In advance of Hearth’s Warming Eve

We have here a shot of a My Little Pony Advent calendar sold in Germany at Lidl stores:

MLP Advent Calendar

I think it’s a safe bet you won’t see these in the States.

(Original photo supplied to EqD by SleepToFade.)

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Giant lizards shut down

How bad were things going for the Raptors? Kyle Lowry departed the scene early on with a sprain, and matters did not get worse. The Thunder were up 30-17 after the first quarter, 57-38 at the half, and won it by 20, 108-88.

Still, there were bright spots for Toronto. Jonas Valančiūnas, the #5 draft pick by the Raptors last year — they were unable to buy him out of his Eurocontract at the time — put in a solid 31 minutes at center, with a team-high 18 points on 6-8 shooting, and José Calderón makes a perfectly plausible sixth man. On the downside, DeMar DeRozan had DeWorst night he’s had in a while, shooting 2-10 and watching four swats.

With the starters exiting early, both benches got a workout, with OKC’s reserves outscoring Toronto’s by one point (42-41). Unsurprisingly, Kevin Martin led the Thunder bench with 15; not at all unsurprisingly, Hasheem Thabeet managed ten points (and, of course, six fouls). That rare crossbreed, the Average Russell Westbrook, showed up tonight to claim game-high honors with 19. And for OKC, it was the kind of night where Kevin Durant could score only 15 and still finish +23.

This was another of those “When all else fails, go for the long ball” nights for both sides: the Raptors made seven of 30, the Thunder nine of 25. And just to say they did, Toronto went to a 2-3 zone briefly in the third quarter, which baffled OKC for a couple of minutes, but no longer.

Next: Thursday night in Chicago. The Bulls thrashed the Thunder in the preseason, but hey, that was preseason. Derrick Rose is still out, which may or may not make a difference. Right now, I’m thinking it doesn’t.

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We got your turnout right here

This year, they consolidated two precincts into a single polling place, but hardly anyone showed up for 181, while 195 was busy as all get-out, as the old folks used to say. Still: in and out in thirty minutes flat, with ballot #1211, assuming I read the newfangled machine correctly. (This location can accommodate at least 18 voters at a time; the ballots are barcoded by precinct.)

A lot of youngsters were along for the ride, and not one of them within earshot acted up.

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Rather a lot of Pooh

For some reason this made me laugh:

The other day my 9-year-old daughter asked me which presidential candidate got my vote four years ago. “Bob Barr,” I said. “Babar?” she said. “He must have been a Republican.”

I’m pretty sure he was an elephant, anyway.

And if we’re going to drift into Milne, who wrote the introduction to the first English version of The Story of Babar, we might as well go full Hundred Acre Wood:

If Babar is a Republican, does that mean Eeyore is a Democrat? I rebel at the notion, since he is the A.A. Milne character with whom I identify the most. I suspect that Eeyore is not a member of any party and does not vote. (And why should he?) Winnie the Pooh is probably a Democrat, since he seems to believe he has a right to other people’s honey. Christopher Robin, given his paternalistic attitude and gun, might be a Republican. Piglet obviously is a filthy pinko.

Tigger? Please.

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Someone filling spare time being creative? Possibly, but probably not:

Sometimes in the playground I’ll see a young mother sitting on a bench, her head bent over her hands, which are working rapidly before her. I’ll think, “Oh, a knitter!” and have a warm rush of nostalgia for playgrounds in certain neighborhoods of New York, as well as for graduate school, the subway, and other places where women, including me, would knit when we had the chance to sit down. I move closer to see what she’s working on, but as I come nearer, I realize that the mom in the playground is actually texting. It’s a small reminder of the fact that very few people in our culture make things with their hands now, and that we spend inordinate amounts of time on the fleeting and the evanescent.

Then again, some common knitting terms, as abbreviated, look very much like txtspk, as anyone who’s ever done a cdd can tell you.

