Holy flurking low-octane schnitt

This needs no introduction:

Never mind what I paid for it, several hundred miles away.

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Ma, it’s the revenooers

iTunes Radio is being folded into the larger Apple Music service. What does this mean? Exactly what you think it does:

iTunes Radio, Apple’s ad-supported streaming service, will soon no longer be free.

The company plans to make the service part of Apple Music, which costs $10 a month, beginning Jan. 29, according to BuzzFeed, who first reported the news. The update means that Beats 1, which launched last year alongside Apple Music, will be the company’s only free music streaming offering.

Apple launched iTunes Radio in 2013 in the United States and Australia. The streaming service is similar to Pandora and other Internet radio services in that you can create custom stations based on genres or specific songs. The service is ad-supported and didn’t allow on-demand access to music.

I have no idea whether Friday Radio, the custom station I started in 2013, will survive in any recognizable form.

(Title from Snuffy Smith. Feel free to Google it.)


Your best Bai

“One of these days,” I said to myself, “I’m going to do a post of nothing but Bai Ling tweets.”

This is the day. Enjoy.

A chronic hashtag and/or emoji abuser, she is, but I’ve never regretted following her.


Detangle in the night

If turning a skein of yarn into something wearable is a relaxing endeavor, wouldn’t turning a big ball of tangles into a proper skein be the antithesis of relaxing? The answer is apparently no:

Many knitters find their craft a tranquil and even meditative pastime — until knots and tangles in their yarn send them into a fury. But for one group of fanatics, there is nothing more satisfying than a hopelessly tangled web.

Daphne Basnet of Melbourne, Australia, once paid about $50 on eBay for a 25-pound box of snarled yarn, simply for the pleasure of untangling it. “I was so happy, I can’t tell you,” recalls the 58-year-old of her purchase, a mess of about 120 knotted balls. Finding such tangled treats got easier when Ms. Basnet joined Knot a Problem, a seven-year-old group of more than 2,100 “detanglers” on the online community for knitters and crocheters called Ravelry. Frustrated yarn-lovers from around the world post pleas for help undoing their knottiest knots, often created by children, pets or yarn-winding mishaps. Devoted detanglers typically offer to take on the projects for the cost of shipping.

Alexander the Great, who according to legend sliced through the Gordian Knot rather than try to detangle it, would presumably not have approved.

(Via American Digest.)

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You again

Halfway through the season, and the dreaded word “pace” appears: the Thunder, now 29-12, are on pace, as they say, to win 58 games, which would probably get them third place in the West, what with the 35-6 Spurs on track for 70 and the Warriors headed for possible hoop history. The 1995-96 Chicago Bulls went 72-10; Golden State (now 37-3) could conceivably make it to 75 or 76 wins. There is, alas, history at the opposite end as well: the 76ers are 4-37, which doubles to 8-74, one game worse than the futility of 9-73, set by the 1972-73, um, Sixers.

With that minor detail out of the way, let it be noted that the second Timberwolves-Thunder game in three days — there will be a third before the end of the month — was much more one-sided than the first: the Wolves didn’t even score until almost four minutes in. The Wolves, however, throw in no towels, and after their last rally, an 8-5 run at the beginning of the fourth quarter, was thwarted, they kept on banging. The biggest difference from that previous game: the Oklahoma City bench did much better this time, with Dion Waiters coming up with 20 points, only one short of the mighty Kevin Durant himself. And Russell Westbrook posted yet another triple-double, 12-11-10 in a mere 27 minutes. The 113-93 win was, as the sports dudes say, wire to wire.

Still, the game-high scorer was Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins, who calmly nailed 25 points, and not so calmly tried to rip an arm off Steven Adams, for which he got a Flagrant One. And the Wolves were way better at the foul line, making 20 of 23, and outrebounded the Thunder by five. Plus there’s that no-towels thing, and the formidable presence of Damjan Rudež, who played 12 years in Europe before coming to the NBA last season. Rudež was on the floor for only the last couple of minutes, and he took one shot, which he made — which gave him a +5 for the night, best of any of the Wolves.

One last game on this homestand: the Miami Heat will be here Sunday. (Miami won the last outing, in South Beach.)


