Read instruments

This chart from Pew Research has been making the rounds, and I suppose it’s intended to be reassuring to those of us who really don’t have a good reason to assume our fellow Americans are as brilliant as we are. (Not that anyone is ever going to accuse me of brilliance, but work with me here.) Anyway, these are the numbers they churned up about America’s Reading Habits:

A snapshot of Reading in America in 2013 from Pew Research

And then the complaints came in. From syaffolee, a member of None of the Above:

This is interesting, although I’m annoyed with the race/ethnicity category. How hard is it to include “other”?

Bill Quick suspects something:

My guess is that there is a fair amount of lying going on. Admitting you haven’t read a book in the past year is tantamount to admitting that you’re a dumbass.

One of the reasons I slapped that “Currently reading” gizmo on the sidebar was to make sure I actually got around to reading some books; there are, I have discovered, people who notice it. (Week before last, someone actually quizzed me about it on Twitter.) I’d be interested to know how many of the respondents to this survey read at least two books last year.

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Just don’t call it “support”

As everyone knows, after the 8th of April you and your antiquated Windows XP box are on your own: Microsoft assumes no further responsibility for the safety of your data.

Well, except for this:

Microsoft will be able to silently reach into Windows XP PCs for more than a year after it stops patching the aged OS to clean malware-infected machines, sources close to the company confirmed Friday.

The Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) will continue to be updated and deployed via Windows Update through July 14, 2015, 15 months after the Redmond, Wash. company serves its final public security patches for XP on April 8 of this year.

By extending the life of the MSRT — and more importantly, automatically running it each month — Microsoft will be able to clean some PCs if massive malware outbreaks hit Windows XP after it’s retired from support.

“If”? The phrase “sitting ducks” comes immediately to mind.

What’s more:

Previously, Microsoft said it would stop shipping Security Essentials’ signature updates to XP PCs after April 8. But in a tacit nod to XP’s widespread use, Microsoft postponed the cut-off until July 14, 2015.

This will do wonders for Redmond’s public image. Now if they could just vend a few more Windows 7 licenses…

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Strange search-engine queries (417)

Monday morning brings a fresh load of wacko search strings from the week’s logs. And sometimes I’m not sure whether the operative word is “fresh” or “load.”

where’s the transmission dipstick for mazda 626 lx 5 speed:  You want a dipstick for a manual gearbox? Sheesh.

susan sarandon bow legs:  Yeah, but no one looks that far down.

i seen enough hen:  So you oppose the Urban Chickens initiative?

It’s hot in there apartment but it’s freezing in mines. The damn radiators is not even hot I don’t care what Lynn said about her apartment mines is cold. I’m letting you know today I’m moving on the first of the mont:  Trust me, you won’t be missed, and Lynn doesn’t give a damn one way or another.

post menopausal closet communist hag:  Well, there’s always the Democratic convention, where — oh, wait, you said “closet.” Never mind.

u tube in car trans rebuild probe mazda:  Oh, yeah, like you’re going to rebuild a transmission by watching YouTube. Go do something useful like mine bitcoin.

sundi varjan tum hi ho:  Well, it’s about time they brought back Carnac the Magnificent.

“pointy toe” “her feet” 2014:  I’m sure Wikipedia has an article on podiatry.

the american dream is not fundamentally about stardom or extreme success. in recalibrating our expectations of it, we need to appreciate that it is not an all-  inclusive mechanism; it specifically excludes people who try to do term papers by combining half a dozen Google searches and calling it “research.”

why does laura san giacomo wear baggy clothes wear baggy clothes:  Because she damn well wants to wants to.

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A finite list

Jack Baruth explains the bottom of the Infiniti car line — the truck line makes no more sense, but that can wait for another time — thusly:

The G37 is no more. Enter the Q40, which is basically last year’s stripper-model G37 with a different badge. Supposedly an entry-level compact-lux car is coming, which would be named Q30. Think of the Q30 as being the old G20, the Q40 as being the old G37, and the Q50 as being the new G37.

