Wounded birds

“Decimated” doesn’t even begin to describe the parlous state of the New Orleans Pelicans’ health: they started the night with four players sidelined and ended it with six. Worse, one of the casualties was Tyreke Evans, one of their more proficient providers of points, lost in the middle of the third quarter; down by 19 already, the remaining Birds put up a decent effort the rest of the way, but they were sent home with a 116-94 loss. You may have noticed that there has been no mention of their opponent so far in this paragraph, and that’s because the Thunder really didn’t do anything remarkable: they just played their usual game and made sure it was enough.

Okay, maybe there are a couple of remarks to make. We must note the remarkable line by Serge Ibaka, who had 16 points on 6-8 shooting, 10 rebounds, and eight blocks. This is not record-setting material exactly — Elmore Smith rejected 17 Trail Blazers shots in one game for the Lakers in ’73 — but still, that’s a lot of swats. The more worrisome statistic is Kevin Durant’s: yes, he had a game-high 27 points, but he also collected his 15th technical foul of the season. The 16th earns a one-game suspension. Admittedly, there are only three games left in the season, and the clock restarts for the playoffs, but the new, mouthier KD may be in trouble. For Westbrook watchers: Russell played 28 minutes, scored 24 points. Off the bench, Reggie Jackson popped up 11.

Darius Miller and Austin Rivers both contributed 18 points for New Orleans, Rivers playing 40 minutes for the shorthanded (shortwinged?) Pelicans. Evans had picked up 13 before his injury; reserves Alexis Ajinça and James Southerland picked up 12 and 10 respectively. The Pelicans did make some three-pointers (9 of 18, versus 5-13 for OKC), and turned the ball over only twelve times, but Thunder defense picked off most of the rebounds (47-39) and there were those four blocks other than Ibaka’s.

Two road games follow: Sunday afternoon at Indiana, Monday evening at, yes, New Orleans; the season finale will be at the ‘Peake on Wednesday against the Pistons. The Thunder will have to sweep all three to beat last year’s 60-22 record.

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Unfuzzy logic

Jennifer is not impressed by your armpit hair:

Neither feminism nor some photographer is going to make me see hairy armpits as beautiful. Sorry, not gonna happen. You want to grow them out, fine. They’re your armpits to do with as you like. I’m sure it’s because I’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy, but I don’t find that attractive and no amount of edgy photography or handwritten signs is going to change that.

Working definition of “edgy photography” is “Good Lord, don’t let Emily see this, she’s only seven.”

And this particular tango, like most, requires two:

Beauty and attraction take at least two participants, the actor and the audience. If the actor wants to be attractive to a particular audience they will have to conform to the beauty standards of that audience. If person x’s definition of a beautiful woman is tall, blond with big boobs, I’m never going to reach that standard. I’m at peace with that. I fit just fine into other standards of beauty. I will never fit them all and neither will you.

Should I see someone who matches up 100 percent (or even 99.5) to my list of desiderata, I will (1) become immediately suspicious, and then (2) depart hastily, before I start paying attention.

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An inline something-or-other

Toyota is showing off a couple of new engines, designed to be downright miserly with precious fuelstuffs. Here’s some of the release:

One of the engines is a 1.3-liter gasoline engine in which Toyota is employing the Atkinson cycle — normally used in dedicated hybrid engines. Use of the Atkinson cycle provides an increased expansion ratio and reduces waste heat through a high compression ratio (13.5), resulting in superior thermal efficiency. Toyota aims to further improve the fuel efficiency of the engine by utilizing other innovations including an intake port with a new shape that generates a strong tumble flow (whereby the air-fuel mixture flows in a vertical swirl) inside the cylinder, and a cooled exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system paired with Variable Valve Timing-intelligent Electric (VVT-iE) technology to improve combustion and reduce loss.

Pretty neat, if it works, and I tend not to bet against Toyota. The other engine is even smaller:

[A] 1.0-liter engine jointly developed with Daihatsu Motor Co., Ltd. has achieved maximum thermal efficiency of 37 percent due to a similar tumble flow-generating intake port, a cooled EGR system, and a high compression ratio. Combination with the idling-stop function and various other fuel consumption reduction technologies allows vehicles to achieve a maximum fuel efficiency improvement of approximately 30 percent over current vehicles.

The 1.3, they say, will reach 38 percent. Most of us out here in the old Teeming Milieu are getting 20 percent, maybe.