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Press unreleased

Even the biggest blogs don’t have nearly the resources of the, um, legacy news-gathering organizations, says Bill Quick:

Essentially, blogs live on the vast gray hides of the NYTs and APs of the world, like tick-birds on rhinos. What I can easily see happening is that the state will take over that function, either by outright bankrolling favored organizations, or, in the event of their collapse, setting up something like “The Government News Service.”

And bloggers will probably have to buy licenses and pass exams in order to be allowed to reprint anything from that service.

Fortunately, if said Government News Service is anything like, oh, let’s say, the Bureau of Labor Statistics — and realistically, why wouldn’t it be? — the only reason why you’d want to mention anything it says is to show how it’s wrong.

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Another one fights the rust

Chances are, if you have a local Suzuki dealer, he sells motorcycles and/or ATVs or maybe marine equipment. If he sells cars, well, he won’t be for very long: American Suzuki Motors is officially throwing in the towel. Yesterday’s announcement on the Web:

Today we announced that we will realign our business to focus on the long-term growth of our Motorcycles/ATV and Marine divisions. Following a thorough review of our current position and future opportunities in the U.S. automotive market, we have made the difficult but necessary decision to wind down and discontinue new automobile sales in the continental U.S. Consistent with our long history of standing by our products, ASMC automobile owners will be protected. All warranties will continue to be fully honored, in accordance with their terms, and automobile parts and service will be provided to consumers without interruption through ASMC’s parts and service dealer network.

From the press release [pdf]:

In evaluating its position in the highly regulated and competitive U.S. automotive industry, ASMC determined that its Automotive division was facing a number of serious challenges. These challenges include low sales volumes, a limited number of models in its line-up, unfavorable foreign exchange rates, the high costs associated with growing and maintaining an automotive distribution system in the continental U.S. and the disproportionally high and increasing costs associated with stringent state and federal regulatory requirements unique to the U.S. market.

The yen-dollar ratio was critical, since Suzuki had only one locally-sourced vehicle, the Equator pickup, basically a Nissan Frontier with a fresh set of badges.

Through October, Suzuki has sold only 21,188 cars and trucks this year, about half as many as Mitsubishi, which will likely be the next to go.

And a bit of irony, courtesy of Wikipedia’s article on the Suzuki Kizashi sedan:

Kizashi is a Japanese word which means “something great is coming”, “omen”, “sign”, or “warning”.

Not necessarily in that order, it would appear.

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Linear than thou

There are times when I think we should just appreciate what’s there and not try to analyze it to death.

This is one of those times:

A plastic surgeon claims he has found the formula for the ideal pair of legs, and straight bones are the main ingredient.

Fahd Benslimane spent 12 years analysing photographs of models and athletes as well as a range of other sources, including Greek statues, Barbie dolls and sketches by Leonardo da Vinci, to work out what type of legs were considered the most attractive in the western world.

He concluded that legs with bones that run in a straight line from the top of the thigh through to the knee joint and ankle, with nips and curves at the knee and calf, were the most desirable, because they combine fragility with strength.

Well, you can’t get much straighter than Barbie, who doesn’t even have a knee joint to break up her Blessed Straightness.

And of course we must be mindful of context:

What comes to mind when I say double-jointed therapist

Okay, maybe not that much.

(Highly questionable samples at the Fark thread whence this came.)

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Rinehart unwrapped again

Last time we heard from former County Commissioner, occasional money-grubber and comic-book publisher Brent Rinehart, he was trying to ease his way back into public office. Having failed at that, well, why not try this?

The testy race for Oklahoma County Sheriff took a new twist today, with incumbent Democrat John Whetsel’s campaign manager noting a disgraced former county commissioner has joined those opposing Whetsel.

Former Oklahoma County Commissioner Brent Rinehart has inserted himself into the campaign, said Pat Hall.

