Oh me, oh my

There is a long-standing tradition in the Anglosphere of describing petite women in doll-like terms. As an example, I give you these paragraphs from British music writer Mike Crofts (Beat Instrumental):

Little Lulu is an impish 5’2″, and every inch, from her natural red hair to her size 3½ shoes, is packed with more energy than a Mars bar.

She’s the original wee Scots lass — who could doubt it with a name like Marie McDonald McLaughlin Lawrie — and she has the aristocratic privilege of being born in a castle!

In the States, she’d wear a 4½, but no matter: things went differently for the young singer here than they did in the UK. At 15, she was signed to Decca and hit in early 1964 with a cover of the Isley Brothers’ “Shout,” followed by a vaguely creepy version of Bert Berns’ “Here Comes the Night” (on YouTube, with an extremely creepy film clip) that predated, and if you ask me far surpasses, the 1965 version by Them featuring Van Morrison.

“Shout” staggered to #94 in Billboard, “Here Comes the Night” didn’t chart Stateside at all, and in 1966 Lulu switched to UK Columbia (Epic in the US) to work with producer Mickie Most. In 1967, she’d become a film star of sorts, appearing in, and recording the theme song to, the Sidney Poitier vehicle To Sir With Love, a box-office smash. “To Sir, with Love,” the song, owned the top of the US charts: Billboard named it the top pop single for all of 1967, and inevitably, London Records, the US outpost of Decca, reissued her early stuff on something called From Lulu… With Love, complete with the Mike Crofts liner notes sampled above.

From Lulu With Love - Parrot LP 61016

“To Sir, with Love,” the song, did not chart at all in the UK; it was relegated to the B-side of the “Let’s Pretend” single.

From this point on, she was never really gone, but never really a household word again, though she would chart in the States as late as 1982 and actually sang a theme for a James Bond film (The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974).

This past October, Lulu played her first London show in ten years. A review of the sold-out performance:

Repeatedly she returned to the theme of rediscovering the music that first inspired her. She’s one of those performers who loses herself in a song, and when she gets a chance to dig into something as organic and rich as Eric Clapton’s “Bell Bottom Blues,” incredible things happen. She is still in possession of one of the great voices of British popular music. If this really was a sounding board for Lulu to work out what she wants to do next, I am looking forward to the classic soul album that her voice really deserves.

And she can still work that “wee Scots lass” look, kinda sorta, at sixty-five:

Lulu in 2012

Our title, of course, comes from this 1969 hit:

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Quote of the week

Gabrielle Francesca East — her friends call her Dolly — on the bill we had to pass to know what was in it:

The regime has tried to persuade Americans that Obamacare is a market-based solution. It’s not. What it is, actually, is a cargo cult attempt at making from scratch an institution which is not instituted, but grows organically. So all the hagiographic wanking in the commentariat is all better to spill your seed on the ground than in the belly of a whore kinda stuff.

But that doesn’t matter. The key, dispositive point of principle is that the government has no business in the medicine business and needs to be told to butt out — which command may need to be reinforced with a smack on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper.

Which are easier to roll these days, owing to extreme thinness caused by reduced advertising volume.

And on that “we have to pass it” business:

Yep. In every sense of the word.

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The Garden State of mind

A Buzzfeed piece with the title The 28 Most New Jersey Things To Ever Happen yielded up this picture, captioned “Realistic benefactor”:

Two appliances by the side of the road

This probably wasn’t in Hunterdon County. Maybe.

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An awful lot of interpolation

Apparently Facebook can now tell, or at least guesstimate, the object of your affections:

Though 27% of Facebook users don’t list their relationship status at all, only about half of those people are single, according to a Men’s Health article. If you’re one of these users committing the crime of omission, Facebook’s team of “in-house sociologists” has been researching ways to find you out…

If you’re “friends” with several of your other half’s co-workers, family members and friends, for example, Facebook may deduce that your only mutual link to these profiles is your assumed wife/husband/girlfriend/boyfriend. Researchers said they had a high success rate in correctly guessing someone’s romantic partner by this method.

Will Truman contemplates what this may actually mean:

This opens up a potentially crucial role for Facebook in the human social domain. You know what I always hated about relationships? I hated trying to nail down where exactly things stood. I’ll bet there is a lot of potential here for Facebook to tell you. Or they can at least give you a heads up. “In case you were unaware, statistically speaking, you are in a relationship with Suzie.” It would be a very helpful pointer for the unaware.

Of course, you could decide that you don’t want to be in a relationship with Suzie at all. And you can say “Facebook! You’re wrong!” But you ought to make sure that Suzie thinks that Facebook is wrong, too. It could have a real positive social impact of making us have the very important conversation that some are too good at avoiding.

There are several potential Suzies on my “friends” list, and I can tell you exactly where I stand with all of them: nowhere.

And while this situation may be disheartening, it bothers me less than the possibility that Facebook may select a Suzie for me and put her name on my wall — or worse, her wall — for the whole world to see.

