Betamax beyond Google Chrome

Defending so-called “outdated” technology is a cottage industry itself these days, especially when the replacements prove to be less than the paradigm shifts they were intended to be. For instance: people will argue over whether vinyl sounds better than Compact Disc or the other way around, and there are points to be made on both sides, but as the CD gives way to digital downloads — well, nobody is going to argue that an MP3 sounds better than vinyl. Nobody who’s heard a bunch of them, anyway. There are lossless compression schemes out there, but they increase the download time about tenfold.

So I’m not quite sure what to make of Hipstamatic, an iPhone app that essentially simulates old low-end cameras, priced at somewhere around Goodwill retail for an old low-end camera. It is, I’m thinking, probably easier to use than the real thing, which has a learning curve about the length of N rolls of film, where N = “more than you might have thought.” Purists — I have a couple in mind — will presumably spurn it. On the other hand, I might recommend it to my daughter, who has an iPhone and little time to devote to getting really good at stuff, especially stuff that’s at least as old as she is.

(Yet another island in the tweetstream. And you should have seen the titles I threw away before hitting on this one.)

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Holy Moses, they shall be removed

The bankruptcy of Borders Books and Music will reduce their Oklahoma footprint considerably: the Oklahoma City store at 3209 Northwest Expressway and the Tulsa store at 8015 South Yale are both marked for closure. (Here’s the complete list.)

Two other Borders stores will remain open: in Norman and in Tulsa (2740 East 21st). Borders’ three remaining Waldenbooks stores in the state, in Lawton, Bartlesville and Shawnee, will continue to operate for now.

(Title adapted from Bernie Taupin.)

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Deployment of the Presidential toe

Today would have been Margaret Truman’s 86th birthday, thus giving me the ideal excuse to bring up a Presidential legend: when Harry Truman, who happened to be Margaret’s dad, threatened to kick a Washington Post staffer in the balls — and who hasn’t wanted to do that?

In 1950, Margaret was working on a singing career, and she performed at Constitution Hall in December. WaPo critic Paul Hume gave her a right panning:

Miss Truman is a unique American phenomenon with a pleasant voice of little size and fair quality.

Which is one of the nicer things he said. Eventually he got down to “[she] still cannot sing with anything approaching professional finish,” at which point Harry reached for his pen:

It seems to me that you are a frustrated old man who wishes he could have been successful. When you write such poppy-cock as was in the back section of the paper you work for it shows conclusively that you’re off the beam and at least four of your ulcers are at work.

Some day I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, a lot of beefsteak for black eyes, and perhaps a supporter below!

Hume, not particularly upset — hey, it’s his job to listen to that sort of thing — eventually sold the letter for $3500; it’s now in a collection in Texas. He died in 2001, nuts unkicked. Margaret commented later that she thought it was funny and might have helped sell a few tickets along the way.

Presidents don’t often make such gestures, though Barack Obama once offered the boot to BP officials.

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Wrong hemisphere or something

Snipped from the National Weather Service earlier today:

National Weather Service screen shot

Note that phrase “heat index.”

One week ago today, the temperature had fallen to -5° F. Where was our precious heat index then?

Lynn seems similarly perplexed:

A week ago today it was -21°F and we had over two feet of snow on the ground. This morning it’s 63° and the snow is almost gone.

Latest freeze in this part of the country is typically the fourth week of March, so I’m not putting my coat into storage just yet.

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Too hard a sell

Have you seen this on a dating profile?

“Men love me and I love them back. I’m only on here to narrow the field and meet my ultimate prince. I cook every day, bring home my paycheck, keep the house clean and treat my man like the King that he is. I’m a lady in the living room and porn star in the bedroom. I’ll be the best thing that ever happened to you.”

Chele, who has seen exactly that, deems it “unrealistic shiggity,” and directs the following remarks to the person posting same:

[Y]our online profile is already the sub-plot of 214 Lifetime movies. Don’t make promises you cannot humanly keep. And what’s that I smell? Eau d’ Thirsty. Stop. It.

Might as well roll back your odometer and be done with it, if your straits are this dire and your metaphors as badly mixed as mine.

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Meanwhile at Pemberley

Eighty-seven stories have been submitted for the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest; ten finalists will be selected by reader vote, and a Grand Prize winner will be selected from those ten by Laurel Ann Nattress and members of the Ballantine Books editorial staff. The winning story will appear in the anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, due out this fall from Ballantine, edited by Nattress; the winning author will be flattered with delicacy, and also with a check for $500.

Readers, by which I mean you and me, may vote for a favorite between now and the end of the month. All 87 stories are linked from this page.

See also Austenprose, a Jane Austen-oriented blog written by Nattress.

