I truly hope she wins

It’s March Madness, and brackets are everywhere, and this looks like a better method than any I’ve yet tried:

I didn’t do this in any sensible way. I didn’t do it randomly either. Rather, it’s a weird and obnoxious method — I took all the nicknames of the teams and ran it through the Library of Congress Catalog via a Sooper Sekrit Search String. With the resulting call numbers, I ordered all the teams alpha-numerically.

And if this method happens to yield more than statistically random results, I will eat my figurative hat.

I am in awe of this display of sheer ingenuity.

Comments (2)




I blame Sweet Caroline

Maxim has a preseason feature called Why Baseball Won’t Suck in 2009, and one of the reasons why, they say, is because it’s now okay to hate the Beantowners:

Against all odds, the past few years have seen the Red Sox finally beat out the Yanks not only in the standings but as baseball’s most loathsome team. And they’re only getting worse. If owner John Henry’s whining wasn’t bad enough, in the past year Theo Epstein & Co. pulled in a raft of Curt Schilling lookalikes, slamming the door on the era when talented, mercurial nonwhite stars carried the Sox and bewildered the Fenway faithful.

Hmmm. I always thought Chicago was the home of the Pale Hose.

Then again, accusations of racism were made against Tom Yawkey, too.

Comments (1)




Where have all the feelings gone?

Long time, passion:

Passion is a cliché. Why so? Because it is no longer valid to have anything but extreme feelings toward someone or something. One cannot merely like a sport or a show; the sport or show or whatever must be a passion. The person who has the passion (oops, sorry — who is consumed by the passion) is therefore allowed, it is assumed, by the listeners to commit huge amounts of time, attention, and resources toward the object of the passion.

This has persisted so long that if one doesn’t feel a passion towards something, one ought not even to bother mentioning it. It’s probably better to avoid mentioning one’s less than passionate feelings, or at least more efficient. People change their passions so often, it appears, that it’s probably not even worthwhile to bother listening to some people’s latest passions. For myself, I’ll stick with a few mildly interesting things. They seem to last longer.

I have never been one to throw myself headlong into anything, reasoning that whatever that anything is, it could just as easily throw me back — and then where am I? I have no doubt that this stance has cost me dearly in terms of experience over the years. I also strongly suspect that it’s kept me alive.

Comments (3)




There’s always one

Actually, if you think about it, there are lots of them, generally unevenly distributed. And while not all of them happen to be patronizing fast-food establishments at this point in time, underneath their layer of inconsideration they’re pretty much all alike:

For a fast-food operation to work efficiently, customers must grasp the Zen of the thing and do their part to keep the deep-fried kharma flowing. When the cashier says, “May I help you?” the Good Customer speaks his order clearly, watching the cashier as she enters it, so that he doesn’t speak faster than the data can be entered into the register. Be clear and concise, so that even a 19-year-old high-school dropout with a meth habit earning $8 an hour can’t get your order wrong.

The customer at the counter, however, is the Bad Customer. She doesn’t know what she wants, and insists on interrogating the cashier about the menu items and the pricing packages on the menu. “If I get the No. 2, can I substitute onion rings for the fries?” and “Can I get that Super Deluxe Big Burger without lettuce?”

If you had a baseball bat handy, the Bad Customer would not be long for this world. When the line is backed up, and people are waiting behind you for their turn to order, you do not do this. There will be no damned special orders at 12:42 p.m. on Wednesday, ma’am, and if you can’t spot something on the menu sign that suits you — “I would like a No. 3 to go, please” — then why don’t you stay home and eat there?

My particular, um, Industry is so ridden with these misbegotten creatures as to make me suspect that they’re more the norm than the exception. Most of them do their business over the phone or the Web, though, so the baseball-bat idea, while immensely appealing, is not practicable. If I had a dime for every corksoaking icehole who calls up here mere seconds after completing a Web transaction to whine, “I used the wrong credit card, can I substitute this one instead?” — well, I couldn’t actually retire on that sum, but the interim between now and then would be decidedly more pleasant.

