The name of this band is [blank]

Are we running out of band names? Maybe:

One can imagine that 20 years ago, any garage band could have any name it wanted — or no name at all. The only reason a band really needed a name was if they were going to gig or record or tour. Let’s say 10 percent of those bands ever left the garage. Today all those bands are on Bandcamp, and they can’t be on Bandcamp without a name. These sites, including Myspace, which has 14 million acts, have inflated the demand for band names.

Or maybe not:

[W]hile the internet aids the perception that band names are harder to come by (they’re also changing, says Chris Johnson, who’s noted fewer one-word band names than multi-word ones), it’s not because English is running out of words. There are still vast numbers of words that can be stuck together, as well as a number of patterns or templates, some of which haven’t been become institutionalized as genre cues yet, that can be used to expand the permutational choices. Surely your one-word choice (Blue) will be taken, so modify it (Big Blue, Super Blue, Pink Blue, Really Blue, the Blue) or build a phrase (Big Blue Fly, Big Blue Road, Big Blue Popsicle, Big Blue Big). From a little bit of recursion, you could name a million bands and still bequeath a list of a million more to your rock-and-roll grandchildren (though those names will probably be longer).

All that Blue stuff got me thinking about this song:

Earworm potential: near maximum. And “Big Blue Wave” is the title; the band is named Hey Ocean! You may have seen them here.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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There was wild speculation about what the Thunder would be like without Russell Westbrook, simply because no one’s ever seen the Thunder without Russell Westbrook: he’s played every regular-season game, every playoff game, since he signed his rookie contract. And when Houston jumped out to an early 9-3 lead, everyone’s worst suspicions were confirmed. The rest of the first quarter, though, went 36-10 OKC, and the lead ballooned to 26 in the second. The Rockets would not take this lying down, and gradually whittled away at that lead: to 17 at the half, to only four after three quarters, and to zero at the 5:46 mark. Houston finally regained the lead, 94-93, with 3:45 left, and was up 99-97 three minutes later. What happened after that is the stuff of legend: Kevin Durant put up a trey which backrimmed, then frontrimmed, then somehow actually dropped. Then Derek Fisher swiped the ball from James Harden, drew a foul, and sank two free throws. With the Rockets down three, Harden sensibly went for the easy two; at the 0.08 mark, Reggie Jackson earned two freebies, Carlos Delfino’s last-second trey wound up in Jackson’s hands, and the Thunder won it, 104-101, to go up 3-0 in the series.

But damn, did those Rockets show some pluck. Harden once again led the parade with a nice solid 30; Chandler Parsons checked in with 21; Delfino’s 11 and Francisco Garcia’s 18 accounted for most of the bench points. (Both Kevin McHale and Scott Brooks played nine men.) Houston showed off some serious defense, swiping the ball six times and blocking 12 shots, four by Omar Asik, who’s expected to do that sort of thing, and three by Garcia, who isn’t. On the downside for the Rockets, Patrick Beverley was a trifle subdued, and Jeremy Lin was clearly unwell.

Still, Thunder blue came through. Durant got a whole 44 seconds of rest in 48 minutes, and still put up 41 points while gathering 14 rebounds. Serge Ibaka stepped up his offensive game: 17 points to go with 11 boards. And Jackson, apparently not at all flustered by getting an actual start, scored 14. (Okay, maybe a little flustered; he managed only one assist and turned it over three times. Then again, Westbrook used to turn it over three times in a quarter and nobody said a word.) And wily old Derek Fisher, spelling Jackson, was good for nine and a team-high +14.

As for Westbrook, he had his operation today, and he’ll be fine. Eventually. I mention purely in passing that Thunder castoff Nate Robinson scored 34 points in 28½ minutes before fouling out, as the Bulls edged the Nets 142-134 in triple overtime.

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Not a punk rocker

At twenty-two, Sheena Easton pulled off a major accomplishment: she sang the theme to a James Bond movie and appeared in the title sequence to do it.

Today she’s fifty-four, and still singing. A shot from a Chilean tour in 2008:

Sheena Easton on tour

And she appears to have come to grips with that whole terrifying No Longer Young business. From a review of a Las Vegas performance in 2005:

Easton has shed a few pounds since the Hilton days and still has the charisma that separates enduring performers from one-hit wonders. “Maybe we have lost touch along the way,” she teases the crowd. “I used to think I had to stay frozen in time,” she adds later. But she discovered, “No amount of Botox will keep up.”