Still, there’s one thing I want to know that Toyota for some reason didn’t put in their press release: How many cylinders? Eventually, Cameron Miquelon at TTAC ferreted out the numbers: the bigger engine has four cylinders, the smaller one three. Not entirely unpredictable, perhaps, but you’d think Toyota would be telling us this up front.

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Leave me alone, but not now

As a species, we like binary — it makes counting so much easier, if a trifle unwieldy — and we especially like to be able to classify people as either A or B. Actual people, however, don’t necessarily fit well into pigeonholes:

Everyone is either an introvert or an extrovert right? Could it be that’s not true — that maybe some people are somewhere in between or a little of both?

Suppose nature made you an extrovert. You like attention and love being around people. But then you go to school and the other kids reject you or even outright bully you. In time you come to feel that being a loner is safer. You discover that being alone with your own thoughts can even be pleasant. You are an introvert. But if this happened to you couldn’t you still retain some latent extrovertedness? Because it’s your nature, crave the company of others and secretly long to be the center of attention but because of your experiences never be comfortable with the attention you crave?

I can speak only for myself here, but I am very much an introvert — unless I have something resembling total control of the situation, in which case I will emerge from my shell. (Those who have encountered me in person on Tour will note that I didn’t have control of those situations, but that I figured it was safe to cede it for the moment.)

Besides, there’s that whole lonely-nights thing, and once you get past a few thousand of them, you start assuming that it’s the default.

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Meanwhile in Corvetteland

UAW Local 2164, which represents workers at GM’s Bowling Green Assembly facility, home of the Chevrolet Corvette, has voted nearly unanimously to authorize a strike:

93 percent of the workers who submitted ballots voted in favor of authorizing a strike. Still, the decision needs to be booted up to the regional and then national levels before any action can actually be taken. Eldon Renaud, the president of Local 2164, seems to think that the strike authorization will serve as a sort of saber rattling, getting the “immediate attention” of the facilities management.

“We’re like everybody else, we’re strike-shy,” Renauld told the media, according to the Associated Press. “Nobody wants to have a strike. Who really benefits by it?”

The union’s complaints:

Renaud said issues involved were safety and quality control.

He said there have been several “near misses” that could have resulted in serious injuries for assembly line workers at the Bowling Green plant. The union also worries that the elimination of quality control positions will affect the integrity of the plant’s quality procedures, he said.

Presumably the “near misses” do not include the sudden appearance of a sinkhole in the plant in mid-February, from which the last car was retrieved this week.

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A report in the public interest

Utility construction has made life difficult for a pub in Truro, despite its reputation as one of the best eateries in all of Cornwall. Their first order of business was to put up a sign to let their customers know that the Wig & Pen was still open, construction or no construction:

The Wig & Pen is open for business

Word spacing, one assumes, was not quite so high on their list of priorities.

The sign is now gone, perhaps because it was mentioned by Ricky Gervais, making some of these same points.

(Via Fark.)

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The primates are revolting

Not that we’re such hot stuff ourselves, mind you:

Kansas City Zoo officials have confirmed with 41 Action News that there are chimpanzees on the loose.

Zoo Spokesperson Julie Neermeiyer says the chimps are in the zoo, in a behind-the-scenes area. It’s unclear at this time how many chimps are on the loose. They are working to determine how they may have escaped.

Zoo visitors have been taken indoors for protection. The zoo has closed for the evening.

Is it just me, or is there something amusing about the humans being locked up while the chimpanzees roam about?

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Zombies would starve

The administration has been conflating health care and health insurance for so long that most people, or at least most people who get TV cameras shoved into their faces, actually believe that the two products are one and the same. So questions like this go unanswered:

[E]levating “being insured” to some kind of holy, sanctified, sought-after-at-any-cost status ignores ways of dealing with things that, nevertheless, don’t qualify as “insurance” on technical grounds. We are constantly told that people who “weren’t insured” would use the ER and Medicaid and whatnot. But now they will “have insurance,” so that’s better. But wait: why is that better? For whom? By what standard? No explanation is proffered. Who needs one? “Being insured” is good and “not being insured” bad, period, say all the Smart People. And nevermind the fact that (in a sense) all those people were “insured,” it just wasn’t by an insurance company, it was by taxpayers-and-whoever.

But I went too far with that “at-any-cost” part, didn’t I? Cost is not even mentioned in the first place. As far as I can tell, I’m supposed to think that increasing the percentage of people who “are insured” (whatever that means) by one basis point is worth spending X dollars — for any value of X whatsoever. The ledger of this retarded debate, as conducted by (retarded) Smart People, has only one side to it.

