Rockets fizzle

The depleted Houston Rockets, missing Yao Ming, Aaron Brooks and Chase Budinger — though Budinger was listed as available — managed to hang close for about fifteen minutes, but the Thunder were anxious to show that they can actually win big in the Froze Center, and they won big enough to persuade Scott Brooks to let eleven guys play: for the first time in I don’t know how long, Oklahoma City won four quarters in a row to post a 116-99 win in front of a slightly-less-than-sellout crowd.

In fact, OKC had enough of a lead to give the starters a rest; only Russell Westbrook (21 points, 12 assists) played more than 30 minutes. Serge Ibaka, still starting in place of the injured Jeff Green, wangled 11 points and eight boards, and if Ibaka were bucking for Green’s slot at the four, he’s making a pretty good case for himself. The Thunder hit exactly half their shots and went 5-12 from beyond the arc. Telltale stat: OKC gave up only eight turnovers, apart from the dribble-out, this game. They’ve had quarters this year with more turns than that.

Meanwhile, Houston had the always-scary Luis Scola, who outscored everyone (including Kevin Durant) tonight with 26, hitting 12 of 19. Perhaps the nicest surprise the Rockets got was the continuing development of rookie guard Ish Smith, who tied his career high of 12 points and served up five dimes in 25 minutes. But there really wasn’t a whole lot for Rick Adelman to be happy about.

Up next: a back-to-back on the road, Friday at Boston, Saturday at Milwaukee. In back-to-backs so far, the Thunder have been dropping the first one and winning the second. I suspect this pattern will continue, at least through this weekend.

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Mrs Butterworth, line two, please

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Careful with that bacon, Eugene

From my Twitter stream yesterday morning: “Should we assume an apron shortage in the UK?”

Here’s why:

It’s not quite the naked chef, but according to a new poll, one in 10 men likes to cook in the nude.

The extraordinary statistic was revealed today in a study of the cooking habits of 3,000 men and women across the country — with 12 per cent of men saying they prefer to do it in the buff, compared to just four per cent of women.

Based on that loaded word “prefer,” which suggests multiple experiences, I suspect that this is the percentage of unclothed folks who have already burned something unfortunate and lived to tell.

Again, this is a survey from the United Kingdom. Stateside, I suspect guys who cook are more likely to be on the back porch manning the grill, a location which does not always lend itself well to nudity.

And since when is 12 percent “one in 10″?

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Not available

News Item: [TMZ reported Tuesday] that Tony Parker had filed for divorce from Eva Longoria. But a rep for Eva tells TMZ that that is not true and that Tony doesn’t even have a divorce lawyer.

So Eva continues to be off the market. Not that this affects my plans in any way, except to give me an excuse to put up a picture:

Eva Longoria in 2008

This was, if I recall correctly, a publicity shot taken prior to the 2008-09 season of Desperate Housewives.

Note: I didn’t watch the TV coverage of the Spurs-Thunder game Sunday night — I followed it on the radio — so I have no idea if Eva was on hand to watch Tony lead all scorers with 24.

Update: Then again… (See Comments.)

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The future of medicine

It may well involve a whole new class of patients:

The Pepper Dog’s full panel blood test cost $89.00. Four bucks more than a non-insured human has to pay. If I were an M.D. I’d be trading up to a better class of patient and one more letter, D.V.M.

Not to mention the fact that nobody’s come up with a way for the government to take over veterinary medicine.

Yet.

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Magoo, you’ve done it again

Bob Rivers’ Twisted Tunes conglomerate once issued a Sammy Hagar parody as sung by an old fart with “one foot in the grave and one on the gas.” The title, of course, was “I Can’t Drive, I’m 65.”

Inasmuch as I’m approaching this threshold, I am of course concerned about my ability to function on the New American Highway. (Actually, given the paucity of road funds these days, it may not be an issue at all, since traffic will be backed up from here to Laredo eight years from now, and sitting still doesn’t require much in the way of physical skills.) But apparently cognitive training via videogaming can be at least somewhat beneficial to the aging driver:

The study of 908 motorists aged 65 or older was conducted by giving one group memory training, one group reasoning training and one group speed-of-processing training and comparing the occurrence of accidents to a control group. The result: memory training had few effects on the number of at-fault vehicle crashes, reasoning training had a moderate effect and speed-of-processing had the greatest effect. The study used software from Posit Science including DriveSharp and InSight, both of which bill themselves as a mix of brain-building and entertainment.

Mean age of the research subjects was 73; the range was 65 to 91. (PDF of the results here.) Still unanswered: if actual driving games like Gran Turismo might be even better.