Wisdom received.

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When you hope both sides lose

Received from the local cable provider:

We know you’re concerned about the availability of KFOR (NBC affiliate) and KAUT (FREEDOM 43 TV) on Cox’s cable lineup, and I want to reassure you that we’re actively negotiating to continue offering it to our customers. Cox is fighting for you and trying to ensure that we are able to continue offering KFOR and KAUT at fair and reasonable terms.

The dispute between Cox and Local TV, KFOR and KAUT’s parent company, is all about how much you, the customer, should have to pay for the ability to see free over the air broadcast TV on your cable lineup. Local TV is holding its signals hostage by refusing to grant Cox permission to offer it unless we agree to pay 300% more than what we currently pay today. We don’t think that’s fair, especially in this economy.

Especially, you know, since these are local over-the-air stations, and therefore must be offered on the lowest-priced service tier.

As for Local TV itself, its owners are trying to fatten it up for market:

Oak Hill Capital Partners has put its Local TV LLC stations on the block.

Station staffs are being alerted across the Local TV footprint. The group says the process may take up to a year, and told staffers to go about their business as usual in the meantime.

What better way to jack up the price than to be able to show a hefty bulge in cash-flow projections?

At some point during my lifetime — and I’m pushing sixty, so it’s not that far off — both these business models will have been rendered irrelevant. And I’m not taking bets on who, if anyone, is going to survive the Coming Television Shakeout.

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Further Upsetsy

Thursday’s item on that proposed “Internet sales tax” drew a sharp response from Mark Alger, who declared it wholly unconstitutional based on a passage from Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution: “No tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any state.”

He expands on this reasoning thusly:

Congress does not have the authority to permit the states to collect sales taxes on goods traveling between states. Note that the actual text of the Constitution refers solely to the goods themselves and make no mention of the location of the businesses or individuals shipping or receiving. Only that the goods be carried out (that’s what “export” means — to carry out) of one state.

And furthermore:

It might be argued that states may collect taxes on goods imported to the several states, except that only Congress has that power, and may not delegate it, and, at least for commerce within the United States, any good imported to one state must first be exported from another, and the taxation of that transaction is forbidden by the above provision.

Bottom line: You can’t enact this scheme without actually amending the Constitution. Then again, relatively few members of Congress pay anything more than lip service to the Constitution, and then only when they need it to support their own positions.

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Neither inspiration nor perspiration

The Mirror headlined its piece on the Turner Prize shortlist this way: “See nominees’ work including dead dog, grave shopping list and even some paintings”. In keeping with this theme, Bill Quick titled his post linking to that piece “I Just Can’t Imagine Why People Think the Western Cultural Ruling Classes Are Decadent, Untalented Schmucks.”

Coincidentally — at least, there’s no Turner reference therein — this commentary from a fanfic author turned up the same day:

If you’re not willing to break a sweat, you’re probably not going to the Olympics… I think what has happened is that people have found it is easier to make impressive-sounding arguments that something is art, than to make art. Those who are adept at these arguments out-compete people who are skilled at art. They’re able to produce their “art” and their arguments faster than people who work hard at it. In an academic environment, where there is no consumer market to speak of, what eventually dominates is whatever viewpoint is most advantageous to the most artists in the debate. As most artists aren’t the best, most of them prefer arguments that imply that they are in fact as good as anybody else, and could produce great art if they just had a moderately-clever idea.

Particular offenders cited: painters of monochromes — think Yves Klein — and John Cage, for 4’33”.

Personally, I tend to interpret “most advantageous” as “most likely to obtain grants,” but maybe that’s just me. And I must herein admit to contributing a defense of 4’33”. There’s even a mention of Yves Klein, though not for his monochrome paintings.

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Hier c’était jeudi, aujourd’hui c’est vendredi

Once in a while, Rebecca Black takes questions from her Tumblr followers. This one made me laugh:

screenshot on a friday, how many messages do you get, like on average telling you it's friday?

Then again, she tweeted this yesterday:

Quelle surprise.

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For the record, I am not short

Personal ad: bald, short, fat and ugly male, 53, seeks short-sighted woman with tremendous sexual appetite

This was a repeat winner from, which said: “He gets points for honesty.” I suspect that’s all he gets.

