Outward blown

After the 32-28 first quarter, this game was looking like typical Thunder-Spurs: fierce competition, and just wait until you see the fourth. Yeah, right. This one was over at halftime — 71-50 — and it just kept getting worse. Can you say 100-74 after three? About three minutes later, the benches were cleared, and Scott Brooks probably spent the rest of the time trying to come up with synonyms for “defense.” The final was 130-91, and if you think a 39-point lead is tremendous, well, you should have seen it when it was 44. Last time the Thunder visited the Alamo City, they administered a beating to the Men In Black, so this is payback and then some, with one game yet to play in the season series.

How dominant? Only at the very end did the Spurs drop below 60 percent shooting, falling to 58. (They hit 51 of 88; the Thunder, 36 of 90. What does that tell you?) They even hit 62 percent of their treys. Rebounding? Spurs, 50-36. Assists? Spurs, 28-16. Turnovers? Spurs, 11-10. (Oh, well, you can’t have everything.) San Antonio got to play all 13 active men, 12 of them scored, and seven of them scored in double figures. Even more remarkable: one of them was Patty Mills, who has not been having a great year. Tony Parker led everyone with 21; sixth man Boris Diaw had 19. And the only Spur on the minus side of +/- was Manu Ginobili, a modest -3 in 15 minutes.

Still, of all the minuses, the minusest was Russell Westbrook, with 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds, a -30 in 26 minutes. Enes Kanter started out with a bang — 10 points in the first quarter — but finished with a whimpering 16, though he did once again collect a double-double, having retrieved 10 rebounds. Dion Waiters got 14; after that, it’s a big jump to Jeremy Lamb’s nine.

What does this mean? Only that the Thunder’s defensive woes continue to be, well, woeful, and that they’re not going to breeze through the last ten games.

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The kind of evening it was

This picture almost says it all:

What this doesn’t tell you: KOMA (the AM side, anyway, which now uses a different call) is 50,000 watts directional, and to achieve the proper nulls — they must protect WWKB in Buffalo — they used three such towers.

Two of them are lying on the ground at this moment.

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You want that with fries?

The title of this spam was nothing remarkable: “Attention: Our Lowest Home-Rates Expire 3-25-15.” (And a possibly amusing domain: loancashbefore.work.) But this was the text hidden behind the HTML:

The fries themselves are not bad … a bit plain maybe, but not bad. The creamy spicy tuna dipping sauce they serve with the fries is stupidly bad. That stuff doesn’t even belong on sushi; on fries it’s ridiculous and downright trashy. If you like that stuff, stop having sex with your cousin. I’d like house-made mayo or aioli options, or even a really refined, light, bbq sauce seems like it would pair well against the slaw. Traditional ketchup, for me, is a no and their whole grain dijon is meh.

If this was swiped from somewhere, and I always assume it is, I didn’t find the source.

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Heaven on earth and other jokes

Various outcroppings of what is occasionally called “progressivism” are perhaps best understood as religions without all that tedious God business. There is, however, one distinct difference:

One of the things about these Rousseau-ist cults is they always end up handing power to the worst elements in their cult. From The Reign of Terror forward the pattern has always been the same. The movement grows increasingly fanatical until control is in the hands of psychotic lunatics.

The reason for this is that utopian religions have no natural limit. There’s no line that reads, “This is enough.” Christianity has those lines. Judaism has those lines. Once you do certain things, show you believe certain things, you are pious enough. Built into the religion is an upper bound and a caution about trying to go beyond it. The Catholic Church burned more than a few heretics for trying to immanentize eschaton.

In Rousseau-ist cults, no such limit exists. They are premised on the firm belief that there is a way to arrange things just the right way to create heaven on earth. They don’t call it that, but the echos are there in discussion of health care or poverty programs, for example. Obama spent three years talking about his plan to have more people on government health services while also lowering the cost, a mathematical impossibility.

And it’s inextricably bound up with a political impossibility: everyone, with the possible exception of Ted Cruz, has pretty much decided that reducing the number of people on government health services, irrespective of cost savings, can’t be allowed to happen, because optics. Do not wait by your window for the postman to bring you word that the ACA has been repealed: it will not happen. This bothers me less than the idea that the next scheme by the Rosseauvians — and there’s always a next scheme — will be something much, much worse.

