Ever so slightly misplaced

You’d think, with the bazillions of terabytes of reference material available to us at the click of a mouse, we wouldn’t have to rely on all-too-fallible memory to get us through our stories.

And yet:

I flipped the page and a rogue FBI agent, off to shoot porn movies in Mexico with Jack Ruby (yes, the book is just that cat-litter gritty) snaps an (innocent, for once) picture with a Polaroid and the snapshot whirrs out —

No it didn’t! BLAST YOU, ELLROY! You just stuck an SX-70 from 1972 into a guy’s hands in 1959 — and 13 years might look small from where you’re sitting, but it’s a huge leap from “set the iris, snap the shutter, pull the tab, wave the film around a little, pull out the fixing-compound sponge and coat the shot, then stick it to a pasteboard backing so it won’t curl” to “just push a button and, hey-presto! out pops the snapshot,” and that’s the difference between a 1959 Polaroid Land Camera and an SX-70.

That dull thud? That was my disbelief, padded cuffs broken, dropping right onto the unpadded floor.

Then again, James Ellroy’s American Tabloid came out in 1995, so it’s not likely the author did a whole lot of Googling.

The producers of Downton Abbey, of course, have no such excuse.

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What is this Sith?

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Don’t wake the colorless green ideas

For many years, people who fancied themselves hipper than thou — or at least hipper than I, which is less of a challenge — insisted on owning only “authentic” cultural artifacts; Frank Zappa, who took a dim view of this sort of thing, satirized it by asking: “Is that a real poncho … I mean, is that a Mexican poncho or is that a Sears poncho?” Eventually the idea showed up in TV commercials — what the hell kind of picante sauce is made in New York City? — at which point the meme would have been deemed to have jumped the shark, had any sharks been jumped at that point.

Still, some people cling to the notion, though I have yet to see anyone demand, say, a burger with artisanal mayo; as Cheryl Lynn says, it’s got to be real. Eric Scheie reports that his text apparently lacks authenticity:

Could all four bloggers here be writing inauthentic text? I tried entering randomly selected news articles, and even an editorial piece by Glenn Reynolds. (All were called inauthentic!)

Is it possible that the “Inauthentic Paper Detector” (which I found linked at the Wiki entry on the subject) is itself less than authentic?

The stated purpose of the Detector:

This web site is intended for detecting whether a technical document is human written and authentic or not. Predictions may work for documents intended for entertainment (novels, news articles etc.). The main purpose of this software is to detect whether a technical document conforms to the statistical standards of an expository text. You can easily take a human written technical document and add some nonsense text somewhere in the middle, or paste a document generated by an automatic paper generator. We are trying to detect new, machine written texts that are simply generated not to have any meaning, yet appear to have meaning on the surface.

As a test, I fed the Detector my write-up of the Thunder/Bobcats game Saturday night; it was deemed to have a 14-percent chance of being “authentic” by the Detector’s criteria, worse than any of Scheie’s test documents. I suppose I should consider myself fortunate I’m not asked to do any scholarly research.

(Title adapted from Noam Chomsky.)

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Strange search-engine queries (319)

Time again for the weekly roundup of search-string weirdness, although it might be an hour late. Or an hour early. Who the hell knows at this time of the morning?

firm girl in bra:  If she’s that firm, does she really need a bra?

girls locker room vent:  Well, they have to vent somewhere, right?

victoria secret trading cards:  Karen Mulder’s rookie card is now worth over $10.

gray shoes with neon laces:  As seen in absolutely no Victoria’s Secret catalogs.

i don’t know where to get a hello kitty bikini:  You may have to go direct to Sanrio; I’m pretty sure they don’t sell them at Victoria’s Secret.

what does it mean when the transmission whines:  It’s complaining that you have too much money, and it’s going to do something about it very soon.

there are mountains and hillsides enough to climb:  Assuming, of course, we don’t rip the tops off of them in search of coal.

you’re too pretty to work here:  I mean, considering this is a coal mine and all.

by night I make the bars:  Do too much of that, and by morning you’ll be behind bars.

guess who come to me softly:  I’m guessing it’s not William “Refrigerator” Perry.

i rember everything:  Except how to spell.

word with the letters f a r t c o i n:  I’m sure I haven’t so much as a fraction of a clue.

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The semiannual DST rant

You’ve probably seen several of those from me over the years. Here’s one from Doug Mataconis, titled “Bad For Your Health, Not Good For Much Else”:

The only benefits that can conceivably attached to Daylight Saving Time would seem to be ones that cannot be quantified, such as the psychic benefit of having daylight last longer into the late afternoon/early evening, meaning that people have more time after normal work hours for outdoor activities. Today’s sunset here in Virginia, for example, is at 6:15pm rather than 5:15pm. By mid-April, we’ll have daylight until well after 7pm. Is that a good thing? I suppose it is. Of course, if we just stayed on Standard Time, or for that matter made DST itself Standard Time it really doesn’t matter, we’d get longer days anyway since the days will become longer as we get closer to June 21st. Is there really all that much benefit from manipulating the clock every six months like this? I don’t really see it.