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It’s an Old World after all

It’s long been my instinct to gainsay, more or less automatically, anything Karl Lagerfeld has to say: among other things, the guy seems persuaded that handguns make nifty shoe heels, and twelve-year-olds of any age are way cute. Still, in this bit from an interview conducted by Hal Rubenstein for InStyle, which apparently dates from spring ’09 and is just now being pulled off the shelf for the December ’10 issue, it sounds like he has just a hair of the market pragmatist to him. Rubenstein asked if American women buy Chanel (Lagerfeld’s home base since the early 1980s) differently than do European women, to which Lagerfeld replied:

I know what you are implying. You are still imagining America as the New World. But America is now part of the Old World. American taste is the same as European taste. India and China are now the New World.

And with around three billion people between them, a Big New World.

And yes, people in those countries see Chanel a little differently. They treat it more adventurously and have more fun with it. It’s because they seem to take a great joy in shopping right now, so they take more chances.

Then again, we too could take a great joy in shopping if the economy would somehow emerge from the crapper.

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Your reputation precedes you

McGehee opens registration at his site, but you need to keep this in mind:

[N]o one will be approved for registration if I don’t recognize their name, or e-mail address, or web URL — and there are some people who will be rejected because I recognize their name, e-mail or URL.

I doubt anyone who hangs around here will fall into the latter category, but a word to the wise, and so forth.

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Possibly Google-eyed

Sarah Palin looks away from the screen for just a moment:

Sarah Palin at the computer

Took me five tries to get this particular frame frozen. I plead high levels of distraction. (Click for HD [2 MB].)

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Light anti-stank weapons

You might want to back off with the body sprays, guys:

It turns out that there was an experiment in which men didn’t shower for three days, so that all of their funk and manstink got into their sweatshirts. Women were then asked to dig into that pile of sweatshirts and find the one they felt most comfortable wearing. The result was that they were most compatible, all of them, and meaning sexually attracted to the man whose genetic profile was most different from her own. This is a natural kind of attraction that makes for human biodiversity.

I read “the one they felt most comfortable wearing” as “the one that didn’t choke them to death.”

There is, however, an exception to this rule:

However, when women are pregnant, that sort of thing reverses. Then they most want to be around family. It makes sense, family will protect her and the baby.

Then again, if the relationship has gotten that far, chances are she’s made you wash that filthy rag you’re always wearing.

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Simpler screening

Michael Bates proposes a less-intrusive security procedure for American airports:

We have a pretty good idea of the sort of person who would try to blow up a plane while on board. While we might still need X-rays and metal detectors to deter the old-fashioned kind of hijacker that just wanted a free trip to Cuba, the new-fangled suicide hijacker should be more easily detected. Offer every male passenger between the ages of 18 and 45 a pulled-pork sandwich or a beer; if you won’t consume either one, you get the special scope-and-grope. (Some non-yeasty alcohol would be provided for Passover.)

Which of course leaves me with one question: do vegans occasionally down a brewski?

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Chix nix dix flix

Fritinancy’s Word of the Week is “Bechdel Test,” named for cartoonist Alison Bechdel, who used the test in her Dykes to Watch Out For strip. The test is applied to motion pictures (including television), and it’s pretty simple to explain:

To pass the Bechdel Test, a film or TV show must (a) have at least two women in it, who (b) talk to each other, about (c) something other than men.

Here’s Bechdel’s original cartoon.

Note that the Bechdel Test does not make any assumptions about cinematic quality:

Many excellent movies, from Stalag 17 to Das Boot, have no female characters; some mediocrities (Bring It On Again, 27 Dresses, et al.) pass the test with flying colors but probably aren’t worth a free download.

Turn this on its suddenly-blue ear, and you have the Smurfette Principle:

For any series not aimed solely at females, odds are high that only one female will be in the regular cast.

The Smurfette Principle is the tendency for works of fiction to have exactly one female amongst an ensemble of male characters (this female is the Token Girl), in spite of the fact that roughly half of the human race is female. Unless a show is purposefully aimed at a female viewing audience, the main characters will tend to be disproportionately male.

Note also that the title of this piece, swiped from a famous Variety headline, is subject to shuffling as necessary.

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Did they see her coming?

Sandra Tsing Loh, in the December Atlantic, laments her repair bill:

I admit that — God help me — without intending to, with only the purest of intentions, I took my nine-year-old Volvo wagon in for a routine oil change and emerged with a bill for … $535!

Five hundred and thirty-five dollars!!! Although technically it was an oil change plus two changed-out hoses at $95 apiece, with four hours of labor charged for water- and oil-system repressurization and tire rotation. I’ve been with these guys since 2001, on my friend Keith’s recommendation, and I’ve trusted them through 109,000 miles. But why, why, why $535??? Good God! I kick myself! I gnash my teeth! My stomach lining burns! I can feel, viscerally, the weight of the $535 that is never coming back (and that’s just the principal, not all the interest that won’t be compounding decade after decade).

