Oh, please track me

When are we going to stop handing over all of our personal information to Zuckerberg and the Googleplex? How about “never”? Does “never” work for you?

Some are saying sooner or later consumers will have to revolt and demand payment for the use of that kind of data, but for now, we’re all idiots and do it for free for them. Personally, I have no hope of any of the average users having the intelligence to realize they’re being manipulated, particularly when they still think liking some post or another will automatically drop a dollar from Bill Gates or whomever into some mythical cancer sufferer or the like.

A lot of them, I suspect, think they’re getting something for free, despite the fact that “free” stuff does not actually exist. (Which explains much of our political discourse, come to think of it.)

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Presumably they are driven

Datsun is back! Well, sort of:

Nissan Motor Co’s revived Datsun brand will target increasing sales in Indonesia, India and Russia, the firm’s chief executive told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s a green car, affordable car, small displacement, high local content,” [Carlos] Ghosn said of the Datsun. “It’s going to be a generous car.”

What it’s not going to be is an American car; there are apparently no plans to offer anything branded Datsun in the states.

Still, it gives me an opportunity to step up the Mr Humble game. In the past, people who seemed impressed for some reason that I drive an Infiniti would be told that “Oh, it’s just a Nissan.” Now I can give them “Oh, it’s just a Datsun.”

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The invaders

It rained rather a lot Monday: as the phrase goes, it was fit for neither man nor beast. It’s not too unusual for neighborhood critters to take temporary shelter on my porch, but this is exceptional:

Bird nest on porch light

(Lots of sizes on Flickr, if this one won’t do.)

I have next to no expertise on the subject of birds’ nests, but I have to assume that this little encampment belongs to the robins, inasmuch as they massed in a nearby redbud and complained loudly when I stepped up close enough to get the shot.

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Bluer notes

The Jazz have been hot, or at least reasonably warm, of late, and they were happy to burn the visiting Thunder tonight, 97-90, Utah’s fourth straight win, and their first (and only, since this is the end of the series) W against OKC this season.

It wasn’t anything special that Utah did, either; they simply out-executed the Thunder for most of the game, including a 10-4 run at the end to foil OKC’s comeback effort. All ten of the Jazzmen scored, and six of them posted double figures, led by Paul Millsap with 20. (Jamaal Tinsley, who’s been in and out of the NBA for years, had 11 off the bench, which may help him stay in a bit longer.) Perhaps the biggest problem for Oklahoma City was Devin Harris, who hit 6 of 10 for 15 points; Thabo Sefolosha was able to defend against Harris, mostly, but Thabo’s not yet back up to speed, and the 15 minutes he got left 33 minutes where Harris more or less had his way. This is normally where you’d hope Daequan Cook would step up, but DC-14 isn’t stepping anywhere for a while: he came down with a knee sprain and did not return.

Nor could Kevin Durant help much: he tossed up bricks with seemingly wild abandon, 6 of 22 for 18 points. Russell Westbrook, who had a better night on the floor, was good for 23, James Harden contributed his usual 17, and Serge Ibaka got the only double-double of the night (13 points, 10 boards). Both sides were turnover-prone — Thunder 20, Jazz 15 — though OKC was not particularly adept at converting those giveaways into actual points. It’s hard to see how Derek Fisher would have helped this situation much.

The Clippers lost tonight at Indiana, so perhaps the best we can hope for tomorrow is that they’re more demoralized than the Thunder. Hey, it could happen.

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You are young and life is long

Fark hung a “SAD” tag on this story:

Forget “Rolling in the Deep,” Adele must be rolling (and doing cartwheels and headstands and maybe even handstands if she’s strong enough) in wads of cash — her album is now seventh in the list of best-selling UK albums of all time.

Adele’s record, 21, overtook Pink Floyd’s 1973 release, The Dark Side Of The Moon, in the list, making it the seventh biggest-selling album of all-time.

On the other hand, no one has suggested synching up 21 and The Wizard of Oz.

The best-selling album in Britain? A Greatest Hits set from Queen, which has moved, says the Official Charts Company (that’s the name of it), 5,864,000 copies, a good 15 percent ahead of Sgt. Pepper’s.

A British acquaintance tweeted (no link, she’s protected) this morning: “Piracy (not) killing music or a less tech savvy demographic?” Piracy, as a threat, is overrated, unless you extend the definition to actual theft of original masters. Hardly anybody bothers with that; even the recent hack at Sony was essentially just a copyfest writ large. And I suspect that the bazillion buyers of (T)DSOTM might have been a touch techier than, say, buyers of Debby Boone.

(Disclosure: I once paid for a copy of “You Light Up My Life.” Better you should know this now.)