Hall speculates on Rinehart’s motives in signing on to the Darrell Sorrels campaign:

“Brent Rinehart was a guest of Sheriff Whetsel’s at the Oklahoma County Jail,” said Hall. “I’d guess that Rinehart did not enjoy his stay in the Oklahoma County jail when he broke the law and so now he is trying to get even and help elect a new sheriff, one that might look the other way if he tries to break the law again.”

Somehow I can’t imagine Sorrels, an experienced lawman, actually wanting this character on his side.

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Yes, we have no tracking numbers

I imagine this scene is being played out in lots of places:

World Headquarters for my company are just outside of New York City. They are sans power. That means no email. There are no phones. No computers. No shipping. No receiving. Things are akin to Gilligan’s Island (no phones, no lights, no motor cars, it’s as primitive as can be). To quote the classic 1980’s commercial, “We are closed now!”

I have no way to communicate with the folks at corporate. One of the customer service reps calls me on his cell every morning to give me an update. There is no electricity.

And in case you didn’t catch on:

Yes, transportation — trucks etc. — could be a problem. I do not know. We have not tried to call in any trucks because we have no electricity. We cannot ship anything. We have not scheduled your truck for pickup because we do not know when electricity will be restored.

Everything, whether we like it or not, is connected to everything else.

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Skip the next forty-nine

This would save so much reading:

Cartoon by Tatsuya Ishida

(Via Dating Fails.)

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Strange search-engine queries (353)

It wouldn’t be a Monday without a romp through the search strings, although for some reason it never occurs to me to not do them and see if Monday goes away.

oscar wilde eating alone:  There weren’t a lot of great dining companions in Reading Gaol.

that are quite unsingable:  According to some, the National Anthem usually are.

gruesome car wrecks photos:  Sorry, Charlie, we don’t do death porn.

I have a letter and apiece of unwrapped gum from the Wrigley company from 1930’s is it worth anything?  Sorry, Charlie, we don’t do questionable vintage foodstuffs.

hungry for love 1965:  And pretty much ever since, not that it’s any of your business.

crossdressing boys corsets busels old dresses fiction:  You hope it’s fiction, anyway.

mrs butterworth rule 34:  Um, that ain’t syrup.

Past (and any subsequent words) was ignored because we limit queries to 32 words:  Most of our political rhetoric of late involved ignoring the past.

j lo advertised a mouthwash, cars and hosiery:  Three things I value highly, by some strange coincidence.

bill clinton penis size 5.5:  Nobody here can attest to that. Or would want to.

“average male shoe size” “size 14”:  Anyone know Bill Clinton’s shoe size?

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None of your falcon business

The Hawks didn’t come here last year, owing to the abbreviated schedule. It wouldn’t have bothered me if they’d waited another year: Atlanta, despite the absence of Josh Smith, took an early lead, fell behind in the second quarter, and just kept on pushing, finishing off the Thunder 104-95 at the ‘Peake.

The major problem was the Thunder’s inability to control the rock. We’re talking twenty-one turnovers, handing the Hawks 31 points. (Atlanta hocked up the ball only ten times.) And offensively, it didn’t seem to matter whether it was the starters or the reserves on the floor: the Hawks’ bench got 47 points. Lou Williams had 19, 13 in the third quarter alone. Then again, Williams shot only 5-14.

Which was still better than Russell Westbrook, who struggled all night and wound up at 5-18, though he did manage nine assists. Kevin Durant, left in for 42 minutes, returned his usual double-double — 22 points, 12 rebounds — Kevin Martin, who scored 22 in the first half, finished with 28, which is pretty good until you consider that the entire bench production was 32. (Nick Collison got the other four.) The Thunder remains difficult to block — Al Horford (23 points, 12 boards) got the only Atlanta swat — but how much did the Hawks have to block when OKC was just giving the ball away?

A 1-2 opening is, as the phrase goes, not optimal. There’s nothing going on that can’t be fixed; but Tuesday the Raptors will be here, and Toronto hasn’t been an actual pushover for OKC in years.

