Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane

You know the song already. It’s direct and to the point, but the potential for rudeness is on the high side, as Zooey Deschanel is compelled to point out:

To whom are you explaining all of this? The ticket agent? FYI the ticket agent definitely doesn’t care why you’re buying a plane ticket. The ticket agent just wants your money, not your explanations.

On t’other hand, “The Letter” was written by Wayne Carson Thompson, who also wrote this, so sivilizing him, Mark Twain-style, may prove to be a bit more complicated than she anticipated.

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Not that I’d ask or anything

I have long suspected that universal open-carry laws would discourage rather a lot of perp wannabes on sight, which is probably why we don’t have them: the criminals would probably sue you for restraint of trade, or some such foolishness. However, concealed carry is legal in most civilized parts of the country, though I’ve occasionally found myself wondering how women can conceal at all, given the dictates of fashion.

Which, I suppose, demonstrates that I am a bonehead, since “you do not have to dress like a nun to conceal the tools necessary to defend yourself.” Consider me set straight.

(Holsters at the above link by Michael’s Custom Holsters.)

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Radio silence

The BBC World Service quit beaming shortwave radio to the States a decade ago, although you can still pick it up on satellite (channel 141 on Sirius, 131 on XM). There was not a whole lot of mourning, at least partially because the US is awash in radio services, though few with a comparable level of prestige.

Now places without so much in the way of choice are being cut loose: in anticipation of the loss of government grants — in 2014, the BBC is required to finance the World Service from UK licence fees — five foreign-language services will be dropped, and shortwave transmissions to India, Russia and China will be discontinued.

Perhaps more alarming, at least at this moment, is the impending demise of the shortwave service in the Middle East:

Short-wave broadcasts of the BBC Arabic service, which has around 400,000 listeners in Egypt, will be shut down as part of plans to save £46m from the World Service’s budget. The changes follow a 16% cut in its funding by the government and are likely to lead to the loss of 30 million listeners worldwide.

There will also be “significant reductions” in the BBC’s Arabic TV services, according to the plans outlined by the BBC’s global news director, Peter Horrocks, last week.

The Beeb argues that their overall audience in Egypt is about 3.4 million, and they’re served adequately by FM radio and/or local partners, and by, at least when Cairo isn’t blocking the Internet.

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Magical fun-time back-breaking pixie dust

Or, Snowpocalypse Now:

I must point out that while AWD helps you go, it isn’t necessarily going to help you stop, which is just as much of an issue. On the other hand, they got those shoppers dead to rights.

(Via The Truth About Cars. Title swiped from KingShamus.)

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Aerial ballet

Sometimes the Thunder start things off seriously inauspiciously, and this was one of those nights: it took the Jazz about twelve tries to miss a shot, and Utah had a fat 37-27 lead after the first quarter. But from that point on, it was all OKC, and how they did it was wholly unexpected: deployment of the long ball. The Thunder, usually around the bottom of the league in beyond-the-arc prowess, hit 13 of 21, and would have done better except that Kevin Durant was having a slightly-below-average (21 points, 12 rebounds) night. In the last three quarters, it was Thunder 94, Jazz 68, and if Jerry Sloan didn’t actually do a facepalm on camera, he surely was wondering what the hell happened: the Jazz shot over 51 percent, were +2 on the boards, moved the ball with alacrity (30 assists), and yet OKC is going home with a 121-105 win and a 2-1 lead in the season series.

Paul Millsap, who outscored everyone — 34 points, 10 boards — was his usual formidable self, despite getting into foul trouble early, and three other Jazzmen rolled up double digits. But Russell Westbrook (33 points/10 assists) won the Battle of the Point Guards over Deron Williams (14 points/11 assists), and the Jazz bench contributed only 16 points to the cause, two fewer than James Harden. (The Thunder reserves finished with 33.) The Uncle Jeff factor: Jeff Green checked in with 20, missing only one shot all night.

So a titanic defensive struggle this wasn’t. And I’m still trying to figure out how it is that the first three games in this season series have all gone to the visitors. (The fourth game, on the 23rd of March, is in OKC, so the Jazz perhaps have some reason to be hopeful.) But for now — which, I know, doesn’t mean squat — the Thunder are 3½ games up on Denver and 4 on Utah. And the Grizzlies, who have won eight of their last ten, arrive Tuesday night during Blizzard ’11 Part Deux; the one saving grace here may be that the night before, they have to take on the Lakers. Or not, given L.A.’s apparent diffidence about turning the screws this early in the season.

