And then there was 4

The lounge room in the dorm had a classic old-style console stereo, in which the furniture was arguably worth more than the audio componentry. Still, it could blast when we wanted it to blast, and one of the albums we blasted on a regular basis was the first album by Santana, the one that finished off with the fearsome “Soul Sacrifice,” a song the band had had the audacity to play at Woodstock before they’d ever put it on wax. I snagged a copy for myself, grabbed the next one (Abraxas) the day it came out, and waited intently for the third.

Santana IVAnd now, after all these years and lots of lineup changes, the original band brings us a fourth:

Santana will release their highly anticipated album Santana IV with the return of the band’s original lineup.

Carlos Santana (guitar, vocals), Gregg Rolie (keyboards, lead vocals), Neal Schon (guitar, vocals), Michael Carabello (percussion) and Michael Shrieve (drums) have come back together for the first time in 45 years to record what is, essentially, their follow-up to Santana, Abraxas and Santana III. All three of the original albums went two-times platinum while Abraxas achieved three-times.

Santana IV features 16 all-new tracks written and produced by the band that burst with the same unparalleled energy and musicianship that made Santana a pioneering force in world music and a household name across the globe. Joining the core band in the studio are current Santana members Karl Perazzo (percussion) and Benny Rietveld (bass), with the legendary vocalist Ronald Isley guesting on two cuts.

By jingo, I’m interested. And for the, um, record:

Santana IV will be released on April 15, on Santana IV Records and is distributed by Thirty Tigers/RED Distribution. It will be available for pre-order on Amazon in CD, Double 180 Gram Vinyl with Download Card and Digital configurations.

Already got the pre-order in.

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Beyond “birthers”

Now here’s a losing loser who loses:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How can I change my birth certificate so that no one finds out I was born in a city with a Spanish, not Anglo-sounding name?

The justification offered for this is totally absurd:

I’m sorry, but this is a problem some of us face. I know a lot of fine people who have to cover up the fact that we were born in cities in the USA with Spanish names like San Francisco, Santa Barbara, San Diego, Santa Cruz, etc.

It is not refined. Places like Newport, New Haven, Manhattan, etc. are refined. I don’t want to be associated with a place that has a name derived from people who are Romanist in religion and whose colonies are not of the right social standing.

Update: Yes, but a birth certificate can be forged. Sorry, but I will not go through life with a birthplace associated with Roman Catholicism, spicy food, and antagonism towards the British Crown.

Shorter version: “My parents weren’t WASPs, therefore my life is ruined.”

Troll possibility: Rather high. Then again, someone who would go to this much trouble to come up with an incredibly stupid tale of woe doesn’t have much of a life anyway, by definition. Once I get the time machine working, I’m sending this doofus back to 1884.

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Never heard of you

I had fun putting this together, because not only had I never heard of her until yesterday, but her notability has been questioned by Wikipedians, meaning her entry is subject to deletion at any time.

With that in mind, meet Felicia Brandström, twenty-nine today:

Portrait of Felicia Brandström

Felicia Brandström up against the wall

What reputation she has, apparently, is based on her appearances on Idol 2006 in Sweden, in which she made it to the final four before being eliminated. Just about all of those appearances have been YouTubed, though, so let’s look at a couple of them. First, doing the Corrs’ “What Can I Do”:

But that’s not the performance that grabbed me. This is:

While Caesars’ original is fairly ubiquitous, having shown up in commercials, videogames, and what have you, I’ve never heard anyone else sing it. (And Caesars were a Swedish band, so it’s no surprise Brandström would have known it.)

She got to the Top Five on the strength of a couple of Motown covers, survived one more round, and then, well, bye, Felicia. I have no idea what’s happened to her in the nine years since. She has one credit in IMDb, for När karusellerna sover (“When the carousels sleep”), the 1998 installment of Sveriges Television’s Christmas Calendar, but after Idol, the trail ends.

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Exception noted

Monday morning, Twitter was glitching all over the place, prompting this observation:

I’d say that Brian J. begs to differ, except for the fact that I can imagine no circumstances under which Brian J. would beg.

Anyway, I put up a correction.

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You say you have more than one room?

I swear by the antique Honeywell Eyeball thermostat, one of which I’ve lived with for at least half my life, including twelve years here at Surlywood. It is not programmable in the least, unless you consider twisting its dial a form of programming. But the newer ones that talk to your smartphone suffer from one of the same limitations as the Eyeball:

[T]hey only measure temperature in one spot. Now this wouldn’t be a problem if you had only one room in your home, but chances are your house is a little bit bigger. If you do have a home with more than one room, you inevitably have hot and cold spots.