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T for tumor

Last month I had a smallish cancer scare, and by “smallish” I mean I did not immediately start pricing funeral arrangements. And that’s probably a good thing, since there seem to be people who have devoted their lives to calling things carcinogenic:

The New York Times published a story by Nick Bilton arguing that wearable tech like the Apple Watch could maybe, possibly, totally give you cancer as a result of the radiation these devices emanate. The piece was quickly met with a smart and thorough rebuttal by Russell Brandom in the Verge. Brandom highlights countless ways in which the Times columnist doesn’t reflect current cancer research, but perhaps the most glaring issue with Bilton’s piece is that one of his major sources is Dr. Joseph Mercola, who is widely considered to be a quack, and whose health “advice” has been the target of several warning letters from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The good doctor has identified about two dozen Horrible Cancer Dangers over the years, including cell phones, tap water, and Pringles.

So maybe Joe Jackson was right after all:

My own suspicion, supported by no medical evidence whatsoever, is that cancer gets you only after everything else has tried and failed. Given my solid record (so far) against the Reaper, I figure he’s going to have to try the metastasis trick eventually.

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Class personified

Quite apart from putting a permanent crease in the phrase “throwing like a girl,” Mo’ne Davis has demonstrated maturity far beyond some of us:

Mo’ne Davis, heroine of the Little League World Series, said the college baseball player who was dismissed from his team for posting an offensive tweet about her should get a second chance at playing.

Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania) University’s Joey Casselberry, a junior first baseman, was thrown off the team after tweeting: “Disney is making a movie about Mo’ne Davis? WHAT A JOKE. That slut got rocked by Nevada.”

Davis told SportsCenter on Monday that she wrote an email to the school asking officials to reinstate Casselberry.

The university confirmed that they received her request. She explains:

“Everyone makes mistakes,” Davis said. “Everyone deserves a second chance. I know he didn’t mean it in that type of way. I know people get tired of seeing me on TV. But sometimes you got to think about what you’re doing before you do it.

“It hurt on my part, but he hurt even more. If it was me, I would want to take that back. I know how hard he’s worked. Why not give him a second chance?”

Oh, and despite her formidable baseball prowess, she wants to play in the WNBA some day. Heck, she might be able to play in the NBA. (Yeah, she’s five-foot-four — now.)

The Disney Channel original movie, incidentally, is called Throw Like Mo.

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A warm byte or two

I have every confidence this scheme will work:

A Dutch energy company is joining forces with a tech startup to harness computing power to heat homes.

Eneco said Tuesday it is installing “e-Radiators” — computer servers that generate heat while crunching numbers — in five homes across the Netherlands in a trial to see if their warmth could be a viable alternative for traditional radiators.

The technology is the brainchild of a company called Nerdalize, whose founders say they developed the idea after huddling near a laptop to keep warm after their home’s thermostat broke.

“Nerdalize”? Okay, if you insist.

But I don’t see how this can fail. My particular IT job puts me right next to the server tower, in a room which is deliberately not connected to the office heating system. With temperatures in the single digits Fahrenheit, the typical temperature in the shop is 67° F. (Of course, there is massive A/C for the warmer periods.)

And the proponents see it as a win/win:

Eneco and Nerdalize say the idea cuts costs for companies using the servers as they no longer need to pay for housing computers in data centers and will provide free warmth for Eneco’s customers as Nerdalize pays the energy bill for the e-Radiator.

You know, we should have patented the damned idea.

(Via Costa Tsiokos.)

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Thirsty Lakers

The third and final Thunder-Lakers game figured to be entertaining, if only because the Lakers, woeful as they are this season, have pretty much always brought their A, or at least B-plus, game to OKC, and with Byron Scott away on personal business, assistant Paul Pressey was calling the shots. The Lakers starting lineup was duly shuffled, with Tarik Black in the middle, Jordan Clarkson as shooting guard, and Jeremy Lin running the point. L. A. came out in a 2-3 zone, which at first baffled the Thunder; the tenacious defense we’d seen in recent OKC games was not in evidence — the loss of Andre Roberson last game was almost certainly a contributing factor — so the offensive guns were brought out. With that condition obtaining, the final score shouldn’t make anyone blink: 127-117.

