Some sort of G thing

I once described Kenny G as a purveyor of “strangled-duck noises.” I’m reasonably certain that this description didn’t discourage any of the man’s fans.

And besides, there’s this going on tonight:

Hollywood celebrities will sneak out of Tinseltown Friday, February 15, to attend a special musical event in the heart of Orange County. Saxophone legend Kenny G will make his debut with Pacific Symphony at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa. “Valentine’s Day With Kenny G” promises to be a romantic and soul-moving experience for the anticipated packed house.

Of course, my interest lies elsewhere:

A number of celebrities are expected to walk the red carpet, including Rebecca Black, who starred alongside Katy Perry and Kenny G in Perry’s newest music video, Iqbal Theba (GLEE), Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley (The Real Housewives of Orange County), Principal Pops Conductor Richard Kaufman, international model Beril Akçay, with more celebrities to be announced.

It is a measure of something, surely, that Rebecca Black gets top billing. Although I will have something to say about Beril Akçay later.

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King James reversion

The idea, perhaps, was to let LeBron have his way and key in on everyone else. (Jenni Carlson recommended exactly that.) Well, LeBron had his way, but so did everyone else, as the Heat jumped out to a 32-17 lead after the first quarter and kept the Thunder at bay the rest of the way, taking a 110-100 victory back to South Beach.

Both King James and Chris Bosh had double-doubles, though LeBron’s seemed so much, um, doubler: 39 points, 12 rebounds for James, 20/12 for Bosh. Dwyane Wade racked up 13 before fouling out. But singling out the stars is unfair to the Heat, since everyone — possibly excepting Joel Anthony, who played only a couple of minutes — played seriously hard and executed extremely well. Miami even gathered the majority of the rebounds (46-35), which is not ordinarily their strong point. And while the Heat’s 11-29 mark from beyond the arc is iffy percentage-wise, it’s still 33 points. (OKC went 3-13 from downtown.)

This hardly seems like the sort of situation in which Kevin Durant would go off for 40, but he did exactly that, playing 47:32 out of a possible 48, leaving after his sixth foul. Russell Westbrook was up to snuff and then some, scoring 26 and serving up ten assists. But nobody else made double figures, and the entire OKC bench managed only 16 points. Worse, Serge Ibaka blocked no shots. (The Thunder had only five blocks, three by Durant.) OKC went 33-34 from the foul line — in case you were wondering, James had three fouls, and was rung up for a technical after complaining about one of them — but they only made 32 shots from the field.

One likes to hate the Heat with the same passion with which one despises, say, the Dallas Cowboys or the New York Yankees; but tonight, the hate is displaced by awe. And it’s the All-Star break, so I’m going to bed early.

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Quote of the week

Severian, commenting at Morgan’s place:

If Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone somewhere may be having a good time, then liberalism is the haunting fear that all the cool kids back in high school might have been right.

Liberals drank deeply from the well of “self-esteem” back in grade school. They are convinced they’re exceedingly special. Problem is, the world doesn’t agree. Kim Kardashian has a million Twitter followers, and they have three, because being good-looking trumps a perfect score on the SAT verbals every time. Statism is one life-long act of revenge for this sad state of affairs — they can’t keep the quarterback from dating the head cheerleader, but they can make them both ride the subway to get to the prom.

Disclosure: My Twitter follower count and my score on the SAT verbal are surprisingly close — for now.

And Kim Kardashian, in fact, has over seventeen million followers, more than all but a handful of tweeters.

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Now get out there and cell

The White House has backpedaled just a bit from that “one million electric vehicles” goal, having figured out that, well, it’s not going to happen any time soon. I still think it will happen, but probably not in the next four years. Meanwhile, we’re up to our anodes in batteries:

The lack of acceptance by consumers is creating a glut of batteries. LG Chem Michigan, a unit of the Korean conglomerate LG, for example, was awarded more than $150 million in funding by the U.S. Department of Energy under the 2009 Recovery Act to help construct a $304 million lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing plant in Michigan. It was supposed to create 440 jobs. But the company is still supplying batteries for the Chevy Volt from its Korean plant, and fewer than half the jobs in Michigan have been realized. Why? Lack of demand. LG Chem and the DOE have just been reprimanded by the DOE Inspector General for misusing taxpayer funds and not delivering on stated goals.

Emphasis added, because it seems so improbable that a government agency might complain about taxpayer funds being misused — even to itself, by itself.

Perhaps the upcoming Cadillac ELR, a Volt in a three-piece suit, will use up some of that battery capacity.

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We’re suing your dog for eating your homework

Intellectual property? In a school? What sort of madness is this?

There is little in this world worth copyrighting less than my fifth grade homework. Those stories about princesses and mangled long division could only be precious to a parent. This is why it’s strange to conceive of why Maryland’s Prince George’s County Board of Education released a proposal suggesting that they own the work produced by students in their schools.

