Modern-day generosity

It’s exemplified, I believe, by Janie:

I’m going to take my kid for a Happy Meal and I’ll send the duplicate toys to some unfortunate child in San Francisco.

One should always be mindful of the underprivileged, especially when so many people are working so hard to be overprivileged.

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Went to a Garden party

The bad news came earlier in the day: Kevin Durant was out with a sprained ankle. The immediate result: almost no one was hopeful about playing the Celtics at the TD Garden. They should have remembered the last time both KD and Jeff Green were sidelined, back in the spring of ’09: the rest of the guys weren’t going to let him down. “Undermanned, but not overwhelmed,” said radio guy Matt Pinto at the buzzer as the Thunder escaped with an 89-84 win over the Celtics.

Boston was a model of consistency through the first three quarters, scoring 23 points in each. Still, the only quarter they won was the fourth, 15-12, and Rajon Rondo had a rough night, with 14 points and a mere 7 assists. The Celtics shot 48.5 percent, five percent better than the Thunder, but they couldn’t buy a long ball: 1-8 from beyond the arc.

Meanwhile, the Sole Standing Musketeer — that would be Russell Westbrook — dropped in 31 points, though his turnovers outnumbered his assists (7-6). As seemingly always for the Thunder, it was the stripe that saved them: 27-32 versus 17-27.

I’m still reeling a bit at this one. Winning one you’re expected to lose is always a thrill; the trick is to avoid losing one you’re expected to win. (Which would be tomorrow night in Milwaukee; the Deer are 5-7 but can still instill fear.)

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Familiar chords

I once noted that I’d written three songs, but that two of them turned out to be “Walk — Don’t Run,” an acknowledgment of the fact that bits and pieces of stuff stick in your mind, and they inevitably inform (or sometimes deform) your own attempts at creativity. If you don’t believe me, ask George Harrison.

Oh, wait, we can’t ask George anymore. And so far as I know, nothing’s happened on this front:

[T]he [Local H] single, “24 Hour Breakup Session,” is the best rewrite of the Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” since the Doors hacked up “Hello, I Love You.”

On the other hand, there’s this:

Our fans are reaching out to us by the hundreds telling us how “Need you Now” by Lady Antebellum is one of those “lazy rip offs” of “Eye in The Sky” by The Alan Parsons Project.

My first thought was “Well, there are only so many notes”:

Which was also my second thought.

Regrettably, Johann Pachelbel was not available for comment.

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Quote of the week

Chad the Elder has a horrifying suggestion with wisdom behind it, brought to you by the letters T-S-A and the letters I-R-S:

For years, conservatives have suggested that the IRS stop withholding taxes from paychecks and instead that every taxpayer be made to write out an annual check to the government. This way, they would truly realize how much money the government was taking from them and appreciate how painful it was to have to surrender it. I say we go a step beyond that and mandate that the IRS has to personally collect taxes from every single American by visiting their homes and physically taking it from them. These collectors would be dressed similar to the king’s goons who shook down Hagar the Horrible.

This would have exactly the effect you think it would:

If you think people are mad about government agents going through their pockets at the airport just imagine what the reaction would be if these agents were picking their pockets and cleaning out their drawers at home.

And if you think Hagar was displeased by such intrusions, just wait until Snuffy Smith gets a knock at the door by a passel of revenooers.

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It’s a “TSA scarring” Carnival of the Vanities, the 400th edition. Since we’re all pretty well soured on the Transportation Security Administration, aka the Federal Feelers, let’s think about some other TSA: say, the 400 series of bathroom fixtures by Italian manufacturer TSA.

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Already gone

When I see a tweet like this, I pay attention:

Finally found the best shoes ever. Naturally, they’re no longer available in my size. @kennethcole

“Best shoes ever” is pretty definitive a judgment, but this is someone whose judgments I respect, so I looked up the shoes in question:

I Feel by Kenneth Cole

This is “I Feel” from Kenneth Cole’s “Gentle Souls” line, and this is what he means by “gentle”:

Flaxseed pillows [patent pending] embedded in the footbed distribute and mold to the shape of your foot to provide cushioned support with every step. This revolutionary technology is lined with the finest, most supple deerskin to insure a comfort that’s as natural as walking.

