Nice C-pillars

Ronnie Schreiber’s day job requires that he check out the auto shows, but there are, um, distractions that must be dealt with:

To be honest, I’m a bit ambivalent about the distracting presence of beautiful women at big car shows. I once asked Andreas Serrano, who does marketing for Maserati of North America, why they have beautiful women on their stand. Serrano, a native Italian, looked at me like I was crazy and said, “Beautiful cars … beautiful women, they go together, no?”

“True,” I replied, “but you like cars and I like cars. You like women and I like women. If you had to pick one to look at, the car would lose.”

The least obvious statement here, I’d say, is that Maserati actually has an Italian fellow hawking their cars in the States.

And on his own site, Schreiber furnishes 3-D pix of the cars — and of the women. At least he’s consistent.

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Strange search-engine queries (364)

Somewhere around a third of this site’s traffic comes, not from the regulars seeking just whatever the heck it is they seek around here, but from random Googlers and Bingers and such, looking for information or edification or, yes, it is true, stimulation. Inevitably, they leave a trail behind them, and on Monday morning we take a little stroll.

i saws Little Feat in 1972:  Cut ’em down to size, didja?

they had so much:  And the Lord saith, Let them be taxed.

Houston nursing positions in Houston:  You probably might want to start looking in, oh, I don’t know, how about Houston?

how to keep people from stealing your pens:  Keep them someplace no one would want to touch them, like, say, in MC Hammer’s pants.

guy with nice thighs:  MC Hammer, maybe?

“Singularly in unilluminating”:  Working title for Karl Rove’s next book.

has anyone ever thought 105 vickie dr in del city was haunted:  No. Never. Not once. Now move along, nothing to see here.

hey can you run a joule thief someone with epilepsy:  You kidding me? Some days I can hardly run the dishwasher.

wad file decals.wad doesn’t have wad id steam:  Wad are you talking about?

emily deschanel bigger boobs:  Doesn’t need ’em.

refusing information:  I should tell you?

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And the Oscar goes to…

When radio guy Matt Pinto starts grumbling about “histrionics,” you know it’s been a rough night. Not that the Pepsi Center is particularly friendly to visiting teams anyway, but there were a couple of instances when you had to wonder if the Nuggets have been taking acting lessons during their none-too-copious free time. (Even George Karl overplayed his hand, and was T’d up for it.) The Thunder trailed most of the second half, then pulled to within one after a 10-0 run. Danilo Gallinari drew a foul from Kendrick Perkins and sank both free throws; Russell Westbrook, in the waning moments of the shot clock, splashed a 27-footer over Wilson Chandler’s hair to tie it up at 109 with 22.9 seconds left, and a Ty Lawson isolation came up empty.

It went back and forth during overtime, though three called offensive fouls (moving screens) for the Thunder proved to be their undoing. Two Andre Miller freebies put the Nuggets up 119-116 at 5.4; half a second later Kevin Durant knocked down two free throws to pull within one; Chandler matched that to make it 121-118, and when a Durant trey fell short, that was the final.

If Denver had a secret weapon tonight, it was bench strength: the five Nugget reserves came up with 57 points, 26 by Corey Brewer. (OKC had 18, all of them by Kevin Martin.) As usual with the Nuggets, the shooting from the floor was good (48 percent), from the stripe not so good (23-34 for 68 percent). But they dominated the boards (50-39) and kept the Thunder out of the paint as much as they possibly good.

Durant-Westbrook Overdrive ground it out, as they will do, splitting 73 points between them. There wasn’t a double-double to be seen, though. (Denver had two, by Kenneth Faried and Kosta Koufos, though Koufos fouled out in 20 minutes.)

But enough. Our condolences to Scott Brooks, who lost his mom this weekend. Will he miss the Clippers game on Tuesday or the Warriors game on Wednesday? I wouldn’t bet on it.

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The deferens is vas

If I were going to design a method of contraception, I would insist on the following:

  • No complicated daily regimen;
  • Infinitesimal failure rate;
  • No massive hormonal adjustments;
  • Effectiveness for a duration of years rather than hours;
  • No TV commercials reeking of imputed fertility.

