They bite when they can

The Timberwolves started this season with such potential, plus Tom Thibodeau to call the shots. Thibs is apparently adept as ever, but both Ricky Rubio and Nikola Peković are hors de combat, which doesn’t help Minnesota. There are bright spots, of course — Zack LaVine has been shooting like the very dickens this season, and Karl-Anthony Towns seems to have “Next Superstar” stenciled on his forehead, but the Wolves were able to stay with the Thunder only for a couple of quarters today. (Why is there a game starting at 5 pm on a Saturday? Trying to build an NBA audience in Europe, I’m told.) OKC, with a six-point lead at halftime, pounded the Wolves to the tune of 31-19 in the third quarter, and the reserves mopped up at the end. LaVine, guarded largely by Victor Oladipo, never got much traction, and Andre Roberson tied up Andrew Wiggins. This left all kinds of opportunities for KAT, who posted a game-high 33 points on 20 shots, but Towns still wound up -19 for the night as the Thunder walloped the visiting Wolves, 112-92.

Five Thundermen showed up in double figures, led by Russell Westbrook with 28, but perhaps more important to the grand scheme of things was the return of Enes Kanter to Offensive Force status with 20 points and 10 rebounds. New arrival Jerami Grant blocked four shots. And taking the long view, there’s Semaj Christon with 10 points and five assists, not a bad showing for the rookie point guard. The Thunder are still terrible from the stripe — 15-24, 63 percent — but the Wolves weren’t that much better (21-28), and they had only two players in double figures: Towns, with that massive 33, and Shabazz Muhammad, who was 6-9 off the bench for 15 points.

So it’s the Spurs and the Thunder at 5-1, six games in. Probably too early to predict anything. Still, OKC’s next four games are at home, starting with the Miami Heat on Monday, and there’s a lot to be said for the comforting confines of the ‘Peake.

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Is we edumacated good?

A letter to the Oklahoman starts off reasonably and then shoots itself in the foot at the end:

Remember House Bill 1017? Wagering on horse racing? Liquor by the drink? Lottery? All these things were supposed to provide more money for the schools. In addition, 78 percent of our property tax goes to the schools. Irresponsible spending needs to be reined in. Those in power continue to resist school consolidation. Anyone who lives on a budget could tell them that if superintendents were reduced to one per county (with an assistant in the larger counties), there would be money to pay teachers a raise without having to tax the people again. I ask, respectfully and without malice, why classroom teachers are so quiet on the subject when the solutions seem so obvious?

Perhaps they figure that consolidating a dozen school districts into one will cost more than just administrative jobs.

Then the argument goes off the rails:

Here in Krebs-McAlester, we are taxed at 10 percent. The raise would put us at 11 percent. For every $100 we have to spend for groceries, it will cost us an additional $11. There are many who are finding it difficult already. There must be another path to helping the classroom teachers without causing more hardship to low-income people.

Sales tax in Krebs is indeed 10 percent: 4.5 state, 4.0 city, 1.5 Pittsburg County. The tax on $100 worth of groceries is therefore $10. Increasing the tax rate to 11 percent will mean that the tax on $100 worth of groceries will be, um, $11. This is an additional dollar, not “an additional $11.”

If this is the prevailing arithmetic out there, no wonder many are finding it difficult.

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Blinded by the lights

Sunrise has been around 7:50 of late, meaning I get to drive to the shop in the dark. (This changes — briefly — starting next week.) I’d guesstimate that at least 10 percent of oncoming drivers have no idea how to work the dimmer switch.

The Chinese, you may be sure, would not put up with this sort of thing:

Police in southern China are punishing drivers who dazzle other road users with full-beam headlights by making them stare into the lights for a minute, it’s reported.

Shenzhen Traffic Police posted photos of the campaign in action on their official Weibo account. “Tonight we are carrying out punishments using a high beam,” the post reads. It’s racked up 87,000 likes and been shared 93,000 times. The photos show people sitting directly in front of a car with its headlights on.

