Use your retrenching tools

LiveJournal has scaled back its US office and henceforth will run things from Russia:

LiveJournal U.S. has quietly downsized over the past few months, leaving the Internet’s oldest blogging platform almost entirely under Russian management.

When the Daily Dot visited LiveJournal’s San Francisco headquarters in February 2012, the company had about 10 U.S. employees.

Since then, five employees — including U.S. General Manager Anjelika Petrochenko — have left the company. LiveJournal has not announced Petrochenko’s departure in any statement or release, but Petrochenko confirmed her own departure to the Daily Dot.

Ekaterina Pahomchik, a LiveJournal spokesperson based in Moscow, told the Daily Dot Petrochenko and the other departed employees will not be replaced.

Still, this downward spiral isn’t as spectacular as Diaryland’s: a trip to Wikipedia will ask you if you meant “Dairyland” instead, and all that remains of the main site is the members area.

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Bringing it all back home

If you listened to (there was no television) the last two Thunder games, you might have had some small measure of concern. Not to worry, at least tonight. In the comforting and cacophonous embrace of Loud City, OKC disposed of the nowhere-near-as-hapless-as-last-year Charlotte Bobcats, 120-98, on 64-percent shooting. (We remember too many nights when they were lucky to shoot half that well.) They even made eight of 15 trey attempts.

At least one of the ideas behind preseason is to get a look at some of the guys invited to training camp. One of those guys was guard Andy Rautins, who played five minutes for the Knicks two years ago; tonight, he played the role of the hired gun, sinking seven of 10 shots (4-7 for three) for 20 points, leading the OKC bench. With James Harden hors de combat for the moment, Perry Jones III is the designated Sixth Man, and PJ3 turned in a Hardenesque performance: 17 points on 8-10 shooting. If he could hit a free throw now and then they’d let him grow his own beard.

Charlotte sixth man Ben Gordon tormented the Thunder for three of four quarters, scoring a game-high 21, though for some reason he seemed to fade into the background in the third. And OKC expat Byron Mullins, starting at the four, rained down treys on his former teammates, landing four of ten.

It’s worth noting that the starters, except for Cole Aldrich, knocked out 25 minutes or so tonight instead of the 20 they’d been getting. I consider this to be a form of fanservice. (And the big man always gets fewer minutes, at least in Scott Brooks-style rotations.)

Next game is Friday in the BOk Center in Tulsa, against the post-Nash Suns.

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Flavor of the hour

Blindbag Sweetcream ScoopsSweetcream Scoops, says the Tumblr blog that bears her name, is “a simple Fillydelphia resident who owns an ice cream shop and likes to sing.” I fished her out of a blindbag, and she’s very pretty; imagine Twilight Sparkle recolored as a Dreamsicle, and sure enough, that’s Sweetcream Scoops. (I always was a sucker for that, um, pagecolt cut.) The collector card, however, gives her a green (pistachio?) tint, faithfully reflected in this vector by ~Durpy on deviantArt.

Yes, there is a system for reading blindbag codes; no, I did not use it. And one Fuzzy Necromancer has written a neat story about Sweetcream Scoops that covers both her presumed activities, though in Fuzzy’s narrative her parents (Double Scoops and Vanilla Scoops) actually own the shop, and Sweetcream works up front, though she’d much rather be singing with the Trans Equestria Orchestra than serve up double dips of whatever.

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Because all must suffer

Meet James Farmer of, and listen to his tale of woe:

In case you don’t already know, we’re the folk not only behind this site and WPMU DEV, but also Edublogs … the oldest and second largest WordPress Multisite setup on the web, with, as of right now 1,451,943 teacher and student blogs hosted.

And today, our hosting company, ServerBeach, to whom we pay $6,954.37 every month to host Edublogs, turned off our webservers, without notice, less than 12 hours after issuing us with a DMCA email.

Because one of our teachers, in 2007, had shared a copy of Beck’s Hopelessness Scale with his class, a 20 question list, totalling some 279 words, published in 1974, that Pearson would like you to pay $120 for.

Which is, I mention in passing, two dollars and 32.5 cents per word.