“Works created by employees and/or students specifically for use by the Prince George’s County Public Schools or a specific school or department within PGCPS, are properties of the Board of Education even if created on the employee’s or student’s time and with the use of their materials. Further, works created during school/work hours, with the use of school system materials, and within the scope of an employee’s position or student’s classroom work assignment(s) are the properties of the Board of Education.”

Asked for comment, Prince George replied, “Oh, Christ, what is it now? Can’t you get my name off that hellhole after all these years? You know what I think about hellholes.”

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Rock you like a post-FEMA hurricane

Shamefully, there are still individuals bitterly clinging to the idea of “The meteor, the better.” Will those fanatics never learn?

A small … but still potentially destructive object will pass near Earth this coming Friday. I’m afraid that’s just not acceptable. Something must be done to protect people. We should make our Earth-Moon system an asteroid-free zone right now, or at least ban asteroids more than 10 meters in diameter.

Signs. We need signs. We need signs that can be easily seen from geosynchronous orbit. We need … Bruce Willis!

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Open thread for That Day

Meanwhile, I won’t be going home to this:

Twilight Sparkle on the sofa

(First seen here; I haven’t tracked down the original source or artist.)

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Or I could just blame the daisies

I admit to admiring this particular methodology:

Then again, last time I tried something like this, I wound up, not with 871, not even with one, but with 0.008.

Neither method, however, allows for the timeline-displacement factor:

I’m a rather practical (and cynical) sort of person so my view on the subject matter is that there are several people compatible with you, considering the billions of people who have lived on or are on this planet. The only problem may be that it may be difficult to impossible** to meet them — they’re living in an inconvenient place, the wrong age, haven’t been born yet, or are already dead.

**Depending on the case, you might need a time machine.

Which explanation I’m willing to accept, for now, since I often feel that my membership in this particular population is purely accidental.

(Via Brain Pickings.)

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As he throws his pants into the ring

Mark Sanford, South Carolina politician and philanderer, not necessarily in that order, is running for the Congressional seat he held for three terms. You might remember that he’d once pledged to serve only three terms, but apparently all that hiking on the Appalachian trail has affected his memory.

Politico reports:

“I’m not in any way unaware of how I’ve let you down. I’m not in any way unaware of my well-chronicled failings as a human being,” Sanford told a Hilton Head Island Republican group last week, in the first public speech of his campaign. “But I am equally aware that God forgives people who are imperfect.”

Then again, God, from what I’m given to understand, expects some sort of contrition. And judgment from the heavenly host could scarcely be harsher than this:

Thankfully, Sanford is at least not running as a “family values” candidate, though it could be said that he was so committed to families that he tried to have two of them at once.

I’ve lived in SC 1, though not since the Mendel Rivers days. What I learned, way back then, was that if you transgress, you do a careful fade into the background and never trouble anyone again. (Southern honor, doncha know.) Apparently things have changed.

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Today would have been the 81st birthday of Susan Oliver, actress and director, who died in 1990. If you don’t recognize her in B&W, the color shot should ring a bell:

Susan Oliver publicity photo

Susan Oliver in Star Trek

Yep. That’s Vina from “The Cage,” the original Star Trek pilot, much of which was incorporated into the episode “The Menagerie.” (Of course, she didn’t really look like that.)

Perhaps more interesting than her middling Hollywood career, though, was her life in the sky, which began with, of all things, a turbulent flight. From her Wikipedia bio:

She was a passenger aboard the Clipper Washington, a Boeing 707 on a transatlantic flight from Paris to New York City when it dropped from 35,000 feet to 6000 feet. It was February 3, 1959, the same day Buddy Holly died in an airplane crash. These events caused her to avoid flying for the next year, even turning down job offers (with the exception of auditioning for BUtterfield 8) if they were so short notice she could only travel by air. She eventually underwent hypnosis to overcome her fear of flying.

The fear eventually gave way to sheer delight:

In 1968 she was contacted by Learjet to see if she was interested in getting a type rating in one of their jets with the intent to set record flights for them. She earned the rating and even flew some charters (having by that time acquired a commercial pilot certificate in single and multiengine land airplanes).

Lest Susan Oliver be forgotten, filmmaker George Pappy has launched a Kickstarter for a biopic, to be titled The Green Girl. I’m in.

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Fix it again, Tadeusz

Have you gotten used to the idea of an Italian car sold in North America, built in Mexico? If so, get un-used to it, because that’s all about to change:

The next generation Fiat 500 will no longer be hecho en Mexico for the North American market. Faced with a modern plant and unused capacity, Fiat will consolidate all of its 500 production to its site in Tychy, Poland, in 2015.

The Mexican plant, in Toluca, also builds the Dodge Journey crossover; odds are, another Chrysler product will be moved in to keep the production lines busy.