Yea, verily. My bedroom (with windows on three walls, mind you) is about 2°F warmer than the rest of the house in the summer, 2°F cooler in the winter. If I were sufficiently exercised about this to want to do something about it, there’s this contraption:

I’m not sure I want a thermostat so smart that it knows when I’ve moved from the office to the bedroom and tweaks the system accordingly, but rampant gadget-happiness might counteract at least some of my paranoia.

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More arbitrary levels

Bill Peschel had to go rooting, so to speak, around his Web site:

I had received an email from HostGator telling me that they couldn’t back up PlanetPeschel because of “inode,” which was about as unhelpful a message as one could get.

Fortunately, HostGator had a page explaining what the heck inode means. In plain English, I have too many files on my shared hosting. More than a 100,000 of them. They don’t mind my having them, they said, they’re just not going to back up all of them. And if you get to 250,000, they warned me, I’ll have to pay them and make some changes.

(Shared hosting, if I remember right, means my website’s on a server with a bunch of other sites.)

This is indeed what shared hosting is. I have it. I have five sites on that machine, but I’m not alone.

Anyway, this surprised me. I’ve got a lot of files on Planetpeschel, but 100K?

Depending on what the cache has done lately, I have somewhere around 25,000 files.

I have a different backup issue. On my WordPress installs, a plugin called wp-db-backup gzips up the database and emails me a copy once a week — except here. The issue is that this database is freaking huge: on the order of 75 megabytes. Doesn’t sound like a lot for nearly 20,000 posts and about two and a half comments per, but the catch is that gzip brings it down to 21 or 22 MB — and the host’s email facility won’t handle anything in excess of 20 MB. Workaround: while I’m not working on the site, I set the backup to run manually, and drop the resulting gzipped file on my desktop.

Bill’s excess-files problem, however, isn’t related to this at all:

I have a plug-in on WordPress called Autoptimize, which saves bits and pieces of the site to call them up quickly. Turns out my settings told it to save a lot of files. Like, 65,000 of them.

Once I got rid of them, HostGator thanked me and said they’ll back up my site next week. Everyone’s happy (except me; I had to put a note down on my calendar a week from now to check my inodes and see if they’re swelling again).

I hadn’t heard of this plugin, so I went looking:

Autoptimize makes optimizing your site really easy. It concatenates all scripts and styles, minifies and compresses them, adds expires headers, caches them, and moves styles to the page head and can move scripts to the footer. It also minifies the HTML code itself, making your page really lightweight. There are advanced options and an extensive API available to enable you to tailor Autoptimize to each and every site’s specific needs.

Which sounds nice. Then there’s this:

If you consider performance important, you really should use a caching-plugin such as e.g. WP Super Cache or HyperCache to complement Autoptimize.

Hmmm. I went straight to the caching program, myself. It saves bigger pages — full-fledged HTML static pages — but a lot fewer of them.

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Arbitrary levels

Bozi Tatarevic complains about the audio system in the Subaru WRX:

The volume control starts at 0 things and ends at 40 things (take that, Spinal Tap), but it needs to be turned up to 25 things before you can figure out if its playing anything at all. Passing anything over 34 units of thing will cause the speakers to emit horrendous crackly tones.

It would be nice if they standardized these things, but that’s not going to happen.

I have two different audio devices with numerical readouts for volume: the ancient (1999) JBL Harmony, which sits beside my work box, and a brace of Cambridge Soundworks Model 88 radios. The JBL’s volume control runs 0 to 40; typical office volume, with the computer’s sound card set at three-fourths of maximum, is about 25. I’m assuming the 88s will go to 99; the loudest I’ve ever tried was 97, and that was on FM interchannel noise. (Fear of something, either damage or deafness, had set in by then.) Typical radio volume is 35.

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Working it at both ends

Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, was not all that keen on having an opposing team this close by. But Cuban, if you press him, will allow that Mavs-Thunder games are generally more than satisfactorily watchable, and tonight’s, played in Dallas, was pretty fierce, particularly in the second half: OKC, down eight at intermission, laid a 37-18 beatdown on the Mavs in the third, and then watched uncomfortably — they had to be watching, judging by some of the defensive lapses — as Dallas shaved that double-digit lead down to a single point with 1:06 left. Kevin Durant jumped up with a bucket, and the Mavs bombarded the rim, to no avail. “Everybody got good looks,” noted Dion Waiters, “but they missed.” Oklahoma City 109, Dallas 106, 3-0 in the season series.

