It’s not like they were condemned to the streets

A little-known provision of the previous collective-bargaining agreement between the NBA and its players will provide some money to the players during the lockout:

The escrow funds — representing eight percent of each NBA player’s salary — are held back each season to ensure that the players’ share of basketball-related income does not exceed the contractually agreed-upon percentage, currently 57 percent. This year, for the first time since the system was introduced in the collective bargaining agreement that came out of the 1998-99 lockout, the cut to players will fall short, sources with the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association confirmed.

When a final audit is completed later this month, the players will have been paid less than 57 percent of BRI and will be due the entire $160 million. It’s the first time the players will have the full escrow returned, a union spokesman said.

The owners, of course, hope to have that percentage adjusted downward in the next CBA. In the meantime, Serge Ibaka, one of the lower-paid Thundermen, will be getting a check for 0.08 x 1204200 = $96,336. Less taxes, of course.

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Blue screen of defecation

News Item: Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft who has morphed into the world’s best-known philanthropist, wants to reinvent the toilet.

Top Ten ways a Bill Gates-designed toilet would be different:

  1. Occasionally crashes for no discernible reason
  2. Every week it seems a little heavier
  3. Changing the flapper requires remote reactivation
  4. On Tuesday night you have to flush at least twice whether you used it or not
  5. You can use a third-party handle, but you have to leave the original one in place
  6. After several years plumbers will refuse to work on it
  7. Steve Jobs will rush out an iJohn for twice the price
  8. Confusion about the term “American Standard”
  9. Can’t remember the most recent seat position
  10. You never know what’s downloading

(Inspired by SteveF at Daily Pundit.)

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You can’t make me

WordPress Head of Bug Creation (says so right here) Matt Mullenweg crows a little bit, and who can blame him?

As noted on TNW and Adweek, yesterday [10 July] we passed over 50,000,000 websites, blogs, portfolios, stores, pet projects, and of course cat websites powered by WordPress.

On the stats page Mullenweg quotes there’s this parenthetical note: “we host about half.”

Now comes this announcement for the other half:

After more than a million downloads of WordPress 3.2, we’re now releasing WordPress 3.2.1 into the wild.

Do the math. This is an admission, albeit oblique, that close to 24 million WordPress users are still using versions prior to 3.2.

No wonder they nag you in the Dashboard. (Unless, of course, you’re using a really old version which lacks the nag feature.)

Disclosure: I installed 3.2.1 last night.

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Thinning the basic repertoire

Bryan Townsend, on the seemingly-irreversible decline of classical music in contemporary culture:

[A] lot of people, through lack of exposure, or from too much exposure to the ear-deadening horrors of most popular music, simply cannot appreciate classical music. This is ok, much like the monasteries in the dark ages of Europe, we few will preserve the essence of civilization during our dark ages. One day there will come a Renaissance. In the meantime, the power and essence of classical music will become purified and concentrated. Do you know why we only have seven plays by Aeschylus and seven by Sophocles? They wrote many more. But the scholars, grammarians and monks of Byzantium and the monasteries copied and preserved only those works chosen as being the best. They did this for more than a thousand years…

Still, that makes 3011 look awfully grim:

I sincerely hope that it won’t be that long before classical music comes back into its own. But who knows? I can just see a blogger of the far future saying “do you know why we only have seven symphonies by Haydn and seven by Mozart and seven by Beethoven?”

I don’t expect things to get quite that bad. For one thing, for us to lose a whole lot of Mozart, for instance, we’d pretty much have to lose Köchel’s catalog too, and I have to believe there’d be enough Persistent Completists out there who’d wonder about all those missing numbers once K. 626 (the Requiem in D minor) turned up somewhere. This phenomenon already exists in pop music: there are the so-called Whitburn collectors, who seek to own every record that ever charted, based on Joel Whitburn’s Record Research series, and a lot of otherwise-unavailable source material is keyed to Whitburn’s index, which has conveniently (for users, if not for Billboard, which licensed Whitburn’s work) been converted to spreadsheet format.

And besides, the correct number of symphonies to have is nine.

