And it’s back atcha, Volume 3

Toward the end of the third quarter, radio guy Matt Pinto made the offhand observation that when the Timberwolves were leading after three quarters, they were something like 9-0. At the time, the Timberwolves had led all night and were up five points. I have to figure that Scott Brooks knew this statistic and passed it on between quarters, because the Thunder opened the quarter with a 16-5 run. Eight minutes in, OKC had outscored Minnesota 25-7. Still, the Wolves are tricky, so Brooks didn’t actually pull the starters until the last minute, when the 113-103 victory was pretty much in the bag.

What happened? Two words: Kevin Durant. Kid Delicious had a triple double, his fourth: 32 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists. Oh, and he blocked four shots. And it helped that the rest of the team didn’t mess up: Serge Ibaka had 15 points and three blocks; Russell Westbrook, 19 points, five assists; Reggie Jackson, 18 points and four assists. (The Thunder bench rolled up 39 points, versus 23 for the backup Wolves.) That final quarter was truly a thing of beauty.

Still, the Wolves machine, when it’s working, is something to behold, and it worked pretty darn well for three quarters. Kevin Martin knocked down 24 points, Nikola Peković 22, and Kevin Love 16; Peković and Love wound up with double-doubles. Minnesota actually outrebounded the Thunder, 46-43. Interestingly, both teams made nine three-pointers, though it took OKC 19 tries and the Wolves 29 tries.

So all three of the teams that beat the Thunder on that ill-fated road trip have now fallen at the ‘Peake. If you told the Thunder they had one job, well, they did it. Six and 0 for the homestand.

The next road trip starts Tuesday at Sacramento, continues Wednesday at Portland, and ends Friday in New Orleans. None of these figure to be particularly easy, and the Blazers, you’ll note, are actually on top on the Northwest.

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Developing north of Canada

The National Weather Service in the San Francisco Bay area is predicting something like this:

Imagine what they’d have to endure if there were an influx of Artic air in Febuary.

(Incidentally, whatever they get in and around the Bay is likely to be several times as bad here.)

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I regret having read this

At least some of this would seem perfectly obvious:

Men most often regret not having sex with more people while women frequently regret having sex with the wrong partner, according to a recently released study.

The study from researchers at the University of Texas and University of California-Los Angeles aimed to show that the feeling of regret is part of the evolutionary process when it comes to reproduction, the University of Texas said on Monday.

“For men throughout evolutionary history, every missed opportunity to have sex with a new partner is potentially a missed reproduce opportunity — a costly loss from an evolutionary perspective,” said Martie Haselton, a UCLA social psychology professor who worked on the study.

Who knew the demand for wild oats was so persistent? How about, um, everyone?

But if men want numbers, women want something else:

The main regrets for women include losing their virginity to the wrong partner, cheating on a present or past partner and moving too fast sexually.

“The consequences of casual sex were so much higher for women than for men, and this is likely to have shaped emotional reactions to sexual liaisons even today,” Haselton said.

And, because something like this requires a punch line:

More women than men included “having sex with a physically unattractive partner” as a top regret.

I have done what I could to minimize the incidence of this particular tragedy.

(Via this Georganna Hancock tweet, in which I attempt to monopolize the thread.)

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But what if…?

An insufficiently mild horror story of teddy bears and piano teachers.

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Sweet little sixteen digits

It’s no particular secret that almost every credit card — there may be an outlier lying out there somewhere, I suppose — has been designed to pass the Luhn test, a relatively simple check-digit routine. It’s no particular trick to come up with a number that appears to pass muster, even if it doesn’t correspond to an actual account, and unsurprisingly, there’s an app for that:

GetCreditCardNumbers comes to your rescue by giving out fake, “real” credit card numbers that can be used when you need one to get a trial underway, you know, like the ones available at Netflix, Hulu and the likes. Well, we say “real” because obviously enough, they aren’t actual real life credit card numbers but merely a collection of digits that have all the right formatting needed to fool a computer into thinking that they make up a proper card number. That is, the numbers have the required issuer identification number and the like, so they’re more than just a collection of random numbers thrown onto a website. In fact, if you need a large number of real-fake credit cards to use, the website will even let you download 100s in a fancy XML, JSON or CSV file.

They certainly look plausible enough. If a merchant actually runs them, though — well, I’ve seen this before, and I recognize most of the error codes on sight.