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Meanwhile on the dihydrogen monoxide front

For years we’ve known, or thought we’d known, that hot water tends to freeze a bit faster than cold water, the so-called Mpemba Effect. However, no explanation, one way or another, seemed to make any sense — until now:

Each molecule of water is made up of two hydrogen atoms bonded covalently to a single atom of oxygen. Those bonds, which involve atoms sharing electrons, are well understood. But the separate water molecules are bound together, too, by weaker forces generated by hydrogen bonds. They occur when a hydrogen atom from one molecule of water sits close to an oxygen atom from another—and they give rise to many of water’s interesting properties, like its strangely high boiling point.

Now, Xi Zhang [Nanyang Technological University, Singapore] is suggesting that those same bonds cause the Mpemba effect. The idea is pretty simple: bring water molecules into close contact, and a natural repulsion between the molecules causes the covalent bonds to stretch and store energy. As the the liquid warms up, the hydrogen bonds stretch as the water gets less dense and the molecules move further apart.

That extra stretch in hydrogen bonds allows the covalent bonds to relax and shrink a little, giving up their energy. The process of covalent bonds giving up energy is equivalent to cooling, so warm water should in theory cool faster than cold.

Seems plausible enough to me, with my, um, smattering of chemistry.

Cite: arXiv:1310.6514 [physics.chem-ph]

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Chewed up and spit out

It is a measure of how things were going tonight at the Target Center that Rick Adelman apparently decided that the Timberwolves didn’t have to guard against the Thunder’s perimeter shots. And Adelman, as he so often is, was correct: you could leave OKC wide open, and they’d still miss. It was pretty much all over after the third quarter, with the Wolves leading 88-60; the ceremonial emptying of the benches midway through the fourth, as you might expect, made no substantive difference. Minnesota 100, Oklahoma City 81, and if this is a preview of the battle for the Northwest, we got trouble.

It’s usually not a good sign when your most accurate shooter is Kendrick Perkins: Perk put up only three shots, but he got them all. For comparison: Kevin Durant was 4-11; Serge Ibaka was 3-13; Thabo Sefolosha was 1-8. Jeremy Lamb, who ran the offense in the last half of the fourth, had a team-high 16 points on 7-15 shooting; Lamb made two treys out of five tries, which doesn’t sound bad, but the rest of the team was 5-26 from outside. Telltale statistic: two fast-break points.

On the other side of the court, three Wolves contributed double-doubles: Kevin Love (24 points, 12 rebounds), Nikola Peković (15 points, 10 rebounds), and Ricky Rubio (14 points, 10 assists). Except for a few seconds early in the first quarter, Minnesota led throughout, and generally played as though they expected to.

First home game for the Thunder will be Sunday against the Suns. Right now, I’m not inclined to predict anything other than darkness for a 6 pm tipoff. (It’s the end of DST, doncha know.)

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Life’s been good

In which the timelines of Twilight Sparkle and Joe Walsh somehow are made to intersect. Admittedly, neither of them drive, but that’s not the important thing.

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Two words: “tinted glass”

A rather scary Harris Interactive poll reveals some things you didn’t want to know about the occupant of the next lane over:

While behaviors of others can be annoying, drivers admitted that they would engage in some interesting activities in their cars if they knew people could not see them. More than half (54 percent) said they would consider singing aloud in their cars. Almost a third (30 percent) would consider picking their nose, 19 percent would think about changing clothes, 15 percent would ponder having sex and nine percent would contemplate driving naked.

For the record, I have done almost all of these, no “pondering” necessary. (In fact, singing is an almost-daily event, depending on what the little music box serves up.)

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Right to non-life

Another aggrieved minority group demands to be heard:

We are denied voting rights in most states. Movies demonizing us not only get made, but are wildly popular and earn their hatemongering producers millions of dollars. And where are the media during all this? The whole shameful matter gets buried.

That’s why I have formed the National Association for the Advancement of Undead Persons. It’s time those of us labeled “zombies,” “vampires,” and “monsters” — the reconstructed and reanimated — received the same legal protections afforded illegal aliens and high-ranking Administration officials.

One area of progress: so far as I know, the undead are not currently subject to the Obamacare penalties tax.

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Hollow praise

“A rather dull love-poem,” this is, although it possesses some wholly unexpected nuance:

Tell me, Eutresia, since my fate
And thy more powerfull Forme decrees
My heart an Immolation at thy Shrine,
. . .

Who is Eutresia? What is she? Who the heck knows?

In the “Notes on the Text” in the back of the book (516), [Peter] Davidson records that some manuscripts call the addressee “Eutresia”, at least one “Utrechia”. The note below the text reads: “1 Eutresia ‘Utrechia’ MS (Greek) ‘beautiful hair'”, which is a bit confusing: which name is supposed to mean “beautiful hair”? Could “Utrechia” be meant for “Eutrichia” or something similar?