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Indeed the one

The New Petula Clark AlbumSometimes things just don’t go according to plan. After “Downtown” and the very similar “I Know a Place,” Tony Hatch and the rest of Petula Clark’s brain trust decided to move in a different direction. However, the next two singles, the moody “You’d Better Come Home” and the anthemic “Round Every Corner,” were only smallish hits. What to do? Clark herself had cowritten three songs on the I Know a Place LP, which in the UK was curiously titled The New Petula Clark Album, and one of them, “You’re the One,” was selected as the comeback single.

Well, in Europe, anyway. (There’s a lovely French version with the same backing track, called “Un mal pour un bien.”) Warner Bros. was ready for some hot 45 action in the States with this record, but a cover by the Pittsburgh vocal group the Vogues had beaten them to it, and, said Petula, “Let the boys have the hit.” Just the same, it showed up on Greatest Hits Vol. 1, alongside “Call Me,” a Hatch original that brought one-hit wonder Chris Montez his second hit. Judging by her reaction to his follow-up, “The More I See You,” Petula apparently didn’t mind that either.

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Trade secrets

I am reasonably certain nobody out there is particularly interested in how I put this stuff together. (Besides, I’ve already revealed the Deepest, Darkest Secret.) However, I am always interested in how everyone else does it, so I pass along to you Roger’s modus blogendi:

I find it easier to write when I know what I’m going to write about, which I suppose is obvious. For instance, if I know for an ABC Wednesday post X is for X-Rays (it won’t be, at least not this time around), it puts me to mind to think about all the X-rays I’ve had. The brain will percolate in the background while I’m doing something else, such as showering or bicycling, then, suddenly, a theme emerges.

After I have written it, I might change it, but it’s easier to change something than nothing. If it isn’t tied to a specific date, I might even move it to another day because I need to say THIS more right now. THIS is usually for some national or world event, or perhaps a noteworthy death.

I can relate to that percolation process. I am not a multitasker by any strict definition of the word, but I can devote CPU slices, so to speak, to pondering what’s going to be written and when. And I have moved pieces up or down in the queue as priorities seem to shift: for instance, that piece on the HondaJet appearing yesterday morning was actually written Thursday afternoon, having been deemed to have a lower priority than some other stuff in the can.

There are, of course, regular features: strange search-engine queries (Mondays), the Rebecca Black news (Fridays), the Review of Fabulous Babes (usually twice a week), and Thunder recaps (82, or more, times a year). Beyond that, there are irregular features. But that still leaves me about a hundred slots a month to fill, and I’d just as soon not fill it all up with news or shoes or pony.

Which is why I’m always writing, even when I’m not writing: I come up with ideas while doing chores, or while sitting in traffic, or sometimes while I’m doing something dull and repetitious at work. (I don’t actually type this stuff during work hours, unless something utterly compelling has come up that demands an immediate post.)

Someone once asked if I ever did a post just because I had a title for it. Now really, what do you think?

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Quote of the week

Daily Pundit’s nemo paradise, expressing gratitude to the perpetrators of the DDOS attack waged against that site last week:

First, it means that someone fears DP enough to literally attempt to kill it. I had no idea that we could sting that hard. Now I do. Thank you.

Second, it means that someone put a lot of their time, effort and money into doing it. What could be more gratifying than to know this, and demonstrate to them that they have … failed. Here we are. What we experienced was the internet version of someone interrupting someone else by shouting nyah nyah nyah. Sooner or later they run out of breath. The message gets out anyway.

Finally, nothing reveals poverty of principle, nor proves more thoroughly the childish thuggery of the vandals who took down the site, than this hooligan attack on our right to speak. Confronted by ideas that they cannot negotiate with rebuttal, they instead yell “Shut up!” Do you remember those people from high school? They were the ones with the protruding brows and the scrape marks on their knuckles.

And in fact they’re still in high school, emotionally if not physically.

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