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Where she had to be

As a general rule, women named “Chanel” don’t drive forklifts. (Not that I have anything at all against women driving forklifts; my daughter used to drive a forklift.) A more likely destination:

Chanel Iman Robinson, known commonly today as simply Chanel Iman, is the youngest and most successful African-American High Fashion Model of her time. The Victoria’s Secret “Angel” is well-known for having positive energy and endless legs that have walked countless runways around the world.

“Her time” began in 2006, when she was only sixteen. (She turns 23 tomorrow.) Herewith, an example of positive energy, followed by an example of endless legs:

Chanel Iman as DJ

Chanel Iman wearing Max Mara

For those worried about Absolute Percentages, Ms Iman is one-quarter (on her mother’s side) Korean.

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In-house, out of mind

I’ve never worked for Walmart, but I suppose if I did, I’d at least sample the Great Value and Sam’s Choice wares. (Some might argue that if I worked for Walmart, I couldn’t afford anything but Great Value and Sam’s Choice, but that’s another matter entirely.)

Yahoo! of late has been trying, really trying, to get its employees to use the newly revamped Yahoo! Mail. No, not at home: Marissa Mayer hasn’t gone that far yet, and probably won’t, given the negative response she got for her call for less telecommuting. But apparently only 25 percent of Y! staff have actually switched to the corporate mail product, clinging, maybe even bitterly, to the devil they know: Microsoft Outlook.

Clearly something had to be done, and that something was a memo from a pair of Y! execs with the satisfyingly snarky title “Windows 95 called and they want their mail app back.” This runs ten paragraphs of varying length, of which I will here expropriate only the fifth:

First, it doesn’t feel like we are asking you to abandon some glorious place of communications nirvana. At this point in your life, Outlook may be familiar, which we can often confuse with productive or well designed. Certainly, we can admire the application for its survival, an anachronism of the now defunct 90s PC era, a pre-web program written at a time when NT Server terrorized the data center landscape with the confidence of a T-Rex born to yuppie dinosaur parents who fully bought into the illusion of their son’s utter uniqueness because the big-mouthed, tiny-armed monster infant could mimic the gestures of The Itsy-Bitsy Pterodactyl. There was a similar outcry when we moved away from Outlook’s suite-mates in the Microsoft Office dreadnaught. But whether it’s familiarity, laziness or simple stubbornness dressed in a cloak of Ayn Randian Objectivism, the time has come to move on, commrade [sic … go deep in this pun, it is layered].

This isn’t the situation for which the phrase “LOL NO” was invented. But it could have been.

(Via Doc Searls.)

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Oh, yes, the UN

I got five of these from someone identified as “John Weta”; curiously, they had spam scores that varied over a factor of four.

The message, however, was pretty standard:


We are solicitors.In the recently concluded 2013 investigations and subsequent arrests of suspected fraudsters in Africa region, in collaboration with the present governments of Nigeria, Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Burkinafaso, England and South Africa, the UN security operatives have so far arrested and prosecuted over 300 government and banking officials and arrest is still going on.

So far, the UN security operatives have also recovered about $5.1 Billion from both cash and accounts.

It is from the address books of the arrested officials that your email address was recovered. Right now, the United Nations (UN) and their Africa Union (AU) counterpart is paying a $1,000,000.00 compensation to those whose emails addresses and other personal data are recovered from these arrested officials, and also paying full contract or inheritance and winning amounts to those with provable information qualifying them as genuine contractors and beneficiaries of funds in the affected African countries.

Which Category do you fall? Have you been getting emails for payments from these countries? OR are you a legitimate contractor and fund beneficiary in any of the affected African country? Please, indicate clearly as you get back to me for proper guidelines and details on how to receive this compensation OR your full payment.


Barrister.John Weta

Burkina Faso. Hmmm. You never hear much of anything from The Country Formerly Known As Upper Volta.

Still, you have to figure that if the UN were actually interested in fighting crime and securing reparations, they’d go out of their way to see that the proceeds, assuming they weren’t deposited in various officials’ accounts, didn’t end up in some First World hellhole like the US.