You already know what I think of this scheme. We can only imagine what names they threw away to arrive at this point:

  1. T42
  2. asi9
  3. EcoBurst
  4. 1WK
  5. Z71
  6. 4.9GX
  7. Aluminum Duke
  8. 10.2.4
  9. 2002ti
  10. WD-40

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More random rants

You’ve seen this concept before; I’m hoping that enough time has elapsed since then to allow me to do the same thing again.

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We can’t thrive (65)

This minor statistical factoid was stuffed into one of those staggeringly popular OMGWTFBBQWAGD weather articles:

The natural gas-weight heating degree days value for January is expected to reach 1,062.9, higher than the five-year average of 949.5 and the coldest since 2001.

Um, say what?

The value is determined by subtracting the daily average temperature from a base of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, the resulting number is a measure of how cold it is and how much energy is needed to keep homes and warm.

There are also cooling degree days, derived in almost the same manner, which will explain why you spent so much for air conditioning in July.

I just wonder where that 1062.9 figure comes from. Is it a national average? Because the January average in Oklahoma City is 798, and we have 651 through yesterday.

(I’ve attempted to explain this before, with arguable results.)

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A chilly reception

From an active petition at

We, the undersigned call for the establishment of officially designated, properly signed, clothing-optional recreation areas within the national parks, forests and other federally managed public lands to allow fair and equitable access to users who enjoy outdoor clothing-optional recreation, modeled after the successful and popular Gunnison Beach clothing-optional recreation area that is part of the Sandy Hook unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area managed by the NPS.

Signatures have been few and far between, which has caused some concern:

It seems a safe assumption that 10 days into the petition effort there are far more nudists and naturists that are now aware of the petition than the 2000+ who have signed it thus far but many for whatever reason haven’t signed. It is interesting to contemplate why more haven’t signed.

Since this all started some have expressed the opinion that there is simply too much apathy within the community of nudists and naturists and mounting an effective campaign for change in the face of that reality is just not a possibility. In other words, unless a nudist or naturist feels that an issue has some perceived effect that he or she will feel at the basic individual level they really don’t care much for what effect it might have for other nudists or naturists or the community as a whole. Personally that view has always seemed a little too cynical to me. While I have no evidence to back it up, I simply don’t accept that people don’t sign a petition like this because they simply don’t care.

Well, I can tell you exactly why I haven’t signed: to sign a petition at, you have to register with, and I refuse to give those weasels a direct line to my inbox. That’s what they have the NSA for, right?

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A great big sled

With a very tiny occupant:

The Bonannis live at the top of Cinnamon Drive, a quiet residential street in Roxborough [neighborhood of Philadelphia] whose steep grade makes it a perfect sledding spot. But what’s good for sledding is often bad for driving — Fabian always has trouble getting the family’s car up that hill in the snow, and he knew that the storm would pose a problem.

So, knowing that his wife, Shirley, was due at any moment, he bought the sled and kept it handy in case they’d have to make a quick exit to his car, which he parked at the base of the hill.

George Leader lives at the bottom of the hill, and this is what he saw:

“I ran out after I heard the commotion,” Leader said, “and it was clear that this was happening now.

“I just sprung into action; I wasn’t even thinking.”

Leader called 9-1-1 as Fabian delivered his daughter, scooping her into his arms as his wife braved the morning’s subzero temperatures.

Fabian then charged up the hill, baby in his arms, as Leader and Shirley’s parents, just arriving on the scene, took charge of the mother; eventually parents and child were ported to the hospital for the once-over.

Little Bella has a two-year-old brother, Logan, who was delivered a bit more conventionally.

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Rocking the Cradle of Liberty

Kevin Durant’s sore shoulder evidently didn’t stay so for long: he played 44 minutes tonight at Philadelphia, and you’d never know he’d been away for a whole day. The 76ers put up a fight, grabbing just as many rebounds (44) as the Thunder, including a whopping 19 off the offensive glass, getting them some second-chance and even third-chance points, but it didn’t matter: KD was working up a triple-double — got it, too, with 32 points, 14 rebounds, and ten assists — and in the face of this statistical storm, maybe losing 103-91 isn’t quite so bad for the Sixers.