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Quote of the week

In an age of rudeness and incivility, it is a tragedy whenever we lose someone who worked diligently to maintain higher standards in her own life. The following incident in the life of Princesse Ghislaine de Polignac (1918-2011) illustrates the point nicely:

She took a dim view of a society figure who became depressed and threw himself out of the window at his host’s chateau, landing in the moat (so that it was a long time before his body was found). Declaring this to be bad manners because lunch had been delayed, she added: “Listen. If you want to die, there are plenty of places in the world where you can go. You go to Dubrovnik, you put on a moustache and you say you’re a Croat. Someone will certainly kill you.”

Everything in its time, in its place.

(Via Fark.)

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After the Gold Rush

The state of blogdom hasn’t changed much since the Silurian Period, notes Robert Stacy McCain:

Brains, talent, hard work and persistence ultimately win out in any competition, and the losers go home. That’s what has happened in the blogosphere since the Gold Rush days of the Great Blogging Boom. (Aside: When was ’49 in that analogy? That is to say, was the boom year 2002 or 2005 or 2006?)

I’m on record as dating the Beginning of the Boom to September 12, 2001: once we’d grasped the enormity of the horrors the day before, a lot of us felt the need to speak up.

Were I to go strictly by the spinning of my own SiteMeter, I’d have to say 2005; I was pulling about 700 visitors a day back then. Today, I’m (mostly) below 500, but I have more than 200 folks pulling the feed, none of whom advance the meter one whit, so apparently my traffic has stabilized over the past half-decade. Then again, someone with no traffic enjoys, or perhaps resents, the same level of stability.

As I have often pointed out, the people who are most successful in the blogosphere don’t match the popular stereotype of dropouts in pajamas ranting from their mother’s basement. They are people of considerable professional accomplishment in their offline careers, often with advanced degrees and specialized knowledge that is their stock-in-trade online. (I’ve never met Eugene Volokh, but if I did, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t be wearing pajamas.)

I don’t think of myself as being especially accomplished in Real Life, at least in terms of Bacon, Bringing Home Of, but I’ll cop to “specialized knowledge”; as I no longer have to remind upper management, my particular skill set is pretty close to unique. Perhaps in reaction, I play the generalist on line, offering a hint of this and a smattering of that. And I haven’t owned any actual pajamas since the late 1960s, but that’s another matter entirely.

Winners win and losers lose, and self-publishing software has not changed that fact, except to allow some people to succeed as writers who did not previously have the opportunity to write professionally.

And while I’m not anywhere close to having a book deal or anything like that, I figure I’ve carved out my own little niche here, and as I said in the waning days of 2010: “[I]n a decade and a half of slogging away at the keyboard — and the same keyboard at that, I’ll have you know — I personally have gone from having no influence whatsoever to having extremely little influence. To me, that’s a major upgrade.”

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Exodus II: Electric Boogaloo

This isn’t even close to the worst idea I ever heard:

The Next Iran. You can take it to the bank. Extremely optimistic alternative: Another Turkey (though I doubt it). My solution? We take over Mexico, buy it from them or something, and en masse, move Israel to the Yucatan peninsula. It lacks the Biblical back-story, but it gets one of the USA’s stoutest allies out of the middle of the Musselman basket of snakes, lets those hunyaps rip each other’s guts out.

On the other hand, “Next year in Quintana Roo” just doesn’t have the same resonance.

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Top side of the Moon

Thursday’s shoe post gave you a look at Moon Bloodgood from there down. It occurs to me that you might want to see what else she was wearing at the time, the time being the 2007 AZN Asian Excellence Awards, and so:

Moon Bloodgood at the 2007 AZN Asian Excellence Awards

Moon’s mom was (South) Korean; her dad was stationed over there, and, well, you know the rest.

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Solar flareout

The Suns looked like they had this game won after the third quarter: they were up seven points, and Vince Carter had scored forty bazillion from downtown. Not an auspicious moment for Oklahoma City, but the Thunder have been there before, and tonight they knew how to get out of it. Carter was shut down — he got only one bucket in the last twelve minutes — and the momentum gradually shifted. Down goes Phoenix, 111-107, and off go the Thunder to Salt Lake City.

Then again, even with that fourth-quarter drought, Carter finished with 33 points, leading all scorers. All five starting Suns, plus bench big Marcin Gortat, managed double figures, but it was Vince’s show tonight: 11 of 21, including 6 of 12 treys, and half a dozen rebounds besides. But Phoenix, after hitting seemingly everything early on, couldn’t sustain that pace, and wound up shooting just under 46 percent. Worse, they left seven points at the charity stripe, and in a late dustup, both Steve Nash and Grant Hill were T’d up. (Which turned out not to matter, since Kevin Durant, awarded four foul shots for the play and the ensuing technicals, hit only two.)

