In which we make no mention of Brick City

Nets, n. pl. The braided fabric sort-of-cylinders that hang from the basketball hoops: “Neither Oklahoma City nor New Jersey demonstrated any consistent ability to put actual balls through the nets.” (dustbury.com, 21 January 2012)

The Thunder’s last visit to New Jersey — next year, they’ll be visiting Brooklyn — was rather easily summed up: neither Oklahoma City nor New Jersey demonstrated any consistent ability to put actual balls through the nets. OKC shot a mediocre 41.6 percent (four of 17 treys), but New Jersey tossed up a horrendous 31 percent (three of 23). Avery Johnson probably tossed up something just watching it (not) happen. The 84-74 final suggests a titanic defensive struggle, but actually it was a series of miscues; the Thunder just had slightly fewer of them.

Telltale statistic: In 26 minutes, Nets center Mehmet Okur had nine rebounds, which is decent, and zero points, which is less so. Deron Williams and MarShon Brooks managed 14 points each, though it took them 35 shots to get those 28 points, and all ten of their three-point attempts clanked. Kris Humphries, at least, seemed focused, perhaps [rest of thought redacted to avoid unnecessary Kardashian references].

To beat this, all the Thunder had to do was not suck, and for the most part they didn’t, though Kevin Durant really doesn’t have to take all those three-point shots — at least, all the ones he missed, which tonight was all of them. (Six.) Still, KD had a double-double, with 20 points and 15 rebounds, Russell Westbrook dropped in 21 points, and Serge Ibaka blocked five shots, making the Nets’ woeful shooting look even more so. Still, this is the kind of night it was: the Thunder were assessed two T’s, and Kendrick Perkins got neither of them.

Williams Report: Of the four Nets named Williams, Deron (see above) got 14 points, Shelden 3, Shawne a DNP-CD, and Jordan was off playing in the D-League.

And so ends the sweep through the East, though the Pistons will be showing up Monday for the first half of a Thunder homestand. (The second half comes Wednesday, against the struggling Hornets.) After that, it’s off to the West Coast, and there goes my sleep schedule.

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Dimed, then nickeled

EarthLink sends along this little pleasantry:

We’re writing to let you know that your prepaid EarthLink service term will soon expire.

If you’d like to prepay for another term and continue to enjoy a special discounted rate, just contact a friendly Live Chat representative at:
http://support.earthlink.net/chat

Or you can call us at [number redacted].

For your protection, please do not send us payment information by email.

Please note: if you do not set up a new prepay term your account will be automatically switched to a monthly billing plan. This will ensure your EarthLink service goes uninterrupted.

I’m pretty sure if Dale Carnegie were running an ISP, he wouldn’t run it this way.

I went through this once before. The friendly Live Chat representative has evidently been tasked with “Sell more services or else.” There’s no other reason why a routine which takes a matter of seconds — how hard is it to change an expiration date? — ends up sucking twenty minutes out of the day. This is one of those cases where it’s worth $14 just to avoid talking to someone.

(See also these delightful experiences.)

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Readying the Party Cannon

When you’re a scientist, you can look at a stack of, oh, let’s say, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic Valentine cards, and almost immediately come up with an experiment:

It’s actually kind of interesting which characters they use in “heavy” rotation — there are more of Pinkie Pie, Rainbow Dash, and Applejack. I suppose those might be the most popular with kids, I don’t know. They had only one with Fluttershy (and in my mind at least, FLUTTERSHY IS BEST PONY) and NONE with Rarity. (poor Rarity.)

Actually, this brings up something I thought of the other day: it would make an interesting data set for a chi-square contingency table analysis to get different age-groups of fans (I was thinking of the Ponies, but it could be fans of anything that spans a wide age group) and ask their favorite character, and do an analysis to see if different age groups prefer different characters. (My gut feeling is yes: Fluttershy seems to be enormously popular with adult fans, but I suspect Pinkie Pie or Rainbow Dash is more “relatable” for a lot of children. And perhaps a lot of the kid fans don’t like Rarity? I might not have when I was a child…she does seem a bit uppity at times).

Pinkie, it seems to me, has what a kid might think is the ideal job, and Dashie what a kid might think is the ideal superpower. And I’m thinking that generosity, which is Rarity’s Element of Harmony, is not the easiest concept for really young children to comprehend.

