Yes, we have no mechanics

Aaron Robinson, in the April Car and Driver, on some seriously skewed priorities:

Somewhere along the line, America forgot that getting paid to replace a clutch, weld steel, or work a lathe is as respectable a pursuit for a 21-year-old as earning an English degree or carrying an M-16 in Afghanistan. Germany hasn’t forgotten. There, a bedrock system of trade schools preserves the nation’s historic excellence in technical arts. Meanwhile, the country whose welders once built the Saturn V rocket is having trouble finding people who can change an oil filter.

Perhaps they can rebrand the vocational option as “Physical Studies.”

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New cites to see

Paying attention to Twitter — or at least a tiny subsection of it — has provided me with rather a lot of material in the past couple of years, and I’ve cited rather a lot of tweets with the traditional blogoid “Via” line.

Doing it this way, however, falls well short of the style standards of the Modern Language Association, as updated for life (and research) in The Cloud. This is the preferred MLA structure:

Begin the entry in the works-cited list with the author’s real name and, in parentheses, user name, if both are known and they differ. If only the user name is known, give it alone.

Next provide the entire text of the tweet in quotation marks, without changing the capitalization. Conclude the entry with the date and time of the message and the medium of publication (Tweet). For example:

    Athar, Sohaib (ReallyVirtual). “Helicopter hovering above Abbottabad at 1AM (is a rare event).” 1 May 2011, 3:58 p.m. Tweet.

If I ever again have to do any formal research, I’ll keep this in mind.

In the meantime, this is where I read about it.

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Holy Hannah!

How do we know we’re getting on in years? Dakota Fanning is now, um, legal:

Dakota Fanning in UK Elle

Eighteen as of the 23rd of February. The above shot from the UK edition of Elle, given magazine lead times, had to have been taken before that, but it’s clear they weren’t trying to make her look like a kid. Just the same, I’m not sending this up for Rule 5 consideration. I have some rules.

(Before you ask: Sister Elle is thirteen. I suspect she’s going to be the Zooey to Dakota’s Emily, but you didn’t hear it from me.)

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Totally out of sight

I suspect the, um, suspect gave them a blank look:

A 28-year-old Winder [GA] man called 911 on Feb. 17 and said he was invisible.

Which wasn’t the problem, exactly:

[W]hen the deputy arrived at the location he was advised by first responders that the caller did not need medical assistance and this was the fourth or fifth time paramedics had been to the residence in the past couple weeks.

The deputy was told the caller wanted a ride to the hospital “so he could get more medications” because he had taken all the medication he had received the night before.

But that’s not the punchline. This is:

According to Barrow County Detention Center records, the caller has prior arrests for criminal trespass and failure to appear.

“Failure to appear”? Ya think?

(Via Fark, which enjoyed this greatly.)

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Hey, kids, what day is it?

Well, it’s evidently not the best day to buy Swedish furniture.

We are apparently never going to run out of variations on “Friday.” A Pentecostal church in Texas has wrought the inevitable “Sunday” version, and while it’s not the first such, this is the first time I’ve ever seen Rebecca Black mentioned from the pulpit.

And you know, I’d almost be more likely to believe this fabricated Nintendo-related product announcement if it came out on the first of April:

Ubisoft has just announced a new addition for their “The Experience” line, centered around the unmistakable sounds of Rebecca Black! After the massive success of Michael Jackson The Experience, Ubisoft created The Black Eyed Peas Experience and are rumored to be making Lady Gaga The Experience. It only makes sense for them to continue the trend of huge artists and hit music with Rebecca Black The Experience!

Wii so excited, indeed.

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Out to reconnoiter a bit

Hasbro’s Facebook page for MLP was actually asking yesterday: “Friends, where do you go when you’re looking for news about My Little Pony?”

Fortunately, no one comes here. And I’m not even going to point out the irony (if irony it be) of posting this question on Derpy Day.

Addendum: Here’s a sentence I never imagined seeing:

“So wait, what’s a ‘salty, alkaline colloid’?” Rainbow Dash asked.


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Quote of the week

Roberta X on civility, or the occasional lack thereof:

What is clear is once anyone has become so convinced that one of the two halves of the Running Things Party comprises every human vice and ill (and no few I had previously thought limited to the animal kingdom), then there’s no further reason to talk. The attitude itself is what gives rise to purges and pogroms, killing fields and death marches — no matter who espouses it or what virtues they ascribe to themselves and their supposed peers, or even practice. Persons who speak like that will murder you — or hand you over to be used up and killed — if they even suspect you might be a member of a group they loathe; and they will sleep soundly that night. Left, right, center; amoral and “practical” or rigidly moral and unworldly, it doesn’t matter: once that level of dehumanizing rhetoric has infected someone’s mind, they are like an armed landmine. (And at the same time, they are pathetic causalities for whom little can be done.)