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Revenge of the snowflakes

“My students,” one teacher wrote in her personal blog, “are out of control. They are rude, disengaged, lazy whiners.”

Well, perhaps maybe not lazy, since they roused themselves from their stupor long enough to whine to the school administration:

[Natalie] Munroe’s blog — especially her posting wishing she could leave report card comments that more accurately reflected her negative opinions of students — circulated this week among students at the Doylestown [PA] high school.

Administrators suspended her Wednesday, and they continue to investigate her writings and whether she used district time or equipment to craft them.

One former student wrote to the Associated Press for some reason:

“Whatever influenced her to say what she did is evidence as to why she simply should not teach,” [Jeff] Shoolbraid wrote in an e-mail to the AP. “I just thought it was completely inappropriate. As far as motivated high school students, she’s completely correct. High school kids don’t want to do anything.”

But God forbid you should actually point this out to anyone.

It’s reasonable to assume Munroe is going to lose her job eventually. If so, I hope she reposts the offending articles — with full names. This will benefit all of us in blogdom, inasmuch as rude, disengaged, not-necessarily-lazy whiners make up roughly 75 percent of the Comment Trolling Community.

Addendum: She’s back with a new blog. (Hat tip: Robert Stacy McCain, who thinks she ought to get a medal.)

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Fill it to the Brin

With great power, Lynn reminds us, comes great responsibility. Are you listening, Google?

You have deliberately tried to make yourself ubiquitous. You’re into everything. That’s fine. It makes it convenient for us but it also means that you have a great responsibility. You are now like water. When we turn on the faucet we expect water to come out of it without fail.

When the pipes aren’t frozen, anyway.

Note: Some sloppy verbiage in the first paragraph rewritten.

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Where the rubber meets the glass

As seen here in December ’08:

I note with some amusement that Nissan charges more for the driver’s side blade than for the passenger’s side, no doubt because it’s six inches longer; apparently Rain-X does not. Amount pocketed / not spent [choose one]: about $9. I have no idea what kind of warranty coverage I have on these, but geez, they’re just wiper blades, they’ll be gone in a year or two.

For “a year or two,” read “25 months.” I bought the same Rain-X blade — 24-inch on the driver’s side, 16-inch on the passenger’s — and curiously, the price for the pair has dropped by a third in the interim.

Perplexed, I dialed up Amazon, which didn’t have the 16-incher, but they ask $9.99 for any size through 22 inches, $11.41 for the 24s. There exist higher grades, which command higher prices, but they aren’t strictly comparable. The Infiniti store charged me $9.72 for each blade. Plus tax, of course, but no shipping, and in fact the parts guy went out and installed them for me. The invoice says clearly “$15.50 list,” so I’m wondering if maybe I’m getting some sort of break for giving them $6000 in service business in five years.

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Thus occasionally to tyrants

Ric Locke argues that taking a hard line with the world’s tyrants is ultimately counterproductive:

There are many more tyrants in the World, some of them worse than Mubarak on his worst day. Our goal should be to get rid of all of them. The task is made immeasurably more difficult if the tyrants know that, if they lose their grip on power, they will end up being nibbled to death by ducks. Tyrants have the machineries of State under their fingertips, and can (and demonstrably do) take whatever measures they think they might need for self-protection. The net effect is tighter tyrannies that are more difficult to dislodge, everywhere.

Emphasis in the original. An example for consideration:

Which would you prefer: Hosni Mubarak living a life of ease in the Gulf States and hobnobbing with Saudi Princes on a basis of near-parity, thus inspiring Muammar Qaddafi to expect the same soft landing — or a frail old man subjected to a show trial for Crimes Against Humanity while Mugabe and the Iranian Mullahs hire more “security” thugs, and the Chinese Politburo rounds up dissidents?

Normally I’d be scornful of this particular flavor of Realpolitik, and there’s nothing emotionally satisfying in seeing persons of this ilk not being Ceauşescued into oblivion; but suppose Locke’s called this one right?

It’s not at all clear how many tyrants would be willing to let go if offered a soft landing. It is totally clear that if the soft landing isn’t possible, such retirements will not occur. What will happen, guaranteed, is more firing squads, broken heads, jail cells, and Internet clampdowns, as the remaining tyrants move to reinforce their power base.

Which leads to a question I suspect must be inevitable: is there enough presumably-filthy lucre available to buy out the lot of them?

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Eventually, they went to Jared

A bit of Subway history of which I was not aware:

Subway was founded by relatives Fred De Luca and Peter Buck in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The 20 year old Fred borrowed some money from Uncle Buck and opened Pete’s Submarines. The name was changed later to Pete’s Subway since radio announcements about the sandwich shop sounded like Pizza Marines. Subsequently, it was shortened to simply Subway.

