Toward a unified theory of ponies

F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby:

“For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.”

You need not read my reveries, but you really ought to take a peek at this:

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Quote of the week

LeeAnn’s forecast for the next ninety days:

My point is, I know, we know, everyone knows, summer weather sucks the high hairy one, Sister Katherine, and no one no one NO ONE needs the fact of the upcoming annual spontaneous undie-combustion festival thrown back in their face when they innocently complain about current unpleasant conditions. But we all know someone who does just that. I bet somewhere in the Great White North (NOT a waisis term, climb down off your Sharpton-sponsored soapbox) there is an Eskimo flinching as his SIL bleats “You think THIS is cold? Wait until November/December/January gets here.” The difference is most Eskimos are readily armed with rabid baby seals, so I hear, and can beat anyone they want to a furry pulp with one and scarcely break a sweat. You know, because it’s cold.

It’s said that the Inuit have forty different words for “This weather sucks.” Or something like that.

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All hail the new Escape

No, no, not that sort of hail:

The 2013 Ford Escape is about to launch soon, and Ford is stuck with 3,500 units that were damaged in a hail storm that can’t be sold as new cars.

The vehicles were caught in the midst of the April 28th hail storm that struck the Louisville, Kentucky area, where the Escape is built. Ford said that the damaged vehicles won’t affect the vehicle’s rollout, but they’re not quite sure what to do with the cars.

“We haven’t determined what we will do with them yet, but they will not be shipped to dealers as new,” said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen, speaking to Automotive News.

At least they’re in better shape than those 4700 or so Mazdas that took an unscheduled dip in the Pacific five and a half years ago.

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Vote perhaps not rocked

I must note here that one of the singular joys of this position is finding something that fits into multiple categories, though I must admit that I never imagined it would be these two.

Anyway, Rebecca Black, who will be fifteen this month, has issued her presidential endorsement — for the president of Mexico, anyway:

Black, whose mother is originally from Mexico, traveled to Morelos, Mexico to endorse the front-runner in nation’s on-going presidential campaign, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). Through an interpreter, Black spoke about the importance of youth involvement in politics and offered supportive words to her presidential pick.

“Peña Nieto is going to do a fantastic job,” Black said.

Peña Nieto, six years the governor of the State of Mexico, declared his interest in moving to the adjacent Distrito Federal last year; he’s a regular José Biden.

It is of course possible to be cynical about this endorsement:

Latina entertainment reporter Astrid Capon claims in her videoblog that Black offered her endorsement because her uncle, Gustavo Petricioli is a city council member for the PRI in the capital city of Morelos state [Cuernavaca]. Capon also says that Black’s endorsement should be embarrassment to the PRI party.

Reaction has been half-fast and partially furious.

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Take this streak and shove it

It ain’t working in the Peake. The Thunder went 8-0 to start the game, fell behind for a couple of minutes either side of the end of the first quarter, and then went into Total Destruction Mode. With five minutes left, the Spurs were down 25 (!), but Pop knew it was a done deal long before that: neither Tony Parker nor Tim Duncan played in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City 102, San Antonio 82, and the Spurs locomotive is at least temporarily derailed. “Now it’s a series,” said radio guy Matt Pinto.

The difference? Loud City, for one, of course. And for another, Thabo. In a wholly expected move, Scott Brooks decided to put Sefolosha on Parker; in a totally unexpected move, Sefolosha played 36 minutes, about as many as he’d played in the first two games. In those minutes, he bagged six rebounds, pulled off six steals, and scored 19 points, second only to Kevin Durant (22). Those six steals contribute to this telltale statistic: the Spurs turned the ball over 21 times, the Thunder only seven. With Thabo doing more of the dirty work, Russell Westbrook was content to move the ball around, pulling down seven rebounds and serving up nine dimes, not to mention ten points and four more steals. Oh, you wanted another telltale statistic? OKC put up twelve more shots than San Antonio, and hit ten more.

The Spurs, mostly due to Stephen Jackson’s sharpshooting in reserve, actually shot better from outside the circle than from within; they put up 26 treys, 11 of which went. (The Thunder went 6-22 from Out There; Thabo hoisted ten by himself, making four, and Durant missed all four of his.) And inexplicably, Manu Ginobili had an off night, by Ginobili standards anyway, collecting five of his eight points from the foul line. Jackson and Parker shared the scoring honors with 16 each.

“We will not be swept!” was clearly the message tonight. It won’t be that on Saturday night, obviously — but it has to be just as emphatic.

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For example, R12D2

Yes, that is a refrigerator on Jennifer’s porch, and it’s not going anywhere:

I tried to get the city to haul it off, but they won’t if the compressor is attached due to “environmental concerns.” They will take it if I pull the compressor and just release the freon all willy nilly though.