I am becoming persuaded that the deciding factor these days is whether Jeff Green is on his game. Tonight, Uncle Jeff was definitely on: 28 points, even more than Durant (24, 11 boards), more than Russell Westbrook (19, 11 dimes). The Thunder outrebounded the Suns, 45-38, and dished up more assists, 25-19. But the guys to see were Serge Ibaka, who hit 9 of 10 from the floor and hauled in six rebounds, and Nick Collison, whose seemingly meager three points might distract you from his position as Glue Guy. (On the plus-minus scale, Collison was +25, far and away the best on the floor.) Thabo Sefolosha was back, but he was apparently not entirely healed, and he played only eleven minutes.

The Thunder will be back home at the Eventual Thaw Coliseum on Tuesday, to take on the Grizzlies. In the meantime, though, there’s that trip to Utah. The Jazz won’t be any better rested — they’re at Denver tonight — but they’ll be at home.

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I suspect Murphy approves

What comes after “shit happens”? This morning’s Oklahoman tells us in very large type:

Front page of the Oklahoman

Suggestions for Phase 3 are encouraged.

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Random useless weather statistic

For the first two days of February 2011, the official National Weather Service reporting station at Will Rogers World Airport — and why don’t they build a theme park called Will Rogers World while they’re at it? — recorded an average temperature of 11.2 degrees Fahrenheit.

I went looking for places with comparable February averages, and came up with:

  • Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada: -10.1°F.
  • Nome, Alaska: 5.7°F.
  • Nuuk, Greenland: 18°F.
  • Oslo, Norway: 25°F.

Now the normal Oklahoma City February average is 39°F. It would be nice to see that at least once before, oh, the first of March.

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Like I don’t lose enough of them already

Invisible paper clips! How do they work?

In the past, researchers have only been able to “cloak” microscopic objects using extremely complicated physics and so-called meta-materials made on a tiny scale.

But a new study at the University of Birmingham in the UK has taken a major step forward by making a paper clip invisible — an object thousands of times bigger than in previous experiments.

The research works by using a naturally forming crystal called calcite which has extraordinary light-bending abilities.

What’s not entirely clear to me, so to speak, is whether you have to have a crystal exactly the right size at exactly the right angle. The laws of physics will take some bending, but breaking them, I suspect, will require some serious quantum activity. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

(Technically not crossposted from here.)

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IP, less freely

It’s the end of the Internet, and I feel fine:

At a ceremony held on 3 February, 2011 the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) allocated the remaining last five /8s of IPv4 address space to the Regional Internet Registries (RIRs) in accordance with the Global Policy for the Allocation of the Remaining IPv4 Address Space. With this action, the free pool of available IPv4 addresses is now fully depleted.

Meanwhile, ICANN, which manages the address space, has no cheezburger:

“This is truly a major turning point in the on-going development of the Internet,” said Rod Beckstrom, ICANN’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “Nobody was caught off guard by this, the Internet technical community has been planning for IPv4 depletion for quite some time. But it means the adoption of IPv6 is now of paramount importance, since it will allow the Internet to continue its amazing growth and foster the global innovation we’ve all come to expect.”

I’m debating whether I want to add an IPv6 address for this humble site now, or wait until it becomes mandatory. (It won’t replace the existing IPv4 address, at least at first.)

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Banksy-er than thou

The one and only, or however many, Keyboard Cat in, um, Exit Through The Pet Shop:

I admit, I LOLed.

(Via Urlesque.)

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The snipe hunt takes a detour

Illiteracy, or just laziness? You make the call:

Donald Leu, a researcher from the University of Connecticut, conducted a U.S. Department of Education-funded study of Internet literacy among so-called “digital natives,” fabricating the tree octopus to test students’ ability to evaluate information they find on the internet.

Researchers asked students to find out information about the endangered Pacific Northwest tree octopus. Students had no problem locating a Web site dedicated to the cause, “but insisted on the existence of the made-up story, even after researchers explained the information on the website was completely fabricated,” according to a press release.

The proffered description of the critter is admittedly quite persuasive:

The Pacific Northwest tree octopus (Octopus paxarbolis) can be found in the temperate rainforests of the Olympic Peninsula on the west coast of North America. Their habitat lies on the Eastern side of the Olympic mountain range, adjacent to Hood Canal. These solitary cephalopods reach an average size (measured from arm-tip to mantle-tip) of 30-33 cm. Unlike most other cephalopods, tree octopuses are amphibious, spending only their early life and the period of their mating season in their ancestral aquatic environment. Because of the moistness of the rainforests and specialized skin adaptations, they are able to keep from becoming desiccated for prolonged periods of time, but given the chance they would prefer resting in pooled water.

We must mention here that contrary to the news report, while he did set up the experiment, Donald Leu did not actually create the story of the octopus out of water: Lyle Zapato concocted this tall tale over a decade ago, and it’s apparently been a reliable test of gullibility, or something, ever since. Which the students would know, had they bothered to look it up on Wikipedia.

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