That term “repressurization” is perplexing. It’s a given that she got a new fill of coolant — you pretty much have to when you replace the hoses in question — and it takes a certain level of skill to make sure that there aren’t any air bubbles remaining in the cooling system. (Which skill, I remember, was lacking one day about twelve years ago when I had a coolant flush performed on a Mazda.) But what did they have to repressurize in the oil system? If the oil pump was bad, she’d have written a much larger check than that. I’m guessing they ran something like the BG PF12 Power Flush on the car and didn’t explain it to her properly.

Still, a $500-plus repair bill is a jolt when you own a nine-year-old car. As the owner of a ten-year-old car which got just under $1000 worth of service this fall, I’ll be too happy to testify to that effect.

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Jazz bebopped

When the Thunder were up thirteen on the Jazz with three and a half minutes left in the third quarter, the question in everyone’s mind was how long it would take Utah, this year’s Comeback Kids, to regain the lead. They made up five by the end of the quarter, and six more in the next five minutes. But two points would be as close as the Jazz would get; Kevin Durant sank four free throws in the last thirteen seconds to put it out of reach. The final: 115-108. Radio guy Matt Pinto reminded me that the Thunder were the sixth-best road team last year, and maybe that’s the way things are going to happen this year: they’re 3-1 on the road and 3-3 at the Flawed Center.

Telltale statistic: Serge Ibaka, in the absence of Jeff Green, played 39 minutes, rolled up 22 points, and reeled in 11 boards. (Then there were the four blocked shots, a steal, and even an assist.) Russell Westbrook, his minutes limited by early foul trouble, still got 22; KD finished with 30. Shooting was almost dead even: OKC 50.7 percent, Utah 50.6. The Thunder hit six of sixteen treys, the Jazz six of fifteen. The clincher: OKC 33-34 at the stripe, Utah 18-22.

On the other hand, Deron Williams is amazing to watch, even on the radio. (The Fox Sports TV feed failed early on.) Williams had 31 points and 11 assists, game high for both. And backup guard C. J. Miles, for whom Sam Presti tried to deal back in the day, was the only bench player for either side in double figures, with 16.

The Rockets come to town Wednesday, possibly Yao-less, though Luis Scola is scary enough, if you ask me.

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Probably not so deep

Or at the very least, disturbing:

Give director Andy Tennant credit for thinking outside the box. Faced with having to cast an actress to play the daughter of Katherine Heigl, he chose Angela Lansbury. No, really.

The film is Adaline, the Sidney Kimmel Entertainment/Lakeshore co-production that stars Heigl as the title character. Long ago, she was killed in a car accident, until a simultaneous lightning strike resuscitated her and physiologically locked her in her late 20s. Adaline lives a solitary existence until she meets a man worth losing her immortality to grow old with. Lansbury plays her daughter, who, in her mid-80s, needs her mother’s care as her health declines.

I’m ordinarily a sucker for fish-out-of-dihydrogen-monoxide stories, but this seems a bit much, especially since “Adaline” is a specific type of single-layer neural network. Lightning surely can’t be good for it.

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WWCHD?

Let’s see if I can make any sense of this batch of questions, all of which begin “What would you do if…”:

1. The couple right upstairs was always very loud and unrestrained in their frequent lovemaking sessions.
  I moved. But actually, I was more annoyed by subwoofers than by seduction.

2. You’ve got a little boy. He shows you his butterfly collection. Plus the killing jar.
  That’s how I know it’s my kid.

3. You were the only one on your block who never had a fingerbox.
  Somehow I doubt that.

4. You got a windfall of $100,000.
  I’d spend most of it on debt reduction, and then schedule a World Tour.

5. The police had a warrant and confiscated your computer.
  I’d change all my passwords immediately.

6. At a bar, a person of the same sex you swear you never met before knows everything about you.
  “Oh, wow, a regular reader!”

7. On your way to the art gallery you see yourself walking the other way with a wrapped painting under your arm.
  I’d wonder if I’d gotten that $100k windfall in item #4.

8. You had it wrong all along.
  Wouldn’t be the first time, believe me.

9. The search engine tells you exactly the best brand name product to use for that problem but when you search for the brand name product no search engine you use can find it.
  Not to worry. It’s on eBay somewhere.

10. Kenneth actually told you the frequency.
  And I tell him, “I believe that qualifies as TMI.”

(Purloined from Incurable Insomniac.)

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