Comments (7)




Matadors in short supply

Chicago hadn’t won a road game in most of a month, a situation that had to change if they wanted to nail down that 8th seed in the East. Unfortunately, it changed at the expense of the Thunder, whose four-game home win streak was ended by the rampaging Bulls, 103-96, helped by Tyrus Thomas’ four free throws in the last minute.

Wunderkind Derrick Rose, after a slow start — five turnovers in the first half and nary a point — turned on the juice in the second half and finished with 25. But it wasn’t a one-man show: the Bulls shot 52.5 percent and seriously outrebounded the Thunder, 43-31. John Salmons dropped in 20 points; Brad Miller, the other Sacramento transplant, had 14 off the bench. And Thomas finished with a double-double (12 points, 11 boards).

The Thunder held on: they mounted a 6-0 run in the waning moments before fading and fouling and fading again. (And “fade” really is the word: they scored 56 in the first half, only 40 in the second.) The Musketeers came up with the sort of numbers you expect: Kevin Durant had 28 points, Jeff Green 18, and Russell Westbrook 15. But Nick Collison (double-double, 12 points, 13 boards) seemed to be getting all the rebounds, and not even Nick can be in two places at once. Thabo Sefolosha, it should be noted, mistreated his old teammates unmercifully: three steals, four blocks.

So it’s 1-1 for this series, the Thunder having won the earlier meeting in Chicago, and 1-1 for this home stand, which concludes Friday night with a visit from the Jazz.

Comments off




For future reference

I don’t expect to have to refer back to it, but they keep telling me anything is possible, so here’s a little reminder:

IF, and it’s a BIG IF (a 3% kind of IF), you ever do remarry, don’t bother spending cash celebrating by way of ceremony. Instead, have one hell of a honeymoon. Go somewhere spectacular, someplace unforgettable, a place you must plot on a world sex map … and of course have lots of wild, freaky sex, but that sorta goes without sayin’.

If it’s good enough, wild enough, you won’t have time for sayin’.

Comments (1)




Visiting arachnid

From the Wikipedia entry on the Brazilian wandering spider:

In densely populated areas, Phoneutria species usually search for cover and dark places to hide during daytime, leading it to hide within houses, clothes, cars, boots, boxes and log piles; thus generating accidents when people disturb it. Its other common name — the “banana spider” — [is] attributed because it is occasionally found as a “stowaway” within shipments of bananas.

For instance, at the produce counter at the Whole Foods in Tulsa.

Store staff caught the critter and turned it over to the University of Tulsa, where it will eventually be the subject of a satirical article by the Irritated Tulsan.

According to Guinness, this spider ranks as the world’s most venomous.

Comments (5)




You might wait for the service pack

It’s about time Microsoft did something like this:

Microsoft has updated its popular Not Responding 2007 with a new multimedia version, that automatically reduces the amount of work done on a computer by wiping the last hour’s worth.

“Not Responding 2009 is a whole new paradigm shift,” said Ned Holliday, Microsoft’s UK avatar MD. “It’s no longer enough to let people down with a simple system crash. Gone are the days of raging at a one dimensional system failure.” Holliday explained that modern professionals are demanding to be let down in a range of communications media, whether it’s voice over wifi, Skype, web conferencing or just using Microsoft’s plain old instant mortification.

As always, there’s method to this madness:

“Executives in corporations across the globe are being asked to prove their worth to the company, or walk,” said a Microsoft spokesman, “the risk of exposure is critical. So they’ve never needed a system failure more than now,” he said in a press statement written by hand, after his Word document had mysteriously wiped itself.

I have been unable to confirm that AIG is already using this new product to track bonuses.

Comments (1)




Previous engagements

I am always on the alert for unexpected juxtapositions in the iTunes shuffle, and this one shook me: “The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else,” an unreleased Frank Sinatra session from 1959 that made it to The Capitol Years box set, followed by Gene Pitney’s “It Hurts to Be In Love.” And why does it hurt? Yep.