Those Laker wing guys were pretty sharp, too; Lin had 19 points, Clarkson a career-high 30, and both served up seven assists. Four other Lakers made it to double figures, and that’s with Carlos Boozer getting the night off. (L. A. is embarking on a long road trip.) They shot an excellent 52 percent, highlighting the frequent OKC defensive lapses.

Still, if the opponents are going to score a lot, you can beat them by scoring more. Three double-doubles for the Thunder: Russell Westbrook (27 points, 11 assists), Steven Adams (16 points, 10 rebounds) and Enes Kanter (25 points, 16 boards). Dion Waiters, working to shed his Sir Miss-A-Lot reputation, made 10 of 16 for 23 points and the night’s only plus-20. And the Thunder shot 56 percent, even making more than half their treys (11 of 21). Rebounds, you ask? OKC, 49-28. Wasn’t even close.

A 4-0 homestand is by definition successful. Now comes the heavy lifting: tomorrow night in San Antonio, Saturday at Utah, Sunday at Phoenix. And then it’s April.

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Flying solo

Torre DeRoche, who wrote the glorious travel tale Love With a Chance of Drowning (I discuss it briefly here), is on Twitter as @FearfulGirl, though there’s darn little she’ll shy away from:

For the last ten years, I’ve made a lifestyle out of pushing the boundaries of my own fears. I sailed the Pacific despite a phobia of deep water. I climbed Mount Kinabalu despite a fear of heights. I learned to dive despite the sharks. I walked through Italy and India despite the fear of being mauled. I did all of this for the sake of experiential learning, to test out my own hunch that the world isn’t as dangerous and hostile as it’s touted to be. Over and over again, I’ve come to the same conclusion: One must always exercise caution, and not all countries and places are safe, but, for the most part, humans are overwhelmingly kind and the world is overwhelmingly hospitable. Almost always, you are safe.

And people who throw crime rates and stuff at you? Forget about ’em:

The statements made by authorities and others like it are a blow to every woman’s sense of freedom. They’re potent bundles of psychologically damaging paranoia wrapped up in the packaging of a thoughtful gift. Every time you tell a woman “It’s not safe for you,” and “Be careful, you’re a woman,” you’re undermining her. Telling her that she’s fragile. Stupid. Weak. Incapable. Rape-able.

This fear limits her growth and deteriorates her quality of life. Fear is her greatest enemy.

There is such a thing as being too paternalistic. My daughter will be thirty-seven this year; I have long since learned that she seldom if ever loses her cool. (And I’m pretty sure she didn’t get that from me.)

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Fünfundfünfzig

I probably don’t need to remind you of the Eighties classic “99 Luftballons” by Nena, which at the time was the name of a band headed by Gabriele Susanne Kerner, though she’d been using the nickname “Nena” since her teens. In the States, Epic released a single with the 1983 German version on one side and an English-language version on the other; the English lyrics are not a translation, but an interpretation, of the German original, which may or may not have had something to do with this cover.

After 1987, the band split up, and Nena reclaimed her name. Although she makes no chart noise on this side of the pond, she’s still making hits at home. Here’s a shot from a 2010 concert in Potsdam:

Nena in concert in Potsdam 2010

From her 2009 album Made in Germany, this is the lead single, “Wir sind wahr” (“We are true”):

As you may have figured, she’s 55 today.

(Photo source.)

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Richard the 150th

The first three Richards were kings of England; Richard IV was a fictional character in two British television series (The Palace and Blackadder). I have no idea who this guy is:

In CNN’s defense, there was no plane crash involved.

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Surrounded by voices

Were you ever in a darkened room with a fan running? And if so, did you ever hear what seemed to be fragments of voices coming from its general direction?

I have.

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Permanent exhibition

If you were a fan of the rollicking space opera Temporary Duty by the late Ric Locke (my review is here), you’ll be pleased to know that a fansite-plus-sort-of-wiki is being built at temporaryduty.org. The site is officially titled “Peters Pa’ol,” of course a reference to protagonist John Peters. For now, Under Construction applies, but progress is being made.

If you haven’t read the book, it’s still available for your Kindle from Amazon: link at the site. And at the very least, you ought to look at the cover art, by the estimable S. Weasel, who wrote thusly about this project:

It sold well enough that he spent his last days arguing with the IRS. Yes, sadly, that rat bastard cancer got him in the Summer of 2012.