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And you should feel cold

Yet another reason why everybody is morbidly obese, apart from the desk job and the trans fats and the Pringles:

Keeping your house cool has benefits beyond reducing heating costs, because cold temperatures activate a substance called brown fat that adults carry on their upper back and neck. (Babies have it, too, since they can’t shiver effectively.) Also known as brown adipose tissue, brown fat acts as an internal furnace that consumes many calories, unlike regular fat, which stores extra energy and calories. The only catch is that brown fat must be activated first in order to start burning calories, and cool temperatures can do that.

A new study from Britain links rising indoor temperatures to obesity. Central heating has become common in American and British homes since 1960, and room temperatures and obesity have risen simultaneously.

Not that anyone actually eats more during colder times of the year, like from, oh, let’s say, late November through the first couple of days of January.

This is, I think, the first time that actual shivering has been pitched to me as some sort of health benefit. (Which explains why the homeless live so much longer than the rest of us, right?) I remain persuaded that this is a plot by the Death Panels™ to make us all wish we were dead and thereby save them some work.

(Via Fark.)

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Marked for renaming

Just yesterday morning, I screamed in the general direction of Detroit:

No more farging alphanumerics. Leave that to the Germans and to the Japanese wannabes. Bring “Eldorado” out of the trademark closet, if you have to. This car deserves better than three random consonants.

This blast, of course, was aimed at Cadillac. Now Lincoln doesn’t do three random consonants: they do M plus K plus one random consonant. But even Lincoln can see the light if it’s reflected from the mysterious East:

Should Ford’s VP of Global Marketing Jim Farley have his way — and you happen to also be a resident of China — the next Lincoln to be sold may have a real name upon its backside once more.

Why? The Blue Oval plans to reintroduce Lincoln to the Chinese market, who still remembers when many a government official and president turned up in a Continental; this may also explain in part why the lead car in the funeral for North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il was a Lincoln, if not how it got there in the first place.

Dictatorships, I seem to recall, don’t worry a great deal about official procurement.

Still, this is a China-only thing for now:

Farley believes the concept of non-alphanumeric nomenclatures is worth revisiting, though no current model will receive a proper name for the foreseeable future. Until then, Lincoln’s customer base will continue to need to remember which MK is the right MK for them, unless they want a Navigator, of course.

If you ask me, Lincoln lost its way at the exact point when (1) it had the temerity to introduce an actual pickup and (2) failed to name it the “Town Truck.”

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You gotta keep ’em separated

Any Thunder-Warriors game is apt to be fierce, but this one seemed even more so than usual. Andre Iguodala, who killed the Thunder with a buzzer-beater in Oakland, wasn’t on hand, but sophomore forward Harrison Barnes had a career-high night; Klay Thompson, bottled up for the first half, came alive in the second; and Stephen Curry was, well, Stephen Curry. What’s more, Kendrick Perkins was lost early on — dislocated a finger — and Russell Westbrook might have been perplexed by all that noise about “rust.” With 24.3 left and the Thunder up 104-103, Thabo Sefolosha, unable to retrieve a Kevin Durant miss, settled for fouling David Lee. Lee missed the first freebie, and the Thunder called time out. (Somewhere, Phil Jackson is smiling.) Lee connected on the second, tying the score; Durant’s fadeaway just before the horn faded, and five more minutes appeared on the clock.

Usually overtime starts out fruitful for the Thunder, but they were unable to get much of anything going, and the Warriors ran off six straight points to take a 112-110 lead with 38 seconds left. Half a minute later, OKC was still looking for two to tie; and then Westbrook did unto Golden State what the Ig had done to the Thunder, draining a trey with 0.1 left. The Warriors had one chance left: pitch to the rim and pray for a dunk. KD answered their prayer with a forceful No, and it was OKC 113, Golden State 112.

Radio guy Matt Pinto pointed out that this was the fourth time this season that the Thunder trailed after three and still won. A lot of things have to fall into place to make that work. Here, it was Westbrook putting together a 34-point performance with seven assists, five steals and only one turnover; it was Serge Ibaka double-doubling again with 18 points, 13 rebounds, and three blocks; and it was KD, making up in defense what he was lacking in offense, if you can call a guy who scored 25 (albeit 7-22 from the floor) “lacking in offense.” Oh, Durant also had 13 rebounds and four blocks. Twenty-five of those 113 points came from the bench; the Warrior reserves managed nine.

