D for deflection

Mavs/Thunder games are usually fairly riotous, but usually not to the extent that one of the coaches gets a free pass to the locker room. Tonight Dallas coach Rick Carlisle was T’d up twice, the second for kicking the ball into the stands, though the Mavs didn’t do anything differently in his absence: the entirety of the Dallas offense seemed to be “Get Jason Terry the ball.” Terry was his usual effective self, though Dirk Nowitzki was having an un-Dirk-like night (two of 15?) and both Lamar Odom and Brendan Haywood were missing in action. Meanwhile, the Thunder, who had trailed through most of the first half, sputtered; but in crunch time they came up with both buckets and stops, snagging the win, 95-86.

Thabo Sefolosha is still out, and Scott Brooks, noting that starting James Harden hadn’t been all that successful against the Clippers night before last, came up with the idea of starting Daequan Cook at the two. Cook managed some Thabo-like numbers, and Harden was back in double figures, so perhaps this will be the rotation while Sefolosha heals. Russell Westbrook led the scoring parade with 33; Kevin Durant had 23 plus 13 rebounds, and Serge Ibaka — well, is this technically a double-double? He scored only four points, but got 11 rebounds and ten blocks. And it’s a good thing there was some serious defense on display, because the Thunder shot only 40.7 percent and hit only five of 20 treys.

Then again, the Mavs shot only 35.7 percent and hit four of 19 treys. Nowitzki was held to eight points, half of which came from the foul line. Shawn Marion and Brandan Wright contributed twelve points each, but nobody else broke double digits. No way can we blame this on Carlisle’s brief spate of hotheadedness.

The Grizzlies show up in OKC Friday night, and that’s just the beginning of a hairy road trip: at San Antonio on Saturday, Portland on Monday, Golden State on Tuesday, Sacramento on Thursday and Utah on Friday. The Thunder won’t be back home until Valentine’s Day, and the Jazz aren’t exactly bearing candy hearts these days.

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Tea eldey are

Andrea Harris fleshes out yet another difference between male and female bloggers:

Women like sitting around feeling wistful and sad about what might have been, but as much as we play with the trope, we really don’t believe in our hearts that the Zombie Apocalypse is right around the bend. But the male of the species embraces the nightmare and if he has a blog unleashes his army of teal deer on it.

Well, it’s not a whole army, but:

Teal Dear

(Actually, this isn’t even my Teal Deer; it’s Fillyjonk’s.)

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Out of the manestream

In which I attempt to avoid the entire Valentine’s Day ruckus by hiding out in Ponyville. (Hint: it does not work.)

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The Levolor, the better

I’m not quite sure what to make of this, but making fun of it would seem to be the least I could do:

In a survey by Fitness magazine (that could well have been underwritten by the Federation of Window Blind Manufacturers), almost two in three Americans say they often walk around the house naked.

Now what do they mean by “often”? For that matter, what do they mean by “around”? An unpajama-ed trip from the bedroom to the toilet seven nights a week has frequency going for it, but not distance, unless one of the two rooms involved is in a separate wing of the house. (And we need the date this survey was taken: in North America, at least, there’s probably more around-the-house nakedness in August than in February. Your climate may vary.)

Odds are that this neighborhood nudity has a gender tilt, since 57 percent of women said they think they look fat when glancing at themselves naked in a mirror, while 48 percent of men are thinking, “Dude, lookin’ good.”

These two statements are not strictly comparable, unless the question was worded this way:

    When you glance at yourself naked in a mirror, do you look fat?

    [  ] Yes  [  ] No

I will say here only that between my bedroom and my bathroom, there’s a full-length mirror, and I generally pay very little attention to it.

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How’s your Super PAC?

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When wild in woods the noble savage ran

By now, many of you have seen that quiz from Charles Murray’s Coming Apart, which seeks to quantify how isolated we ostensibly upper-class individuals are from regular folks who might wear tennis shoes or an occasional python boot. Tatyana finds a “curious bias” in the test, suggesting that Murray’s sympathies lie clearly with the underclass:

Most certainly, there are decent, deserving people among the poor — I would know, my family have been poor and so I have, periodically — and not only by American standards. But altogether, as a class and condition, poverty is nothing to praise for. It corrupts the spirit, it makes people miserable, petty, makes them concentrate on getting their daily bread and not seeing wider picture. The notion of “honest/noble poverty” is a myth. A social/economic mobility is a good thing — isn’t what made America great?

I suspect that one’s opinion of that mobility depends on which direction you’re heading. Having gone both ways myself, I am pretty certain that I didn’t feel particularly noble when I bottomed out. J. K. Rowling, speaking at Harvard in 2008, knows the feeling:

Rowling finished the first [Harry Potter] manuscript while working as a language teacher. She went on public assistance so she could feed her daughter, she has said. Her parents also had hard times.

“They had been poor themselves and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that this is not an ennobling experience,” Rowling said… “Poverty entails fear and stress and sometimes depression. It means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships.”