“Eutresia,” however, means nothing of the sort:

I see no way to make that mean anything to do with hair. It would be a properly-formed Greek noun meaning “well-holedness”, the quality of being equipped with one or more excellent holes or orifices: not a name anyone this side of Lord Rochester, or Martial in one of his darker moods, would give to an enemy, much less a mistress. Neither “eutresia” nor for that matter “dystresia” is included in the OED, but “atresia”, “from Greek ἄτρητος not perforated”, is attested with the meaning “occlusion or closure of a natural channel of the body” since 1807. Biliary atresia is a common birth defect.

Rochester, who died at 33, possibly from a combination of STDs, might have had a passing familarity with holes, but let’s leave it at that.

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Staying sharp

My son is now sporting a “13.1” sticker on his Bimmer, having successfully completed a half marathon. (Which, given the fat sack of crap he apparently was a few years ago, is doubly impressive.) I didn’t ask him what he was thinking during those hours of pavement pounding, but I suspect it wasn’t anything like this:

Stitches while running a marathon are not usually conducive to success — but they proved to be the making of David Babcock after he broke the scarf-knitting-while-running-a-marathon record.

The 41-year-old finished the Kansas City marathon in five hours, 48 minutes and 27 seconds, at the same time constructing a scarf measuring 12ft 1¾” long.

Babcock, a graphic design professor at the University of Central Missouri, eclipsed the previous Guinness world record, held by Britain’s Susie Hewer.

In other news, there is a scarf-knitting-while-running-a-marathon record.

To create his red, orange and purple scarf, Babcock used a garter stitch, 30 stitches wide, and size 15 plastic needles, as specified by Guinness World Records. To be eligible competitors must complete the marathon in under six hours.

If the next question is “Why?” here’s the answer:

It takes a lot of time to do distance running and it takes time to knit. By putting the two activities together the time passes easier for both activities. It takes his mind off of the endless miles and makes knitting an active pursuit.

Perhaps I’ll drop a hint to the kid.

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Goblin report

Previous record: 102, recorded in 2010. I didn’t expect to break that; in fact, I bought only enough Dental Mayhem for about seventy.

The city didn’t put out a curfew. However, some neighborhoods posted signs saying you had to finish up by 8 pm (70 minutes after sunset), and things dried up here rapidly after 7:59. Final total was forty-five, third highest on record.

Best costume, I thought, was worn by a tween girl who, had she been helmeted, would have been a passable Yori from Tron. Most of the lights worked, too. (She got an extra pack of Butterfinger Snackerz.)

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Impatient me

WordPress released 3.7.1 almost before 3.7 was dry; there were bug fixes, and I duly installed the new version here.

Or I could have waited:

With WordPress 3.7, you don’t have to lift a finger to apply maintenance and security updates. Most sites are now able to automatically apply these updates in the background. The update process also has been made even more reliable and secure, with dozens of new checks and safeguards.

Sure enough, two sites that I hadn’t updated to 3.7.1 as of yesterday had the new version automagically bestowed upon them last night.

Can I just say “Wow”?

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Close quarters

I caught this bit of weirdness on the west end of the flower box, as though the Head Rose had ordered everyone to squeeze into a small area:

Roses in a small space

You can tell it’s fall, what with that yellow leaf at one o’clock about to fall off a redbud.

(Other sizes at Flickr.)

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But no smaller

How minimal can a minimal government be? Not very, suggests Roberta X:

Here’s a thought: you’d think if “that government which governs least, governs best” is correct and the closer it gets to zero the better, then a snarled-up mess of a government that can’t do much of anything — a negative value — might be better still; but the reality is that it’s as least as bad as a big, caring Nanny-state, if not worse. (This explains places like Somalia, where there’s actually too many “governments” — warlord fiefdoms, etc. — than too much government.) “Zero” is still a thing approached but never reached; too many people want to make sure their neighbors color inside the lines all the time (and never make the giraffes green or the grass purple), and that’s before you address the irreducible minimum of criminally-inclined individuals.

Combine both those horrible populations — pickers of nits and seekers of graft — and you have, well, the current occupants of Mordor-on-the-Potomac. (I wish I could remember where I swiped that; it’s such an apt phrase.)

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Refined tastes on display

It’s presented as a slideshow, which is an insult in itself, but no matter: the British radio station Classic FM presents 21 of the best insults in classical music. I’ll just quote one, from Louis Schneider on Debussy’s La mer:

“The audience expected the ocean. Something big, something colossal. But they were served instead with some agitated water in a saucer.”

I mention this one in particular because La mer may have been a target more than once. Meredith Willson (The Music Man) once told a story about Erik Satie, who had accompanied Debussy to a performance: after the “Dawn to noon on the sea” movement, Satie is supposed to have said sort of loudly, “I just love that part at about a quarter to twelve.” Debussy promptly unleashed a few French translations of Anglo-Saxon, concluding with accusing Satie of being an inept and unlikable composer. I’m not so sure about this, since Satie is supposed to have taken his umbrage to his desk and pounded out Trois morceaux en forme de poire; but said morceaux were completed in 1903, and La mer wasn’t finished until 1905. Maybe an early version getting an airing?

(With thanks to Rand Simberg.)

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