But damn me if Golden State doesn’t live up to its gilded name. Curry rolled up 32 points on a 13-26 night; Barnes piled up 26 for the first time ever; the three other starters also finished in double figures, though Lee, who averages about 18, was held to 10. Still, both Lee and Curry earned double-doubles, splitting 23 rebounds between them. And Jermaine O’Neal may be old, but he’s ferocious.

Five and 0 for this homestand, and two losses avenged. The third? Let’s see what happens Sunday night when the Timberwolves get here.

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Not diving from the fourteenth floor

I have an occasional tendency to drop into a random page in the archives and then read a couple weeks’ worth, just to refresh the memory and see if my thinking has changed in the interim.

Which in no way inspired Rebecca Black to sit through the original video of “Friday”:

Well, most of it, anyway.

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With six you get ponies

A wondrous artifact over at Pergelator: the instrument panel from a 1929 Hudson Super Six. I got to wondering why a ’29 specifically, and it turned out that this was Hudson’s biggest year ever, third in US sales, behind Ford and Chevy but a smidgen ahead of your choice of Chrysler brands. (Chrysler, in 1928, had introduced Plymouth and DeSoto and bought Dodge; there persists a story that DeSoto was created specifically to use as a club against Dodge, should they refuse Chrysler’s overtures.)

The Super Six was Hudson’s top-selling model back then, and though Hudson, in a fit of corporate apostasy, went to eight-cylinder cars in 1930, the postwar line reintroduced the Super Six, which became their best seller for the next several years, largely because the old straight-eight cost about 10 percent more and delivered only seven more horsepower. By 1951, Hudson was winning races with a 308-cubic-inch six, which in civilian form kicked out 145 hp, more than the old eight, and which the company offered with some serious go-fast parts: the “Twin-H Power package” had dual induction and twin carburetors, offering 160-170 hp, and the factory-racer version (dubbed 7-X) was good for 210. The old eight-holer faded into oblivion. Unfortunately, so did Hudson, which was merged with Nash in 1954 to form American Motors; both brands were killed off after the 1957 model year in favor of Rambler, previously a Nash sub-brand, which was selling better than either.

There is, incredibly, one active Hudson dealer remaining: Miller Motors in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

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Still your best friend

Yours truly, from earlier this month:

I’m not entirely sure what The Last Thing I Ever Expected might be, but there’s at least a reasonable chance that it might be a solo album from a former member of the Shaggs.

Ready! Get! Go!So here’s Dot Wiggin, now somewhere in her sixties, still doing what she did in front of her sisters four and a half decades ago: singing intensely personal, fiercely melodic, idiosyncratic songs that don’t match up to any genre you’ve ever heard of. There is much to learn here, starting with a refutation of this Citation Needed remark in the Shaggs article at Wikipedia:

Reportedly, during the recording sessions the band would occasionally stop playing, claiming one of them had made a mistake and that they needed to start over, leaving the sound engineers to wonder how the girls could tell when a mistake had been made.

Jesse Krakow, who organized the project, produced the recording and wrote the liner notes, is here to tell us otherwise:

I got a package in the mail containing Dot’s handwritten charts to “Your Best Friend”, “My Pal Foot Foot”, “Philosophy Of The World”, and the lyrics to “Banana Bike” and “The Fella With A Happy Heart”. And there they were. The long, non-repeating melody lines, the choppy rhythms, the odd pauses, the unpredictable instrumental breaks, the playful lyrics, the inimitable way that the lyrics, melody, and chords were stapled together. They were all written out. Which was shocking. For all of their supposed ineptitude, The Shaggs (specifically Dot) wrote all their songs down in traditional musical notation. In fact, Dot told us that whenever they performed they always had the sheet music onstage. So to all of those musical experts who love The Shaggs because “they didn’t know what they’re doing”, guess what? They did!

The material here is all Dot with occasional contributions by Krakow, except for “Wiggin Out,” a goofy surf-styled chant assembled by Krakow, and “The End of the World,” which you know from several thousand cover versions already. Apparently it’s Dot’s Favorite Song Ever. There are two tracks bearing the title “Speed Limit,” the first a new Dot song about the Need for Speed, the second (officially titled “Speed Limit 2”) a 1970 song the Shaggs never recorded, turned here into some weird desiccated blues that suggests the need maybe isn’t so important after all. (Dot, we are told, drives very fast.) “Banana Bike,” Dot’s tribute to sister Helen, might be the obvious single here, but the track I keep coming back to is “Eh,” a tribute to diffidence and the avoidance of same, despite its title containing no Canadian content whatsoever.