And Tatyana contends:

If I am in a bubble — then those on the opposite side are in a bubble, too: they don’t see me and those like me. And their bubble is not better than mine just because there is a whole swimming pool filled with their bubbles while we are contained in a tiny jar.

Disclosure: My own score on Murray’s quiz was 41.

(Title via John Dryden.)

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A re-Volting development

Maximum Bob Lutz, GM’s original champion of the Chevrolet Volt, says that those damn wingnuts are badmouthing the car for no reason. The worst offender:

[T]he Oscar for totally irresponsible journalism has to go to The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News, with, as its key guest, Lou Dobbs. Amid much jocular yukking, the Volt was depicted as a typical federal failure. In attempting to explain why Chevy has sold fewer than 8,000 Volts, Dobbs states, flatly, “It doesn’t work.” He elaborates, “It doesn’t go fast and go far on electricity. What happens is it catches fire,” adding that Chevy has recalled some 8,000 Volts. Bill O’Reilly, nodding approvingly, helpfully interjects: “So they’ve recalled cars that haven’t been sold.” Boiled down to the subtext, Dobbs’ message was this: “All Volts catch fire, and therefore all Volts have been recalled.” That simply isn’t the case.

The NHTSA, in fact, has declared that the Volt is no more likely to catch fire than any other car, though some people still insist that the fix is in. And recalling cars that haven’t yet been sold is nothing unusual.

Besides, if the Volt were a “typical federal failure,” it would look like this.

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Neither May nor December

The Frisky, with Demi Moore in mind, points to this bit of research, but is tripped up by the dubious title: “Marrying a younger man increases a woman’s mortality rate.” Well, yeah, but:

Health records have shown previously that men live longer if they have a younger wife, an effect researchers expected to see mirrored in women who married younger men.

But a study by Sven Drefahl at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rosktock, Germany, shows that the greater the age gap between a woman and her husband, the shorter her life expectancy, regardless of whether he is older or younger.

(Emphasis added.)

Now to make sure that Roxeanne de Luca — or, for that matter, Smitty — doesn’t see this.

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Neither sport nor utility

Motor Trend has recently completed a year with a Mazda2 — in Kermit Green Metallic, yet — and copy chief Emiliana Sandoval, who wrote their wrap-up report, recommends it for high-school students:

What is bad is the lack of rear-seat and cargo room. Those seats supposedly accommodate three grown-ups, but two kids or tiny adults with stick-thin legs is a more realistic estimate. The cramped space also proves the point that this would be a great car for a high schooler: Nobody is getting lucky in that back seat without being well-versed in the art of contortionism.

I think she’s underestimating the ingenuity of adolescents.

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The perils of auto-update

This site had minor difficulties over the weekend, due mostly to (S)FTP failure: no connections on port 21, or on any of the usual alternates. Nothing to get hung about, as Lennon used to say: it didn’t affect external operations, only my ability to send up files. (WordPress has its own media handler, which may or may not use FTP or its brethren, and which I don’t use anyway.) Other customers of this host were not so fortunate; there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, prompting the Head Honcho to explain what had happened:

We run Debian OS and have used autoupdates to ensure security packages are installed as soon as they are available. We’ve had some breakage in the past from this approach, but nothing major. However last night’s autoupdate went badly wrong, removing essential packages from dedicated, VPS and some shared servers. Our monitoring and support team flagged the issue fast, and we scrambled our admin, dev and NOC teams to reinstall the packages that had been removed by autoupdate, reboot servers, fix package dependencies, and test that individual services were live. Given the number of services affected, this took a long time to complete. Rest assured we had all hands working on the issue, but I know it was still a frustrating experience for customers.

To mitigate the risk of anything like this happening again, we’re immediately switching off autoupdates, and moving to a manual process where we’ll only push out Debian updates after significant testing. There’s always a balance to be struck between speed, efficiency, security and issue prevention, but this event has shown us that we need to take a different approach.

Debian 6.0.4 was released Saturday; it was Sunday when Things Happened.

This has, I assume, nothing to do with the DDOS attack on Monday.

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To strain one’s drain

This is probably not as fabulous a claim as it sounds:

This royal throne will flush a two-inch tennis ball

Whether it will flush a standard tennis ball, which must be 2.575 to 2.700 inches in diameter, is not clear. And if the weatherman is talking about hail the size of tennis balls, he means about 2.5 inches. (Get to 2.75 or over and you’re talking baseball.)

Still, the spirit of the late Allan Sherman doth move over me. In The Rape of the A*P*E* (Chicago: Playboy Press, 1973), he pondered what sort of Commandments he would have were he God, and finally he decided upon just one: “Thou shalt not stuff forty-seven tennis balls into thy toilet bowl.” Explanation:

I planned it so that a sinner would have to go far out of his way to violate my Commandment — and even then there wouldn’t be any fun in doing so.

The local stonecutter refused to carve it onto a tablet, warning that “within three days there will be a worldwide shortage of tennis balls.”

So there.

(Via Criggo.com, which has similarly inexplicable clippings every day.)

