The edge of wetness

Back in the 90s, there was a pre-post-grunge band from British Columbia named Moist, and after reviewing a handful (okay, three) of their songs, I have concluded that they are not responsible for pushing the word “moist” toward its current status as one of the grossest words in existence:

When it comes to nasty words, moist is the biggest offender. But what exactly is moist? Moist is when you step in a warm puddle wearing socks and for the next hour, your feet clop on the hardwood floor and your socks stick to your heels for a split second with every step. Moist is taking your clothes out of the dryer 10 minutes too early and feeling that lingering wetness rest upon your skin. Moist is a kitchen sponge that holds room-temperature sink water from the day before. Moist is when you wear your jacket in a hot room for too long and sweat droplets start to quiver from the pores under your arms. Most importantly, moist is gross.

I think part of the problem with “moist” is that it’s so often paired with “towelette,” a word which also grates on the ears, a word which is supposed to be a diminutive of “towel,” in every other context an instrument of dryness.

Ben Greenman of The New Yorker has an alternative explanation:

“People hate the word moist,” he says. “Without the word, it would leave bakers, meteorologists and amateur pornographers lacking for what to do. I think it’s the texture of the word.”

And at least Greenman doesn’t blame Canadian bands, even vaguely grungy ones.

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It fakes a village

Now this is what you call passive-aggressive:

wifi display

(Tweeted by @westendproducer.)

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Slower sand

For several years running, Air Canada Arena has been absolute quicksand to the Oklahoma City Thunder: they’d lose their footing early, and by the time they figured out what had happened to them, the Raptors had long since put them away. And I was preparing for that same scenario today: comeback kid Alan Anderson, discarded by the league after 2007, bouncing between Europe and the D-League, then retrieved by Toronto last year, put up 19 points in nine minutes in the second quarter, and the Thunder, up two at the half, were breathing sighs of relief that at least they were up two.

After that, the Thunder remembered that they had a defense, and deployed it well enough to keep Toronto from making a run at them in the second half. Anderson would still nail a career high — a reverse layup in the waning moment gave him 27 points — but OKC sent their losing streak at Air Canada into extinction, clobbering the Raptors 104-92.

In addition to Alan’s sterling work, the Raptors can boast of an excellent showing by Amir Johnson, who scored 19 and pulled down nine boards. Jose Calderón, starting at the point, was good for ten points and 11 assists. DeMar DeRozen, however, was DeRailed early, and while he did manage 11 points, it took him 16 shots to get there.

We’re seeing more of the Good Russell Westbrook these days, which is always a boon: this time he went 8-17 for 23 points. Kevin Durant semi-serenely swished in 22, though he had a hissy fit in the fourth quarter that earned him a T. And some of the non-shooters did some serious shooting: Serge Ibaka went 8-12 from the floor to go with eight boards and two blocks, and Nick Collison went 5-7 from the floor for 10 points to go with eight boards.

Next up: the Wizards Monday evening in the District of Columbia, which by law doesn’t allow anyone to shoot anything. But the schedule gets complicated after that: only three more home games in the month — Timberwolves, Nuggets and Grizzlies, not an easy-peasy match in the bunch — and eight games on the road, including three trips to the Staples Center (Lakers twice, Clippers once). Hatches should submit themselves for battening.

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Days of 45

Terry Teachout has the post-road downs, or something:

Consider, if it doesn’t embarrass you too much to do so, the rock music of the ’60s and ’70s. How much of it holds up today? I was raised on rock and took it with supreme seriousness, but most of the albums with which my high-school playlist was clotted now strike me as jejune at best, horrendous at worst. I don’t know about anybody else, but I haven’t been able to listen to Crosby, Stills & Nash or Jefferson Airplane for decades.

One of the reasons why so much first- and second-generation rock and roll has aged so badly is that most of it was created by young people for consumption by even younger people. And what’s wrong with that? Nothing — if you’re a teenager. But if you’re not, why would you want to listen to it now? And what has happened to its makers now that they’re over the demographic hill? Have they anything new to say to us, or are they simply going through the motions?

I concede that Grace Slick wore out her welcome about the time she claimed that they built this city on rock and roll. However, despite being about two years older than Teachout, I still embrace the songs of my youth — some of them, anyway.