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Never heard it before

From Monday night’s tweetstream:

Tweet by Dan McLaughlin

As it happens, the installation of iTunes 11 reset some of the play counts on some of my purchased tracks, and it appears I’m not alone.

Many of the thread participants blamed the crossfade feature; I’m not using it, so that can’t be the only issue.

And it hasn’t really affected my Randomator playlist, which shuffles the 700 tracks least recently played, because the last-played date is still correct, even if the play count is blacked out. (Regular readers will note that this is yet another increase in the playlist size, which I try to keep at around one-tenth of the total library.)

Curiously, the reset seemed to affect only tracks purchased from iTunes; it did not affect tracks bought elsewhere, or material I ripped at home.

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Broken chords

Six and a half minutes into the fourth quarter, Scott Brooks threw in the towel. Down only seven after three, the Thunder managed to score only four points in those six minutes, and it was apparently obvious to the OKC brain trust that things weren’t going to get any better. Then again, it’s hard to imagine how they’d have gotten worse: two Flagrant 1 fouls (one on Kendrick Perkins, one on Kevin Durant), no second-chance points in the entire first half, and, as the radio team kept mentioning, trailing badly in offensive rebounds, which would account for the dearth of second-chance points. I’d note that the Jazz outrebounded the Thunder on both flavors of glass (38-26), and that OKC uncharacteristically left ten points at the foul line — but had they sank them all, it wouldn’t have made any difference, as Utah administered a methodical 109-94 thrashing of the Northwest leader.

Lots of statistics to point to, notably that OKC shot nearly 56 percent and still lost, but this is the one that grabs me: Hasheem Thabeet had a block, a steal, and a rebound, didn’t take a shot, but wound up with a team-high +7. (KD and Russell Westbrook, by comparison, had 33 and 22 points, but neither broke -10.) Or look at Serge Ibaka: ten points, seven blocks, minus 28. If nothing else, this shows how dominant the Jazz starters — Al Jefferson (23 points, seven rebounds) and Paul Millsap (18 points, ten boards) especially — really were. And Utah’s next three highest scorers were from the bench. Somewhere Jerry Sloan is smiling.

Only that rematch with the Heat remains until the All-Star break. I suspect there won’t be much vacation time to be had.

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Cloudy turnout report

Much of the heightened interest in this year’s school-board election was negated by Old Man Winter, who presumably felt sorry for us in our drought and sent us some snow. And for once, there was some actual liquid to be had, unlike blizzards of recent years, which contained so little water they might have just as well dropped cornstarch on us. (If you follow me on Twitter you’ve already seen that comparison.)

Be that as it may, I reported in at 5:05 pm, and deposited ballot #95. Not what I’d call a big crowd. I’m thinking whoever wins these things will be agonizing over how many dollars per vote they actually spent.

(The report from the 2009 election, for comparison.)

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A model for the rest of you

The Speaker of the Oklahoma House used to have essentially absolute power over bills introduced in the House.

Repeat: “used to.” Rep. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) explains:

Over the past few weeks, I have enjoyed serving on a committee tasked with reforming House rules. I observed as Speaker of the House T. W. Shannon commissioned the committee’s work and seeded the idea for dissolving absolute power from the Speaker to the members of the Legislature.

Under the leadership of Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Jackson, the committee worked out a process for commissioning a House calendar committee with the responsibility of determining which bills are scheduled for a vote of the House. The committee contains House members from both political parties and holds public meetings where the members must hold a recorded vote on the slate of bills to go before the House.

These decisions are no longer behind closed doors, nor are they made by one man.

The GOP holds a 72-29 majority in the House. Speaker Shannon could easily have told the remaining Democrats to go pound sand. But that’s apparently not the sort of guy he is.

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Perennially hormonal

Oh, those randy, indefatigable, elderly Brits:

Youth is wasted on the young — so the saying goes — and doing their best to prove it are the over-50s.

They are more sexually active than six years ago, according to a survey which also found that a third of the age group enjoy sex more than in their youth. Four in five of those in their early 50s make love regularly, with a quarter enjoying a romantic episode under the sheets at least once a week.

For some reason this reminds me of those old commercial pitches involving four out of five doctors.

(Aside: There was a perfectly lovely power-pop band from D.C., circa 1980, called 4 Out Of 5 Doctors. I bought their first LP. They didn’t sound much different in 2008.)

Who were the respondents to this survey, anyway?

Nearly 9,000 people aged 50 or more were questioned about their sex lives by Populus on behalf of Saga Magazine for the survey.

This makes more sense if you remember that “Saga” was originally an acronym: “Social Amenities for the Golden Age.” Sort of a British AARP, without the annoying self-righteousness. I attribute this to Saga’s not being a non-profit.

And this little squib at the bottom of the article demands inclusion because … well, just because:

The Women’s Institute — better known for jam-making tips — released a sex guide in 2008.

Topics included the best positions for women to try if their partners had previously had heart attacks.

I am so not going there.

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