Why this is on Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label, I don’t know. I don’t really care. But I thank him for turning it loose onto a world that needs the Shaggs’ philosophy more than ever.

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Old MacDonald had a stack overflow

Once upon a time, in the early days of software, there was something called “documentation”: if your program somehow went awry, you were obviously unhappy with the situation, but at least there was an explanation of what had just happened.

Today, however, you’re left to twist in the electron wind:

One of the things the guy in his garage had to do, in order to even have a shot at success, was to go through all his error messages one by one and make sure every one of them accurately described what went wrong, in a way that the user could speedily fix or at least address the problem, with confidence, ALL OF THE TIME. All five hundred of the goddamn things, or ten thousand, or however many of them there were. Not like they were professionally edited or anything. Some of them had appealingly rustic little grammar errors in them, but there was some good old honest-to-God work involved in not confusing or annoying the user, because the user was the customer. Think of a hotel maid doing her best not to completely screw up the room, so the hotel doesn’t get a bad rating on the social media … even though her English is broken, she puts priority on it, and these small-business or one-guy software shops put the same priority on their error messages for the same reason.

Our standards with regard to error messages have slipped to an abysmally low depth. It’s like, nobody even stops to question it any more. The application burbles out some bit of nonsense … “web site does not exist” or “you do not have permissions,” or something else that doesn’t even bear a passing resemblance to what’s really busted. Or what we had going on at work this week, “Error 126.” You take this little string of characters, which amounts to nothing more than a — let’s call it what it really is — SIGNATURE. You take it and Google it and open up some “knowledge base” pages with comments from others who have run into the same error. From that, you figure out what’s really going on. The software publisher might as well insert random snippets from children’s nursery rhymes.

I got a wonderfully inscrutable — yet perfectly understandable — error message from a printer last week:


Bad hammer coil! Bad, bad hammer coil!

The numbers probably would have run out to 130 had there been space on the display panel. A call to tech support yielded up a “Wha…?” An actual tech was dispatched, on the sensible basis that they weren’t going to send out a new shuttle (manufacturer’s suggested retail price, about that of a Nissan Versa) on spec, and the truth of the matter was ascertained.

And that truth was weirdly complicated. There’s a teensy bar magnet superglued into the top of the dust cover. What it’s there for, I haven’t a clue. And at the moment, it wasn’t there anyway: ten years of vibration and dust and more vibration had loosened its hold on the plastic cover, and the magnet made a beeline for the first metallic object within the gravitational field.

Which was the cooling fan for the hammer bank.

Shuttle overheats, inscrutable message is generated, printer shuts down to Not Ready.

Then again, this printer is a decade old. Its younger sister on the platform is prone to coming up with uninformative information like “HALT CW1ZX,” which I tend to interpret as “Cycle the power and hope it goes away.” Sometimes it even does.

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Cruella de Ville

Cadillac’s Elmiraj concept car is something to behold:

Cadillac Elmiraj concept

Will they build it, or at least something like it? For now, it’s a definite maybe:

Last July GM CEO Dan Akerson confirmed that the automaker’s Cadillac brand was working on a flagship sedan larger than the XTS, to play in the big leagues with the BMW 7 Series, the Mercedes-Benz S Class and the Lexus LS, on sale by 2015. While at the recent Los Angeles auto show media preview, Mark Reuss, president of General Motors North American operations, strongly hinted that the big rear wheel drive platform may first appear as a coupe, not a four door sedan. “That’s the car Cadillac needs,” Reuss told USA Today. “You make a statement with a coupe. You don’t make a statement with a sedan.”

One might argue that the statement being made here is “We don’t give a flying Fleetwood what you think about how it looks,” but if a Cadillac isn’t supposed to look distinctive to the point of distraction, what good is it? If your eyeballs hurt, well, there are Buicks for that.

Besides, apart from the oversimplification of the Caddy crest to the point of removing the wreath — to be honest, I still miss the ducks — only one thing really bothers me about this car:

[It] may either have a proper name or be called LTS.

No. No more farging alphanumerics. Leave that to the Germans and to the Japanese wannabes. Bring “Eldorado” out of the trademark closet, if you have to. This car deserves better than three random consonants.

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