Not wishing to land on anyone’s causality (or casualty) list, I keep careful track of my ills and vices; this serves as a useful reminder that I am not necessarily all that and a bag of chips. And the chips are probably stale by now anyway.

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Agent Orange reports in

Lynn contemplates this year’s Pantone Color of the Year, Tangerine Tango, and reminds us that she wasn’t crazy about the name they gave to last year’s color:

Last year’s color of the year was “Honeysuckle”, a lovely pink that was in no way related to the actual color of real honeysuckles, which everyone knows are yellow and white, and occasionally red. I spent all year wanting to have a Talk with the colorblind and/or mentally challenged person or persons who picked and named 2011’s color of the year. Tangerine Tango is a bit disappointing as an orange. (Or is it. There are several different shades of orange in the photos on the Pantone site.) I don’t like it as well as last year’s color of the year but I am glad that whole “Honeysuckle” travesty is over.

Not everyone, of course, defends orange:

There were a number of orange discussions there last year which made me crave something orange. The fact that some people think it’s a terrible color only makes it more attractive to me. It’s a rebellious, in-your-face color and though I’m not an in-your-face kind of person I do definitely have a rebellious side.

How rebellious? At least this much:

Web colour orange, defined as FFA500, is the only named colour defined in CSS that is not also defined in HTML 4.01.

Viktor Yushchenko was not available for comment.

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Rabbit, hat separated

As so often has been the case, there was a statistic to dangle in the players’ (and the fans’) faces: the Thunder had won exactly zero games in Orlando since, well, ever, and after three quarters of this one, the Magic were up eleven. But Thunder fans have learned never to abandon their seats or their TV sets under such conditions, and once again, a rather porous defense suddenly toughened up in the final frame. It is a measure of something that the Magic got off two treys in the last few seconds, and yet the Thunder still won this one, 105-102.

And OKC did this without seriously incapacitating Dwight Howard; Kendrick Perkins basically fought Howard to a draw, and yet Superman still bagged 33 points on 14-20 shooting. (Perk had the edge in rebounds, 11-9.) What’s more, all the other Orlando starters finished in double figures. But the Magic reserves were conspicuous by their insignificance: J. J. Redick, for instance, got one shot to fall all night.

But here’s the pivotal point: Russell Westbrook rolled his ankle with about five minutes left, and played for the next four and a half minutes as though nothing had happened, exiting to the locker room only when he thought the game was safely salted away. (The Blue Blur, +10 for the night, had a double-double, 29 points and 10 dimes.) That taller guy who gets all the shots? Kevin Durant went 12-21 from the floor and cashed nine consecutive free throws for 38 points. And James Harden, all by himself, outscored the entire Orlando bench. Stan Van Gundy, who threw in everything up to and including a 2-3 zone in those final few minutes, must be wondering what hit him. (We know what broke his zone: Royal Ivey hoisted a trey in the face of it.)

So that’s seven straight, the second-longest streak in the league — Miami has won eight in a row, but tonight they’re in Portland, where good teams often go to die — and Atlanta coming up, followed by five games at home. We live in, as the old curse says, interesting times.

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Matters of great import

Okay, some of those imports weren’t all that great, but hey, at least I got to drive them.

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Suppose it gets on your lawn

The American Water Works Association, as I recall usually worth $150 and mortgageable for $75, advises that some water bills may triple over the next couple of years due to infrastructure repairs and improvements:

Currently, the average household water bill is about $335 per year, according to the non-profit, which focuses on drinking water quality and supply.

Small, rural communities are likely to be hit the hardest because there are fewer people to share the expenses of infrastructure projects. Families in these areas are likely to see their bills jump between $300 and $550 per year due to infrastructure repairs and expansion costs.

My water bill runs about $16-20 a month, though I think it’s a safe bet it’s not going any lower. (City utilities, of course, also include sewer, refuse, and other stuff, insuring that I will get no change back from a $50 bill in any given month.)

Not really spelled out: how much of those “expansion costs” will be incurred while existing supplies literally dry up. A friend down in the southwest corner of the state noted that the local lake is down 12 feet from normal; on the national Drought Monitor, they’re somewhere between Extreme and Egregious.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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Mr Jones

LP by Davy Jones before joining the MonkeesA blurb from the liner notes of David Jones, the eponymous LP by, um, David Jones, circa 1965:

Already an established television, stage, and singing star in his native England, David Jones goes on to win new laurels as a recording star with “What Are We Going to Do?” As a young fellow whose chosen ambition was originally to become a top race jockey, David was side-tracked by a spectacular career in the field of entertainment purely as the result of a part-time radio job. Old goals aside, David has set his sights on becoming a top international star of records, stage, television, and films. When you listen to this exciting new album there will be no doubt in your mind that David is well on his way to reaching that goal … and soon!