Feature not featured

I have entirely too much reason to trust Jack Baruth on this matter:

Like most cars built in the past 60 years or so, the VW Phaeton has a movable driver’s seat. Like the vast majority of the cars built in the past 30 years or so, the VW Phaeton has a center console. Now pay attention, because this is the important part. In pretty much every car I’ve driven since the day I got my license, ranging from raggedy old Escorts to brand-new Rolls-Royces, there is a small gap between the driver’s seat and the center console. If you are sitting in any of those cars and you are holding your phone, or your keys, or your wallet, or anything else that is less than an inch and a half wide, and you drop that item, it will fall between the seat and the center console. At that point, you will discover that, although the gap between the driver’s seat and the center console easily accommodates a smartphone or, say, an ex-West-Berlin-Police Walther PP pistol in caliber .32 ACP, it does not accommodate the hand of an adult male. Not without scratching and/or cutting it into ribbons.

For example: there was the time I dropped my phone during World Tour ’08, and the retrieval of same unearthed a wallet belonging to a teenaged girl, which had been hiding in the gap for over two years.

The gap also attracts coins; I think I’ve lost about $30 in change over nine and a half years.

So maybe I should have opted for the most expensive Volkswagen in creation, huh?

In the VW Phaeton, however, there is a thing. It’s a velour-covered molded piece and it fills in the gap between the driver’s seat and the center console. It’s made to flex a bit so even though the relationship of the seat to the console changes a bit throughout its range of travel, that piece still prevents anything from falling between the seat and the console. If you drop your phone or your keys or your Walther, it will land on that piece and there it will stay in easy reach of your hand.

This would not seem difficult to replicate in less-costly models, but so far nobody, not even Volkswagen, has seen fit to do so.

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And then you wane

Or perhaps you whine. I’m just going to put this up and pretend I never, ever saw it:

If your daily life is riddled with manspreaders, consider showing them this article. They will clasp their knees together with the sort of speed you would normally associate with Star Trek.

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Unearned earnings

Believe it or not, there are those who will simply not accept such things:

I expect some readers to have to tweak their Suspension of Disbelief glands to be able to grasp all this.


The medley lingers on

Why, of course you can do mashups of classical music. They might sound something like this:

I admit to being amused by the presence of the Star Wars Imperial March, and at exactly the right time, to boot.

Still, I can’t help thinking that Professor Peter Schickele was first.

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Rather than detail

I admit, I would not have thought of this:

[Y]ou can shine your hubcaps in the dishwasher. Simply load the hubcaps into your dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar (if you’re also cleaning the lug nuts, place them in a mesh bag before loading them into the dishwasher) and they’ll come out squeaky clean.

Reasons I would not have thought of this:

  • I have actual aluminum wheels;
  • I don’t have an actual dishwasher.

These conditions have prevailed for nine and twelve years, respectively.

(Via Fark.)

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Let’s get rude

It’ll take about four minutes:

Note: This song is not approved by the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association.

(Fishersville Mike will explain.)

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Phake phederal phish

This oddball item didn’t pass the first-level spam filter, but I fished it out just to see what it was all about:

Phony US Postal Service message

There is, as indicated, a .doc file attached, the sort of thing one clicks on only if one has a death wish, or if one’s picture accompanies the definition of gullible in the dictionary.

Oh, from the footnotes:

Please do not reply to this message. This email message was sent from a notification-only address that cannot accept incoming email.

The nerve.


Remaining decent

Lynn reports on an online petition:

Fifteen-year-old Cassy James has started a petition requesting that American Eagle Outfitters, Urban Outfitters, and Forever 21 start selling “modest, but fashionable clothing.” I really wish I could speak to and be heard by this young lady and others like her. Of course, even if I could she wouldn’t listen. I’m “too old”; I just “don’t get it.” But I have things to say and I have a blog and I’m calling on my three readers to make this go viral.

Inasmuch as I now have a teenaged granddaughter, I am happy to endorse this effort.

Also, last week someone uploaded a class picture from the distant past, which included somebody I was once horribly in love with. She’d have understood this, even then.

And Lynn makes a sensible suggestion:

When you know what you want you need to start voting with your purse. Do you really have to shop at the three stores you mentioned? You say they are your favorite stores but why is that if they don’t have what you want? Look around. Try other stores. Try Amazon. You can find anything on Amazon. Also, you can improve clothes by the way you accessorize. If a garment is “too old looking” for you add some young jewelry. If a shirt or dress is too low cut add a scarf. If a shirt is too tight just buy the next larger size. That’s the easiest problem of all to solve.

