Weird timing

So I popped open the WordPress admin, and while they hadn’t offered me the 3.0.4 update, there was an update for a plugin, so I went out to fetch that.

And the moment it was done, up popped the 3.0.4 link. I did the update and went on to another site. They hadn’t offered the 3.0.4 update, but there was an update for a plugin — a different plugin this time — so I went out to fetch that.

A third site, a third different plugin, but the same result. Still, things could have been a lot worse.

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The kid’s nuts

From “Hey! Do This” in the current Gazette:

From 1994, the Oscar-nominated Farinelli is a biopic about Carlo Broschi, a famous, fawned-over singer castrated at childhood. Think of him as the 18th-century Justin Bieber as you watch the French/Italian film unspool at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 425 Couch.

Justin Bieber? Now that takes balls.

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Properly incentivized

The ex-blogger formerly known as Jacqueline Passey, always a favorite in these parts for some reason, admits (on Facebook) to having passed this advice to her boss:

“I could revise your old proposals to add a more persuasive spin … you don’t always do a great job ‘selling’ your ideas. We need to vaguely insinuate that if they don’t give us money, toxic dust will kill their children.”

Why, no, she’s not working for the government. Why do you ask?

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Over with quick

Last time these two clubs met, it took three overtimes and about three and a half hours to come to any sort of conclusion. Tonight, it was over with about halfway through the second quarter, as the Thunder coasted to a 114-93 win over the visiting New Jersey Nets.

It’s not like the Nets did much of anything wrong. They shot a respectable 48 percent, were sharper than the Thunder at the stripe (23 of 27; OKC hit only 18 of 27), and bagged one more rebound. Brook Lopez was particularly fearsome, recording 19 points and blocking four shots; Devin Harris scored 19 more. The Nets’ three-point prowess was missing in action, though: New Jersey bagged only two of seven treys, both by Sasha Vujacic. And the Nets turned the ball over 23 times.

Telling statistic: Oklahoma City recorded 31 assists on 45 shots made. For a team that trailed the league in ball movement early in the season, this is fairly impressive. The Thunder shot nearly 55 percent, and five players landed in double figures, led by Kevin Durant with a close-to-his average 27 points.

Mullens Report: Byron played a little over five minutes, missed two shots and one of two free throws, but reeled in three boards and blocked a shot.

Two for three on this homestand; the Hawks will be visiting the Large Unnamed Dome Friday night.

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Curly fried

Bill Richardson to replace Hillary Clinton at State? Not a chance, according to Hillbuzz:

Bill Richardson … is at a 10 on both of the Clintons’ hate lists.

And this means:

Those of you who have hated her for all these years have missed the opportunity of observing one of the most interesting and entertaining grudge-holders in American history at the top of her game. If you are loyal to her, she will move mountains to help you and never forget what you’ve done for her. If you backstab her, she will put you on “The List”, and her loyalists will work tirelessly every day to do whatever they can to take you down. In creative, soul-crushing, often publicly humiliating ways.

So where will Bill Richardson actually land?

Bill Richardson is lucky if, someday, far in the future, he’s able to become so much as the Assistant Manager of a medium-peforming Arby’s off an interstate somewhere.

Well, he does look the part.

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Start the year off wrong

The National Insurance Crime Bureau, which despite its name is not in charge of regulating insurance crime, warns that New Year’s Day is the worst holiday for auto theft, 18 percent higher than Halloween and, surprisingly to me anyway, 26 percent higher than New Year’s Eve.

Of course, if you’re in certain parts of the City of New York, you probably don’t have to worry so much, since they won’t have your car dug out until Valentine’s Day.

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Diligently tracked

The thing about Amazon — well, one of the things about Amazon — is that it remembers everything you’ve done on their site better than you do, and therefore there’s a reason why they have all these recommendations for you when you venture over there.

Amazon acquired Zappos last year, which apparently I had forgotten, because I wandered over to Zappos yesterday and yes, they had recommendations for me. Not that I’d actually wear them or anything, but I was amused enough to pass one of those recommendations on to you.

Jeanette by Me Too

You’re looking at “Jeanette,” from the Me Too line, and I suspect you’ve probably seen something like it before. It’s a nice satin sling with just a hint of “prom shoe” (see discussion of the concept here) and maybe too large a bow up front. (One Zappos customer says she tripped over it.) The color recommended was Champagne, though I prefer this brown version. The heel is listed as 3¾ inches, but somehow looks a little lower. At this writing, “Jeanette” is marked down from $89 to $61. Would I wear this were I a girl-type person? I think I might. Not that it matters at this point.

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Zactly so

Ideally, the name of your New Drug should start with X, because hardly anything starts with X, and therefore you’re less likely to run into trademark difficulties. Unfortunately, hardly anyone knows how to pronounce an initial X, so the next best thing is something that sounds like an initial X but doesn’t look like one: in other words, a Z.