The key here, I think, is Teachout’s reference to his high-school playlist as being jam-packed full of albums. And albums, then and now, more often than not are, in Dave Marsh’s phrase, “singles separated by filler.” There were about two and a half memorable songs on the Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, the .5 depending on how you felt about “Plastic Fantastic Lover.” That leaves eight and a half that nobody plays anymore, and I’m pretty sure no one misses “D.C.B.A-25.” And while I’m on my second copy of Crosby, Stills & Nash, I didn’t come close to wearing out the grooves on “You Don’t Have to Cry,” and Atlantic Records, in its wisdom, once issued a 4:35 single edit of “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” that isn’t anywhere near as tedious as the 7:25 album version. (Try finding that single today, though. Bands at this level of self-importance, which is most of them you’re likely to have heard of, resent the hell out of 45 and radio edits.)

It’s entirely possible that some singer or some band I thought was utterly wonderful when I was in high school might do something wonderful today, but I’m not holding my breath waiting for it to happen. I am, however, thankful that they can still, for the most part anyway, breathe.

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Don’t spend it all in one place

Ho-hum. Another day, another class-action suit:

Fraley, et al. v. Facebook, Inc., et al., Case No. CV-11-01726 RS

If you or your child have or have had a Facebook account and a Facebook Sponsored Story featured your or your child’s name or profile picture, you or your child may be a “Class Member” in a class action lawsuit (the “Action”).

Sponsored Stories are a form of advertising that typically contain posts which appear on about or from a Facebook user or entity that a business, organization, or individual has paid to promote so there is a better chance that the posts will be seen by the user or entity’s chosen audience. For more information about Sponsored Stories, please review the Notice.

A class action lawsuit against Facebook, Inc. (“Facebook”) claimed that Facebook unlawfully used Class Members’ names, profile pictures, photographs, likenesses, and identities to advertise or sell products and services through Sponsored Stories, without obtaining Class Members’ consent. Facebook denies any wrongdoing and any liability whatsoever. No court or other entity has made any judgment or other determination of any liability.

The settlement will bring Class Members the enormous sum of, um, a maximum of ten bucks, although “no one knows in advance how much, if anything, Authorized Claimants may receive, and no one will know until the deadline for submitting claims passes.”

The deadline is the second of May. After that, if the settlement is approved, the actual plaintiffs — there are three — will receive $12,500 each, and counsel for same has requested “up to $7.5 million for their attorneys’ fees and up to $282,566.49 to cover their costs”.

Two questions:

1. What are the chances that the aggrieved plaintiffs, their twelve thou not yet in hand, will still have Facebook accounts? (Answer: ~100 percent.)

2. What are the chances that anything useful was accomplished by this suit? (Answer: ~0 percent.)

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And don’t call her Jan

January Jones was actually born in January — indeed, on the fifth of January, thirty-five years ago — but she wasn’t named for the month:

Parents Marv, a fitness director, and Karen, a sporting-goods store manager, named her after a character in Jacqueline Susann’s Once Is Not Enough. She recently read the 1973 novel, in which her namesake experiences a drug trip, a beach orgy and an alien abduction. “It was horrible!” says Jones.

On that, we are agreed.

Hard as it may be to imagine Betty Draper as a mom, Jones does have a toddler — 16 months, named Xander — and I went looking for a photo of her that looks vaguely maternal and maybe not so Mad Men-ish. I think I succeeded:

January Jones

Then there was that whole placenta-capsulation thing, which I will probably regret mentioning.

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This whole New Media thing

Evidently we’re doing it wrong. Robert Stacy McCain asked how it could be possible for a Web site (BuzzFeed) to be valued at $200 million, and how an actual TV channel (Current TV) with fewer viewers than several Web sites you could name could sell for $500 million.

I pointed out in comments that Al-Jazeera, new owners of Current, and BuzzFeed had one thing in common: neither of them benefited from the tender ministrations of Tina Brown, who is basically the Ted McGinley of new media. Which gave McCain an idea:

What we need to do is start marketing ourselves as innovative visionary entrepreneurs, throwing around catch-phrases — optimization! networking! interactivity! — and hustle up $40 million in venture capital with promises to re-invent the digital wheel. Then we outsource this grimy content-provider work to Indonesia.

After all, it’s only content. This is the stuff that really matters:

What counts is the SEO and stuff like that. Also, venture capital — lots and lots of venture capital. And then we throw a couple of lavish parties for our friends at the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, etc., and they’ll write up a lot of breathless feature stories about how we’ve captured the online Zeitgeist and have “expected revenues” of some ginormous number that we just pull out of thin air.

I have long suspected that all “expected revenues” figures were actually the product of rectal extraction, but the source apparently matters less than the dissemination.