Yea, verily.

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Lamp unto thy feet

Yes, this Taiwanese structure is a church, and yes, it’s supposed to look like a giant high heel:

There is, of course, a perfectly good reason for this:

In a bid to attract female attendees, officials in Budai have finished work on a 55-foot tall glass pump-slash-church. It is ridiculous. It is amazing. It is very, very shiny.

Set to open before the Lunar New Year on February 8, the non-denominational church structure was created in just two months. Despite the fact that its design strikingly resembles that of Cinderella’s famous glass slippers, the shape and material actually come from a wedding tradition in which the bride steps on and shatters ceramic tiles before entering the groom’s family home. (Shattering things is a crosscultural wedding thing.)

And for God’s sake, I implore you, don’t go Googling “foot worship.” Not now, not ever.

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It’s a madhouse down there

Surprise number one: Rick Carlisle decided to sit four starters tonight, including, yes, Dirk, after a tough overtime game last night against Cleveland. Surprise number two: The Mavericks came out in a 2-3 zone, and mostly stuck with it. Surprise number three: All hell broke loose in the second quarter, starting with a J. J. Barea/Russell Westbrook tiff which ended with five technical fouls assessed. Charlie Villanueva got two of them and was escorted to the locker room. Before the half ended, Barea and Westbrook were at it again, and Westbrook was thumbed. Surprise number three and a half: Westbrook had been fouled before being tossed, and Carlisle, under the rules, got to pick any active player to make those free throws. He chose Mitch McGary, who made one of them.

After all that, the game itself was almost anticlimactic. Oklahoma City led Dallas 65-43 at the half; the Mavs crept to within a dozen or so several times, but the high point in Loud City seemed to be the opportunity to boo Barea, the Mavs’ leading scorer with 18, who committed four personal fouls. Most interesting to Mavs watchers, perhaps, was an extended look at Salah Mejri, the 29-year-old rookie center from Tunisia, who collected 17 points and nine rebounds in just under 25 minutes. Without Mejri’s 7-8 shooting, the Mavs’ dismal 39-percent shooting would have been about five points worse.

Westbrook’s unscheduled departure left him with a very odd line: no points — he missed three shots from the floor and four from the stripe — but seven rebounds and eight assists. This left scoring opportunities for Serge Ibaka (20), Dion Waiters (18) and Cameron Payne (10). (Kevin Durant had a modest, for Kevin Durant, 29 points.) Billy Donovan even saw fit to bring out D. J. Augustin, who’d been epoxied to the bench all month; he went scoreless in eight minutes. Still, this game, askew as it was, answered no questions, and managed to propose yet another:

And either of them, I think, more than James Harden.

What? Oh, yes. The score. Oklahoma City 108, Dallas 89. OKC leads the season series two-zip.

Addendum: On the front page of the Oklahoman the next day:

Thunder tops Mavs in fiesty game

So, like a fiesta, then?


Bulbs for the future

And they’re incandescent, as God and Tom Edison intended:

Scientists in the US believe they have come up with a solution which could see a reprieve for incandescent bulbs.

Researchers at MIT have shown that by surrounding the filament with a special crystal structure in the glass they can bounce back the energy which is usually lost in heat, while still allowing the light through.

They refer to the technique as “recycling light” because the energy which would usually escape into the air is redirected back to the filament where it can create new light.

“It recycles the energy that would otherwise be wasted,” said Professor Marin Soljacic.

You’d get your colors back, too:

Traditional incandescent bulbs have a “colour rendering index” rating of 100, because they match the hue of objects seen in natural daylight. However even “warm” finish LED or florescent bulbs can only manage an index rating of 80 and most are far less.

And you might even get the goddamn Gaians off your case, too:

Usually traditional light bulbs are only about five per cent efficient, with 95 percent of the energy being lost to the atmosphere. In comparison LED or florescent bulbs manage around 14 percent efficiency. But the scientists believe that the new bulb could reach efficiency levels of 40 percent.

No estimated price was given, but my immediate reaction was “Twenty bucks each? Gimme a dozen.”

The research was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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