It might be worth nothing that at the MLP:FIM Wiki, the dropdown list of Popular Pages includes “Characters,” “Episodes,” “List of ponies,” and four ponies: Fluttershy, Twilight Sparkle, Pinkie Pie — and Derpy.

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But it’s just a show

Topless Robot has a list of the 9 Most Upsetting Characters in Mystery Science Theater 3000 Movies, though it easily could have been 19 or 90; as author James Daniels says, “after 10 seasons of the show, loathsome performances abound, and despicable characters are a dime a dozen.”

By that estimation, Torgo from Manos: The Hands of Fate falls about eight and a half cents short, but hey — he’s satyr-rific!

Yeah he’s creepy and sketchy and looks like he has the kind of B.O. you can literally taste, but we love him anyway!

Not to mention that John Reynolds, who portrayed him, is easily the best actor in the film (though being the best actor in Manos is a lot like being the tallest building in Wichita). He might have actually had a future had he not committed suicide at 25, just before Manos was released.

And some day you’ll get to see him in greater detail: Ben Solovey is restoring an original print in high definition, and a bit over $30,000 has been pledged to support the effort. (The original budget for Manos was reported as $19,000, though 1966 dollars, as I recall, were quite a bit larger.)

Incidentally, the Epic Center, at 325 feet, is the tallest building in Wichita.

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Scenic Lane

If you ask me, which of course you didn’t, the only reason to watch the Golden Globes, or most any other award show for that matter, is to check out the couture, and after looking at several dozen gowns, I decided to single out this lovely Reem Acra number wrapped around Diane Lane:

Diane Lane at the 2012 Golden Globes in Reem Acra

Tomorrow’s her 47th birthday. Is she aging well? “She makes me want to stab myself in the ear,” says despairing Fug Girl Jessica.

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More jop than pazz

Of late, the best thing about The Village Voice has been the annual Pazz & Jopp poll of critics, which has been going on since the Seventies, for most of that time presided over by the eminent Robert Christgau. Singles are ranked by number of mentions by the 700 contributors; hop of the teep — um, top of the heap — was Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep,” and deservedly so. (She probably couldn’t have had them all, but she did get 116.)

A total of 604 singles from 2011 rated at least one mention. Today being Friday, you know where this is going, so: yes, Rebecca Black’s debut single did make the poll. In fact, it tied for 51st with 11 mentions, alongside Beyoncé’s “Love On Top” and Drake’s “Take Care.” One of the mentioners was Marc Gilman, who opined: “Never mind the kitsch factor. ‘Friday’ had a hook that stuck like a talon.” Exactly so.

Although I must mention this singular mention, for “Anything but ‘Friday'” by “Anyone but Rebecca Black”:

Fun Is Fun (Fun Fun Fun), but Enough Is Also Enough. Let This Serve As A -1 Vote to Counteract Somebody’s Winking Support of It.

As Eric Hilliard Nelson would say, “You can’t please everyone.”

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Whackers tallied

What goes around comes around, we are told, and Kate Harding is predicting the eventual return of the unenhanced, reasonably sized, never-even-once-exposed-to-pharma-spam dingus, though she concedes that for the moment this is not exactly a burning issue:

Most people are too busy enjoying the current era of well-rounded male characters and very little schlong in their mainstream cinema to give a thought to any alternative. In this regard, they are most selfish. After all, practically every movie has a pair of naked tits on a two-dimensional lady character in it these days, and if I know anything about equality, that means we should all be clamoring for more wooden male characters, if you get my drift.

Besides, artificial embiggenment is a health hazard:

MayoClinic.com says that penile implants carry numerous risks, including that “in some semirigid devices, internal parts can break down over time. In inflatable devices, fluid can leak or the pump device can fail.” Yikes!

That’s enough of a quote for the Yikes! of me.

From my standpoint, as it were, I think increasing the peen frequency in motion pictures would produce two salutary results: it would provide eye candy for Ms Harding and her friends — not an inconsiderable virtue, that — and it just might dissuade J. Random Perv from distributing low-res photos of his low-rent junk from his high-speed mobile device. Guys, for the most part, hate the competition, unless they’re certain they’re going to win.