About time we got some use out of those damned deer.

There are brown and black versions of this three-inch-tall pump, which normally runs $265; as a closeout, it’s about a third off, and some of the sizes are already gone, hence the tweeted lament. The Gentle Souls line includes flats, heels, and boots, at prices ranging up to $400.

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Scrutinizing the new and improved insurance bill

I’ve done this before, more than once, but never let it be said that I am averse to recycling an old premise.

The deal here is simple enough: compare the new auto-insurance bill to the old auto-insurance bill, and kvetch as appropriate. It is with considerable amazement that I report, however, that there is no change in the premium this time. None. Not so much as one thin dime.

(Yes, this is a repeat from May.)

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Reduced fuelishness

Your friends at the Environmental Protection Agency, when they’re not worrying themselves into a dither over scary poisons like carbon dioxide (which my trees actually seem to like for some reason), dabble in fuel-economy statistics, and they’re saying that the average motor vehicle sold in the States in 2009 was good for 22.4 miles per gallon, a record high.

Numbers from the EPA report:

[T]he average weight and horsepower of a new vehicle fell from the 2008 to 2009 model year. The average vehicle weight fell from 4,085 pounds to 3,917 pounds — though it is projected to rise to 4,009 for the 2010 model year.

Horsepower fell from 219 in 2008 to 208 in 2009 — but is projected to rise to 220 horsepower next year.

Since 1987, vehicles have gotten much heavier and more powerful. Two decades ago, the average car was 118 horsepower and 3,221 pounds. By 2008, average weight had increased by 25 percent and horsepower had nearly doubled.

The only car I’ve ever owned from the 1980s was an ’84 Mercury Cougar which sported a whole 120 hp and weighed around 3200 lb. Distinctly average for the time, I’d say.

Current wheels: 227 hp, 3342 lb, 22.4 mpg. Distinctly average for the time, I’d say, except for the weight. Those new cars must be carrying cement, dear.

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Bunch of government gawkseekers

You might think that someone who normally wears nothing but a smile wouldn’t object to the Transportation Security Administration’s tender ministrations at the airport.

Don’t be too sure:

They’re accustomed to baring it all, but even nudists think the stepped-up security measures being employed at many U.S. airports are overly invasive, the owner of Palm Springs’ largest nudist resort said Wednesday.

“It’s an invasion of privacy,” Michael Patrick Williams, general manager of the Desert Sun Resort, told City News Service. “Naturists aren’t really different from anyone else.”

It’s not like they get scanned during their leisure time, after all:

[Williams] noted that the Desert Sun Resort has strict conduct rules, including the ban of cell phones or other devices that might allow people to take photos or videos.

“We protect our guests’ privacy,” Williams said. “Naturists have as much right to privacy as anyone else.”

For some inscrutable reason, the American Association for Nude Recreation has taken the opposite tack:

The group suggests travelers think of the body scanning as a virtual skinny dip.

“Polls regularly show that about one in five North Americans have skinny-dipped in mixed company already,” [AANR Executive Director Erich] Schuttauf said.

Yeah, but I’ll bet they didn’t skinny-dip (1) at the airport (2) in front of some character with a badge.

(Via The Political Naturist.)

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Consider yourself belted

Judging by what I’ve seen at Yahoo! Answers — and from my vantage point at Level 6, I’ve seen rather a lot — there are people out there who dread the very thought of a car with a timing belt, probably because their cousin’s brother-in-law’s neighbor had a belt shred and it cost a hundred bucks apiece to unbend all 24 valves, or some such business.

Which is not to say that belts won’t break, or that there won’t be damage if they do. But apparently they used to be better, according to Joe Sherlock:

My first post-college job was with Uniroyal’s Timing Belt Division in Philadelphia. Uniroyal held all of the patents on the timing belt; made their belts from the finest rubber (prime-grade neoprene), fabric (neoprene impregnated, high-denier nylon) and tensile cord (high-strength, braided, coated fiberglass — precision-wound and preloaded for tension on a mandrel) and charged whatever-the-hell they wanted. Those well-made belts could go over one-million miles without breaking; in fact, the pulleys failed before the belt did.