Philly did get a fair amount of offense going, led by swingman James Anderson, the Oklahoma State product, who picked up 19 points, just under twice his season average. Thaddeus Young recorded a double-double, with 13 points and ten boars; Evan Turner and Spencer Hawes also hit double figures. But 34-90 shooting does not win games, even if it occasionally gives you second-chance points, and especially if the opposition bags six more makes on 14 fewer attempts.

This is not to say that the Thunder were a well-oiled offensive machine running at its peak: while they did hit 52 percent, they were a woeful 4-21 on three-pointers. (Still, the Sixers were woefuller, hitting four of 27.) But with KD’s 32, 25 from Serge Ibaka (and five blocks), 12 from Nick Collison to lead the bench — well, the number that stands out is +17, recorded by Derek Fisher in 21 minutes despite clanking four out of five shots. It wouldn’t be the first time the offense seemed to show up just because the defense needed something to do every other possession.

If nothing else, it was a clean game; no shouting matches, no second-guessing the officials, and nobody got T’d up for anything. And this happened in Philadelphia, folks.

Next: a single home game, against the Hawks on Monday, followed by a three-games-in-four-days road trip: Miami, Brooklyn and Washington.

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You can call me Al

Actually, you could call her Al, at least back in the Nineties: Christine Lakin played Alicia Lambert, familiarly known as Al, on the ABC TV series Step by Step, a sitcom about two single parents, each with three children, who get married. (Any similarity to The Brady Bunch was probably intentional.) When Step by Step started in 1991, she was twelve. In this picture, she is not twelve:

Christine Lakin in 2011

Lakin, who just turned thirty-five, has been quite busy lately; among other places, you may have caught her as Joyce Chevapravatdumrong Kinney on Quahog Channel 5 News.

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Air apparent

Welch, Oklahoma, not so hard by the Kansas border north of Vinita, is about to get a low-power community radio station:

Voice of Welch Communications, Inc. (VOW) has been granted a construction permit by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to build a low-power FM (LPFM) radio station serving the Welch and Bluejacket areas.

VOW president, Tyson Wynn, said, “Providing radio service to my hometown area has long been a dream of mine. Since first working at Vinita’s KITO during high school, I have been in love with the medium of radio and its ability to provide immediate coverage of local news and events. I’m also thrilled that LPFM is designed to be a very local operation. Welchkins, including Welch school students, will have the opportunity to learn the craft of radio. Dave Boyd trained me and put me on the air at KITO when I was 16 years old, and we’re going to give another generation of young people that same opportunity.”

I’ve met Tyson Wynn, and his enthusiasm is genuine. And I’m definitely pleased that radio service, which has been migrating from small towns to big cities for many years, is showing up in a community of 600.

The Welch facility will broadcast on 94.7 MHz with 100 watts. It will not quite reach Vinita or Miami, the two nearest cities. (And in case you’re wondering, KITO, while still licensed to Vinita, broadcasts nothing of particular interest to Vinita; it’s now just a relay for the Sports Animal’s Tulsa — actually Muskogee — facility.)

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Otherwise occupied

I’m sorry, but I can’t deal with your tech request at this time:

Oh, in case you weren’t paying attention:

Anti-government demonstrators in Ukraine are expanding their protests after talks between the opposition and President Viktor Yanukovych stalled.

In western Ukraine, the activists seized the regional government office in the city of Ivano-Frankivsk and are storming another one in Chernivtsi.

Protests were reported in Lutsk, in the north-west, and Sumy, in the east.

Meanwhile, Mr Yanukovych vowed to use “all legal means” if a solution to the crisis is not found.

You can see how this might affect one’s concentration.

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Rule 34 and the Mane Six

Musician MandoPony has been contemplating the sheer quantity of sexed-up pony pictures out there, and yes, there are some pervs in our midst, but there’s more to it than that:

It’s rare for female characters to be strong leaders who can take care of themselves and save the world over and over again, but they exist in this show. It’s awesome. The ponies don’t need guys to “save” them. They don’t need men to fawn over them. (with the possible exception of Rarity!) They don’t need men to guide them. They don’t need men for anything. Neither do they look down on male characters. They’re neither above, nor below, the males. They’re totally equal and very capable of taking care of themselves without help from the opposite sex. It’s true equality. I freaking love that.