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Well red

Fausta on the return of Really Red Lipstick:

Tom Ford has a $48 red lipstick, and JCrew has an $18 one; my all-time favorite is Paloma Picasso’s Mon Rouge, which is no longer made, but you can get the red look for under $10 with Revlon’s Fire and Ice (buy it through the Amazon link so I can get a small commission), which was The Color when it was first introduced in the 1950s. It also has that original first-season Mad Men retro vibe.

Which, to me anyway, has always been that “Kiss me, you fool!” vibe, despite the fact that when Theda Bara — who was always in black and white anyway so she could have worn green lipstick and no one would have been the wiser — came up with that catchphrase, she actually said “Kiss me, my fool!”

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Bows to Holly

As I may have mentioned before, there’s never a bad time to put up a photo of Holly Hunter, and inasmuch as it’s her birthday, well, I do pick up my cues when I’m supposed to:

Holly Hunter on the sofa

And besides, she’s actually doing another film (yes!), with Diablo Cody directing and presumably writing (double yes!):

The wild story follows a young Christian girl (Julianne Hough), who survives a plane crash but is left with horrific burns. With her faith gone, she travels to Las Vegas in order to experience the more sinful side of life, and befriends Loray (Octavia Spencer), a craps dealer, and William (Russell Brand), a bartender. Hunter will play Hough’s conservative and overprotective mother.

There was a working title — Lamb of God — but mercifully, it’s been stricken, to the bewilderment of Captain Obvious.

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Where angels fear the tread

The really neat thing about those “try before you buy” rental stores is that by keeping the payments “reasonable,” it’s possible to sell, for instance, a $500 computer for $1300.

I would not have thought, however, that this premise was extensible to automobile tires:

RIMCO, a division of Atlanta rent-to-own furniture and electronics company Aaron’s, started in 2004 as a destination for drivers who wanted to pimp their rides with trendy wheels. But as the recession reduced customers’ demand for pricey rims, the company looked for other things it could sell that would keep shoppers coming back time and again.

The answer seemed obvious: tires.

And the targeted customer seems obvious: the douchecanoe who’s just inflicted a brand new set of 22s on a poor, defenseless Chevy Impala, and only then figures out that his old half-bald Walmart Chinese-import rubber won’t stretch six inches to fit. You can find half a dozen people like that any day on Yahoo! Answers.

(Via Autoblog.)

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The assumption of privilege

Not that I’m particularly in the mood to throw increasingly expensive fuel on the fires of class warfare, but this paragraph demanded attention:

Observers of human nature have long puzzled over the possibility of an ethical class divide. On the one hand, people with fewer resources and dimmer prospects might be expected to do whatever’s necessary to get ahead. On the other, wealthy types may be more focused on themselves, because money, independence, and freedom can insulate people from the plight of others. They may also be less generous: Studies involving money games show that upper-class subjects keep more for themselves, and U.S. surveys find that the rich give a smaller percentage of their income to charity than do the poor.

This latter point, I suggest, is due to a combination of tax preferences and self-aggrandizement: all else being equal, J. Gotrocks Lucre is most likely to want to clothe his do-goodery in the raiment of the J. Gotrocks Lucre Foundation.

(I am indebted to the lovely Tamara K. for reminding me that you almost never see “lucre” unless it’s prefixed with “filthy,” and that in combination thereof it means “lots of money in the hands of people you think are icky or shallow or otherwise undeserving.” Perfect.)

Still, dishonesty, as George Carlin pointed out, is still the second-best policy, which leads to this:

To see whether dishonesty varies with social class, psychologist Paul Piff of the University of California, Berkeley, and colleagues devised a series of tests, working with groups of 100 to 200 Berkeley undergraduates or adults recruited online. Subjects completed a standard gauge of their social status, placing an X on one of 10 rungs of a ladder representing their income, education, and how much respect their jobs might command compared with other Americans.

The team’s findings suggest that privilege promotes dishonesty. For example, upper-class subjects were more likely to cheat. After five apparently random rolls of a computerized die for a chance to win an online gift certificate, three times as many upper-class players reported totals higher than 12 — even though, unbeknownst to them, the game was rigged so that 12 was the highest possible score.

This is the part that made me blink, though:

When participants were manipulated into thinking of themselves as belonging to a higher class than they did, the poorer ones, too, began to behave unethically. In one test, subjects were asked to compare themselves with people at the top or the bottom of the social scale (Donald Trump or a homeless person, for example). They were then permitted to take candies from a jar ostensibly meant for a group of children in a nearby lab. Subjects whose role-playing raised their status in their own eyes took twice as many candies as those who compared themselves to “The Donald.”

It would be interesting to see just how easily people are manipulated into Synthetic Empathy™.