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No Show Jones

They called George Jones “No Show” because, well, he’d missed a lot of shows:

“No Show Jones” was a nickname that also stuck with George for many years, due to his failure to show up to many of his concerts. The country icon has admitted that drugs became a bad habit that he let overshadow his career.

Still, he’s been lean and clean for decades now, so it kind of hurts to think that he’s going to miss his farewell performance in Nashville on the 22nd of November: he was hospitalized last week for fever and fluctuating blood pressure, and he died this morning.

Arguably his most influential recording was 1980’s “He Stopped Loving Her Today.”

If you are unmoved by this, you have no heart.

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Instant panic

Earlier this week, persons unknown hacked their way into an Associated Press Twitter account and issued one bogus tweet, which promptly caused a 140-point drop in the Dow Jones industrials. Corrections were hurriedly issued, and the DJIA returned to its previous level.

This incident, says Lynn, ranks among “the top ten idiotic news events of all time,” and she prescribes a solution for those market woes:

I know how to fix the stock market. It needs to run like an older version of Windows. Every time someone buys or sells, after a 30 second delay they are asked, “Are you sure?” Then, if they choose “Yes”, there’s another 30 second delay before anything happens. And any time the stock market drops more than 100 points it blue screens.

I’d make only one change to that: delete “an older version of” and replace it with, um, well, nothing, actually.

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As foretold

Ridiculous rims

Inasmuch as this is from, the Scriptural lookup goes to Douay-Rheims (in translation): “The wheels had also a size, and a height, and a dreadful appearance.”

In other news, Gog and Magog evidently have been replaced by Manny, Moe and Jack.

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The Oxycontinental divide

There’s only one thing that infuriates the Drug Warriors more than illicit pharmaceuticals: licit pharmaceuticals. If J. Random Hophead for some reason can’t make it to the party with cold blue steel and sweet fire, he’ll happily, or perhaps anxiously, kick down your door, or mine, in search of Schedule II-level release:

[T]he predictable response to these things is always the same.

We need to CRACK DOWN on pain meds.

That’s right. Make them harder to get. This will drive up the price, make the criminals more violent, cause more and more addicts to turn to heroin (which of course is cheaper per dose than black market oxycodone) and make it more likely that people … are slaughtered in their homes for their pain meds. (These crimes, too, will be blamed on the pain meds themselves, and fuel further crackdowns.)

But look at the bright side: we get that much closer to a police state. You like police, don’t you?

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Where everything is an anachronism

For me, writing, even informally, in the current My Little Pony universe is rather like having bees live in my head, because every single prop introduces the nagging question: “Would ponies actually have these?”

Seriously. There exists a fan-made video, and a darn good one, in which we see (briefly) Vinyl Scratch punching out somepony’s number on what looks like an iPhone. And then she says “Why do I even have this?” and tosses it into the fireplace.

The Round Stable has taken note of this phenomenon:

The first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic opens with the turn of a storybook cover, establishing that Equestria exists in a self-contained fairy tale universe — fitting, considering that the first characters we meet are a dragon and a unicorn. But keep watching the show and you’ll notice that things start to get … strange. A steam engine here, a light switch there. A photo booth. A Technics turntable. At some point we abandoned the Middle Ages and we didn’t even notice.

The results can be fairly jarring. In one of my own story arcs, Equestria has fiendishly complex nanosurgery operating at the genetic level; however, they only just got Internet access, and it had never occurred to them before to take a census. At times, it makes sense — air mail, for example, comes via pegasus — but then again:

It’s not about the technology, it’s about the design. Sure, we can invoke unicorn magic to explain how video games function, and therefore why Equestria should logically have its own version of satellite television and even an information-sharing ponynet. But to do so would risk breaking immersion in the world the show has constructed, which is a far greater sin than ignoring an “X leads to Y” commandment of scientific progress.

Which ultimately, I think, demonstrates that Arthur C. Clarke was right; get the technology up far enough, and it might as well be magic. And frankly, I get a kick out of faking up explanations. From Second Act:

Both unicorns and pegasi take advantage of this hypervibration, each tribe having specific access points sensitive to its frequency. For the unicorn, it’s near the base of the horn — the tip of the horn is a transducer, used to propagate energy. For the pegasus, it’s between the wings, between the backbone and the spinal cord. No such receptor exists on the earth pony, and early experiments with directing magical beams at earth ponies, in an effort to find a resonance point, were unsuccessful.