For most guys, I think this idea messes with their heads. It’s so beyond their reasoning skills that they have to objectify the female characters in order to accept them. They need to sexualize the characters in order to bring them back down.

This makes sense in the context of demographics: the 15-25-year-old guy who puts impossibly large crotchboobs on [name of pony] likely has yet to adjust to the reality of life among Actual Women. (As I haven’t, but then I can’t draw.) Of course, this failure to adapt goes both ways, so this term is non-gender-specific.

And this theory does not exclude a possibility more blatantly obvious:

People are perverts. They like to draw sexy versions of everything. Male, female, animal, vegetable, mineral, it doesn’t matter.

Then again, when was this not true?

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Tedium at TD

The game plan with Russell Westbrook gone had been simple enough: run it through Kevin Durant. But never before had the Thunder called for Plan B, with both Westbrook and Durant sidelined. Obviously Perry Jones III would start at the, um, three, but what would happen? The Celtics, with Rajon Rondo back and Jeff Green coming off a 39-point performance Wednesday, were hoping for something other than what they got, which was a standard Thunder defensive drubbing to the tune of 101-83.

In the absence of Kid Delicious, the Thunder scoring was spread around, with five in double figures. Serge Ibaka, who actually did not block a shot, had a game-high 21; Jeremy Lamb, apparently over his shooting woes, added 19; Reggie Jackson and Thabo Sefolosha snagged 14 and 13 respectively. Jones, who played 33 minutes, more than anyone else, checked in with 10. (Kendrick Perkins, not quite forgotten by the Beantown faithful, scored six and hauled in nine rebounds.)

Uncle Jeff did lead the Celtics with 16 on a respectable 7-17, though he was 6-9 from within the arc; in fact, the Celtics hoisted 27 treys and saw only five go in. (OKC made five out of 13.) Rondo, on the court for 22 minutes, did not shoot well — 2-7 for five points — but did serve up eight assists, which put him even with Jackson. The Boston reserves were greenish but game; while veteran Brandon Bass led the bench with 11, rookie guard Phil Pressey impressed with nine points, six assists and two steals in 30 minutes.

So for now: no Durant, no problem. Tomorrow: the 76ers, who were just thrashed by Toronto, in Philly. And when KD gets back, he’ll have something to shoot for: the Knicks went off for 125 points against the Bobcats tonight, and Carmelo Anthony had almost half of them. ‘Melo, who played 39 minutes, went 23-35 and 6-11 from deep, plus ten of ten free throws, for 62 points. Kid Delicious won’t ever say so, but he’s gonna try to beat that. You know it.

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Noses to be removed

And faces to be spited:

State lawmakers are considering throwing out marriage in Oklahoma.

The idea stems from a bill filed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Edmond). Turner says it’s an attempt to keep same-sex marriage illegal in Oklahoma while satisfying the U.S. Constitution. Critics are calling it a political stunt while supporters say it’s what Oklahomans want.

“[My constituents are] willing to have that discussion about whether marriage needs to be regulated by the state at all,” Turner said.

If nothing else, this is consistent with Governor Fallin’s decision to deny spousal benefits to National Guard members, gay or straight.

And it’s a challenge to those who say that the states shouldn’t be in the marriage business in the first place. To some extent, I am sympathetic to that position; however, Turner is radiating that strange Soonerland vibe that says “Yeah, this is going to be swatted in the courts, but we don’t care.

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No country for young women

Much as I love Taylor Swift, she’s about as country these days as Rebecca Black, and the diehard traditionalists are asking “Are you sure Loretta done it this way?”

Which brings us to this point by a 15-year-old traditionalist, complete with Essential Video:

Williamson Branch is a bluegrass and country band from Nashville, and their 15-year-old fiddle and guitar player Melody Williamson recently wrote a song called “There’s No Country Here.” Despite her age, Music Row would be wise to remove themselves for their laundry list clatter and listen to what the future of country music has to say about where country music is headed.

And they’re not kidding when they say “future”: the youngest member of Williamson Branch is four.

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