Such a method, of course, already exists, and has for some time; it is not popular, however, because (1) it gets no television promotion and (2) men resist the idea of blades in the general vicinity of The Boys. Besides, it’s more or less permanent, and people do change their minds, so someone has come up with Vasectomy 2: Non-Surgical Boogaloo, which goes like this:

A doctor applies some local anesthetic, makes a small pinhole in the base of the scrotum, reaches in with a pair of very thin forceps, and pulls out the small white vas deferens tube. Then, the doctor injects the polymer gel (called Vasalgel here in the US), pushes the vas deferens back inside, repeats the process for the other vas deferens, puts a Band-Aid over the small hole, and the man is on his way.

This gel, incidentally, doesn’t do what you think it does:

The two common chemicals — styrene maleic anhydride and dimethyl sulfoxide — form a polymer that thickens over the next 72 hours, much like a pliable epoxy, but the purpose of these chemicals isn’t to harden and block the vas deferens. Instead, the polymer lines the wall of the vas deferens and allows sperm to flow freely down the middle (this prevents any pressure buildup), and because of the polymer’s pattern of negative/positive polarization, the sperm are torn apart through the polyelectrolytic effect [pdf]. On a molecular level, it’s what supervillains envision will happen when they stick the good guy between two huge magnets and flip the switch.

“No, Mr. Sperm, I expect you to die!”

Apparently there is no upgrade path from the, um, earlier version, which is just as well as far as I’m concerned.

(Via two hawt neighborhood women, both of who are spoken for, so don’t assume anything.)

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This copy protected for our protection

I have yet to embrace the ebook. I have, at last count, twenty-six of them, but I have no dedicated player and no plans to acquire one. And I suspect that one of the reasons why might go something like this:

The DRM that comes with the books makes it so that I never feel like I am buying anything and adjusting my price-point accordingly. I am typically uncomfortable spending more than $5 on an ebook, while I will gladly spend twice that for a book that I own.

And why is that?

For $10 or more, I want something I can freely loan out.

Which may explain why I have an HTML-formatted copy of George Eliot’s Middlemarch, which, being 139 years old, is out of copyright so long as Disney doesn’t make a cartoon out of it. (And if they did, they’d probably make Will Ladislaw look like Aladdin.)

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Imported from Bohemia

Lambskin sandals by ChanelThe Wall Street Journal, for some inscrutable reason, was featuring this bizarre sandal by Chanel in a piece about “The New Bohemians,” whoever they may be. It’s not very pretty, but it compensates by being fiendishly complicated: I suppose it’s theoretically possible to design a shoe that would take longer to put on than these do, and, as I’ve noted before, I yield to no one in my fondness for strappy sandals — but too much of a good thing too often yields a thing less good. And if you ask me, the only thing worse than a thing less good is a thing less good that costs something like $2,175. (Okay, it’s made out of lambskin fercrissake, but face it: at this stage of advanced fugliness, you start to feel a lot more sympathy for the poor underaged ungulate who gave his life for no discernible benefit.)

Fausta, with the tango in her soul and the legs to die for, looked at these, and what she remembered was not the classic hippie-chick vibe that’s supposedly being celebrated by those WSJ goobers, but something, um, entirely different.

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I’m sorry, I don’t understand that

Over the years, voice-recognition technology has improved from “completely farking useless” to “mostly farking useless,” which is not, in my opinion, a major gain. Part of the problem is that it’s hard to isolate voices from background noise, and besides, not all of us speak as though we’d been through several years of television-network-level de-accenting.

But there’s a larger issue involved:

[M]any times, what I and many people may say to our computers is anatomically and theologically impossible.

And perhaps inadvisable. Someday — probably Tuesday — some poor slob on Windows 11 (or so) is going to be served up a dozen Microsoft patches, after which an all-too-familiar dialog box will appear, and he’ll yell “Reboot, my ass!”

You think Redmond will cover his medical bills? Not a chance.

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He’s right here waiting

Note to self: Do not piss off Richard Marx:

As I wrote in a story last week on the Morning News, Marx — the Chicago-born singer best known for the 1980s soft-rock hits “Hold On to the Nights” and “Right Here Waiting” — demanded a sit-down with me after I called him “shameless” in a blog post for a local TV station’s news site.

“Would you say that to my face?” he emailed me. “Let’s find out. I’ll meet you anywhere in the city, any time. I don’t travel again until the end of the week. Let’s hash this out like men.”