Fear of the Feds, I suspect. As long as you assume responsibility for your runaway refrigerant, [unnamed municipality] doesn’t have to.

Although Oklahoma City says they will:

Appliances containing Freon, such as old refrigerators and air conditioners, will be picked up on monthly bulk waste collection day by special arrangement. Call customer service at 405 297-2833 to request the pickup.

Then again, if you discarded the machine because the stuff kept leaking out … but never mind, this is becoming dangerously meta.

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I have no mouth and I must drink

If I remember correctly, Hello Kitty’s first appearance was in the 1970s, so she’s certainly old enough to imbibe:

Hello Kitty Pink Goose Vodka

Although I figured she might be more into shochu, and anyway this appears to be ever-so-slightly ‘shopped.

(From Hello Kitty Hell via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Questioning the beggar

I admit up front that I have never been particularly astute in my dealings with panhandlers, and as a result I tend to behave in their presence as though I were wearing blinders: out of sight, out of mind, and all that.

Then again, this procedure seems to have a lot to recommend it.

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A run for the border, it wasn’t

A doofus in suburban Dayton, vexed that Taco Bell had shorted him a taco, returned to the scene of the grime:

Police say a couple went through the drive through and after the driver noticed he was missing a taco he came back to the window and started yelling at employees. Then he hit the building and took off… He was arrested for felony vandalism.

He wasn’t hard to find, either:

“We were able to track the vehicle fluids back to his house about 2 miles from here. Upon interview he admitted that he purposely hit the building because he was mad they messed up his order.”

Semiprotip: Next time, use the orange coolant, not the green stuff. You can always pass it off as taco sauce.

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Disrupting the limbic system

It’s, well, a limb, and it should not be there. It wouldn’t be there were it not for the Tuesday-night thunderstorms. This is how it looked on Wednesday:

One dead tree limb not quite coming down

The black line starting in the northwest corner is, of course, the power line. Note that the free-standing (ha!) limb isn’t actually touching the line, but it’s pulling down one that is.

This sucker being too unwieldy for me to wield, I put a call out to the neighborhood, and currently it’s in several pieces on the curb. I really need to buy me a chainsaw.

(As usual, the picture is shrunk for this column, but is rebigulated on Flickr.)

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#OccupyGrammar

O wicked Prescriptivist, forcing people to speak, and presumably to write, according to some moldy old rules:

For the individual looking for a higher education or trying to secure a decent job, what seems more humane: Admitting that, ugly, élitist, and unfair as it is, prescriptivism is currently the dialect of power and being able to manipulate that dialect can help you get ahead, or pretending that utopia is at hand, that everyone is a revolutionary, that linguistic anarchy will set you free? The choice to use our natural dialects whenever and wherever we please, to live in a world free of language-based racism and classism, may indeed be a worthy end for which to strive, but it’s also worth remembering that individuals don’t live in the end. They live now.

Whereas The New Yorker, which published this piece on one of their blogs, lives in whatever ancient period still demands an accent aigu on the E in “elitist.”

Nancy Friedman, who has listened to speakers from every percentile, seems to think this whole “dialect of power” business is a load of dingo’s kidneys:

Maybe “prescriptive English” is how the powerful people at the New Yorker speak and write. But as far as I can tell from my sorties into other corridors of power, it sure ain’t how “the system works right now.”

You want to know how “people in power” — company presidents, board chairmen, politicians, and other members of the .01 percent — communicate? I’ll tell you. They say and write things like “between you and I” and “please circle back to Fred and myself.” They write “alot” and “alright.” They say “hearken back.” They use comma splices. They confuse your and you’re, rein and reign. They’ve never met a Business Concept that didn’t merit Promotion through Capitalization. They smiled benignly upon the 43rd president of the United States — a former person of power — when he publicly said misunderestimate and Grecians.

Or is he “a person of former power”? Someone who would insist on that construction, I aver, is in need of swift refudiation.

My usual rule for such things is “What would William Safire say?” Then again, over the years, he probably wound up eating more than his recommended daily allowance of words.

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Nobody’s business, including the Turks’

The Turkish government has declared itself officially out of the theatre business:

Proof of [Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s] intentions is his treatment of visual arts, which Moslem scholars largely forbid as “sinful”. Under very flimsy pretexts, he decided to shut down all publicly funded theatres in Turkey. Of course, they will be “privatized”, but let’s face it. Who is going to buy them in a country where in more than 40 provinces there are no movie theatres? State-funded theatres were the only beacon of modernity in the interior Anatolia, where the clock is rapidly ticking back to Middle Ages.

At, or near, the heart of this particular matter:

[H]is daughter Sümeyye said she was insulted by an actor during a play… Erdoğan, who dabbled in amateur dramatics as a student, has a reputation for wearing his heart on his sleeve. But his tirades against “arrogant, alcoholic actors” and an arts establishment he claims holds ordinary people in contempt have shocked Turkey.

