Up to and including K8

The notion of Dog as Man’s (and, occasionally, Pony’s) Best Friend apparently goes back farther than we’d thought:

Although the prevailing idea was that humans domesticated dogs sometime around 17,000 years ago, scientists analyzed the different fossil sites and now think that figure may be too late. The earliest finds offer a strong possibility that the human-canine partnership may have begun during the overlap period with Neandertals.

True dogs, as distinguished from wolves, may show up later in human history, but the earlier fossils show a number of doggish characteristics and have been called “incipient dogs.”

Not yet canine, but close enough for evolution to work. And there’s this:

I would lose my Dave Barry fan club card if I did not point out that “Incipient Dogs” would make a good name for a rock band, or in singular, a good name for a Pink Floyd album.

And Dave Barry, once a member of something called Federal Duck — though he quit before they cut their one and only LP for Musicor — knows band names.

Along those lines, the vocal-group era had lots of bird names — Orioles, Ravens, Crows, Swallows, Flamingos — but only one major dog act: the Spaniels. Since then, the woofers have outnumbered the tweeters, with the Bonzo Dog Band, Snoop Dogg, Bow Wow Wow, the Fabulous Poodles, and Three Dog Night. (We will not count the Pointer Sisters.)

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Sad songs say so much

It was Elton John’s idea — okay, technically Bernie Taupin’s, though it took John to reify it — that when you’re feeling down in the dumps, those old, depressing songs actually help.

Which may or may not explain why so many more of them are being written these days:

Researchers from Canada and Germany report pop music recordings have become progressively more “sad-sounding” over time, as characterized by slower tempos and increased use of minor mode — that is, scales that evoke the same feelings one experiences when pondering orphan puppies or long-weekend gas prices.

The study found the proportion of minor-mode songs has fully doubled since the mid-1960s.

And this shift is apparently in response to popular demand:

“Many people assume pop music is banal in its happiness. But most songs now are actually in minor key,” says lead author Glenn Schellenberg, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto. “Composers write in minor because it sounds smarter on some levels, and more complicated. And consumers like it for the same reason — although I don’t think that’s conscious.”

For some of them it might be, though I’m pretty sure I knew nothing from key signatures when I discovered pop radio by way of Del Shannon’s “Runaway,” which was written in A minor, though the recording comes out closer to B-flat, suggesting that the producers sped up the tape just a little, a common practice in the early 1960s.

There is, of course, precedent from days gone by:

“The baroque and classical eras were consistent in terms of their cues to happiness and sadness: faster pieces tended to be major and slower pieces tended to be minor,” says Schellenberg, recalling the musical periods between 1600 and 1820. “But in the Romantic era [1820 to 1900] that switched, creating mixed emotional cues.”

And I do love my mixed emotional cues.

The study is being published in the journal Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts. Despite the fact that it’s Sunday, I think I’ll go crank up Rebecca Black’s “Friday,” which, not incidentally, is in B major, so sunny a key you might not want to walk on it.

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Britannia spurns the waves

Remember when Britannia used to rule? Apparently that sort of thing has gone out of fashion:

Allowing for inflation, Britain’s GDP is four times greater than in 1953 but the country appears incapable of maintaining a viable fleet.

This was the scene at Her Majesty’s coronation in, yes, 1953:

The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh, a career officer before marriage, must look back ruefully on June 15 1953, when they boarded the frigate Surprise to review the armada gathered off Spithead to mark the Coronation. The Navy was anything but short of carriers then, benefiting from the surge in construction during the Second World War. Eagle, Indomitable, Illustrious, Theseus and Perseus, lined the way, together with Canada’s Magnificent and Australia’s Sydney. Other carriers were away on operations, from the Mediterranean to the Far East. In all some 300 ships, cruisers, destroyers, frigates and minesweepers, took part in the review, overflown by some 300 aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm.

And what could the Royal Navy muster today for a fleet review, with Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee imminent?