Meanwhile, it was nine years ago that I said this:

I don’t automatically assume that I have X coming to me by dint of Y; it has always seemed to me that my only legitimate and unassailable birthright is death. And this, I suspect, is not a commonly-held belief; on the contrary, the world seems to be largely filled with people who think that on the basis of some Y or other, they deserve all the X they can get.

Well, X to you, Mister Lucre, and to all the wannabes out there.

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Drop them off in the Sixth Circle

There is, I suspect, no work of literature worthy of the name immune to this sort of thing:

Dante’s medieval classic the Divine Comedy has been condemned as racist, antisemitic and Islamophobic by a group calling for it to be removed from classrooms.

The complaint:

[T]he Italian human rights organisation Gherush92, which advises UN bodies on human rights issues, wants it to be removed from school curriculums, or at least used with more caution, because it is “offensive and discriminatory” and young people lack the “filters” to understand it in context.

Gherush92 singled out some particular cantos from Dante’s masterwork for criticism: Inferno’s 34th, which tells of Judas, endlessly chewed in the teeth of Lucifer, and 28th, in which Mohammed is depicted torn “from the chin down to the part that gives out the foulest sound”, as well as Purgatorio’s 26th, which shows homosexuals under a rain of fire in purgatory. The work, it says, slanders the Jewish people, depicts Islam as a heresy and is homophobic.

You’d think, if Dante were “homophobic,” he’d have dealt with said homosexuals in Inferno rather than Purgatorio. And anyway, Canto XXVI deals with all flavors of lust, straight, gay or whatever.

As for Muhammad, well, the issue for Dante is the division between groups caused by the sowing of discord, which is apparently Ali is dinged for the rupture of the Ummah into Shia and Sunni. Ostensible Christians deserve this punishment as well: see, for instance, Fra Dolcino, as Muhammad suggests Dante should do.

There’s no end to this, I fear.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Improving the experience

It seemed odd to me that Opubco would want to push two entirely different packages of what is essentially the same news product, but having looked at Oklahoman.com, I definitely prefer it to the NewsOK offering, for three reasons:

  • It’s organized more like the paper itself, without the necessity of dealing with the Replica, which is exactly like the paper, assuming you have a suitable vertical monitor, which I don’t.
  • A more relaxed, or at least less busy, design.
  • None of the idiot commenters who clutter up NewsOK.

It’s a premium product with an actual price tag, though it costs nothing extra to us old mossbacks who pay to have the dead-tree edition tossed onto our driveways.

Will this work? I have no idea. For now, though, I like it.

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Unwillingness to claim us

“Be nice to your kids,” says the old joke. “They’ll pick your nursing home.”

Several quote collections credit this to Abraham Maslow, though none of them bothers to cite an actual source for it. Still, there’s serious truth to it, and Francis W. Porretto expands upon it:

The next generation will determine the value of our retirement funds. Not in the naive fiscal sense, but in this regard: Inasmuch as a dollar is only worth what it will buy in the marketplace, our progeny, which will control the levers of production when we retire, will determine what our retirement funds will be able to buy — by producing the goods and services available for our dollars. If they’re less innovative, less skillful, less knowledgeable, less quality oriented, or less inclined to work than are we, the bounties in our marketplace will descend from their current level to … less. So genuine concern for the next generation isn’t just a reflection of what degree of duty we feel for our children; it’s also a matter of self-interest.

I have long suspected that our self-proclaimed cultural arbiters really don’t like children: the little brats cut into one’s time for self-actualization, after all, and the most important, or at least loudest, issue of the moment is keeping those wombs empty by any means necessary. You’d think the little ones were forbidden by Vaal or something.

On the other hand, at least we’re still managing to reproduce at a respectable rate, cultural arbiters notwithstanding:

While almost all of the developed world, and many other nations, have seen plummeting fertility rates over the last twenty years, the United States’ rates have remained stable and even slightly increased. This is largely due to the high fertility rate among communities such as Hispanics, but it is also because the fertility rate among non-Hispanic whites in the US, after falling to about 1.6 in the 1970s and early 1980s, had increased and is now around 1.9-2.0, or slightly below replacement level, rather than collapsing to the 1.3-1.5 level common in Europe.

New England has a rate similar to most Western European countries, while the South, Midwest, and border states have fertility rates considerably higher than replacement. States where The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a strong presence, most notably Utah, also have higher-than-replacement fertility rates, especially among the LDS population.

Replacement level in the developed world is considered to be about 2.1. (Which suggests that around 4.4 grandchildren would be the bare minimum. I am running ahead of that statistic, thank you very much, though I’m far beyond the point where I can claim any credit for it.) Still, I look at the five grand a year with my name on it kicked into the Social Security system, and I have to figure that this might support one retiree for three or four months, max. We’re asking more and more of the youngsters, while doing as little as possible for them; worse, we’re doing as little as possible as expensively as possible. Sooner or later, this, like everything else that can’t go on, won’t.