But there’s one serious problem with these Smart People:

You build a movement by increasing buy-in, and “all smart people agree we’re right” is great for that. To acknowledge contrary evidence — any evidence at all — is to tacitly admit that one isn’t as smart as one claims to be. And who here, in this glorious year 2014, is going to admit that?

Which is why I’ve been arguing for some time now that Republicans need to start arguing, not that liberals are wrong (though, of course, they are), but simply immature… I might not always get it right, but I’m far, far likelier not to get it disastrously wrong. The whiz kid can run circles around me, cerebrally, but there’s no substitute for decades of real-world experience. And it is a truth universally acknowledged, at least by anyone who has ever been around teenagers, that the smartest kids make the dumbest mistakes, because they overlook the most obvious points.

William F. Buckley, Jr. had similar reservations about Smart People:

I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.

Buckley wasn’t always prescient, but he nailed this one cold.

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Wind up

There’s got to be some reason why all the tornadoes around here head straight for Moore, and maybe this has something to do with it:

Areas where landscape shifts from urban to rural or forest to farmland may have a higher likelihood of severe weather and tornado touchdowns, a Purdue University study says.

An examination of more than 60 years of Indiana tornado climatology data from the National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center showed that a majority of tornado touchdowns occurred near areas where dramatically different landscapes meet — for example, where a city fades into farmland or a forest meets a plain.

You mean, something like this?

Google Map of Moore, Oklahoma and points west

Those of us in the middle of the Big Town are even now emitting unseemly sighs of relief.

(Via Instapundit.)

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Peripheral vision

The “desktop” metaphor for our computer rigs fails here:

[I]n the old days of a real desktop, they did not bother extending desks out to 10 feet long in a lame attempt to maximize productivity. Having too many separate sub-areas of the desktop makes it hard to focus on the one at hand. About the only task that truly benefits from two separate areas visible at the same time is manually copying a target document onto a blank one, analogous to dubbing cassettes. Otherwise, the world churned right along — and saw greater productivity gains over time — with just one central work area on their desks.

As a non-multitasker from way back, I can testify to the ease with which I am distracted.

And this is even less comprehensible:

Something similar is going on with the phenomenon of “twenty tabs open at a time,” as though keeping twenty books open on a real desktop would somehow make you absorb information more efficiently. Or as though playing twenty TV channels simultaneously would make for greater entertainment. In Back to the Future II, that was presented as satire; today it has become the unremarkable reality.

If I have more than five or six tabs open, I get antsy (not to be confused with ANSI). I know people who can do ten or twenty or forty; I’m simply not one of them.

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A close clipping

This was one of those games when you wonder just what the heck is going on. For one thing, the Clippers occasionally got fouls called on them, something experience says is nearly impossible. Oklahoma City had a seven-point lead at the end of the first quarter; they ran it to 15 in the second before the Clippers started clawing their way back. At halftime, L. A. had cut that lead down to five. The Thunder then pulled away to a 17-point lead in the third; the Clippers started clawing their way back, and had closed to within nine when Reggie Jackson made a 28-foot jumper just ahead of the horn. In the fourth quarter, the Thunder had a 15-point lead when, yes, the Clippers started clawing their way back; they ran off 14 consecutive points to pull to within one. Creeping fatigue? Radio guy Matt Pinto certainly thought so. In the last minute, it was all free throws — two by Kevin Durant, one by Chris Paul, one by Russell Westbrook — and then J. J. Redick put up a jumper, blocked by Serge Ibaka. Westbrook snagged the rebound, dropped in two more freebies, and that was it: Oklahoma City 107, Los Angeles 101, splitting the season series at 2-2 and leaving the Thunder needing only one more win in four games to clinch the #2 seed in the West.

Durant, in fact, had a sub-Durant outing: 27 points, but it took him 26 shots and ten free throws to get it. Maybe he was the tired guy. Westbrook didn’t seem too worn out, collecting 30 points and 11 rebounds. Ibaka came up with 15 points and four timely blocks — though really, almost any block is timely. And maybe the issue for the Clippers was their lack of prowess at the stripe; they clobbered the Thunder on the boards, 52-44, shot about the same percent (41 versus 42), but made only 21 of 34 free throws while OKC was hitting 26 of 32. That’s a seven-point difference right there.

Blake Griffin got the sort of numbers Blake Griffin gets: 30 points, 12 rebounds. (DeAndre Jordan matched him for boards; Chris Paul tossed in 25 points.) The benches: OKC 26, Los Angeles 25, though Darren Collison led all reserves with 12.