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How far we have fallen

Or, more precisely, how far we have refused to raise ourselves in recent times:

We used to have an SST. No more. We revolutionized astronomy with the Hubble. Its replacement, the Webb, has been cancelled. We used to visit the vacuum of perpetual night in a spacecraft straight out of Amazing Stories — and the last one will shortly make its last flight. The International Space Station is scheduled for “deorbiting” in the next ten years. There is no plan to replace it. Humanity, which once crossed oceans in hilariously tiny boats, has turned inward, and instead of reaching for the stars, now stares morosely at the ground, its shoulders bent in a shrug of despair. No more vision, no more courage, no more faith in our own destiny.

Yeah, but look! We have twirly light bulbs!

How this happened, says commenter “drobviousso” at Daily Pundit:

Sometime, something great happens. The moon landing. The atomic bomb. Even the interstate highway system were all great advancements brought to you [by] Uncle Sam (apple pie not included).

But then Uncle Sam gets complacent. We haven’t had an infrastructure improvement worth noting in my entire lifetime. NIMBYism is keeping our cleanest, cheapest source of energy out of reach. And we are retiring a shuttle that came out the same year as the Fleetwood V-8-6-4, with nothing to replace it.

These days, even our apple pie is fake.

Addendum: Andrea Harris notes:

Perhaps science fiction is to blame. As long as outer space shows us a pretty but empty face, we’ll be content with using our imagination to populate the stars while we stay right here on Earth. In space no one can hear your sigh of disappointment.

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Fill in the blanks, I suppose

How is Zappos going to get you to notice that they’re now selling other apparel besides shoes? Apparently by showing you someone not wearing it:

Zappos: More Than Shoes

Three ads of this general nature will be appearing in magazines this summer. All feature female models, though we are assured that there will be men appearing in some of Zappos’ Web ads.

There is precedent of a sort for this: at least a decade ago, Abercrombie & Fitch’s catalog showed a lot of their clothes not being worn by their models.

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

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In a head-to-head comparo (one of six) in the August ’11 issue, Car and Driver recommends the Chevrolet Volt over the Lexus CT200h hybrid, and scribe Aaron Robinson demonstrates his mastery of the fine art known as Praising With Faint Damns:

Lord knows, it’s not gorgeous. And the cockpit’s tall, square screens and touch-sensitive buttons look like the designers locked themselves up with a Commodore PET, a Betamax, and the original Tron on loop.

But it’s not often that you get to park pioneering propulsion technology in your garage.

Robinson, that rotter, has now given me the urge to see one of these contraptions for myself, even though I’ve seen the pictures. Then again, how was he to know that I’ve owned several Commodore machines and still have a Betamax and a copy (on laserdisc, yet!) of Tron?

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Nor does “dress of color” work

Yet another reason why you can’t trust spearchuckers spellcheckers:

Some multicultural zealot among the editing caste had programmed the computer system’s spell checker to change every use of the word “black” to the more politically-correct “African American.”

Which, naturally enough, immediately resulted in a screwup. The phrase “little black cocktail dress” in a fashion article was changed to “little African-American cocktail dress.”

So as to add some Google juice to this unfortunate turn of phrase, here’s the lovely Kerry Washington in what is not precisely a little African-American cocktail dress:

Kerry Washington in Louis Vuitton

Blazer and feathered skirt by Louis Vuitton. Scene: Essence luncheon in Beverly Hills, February 2009.

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Does your garbage misbehave?

This has been on the bottom of OKC utility bills for several years, and it continues to strike me as funny. The bill always ends with the next couple of dates to set out bulk waste — in my neighborhood, it’s the first Wednesday of the month — and then this warning:

Bulk waste set out more than 3 days early may be fined up to $500.

Trust me on this: bulk waste isn’t listening and doesn’t respond well to threats.

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That’s what she said, only not quite

Sunday, Los Angeles Times columnist Patt Morrison complained about the seeming lack of civic spirit exhibited by Zooey Deschanel at BAFTA’s Brits to Watch event on Saturday:

To my friend and former Times colleague Claudia Puig, now the USA Today critic and film writer, Ms. Deschanel worried aloud that the neighborhood around the fabulously restored Belasco Theatre might look shabby to the regal couple. “I just don’t want them to see the worst of L.A.,” said Deschanel.