Waiters did his part, with 13 points and four of OKC’s 47 rebounds (the Mavs had 33). Steven Adams somehow messed up his elbow during the warmup, and Nick Collison got his first start of the season: six points, 11 boards, a very Adamsesque line. Durant had a team-high 24. But the real point-gatherers were from the home team: Chandler Parsons (26) and Deron Williams (22) were responsible for much of the last-quarter heroics for Dallas, and both Parsons and Dirk Nowitzki (14) contributed to that last Maverick fusillade.

I note the following for reference: (1) Billy Donovan seems to have shortened the rotation to nine, and Kyle Singler (10 points tonight) is definitely back in it; (2) according to Forbes, this Thunder team is worth $950 million, a fair chunk of change for a small-market squad, ranking 17th among 30 NBA teams despite that smallness. (First season, back in 2008-09: $300 million, less than the $350 million paid to acquire the team.) The Mavs, in a much bigger market, are worth $1.4 billion, ranked ninth, and you might guess — correctly — that the Knicks are at the top of the financial ladder. The Thunder will play those Knicks on Tuesday, weather permitting. (The Brooklyn Nets come first, on Sunday afternoon, with the same caution.)

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Multiple death syndrome

I’ve been wanting to know this myself: Why is Leslie Nielsen STILL dead?

This week there have been waves of online sympathy over the passing of actor Leslie Nielsen prompting many to quote their favourite and most memorable lines from films such as Airplane! and The Naked Gun.

The only trouble is Nielsen actually died in November 2010 aged 84.

That didn’t stop thousands of online users sharing this BBC story without checking the date and so it appeared that Nielsen had just died.

As a result the article popped up in the “Most Read” section which resulted in even more people sharing it. And the snowball rolled on gathering weight. Many people shared their own personal tributes on Twitter and then felt foolish when they discovered the truth.

One possible explanation:

[I]f a person’s celebrity is below a certain level some of their fans may have missed news of their original death. And if they randomly search to find out whatever happened to a star, they may discover a report of their hero’s death, but not notice the date stamp. And so another snowball starts rolling downhill.

It’s chaos theory making its presence known via social media. An entirely innocent variation of the Butterfly Effect.

Fortunately, it’s easy to check up on Abe Vigoda.

(Via Fark.)

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Too much monkey business

A proposed replacement for Curious George:

If I had art talent, I’d do a series of children’s stories called Chuy the Chupacabra. It would be a lot like Curious George, except that it would treat children about the intricacies of interaction with the government. Instead of an episode where George goes to the pancake supper and starts making pancakes when he shouldn’t but everything ends happily and he’s invited to make pancakes again next year, Chuy will make tacos and someone is going to call the Health Department and the Taco Festival will be canceled and lawsuits will cause the organization throwing the benefit to have to shutter its doors.

Might as well get the youngsters prepared for Harsh Reality.

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So judgmental of them

We’ve talked about Judgmental Maps before, and most of the time, the residents of the areas mapped seem to take them in stride.

But God forbid they should ever show up at City Hall, at least in sanitized-for-your-oppression Austin, Texas:

City officials in Austin have launched an internal investigation, and placed one staffer on leave, after a satirical map was used as part of a formal presentation.

The map labels Austin neighborhoods, describing East Austin, for instance, as “Blacks Resisting Gentrification” and gays who live in North Austin as “boring.”

City transportation officials used the map as part of a presentation Tuesday to the zoning and platting commission. City Manager Marc Ott learned about it afterward and took immediate action.

Here’s the full map. I’ve posted the Oklahoma City equivalent, which if nothing else suggests that we sprawl even more than Austin does.

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To my everlasting horror

Trump Temptation by Elijah DanielThe following statements should have been obvious, but I admit to having given the matter no thought up to now:

  1. There exists Donald Trump fanfiction.
  2. There exists sexually explicit Donald Trump fanfiction.

As Dave Barry is wont to say, I am not making this up:

He was a billionaire, I was a bellboy, can I make it anymore obvious?

It all started one fateful afternoon in summer of 2012. I was working as a bellboy at the Trump Hotel in Hong Kong on an internship program. This was my first time in a big city. It was all I could have ever dreamed of, and more. But little did I know, it was all about to change.

I think I’d have bought it just for the Avril Lavigne reference.

At a buck ninety-nine for ten pages, it’s a rather pricey sort of prank, but what the hell. This is my Amazon review:

Amazingly scurrilous and vulgar, and therefore perfect for the subject matter at hand. And it’s short enough to enjoy in between — um, never mind, let’s not get too specific here. Suffice it to say that Trump fanfiction was inevitable, even (especially?) from nonfans, and this one delivers a cohesive story in full compliance with the infamous Rule 34.