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The survival instinct is keen

Her Majesty acceded to the throne sixty years ago, so a business operating since the thirty-third year of her reign has had a good quarter-century run and then some.

Wait, what? It was the 33rd year of the reign of Elizabeth I? Yes indeed:

R Durtnell & Sons Limited is Britain’s oldest building company and has earned an enviable reputation for quality work, fine craftsmanship and business integrity. As a family, the Durtnells themselves are no less remarkable and can trace their ancestry back to the Norman Conquest.

The first recorded mention of building, as opposed to property, in the family — and hence the year from which Durtnell dates its existence — is 22 July 1591, when John Dartnall married Ann Hearst, registering his profession as ‘carpenter’, synonymous with ‘builder’ at a time when most houses were of timber-framed construction.

Durtnell have operated continuously from offices in Brasted, Westerham, Kent since 1591, easily qualifying them for Britain’s Tercentarian Club. Says Lynn Durtnell today:

[S]he knew what she was taking on when she married John, but casts a protective eye at her son Alexander, in his early thirties, who has partly taken over the day-to-day running of the company. “There is enormous pressure on the children at these companies,” she says. “They don’t want to be the generation that mucks it up.”

In the case of young Alexander, the thirteenth generation.

(Suggested by Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Not a section of tire tread

Someone sneaked this into an Ace of Spades overnight thread, and someone else duly forwarded it to me, because I’m supposedly the Odd Shoe Guy, and, well, this is certainly an odd shoe:

Mojito Shoe by Julian Hakes

Julian Hakes created the Mojito Shoe, which, says Nicole Wakelin of Fashionably Geek, is so named “likely because you’d have to have had a few drinks before you’d think wearing these was a good idea.” At the very least, you’d want to know WTF Mr Hakes was thinking, which turns out to be this.

There are ten other color variations, if you don’t like the Bridgestone 14-ply look; list price seems to be £175, which of late is around $285.

(Okay, it was Jeffro who sent me the link. Please do not hold it against him.)

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To the company store

Last summer, Tesla Motors, vendor of high-tech electric cars, drew the wrath of the Massachusetts State Automobile Dealers Association, which objected to the company’s plan to operate its own showrooms — “plain anti-competitive tactics,” said Roxeanne de Luca.

In November, a judge denied MSADA’s request to block Tesla’s proposed Natick store; a MSADA lawsuit against Tesla itself has now been dismissed, the court finding that the association does not have standing to sue.

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No, colder than that

Whatever you were thinking — inside of a meat locker, the dark side of the moon, a New York apartment with a chintzy landlord — we’re talking colder than that. Colder, even, than zero degrees Kelvin. If this pans out, absolute zero won’t be so absolute anymore:

[Y]ou read off the temperature of a system from a graph that plots the probabilities of its particles being found with certain energies. Normally, most particles have average or near-average energies, with only a few particles zipping around at higher energies. In theory, if the situation is reversed, with more particles having higher, rather than lower, energies, the plot would flip over and the sign of the temperature would change from a positive to a negative absolute temperature, explains Ulrich Schneider, a physicist at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany.

Ah. Quantum stuff. No wonder it seems odd.

Schneider and his colleagues reached such sub-absolute-zero temperatures with an ultracold quantum gas made up of potassium atoms. Using lasers and magnetic fields, they kept the individual atoms in a lattice arrangement. At positive temperatures, the atoms repel, making the configuration stable. The team then quickly adjusted the magnetic fields, causing the atoms to attract rather than repel each other. “This suddenly shifts the atoms from their most stable, lowest-energy state to the highest possible energy state, before they can react,” says Schneider. “It’s like walking through a valley, then instantly finding yourself on the mountain peak.”

This is another one of those cases where it sounds plausible enough, to the extent that anything sounds plausible after quantum effects. Then again, we thought the speed of light, another absolute, had been exceeded — for a while, anyway.

(Via this @syaffolee tweet.)

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Young guns

Nick Young was definitely gunning for the Thunder tonight. The Philadelphia swingman has worn several uniforms in recent years, but he’s always been at least a slight thorn in OKC’s side, and tonight he led the Sixers from the bench with 21 points. What’s more, teammate Thaddeus Young, starting at forward, landed ten points of his own. For a minute, or more precisely for 24 minutes, this game looked like a knock-down, drag-out fight, the Thunder up only 46-42 at the half. Then came the second half. The Thunder defense held, and the offense began to click, and the 76ers were duly 86ed, 109-85.