Current track count: 4,344.

Comments (1)




Going clubbing

Not while you’re on duty, you’re not:

A Metro Transit driver has been relieved of duty after running out of his bus on Spring Garden Road to bludgeon a fake baby seal in front of stunned protestors.

Apparently bus drivers in Halifax like to mess with people’s heads:

This is the second bus driver in a week to go on paid leave pending investigation. Last Tuesday a driver allegedly tried to stop a Muslim couple from getting on his bus because the woman was wearing a headscarf.

I blame diesel exhaust.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

Comments (2)




Besides which, it sucks

This is about five years old, but I’m slow, and what’s more, there’s no reason to think it’s any less relevant today.

Couple years ago, some people I worked with finally completed a long-delayed project to build a very large vacuum chamber for testing plasma thrusters and other advanced spacecraft propulsion systems. Not the biggest in the business, but maybe top ten nationwide. Big enough to walk around inside, at any rate, which is the important point.

Important, because in order to go operational it needed the approval of the local Safety Nazis. You know the type. They have a checklist, nay, a whole handbook of checklists, one of which involves Confined Spaces. Big enough to walk around in? Check. Airtight? Check. Can be filled with asphyxiant gas? Well, the MSDS for “Vacuum” apparently lists it as an “asphyxiant”, so check. It’s a Confined Space, and so the Confined Space checklist must be implemented.

Issue the first: How do they make certain nobody can accidentally walk in while the chamber is full of that deadly asphyxiant, “vacuum”? No, the fifty *tons* of force holding the door closed, is not an acceptable answer.

This is, incidentally, the same process by which good ideas are kept out of regulatory agencies: massive force that nonetheless goes unnoticed.

Issue the second: When the chamber is vented back to full atmospheric pressure, where does the vacuum go? If the chamber were accidentally vented by opening the door (see above, and note exact Safety Nazi quote, “OK, say if you were Superman and you opened the door”), where would the vacuum go?

As if Superman had to worry about that sort of thing. (Does any comic character ever read an MSDS? Besides Reed Richards, I mean.)

Issue the third: What assurance is there, that when the chamber is vented back to full atmosphere, there is an adequate percentage of oxygen in the chamber? Hint: It is a big, big, big mistake here to acknowledge here that the laws of statistical gas dynamics allow for one chance in 10^10^17 (no typo) that the chamber will spontaneously refill with a sufficiently oxygen-poor atmosphere to preclude respiration.

“We have to protect the public!”

Oh, yes, there’s an Issue the Fourth:

[S]o help me God I am not making this up, again an exact Safety Nazi quote, “How can you be sure there won’t be vacuum pockets left in the chamber, that someone could accidentally stick their head into?”

And, coupled with issue #2, there could be deadly vacuum pockets floating around the lab! Aieeee!!!! Run for your lives!

This tells me that if Tim Geithner washes out at Treasury — and why wouldn’t he? — he’s got a great fallback position at the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

(Pilfered from Meryl Yourish via Old Grouch.)

Comments (6)




For all I know, she can even cook

Los Angeles Sparks forward Candace Parker is on the cover of the current ESPN The Magazine, and Allison Glock’s cover story wants to make it perfectly clear that the WNBA star is a major hottie:

Candace Parker is beautiful. Breathtaking, really, with flawless skin, endless legs and a C cup she is proud of but never flaunts. She is also the best at what she does, a record-setter, a rule-breaker, a redefiner. She is a woman who plays like a man, one of the boys, if the boys had C cups and flawless skin. She’s nice, too. Sweet, even. Kind to animals and children, she is the sort of woman who worries about others more than about herself, a saint in high-tops.

Far be it from me to dispute any of these assertions, and I am not one to start shrieking SEXIST! when I see things like that in print, but can you imagine an article about a male player starting that way?