At the time I submitted that review, the average was 4.7 stars out of five. We are truly doomed.

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Bring out the leg irons

I have no reason to think Hillary Clinton will actually end up in jail. That said, the merest possibility has to be considered:

Even if she avoids prosecution, the steady drip of bad news seems to be dragging her campaign down to the point where even a clown like Bernie Sanders can beat her. I feel pretty confident that the Democratic Party will not let Sanders win the nomination by default. They will find someone respectable to try to salvage some dignity. Bernie Sanders makes Jeremy Corbyn look like a sober realist so he cannot be allowed to win.

Thinking about it further, I can’t think of a plausible alternative. Joe Biden is the only guy who comes close to being respectable. Fake Indian is not giving up her safe Senate seat to run. There’s no one in the Senate that is famous enough to make it work, unless someone is willing to run just to help the party avoid embarrassment.

That leaves governors and there are a few who could be thrown to the wolves as they are nearing the end of their careers. Mark Dayton from Minnesota comes to mind. He hates Americans and has nothing else going on. Jerry Brown would be entertaining, but he’s basically Bernie Sanders with an interesting life.

I just hope nobody thinks of Terry McAuliffe.

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Only a light possibility

You can’t pass a bill without introducing it, and Rep. Harold Wright (R-Weatherford) has prefiled this for the 2016 session:

A. The standard time in Oklahoma shall be known as Central Standard Time.

B. This section shall not be construed to affect the standard time established by United States law governing the movements of common carriers engaged in interstate commerce or the time for
performance of an act by an officer or department of the United States, as established by a statute, lawful order, rule or regulation of the United States or an agency hereof.

C. As authorized by the Uniform Time Act of 1966 as amended and notwithstanding any other provisions of law to the contrary by the United States government relating to adoption of daylight saving time by all of the states, the State of Oklahoma elects to reject such time and elects to continue in force the terms of subsection A of this section relating to standard time in Oklahoma.

If passed, this measure would become effective on the first of November, five days before DST ends for this year.

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Change and hope

Most American coins, I can recycle into the vending machines at the shop. Pennies, though, pile up in a cardboard tube that used to be a collection jar for a charity forty years ago. And right about now, it’s getting full, so it’s time to go through this process:

[C]hange is just the drippings from money already spent; the sawdust from your logs of liquidity. Few would be willing to separate the coins and pack them into tubes as was the case in the Ancient of Days. Fewer still maintain their own change counting machines. It’s just not worth it since the dollar became the new quarter sometime between 2008 and now.

Coinstar is the answer. For a mere 10.9% of your money it will convert your change into a strip of paper which can be redeemed for groceries and real currency at the cash register. Coinstar is also a very entertaining store machine, one of the few that gives you back something for your effort. It’s a kind of reverse slot machine (with similar sound effects) in which you win every time, minus 10.9%. In addition it shows its work on the screen. You tilt up the slide and let the coins shuffle in to a satisfying series of clinks, clunks, and clacks, interrupted every so often with a clunk as the Coinstar spits out an item it cannot accept. In front of you the screen shows the actual ascending numbers of pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters, half-dollars (rare), and silver dollars (hunted to extinction). Then you get your voucher and off you go to shop with … “FREE MONEY!”

I have long believed that the only reason the half dollar continues to exist is to back up an entry on the Hail Size Table.

My little cardboard tube holds a bit over $6 in pennies. I suspect it’s holding about $5.99 for now.

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Smut by the smattering

I’m not claiming that I’ve never looked at a Feelthy Peecture, but there are times when I fail to understand the appeal:

The world’s largest porn website, Pornhub, just released its annual review of country-by-country data on porn searches and consumption. By percentage of traffic, the United States was Pornhub’s biggest 2015 consumer, followed by the U.K., India, Canada, and Germany. The most-searched term on Pornhub last year was lesbian, followed by teen, stepmom, cartoon, and milf.

Getting all five of those into a single work would be — um, never mind, let’s not go there.

And there are the, um, national preferences:

The Italians are the only consumers for whom footjob and feet make it into the most-searched. In Brazil, some of the fastest-gaining search terms include Pokemon and Scooby Doo. In Russia, my little pony was the 7th most searched term last year.

Somewhere in that paragraph is something to make almost anyone go “Ewww…”

But this is the part I really appreciated:

Canada, notes Pornhub, “is one of the few countries that does not feature its own nationality as a top searched term.”

Oh, those [insert adjective here] Canadians!

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