* American Puritan Ethic

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We’ve seen this rodeo before

Dan B. at Basketbawful saw this coming:

“The home team won each of the four games in last season’s series, with the Thunder shooting 20.0 percent (8 for 40) from 3-point range and 39.5 percent overall in two defeats at Staples Center.” And that’s against last year’s sad sack Clippers! Not this year’s Super Clippers.

And the home team won this one, big time. The Thunder led 4-0 early on, but that was it: the Clips were up 11 after the first quarter, 18 after the second, and pocketed a 112-100 win.

All five L.A. starters, plus Mo Williams, scored in double figures; Chris Paul had 14 assists, almost as much as than the entire Thunder team. (And DeAndre Jordan had 11 rebounds, so score two double-doubles for the Clips.) Los Angeles kept their shooting percentage over 50 percent all night, and routinely cashed in from beyond the arc (12 of 24). The Thunder did neither of these things, despite 36 (and 13 boards) from Kevin Durant and 31 from Russell Westbrook. (James Harden, starting in place of the ailing Thabo Sefolosha, was held to 7 points.) Scott Brooks threw in the towel at the 1:36 point, and the reserves finished the job.

Next matchup with these guys is in March in OKC. Maybe we’ll have a shot at them then. In the meantime, I’m having a problem trying to figure out how these Clippers managed to lose six of their first 18 games. And the Mavs await in Dallas on Wednesday.

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Resisting spotification

Liz Enthusiasm of Freezepop, on licensing the band’s tunes for new delivery services:

Feeling torn about putting our stuff on Spotify though. I realize it’s somewhat of a necessary evil, but I’m kinda thinking we shouldn’t put *everything* on there. I dunno… I feel like with Pandora, it’s about “oh, they showed me this awesome band” and you can actually get new fans that way. But with Spotify, it’s like “oh, I can listen to some stuff and not have to buy it”. We’re lucky because we have lots of amazing fans who support us, but a lot of people don’t even realize what the deal is with Spotify since they’re “legitimate”. But really, I’d rather people steal our music than have some company make money off of it, and then give us .004 cents. Am I just being cranky and old-school here?

Now I’ve never used either Pandora or Spotify, so I can’t tell what Liz is hearing that makes her feel this way. Anyone with experience with either of these services, please weigh in.

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Ain’t that a Shy’m

This is French singer Tamara Marthe, who performs under the name “Shy’m,” demonstrating that she is, despite the name, not all that inhibited:

Shy'm at the NRJ Awards, 2012

According to the Daily Mail, she’s wearing “a transparent plastic corset with white tinsel-like material interspersed to create a frosted effect.” I suspect the effect it had on the NRJ Awards audience did not involve frost.

This is normally the point where I’d show you a music video, but the one I wanted — the title track from the third Shy’m album, Prendre l’Air — is not, for the moment, embeddable.

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Justifiable expense

Those of us who accumulated 45-rpm singles in what seemed to be mass quantities were always looking for (1) bargains and (2) serendipitous finds. I wrote in 2007 of my own experiences:

[W]hile the newest stuff was always to be found at the Big Stores, there was much joy to be had browsing through the obscurities, not least because they were often cheaper. One common discount-store practice was to bundle three singles, carefully placing one I might actually have heard of on the outside of the package, and letting the lot go for a buck. I picked up lots of old Motown map-label singles that way.

Apparently this practice persisted well into the CD era:

I was a student at the University, living in the far northwest corner of Milwaukee, and about two blocks from the Mainstream Records at Fond du Lac and Silver Spring roads. Which explains where much of my non-tuition grocery store paychecks went in those days.

One of the things they offered was cheap 10-packs of used 45 rpm singles. As I understand it, the jukebox and amusement route guys would pull out-of-date singles from their record machines and they’d get packaged in cellophane and marked a couple bucks for ten. The wily packagers would put one hit record on an end so you could see it was worth it for that record alone, and you’d gamble on finding something you liked in the midst of the pack, too.

These weren’t quite the same retail channels: the three-for-a-buck stuff I bought consisted, not of used jukebox titles, but of cutouts, remainders and overruns, deemed to be at the end of their shelf life, duly marked so you couldn’t return them for full price, usually with a hole drilled through the label area. (Cutout albums had their jackets notched in some way.) Still, the dynamic was the same: out with the old. And the payoff was the same: once in a while you’d find something that might turn out to be seriously collectible.

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Cleansing action

Money laundering seems to be big business in Russia these days:

At least one trillion rubles ($32 billion) left Russia last year in apparent money laundering schemes, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said on Sunday … in an interview with Vesti Nedeli program on Rossiya TV channel.

Where did it all go?

Capital of dubious origin goes primarily to Latvia, Cyprus, Great Britain, Switzerland, France and Hong Kong. Russia is developing interaction with these countries to cut short illegal operations, [Zubkov] said.

Possibly related:

The size of the average bribe in Russia more than tripled in 2011, the Interior Ministry’s economic security department reported.

“The size of the average bribe and commercial payoff in reported crimes increased more than 250 percent to 236,000 rubles ($7866),” it said in a statement.

It occurs to me that the US should start compiling statistics of this sort, since God knows we have plenty of schemers over here.

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