“What Are We Going to Do?” and two other singles from the LP stiffed in the marketplace, though Jones would become a top international star soon enough. (Do not confuse with Davie Jones, who had already cut a single of the old standard “Liza Jane,” but who eventually decided that he’d be better off with a different name.)

Of course, Jones, who could sing and did passably well on the drums, was picked for the Monkees because he was, um, cute: “I loved the Monkees growing up and Davy was Bieber swoosh before Bieber.” The Columbia Pictures brain trust, in fact, was loath to give Jones the lead on any of the band’s singles, and when he finally got one, it was canceled due to some backroom finagling. (Short version: Don Kirshner had picked the song; the Monkees were rather sick of other people, especially Kirshner, picking their songs; Kirshner put out the song anyway without Columbia’s knowledge; Columbia sacked Kirshner and pulled the record.) However, it still wound up in the TV show, even if it never made it to an album until the Greatest Hits compilation:

Oh, and Davy Jones did finally chart a solo single — in 1971. Of course, he was never forgotten, and he won’t be.

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The least of the West

Bill Quick has a category called “EuroPenises,” which is dedicated, not to the dongs and prongs, but to the “assholes and dumbasses of Europe.” Whatever the anatomical inconsistencies involved, some people absolutely adore those folks on the Continent:

[W]hy do Democrats in government always want things to be like Europe? They’re like those fraternity geeks who come back from one semester abroad drunk on a bar floor in Dublin and suddenly it’s all Nutella on their toaster waffles and insisting that its pronounced BARTH-e-lona and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes. Like Europe is sooooo awesome. Sure, they gave us good stuff — pizza, Pilgrims, half of the French army in our time of need and several opportunities to acquire exciting new sexually transmitted diseases while we were supposed to be fighting wars — but they also have questionable hygiene, smaller roads, crazier people and fanny packs. Not everything Europe does is fantastic, and I’d venture that paying $6 per litre of gasoline is something even Europeans would gladly trade us for.

For an example of the upside of Europeans, the Italians, who gave Nutella to the world, knew what to do with fascists, and they’re making money off Chrysler, which is more that your American private-equity capitalists ever did.

I think the Democrats in question are simply confused by the European Union: they think it’s something like SEIU, only with better potluck lunches.

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Darnell lays it down

Darnell Mayberry, who pounds the Thunder beat for The Oklahoman, hasn’t been screaming about this, so I thought I’d mention it.

First, read this: Russell Westbrook’s journey from community center gyms to the NBA All-Star Game.

Did you like it?

It won last year’s Feature award by the Professional Basketball Writers of America, as announced by PBWA President Doug Smith during this year’s All-Star Weekend.

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Having one’s Phil

We knew the Sixers were good. What we probably didn’t know, and didn’t want to imagine, is how bad the Thunder could be: in the third quarter in the City of Brotherly Boos, OKC managed to miss 18 of 20 shots, scoring a miserable ten points in twelve minutes. The combination of the two should have been an easy Philly win, but the Thunder put together a 15-4 run in the last five minutes, courtesy of some serious defense. It would have been easier, I suggest, had OKC not missed a ton of free throws in the process, but what counts is what’s on the board at the horn, and we’ll take it: OKC 92, Philadelphia 88.

This game was marked by lots of second chances — the Thunder had 19 offensive rebounds, the Sixers 13 — but few actual second-chance points. Despite six players in double figures, Philly shot only 41 percent; still, this was better than the Thunder, which struggled to 38.5 percent after a 50-percent first half and that horrific third quarter. Those who argue that Elton Brand is past his sell-by date should note that the almost-33-year-old forward rolled up a double-double (10 points, 10 rebounds). And third-year shooting guard Jodie Meeks, a game-high +13 for the night, is streaky but fun to watch.

Nick Collison, back from a bout with contusions, played almost twenty minutes; he didn’t score, but he happily gathered in half a dozen rebounds. The Big Guns got their prescribed points — Russell Westbrook 22 along with 13 boards (!), Kevin Durant with 23 — and James Harden once again paced the bench with 16. If you picked the first of March for the date Kendrick Perkins gets hit with a suspension, you just might be right about that; as of tonight, he’s got one technical to go before the hammer comes down, and what are the chances he’s not going to get it against Orlando?

But that’s tomorrow, followed by a game in Atlanta on Saturday and then a five-game home stand.

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Rimsky business

It’s not so much that “Flight of the Bumblebee” is fast, exactly, but gawd, that’s a lot of sixteenth notes. It’s been played in as little as 53 seconds — wondrously enough, by a fellow named Eric Speed — but you know, I think this is probably fast enough:

And no, I was not cruising YouTube looking for “Yuja Wang” + “spaghetti straps.” But I do believe in serendipity.

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