On the other hand, I’m with Gael on this one: “Pizza Marines” is an awesome name. (“The few, the proud, the six-inch?” Don’t go there.)

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Last-chance sedan

Yeah, it’s another Dodge ad. For a car company that was basically left for dead, they certainly seem to be alive and kicking.

(Previous Mopar attitude here.)

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Protocol bleg

Monday I tweeted about this Steph Mineart pictorial, calling it the “best Valentine’s Day tribute this year, if you ask me.”

I still think that. However, a Twitter follower, in the process of thanking me for the link, let it be known that she’d read it in the context of your traditional one-male-one-female couples: she didn’t pick up on the fact that this particular couple was composed of two women, who got married in Canada where it’s legal.

I agonized for a moment over whether I should set her straight, so to speak, and then decided I wouldn’t bring it up. However, the fact that you’re seeing this here tells you that I wasn’t all that happy with that particular decision. On one level, I feel I shouldn’t have to explain every last link I serve up for public consumption: on the other, well, I hate the idea of leaving someone with a misapprehension.

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Now is the time when we breathe

After going 1-1 on the Left Coast over the weekend, the Thunder were anxious to go into the All-Star break with a win, and they got their first break well before tipoff: Sacramento überguard Tyreke Evans turned up with plantar fasciitis, poor fellow, and the Kings, who didn’t play that badly otherwise, were blown out of Oklahoma City’s Large Indoor Downtown Roundabout to the tune of 126-96.

Your Telltale Statistics: DeMarcus Cousins, fined by the Kings yesterday for an altercation after Saturday night’s game with the Thunder, was the leading scorer for Sacramento with 21; Daequan Cook, epoxied to the OKC bench for much of the season, came up with 20 points to lead the Thunder.

Oh, and this: it was OKC 100, Sacramento 75, after the third quarter. With an abundance of garbage time, Serge Ibaka actually got more minutes than anyone else in home whites, playing 28:12, and all twelve active players put in at least some time. This won’t help Kevin Durant’s average — he finished with 17 — but I suspect he’s happier with the win. And in a mere 25 minutes, Russell Westbrook came up with a skimpy but legitimate double-double: 10 points, 11 assists. The on-again off-again Jeff Green was on again, with 16 points on 7-9 shooting. OKC shot an even 50 percent, and were 3-17 from beyond the arc, except for Cook, who hit five of seven.

The Kings, to their credit, never acted like it was over until the fourth quarter, when the benches were emptied. Cousins reeled in 13 boards to lead everyone. Beno Udrih and Pooh Jeter, splitting duty at the point, each scored in double figures. Apart from a flurry of missed treys — they hit only two of 11 — there really wasn’t much they did wrong; they just weren’t able to do enough against a Thunder defense which actually showed up in the first quarter for once.

And so OKC goes into the break at 35-19. The schedule gets hairy rather quickly afterwards: next Tuesday at home against the Clippers, Wednesday at San Antonio, Friday at Orlando, then back home Sunday against the other L.A. team.

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Aw, you can walk it

Someone on the Oklahoman’s editorial board has evidently been beaned with an industrial-strength snowball:

Any number of schools could have held classes last week, except that the roads where the buses would have had to travel to pick up students were still snowpacked and treacherous. So schools stayed closed and now superintendents and principals are trying to figure out how to make up so much lost time.

Wait, what? It’s the fault of the buses? Students could have just walked through the record cold, or their parents could have run into one another on the way out of the neighborhood?

We’ve made the argument before — the Oklahoma Constitution requires the state to provide children an education, but says nothing about providing them transportation to and from school. Even so, this practice has continued for generations.

Also continuing for generations: the calls by the Oklahoman for school consolidation, which would almost certainly require transportation for students nearest the schools to be closed.

Two possibilities present themselves:

  • Somebody’s vacation plans got messed up by snow days;
  • Someone at the Black Tower has a friend with an independent bus business.

Take your pick.

(Via Brittany Novotny.)

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The inherent vice of hotel pools

Donna reports that the pool at Atlantic City’s Borgata is “very clean,” and explains why this qualifies as news:

Having spent a large part of my working life traveling across the US and staying at Holiday Inns, I can tell you that about 95% of the pools out there have a floating top layer consisting of oil, sweat, hairspray and piss.

It ain’t exactly Churchill’s “blood, toil, tears and sweat,” but then it’s hard to imagine Churchill staying either (1) in Atlantic City or (2) at a Holiday Inn.

And come to think of it, isn’t sweat heavier than water?

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