Whatever the hell they wanted, apparently, was $1.76, which bought the belt for Pontiac’s little OHC six in the 1960s. The fan belt, meanwhile, was less than 20 cents.

But that was then, and this is now:

Now that the patents have expired, the Uniroyal plant has closed, everybody makes timing belts and the automobile companies demand a supply of cheapie, price-is-everything, quality-be-damned belts and that’s exactly what they get — a piece of black, rubber-toothed crap. And that is why timing belts must now be replaced at 60,000 mile intervals, lest they break and destroy the innards of the engine.

Of course, as I noted last time I was out car-shopping:

California is … the place where your 60,000-mile timing-belt replacement occurs at 105,000 miles, because the Assembly hath so decreed.

Incidentally, the car I bought has a chain instead of a belt, though if it breaks I’ll have to unbend 24 valves at a hundred bucks a bend — if I’m lucky.

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The depths of humiliation

It’s been Muntz in the making:

Nelson Muntz toilet-paper dispenser

(Via FAILBlog’s WIN!)

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Note to scammers

Being careful to specify the trademark registration for the financial institution you’re pretending to be should theoretically help enhance your credibility as you attempt to steal people’s personal information, but this line has other problems:

PayPal Account® Posible Fraud – Notification

For one, ® should modify “PayPal,” not “Account”; for another, you misspelled “Possible.”

Oh, and isn’t fooling anybody.

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Applied subtlety

Advice from Michael Bates to the Lingerie Football League:

If you do locate here, don’t even think about the possibility of a palindromic team name.

And by “here,” he means “Tulsa.”

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From the “None of your beeswax” files

The librarian known as Screwy Decimal (gotta love that name) reports having received a couple of marriage proposals from “overzealous patrons.” Said proposals apparently didn’t stick in her mind as much, though, as this little interchange:

[T]he most memorable marriage-oriented conversation I had at the library was with a sweet, well-meaning nine-year-old girl. She likes to hang out with me at the reference desk for extended periods of time when she comes in after school. One day, she grabbed my left hand and examined it, critically. Noticing how conspicuously bare my ring finger was, she gave me a puzzled look.

Her: “You’re not married?”

Me (cheerfully): “Nope.”

Her (skeptically): “Why not?”

And, well, things just got out of hand after that.

Disclosure: Having once made a perfectly useless offer to a Famous Dave’s server in Minnesota, I know the meaning of “overzealous.”

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Rockets fizzle

The depleted Houston Rockets, missing Yao Ming, Aaron Brooks and Chase Budinger — though Budinger was listed as available — managed to hang close for about fifteen minutes, but the Thunder were anxious to show that they can actually win big in the Froze Center, and they won big enough to persuade Scott Brooks to let eleven guys play: for the first time in I don’t know how long, Oklahoma City won four quarters in a row to post a 116-99 win in front of a slightly-less-than-sellout crowd.

In fact, OKC had enough of a lead to give the starters a rest; only Russell Westbrook (21 points, 12 assists) played more than 30 minutes. Serge Ibaka, still starting in place of the injured Jeff Green, wangled 11 points and eight boards, and if Ibaka were bucking for Green’s slot at the four, he’s making a pretty good case for himself. The Thunder hit exactly half their shots and went 5-12 from beyond the arc. Telltale stat: OKC gave up only eight turnovers, apart from the dribble-out, this game. They’ve had quarters this year with more turns than that.

Meanwhile, Houston had the always-scary Luis Scola, who outscored everyone (including Kevin Durant) tonight with 26, hitting 12 of 19. Perhaps the nicest surprise the Rockets got was the continuing development of rookie guard Ish Smith, who tied his career high of 12 points and served up five dimes in 25 minutes. But there really wasn’t a whole lot for Rick Adelman to be happy about.

Up next: a back-to-back on the road, Friday at Boston, Saturday at Milwaukee. In back-to-backs so far, the Thunder have been dropping the first one and winning the second. I suspect this pattern will continue, at least through this weekend.

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Mrs Butterworth, line two, please

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