Rob Stepney writes in the BMJ:

Of 1436 products added to the [British National Formulary] between 1986 and 2005, more than a fifth had names that began with z or x or contained a prominent x or z within them. In 1986, only 19 branded drugs began with one of these letters. Over the next two decades, the number of brands beginning with a z increased by more than 400% (to 63) and those beginning with an x increased by 130% (to 16). In the same period, the overall content of the BNF grew by only 80%.

Stepney explains this in terms of Scrabble:

[U]se of these letters relates to the imperative to make a brand name highly visible in a crowd. Reflecting their infrequent occurrence in English words, x and z count for 8 and 10 points in Scrabble, the highest values (along with j and q) in the game. So names that contain them are likely to seem special and be memorable. “If you meet them in running text, they stand out,” is the way one industry insider explained.

Of course, if everybody stands out, then no one stands out. Says the Neurocritic:

In my view, however, the rush to uniqueness resulted in an overcrowded field. The market became saturated with X and Z brand names, which can cause confusion.

As anyone who’s taken a Zantac instead of a Xanax can no doubt corroborate.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet. Cite: BMJ 2010; 341:c6895.)

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The gratingest generation

Robert J. Samuelson, in Sunday’s WaPo:

There has been much brave talk recently, from Republicans and Democrats alike, about reducing budget deficits and controlling government spending. The trouble is that hardly anyone admits that accomplishing these goals must include making significant cuts in Social Security and Medicare benefits for baby boomers.

Samuelson, at 65 a boomer himself, presumably could afford such cuts. I suspect that rather a lot of them couldn’t. Not that the rest of the country owes them a great deal:

The self-absorbed boomers have been catered to their entire existence. Think just about music. Without the boomers, we’d never have to hear Grace Slick screeching “Somebody to Love” again. Without the boomers, would Hewlett-Packard really use Melanie’s “Brand New Key” to sell web-accessible printers? Without boomers, who cares that the Beatles are on iTunes?

Then again:

Time for my confession: I was born in 1958 and am technically the trailing edge of the baby boom and I owned all the Melanie albums. So I am committing heresy by admitting the logic of Samuelson’s position. But seriously, if we choose to grandfather the baby-boomers, then we have grandfathered the problem.

Well, we are grandfathers and/or grandmothers.

It would be easier to deal with this, I suspect, were it possible to envision something resembling a shared sacrifice: everybody gives up something. Not that this can possibly happen in this political environment: both rich folks, who reportedly don’t pay enough taxes, and poor folks, who reportedly don’t pay any taxes, have Congressional types at their beck and call, sworn to making sure that those particular boats are never, ever rocked.

So if this doesn’t come out of entitlement spending, it’s got to come out of the bureaucrats’ budgets, and they won’t stand for that.

Disclosure: I own Melanie’s Candles in the Rain LP and a greatest-hits CD.

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Quantity, not quality

Spam, says Mark Liberman, is not, despite previous predictions, getting any smarter:

As far as I can see, the spam that piles up in my email and weblog-comment filters is NOT getting better, at least not in the sense of being harder to distinguish from legitimate communications. On the contrary, the spam I see these days is not even trying to emulate (for example) the cleverness displayed (five years ago!) by SCIGen. Nor is it showing evidence of any of the other fairly obvious things that I would do if I were trying to create “personalized, individualized wrappers for advertising payloads that masquerade as legitimate communications”. Instead, we see linguistic garbage.

Which is less expensive, inasmuch as it can be farmed out to, in Liberman’s phrase, “hopeless underpaid drudges in third-world internet cafes.” This is not, in general, a class from which one can expect a great deal of creativity, in light (if light it be) of the goals established for them:

I suspect that the current economics of spam rewards propagation rate much more strongly than payload quality.

I’ve often suspected, in the case of comment spam, that the spammers are simply hoping to drop so much of the stuff on you that you throw up your hands in despair. So demotivated, you’ll presumably have a better chance of missing one when you finally get around to fumigating the place.

I must, however, offer modest kudos to the spammer who apparently vended his dingus-embiggenment products from the domain That, at least, took some semblance of thought.

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Protagonist resists

Insolent fictional characters! How dare they talk back?

All I want is control of my own plot. Freedom, I guess you’d call it. I want to be able to run and jump and frolic without it being a side effect of the clack of a typewriter. I don’t want to be chained to your stupid literary pretensions. I wouldn’t mind even if it were a good action story, with me rescuing ladies from dragons or gangsters, but it had to be one of these droll modernist things where nothing happens, where the entire point is bemoaning how futile life is and how unbelievably dull and lonely it is to be a modern person. I’d like a nice bit of flow, thank you, a building to a climax or series of climaxes in which the entire purpose is made clear. I want a point, damn it.

It occurs to me that I’ve expended an enormous number of pixels bemoaning how futile life is, not to mention the “unbelievably dull and lonely” bit, but no one is likely to accuse me of drollery.

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A point being stretched

“Exercise,” said Mark Twain, “is loathsome,” though his objections differed markedly from Robert Stacy McCain’s:

Fitness — typically running or weight training, but also cycling or any form of exercise requiring a gym membership — is intrinsically competitive, and thereby serves as a marker of superior status. The disciples of Fitness are engaged in a form of what Thorsten Veblen would have described as “invidious display.”

