The flow of information

One of the finer aspects of living in this century is being able to pull off something like this:

I was looking for a particular article, and Tweeted my dismay at not being able to get access to it through our various subscription services. One of the people that follows me (and that I follow. There should be a term for mutual following in Twitter) sent me a message asking for the citation, as she might be able to find it.

She works at the Bodleian Library. THE BODLEIAN. As a book-nerd and library-nerd from childhood, that just thrills me.

Indeed. To me, this sounds at least as impressive as making a reference to some obscure nth-century saint and getting a response from the Vatican. And the Bodleian, which in its present form dates to 1602, has had books pretty much ever since there were books to be had; when I was a young, impressionable prep, I was advised that I should regard it with awe, and in those days I actually took advice.

Things change over the years — the Bodleian these days is headed by a woman, and an American woman at that — but apparently The Declaration is still required of visitors to the library:

“I hereby undertake not to remove from the Library, nor to mark, deface, or injure in any way, any volume, document or other object belonging to it or in its custody; not to bring into the Library, or kindle therein, any fire or flame, and not to smoke in the Library; and I promise to obey all rules of the Library.”

Then again, you used to have to recite it in Latin.

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A bustle in my hedge fund

Comes now the 401(k) report for the year just ended, and, says the fund manager, my “personalized rate of return” was 9.27 percent, after adjustments, fees, and whatever fudge factors go into these things. This figure is the aggregate from several different types of investment — I tend to hedge rather than to go full-out on any single option — and while bonds and large-cap stocks and an S&P stock fund all improved by double digits, the money-market fund (to which I haven’t contributed in several years, but which is still out there) made a whole 94 cents.

The running gag for several years has been that I could retire now and have enough to last until, say, next Tuesday. This is, of course, an exaggeration; I could easily make it through the following weekend with only minor inconvenience.

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So long as you don’t actually text

TTAC’s Ed Niedermeyer has a nice preview of the 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK coupe, focusing on cabin ambience, which apparently is way above average for a two-door with sporting pretensions, what with the available glass roof and all.

Most any Benz is out of my price range, and the SLK is surely more so. The interior pictures furnished, however, were quite appealing, though something concerns me about this particular shot:

Command view from 2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK coupe

I have reference to the obvious Google screen at the midpoint of the dash. The potential for driver distraction seems obvious to me. Then again, at least it isn’t TVTropes.

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Toxic sock syndrome

Sooner or later, this subject always seems to come around:

Now I know someone probably remembers that at one time or another I said that one should not wear socks with sandals but I also said that it’s okay if the sandals are casual and the socks are the kind that are meant to be shown off — novelty or any kind of print or colorful socks. Besides, how can I be a fashion rebel if there are no fashion rules to break, so I defend and perpetuate the rule and break it at the same time. I think the “no socks with sandals” taboo probably came about because of guys wearing grubby athletic socks with sandals, which is gross, guys. Just stop that. But in spite of my bold talk about fashion rebellion I probably won’t ever go out in public like this. Or maybe I will. Who knows?

Well, I certainly don’t know. But the thing about rules, and not just fashion rules, is that sometimes you break then, sometimes you bend them, and sometimes, in the spirit of defiance, you actually follow them. (I swiped this particular bit of wisdom from Charles Goren, who would probably be amused to see it used in this context, perhaps less so to see me leading the top of nothing against three no-trump.)

As for the origin of the taboo, I blame these guys.

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Gadget reinstated

The old Twitter widget, which I kept on the sidebar until people started complaining about its scrolling, is back in version 2, which apparently can be taught not to scroll. There were some moments during the install when I wondered if maybe I’d forgotten how to work the sidebar code, but things seem relatively placid for the moment.

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Franked assessment

Rather than wait for her Senator to send her the usual form letter, Julie decided to compose one on her own:

Dear Constituent,

We received your letter here at Sen. [Kent] Conrad’s office and are responding back to you mainly because that is one of the job requirements we are paid to do out of your tax dollars. We can’t possibly care about everything everyone writes to us about. We admit we don’t really care about what you wrote about, then, but in an effort to make you think that we do, we want you to know that your letter was received and here we are, responding.