Official media say drivers are fined 300 yuan ($44; £36) and made to spend 60 seconds in front of the beam. But some news websites have suggested that the headlight element is optional, although it’s unclear why people would choose it on top of paying a fine.

This is not the only nonstandard punishment employed by Shenzhen:

Last year, they made jaywalkers choose between paying a fine or wearing a green hat and vest while directing traffic.

(Via Fark.)

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Party at the polls

There are those who argue, not entirely unconvincingly, that Election Day — the big one in November, anyway — should be a Federal holiday.

Not everyone, however, is buying this premise:

[T]oo many people will take the Monday night before as an excuse to party, and I suspect we will see no increase in turnout, and we already have enough Federal holidays where ordinary people have to work but the banks and DMVs are closed, and there’s no mail delivery.

I think the single biggest argument against it is that it’s a Tuesday. Who the hell wants a Tuesday off?

In defense of the idea, it might suggest to this state, where election planning is scattershot at best, that maybe we don’t need seven or eight little elections every damn year.

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Stranded, so to speak

This little guy literally blew into the neighborhood this week:


Of course, I had to check its papers. The production was Kickstarted in late 2015, and they raised about five times the original goal. A single unit was offered to each backer who ponied up $17; the current retail price seems to be $12.99.

(A tip of the hat, hoping it doesn’t blow away, to Tricia Dameron Hines.)

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The song retains the grain

You know, I wouldn’t blame her if she really couldn’t sing it anymore:

But that was good fun, and hey, the mousy little 13-year-old from the “Friday” video turned out Rule 5-worthy and then some. Recent shots of 19-year-old Rebecca Black:

Rebecca Black outside Time Inc. in New York

Rebecca Black's jeans are ripped

Rebecca Black goes all 80s

This latter shot she described as “my mom, circa 1983.”

And I’m not about to try to explain this:

Then again, it’s CVS. Perhaps no explanation is necessary.

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Not really Scandinavian country

This is the current Little Big Town single, written by one Nils Sjoberg:

The next LBT album, The Breaker, is due out on the 24th of February, the same day the group begins a residency at the Ryman Auditorium. Yes, that Ryman Auditorium.

As for Sjoberg, well, when you think Tim McGraw, I hope you think of Nils.

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Sleekly done

Is this the prettiest dog on the planet?

Tea the Afghan Hound

Well, maybe:

Luke Kavanagh always thought his gorgeous Afghan hound Tea was “far too pretty to keep at home”. He reasoned her beauty, those black long locks, should be appreciated. But even he was a bit surprised when Tea’s picture he posted on social media was shared 1 million times … “I guess people were mostly drawn to [the photo] because of her silky coat coupled with that dignified look that Tea has, but that’s just her being her,” Kavanagh told NewsLocal.

After Tea became an Instagram sensation, Kavanagh was approached by a dog food brand Royal Canin who asked if she would be their “spokesdog.” She also booked herself a gig in an ad campaign for Harriot and Hounds dog perfume. “I am seriously blown away by how far this one photo has gone and the subsequent stories on Tea,” Kavanagh told Bored Panda.

“Even our weekend walks draw a crowd. She pretends she doesn’t need the attention, but she definitely loves it, just like any supermodel.” But other than a few jobs here and there, Kavanagh says Tea is already in retirement.

As is seemingly required of show dogs these days, Tea has a rather complicated registered name: Aust Sup Ch Karakush Black Gold Texas Tea.

(Via The Local Malcontent.)

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Taking in boarders

One of the genuine assets held by Sears Holdings is the real estate occupied by many Sears stores. How to get more out of it? Shrink some stores:

Sears Holdings Corp. said its Oak Brook [Illinois] store is among a dozen stores nationwide set to be reduced by half with their auto centers eliminated or changed into just appliance stores by 2018.

The Sears store and its Sears Auto Center in Oakbrook Center, along with 11 others, were sold to the GGP-Seritage Growth Partners Joint Venture last year.

The nature of the shrinkage:

After the footprint is changed, the Sears store will remain on the entire lower level and continue to serve our (customers) by operating in a smaller, more efficient space that will include home appliances, mattresses, household goods, sporting goods, tools and a targeted assortment of apparel.

