Gee, Wally

It’s all fun and games, running the onscreen caption machine, until, well, something like this happens:

Wally Szczerbiak

The Random Dude portrayed is former NBA forward — and current CBS analyst — Wally Szczerbiak. Clearly the network needs to do a better job of recognizing its own staff.

(Via Henry Abbott.)

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The redoubles gave them away

A paragraph from Phillip Alder’s contract-bridge column yesterday:

When the World Bridge Federation joined the International Olympic Committee, players had to obey the drug rules, which restricted caffeine. However, the IOC has relented, accepting that caffeine is not a performance-enhancing drug for a bridge player, as it might be for an athlete; it just helps contestants to stay awake.

Actually, if I need the queen of trumps to be on my right for the finesse to work, I’m rather hoping the player holding same dozes off.

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The Party of Huh?

Wherein I attempt to rebrand the Grand Old Party as something a trifle less useless.

Update: Now crossposted at Eternity Road, with the title I probably should have used in the first place.

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Zooeypalooza 9!

We’ve gone too long without one of these, wouldn’t you say?

Zooeypalooza 9!

Embiggenment of individual photos can be had with a click.

Previous Paloozas: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, and ZP 8.

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The next big thing, Part XCIV

Jeffrey Zeldman is kicking in a few bucks to an application called Readability. No big deal? Don’t be too sure:

Readability focuses the user’s attention on the content, creating an enhanced — and often much more accessible — reading experience. It also subverts the typical web browsing design paradigm, where each website offers a different visual experience. Instead, to the Readability user, all web content looks the same, once she has clicked a button to engage the Readability view.

Web designers are even now falling on their swords. But that’s barely the half of it:

What Readability 2.0 adds to the mix is automatic payment for content creators. How it works is simple: I pay a small fee each month to use Readability. Most of that money gets divided between the creators of the web pages I’ve viewed in Readability.

For “most,” you can read “70 percent.” And there goes another paradigm:

For the first time, content monetization is no longer the problem of content creators. Writers can stop being salespeople, and focus on what they do best: creating compelling content. The better the content, the more people who engage with it via Readability, the more money writers will make — with no bookkeeping, no ad sales, and no hassle.

I have to admit, I am intrigued by the possibilities of this scheme.

The bucks — okay, more likely the cents — aren’t going to roll in unless I include a snippet of Readability code in the template, as Zeldman explains:

[T]he program is opt-in.

If you want to participate, you go to and *register* your site with the program, inserting a unique identifier in your template that the site creates for you.

Easy enough, though of course I have about 8000 static pages that would have to be updated.

I remember when CSS first appeared, back in the Jurassic period of Web development, and we were told that it was important to keep content and style wholly separate. Now we know why — maybe.

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Occupational hazards

Earlier this month, I said something to the effect that Her Majesty’s Government was putting entirely too much effort into “making life easier for the criminal element.”

Just in case you assumed I was engaging in the fine art of hyperbole, here’s a fresh example of what I mean:

A spate of thefts in several towns and villages in Kent and Surrey over the past few months led to many householders taking action to protect their property.

Some have been warned by police that using wire mesh to reinforce shed windows was “dangerous” and could lead to criminals claiming compensation if they “hurt themselves”.

Now in a civilized area, this situation doesn’t come up, as Peter explains:

Anyone trying to break into my shed is likely to encounter a rather more effective deterrent than window mesh. In fact, he might find it so effective that he’ll never burgle a shed again!

And that’s the bonus benefit: a very low recidivism rate.

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Thoroughly crushed

Those of us who have loved neither too wisely nor too well have perhaps an enhanced sensitivity to the Classic American Crush, the heart demanding an object of fixation to fill an otherwise-empty space, and the eyes alighting on just such an object at exactly the wrong time. Recounting the full list of those who have unwittingly filled this role for me would be painful for me and probably embarrassing for them, so for the moment I’ll confine myself to fictional characters.

When I was eleven, Freddy Cannon put out a bizarre little stomper called “Abigail Beecher,” a name positively redolent of Victorian gentility: you half-expected her to be teaching history in some classroom with dark-paneled walls and a blackboard so old it was actually green. Well, that much she did; but according to Freddy, she drove a Jaguar E-type, was conversant with contemporary teenage dance steps, and occasionally even surfed. Not a Van Halenesque object of lust, exactly, but someone you couldn’t possibly ignore, especially if you were an Impressionable Youth.

Officially in those days I didn’t know much about history, mostly because I was getting my romantic advice from Sam Cooke. So I spent some time in contemplation of what Art Fleming on Jeopardy! called “unreal estate,” which inevitably led me to Mrs Darrin Stephens, of whom I would write at the tender age of fifty-one:

For a squirrelly little kid like me who never imagined himself with so much as a temporary girlfriend, a “card-carrying, broom-riding, house-haunting, cauldron-stirring witch” was exactly the ticket to suburban happiness, and that doofus Durwood, or whatever his name was, simply wasn’t worthy of someone like that.

For the moment, I overlooked the likelihood of clashes with the in-laws, but who doesn’t?