TechDirt notes:

One of several problems in copyright law is the fact that what appears to be fair use to the layman is usually illegal. And the unintended consequences of actions taken in good faith tends to include a ton of collateral damage — damages which usually far outweigh any perceived losses from non-commercial infringement. Because of this, hosting companies tend to prefer harming a relationship with a paying customer to finding their safe harbors under attack. For the sake of a $120 paper, ServerBeach was more than willing to drop a $75,000/year customer. Despite all the whining, copyright still has plenty of power. Too bad it’s so easily abused.

Intellectual property: even when it’s “property,” it’s scarcely “intellectual.”

(Tweeted by @cgreen.)

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Preparing for our clown-car future

“Kickin’ in the front seat, sittin’ in the back seat” — how about we just wedge you all in sideways?

Melanie Minnie, a teacher at a South African nursery school, was fined by police for cramming 19 kids into her Renault Clio, a small hatchback roughly the size of a Ford Fiesta.

Minnie was pulled over after a concerned passerby noticed all of the children climbing into the car after an excursion to a local burger bar. When she was stopped by police, there were 6 kids in the trunk, at least 3 in the front seat and 10 in the back seat.

Which I think would answer this question pretty definitively:

It’s unknown if the children were wearing seat belts.

How about “no”? Does “no” work for you?

The fine was R 1500, about $175, or less than ten bucks per kid.

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Recycling of a sort

Sacramento Kings guard Jimmer Fredette describes a slightly weird incident:

“When I was in Salt Lake this summer, a boy asked me to sign a pair of shoes. When I saw the shoes, I realized they were mine from my freshman year of college and he had gotten them out of the dumpster outside my dorm where I had thrown them away.”

The only thing better than trash is authenticated trash.

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Meh-ness to society

Even mighty Prada, alas, can go wrong:

Prada Bicolor Rubber Oxford

Shoewawa’s Abi Silvester explains this better than I could:

Almost a blend of two shoes, it looks as though one perfectly attractive menswear-inspired shoe has been dropped in a large vat of molten candle wax — and pulled out just too late!

If that sort of thing floats your boat, it’s $950 at Nordstrom.

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Fleecing as white as snow

This is normally the day I get my online billing notification for the landline, and the amount thereof varies very little: the taxes creep up now and then, but that’s what taxes do. Today’s arrival was startling, but there is, of course, no way that I’d owe $2,328.05 on a landline, and the handy links for online payment go straight to a scammer.

Curiously, my homeowner’s insurance bill, which also arrived today, is for almost exactly the same amount, a 44-percent increase from last year, which in turn was a 35-percent increase from the year before. (Last time I switched carriers was 2009.)

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Layers of fact-checkers

All of whom evidently had the day off:

MSNBC screenshot: Fearless Felix traveled faster than speed of light

There is, of course, ample precedent for this sort of thing.

(Via Twitchy.)

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For the touch of your whips, dear

I’m guessing that this guy’s Safe Word was MOAR:

BERLIN (Reuters) — A German court has ordered a dominatrix to pay 200 euros ($260) to a local charity as a penance after a client accused her of hurting and robbing him.

Cologne district court spokesman Dirk Esser said the plaintiff had accused the woman he hired for sex last month of holding a kitchen knife to his throat before demanding his debit card and PIN number.

The plaintiff, a 49-year-old undertaker, also said the woman had detained him against his will for five hours.

What the hell kind of dominatrix lets you come and go as you please?

Oh, and their failure to convict her of anything didn’t mean they weren’t going to punish her:

The court decided that it was impossible to know for sure what really happened because both parties had consumed too much cocaine during their encounter. It dropped the charges but ordered the prostitute to pay the “penance money” to a charity that supports crime victims.

Ah, cocaine. She don’t lie. But she BSes with the best of them.

(Via Icepick.)

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Happier endings

Or at least recognizable ones. I’m not as picky as I used to be.

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Pesky children

I run several sites besides this one, devoted to even narrower niches. I was working on one Saturday night when WordPress spun the black circle at me, telling me there was an update — to the theme, fercrissake. Now I hadn’t done a whole lot of modifications to that theme, though I’d deployed half a dozen widgets in the sidebar, so I figured nothing much would happen.

