullshit crust.

Now that I think about it, that second sentence works just as well without the word “immigration.”

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One up and one down

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