Still, both Miss Beecher and Mrs Stephens were older and wiser than I, and eventually my teenage self turned to someone my own age and my own level of bewilderment: Cassandra Mortmain, narrator of Dodie Smith’s novel I Capture the Castle, who explains her situation in the opening pages of the Sixpenny Book:

[U]p to now my stories have been very stiff and self-conscious. The only time father obliged me by reading one of them, he said I combined stateliness with a desperate attempt to be funny. He told me to relax and let the words flow out of me.

Apparently Mr Mortmain had anticipated my own style by several years. And ultimately poor Cassandra is waylaid by a crush of her own, which unwinds in the most torturous of ways — except for the fact that, well, it doesn’t. Of these three women, she’s the one I’ve had the least success getting over.

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He only loves me for my can

Diet Pepsi has introduced a new beverage can. Same volume, but taller than the industry average; the rules of geometry being what they are, it’s also narrower than average, and you can predict what happens next:

The National Eating Disorders Association said it takes offense to the can.

Reinforcing stereotypes, doncha know, especially the one where women are “more attractive if they appear to be five or six inches high, a little thinner than the usual Pepsi can, and made of aluminum.”

Obviously what these poor, overwrought ladies need is to lap their empty calories out of a short, squat bowl, which won’t upset their worldview quite so much as something Disgustingly Skinny.

Me, I’ll go pour another Dr Pepper.

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Strange search-engine queries (263)

If you’re just joining us, this is a weekly routine wherein we acknowledge the fact that rather a lot of traffic comes from inadvertent search hits on the archives, and that some of said searches are downright hilarious, or at least somewhat loopy.

this is not a valentine:  If you have to ask, you’re not getting any. Valentines, I mean.

tim mcgraw penis:  I consider this purely a matter of Faith’s.

is there nude women at the pennsylvania renaissance faire:  That would take all the fun out of making medieval costumes, wouldn’t it?

beautiful woman expensive clothes duing housework sexy vids:  If she can afford expensive clothes, she might be able to afford paying someone else to do (not “du”) the housework.

does chikfilet have wifi at racetrack in Kansas city:  This is the first warning sign of I Won’t Go Anywhere Without My Precious Device Syndrome.

middle aged amature ugly slut women who fart and then shit on the toilet tubes:  That’s a good way to get yourself banned from Chick-Fil-A.

why are democrats called jackasses:  It’s a sexist thing. Many Democrats are actually female.

wood chuck chucking wood osha:  The woodchuck was fined $10,000 and was required to obtain EPA certification for any future such incidents.

hydrochlorothiazide marijauna:  Instead of giving you the munchies, it makes you go to the bathroom every two hours.

96 2500 can i bore the motor:  Sure. Just start reading this page out loud with the hood open.

Oh, and to the wisenheimer in Edmond who asked for zooey deschanel:  Well, duh.

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Big shots

Well, maybe not all that big, but the Warriors put up a lot of shots: tonight in Oakland they put up 99 of them, and David Lee’s dunk with 21 seconds left was the 99th, putting Golden State up by four. Monta Ellis added two more free throws in the waning moments, and that was it: OKC turned the ball over on its next possession, and will be sent home with a 100-94 loss.

The Warriors hit 43 of those 99 shots. Of the ones they didn’t, twenty got turned into offensive rebounds. (The Thunder had only two offensive rebounds all night.) Then again, this is what they do; Oklahoma City didn’t have any effective way to shut them off.

Ellis led all scorers with 33; as is his wont, he played almost the entire game (45:46). Lee recorded 23 points and 19 rebounds; Stephen Curry had 23 points and 13 assists. (The Thunder had only 15 assists all night). There wasn’t much more, but the Warriors didn’t need much more.

OKC put up only 59 shots; they hit 31, for 52.5 percent, but they got creamed on the backboards, and the three top scorers — as usual, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green — produced 29, 21 and 12. That last turnover was the Thunder’s 20th, and that number is pretty scary in its own right.

So a split of the California trip, and now back home to await the Kings, followed by the All-Star break. At 34-19, the Thunder is still on pace for 52-53 wins, but the schedule isn’t going to get a whole lot easier.

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And worth every scent

Axe display at Walmart

And they say Walmart doesn’t know what they’re doing.

(Via FAIL Blog.)

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Balls for me, but not for thee

Polite little story from Great Falls’ Prairie Star:

According to Anne Key who ranches with her husband, Tom, near Great Falls, Mont., lambing is in full swing and it is going great.

“We had tagged the 200th lamb on Jan. 28,” she said. That was the start of a crazy weekend. By Monday, Jan. 31, they had tagged 40 more lambs and the tiny fluff balls are still coming.

Dynamo Dave wanted to throw in a kind word for those “tiny fluff balls,” but the Prairie Star wasn’t having any of that:

“Your comment cannot be accepted due to the presence of profanity. Please remove any objectionable content from your comment and try again.”

Speaking of comments, the late Harry W. Baals was not available for any.

Be that as it may, our best wishes to the Keys.