It was not until the year 878 that science was able to answer this question of earth pony magic. The physicist Prismatic, analyzing the hypervibration to discover its components, determined that there exists at very low levels a second vibration, at a frequency too low to hear: approximately 1.61803398875 cycles per second. (Twilight Sparkle, of course, would insist on at least eleven decimal places.) Thinking this might be an impurity in the waveform, Prismatic rigged up a crude high-pass filter, which would eliminate the low-frequency component. His assistant at the time, an earth pony whose name has been lost to history, fell ill, and did not recover until the filter was deactivated.

That “eleven decimal places” business references this scene.

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Majors more minor

The current dearth of jobs for liberal-arts majors does not mean that you should immediately switch to another, supposedly more lucrative, area of interest:

Once upon a time I heard that when you ask Americans what they do, they tell you about their job, whereas if you ask a Brit they will tell you about their hobby. I think this is where a liberal arts degree can be a benefit. You may have a boring, tedious job, but an education would have exposed you to a larger world, so you might find something to occupy your mind, I mean besides, sex, drugs and rock & roll.

And if your job is boring and tedious, as many of them inevitably are, you will want to occupy that mind with something. I learned that several decades ago.

Real-world anecdote:

My three kids have all graduated from the University of Oregon with liberal arts degrees. Being a gearhead of the first order I was a little surprised that none of them were interested in science or engineering. Perhaps it was my gruff behavior or ranting about employers that turned them off, or perhaps it was just their natural inclination. They have all found jobs, though none of them are what you could call “good” jobs.

These days, “good” jobs are the ones with six digits before the decimal point on your W-2, or so says the conventional wisdom. Having never had one, I wouldn’t know. Then again, I persist in my silly belief that there are things in life that mean more than the size of one’s investment portfolio. And with government at all levels trying to tax everything that’s nailed down and most things that aren’t, I’d say there’s a definite disincentive involved: why should I try to earn that extra dollar, knowing I’ll have to surrender almost half of it immediately and most of the rest to the Gods of Inflation?

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Gaia hates carbs

James Lileks pays for a haircut, and gets a harangue for free:

The haircutter was a smart chap who is attending the U in Native American studies, and had written a piece that morning on Ethnobotany. The class, he said, had veered from historical studies to the discussion of Native American “subsistence” practices as an alternative to capitalism. I asked him if that meant we grew everything for ourselves in our backyard; more or less. A community should be able to feed itself.

Well, there go last Monday’s pork chops. No way am I slopping hogs out by the cottonwood tree.

I noted that capitalism and increased yields meant that people did not have to spend the entire day on food, and were freed up for things like science and art, and he said yes, that’s the tradeoff. I noted that it’s good to have strawberries in February, though, isn’t it? When the frozen food industry made it possible to have things in winter without the effort of canning, that was good. Right?

No, not really. The carbon footprint of the industry isn’t worth it. Example: eggplants. In the winter they only come from Europe. Better to do without than ship them over.

Got that, Minnesota? Yes, you have no bananas; you have no bananas today, or ever again.

I nodded, if only because I don’t like eggplant, and decided not to pursue that particular line of discussion. After all, I didn’t have my glasses on, and he had a pointy scissors.

And this is why I go to a stylist (so to speak) who rebuilds sports cars.

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Brian J. on the proposed “Internet sales tax”:

Maybe an Internet sales tax might have been workable fifteen years ago, but the profusion of special local sales taxing gimmicks has rendered it completely unworkable now. Online retailers or their newly more expensive payment processing vendors would have to somehow keep abreast of these developments, new taxing authorities, and siloed taxes across counties like the new Arch tax in the St. Louis metropolitan area, and they would need to constantly, daily update their tax levying to reflect new uses and abuses in every county, city, and town in the country.

Or, unexpectedly, go out of business. Which will mean the Internet sales tax revenues will be strangely less than hoped, and the well-positioned Internet and brick-and-mortar giants will reap the rewards.

When has a new tax ever brought in more than expected?

You’d think the GOP-controlled House would strangle this thing in its crib. Don’t count on it.

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