Well, actually, Arash Markazi can, and it would look something like this:

Kobe Bryant is beautiful. Breathtaking, really, with flawless skin, endless legs and six-pack abs he is proud of but never flaunts. He is also the best at what he does, a record-setter, a rule-breaker, a redefiner. He is a man who plays like a man amongst boys, if the boys had six-pack abs and flawless skin. He’s nice, too. Sweet, even. Kind to animals and children, he is the sort of man who worries about others more than about himself, a saint in high-tops.

In the best of all possible worlds, I suppose, both those paragraphs would be equally grating. And you know, Parker’s a forward, while Bryant’s a guard; I’d expect her legs to be a tad more endless than his, even though he’s two inches taller.

Comments (3)




Throne in

Something I may need to bookmark for future use: how to repair a toilet in a mere eighteen steps.

There’s a nineteenth step, but it merely confirms your Expert status. (“Expert” is derived from “ex”, meaning “former,” and “spurt,” meaning “what the water did when you turned it back on too soon”; it is precisely incidents like these that confer expertise on us poor shlubs.)

Comments (4)




There’s something about Redbook

Cynthia Yockey explains that whole pr0n thing:

Women are high consumers of porn — it’s just that OUR porn — by which I mean pictures that make (straight) women excited — can be sold at grocery stores and children can look at them without experiencing any loss of decency whatsoever. This is because women’s porn is photos of chocolate cakes, followed by pretty much any other baked dessert, followed by attractive women in stylish clothes. Naked men, as a corollary to the naked women of men’s porn, are really not on the radar. Which is just as well, guys, because women resenting how judgmental men are about their endowments is nothing compared to how you would feel listening in on their judgments about, um, yours. To say nothing of how you would feel about the pointing and laughing, or worse, the pointing and sighing.

Maybe I should start subscribing to InStyle.

Comments (7)




Reserved parking

And this time it’s permanent:

In a burial plot that is 19 feet long and nine feet wide, Albert Dancy Jr. lies in a casket in a vault in his 1967 Chevy pickup.

Wearing Realtree camouflage, Dancy, 50, went on to the next life accompanied by a couple of other favorite things: his Old Timer pocketknife and Remington .243-caliber deer rifle.

Dancy said he wanted to be buried with his jaguar green truck, which he’d owned for as long as his 24-year-old son Adam can remember.

Cemeteries frown on this sort of thing, so Dancy’s buried on the old family spread in Clay County, West Virginia. With a nod to environmental considerations, all the running gear and fluids were removed before burial. And despite appearances, it’s not exactly an Egyptian-style entombment:

“We gave him a truck with no tires. We gave him a gun with no shells,” Dancy said. “He’ll be s–t out of luck.”

(Via PickupTrucks.com.)

Comments off




Balls over the line

I admit to being somewhat baffled by this:

Sarah Gronert, a 22-year-old pro from Germany, finds herself under scrutiny from her opponents and their coaches, who believe that a unique gender issue from birth should make her ineligible for the woman’s [tennis] tour.

Gronert was born with male and female genitalia. After undergoing surgery, she’s now medically certified as a woman. That’s not good enough for some, though.

There is precedent for this sort of thing: Renée Richards was barred from the US Open in 1976, the USTA noting that she used to be some guy named Richard Raskind. The Supreme Court of the State of New York decided this was irrelevant, and Richards subsequently went on to a middling career as a tennis pro.

“Middling” might also describe Gronert’s career so far; at this writing she has earned just over $5000, likely not enough to pay for the removal of the boy bits.

It’s the “floodgate theory,” Richards once wrote:

“If I was allowed to play, then the floodgates would be opened and through them would come tumbling an endless stream of made-over Neanderthals who would brutalize Chris Evert and Evonne Goolagong.”

Which obviously didn’t happen, and Richards argued:

“How hungry for tennis success must you be to have your penis chopped off in pursuit of it?”

Indeed. To me, at least, this is the ultimate rebuke to the “She’s a man” crowd: how many men do you know who would willingly part with the twig and berries for any reason?

(Via Zoe Brain.)