So there you have it. Moving the clocks ahead an hour, and then back again seven months later, is bad for your health, it increases the risk of road accidents, it increases energy use, and it has little if any real benefits to the economy or the environment. So, tell me again why we still have it?

Because the government can never, ever admit that it was wrong about anything: the whole freaking house of cards would collapse. Not that it’s standing particularly tall these days anyway.

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Quit looking at my bishops

Just what tournament chess needed: a dress code. No, really:

The European Women’s Championship is the first where the new ECU Dress Code regulations apply. They are quite specific: regarding décolletés (in the US “cleavage”): “the second from the top button may be opened.” And skirts may be no shorter than 5-10 cm above the knees.

Has this actually been a problem? Sava Stoisavljevic, General Secretary of the European Chess Union, says there has:

We came up with that idea because we noticed that during the games many of the players were not wearing proper clothes. There is dress code in many different sports, and we decided to establish our rules as well. This is the first European tournament where we are applying those regulations. I was here during three rounds and I’ve got an impression that we have to work much more on those regulations.

So the rules are subject to change, though I suspect the ban on B.O. will be maintained.

(Via Fark.)

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Why, we knew Ned Ludd personally

Despite the fact that on the date this Web site first appeared Rebecca Black hadn’t even been conceived yet, it is an article of faith among some of the Younger Folk that those of us who remember things like UHF antennas and “electronically rechanneled for stereo” can’t possibly know anything about any current tech stuff.

Lynn, however, totally groks the Net:

When I was a kid there was no Internet, no video games, no DVDs or VCR, and, until the time I was 13, we got only one TV channel. I’m sure the kids would just roll their eyes at this. What value can there possibly be in such deprivation? Why would anyone actually be proud of that? Stupid old people. Okay fine. I can’t explain it to them in a way they would understand. Don’t get me wrong; I love the Internet. I love my cell phone and I love texting. I think it would have been great to have had all that when I was a kid, but I think having experienced a time when those things didn’t exist enables me to appreciate them more and also put them in their proper place. They’re tools. To live online is like living in a shopping mall. It’s a great place to hang out and you can probably get everything you need there to sustain life but if you don’t ever leave it you miss a lot.

Not to mention the fact that there are going to be times when you can’t even get across the parking lot.

I wrote this while eating a peach — the return of so-called “summer” fruits does wonders for my sense of well-being — and on an impulse I dialed over to Amazon to see what they offered in the way of peaches. They had canned peaches, dried peaches, peach-flavored tea, but nothing you’d have to wash the fuzz off of, nothing containing so much as a stone. They do, however, stock coffee spoons, should you be inclined to measure out your life.

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Unlike a boss

Almost all of us, I suspect, have a very specific idea of what should happen, and to whom, once The Revolution™ comes. Me, I would definitely support Bill Peschel’s proposal:

When the time comes that my genius is recognized and I’m installed as supreme dictator, one of the first laws I plan to make will be that CEOs will be required to use the products they make. Airline CEOs would have to fly on their planes instead of using private jets. Senators who pass health-care regulations would have to be covered by them. Dog food manufacturers would have to eat their product — although by dictatorial fiat — they won’t have to use the plastic bowls that skid across the floor as you’re trying to get the last nugget.

This is something we’ve needed for a long time, and by “a long time” I mean at least eighteen years, since Michael Moore’s TV Nation introduced something called the CEO Corporate Challenge, in which various CEOs were asked to make proper use of the products made by their companies on camera. The wheels at Philip Morris, IBM, and Colgate-Palmolive declined, thank you. But then:

One of the CEOs targeted was Ford boss Alexander Trotman: Moore met him in Dearborn and challenged him to change the oil in a Ford truck. Trotman, to Moore’s surprise, was a pretty fair shadetree mechanic, and finished up the task in less time than your local Spee-D-Loob; Moore, to his credit, left the segment in, and announced that Trotman had indeed passed the CEO Corporate Challenge.

The reason for this sort of thing should be obvious. Says Peschel:

See, as companies get bigger, the top levels of management become distanced from what the company sells. To gauge how well the company is doing, they have to rely on reports from mid-level weasels who will eagerly pass along the good news such as “profits are up!” and not the bad news such as “our customer service ranks a little higher than being devoured by feral cats.”

So a CEO who has to use the product his or her company makes will get a similar experience to what the customers get.

Incidentally, current Ford boss Alan Mulally can actually sell cars.