And oh, the hash that followed.

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Learn your gozintas

A study indicates that math is easier if you’ve memorized the easy stuff:

Students who excel at math use rote memory to solve simple arithmetic problems, while weak students calculate, concludes a new study, “Why Mental Arithmetic Counts” [pdf], published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

This works also for those of us who are well past the study stage: you’d be surprised how often I have to remember routine two- or even three-digit multiplication products.

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Do it again, just a little bit slower

Well, technically, it doesn’t have to be slower.

It was Trini who introduced me to Coverville, a semi-weekly (mostly) podcast by Brian Ibbott, devoted to the propagation of new — new to me, anyway — versions of old songs. I think I started listening around episode #510 or thereabouts; there have been more than 400 since, and I’ve discovered lots of fun stuff.

The usual term here is “cover versions,” but purists of a certain stripe prefer to restrict “cover” to a version made at approximately the same time as the original with the specific intention of going after a different market niche: everything else is a “remake.” Since most of this expropriation in the early days of rock and roll consisted of white acts redoing black R&B originals, and often as not placing higher on the charts, the R word is routinely trotted out. I demur, and always have:

Rock orthodoxy holds that black R&B = good, while white attempts at same = somewhere between pathetic and insulting. This pronouncement today is considered every bit as obvious as, say, there being four other guys in the Dave Clark Five; after all, Alan Freed never played those awful white cover versions. The argument can usually be summed up in two words: Pat Boone.

And it can always be refuted by pointing to, for instance, the Diamonds’ “Little Darlin’,” a decided improvement over the Gladiolas’ original, or the Beatles’ “Twist and Shout,” which isn’t even in the same universe as what the Top Notes had recorded earlier. John Lennon learned this song, though, from the Isley Brothers’ cover, which originated as an effort by Bert Berns to show that upstart Phil Spector what’s what. (And speaking of the Isley Brothers, they cut a very sharp cover of “Love the One You’re With.”)

Michele Catalano distinguishes covers and remakes differently in her list of the 10 Best Cover Songs and Remakes. A cover is just a cover, but a remake is a remodeling:

I’ve always said, if you’re going to remake a song then really remake it. Don’t just re-record what the original artist put down. Take that song and make it your own. Turn it on its head. It’s even better when an artist takes a song completely out of their genre and does something spectacular with it.

The archetype here, perhaps, is Jimi Hendrix’ utter transformation of Bob Dylan’s acoustic — and rather wan — “All Along the Watchtower.” Eventually, Dylan himself was working bits of the Hendrix rearrangement into his live shows.

There was a brief scandal this week, when the cast of Glee unleashed a version of “Baby Got Back” in an arrangement that owed a lot to Jonathan Coulton’s alt-country revamping. Coulton, for his part, is wondering just how much is owed.

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Lose the glove or the fist

Jeff Brokaw has decided that Stephen Stills’ “Love the One You’re With” doesn’t suck as much as he thought it did:

I used to despise the lyrics to this song too — and it is kind of a mess musically, too. But on closer listening, I decided it is not about cheating while your girlfriend is away, it is about a guy who’d been dumped, and so he figures, correctly, that pining for a former love (or “bitch” as the case may be) that dumped you is a poor choice when there is another young lady right next to you.

I believe this interpretation to be correct, though it would be interesting to find out the state of Stills’ on-again-off-again relationship with Judy Collins at the time he wrote it. And anyway, he didn’t make up the conditional in the chorus: that was a Billy Preston concoction.

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Whatever she’s having

Like rather a lot of models, Annalise Braakensiek is tall: officially, five feet, ten and a half inches. Unlike rather a lot of models, she’s a tad top-heavy, which fact motivated her to design a lingerie line a few years back. And it’s green, she says:

“No toxic ink, organic cotton, organic bamboo, sustainable produce, the swingtags are recycled cardboard and even attached with organic twine. As eco-friendly as I can possibly make it.”

Which I guess one should expect from a lady of Norwegian extraction who grew up on a commune in New South Wales.

I have no idea if she’s wearing her own creations here:

Annalise Braakensiek

Annalise turned 40 last month. She’s presumably done something with her hair since then.