Comments (1)




Reasons to believe

“The man of faith has more influence than he knows,” says Betty Duffy, “especially if he’s good looking.” Apparently one such has materialized:

A consequence of this Marlboro man spending his social times at Church is that other manly men feel comfortable doing the same. Church is no longer just a place for old folks and nerds. Our Parish is undergoing an awakening where young attractive couples and singles actually want to be there. Of course Christ is at the heart of this renewal, but it doesn’t hurt to see attractive people at Church.

This must be one of the “mysterious ways” routinely attributed to the Lord. Doubt it not.

I would even go so far as to say that attractive people have a responsibility to be present in their Churches. If you’re blessed with good looks, wouldn’t you rather reach the end of your life with a group of people who followed your charisma and beauty to Heaven rather than Hell?

Maybe I’m just a shallow sucker for good looking people, but it’s food for thought.

Not everyone with good looks necessarily views it as a blessing, though I’m suspecting the studly fellow in this example is properly humble. As for me, were I any shallower, I’d be bas-relief.

Comments (2)




The master and the student

It is no particular secret that Thunder general manager Sam Presti is modeling this team on the San Antonio template: Presti was an assistant to Spurs GM R. C. Buford before moving to Seattle and thence to Oklahoma City. And when the Spurs jumped out to a 29-14 lead after the first quarter tonight, pretty much everyone assumed it was the teacher reminding the student just who’s in charge here.

As if. The Thunder, very much playing the Spurs’ game, held San Antonio to 13 points in both the second and fourth quarters, and beat them 78-76, evening the series at 1-1. The Spurs, for lack of a better term, were Sefocated: Thabo Sefolosha batted away Tony Parker’s last trey attempt in the waning seconds. It was the Thabster’s second block of the night, along with three steals and 12 points.

The Spurs didn’t help their cause by missing 16 of 19 treys and committing 15 turnovers. (The Thunder turned it over only 11 times, with none in the fourth quarter.) Parker was decently hot, with 28 points, and Tim Duncan put together a 14-point, 12-rebound double-double, but that was pretty much it for the Spurs’ offense.

Not that the Thunder put up all that many points: they shot 35.8 percent, six ticks worse than the Spurs. But this was a night for defense, though Kevin Durant dropped in his usual 25 points and OKC went 17-21 at the stripe. (The Spurs were 7-12, and three of those five misses were in the final frame.) Nick Collison recorded 10 boards, and Russell Westbrook snagged eight more.

Don’t feel too sorry for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who was coaching his 1000th game and threw his hands up in the air in despair as the buzzer sounded. He’s still Pop, after all. And we have to play the Spurs twice more this season.

And two more playoff-bound teams will be reporting to the Ford this week: the Bulls on Wednesday and the Jazz on Friday.

Comments (1)




There’s always another oaf

One of them, some time between 6:30 this morning and 4:50 this afternoon, was failing to negotiate the parking lot at the apartment complex around the corner, and managed to trash a section of stockade fence. Unfortunately, it’s a section that adjoins my place.

I am at a loss here, in several senses of the word. It’s my understanding (which may be incorrect) that this fence is a shared resource, but the likelihood that I’ll pry anything out of the apartment owner is pretty low. And it’s a single section, which I can’t imagine will cost anywhere near my actual insurance deductible. I did turn in a claim, on the questionable basis that maybe the insurance company can squeeze a few bucks out of them, not that I expect a cut of it or anything.

Oh, yes, I did call the OCPD, which dispatched an officer to inspect the scene. Plenty of sympathy, which is really all I have any reason to expect.

Comments (2)




Less than high definition

News Item: Sci Fi Channel is changing its name to Syfy as it tries to move away from the genre’s association with geeks and space aliens, TelevisionWeek reports. The network will launch the new name July 7.

Top Ten Other New Network Names For Old Networks:

  1. Tragedy Central
  2. Olbermannet
  3. VH4
  4. EPSON
  5. The Pleather Channel
  6. USSR Network
  7. Cinemin
  8. C:BS
  9. Slowtime
  10. The WC

Check your local listings.

Comments (3)