Two and two isn’t the worst road trip in the world, and the Pelicans will be in OKC Friday.

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This gets an #FFF

Some students at Dartmouth produced what they call a “Freedom Budget,” justified by the following:

This Freedom Budget focused on redistributing power and restoring justice for communities who suffered economic oppression at the hands of rich, white power structures. This budget was not a proposal for better interpersonal interactions, but a proposal to transform oppressive structures. Dartmouth epitomizes power being isolated to rich, white males. As such, there is no better place than this campus to campaign for a Freedom Budget that will address the consequences of white male patriarchy today.

Robert Stacy McCain questions that “no better place” bit:

Why are these kids so obsessed with white people? First, it’s “rich, white power structures,” then it’s “rich, white males” and “white male patriarchy” — white! white! white! The repetition conveys the intensity of their fixation, but why? Let’s see: Dartmouth College is in Hanover, N.H., and the census says New Hampshire is 94.4% white. So if you have a problem with white people, maybe Dartmouth isn’t the place you want to be, but since you decided to go to Dartmouth, whose problem is this? It’s as if you moved to Tijuana and then started complaining, “Hey, why are there so many Mexicans around here?”

Oh, but they love Mexicans. Well, except maybe these guys.

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I before E, if you must

I admit that this made me laugh:

The computer came with Chrome and he installed Firefox. I said I didn’t care as long as it wasn’t Internet Explorer and he fistbumped me over that (heh. I guess no one likes that browser).

This may be a case of “nobody likes it, but everybody uses it.” From NetMarketShare:

Screenshot from NetMarketShare March 2014

One might ask, I suppose, how many of those folks using IE actually know they’re using IE?

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While you’re at it

WordPress announced the release of version 3.8.2 yesterday; I was planning to do the update later that evening, but an email around dinnertime announced that the dirty deed had already been done. Three others followed in short order, for some other sites I maintain, and one of them deviated slightly from the formula by telling me that “You also have some plugins or themes with updates available.”

Heck, you’d think that if they could update the whole WordPress core remotely, they could also update those plugins — especially since those plugins are their plugins (Akismet and Jetpack). But this is just grousing; anyone who updated WordPress in the old days, by which I mean before about 2010 or so, isn’t likely to complain about the automatic (or is it Automattic?) core-update system.

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Now featuring a face

Yesterday I posted something about perceived invisibility, accompanied by a picture of someone who was “actually” invisible. This was, of course, motion-picture special-effects work; but for 1940, those were damned good effects. (In fact, John P. Fulton was nominated for an Academy Award for them.)

I was tempted to turn that in for a Rule 5 roundup — she does look good, to the extent that she looks at all, in that dress — but decided that might be a bit too hard to deal with, so here’s the visible Virginia Bruce (1910-1982):

Virginia Bruce at the beach

Really good shots of VB are hard to come by; I am indebted to Dr. Macro for this one:

Virginia Bruce not at the beach

So how does a Hollywood-pretty actress end up in a role where she can’t be seen? It went something like this:

Deadly serious fans of the Universal horror films have never quite come to grips with The Invisible Woman; somehow its screwball farce just doesn’t seem to fit into the rest of the series. They’re missing the point. Invisibility of any sort is bizarre; the original H. G. Wells story was full of weirdly humorous bits, and James Whale’s 1933 film, which launched Universal’s Invisible series, successfully translated that weirdness into visuals. Even the more formulaic later pictures in the series still contained scenes that inspire giggling, and not always by accident.

It was this sort of whimsy that, judging by her previous appearances (consider, for instance, The Shop Around The Corner), you might think would have appealed to Margaret Sullavan, Universal’s first choice for the role of Kitty Carroll. But Sullavan refused to take the part, which got her suspended by the studio, and Virginia Bruce was chosen to replace her. The actress formerly known as Helen Virginia Briggs grew up in Fargo, North Dakota, moved west as a teenager to attend UCLA, but wound up doing bit parts in pictures instead, graduating to leads shortly thereafter. She was thirty years old when she signed for The Invisible Woman. It’s not likely that she considered it anything more than a paycheck, but today it’s one of the roles for which she’s best remembered. Her last appearance was in Strangers When We Meet in 1960, playing Kim Novak’s mother; she died in 1982.

“Appearance,” he says. Haw.

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Baby’s brain and an old man’s heart

Took eighteen years to get this far.

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