Incredibly, this happened without Serge Ibaka blocking a single shot. The Serge Protector did seize ten rebounds while scoring 15 points, but tonight was more finesse than force: only three blocks, but 13 steals. In fact, everybody who played recorded a steal except Kendrick Perkins — and hey, he got one of the blocks. Even Hasheem Thabeet got a steal. The Thunder shot 52 percent, 59 percent from the Crosstown Expressway (10-17); it’s almost enough to make me overlook the six free throws they missed. Then again, they had 27 tries. The Sixers made only six all night in eight tries. (Because you’ll ask: Russell Westbrook sparkled with 27, and Kevin Durant shone with 26.)

Philadelphia did do several things right. Jason Richardson rattled off nine points in what seemed like no time at all in the second half, and Jrue Holiday handed off the ball like an NFL quarterback. (Holiday had nine assists; nobody else on either team had more than five.) Dorell Wright got busy in the fourth quarter. They missed rather a lot of shots, though, finishing at a hair over 40 percent, and they gave up 20 turnovers. For a moment, I thought the Thunder were going to end up with 20 turnovers, since they’d lost ten halfway through the second quarter, but they managed to finish with a nicely mediocre 18.

Next game is Sunday at noon, which is bad enough; what’s worse, it’s in Toronto, where the Raptors always seem to have the Thunder’s number. And is it still a back-to-back if it’s followed by a Monday-night game?

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Unoriginal gangstas

With Rebecca Black mostly chillin’ this week, I thought I’d look in on her one-time Svengali and see if he’s been putting lipstick on a new Pygmalion.

Ladies and gentlemen, Patrice Wilson presents “Tweenchronic”:

Kenalsworld describes them as “thug child rappers,” which may not be what they are or what they aspire to be, but is certainly what they look like.

Still, this might just catch on. It’s certainly catchy enough.

Oh, and the late Henson Cargill was available for comment, sort of.

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Seventy-six sad trombones

LeeAnn encounters a Skinny Woman With Huge Hair who wants a pack of Marlboros:

SWWHH: Why didn’t you card me?

me: Because you’re about my age, and I’m pretty sure we’re not minors.

SWWHH: Well, what birthdate did you use?

me: My mom’s. I can remember it easily and the numbers are all kind of close together, it’s just easier.

SWWHH: *suddenly hysterical* WHAT YEAR? WHAT YEAR? WHAT YEAR?

me: Holy crap. 1936.

SWWHH: You take that out! You take that out right now!

Conclusion herewith jumped to: (1) the customer didn’t pay cash for those smokes and (2) her authority to use the payment method she did use might be, um, questionable.

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Used as a flotation device

I suspect most of us have seen something like this before:

I borrowed money from my Thrift Savings Plan. The money came out of the TSP account on 12312012 and is still not in my checking account.

Of course, you know what they told him: “3 to 5 business days.” Which prompts this response:

Why? It should take only a nanosecond, 2 on dialup.

Ah, the wonders of float. Then again, this can work both ways: if you have, for instance, the old-style American Express card, the one you’re required to pay off every month, you’ve got some float working for you, how much depending on where your transaction falls in the Amex billing cycle.

Still, it’s unnerving to see these things crawl along. And when venal politicians — pardon the redundancy — talk about bank reforms, they’re never talking about this kind of reform.

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Quote of the week

Remember when you were so important that Time actually named you Person of the Year? At that particular moment in history, media elites declared that the Voice of the People was finally being heard, and utopia was just a hop, a skip and a jump away.

Well, now they’ve heard that Voice, and they don’t like it, not one bit:

The response to [Shane] McEntee’s sad death captures how web users are viewed at the end of 2012: not as grown-up contributors to public debate but as the destroyers of public debate, even of lives, whose strong views are really just “intimidation”, whose arguments are a form of “terrorising”, and whose access to web-based debate is not a right after all, but apparently a “privilege”. Don’t you all know how lucky you are to have been allowed on to the rarefied plane of political and media debate? Strangely, both the old fawning over web users and the new demonisation of web-users are driven by the same thing: the aloofness of the opinion-forming classes. A few years back, sensing they were massively estranged from the public, politicians and the commentariat sought to engage with us via the web, in a largely phoney, flimsy fashion; now, recognising that they are still estranged from the public, more so than ever in fact, these same opinion-makers denounce us as trolls and write off web-based political engagement as a gigantic failed experiment. They have opted to stew in their aloofness, rather than address it.

Funny thing about stew: it invites people to stir the pot. Then again, anyone who’s spent enough time in a kitchen — in other words, anyone who can take the heat — already knows that.

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