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Cuban embargoed

After three quarters, it was Oklahoma City 81, Dallas 72. The Mavericks bench, understandably, saw this as intolerable, and in six minutes they’d made up the entire deficit and then some. A brief period of teeter-totter, and then Kevin Durant, who’d gone cold earlier in the quarter, started drawing fouls; he made eight free throws in the last two minutes, butting the Thunder up three. Vince Carter dunked with seven seconds left to close the gap to one; Russell Westbrook followed with two more free throws. O. J. Mayo came through with a trey at :02.3, tying it at 105, and Durant’s 20-footer went awry.

Of course, the Thunder love overtime. At :16.5, Durant made a 13-foot jumper to go up two; Westbrook added a free throw at :02.7; Carter got off the last shot, which fell short, and it was OKC 117, Dallas 114 at the horn.

It was good to see Dirk back; it was even better to see him not doing particularly well. Nowitzki was 5-19 for 18 points, though he did knock down eight of nine free throws. Mayo, always better at home than on the road, went 6-16 to get his 18 points. But the stats-gathering guy was Carter, 29 off the bench, a season high. The entire Thunder bench had only 21, versus 49 for the Mavs. (Elton Brand had the one Dallas double-double, with ten points and 13 boards.)

Then again, even 49 pales beside Durant’s career high: 52 points, 13-31 from the floor but 21-21 from the stripe. Throw in 31 from Westbrook and suddenly you’re not worried so much about scoring, although Serge Ibaka did come up with some timely moves, 11 points and 14 rebounds. OKC dominated the glass, 53-46, 18-11 offensive, though they were outshot by the Mavs, 45-41 percent.

(Oh, you wanted a Telltale Statistic? Durant, despite those 52 points, was -1 for the night. Tough crowd in Dallas, let me tell you. Mark Cuban sets the stage well.)

This was the first game of six on the road. And look what’s coming up: the Nuggets on Sunday, the Clippers on Tuesday, the Warriors on Wednesday, the Kings on Friday and the Lakers on the following Sunday. It’s gonna be a long month.

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Quote of the week

Michele Catalano, on the joys of having your Twitter follower list decimated:

At some point after I all but ditched twitter, I realized I missed it, and had a little heart-to-heart with myself about it. What good was twitter for me? What did I enjoy about it before the million followers (which had now “dwindled” to about 920,000)? What was twitter good for.

Well, it was good for making friends, meeting new people, discovering how many talented people are hanging around the internet, getting to do stuff with some of those talented people, having friends to visit wherever we travel, telling offensive, horrible jokes and letting a million people know when I’ve gotten my period.

There it was. I joined twitter for the conversation, for the ability to connect with people who enjoyed the same warped sense of humor, people who liked hockey and baseball, people who enjoyed talking about music and people who liked to banter back and forth, to engage.

My own interests vary a bit, but my motivations are precisely the same, apart from that whole “period” bit.

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An Australian newspaper tries out Facebook Graph Search, and says it’s “taken the pain and skill out of searching for people worthy of a public shaming.”

Among those people, says the paper, are Rebecca Black fans:

Facebook Search screenshot featuring people who like Rebecca Black

“The identity of these Rebecca Black fans have been protected. For shame, people.”

Last I looked, there were 168,383 of us, not all of whom saw her last Friday on Ricki Lake’s show. (Although the clip to watch is this one, in which she says nothing but makes some curious faces.)

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Where do I apply?

On my Facebook page, I describe my position as “Lead Lackey.” There being no subordinate lackeys, or minions even, this is not particularly impressive. Then again, I wasn’t smart enough to get the Chinese to do the scut work for me:

[A] U.S. developer actually did find a way to fool everyone at his company into thinking he was working, while in fact outsourcing his entire job to China.

Andrew Valentine wrote up the case study for Verizon, and the story apparently caused such a furor it temporarily crashed the Verizon servers.

Eventually the loafer was caught:

[T]he BBC notes the ingenious scam came to light after the employee’s company asked for an audit to investigate “anomalous activity on its virtual private network (VPN) logs” that pointed to an active VPN connection between Shenyang, China, and the employee’s workstation that appeared to be operational for months.

Should have had his flunky (or flunkies) work up a floating botnet to blur the trail, if you ask me.

(Trini sent me this, knowing what it would do to my blood pressure.)

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