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Battle of the Belge

It was some years ago that a Mr St John of Huntingdon said he couldn’t think of anything more derogatory than “Belgians.” I don’t know about that, but right now, Belgium is in a dead heat with Somalia for “Longest period without a proper government,” the parliamentary elections having been held way back in June, and yet there’s still no coalition.

Senator Lysistrata Marleen Temmerman has proposed the following measure to push things along, as it were:

A Belgian senator and physician wants her fellow legislators to go on a “sex strike” until the country can break the stalemate that has left it without a government for nine months.

Marleen Temmerman’s “legs closed” campaign started as a joke, she told the Star on Wednesday. Now she can only hope it might work where everything else has failed.

“It sounds funny, but the situation is very serious. We have to get a government. There are people crying in the streets for services.”

Belgium is pretty much fragmented for the moment: there are distinct Walloon (Francophone) and Flemish (Dutch-speaking) regions, each with a measure of autonomy and neither with a great deal of fondness for the other. (Brussels, the capital, is officially bilingual.) Temmerman, judging by her Web site, is Flemish; a stance like this would suggest that she’s not among the separatists who would like to see the country split into Whatta Walloonia and Stupid Flanders.

And it’s not like there are no role models:

“We have two cultures, but everywhere in the world people are living with different cultures. Look at Canada. You have a government, why can’t we?”

The Parti Québécois was not available for comment.

This represents a change from earlier in the month, when Temmerman played the perhaps-inevitable “Can’t you guys take a joke?” card, prompting a retort from Jeroen Overmeer, who heads up the New Flemish Alliance, which won a parliamentary plurality but which has yet to form a government:

“Ordinary people may joke about the political situation, but members of parliament have a greater responsibility.”

But Temmerman responded: “I see two different groups of people here. You have people who see the humor who can laugh about it. And you have people who don’t see the humor of it at all.”

(Via Ferdinand Barduma, who made the Aristophanes connection before I did, and Erlend Johan Alvestad, who found the followup.)

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Real fungi

Marko Kloos lays down some well-deserved smack on Chris Lee, formerly representing the 26th District of New York, and on any subsequent dimwits with the same M.O.:

If you’re in a high-profile public job like, say, Member of Congress, and you use your real name while trolling Craigslist for some extra-marital action, you are dumber than a tub of mushrooms, and I wouldn’t trust you to run my checkbook, much less the affairs of the nation.

Extra credit for guessing which phrase can be left out entirely without changing the truth of the matter.

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It’s a T party

The Kings dominated this one early, which should be no surprise to anyone who’s paid any attention to the Thunder lately: they’ve had some seriously weak first-quarter defense of late. Eric Maynor took care of that with a half-court shot to close out the quarter, putting OKC up 27-24; they would not trail again, despite some anxious moments, and they got the win in Sacramento, 99-97.

What was most remarkable about this game was not Maynor’s 50-footer, nifty as it was, but the sheer number of technicals handed out: Maynor got one, Serge Ibaka got another, Russell Westbrook got yet another. (Didn’t seem to be a plot by the officials, since Tyreke Evans also got one.) Evans was making his presence known early on, and he put in more minutes (46) than anyone else. He got two of three free throws with 39 seconds left to pull the Kings within four, and when the Thunder couldn’t come back with a score, Evans delivered another layup. Kevin Durant earned a trip to the foul line with 5.9 left, but sent up a pair of bricks. Evans fired a trey for the win, which didn’t land, Omar Casspi tried to put it back, but that was the end of it.

Six Kings hit double figures, led by Evans with 30; DeMarcus Cousins got the only double-double of the night, with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Sacramento got most of the rebounds (49-36), most of the assists (18-12), and that late 12-2 run; had this game gone to overtime, I suspect the Kings would have won it handily.

Durant, in spite of those chunks of masonry — he missed five of 13 from the line — still managed to accumulate 35 points; Westbrook came up with 22 before disappearing late, Maynor running the point towards the end. (As of this writing, no one has explained why.) If you buy this plus/minus stuff, consider this: all the Thunder starters finished minus, all the bench players finished plus. James Harden had 11 points and five steals; Maynor finished with nine points. The Uncle Jeff factor: Green had eight points and four boards, which might qualify as “meh.”

It’s tomorrow night at Golden State, then back home to play these same Kings on Tuesday. It’s not going to be any easier, I suspect.

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And it’s not even Wednesday

Christina Ricci is thirty years old today, which means that all that Addams Family stuff is more than half a lifetime ago.

Besides, she’s long since developed a look of her own, deployed here at the 2009 premiere of Brüno:

Christina Ricci at the Bruno premiere 2009

Still, some of that wicked ingenuity that served her well in the house of Gomez and Morticia was there from the very beginning:

When her elementary school held auditions for The Twelve Days of Christmas, Ricci was in danger of losing the lead to another kid. So she hatched a plot only slightly more diabolical than the one she would later act out in The Opposite of Sex. Ricci taunted her rival so much that he socked her. When she tattled, he lost the part.

Clearly this is a woman with whom one does not mess.

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