Today it comprises two helicopter carriers, 1 active assault ship, six destroyers, 13 frigates, 42 minor vessels and 13 auxiliaries.

They could probably defeat the nascent Wyoming navy, but they’re a long, long way from ruling today’s waves; as Kipling complained, “All our pomp of yesterday / Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!”

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On the road to Eldorado

If coffee is for closers, Kevin Durant deserves the tallest latte anyone’s serving: he rolled up 18 of his 36 points in the last quarter. And while you’re at it, pour one for Serge Ibaka, who didn’t miss a shot all night — and he took eleven of them, plus four free throws, for 26 points. The Thunder dominated most of the numbers: 41-31 in rebounding, 27-17 in assists, 56-50 percent shooting, 76-63 percent free throws, and the one that actually matters: 109-103 at the horn, evening the series at 2-2.

You have to wonder who’s out there wearing Tony Parker’s jersey; the guy wearing #9 for the Spurs went 5-15 from the floor and drew exactly one foul. Tim Duncan looked more like himself, scoring 21 despite clanking four of seven from the stripe; Stephen Jackson and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs’ most reliable last-minute threats, both fouled out in the waning moments. And tonight’s telltale statistic: rookie forward Kawhi Leonard, who hit for 17 points, including two three-pointers from exactly the same spot twenty seconds apart with time running out, finished -12 for the night, worst of anyone on the court. Talk about frustration.

Better yet, talk about Kendrick Perkins, offensive force. Perk hit seven of nine (no, not that Seven of Nine) for 15 points. In fact, everyone shot well except Russell Westbrook (7 points) and Derek Fisher (scoreless in 16 minutes). Evidently it wasn’t a good night to be a point guard.

I am deeply suspicious of the concept of momentum, especially to the extent that it is believed to exist over multiple games. Nonetheless, if I’m Gregg Popovich, I’m stocking up on steak knives, just in case.

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Now for that third wish

The Walt Disney Company agonizes so over copyright infringement that I practically giggled upon discovering a 2009 Bollywood film called Aladin. Now obviously the story of the kid with the magic lamp is old enough to be public domain, though I suspect someone in Mouseburg was probably perplexed to find a Sri Lankan beauty queen named Jacqueline Fernandez playing the role of, um, Jasmine, who wasn’t, I’m pretty sure, in the Thousand and One Nights version of the tale.

That was Fernandez’ first film role; it got her a smallish part in Housefull, directed by Sajid Khan (not this Sajid Khan), and a bigger one in Housefull 2, in which she looked like this:

Jacqueline Fernandez in Housefull 2

She may be signing on for an English-language film: James Simpson’s Definition of Fear. However, apparently nothing’s graven in stone just yet.

(Posted to celebrate Fernandez’ twenty-seventh birthday.)

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On this uncharted desert isle

Seventy-five years ago, Amelia Earhart, navigator Fred Noonan, and their Lockheed Model 10 Electra vanished in the central Pacific. And perhaps now we know where:

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), a non-profit foundation promoting aviation archaeology and historic aircraft preservation, reported new details Friday leading researchers to this conclusion: Earhart and Noonan, low on fuel and unable to find their next scheduled stopping point — Howland Island — radioed their position, then landed on a reef at uninhabited Gardner Island, a small coral atoll now known as Nikumaroro Island.

Using what fuel remained to turn up the engines to recharge the batteries, they continued to radio distress signals for several days until Earhart’s twin-engine Lockheed Electra aircraft was swept off the reef by rising tides and surf. Using equipment not available in 1937 — digitized information management systems, antenna modeling software, and radio wave propagation analysis programs, TIGHAR concluded that 57 of the 120 signals reported at the time are credible, triangulating Earhart’s position to have been Nikumaroro Island.

TIGHAR, please: you’ve got to follow up on this.

And apparently they will:

In July, TIGHAR researchers will return to the area where Earhart and Noonan are thought to have spent their last days, using submersibles to try and detect the famous aircraft they believe to have been swept off a Pacific reef in 1937.