Said Veblen himself, in The Theory of the Leisure Class:

In order to gain and to hold the esteem of men it is not sufficient merely to possess wealth or power. The wealth or power must be put in evidence, for esteem is awarded only on evidence.

The Joneses, therefore, must be kept up with.

Veblen also had no use for churches, which may or may not have prompted McCain to this thought:

One cannot help but notice that the Cult of Fitness has risen during the same period that traditional religion in the West has declined. It is as if people have embraced physical righteousness in a society whose standards of moral or spiritual righteousness have become so ambiguous.

Still, I’d rather deal with them than with the seekers of environmental righteousness, not least because when they’re working out hard, they’re exhaling more precious carbon dioxide.

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Downtown readers

A month or so ago, I noted that Chesapeake had acquired the old Salvation Army office at Northwest Distressway and Pennsylvania, and speculated out loud that this might have been intended as the new home for the Full Circle bookstore, despite a complete lack of evidence for same. At the time, Oklahoman reporter Steve Lackmeyer advised me that Full Circle owner Jim Tolbert was “not eager to move,” and I can certainly believe that.

Meanwhile, Nick Roberts has picked out what he thinks is the optimum location for Full Circle:

They could locate smack in between Heritage Hills and the booming downtown residential market. Downtown residential markets tend to be filled with creative types with disposable income WHO READ. If they went into a beautiful old building like The Packard at 10th/Robinson they’d have the potential to be one of the absolute coolest locally-owned bookstores in America.

It’s pretty cool now, anchoring 50 Penn Place, but that can’t last forever — retail at 50 Penn has been on the decline for several years now — and well, faded Seventies glitz is no match for restored Twenties style:

The Packard in Oklahoma City

I can see this, I think. Then again, Full Circle’s signature feature is its massive array of 13-foot floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The Packard has fourteen-foot ceilings. Somehow it won’t be quite the same.

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Sparkle someone else’s eyes

There exists a blog called Boycott American Women, which advocates, it appears, boycotting American women.

Each poster has a slightly different take — but only slightly — on the basic premise, which is that their women are far superior to our women. Mark, for instance, cites greed:

99% of the time, one of the FIRST questions an American woman asks me is “What do you do for a living?”; If I said I were a doctor, she’d talk to me more. If I said I were a data entry clerk, she’d disappear faster than a cockroach in daylight. If I don’t have a nice house, a nice car and a nice wardrobe, I’m not going to get her phone number.

Does Mark get bonus points for use of the subjunctive mood? You make the call.

James lets the mask slip just a bit:

I have seen [them] de masculinate their spouses, take advantage of their “meek” gender by threats, abuse verbally and physically, because they know they can get away with it. Not all women are this sadistic, but I know if I were given every thing and never held responsible I would be the same way.

Everyone seems to agree on the proper solution: imports. Says Mark:

Women in America are basically total whores and bitches, whereas women in other countries have much more dignity, self-respect, and decency.

I suspect they’re working from samples too small to be statistically significant, but maybe that’s just me.

In the meantime, this comes most immediately to mind:

Lonely feeling deep inside
Find a corner where I can hide
Silent footsteps crowding me
Sudden darkness but I can see

No sugar tonight for you guys.

(From this @ScrewyDecimal tweet.)

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Delayed collapse

It was early in the second quarter when Dirk Nowitzki came down hard, and for a while it looked like the Thunder would be avenged for an earlier loss to the Mavericks. By “for a while,” I mean “until the end of the third quarter,” at which point it was Oklahoma City 81, Dallas 79. But the absence of Dirkus Maximus was stunningly insignificant in the final twelve minutes, during which the Thunder managed to score a stunningly-insignificant twelve points, and the Mavs walked away with what seems like their 107th consecutive win, 103-93.

They did it by basically throwing everything they had at OKC: Shawn Marion posted a season high of 20 points, four other Mavericks finished in double figures, and lightly-used backup big Alexis Ajinça put up exactly one shot: a trey. Of course, it went in. The Mavs sank 11 of 23 treys while shooting 48.8 percent and missing only one free throw.

“We picked a bad time to miss shots,” said Scott Brooks laconically. The Thunder shot 42 percent, but only 22 percent in that last quarter. Kevin Durant did manage his usual 28, and OKC was at least within shrieking distance on most of the stats, even leading 38-32 in points in the paint, but when there’s a lid on the bucket, you do not win.

The Nets will be coming to The Court With No Name on Wednesday. Last time Oklahoma City played New Jersey, it went to three overtimes. I don’t think I have enough antacid on hand to go through that again.

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Zooeypalooza 8!

Okay, just one more before the end of the year.

Zooeypalooza 8!

You may be able to get larger versions of some of these with a simple click.

Previously seen: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, and ZP 7.

Disclosure: One of these outfits you’ve seen before, but in a different shot.

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