Quote of the week

A bit of wisdom from Jennifer:

For the love of John Moses Browning, don’t get your toys that go bang and toys you like to bang mixed up.

She was referring to, um, this.

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Down to Earth

Lynn overcomes her skepticism:

These are my first pair of Earth shoes. I’m always skeptical about gimmicky features and claims, like the toe being 3.7 degrees higher than the heel, which is a big deal with Earth shoes, but I was also curious and always wanted a pair. I really love the look of these and, like I said, it was a really good sale so they are now on my feet and they feel great.

It won’t be her last, either:

I was thinking about Birkenstocks, or the cheap knock-offs they sell at Walmart every summer, but now I’m hooked on Earth shoes.

Sounds like a pretty solid endorsement to me. (See the link for a picture.)

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Keeping it clean

Overly impressed by neatness as I am, I would probably throw myself at any or all of these women:

Not that I object to telekinesis or similarly advanced technologies, of course.

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406

“2011 beckons,” says Andrew Ian Dodge in the title of the 406th Carnival of the Vanities.

Years do that, especially around this date. I don’t remember anything in particular about the year 406, except that Attila the Hun was born right around then.

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Somewhere out there

Call it Lyndon, or call it Linden, but it’s still a pit:

It was the fourth habitable world found (at least by the NATO powers), the closest to Earth, the only planet “taken” by NATO during the Far Edge War and the third settled by USSF colonists. The climate’s pretty good, the local land life not especially varied or aggressive toward humans; “terraforming” has been no big deal, about like settling Ohio. Or more like Texas, minus the border issues: some challenges but the settlers rose to meet them. And had kids. A lot of kids. And indulged in various flavors of civic involvement most majorly.

Which was a bit of exposition from Roberta X’s I Work On A Starship, an actual dead-tree copy of which is on the way to my mailbox even as we speak. I’d downloaded an ebook version, which was less than $2, but I wanted something permanent for the library.

Maybe I’ll schlep it to the Hidden Frontier some year and get her to sign it.

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Speaking of Sasha

We mentioned Sasha Vujacic in a post about last night’s Nets-Thunder game; he was the only New Jersey player to score the long ball. Far be it from me to make some rude comment about scoring, but here’s a look at Sasha’s fiancée:

Maria Shaparova

You’re looking at tennis star Maria Sharapova, seen here in civilian wear at the 2007 ESPYs. She and Vujacic started dating in 2009, and, well, he is called “The Machine.”

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Everything they had

Oklahomans for Responsible Government, the advocacy group which helped lead the opposition to State Question 744 in the 2010 general election, is closing its doors Friday:

“The combination of a tough economy and an election cycle that collected millions in donations has created a climate where a non-profit organization finds it hard to raise funds,” said OFRG Communications Director and Projects Manager Peter J. Rudy. “While I believe that the cause of transparency and fiscal responsibility is important, contributions are needed to continue these causes and the support is not available for 2011.”

Curiously, or perhaps not so curiously, groups advocating irresponsible government are awash in funding. And you couldn’t get much more irresponsible than SQ 744: “Let’s spend as much as they do!” is the sort of noise made only by people who think themselves entitled to spend other people’s money.

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Weird timing

So I popped open the WordPress admin, and while they hadn’t offered me the 3.0.4 update, there was an update for a plugin, so I went out to fetch that.

And the moment it was done, up popped the 3.0.4 link. I did the update and went on to another site. They hadn’t offered the 3.0.4 update, but there was an update for a plugin — a different plugin this time — so I went out to fetch that.

A third site, a third different plugin, but the same result. Still, things could have been a lot worse.

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The kid’s nuts

From “Hey! Do This” in the current Gazette:

From 1994, the Oscar-nominated Farinelli is a biopic about Carlo Broschi, a famous, fawned-over singer castrated at childhood. Think of him as the 18th-century Justin Bieber as you watch the French/Italian film unspool at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 425 Couch.

Justin Bieber? Now that takes balls.

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Properly incentivized

The ex-blogger formerly known as Jacqueline Passey, always a favorite in these parts for some reason, admits (on Facebook) to having passed this advice to her boss:

“I could revise your old proposals to add a more persuasive spin … you don’t always do a great job ‘selling’ your ideas. We need to vaguely insinuate that if they don’t give us money, toxic dust will kill their children.”

Why, no, she’s not working for the government. Why do you ask?

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Over with quick

Last time these two clubs met, it took three overtimes and about three and a half hours to come to any sort of conclusion. Tonight, it was over with about halfway through the second quarter, as the Thunder coasted to a 114-93 win over the visiting New Jersey Nets.

It’s not like the Nets did much of anything wrong. They shot a respectable 48 percent, were sharper than the Thunder at the stripe (23 of 27; OKC hit only 18 of 27), and bagged one more rebound. Brook Lopez was particularly fearsome, recording 19 points and blocking four shots; Devin Harris scored 19 more. The Nets’ three-point prowess was missing in action, though: New Jersey bagged only two of seven treys, both by Sasha Vujacic. And the Nets turned the ball over 23 times.

Telling statistic: Oklahoma City recorded 31 assists on 45 shots made. For a team that trailed the league in ball movement early in the season, this is fairly impressive. The Thunder shot nearly 55 percent, and five players landed in double figures, led by Kevin Durant with a close-to-his average 27 points.

Mullens Report: Byron played a little over five minutes, missed two shots and one of two free throws, but reeled in three boards and blocked a shot.