The only way this could be more exciting would be if they turned up Judge Crater.

(Seen at Outside the Beltway.)

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First there is a mountain

Then there is no mountain, and that’s fine with West Virginia state Senator Art Kirkendoll:

I was listening to the testimony from Logan County Sen. Art Kirkendoll, a staunch proponent of the coal industry in general and mountaintop removal in particular. And here’s what he was saying, if I followed him: That he supports mountaintop removal in part because flattening off mountains provides a place people of his community can live without fear of floods. Here’s what he was saying:

“We’ve gotten through two tremendous floods in Logan county in the last few months. Millions of your dollars coming to our area, Army Corps, everybody in there, the troops, cleaning up our area. If those people had been on some of these surface mined areas that we have, that wouldn’t have happened.”

Assuming, of course, someone actually wanted to live on one of these blasted-to-hellandgone artificial plains in the sky. Given the typical residue from coal mining generally, I suspect developers might not be queueing up for permits.

(First seen here.)

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Blessed are the paranoids

For they will be made aware of the Streisand Effect:

Christian book and music publisher Tate Publishing & Enterprises fired 25 people on Thursday amid rumors the company plans to lay off most of its staff in favor of outsourcing work to the Philippines.

Tate Publishing President Ryan Tate said the company is opening an office in the Philippines, but denies there are any layoffs planned. He said the 25 workers who lost their jobs Thursday were terminated for breaching confidentiality agreements in their employment contracts after leaking rumors about the outsourcing.

Which rumors, of course, are now all over the Internet, hence all over the world, thanks to Tate’s efforts at damage control.

Although I’m willing to bet that Barbra Streisand never said anything this wacky:

“Good people are going to lose their jobs — it’s not fair,” Ryan Tate said in the recording. “It’s not right, but that’s the reality of the situation. Jesus himself is the perfect mix of mercy, grace and justice. I have probably failed you in that I have been a little too lenient and a little too on the side of mercy and grace and not on the side of justice.”

I’m sure he could make amends with, say, thirty pieces of silver.

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Unjam, damn you

Thomas Stanley tweets that he hung this sign next to a new office device:

Voice commands for copier

“Nobody has caught the joke yet,” he says, the presence of an Obvious Clue notwithstanding.

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Just down the street

A recent before & after on Design*Sponge features a neighbor whose tastes run to “dark mid-century bohemian.” And chronologically at least, this is the perfect neighborhood for it, given its late-1940s origins.

(She also, as is seemingly required these days, has her own blog.)

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Toward a unified theory of ponies

F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby:

“For a while these reveries provided an outlet for his imagination; they were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.”

You need not read my reveries, but you really ought to take a peek at this:

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Quote of the week

LeeAnn’s forecast for the next ninety days:

My point is, I know, we know, everyone knows, summer weather sucks the high hairy one, Sister Katherine, and no one no one NO ONE needs the fact of the upcoming annual spontaneous undie-combustion festival thrown back in their face when they innocently complain about current unpleasant conditions. But we all know someone who does just that. I bet somewhere in the Great White North (NOT a waisis term, climb down off your Sharpton-sponsored soapbox) there is an Eskimo flinching as his SIL bleats “You think THIS is cold? Wait until November/December/January gets here.” The difference is most Eskimos are readily armed with rabid baby seals, so I hear, and can beat anyone they want to a furry pulp with one and scarcely break a sweat. You know, because it’s cold.

It’s said that the Inuit have forty different words for “This weather sucks.” Or something like that.

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All hail the new Escape

No, no, not that sort of hail:

The 2013 Ford Escape is about to launch soon, and Ford is stuck with 3,500 units that were damaged in a hail storm that can’t be sold as new cars.

The vehicles were caught in the midst of the April 28th hail storm that struck the Louisville, Kentucky area, where the Escape is built. Ford said that the damaged vehicles won’t affect the vehicle’s rollout, but they’re not quite sure what to do with the cars.