Excuse me? Downtown, the worst of L.A.?

What, Ms. Deschanel, you don’t have any homeless people there near your Westside home? Or does that not count, because they’re on the beach, not the sidewalks?

Apart from the fact that ZD doesn’t live on the Westside — well, let her speak for herself:

[T]he quote from USA TODAY that you used as the foundation of your piece was taken completely out of context. I NEVER said that Downtown LA was “the worst of LA”. I did make a reference to a parking lot adjacent to the theater that had a lot of trash in it in an attempt to be humorous. I simply said, “It’s funny they brought royalty here, there is a parking lot with trash around the corner.” It wasn’t an opinion. It was true. There was indeed a parking lot with trash around the corner. I thought that the juxtaposition of British Royalty and trash was amusing in a high-brow + low-brow sort of way, but I never said that I, personally, didn’t like downtown, the Royals, or even trash.

Maybe she thought that one particular location in downtown L.A. was the worst: say, around First and Spring.

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Surfer dudes pick Big Kahuna

Yes, the very surfer dudes who have hosted this site for about a decade have actually gone out and hired a proper CEO:

DreamHost, a global full-service web hosting company, has selected Simon Anderson as its Chief Executive Officer. Simon is the first person to fill the CEO role in a full-time capacity at DreamHost in the company’s thirteen-year history.

DreamHost co-founder Josh Jones will step down from his interim CEO position to become an advisor to Simon alongside DreamHost’s three other co-founders, Dallas Kashuba, Michael Rodriguez, and Sage Weil, all of whom have given their enthusiastic approval to integrate Simon’s powerful Australian accent and movie-star jawline into the DreamHost workplace.

Said integration may take a little longer than usual:

“Please do not send out this press release,” said Simon when asked for comment. “I’m serious. I may not be your boss until the 11th, but I will remember this.” Raising his voice to be heard among the rising din of laughter from the board Simon then went on to protest, “Seriously guys, this is not something to joke about. I’m here to build the business by seeking out unique partnership opportunities, positioning DreamHost to be a true innovator in the traditional and cloud hosting ecosystems, and exploiting the multitudes of next-gen technology that we’ve got cooking in the DreamHost labs. I simply cannot do that if silly press releases like this make me out to be some kind of superhuman demigod.” Simon was then treated to thunderous applause by all within earshot before placing his head in his hands and resigning himself to the fact that he had, in fact, inherited a business run by lunatics.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, evidently.

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As opposed to Cimoc Snas

There now exists a Dyslexia (or Dyslexie) font, intended for better readability by the dyslectics among us. The theory behind it: too many letters look too much alike, and that by introducing distinct variations among similar letters, we can make the text easier to read.

How it works:

(From Quipsologies by way of this Costa Tsiokos tweet.)

Addendum: “The real question is whether there will ever be a cure for Stacy McCain’s Luddism,” says Smitty.

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Sheer and sheer alike

Boston Globe columnist Beth Teitell, musing about the Duchess of Cambridge’s wardrobe selections of late, finds herself questioning the wisdom of fashionistas:

Kate, Duchess of CambridgeThere she was getting off a Royal Canadian Air Force plane in Canada, looking polished in a navy lace overlay dress, a coordinating clutch — and sheer hose. And there she was greeting adoring fans in Ottawa, looking lovely in a cream dress from Reiss, red shoes — and sheer hose. OK, I know she’s traveling with her hairdresser and spends more on a single clutch than I do on my entire handbag wardrobe, but I found myself thinking that maybe if I just wore stockings things would happen for me, too.

Blasphemy! I hear you cry. And yet:

American women understandably rejoiced when the fashion gods freed us from stockings, but it turns out that the only thing worse than being forced to wear stockings in summer is not being allowed to wear stockings in summer.

Then again, it was 110°F in Oklahoma City Saturday. Hosiery of the non-sock variety was nowhere to be seen until well after dark, if then. Meanwhile, the Duchess is simply following protocol.