Theatres cannot take government subsidies and then criticise the hand that feeds them, he said. “They have started to humiliate and look down on us and all conservatives.”

Not that this was the only incident:

Then last month’s controversy over an allegedly obscene play was used by Istanbul’s mayor, an Erdoğan protege, to take artistic control of its municipal theatres after a religiously conservative playwright condemned Chilean playwright Marco Antonio de la Parra’s Daily Obscene Secrets without seeing it as “vulgarity at the hands of the state”. The play, an attack on the values of Chile’s military dictatorship, which had much in common with the Turkish generals who once locked Erdoğan up, had been performed more than 70 times without protest, but is now being removed from the repertoire.

One wonders if the Mayor would have liked it any better had he actually seen it. (Or maybe one does not.)

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Meanwhile, in your eyes

Remember the classic Marshall stack? This is evidently the Lloyd Dobler stack:

A metric crapload of boomboxes

My luck, someone will hand me a pen right about now.

(Via FAIL Blog’s WIN!)

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Keir Dullea, gone tomorrow

Riffing off this post from last month, KingShamus defends faster-than-light travel in SF and related genres, starting with a story that doesn’t have it at all:

It could be argued that in the film version of 2001, the most memorable character was all those millions of miles that separated Dave Bowman and Frank Poole from the safety of Earth. That huge distance, which required such long periods of time to cross, was a wordless but constant presence within the film.

And just as capable of offing a crew member as good ol’ HAL, too.

Still, if you pledge yourself to the strictest possible observance of the laws of physics — “186,282 Miles per Second — Not Just a Good Idea, it’s the Law” — you may be unwittingly reducing the size of your audience:

We tend to put up with the trappings and tropes of the genre–pulse rifles, flying cars, powered armor exoskeletons and yes, faster than light travel — because the creators of speculative fiction have made them plausible in the context of the particular fictional universe they’ve created. When done well, audiences and readers will fill in the blanks with some handy-dandy suspension of disbelief. Mix it all together and presto — a totally unrealistic chunk of the story is basically accepted by the folks reading the book or watching the show.

And after all:

[P]eople put up with all the other whacked-out goofy and just plain stupid crap in science fiction.

We will not, for the moment, mention the seven hours I spent this past weekend reading this.

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Slower than the speed of night

The Big Storms converged right over my house at 8:10. I think. The power had dropped by 8:03, and stayed gone for the better part of three hours. (Which meant no cable, which meant the basketball game on the old portable radio on top of the fridge. Now you know why it’s there.)

As of last night before I turned in, I noticed rather a large section of tree out back entirely too close to the power line. If it doesn’t move too much, no problem. (And inasmuch as it’s practically screwed itself into the ground, it may actually fend off threats to the line.) Then again, this is May. Things move. I’ve had entire trees split in half in May.

For now, though, I am grateful to have a relatively unpunctured (we shall see later on) roof over my head. I spotted no hailstones over ping-pong ball size, but they made up in volume what they didn’t carry in sheer heft.

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Second curse, same as the first

Pretty much anything the Spurs did to the Thunder in Game 1, they did again in Game 2: they found holes in the OKC defense, they put up shots you wouldn’t believe — even Manu Ginobili might not believe them, and he was responsible for several of them — and while OKC fought back from a 22-point deficit in the third quarter, they would remain at least two possessions back for the rest of the night, as the Spurs eased out to a two-game lead with a 120-111 win.

The San Antonio offensive machine was in high tune: the Spurs actually took ten fewer shots than the Thunder, but sank six more. If the Thunder doubled them up on offensive rebounds — 16 versus 8 — well, if the shot goes in, you don’t need the offensive rebound, do you? The pesky Texans made 55 percent of their shots, the Thunder only 42. And Tony Parker was in his own private zone: he went 16-21 from the floor for a game-high 34. Ginobili, in a third less tome, racked up 20; both Tim Duncan and Kawhi Leonard posted double-doubles, having snared rebounds in mass quantities.

Scott Brooks had allowed before the game that maybe he should have played Serge Ibaka more on Sunday night. And Serge turned in a reasonable, if not noteworthy, performance. Unfortunately, these are the playoffs, where “Screw reasonable!” is the desideratum. Kevin Durant got 31 points somehow; James Harden got 30, and might have gotten some more had he not fouled out. And did we get the Good Russell or the Bad Russell tonight? We got the Good Russell That Doesn’t Shoot All That Well: he scored 27 on 10-24 shooting and a trio of treys, and didn’t turn the ball over so much as once while serving up eight dimes. If he ever maxes all the categories out, he’s dangerous.

But right now danger has to take second place to figuring out a way to beat the Spurs four of the next five. It can be done. But I’m not lying awake at night thinking up plays.

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