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Move along, dammit

Yes, it’s called the Garden State Parkway, but no, that doesn’t mean you get to park there. A New Jersey legislator has sponsored a bill to jack up the penalties for left-lane banditry:

State Senator Donald Norcross (D-Camden) has sponsored a bill that would toughen the penalties for clogging the left lane.

“Being trapped behind a slower vehicle is one of the biggest triggers for road rage,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer last week. “Some people have told me the fines we’re proposing are not high enough. They said, ‘It should be execution.'”

Norcross won’t go quite that far, but the fines will be boosted from the $50-100 range to $100-300. Last year, New Jersey police busted members of the Anti-Destination League 5,127 times, so this has the potential of dropping a quarter-million dollars or more into Trenton’s depleted coffers.

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LOL, cats

After the debacle last night, you had to figure the Thunder would take out their frustrations on Charlotte, and the Bobcats somehow stayed in contention for thirteen, fourteen minutes, before the hammer came down and the blowout began. OKC, up by a mere three after the first quarter, cranked up the tempo enough to take a 58-40 lead at the half — and then had the audacity to speed it up. Defense? How much do you need when you’re shooting 63 (!) percent? So the ‘Cats got a respectable 55 points in that second half and still lost ground, and all 13 active Thundermen got minutes. Yes, even Ryan Reid. It was 122-95, and even radio guy Matt Pinto seemed relieved when the shot clock was finally shut off.

Workhorse Corey Maggette, who never seems to age, was good for 21 points, and the two ex-Thunder players on the Charlotte roster acquitted themselves well: Byron Mullens had 12 points on 6-8 shooting, and D. J. White 10 on 4-7. In fact, when you add D. J. Augustin’s team-leading 22, you discover that more than a third of Charlotte’s offense was generated by guys named D. J. And when you realize this means nothing, you forget about it and go on to the one area where the Bobcats shone: offensive rebounds, of which they had 15. The Thunder had only six, but then how many offensive rebounds can you get when you shoot 63 percent?

James Harden, who’d gone one whole game without a new career high, made up for that tonight with a sparkling 33-point performance, hitting 11 of 16 from the floor and 4 of 9 for distance. And this on nights where Kevin Durant (26 on 8-12) and Russell Westbrook (23 on 10-14) were hitting on all cylinders, no less. In fact, everyone scored except Reid, who played only five minutes. Former Bobcat Nazr Mohammed — turnabout is fair play, y’know — manned the middle for 13 minutes and scored four, rebounded thrice, pulled off two steals and blocked two shots. The Thunder still put up a heck of a lot of three-balls, but they actually made ten of them (out of 23), so no one’s complaining.

The last game of the home stand is Tuesday, against the Rockets, after which it’s off to Denver. Already I miss the East.

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Deep dark desire

Or in Hindi, “Bipasha.” Last name is Basu. She’s been doing Bollywood for a decade, and will make her English-language film debut in Roland Joffé’s Singularity, set for release this year.

Bipasha Basu

Bipasha has Jism on her résumé, and not everyone can say that. Retitled Body: The Dark Side of Desire for English-language consumption, Jism seems to be homage to Double Indemnity with a side order of Body Heat.

This wasn’t at all what she’d planned to do with her life:

I actually wanted to be a doctor. But doing all those horrid rat dissections made me faint. I studied science till the 12th standard and later took up commerce. I was planning to do chartered accountancy, but fate had something else in store for me.

For “fate,” read “Ford,” the model agency, which declared her “Supermodel of the World” in 1996, when she was seventeen.

And Singularity looks, um, perplexing. The official synopsis:

After a dangerous dive to save his wife Laura trapped while exploring an colonial British merchant ship wreckage, Jay Fennel, a rugged and attractive marine archeologist lies brain dead in a Boston hospital. Fennel’s dream-like coma takes us back in time to Pune, India in 1778. The British East India Company is invading the palaces and a young captain named James Stewart, who bears a striking resemblance to Fennel, is about to embark on a dangerous mission. Along the way he encounters murder, deceit, betrayal and revenge. He falls deeply in love with an Indian She-warrior named Tulaja, an impossible love which he must fight for. Only the power of a ring can transcend time and save a life.

For “rugged and attractive,” read “Josh Hartnett.”

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Antelope Freeway, 1/262144th mile

Peter Bergman, founding member of the Firesign Theatre and one-time purchaser of a fabulous new car from Ralph Spoilsport Motors, has now reached infinity: he died Friday at a Santa Monica hospital following a battle with leukemia.

He might have smiled at the working title for this piece: “Why, he’s no fun, he fell right over.” I suspected, though, that nobody else would.

Nick Danger, uncharacteristically, was not available for comment.

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Quote of the week

Andrea Harris emerges from hiatus to remind us that America, no matter what you heard, is not any kind of patriarchy worthy of the name:

Oh no, it is not. A patriarchy would at least imply adulthood, and as usual there are no grownups to be seen, only sports fan clutching the various souvenirs of their favorite teams. The United States of America is not a patriarchy — it’s a Boy’s Own Clubhouse, full of overgrown adolescents vying among one another for the title of Most Obnoxious.