Who knew? This comes off as the hard-copy equivalent of voicemail.

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Behold this, eyes

Another serendipitous (as in “I was looking for something else”) find, this one in LA Weekly:

A lifelong beauty outsider, [Toni Raiten-D'Antonio] was unequivocally informed by her family that she was ugly, and she has adopted that familial candor in a book about her struggle with beauty and the lack of it: Ugly as Sin. In its best moments, D’Antonio’s book cuts to the bone, stripping bare the searing pain that comes with the terror of aesthetic insufficiency, which most often originates in childhood’s unhealed wounds.

Gee, thanks, family. I thought I was supposed to be my harshest critic.

So I figured that if she has a book that gets noticed in LA Weekly, it’s not unreasonable to assume that she’s done a book tour, and that there are therefore publicity photos to be had.

Toni Raiten-D'Antonio publicity photoBingo. But what’s this? At the very least, I was expecting a nose the general shape of San Francisco’s Lombard Street, a replica of the lunar surface only partially masked by half an inch of foundation, and a nest of vipers for a coif. Sin, or at least this particular variety, is evidently a lot better-looking than we’ve been led to believe. Dear Toni’s Family: It appears she blossomed a bit after escaping your baneful influence.

From her bio:

Toni Raiten-D’Antonio, LCSW, is a well-known psychotherapist with a thriving private practice in Suffolk County, Long Island. She is a professor of psychology and social work at Empire State College. Prior to becoming a therapist she worked in television and theater as both a performer and producer. She has two daughters and lives in New York with her husband, the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Michael D’Antonio.

Mirror, mirror on the wall: someday you will take a fall.

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Quote of the week

You may have already heard this one:

At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized — at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who happen to think differently than we do — it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we’re talking with each other in a way that heals, not in a way that wounds.

Barack Obama, at the memorial service following the Tucson massacre. Call it a gentle rebuke, in a world that’s seemingly forgotten how.

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408

It appears, judging from the title of the 408th Carnival of the Vanities, that Andrew Ian Dodge is snowed in.

Having been snowed in a few times myself, I am pretty sure that not much is going on in the midst of all that frozen stuff, so I’m not about to ask, on the basis that I won’t get any kind of response but the most minimal — or, in HTTP parlance: “408 Request Timeout.”

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Magicians tricked

What I expected from the Magic: a lot of 3-point shots (they did, hitting 14 of 28) and Dwight Howard missing a lot of free throws (he did not, hitting 17 of 20). And while Orlando never took the lead, they never went away either: the Thunder had a four-point lead with two seconds left, and Jason Richardson buried yet another trey at the buzzer, leaving the Magic men one point short. Not that anyone was lacking for points in a 125-124 game.

With Howard actually accurate at the stripe, he accumulated points at a startling rate, and finished with 39, keeping his Clark Kent disguise well out of sight. Stan Van Gundy played only eight men to get those 124 points; Hedo Turkoğlu had the fewest, with seven.

But that barrage of treys was probably unavoidable: this is what Orlando does, and the Thunder apparently decided to let a few perimeter shots go by in favor of keeping the Magic out of the paint. (Defense was “decent,” said Scott Brooks.) OKC controlled the boards when Howard wasn’t around — 42 rebounds for the Thunder, 18 for Howard, 18 for all of Howard’s teammates. Russell Westbrook got ten of those boards, along with 13 assists and 32 points, to log his second triple-double of the season; Nenad Krstić came up with 16 points and 11 boards in only 23 minutes. And that Durant fellow got the last four points for OKC, his 33rd through 36th respectively. The Thunder shot a commendable 56.4 percent, and even hit half their treys (7 of 14).

Two tough road games follow — the Lakers on Monday, the Nuggets on Wednesday — and then back home Saturday to face the Knicks at Robinson Round Garden.

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Badass bunnies

Both Jimmy Carter and Monty Python had unfortunate run-ins with rabbits of unexpected ferocity, though you really need to get back to the source: Beatrix Potter, who gave us The Story of a Fierce Bad Rabbit in 1906.