Two for three on this homestand; the Hawks will be visiting the Large Unnamed Dome Friday night.

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Curly fried

Bill Richardson to replace Hillary Clinton at State? Not a chance, according to Hillbuzz:

Bill Richardson … is at a 10 on both of the Clintons’ hate lists.

And this means:

Those of you who have hated her for all these years have missed the opportunity of observing one of the most interesting and entertaining grudge-holders in American history at the top of her game. If you are loyal to her, she will move mountains to help you and never forget what you’ve done for her. If you backstab her, she will put you on “The List”, and her loyalists will work tirelessly every day to do whatever they can to take you down. In creative, soul-crushing, often publicly humiliating ways.

So where will Bill Richardson actually land?

Bill Richardson is lucky if, someday, far in the future, he’s able to become so much as the Assistant Manager of a medium-peforming Arby’s off an interstate somewhere.

Well, he does look the part.

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Start the year off wrong

The National Insurance Crime Bureau, which despite its name is not in charge of regulating insurance crime, warns that New Year’s Day is the worst holiday for auto theft, 18 percent higher than Halloween and, surprisingly to me anyway, 26 percent higher than New Year’s Eve.

Of course, if you’re in certain parts of the City of New York, you probably don’t have to worry so much, since they won’t have your car dug out until Valentine’s Day.

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Diligently tracked

The thing about Amazon — well, one of the things about Amazon — is that it remembers everything you’ve done on their site better than you do, and therefore there’s a reason why they have all these recommendations for you when you venture over there.

Amazon acquired Zappos last year, which apparently I had forgotten, because I wandered over to Zappos yesterday and yes, they had recommendations for me. Not that I’d actually wear them or anything, but I was amused enough to pass one of those recommendations on to you.

Jeanette by Me Too

You’re looking at “Jeanette,” from the Me Too line, and I suspect you’ve probably seen something like it before. It’s a nice satin sling with just a hint of “prom shoe” (see discussion of the concept here) and maybe too large a bow up front. (One Zappos customer says she tripped over it.) The color recommended was Champagne, though I prefer this brown version. The heel is listed as 3¾ inches, but somehow looks a little lower. At this writing, “Jeanette” is marked down from $89 to $61. Would I wear this were I a girl-type person? I think I might. Not that it matters at this point.

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Zactly so

Ideally, the name of your New Drug should start with X, because hardly anything starts with X, and therefore you’re less likely to run into trademark difficulties. Unfortunately, hardly anyone knows how to pronounce an initial X, so the next best thing is something that sounds like an initial X but doesn’t look like one: in other words, a Z.

Rob Stepney writes in the BMJ:

Of 1436 products added to the [British National Formulary] between 1986 and 2005, more than a fifth had names that began with z or x or contained a prominent x or z within them. In 1986, only 19 branded drugs began with one of these letters. Over the next two decades, the number of brands beginning with a z increased by more than 400% (to 63) and those beginning with an x increased by 130% (to 16). In the same period, the overall content of the BNF grew by only 80%.

Stepney explains this in terms of Scrabble:

[U]se of these letters relates to the imperative to make a brand name highly visible in a crowd. Reflecting their infrequent occurrence in English words, x and z count for 8 and 10 points in Scrabble, the highest values (along with j and q) in the game. So names that contain them are likely to seem special and be memorable. “If you meet them in running text, they stand out,” is the way one industry insider explained.

Of course, if everybody stands out, then no one stands out. Says the Neurocritic:

In my view, however, the rush to uniqueness resulted in an overcrowded field. The market became saturated with X and Z brand names, which can cause confusion.

As anyone who’s taken a Zantac instead of a Xanax can no doubt corroborate.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet. Cite: BMJ 2010; 341:c6895.)

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The gratingest generation

Robert J. Samuelson, in Sunday’s WaPo:

There has been much brave talk recently, from Republicans and Democrats alike, about reducing budget deficits and controlling government spending. The trouble is that hardly anyone admits that accomplishing these goals must include making significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits for baby boomers.

Samuelson, at 65 a boomer himself, presumably could afford such cuts. I suspect that rather a lot of them couldn’t. Not that the rest of the country owes them a great deal:

The self-absorbed boomers have been catered to their entire existence. Think just about music. Without the boomers, we’d never have to hear Grace Slick screeching “Somebody to Love” again. Without the boomers, would Hewlett-Packard really use Melanie’s “Brand New Key” to sell web-accessible printers? Without boomers, who cares that the Beatles are on iTunes?

Then again:

Time for my confession: I was born in 1958 and am technically the trailing edge of the baby boom and I owned all the Melanie albums. So I am committing heresy by admitting the logic of Samuelson’s position. But seriously, if we choose to grandfather the baby-boomers, then we have grandfathered the problem.

Well, we are grandfathers and/or grandmothers.

It would be easier to deal with this, I suspect, were it possible to envision something resembling a shared sacrifice: everybody gives up something. Not that this can possibly happen in this political environment: both rich folks, who reportedly don’t pay enough taxes, and poor folks, who reportedly don’t pay any taxes, have Congressional types at their beck and call, sworn to making sure that those particular boats are never, ever rocked.

So if this doesn’t come out of entitlement spending, it’s got to come out of the bureaucrats’ budgets, and they won’t stand for that.

Disclosure: I own Melanie’s Candles in the Rain LP and a greatest-hits CD.

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