This describes just about every administration since Eisenhower’s; the Obama regime, despite being ostensibly liberally salted with humanoids identified as “women” — alternatively, “womyn” — and therefore theoretically an exception, nonetheless conforms in every way to the middle-school tantrum model.

One thing the Democrats do well, though, and that’s bring out the worst in the GOP:

So far they’ve played the right like a violin — they know that the right wing in this country is dominated by white male titty babies. It’s easy to start a tantrum among such: just try to take one, just one, of their toys away. Today’s toy is “women need to know their place.” I did at first think that Sandra Fluke should have responded to Limbaugh’s sub-Beavis-and-Butthead “hurr hurr she takes the Pill she must sleep with a lot of guys” prostitute allusions with “and your point is?”, but now I think she knew exactly what she was doing: getting the right wing to reveal itself once again as a gang of preteen boys who still think that their mom doesn’t know they stash copies of Playboy under their mattresses.

The wingnuts missed a good bet, I think, by not immediately agreeing with Fluke: “It’s worth some insignificant percentage of the Federal budget — or would be if we actually had a Federal budget — to help these folks with their goal of non-reproduction.” Demography being about 90 percent of destiny — well, the numbers speak for themselves. The Libertarians of course would be outraged; but that is, after all, their function in life, and surely they deserve a reason to live.

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For instance, luna.gov.eq

From the “Why didn’t I think of this?” files:

Equestria NIC (EqNIC for short) is a domain name registry which will soon permit Pony fans everywhere to host a domain of their choice in the magic land of Equestria, under the .eq country-code Top-Level Domain. Through a generous grant by Princess Celestia herself, domain names in .eq will be free of charge.

Regretfully, Equestria was denied acceptance into the ISO, which allocates country codes (we understand that the laughter at our letter was raucous and relentless); therefore, .eq is unable to be a part of the ICANN DNS root most users access already. Fortunately, we are applying to the OpenNIC alternate root, who are substantially more likely to accept our proposal. In order to access .eq sites, users will need to change the DNS resolvers their network devices use, which will allow them to access both ICANN domains — meaning that every site which worked before the change will work afterwards — and OpenNIC domains, of which .eq will be one. This will only need to be done once per device, and new programs are being developed to make this as easy as a point and a click.

The ISO 3166-1 list, if you ask me, already contains countries of arguable existence, and as Jon Postel noted in RFC 1591: “The IANA is not in the business of deciding what is and what is not a country.”

I’d bet several bits that the first actual domain will be DerpyHooves.eq.

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Who ordered the grinder?

It does not pay to misunderestimate 14-23 teams, especially on your own home court. Byron Scott has spent lots of time here — he was the coach of the Hornets during their two-year sojourn in the Big Breezy — and he arguably has a better feel for the place than most Eastern coaches, which may explain why the Thunder never could quite put this one out of reach. Then again, neither could the Cavs until the last couple of minutes, when Cleveland went on a 14-5 run to close out the Thunder 96-90, only the second OKC loss at the Downtown Roundhouse this season.

Or you might look at the night before last, when these same Cavaliers sneaked out of Denver with a 100-99 win over the Bumpy Lumps, and you might reasonably conclude that their prayers are being answered, and the answer is Kyrie — rookie guard Kyrie Irving, who got that dunk with four seconds left in Denver, and who made his mark in an arena he hadn’t seen before by rolling up nine points, 12 dimes, three steals, and only one turnover. With Irving doing the ball movement, Antawn Jamison was left to do the heavy lifting, which he did: 21 points and eight boards, though it must be said that A. J. put up rather a lot of bricks.

The Thunder, in fact, actually outshot the Cavs by seven percentage points, but Cleveland got 15 extra chances at the net, thanks to utter dominance on the boards: 51-40, 21-8 offensive. And the three guys who got 91 points against the Suns Wednesday — well, obviously, the whole team didn’t get 91 tonight. For the record: Kevin Durant 23, Russell Westbrook 19, James Harden 15. It was another case of too many tries from too far away: 24 treys attempted, six made, none in the second half. Everyone in Scott Brooks’ 10-man rotation showed up on the minus side, though the range was only -1 to -5. And not even another mighty Serge Ibaka performance — 13 points, seven boards, six blocks — was going to save the Thunder tonight.

The intangibles for tomorrow: it’s the second half of a back-to-back, where the Thunder have been doing well most of the season, and it’s against the Bobcats. Then again, look what happens when you take the likes of Cleveland, um, cavalierly.

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False wetness

Yes, it did rain all day yesterday; yes, we’re still in a drought. You live here long enough, you get used to that sort of thing.

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