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

Addendum: I am informed by an Extremely Reliable Source that Ms Harding was poking fun at a Slate piece by Simon Doonan, specifically this one.

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Strike while the rod is hot

Once again, the topic of discussion is twofold and highly Googleable: “Robert Stacy McCain” and “speedo.” Note that “speedo” is not capitalized; we are not, in this instance, referring to the scanty swimming (yeah, right) garment, but that large probably-circular gauge on the dashboard:

People wonder why I drive this way and I answer that I have no choice. It’s not just professional necessity, although the need to save time from Point A to Point B is a strong argument in favor of high-speed driving. And there is also the hereditary factor, the hillbilly NASCAR gene that inspires me to drive like a moonshiner fleeing revenuers. More than either of those factors, however, the reality is that when you have to drive a lot of miles — and our total mileage [Wednesday] was 479 miles — driving fast helps relieve the inevitable fatigue. It’s not just the adrenalin rush of taking tight curves on a two-lane road at 75 mph, but also the constant keen-eyed vigilance necessary to avoid unpleasant encounters with law enforcement.

For that matter, even pleasant encounters with law enforcement will impede your progress toward your destination.

I usually plan for 350 to 450 miles each day during the World Tours, though I’ve broken 500 before. (Worst day ever, in terms of sheer fatigue, was Albuquerque to Redondo Beach, a hair over 800 miles, but that trip wasn’t part of the World Tours. Then again, I was much younger — middle thirties — and presumably more resistant to such ailments.)

And I have no experience with revenuers, though I did summon my inner Robert Mitchum one day in eastern Tennessee. All I can say is that Kingston Pike ain’t what it used to be.

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Rubbed beyond raw

My own experience with content scrapers has not been pretty:

This weekend post, like many from this blog and others, has wound up on a scraper site, unattributed and poorly formatted, not to mention incomplete.

There had been a link to the scraper site, which is no longer functioning.

Still, “not pretty” doesn’t compare to what happened to Maggie:

My biggest offender is FavStocks.com. As I look through their many posts, I see numerous bloggers who are blogging friends, and I’m fairly sure their content is scraped as well. To make it worse, FavStocks has Google ads on its site and so benefits monetarily by our original work. As I worked to stop FavStocks this week, I found one of my articles on, wait for it… CBS News with credit to FavStocks. That’s CBS Market Watch at a markets.cbsnews.com url. I have found another on the CBS site, but don’t have time to search for more.

I could be snarky and say something about SOPA/PIPA here — “Apparently CBS doesn’t mind piracy if it gets them traffic” would do the trick — but the more important issue, at least down here at my level, is whether we’re cutting our own throats by offering full-text feeds instead of excerpts. Maggie has decided that yes, we are, and therefore she won’t be doing that anymore:

Instead of receiving the full post in inboxes, subscribers will receive summaries. It’s the only option I have to stop the content scrapers.

At this end, I’m still evaluating the situation.

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Some utility room

The price of natural gas has dropped below $3, and while this drop isn’t yet reflected in my gas bill — ONG is still vending it at over $5, that being what they paid for it however many months ago they contracted to purchase it — it was still startling to see this month’s electric bill and gas bill within about $3 of each other. (The budget around here contemplates one being high and one being low, but if they’re going to match one another, it helps if neither of them are particularly high.)

Curiously, CNG down at the OnCue at 49th and Western, which had sat for $1.49 for so long, has gone up to $1.85 in recent weeks. I’m guessing customers are paying for the privilege of no longer having to see that decrepit old car wash across 49th. (It’s been torn down; reportedly, the Conoco station next door will follow, as Chesapeake Energy expands its empire further.)

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Router? I hardly know ‘er

I must admit here that it never once occurred to me to give my local Wi-Fi network a funny name. I suppose it wouldn’t be that difficult — log into the router and give it the appropriate instruction — but since I generally don’t have anybody leeching off of it, I really don’t have much of a reason to crank up the guilt.