Welp, I got an email earlier this week from a dude called Yuris Daudish, who read Ric’s book and thought it deserved a public fandom. He put out the call for anybody who might have had dealings with Ric who could share anecdotes or insights into the man or the book. Or might want to join the discussion forum. I promised to go through what emails we traded back in the day to see if anything interesting turns up — and to spread the word to any reader here who might have had some interaction.

And I’m happy to provide a signal boost.

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It wasn’t part of the plan

The IMDb page for actor Gregory Walcott lists over a hundred credits, but there’s only one everyone seems to remember: Jeff Trent, the pilot in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the glorious mess created by Edward D. Wood, Jr. Even Walcott’s Wikipedia page has a picture of him as Jeff Trent.

From The Hollywood Reporter’s article on Walcott’s death last Friday at eighty-seven:

“I read the script, and it was gibberish. It made no sense, but I saw Ed Reynolds [J. Edward Reynolds, nominal head of the production company] as a naive, sweet man. I had done some pretty good things prior to that, so I thought I had a little credibility in Hollywood. I thought maybe my name would give the show some credibility… The film was made surreptitiously. My agent didn’t even know I did it.”

For years, Walcott sought to distance himself from Plan 9. But eventually he came to terms with Jeff Trent: he appeared in a brief role in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, playing a character not unlike Ed Reynolds. And he later conceded: “It’s better to be remembered for something than for nothing, don’t you think?”

Besides, as we learned from Mystery Science Theater 3000, there are plenty of films out there that made Plan 9 look like Citizen Kane.

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Gooder vibrations

The Friar, in the process of snickering at those folks who will pay four digits for very early record pressings, issues the following explanation of the record-making process, mechanical division:

Sound in vinyl records is encoded in the grooves, which are played when the turntable needle moves over them at the proper speed. The grooves are pressed or stamped into blank vinyl discs, and like all mechanical systems the stampers were subject to wearing out. Records pressed earlier in a stamping run were more likely to have grooves that are cleaner and more accurately reproduce the full range of the sound.

Ideally, the cutting speed and the playback speed should be identical, except when they’re not:

Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs stepped in to fill the audiophile niche market. Their Half Speed Masters were special pressings of the albums. They (smartly) realized that not all audiophiles were classical music buffs, and that the rock generation was beginning to come into its own, with big bucks to spend. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs had made superior quality pressings of albums by using thick, virgin vinyl, and by locating low-generation copies of the master tapes and using those as a source for their albums. The term “half-speed” refers to slowing the cutting lathe to half-speed while cutting the album stamper, resulting in a more accurate and deeply etched groove that held low tones better.

Yep. Those platters were cut at 162/3 rpm, to be played back at 331/3. The short-lived CD-4 quadraphonic LPs were cut at even lower speeds, in an effort to get a 45-kHz signal onto the vinyl.

Still, all these “improvements” aren’t always obvious to the ear, either mine or the Friar’s:

Too many loud concerts have helped my ears have trouble distinguishing all of the Vitally! Important! Distinctions! that are supposed to be in all of this stuff. Those distinctions themselves may be a whole lot of suggestion bias: When you’re told a particular copy of a record sounds much much better than what you’ve been listening to and you agree to part with a few Ben Franklins in order to acquire it, the chances are pretty good that you’re going to believe it sounds better. Sure, a good LP sounds better than an MP3 file, but 1) almost everything does and 2) the idea that there is an experience of listening to some record that’s “worth” four figures is a product of a mindset that is so far removed from the everyday reality most people live in that it ought to draw its own “Occupy” protest.

Had I a bunch of thousand-dollar records, I probably wouldn’t play them at all, lest I reduce their value. Then again, I have always had the most middling of hi-fi systems, to the extent that those systems had any fi at all.

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Your attention, please

This is what happens in its absence:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Incorrect and Misleading information on Car Finance documentation?

Well, let’s see:

I took a secrured [sic] car loan in Jan 2013 for a MINI Cooper S Turbo. This is the car on the finance documentation. I have realised since that I have actually got a base model MINI Cooper. The signed loan docs are wrong. Where do I stand legally? I was lied to at the dealership by both the Vehicle and Finance sales people into thinking I have the MINI COOPER S TURBO. Will I be entitled to a refund of the money paid so far?

It took you two fricking years to discover you didn’t have the turbo? It’s a darn good thing you’re in Jolly Old, Dickie-boy, because you’d be laughed out of an American court with a tall tale like that.

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