(Title from the Replacements’ “Bastards of Young.” Because.)

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Pony potables

In the absence of Fillyjonk, who’s taking spring break, I have to assume that there’s a small chance that she missed this little bit of whimsy — unless, of course, it’s a repeat from last year, and I wouldn’t know about that — and therefore it is my responsibility to make sure she sees it. Then again, if I knew anything about responsibility, I would surely have noticed this on the appropriate day, right?

Equestria Daily, one of the earliest MLP:FIM fan sites, occasionally displays a custom banner to celebrate whatever might be going on, and for St Patrick’s Day they had a wild drawing of ponies soused on apple cider:

O'Questria Daily

Clearly Rarity and Fluttershy are not the type to get sozzled under such conditions. On the other hoof, The Great and Powerful Trixie seems to have hoisted more than a few. And I am not even going to speculate as to why Derpy’s in the tree.

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Strange search-engine queries (320)

If you’re new around here, this is a weekly (so far) feature in which we acknowledge the fact that a lot of our visitors come here, not to be entertained by our wit and wisdom or to torture themselves by exposure to the lack thereof, but because they typed something into the Google or Bing or even Yahoo! search box, and it somehow matched something in this domain. During any given week, those searches number easily in the hundreds; here, we present the silliest, and make fun of them, because what the heck else is there to do on a Monday morning?

fugmob:  Combination of “fugly” and “mob,” therefore somewhat superfluous, since all mobs tend to be fugly.

THE disc-break from the DOSUSER:  If you’re old enough to remember DOS, it’s likely you can remember breaking rather a lot of discs yourself, not to mention a CPU or two.

fly like a beagle:  I assure you, time hasn’t been slippin’ into the future that much. Yet.

hoopier:  On the frood scale, the Magratheans are hoopier than, say, the fifty-armed Jatravartids, the first sentient species to invent aerosol deodorant before the wheel.

GET YOUR PASS TO ORGY SEX PARTIES HERE:  Wait a minute, you need passes to those things? And STOP SHOUTING!

SCHMICP DISEASE:  It killed John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmicp, though it wasn’t named for him. One of the symptoms is a tendency to SHOUT!

lowered bra:  Lower it to the floor, and we’ll talk.

why are men unhandy:  Limited experience at lowering bras.

nude men 60-75 years old.com:  Certainly wouldn’t be a dot-org at that age, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

sleeping wife wakened by yobs who impregnate her:  I’m sorry, you want the Daily Mail, just along the corridor.

has someone patten blinker fluid:  It was a joint development with sealed, maintenance-free muffler bearings.

female jeans:  Depends on which side the zipper’s on. (Sometimes.)

zooey deschanel hosed:  Sometimes even when she wears jeans.

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Dampened blaze

Sometimes all it takes is a diligent application of the fundamentals. Still smarting from the drubbing they got from the Spurs, the Thunder buckled down early on, jumped out to a 16-point lead after the first quarter, and the Trail Blazers, the first team to beat the Thunder in OKC this season, were sent back to Portland with a loss. The Thunder won this one going away, 111-95 (note: 16-point difference), and now lead the season series 2-1, always useful against division rivals.

OKC actually shot their way to this win: 55 percent from the floor, 61 percent (11 of 18) from downtown, and we’ll tiptoe past the ten free throws (of 28) they missed. Rebounds: OKC, 43-35. Assists: OKC, 24-15. Turnovers: OKC, 15-12. (Well, you can’t have everything.) Once again, Russell Westbrook took more shots than Kevin Durant, but then he also scored more points (28 versus 26) and didn’t once give up the ball. James Harden was not so wonderful from the floor, but he drew fouls like crazy, and got 11 of his 14 from the stripe.

For the Blazers, sixth man Jamal Crawford scored the most points (23) and tied for most technicals (1, with Kurt Thomas). Portland shot a decent 46 percent, and Raymond Felton was effective, though Nicolas Batum was bottled up much of the night. And LaMarcus Aldridge, always a thorn in OKC’s side, was held to 15 points on 6-19 shooting; that may have been the difference right there, since Aldridge usually thinks nothing of dropping 20 or 30 on the Thunder.

Next: a one-game road swing, to Utah on Tuesday, followed by three at the ‘Peake: Clippers Wednesday, Timberwolves Friday, Heat Sunday. No one who can be taken lightly.

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You think you’re so damn smart

Well, actually, I don’t. And it’s probably a good thing I don’t, now that I think about it.

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