One of the dozen stores marked for diminution is at the east end of Sooner Fashion Mall in Norman, Oklahoma.

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A fan to the end, and beyond

There’s something different about one of the 168 chairs at the Oklahoma City National Memorial this week:

Chicago Cubs jersey on an OKC Memorial chair

It’s just what you think it is:

The family of a lifelong Cubs fan killed in the Oklahoma City bombing is helping their loved one celebrate the team’s World Series victory.

After the Cubs snapped their 108-year streak to win the 2016 World Series, Sara Sweet adorned her father’s memorial chair with a Cubs’ shirt.

Sweet’s father, Stephen Williams, worked for the Social Security Administration and was killed in the 1995 bombing. Williams was a lifelong Cubs fan and Sweet reports one of her favorite memories of her late father is gathering to watch the Cubs on TV.

I found this gesture moving, though admittedly your mileage may vary.

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The Oraculling

You can sum up this game in one string of digits: 37-11. The Thunder, who jumped to a 10-point lead in the first quarter and who were still up by one at the end of it, were utterly crushed in the second. It wasn’t entirely the Warriors’ doing; OKC left a dozen points at the free-throw line, and struggling to 40-percent shooting wasn’t happening. Russell Westbrook did manage a double-double — 20 points, 10 assists — but with the Thunder down 25 to 30 most of the evening, Billy Donovan decided to give the newer guys some time. This would never, of course, have occurred to Steve Kerr, who had a hissy fit in the first quarter when one of his troops was suspected of having committed a personal foul. The Warriors won it 115-89, and that takes care of the Previously Unbeaten business.

You want more numbers? We got more numbers. Victor Oladipo, not always great on the road, was pretty darn great tonight, with 21 points on 13 shots — and he got a -25 for his trouble. Domantas Sabonis logged his first double-figure (13 points) line. And Enes Kanter played a whole three and a half minutes, for reasons I can’t fathom.

As for Golden State, some things haven’t changed: Andre Iguodala is still an elite-class defender, Draymond Green still has a temper, and the Splash Brothers are still pretty good at the long ball. The new fellow? Kevin Durant came up with a season-high (then again, we’re still in early November) 39 points, including 7-11 from outside. Then again, there was that time when Kyle Singler (!) shut KD down.

Then again, this was the second night of a back-to-back. (There’s always something available from the Excuse Jar.) It’s back home for the Thunder, who somehow have a late-afternoon date with the Timberwolves on Saturday. Scheduling sometimes makes no sense.

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Some folks do recover

Wikipedia describes one possible cause of cauda equina syndrome:

CES can be caused by lumbar spinal stenosis, which is when the diameter of the spinal canal narrows. This could be the result of a degenerative process of the spine (such as osteoarthritis) or a developmental defect which is present at birth. In the most severe cases of spondylolisthesis cauda equina syndrome can result.

Ann Wheeler, CES suffererI know from spinal stenosis; I had some serious surgery to correct the matter. I did not, however, develop CES. Now I’m starting to wonder if maybe I should have:

A mother who was inspired by a near-death experience to get “body confident” and go on 20-mile hikes in just a bikini and boots is facing a backlash from other women.

Ann Wheeler, from Clayton-le-Woods, Lancashire, suffers from Cauda Equina syndrome — a rare spinal condition that can cause paralysis.

The 59-year-old claims that the post-op experience motivated her to take up walking and wild swimming as natural pain management as she believes it is as strong as traditional painkillers.

Surgery, you may be certain, sucks:

After undergoing a gruelling five-hour op five years ago, Ann explained she technically died after all her bodily functions shut down.

She explained: “A male nurse helped me get out of bed the following day, I said I didn’t feel very well and the next thing I was out. I remember a doctor working on my chest. When I came to he said ‘welcome back, you’re back with us’. I also remember going down a black hole — it was then my bodily functions had shut down. I turned my life around after that — it took six months to get me walking again but now I can walk 78 miles in three days.”