Jezebel’s Margaret Hartmann observes:

Now I own a few pairs of stockings and like to wear them when faced with blisters, frigid temperatures or particularly clingy dresses. I also tend to break them out for extremely formal affairs, and I’d count any day you’re addressed as “Duchess” as a formal occasion. But I’m not particularly attached to pantyhose. I’m just hoping (probably in vain) that Kate manages to make stockings slightly more acceptable, thus putting an end to the feuding over what leg attire a woman chooses on a given day.

This is the point at which I am required to mention that the usual garb at 42nd and Treadmill is T-shirts and jeans, and that sigh you just heard may represent either relief or frustration. Or both.

(Via Broke & Beautiful, which finds the newsworthiness of it all just slightly risible.)

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Meanwhile in Rumbek

A report from the scene in South Sudan, dated just before independence:

The national anthem of South Sudan is everywhere, on the radio when I wake up in the morning, on the breath of uniformed children on their way to school and set as every other person’s ringtone. I haven’t learnt the words yet, but the boys in the family I am staying with have been studying them dutifully for the last week so I think that base is covered. In the afternoon you cannot move in town for all the groups of school children.

Rumbek was the original administrative center of South Sudan; the government was later moved to Juba, which now serves as the capital of the independent Republic of South Sudan.

And this is the national anthem:

I think. There are several different versions up on YouTube, suggesting that the words have been rewritten several times. The song, to coin a phrase, remains the same.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Two wheels good, four wheels better?

The City of New York now has several hundred miles of bicycle lanes, and not everyone is happy about that, a situation which seems to perplex Joe Bob Briggs:

Why the heck do people hate bicycle lanes so much? I’ve been asking random people this question for a week, and you get the impression that a lot of folks who have never navigated a bike through the city consider the bike lanes elitist, hipsterish, and just fruity in general. The average man on the street gets especially annoyed by cycling gear, like pointy orange DayGlo helmets and purple thigh-enhancing spandex pants, as though the bike lane is some kind of Easter Parade for Tour de France wannabes named Esteban.

Then again:

When I was a 19-year-old college student, I used to bike 22 miles roundtrip from Albertslund, Denmark, where I lived, to downtown Copenhagen, where the university was, without ever riding on a public street or — get this — even crossing a street with automobiles. In the greater Copenhagen area they have dedicated bike interstates. These roads are about 15 feet wide and they go under and over the automobile roads. So Janette Sadik-Khan went and found the guy that designed that system, gave him a consulting deal, and now they’re finding all these new ways to separate cars from bicycles.

Janette Sadik-Khan, in case you didn’t recognize the name, is currently the Commissioner of the Department of Transportation of the City of New York, or, as the New York Post’s Andrea Peyser calls her, “the psycho bike lady.”

The way I see it, even if you buy P. J. O’Rourke’s denunciation of the bicycle as “the perfect way to go nowhere while carrying nothing,” shouldn’t you want those cyclists routed somewhere out of your way?

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Tennis, everyone

I hate like hell to side with Comcast on anything, but this bothers me:

The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau has told an administrative law judge that he should mandate Tennis Channel carriage on a “widely viewed” — though not necessarily most widely penetrated — Comcast tier and fine the cable operator the maximum for that program carriage rule violation.

Comcast’s grievous offense here, it appears, consists of actually owning sports channels:

The bureau recommends that the judge force Comcast to carry the channel “across Comcast’s cable systems nationwide on a broadly distributed tier” within the next 30 days and at a price on par with Golf Channel or Versus, both of which are owned by Comcast. The FCC’s program-access rules prevent cable operators from favoring co-owned channels over similar, non-affiliated channels.

The prescribed fine is $375,000.

What I want to know is this: where the hell was the bureau when Comcast was acquiring everything in sight, up to and including NBC Universal, the previous owners of Golf Channel and Versus? Hands in their pockets, and never mind where they keep their thumbs.

The FCC utters a lot of “competition” talk, but never do they do anything that would actually encourage competition; they rubber-stamp mergers, they reinforce monopolies — how many cable companies can you get? — and they’ve willingly handed over almost the entirety of American broadcasting to a handful of conglomerates to whom “local service” means “you can get the same Disney crap that the big cities do.” The Internet is busy finishing off what’s left of broadcast. In a sensible world, the FCC would die with it.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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