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The eye of Newt is upon you

While Emily of course questions the timing of this new Newt Gingrich revelation, there’s a greater mystery to be solved:

The real question here, though, is how a man who looks to be made of Legos kept (or keeps, for all we know) managing to convince women to have sex with him. I know power is supposed to be sexy, but let’s face it, power is not sexy enough to make up for Newt Gingrich. Nothing is. Not even the mental image of Daniel Craig shirtless on a pile of chocolate cake. The man has jowls. By all account, he has Princess Leia chained up in a metal bikini behind his desk. He probably has remnants of last night’s dinner trapped in his neck folds. Ladies, why?

Compare to, say, Matthew Jerome’s observation last spring:

Right now, in a Republican primary, Newt has all the sex appeal of a school bus fire.

Gingrich is a mere ten years older than I am, which gives me either hope or nausea. Not that there’s much difference between the two, really.

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Schicklgrubbing

To my amazement, there’s not a Downfall parody of this — yet:

Annotated extracts of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf will be republished in Germany next week for the first time since the Nazi dictator’s fall in 1945, the British publisher of the text says.

Peter McGee says “a brochure of 12 to 15 pages” will be published on January 26 “in which extracts from Mein Kampf will be printed on one side and commentary from a well-known historian on the other”.

Germany banned Mein Kampf after World War II; the rights to the book were assigned to the state of Bavaria after Hitler’s death. Presumably to the horror of content providers, it’s not too hard to find online.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Off to the document dump

I have been, I admit, not particularly anxious to see Mitt Romney’s tax return, except perhaps to compare its thickness to, say, that of a James Michener novel. Bill Quick, however, finds this sort of thinking unacceptable, and says so in no uncertain terms:

If Mitt wants to keep his finances or anything else private, then he needs to remain a private citizen. But the moment he comes to me and asks me to vote for him, he forfeits his rights to privacy.

The notion that politicians should have the same rights to privacy as those who are not seeking to rule us is one of the main contributors to the corrupt-to-the-bone state of American politics and governance today. People who “aren’t interested” in the past, the nature, the character, and records, and the deeds of those who are asking us to vote for them simply aren’t thinking very clearly.

It’s a case — hell, it’s a whole shipping container — of denial: if every closet door were opened and every skeleton dragged into the light, we’d quickly discover that the names we’ve been putting on our ballots belong to, as Cormac McCarthy once said, “thieves, derelicts, miscreants, pariahs, poltroons, spalpeens, curmudgeons, clot-polls, murderers, gamblers, bawds, whores, trulls, brigands, topers, tosspots, sots and archsots, lobcocks, smell-smocks, runagates, rakes and other assorted and felonious debauchees.”

And then, of course, we would weep, not so much for our sad state of governance, but for ourselves and our pitiful efforts at oversight.

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Captain Obvious checks in

Diana was still alive hours before she died

Gee, ya think?

(Original Twitpic by @_RosieT. Spotted by the Advice Goddess.)

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D. C. hustlers

No, not those guys. I mean the Washington Wizards, who simply outhustled the Thunder tonight en route to a 105-102 win that nobody except Kevin Durant imagined. (Durant, always the realist, pointed out before the game that however woeful the Wiz might be, “we’re 2-2 against them.”) And now 2-3.

How did this happen? The Wiz went after every ball that went by, outrebounding OKC 52-43, including 19 off the offensive glass: Washington earned 59 second-chance points. John Wall worked his tail off, scoring 25; Nick Young got 22 of his 24 in the second half, and the on-again-off-again Andray Blatche was definitely on, picking up 12 points and picking off 10 boards.

The Durant-Westbrook Axis of Scoring was busy most of the night — 69 points between them — but they didn’t get much help from elsewhere, nor did the long ball fall. (Only four of 19 treys all night; Nick Young had five all by himself.) Worse (worse?), the Thunder stumbled their way to 21 turnovers, and you can’t do that against West Sheepskin Middle School, let alone an actual NBA team, even one that was 1-12 coming in.

Hubris? Maybe. Scott Brooks is probably wondering why he can’t look up “Nemesis” on Wikipedia right now. And if the Wizards can beat the Thunder, what’s going to happen against the somewhat less horrible New Jersey Nets Friday Saturday night? The fly on the wall at the next practice will be getting an earful, you may be sure.

Addendum: Royce Young hits on the same bit of shtick I did:

Nineteen offensive rebounds to go with 21 Thunder turnovers. You give Edmond North’s middle school team that many extra looks at the basket and you play with fire.

Yep.

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