I’m not walking after four months. Maybe I should have had my bodily functions shut down.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Bad, bad request

I was in the process of leaving a comment on one of those Blogspot blogs, and preview mode choked: it didn’t like the link I left behind.

On the basis that maybe I’d fouled up the link, I reformatted it just enough and sent it back through. The site disappeared entirely, replaced by Error 400:

The server cannot or will not process the request due to an apparent client error (e.g., malformed request syntax, too large size, invalid request message framing, or deceptive request routing).

Well, screw that.

In the meantime, this is the link I was trying to post.

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Cross-species metamorphosis

This could only happen in Lost Wages, right?

Vegas is despicable because it’s a place where ants become grasshoppers. You know the parable: the ant works all summer while the grasshopper screws off. When it’s time for winter, the ant has food and the grasshopper has none. Most of us would like to believe that we are the ants of the parable, not the grasshoppers. We drive used cars, we have a budget, we plan and invest and scrimp and save. Then we accompany a friend to Vegas to celebrate his second marriage and we leave $5,000 poorer. Nobody ever brings anything home from that city. Your bags and your wallet lose weight; the flight home occurs in a sort of subdued greyscale haze.

You may recall the tale of the chap who arrived in Vegas in a $2,000 econobox and departed in a $40,000 bus.

I don’t think of myself as sufficiently abstemious for proper anthood, but I have a great deal of trouble imagining myself as a grasshopper.

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Extortion alert

Supercriminal makes off with a 20-percent premium:

Justice has been served for a Farragut High School student after his suspension for buying an extra chicken nugget in the lunch line was overturned.

Carson Koller received the one-day suspension on Monday for buying the extra nugget.

Koller — a senior, Eagle Scout and the captain of the band’s drum line — was suspended for theft of property after he took six chicken nuggets from the lunch line instead of the usual five, to his mother’s outrage.

Mom was indeed wroth:

“How is it theft if he paid for it?” Koller’s mother, Carrie Koller Waller, wrote in a Facebook post. “It’s food. FOOD!!! Not weapons. Not drugs. Not alcohol. Not cheating on a test … I am shaking my head over this and not sure what to do. Laugh, punish, argue, dress him up as a nugget bandit, or let it go.”

For what it’s worth, the bottom of the chicken-nugget pyramid — a Banquet sub-meal with a handful of French fries, $1 at Walmart — contains a full six.

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Let there be defense

Because, you know, there wasn’t a whole lot of offense going on, especially for OKC in the third, a problem that’s been building since opening night. The Thunder led 49-41 at the half, but twelve minutes later were down 66-65. Sixteen-point third quarters, I need hardly point out, are not something you find on the Road to Happiness. And in the Clippers, you have arguably the NBA’s finest thespians: a stray breeze can knock almost any of them to the floor, and several apparently did.

Still, both these teams were undefeated (3-0) coming in, and it was reasonable to assume one of them would still be so at the buzzer. (Compare this to, say, Game Seven of the World Series, which went on for four and a half hours, including a rain delay. Oh, and congratulations to the Cubbies. See you again in 2124.) The Thunder really didn’t lock down, though, until very late in the fourth quarter; a pullup jumper by Russell Westbrook (who else?) put OKC up 85-81 with 18 seconds left. DeAndre Jordan managed a late layup; Chris Paul knocked Westbrook out of bounds. The Mighty Zero somehow missed two late free throws, but only one-tenth of a second remained, and that was the end of that. Oklahoma City Thunder 85, Los Angeles Clippers 83, and OKC remains undefeated. (Who else in the NBA might still be undefeated? Right: Cleveland.)

No triple-double for Westbrook (35-6-5); in fact, the only double-double on the floor was CP3’s, with 15 points — team-high for the Clips — and 11 rebounds. The new guy, Jerami Grant, imported from Philadelphia in a swap for Ersan Ilyasova, played 17 minutes and scored six, not bad considering no one on the Thunder bench scored more than six. (Alex Abrines pulled it off in a mere two shots.)

Up the Coast Thursday, to Golden State, where drama is expected. There might even be some. You never know.

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