And, of course, I was wrong. They’d added some nav buttons to the sidebar which duplicated the widget arrangement — and which pushed said arrangement a couple hundred pixels down the page. It wasn’t particularly difficult to restore the functionality I had, but it was something of a jolt. (The theme in use here is pretty much dead, development-wise; I screw around with it more or less ad lib with no ill — other than aesthetic — effects.)

So it looks like I’m going to have to study up on child themes, to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

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Strange search-engine queries (350)

From around the world, across the nation, and up your street, here are the latest goofy search strings from straight out of the server logs.

i dont begin any sentences with:  Capital letters, anyway.

your ponderous seemed to me inteed much more to emphasize your own brilliance:  Some call me the Ponderous of Love.

“this is the sort of man we mean when we use the word playboy”:  I presume this caption was not attached to a picture of Mitt Romney.

knickerless girl:  As seen in the Dickens classic “Knickerless Knickerby.”

what other problems can occur when transmission goes:  For one, bankruptcy.

how long do earthquakes last:  Until the ground stops shaking. (This does not include any aftershocks.)

her naked silhouette shown thru the window:  So back away from the window, Tom. Sheesh. You want to get yourself in trouble or something?

your girlfriend does not look like Zooey Deschanel:  Neither does anybody else’s.

is it common for squirrels to chew weatherstrip on garage door:  It is common for squirrels to chew anything, with the possible exception of anvils.

how to draw an anvil:  Figure out how to draw a coyote plummeting off a cliff. The anvil will appear, as if by magic.

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The Band of ’59 in triumph

Smashing Songs of Stage and Screen survives stall, succeeds successfully:

Kickstarter Screen for Big Daddy

I got the word from Roger at 8:54 Central, and Kickstarter’s official notification spot-on at 9.

So there will be a new Big Daddy album, circa 7/13. And once again, my presence on a Kickstarter backers list guarantees success. (Hey, I lead a charmed life.) What’s more, in the four minutes between that screenshot and the closing, three more backers signed on, adding $100 to the take.

Life is good sometimes.

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Hate to say I told you so

But hey, I told you so. Yours truly, May ’11:

Convention business isn’t exactly booming, and the grisly pas de deux of government policies and energy prices insures that the nation’s once-vaunted mobility is trampled underfoot: whether by design or merely by default, travel is rapidly becoming as inconvenient and as expensive as is humanly possible. There will always be some convention business, but it’s going to be confined to the handful of top-tier cities with which we already arguably fail to compete. If it is deemed necessary to remind the rest of the nation that Oklahoma City actually exists, a quarter of a billion dollars would buy a hell of a lot of Kevin Durant backpacks.

The Wall Street Journal, October ’12:

The nation’s slow-growing economy has hurt attendance. With budgets tight, companies and associations aren’t holding as many conventions or sending as many employees or members to them. And a glut of convention space has sharpened the competition among cities.

Between 2000 and 2011, convention-center exhibit-hall space expanded by 35% nationally while attendance fell 1.7% in the same time, said Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and an expert on convention centers. Attendance is down 5% since 2007.

Yet we’re going to spend $280 million (or so) on trying to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie. Dr Sanders knows why:

He blames cities’ hired consultants, who he said predict “all these people are going to come and do wonderful things to your economy.”

As they did here in the Big Breezy for Roy Williams and the OKC Chamber:

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber commissioned a study [in 2009] to determine how much convention space the city needs. The results showed the Cox Convention Center to be inadequate. Worse still, the building is landlocked by major streets and can’t be expanded. The Cox Convention Center brings in an estimated $30 million a year to the local economy, including $10 million in salaries and 400 jobs, Williams said.

“Essentially the new convention center would triple that,” Williams said. “The impact would go up to nearly $80 million. Salaries and wages would go to about $30 million and employment would go to 1,100.”

Unless, of course, they don’t, as Dr Sanders predicts:

“But the problem is they aren’t coming anymore, because there are lots of other convention centers … that desperately want that business,” he said.

We are, of course, going to build this monstrosity. I just hope they’ll come up with a more plausible justification for it: the elevation of civic pride, the desire for shiny new stuff, the ability to attract a higher class of hookers — anything but actual return on investment. Because that’s not happening.

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I’m a duckling and what is this

Why, it’s H-two-O:

Previously hoarded by a Crazy Bird Lady, these ducks had never even been within quacking distance of a place to swim. They’ll adjust.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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