In 2011, Fierce Bad Rabbit, obviously the perfect name for an indie band, will be touring; they’ll be here Saturday night at the Belle Isle Brewery.

(If this looks like I’m just using this as a pretext to bait someone who just bought a book of Beatrix Potter’s letters, just wait until she finds out that the band’s current CD is called Spools of Thread.)

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Slow forward

Dick Stanley describes some perhaps-unexpected Kindle-related behavior:

[S]ometimes, reading from the screen, instead of reaching out for the button that shifts the screen to the next page, I get an urge to turn the nonexistent paper page with my fingers. It’s fleeting. I smile and move on.

If it’s any consolation, I have had instances when I got into the car, caught the end of a song I liked, and hit the back button to hear the beginning again — only to realize that I was listening to the radio.

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Funny farmers

This quote, usually unattributed — according to my Stack O’ Quotes, it’s Rita Mae Brown — has been making the rounds of late:

The statistics on sanity are that one out of every four Americans are suffering from some form of mental illness. Think of your three best friends. If they’re okay, then it’s you.

I have my doubts about this particular statistic, but should anyone need reassurance, please note that I spent one summer, a couple of decades ago, in the Home for the Bewildered; feel free to feel better about yourself and two other friends.

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Funner money

Had I enough cash to divert into another bank account, I might well be tempted to stash it in Redneck Bank:

The Internet bank is an arm of Snyder-based Bank of the Wichitas, and the brainchild of [Wade] Huckabay — whose family owns three Oklahoma banks. The Redneck Bank name was an attempt to differentiate its website from thousands of online banking operations, Huckabay said.

The bank’s home page features a braying mule, and customers access their accounts by clicking on an outhouse.

Of course, the real reason I’d want to do this is to get their branded Visa Check Card.

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A series of tubes

Snowtubes, that is:

Trying not to think, I plopped into the tube that was hooked to a rope and got lifted to the top of the slope. A guide immediately directed me to the ride with shortest line — I didn’t have time to get sufficiently scared: boy managing the ride asked me if I wanted a push, I mumbled something vague, meekly assumed “on the stomach” position and in a split second was already flying down, flying like a wind, like a bird of pray (overdressed owl, most likely…)

I figure the time for panic had come a bit earlier:

… words “fatal accident” and “in case of injury call …” jumped on me from the disclaimer form I had to sign …

Not to worry, I always say. It’s only the last thing that gets you.

(Seriously, I’m impressed. I mean, I can get spooked by roller coasters.)

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Destreaked

All the yammering before this game was how the Thunder, and the Sonics before them, hadn’t gotten a win in Houston since William the Conqueror was drafted by the Normans, or some such business. And the crowd started filing out of the Toyota Center with two minutes left, so they didn’t see the Rockets put together a 12-1 run to erase almost all of a late Thunder lead. On the other hand, they also didn’t see Oklahoma City hoist six free throws in the last 18 seconds — four by Russell Westbrook, two by James Harden — to seal a 118-112 win.

This one was pretty close early on: tied after one, Rockets up by two at the half. The big Thunder crunch began halfway through the fourth quarter, with OKC pushing out to a 13-point lead. The Rockets weren’t about to take this lying down, and twice closed to within two. As always, Luis Scola was a force to be reckoned with, leading all scorers with 31 points and hauling in 11 boards. Courtney Lee, summoned from the bench, got 12 of his 19 in the fourth quarter, including three of five from way out in the Woodlands; Kevin Martin was out, but Aaron Brooks, contained early, broke loose for some timely Houston buckets towards the end.

The difference here, though, was on the glass, where the Thunder dominated, 49-35. OKC shot a better-than-decent 51.2 percent, though they missed some early free throws. (The late ones, they dropped through methodically.) Kevin Durant was back up at the 30-point mark; Jeff Green got no rebounds but scored 16; and Thabo Sefolosha tied a career high with 13 boards. (Speaking of 13, Westbrook had that many dimes to his credit.) And Serge Ibaka came up with 16, missing only one shot all night.

Tomorrow: the Magic come to the Downtown Roundhouse. They will be in a foul mood, having had a winning streak of their own snapped this evening.

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