“We haven’t determined what we will do with them yet, but they will not be shipped to dealers as new,” said Ford spokesman Todd Nissen, speaking to Automotive News.

At least they’re in better shape than those 4700 or so Mazdas that took an unscheduled dip in the Pacific five and a half years ago.

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Vote perhaps not rocked

I must note here that one of the singular joys of this position is finding something that fits into multiple categories, though I must admit that I never imagined it would be these two.

Anyway, Rebecca Black, who will be fifteen this month, has issued her presidential endorsement — for the president of Mexico, anyway:

Black, whose mother is originally from Mexico, traveled to Morelos, Mexico to endorse the front-runner in nation’s on-going presidential campaign, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI). Through an interpreter, Black spoke about the importance of youth involvement in politics and offered supportive words to her presidential pick.

“Peña Nieto is going to do a fantastic job,” Black said.

Peña Nieto, six years the governor of the State of Mexico, declared his interest in moving to the adjacent Distrito Federal last year; he’s a regular José Biden.

It is of course possible to be cynical about this endorsement:

Latina entertainment reporter Astrid Capon claims in her videoblog that Black offered her endorsement because her uncle, Gustavo Petricioli is a city council member for the PRI in the capital city of Morelos state [Cuernavaca]. Capon also says that Black’s endorsement should be embarrassment to the PRI party.

Reaction has been half-fast and partially furious.

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Take this streak and shove it

It ain’t working in the Peake. The Thunder went 8-0 to start the game, fell behind for a couple of minutes either side of the end of the first quarter, and then went into Total Destruction Mode. With five minutes left, the Spurs were down 25 (!), but Pop knew it was a done deal long before that: neither Tony Parker nor Tim Duncan played in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma City 102, San Antonio 82, and the Spurs locomotive is at least temporarily derailed. “Now it’s a series,” said radio guy Matt Pinto.

The difference? Loud City, for one, of course. And for another, Thabo. In a wholly expected move, Scott Brooks decided to put Sefolosha on Parker; in a totally unexpected move, Sefolosha played 36 minutes, about as many as he’d played in the first two games. In those minutes, he bagged six rebounds, pulled off six steals, and scored 19 points, second only to Kevin Durant (22). Those six steals contribute to this telltale statistic: the Spurs turned the ball over 21 times, the Thunder only seven. With Thabo doing more of the dirty work, Russell Westbrook was content to move the ball around, pulling down seven rebounds and serving up nine dimes, not to mention ten points and four more steals. Oh, you wanted another telltale statistic? OKC put up twelve more shots than San Antonio, and hit ten more.

The Spurs, mostly due to Stephen Jackson’s sharpshooting in reserve, actually shot better from outside the circle than from within; they put up 26 treys, 11 of which went. (The Thunder went 6-22 from Out There; Thabo hoisted ten by himself, making four, and Durant missed all four of his.) And inexplicably, Manu Ginobili had an off night, by Ginobili standards anyway, collecting five of his eight points from the foul line. Jackson and Parker shared the scoring honors with 16 each.

“We will not be swept!” was clearly the message tonight. It won’t be that on Saturday night, obviously — but it has to be just as emphatic.

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For example, R12D2

Yes, that is a refrigerator on Jennifer’s porch, and it’s not going anywhere:

I tried to get the city to haul it off, but they won’t if the compressor is attached due to “environmental concerns.” They will take it if I pull the compressor and just release the freon all willy nilly though.

Fear of the Feds, I suspect. As long as you assume responsibility for your runaway refrigerant, [unnamed municipality] doesn’t have to.

Although Oklahoma City says they will:

Appliances containing Freon, such as old refrigerators and air conditioners, will be picked up on monthly bulk waste collection day by special arrangement. Call customer service at 405 297-2833 to request the pickup.

Then again, if you discarded the machine because the stuff kept leaking out … but never mind, this is becoming dangerously meta.

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