Tighter than Jack Benny’s banker

Page 1 from Thunder Extra in the Oklahoman 5-1-14“That’s what they’re supposed to write,” said Kevin Durant blandly. “I didn’t come through for the team. So they got to write that type of stuff.” Now whether or not this egregious nonsense was intended to motivate KD — the newspaper issued an official apology after, shall we say, largely negative response from the readership — clearly something got into him: Kid Delicious knocked down 36 points and retrieved ten rebounds before the onset of blessed garbage time at 2:46. Nor was this the only Thunder adjustment, either: Scott Brooks, caution apparently thrown to the winds, started Caron Butler in place of Thabo Sefolosha. Forget overtime: OKC 104, Memphis 84, and Game 7, always referred to as “if necessary,” will be necessary.

The Griz had a few problems tonight. For one thing, they couldn’t knock down shots: they shot only 37 percent and missed a third of their free throws. Mike Conley, who’s had moments in this series when he seemingly scored at will, was held to five points (2-10). Marc Gasol had a team-high 17, and often-overlooked reserve forward James Johnson led the reserves with 15. But here’s the Telltale Statistic: the Grizzlies, as physical as any team in the Association, recorded exactly one block, courtesy of Courtney Lee. Serge Ibaka had four all by himself. Steven Adams had five.

And maybe that was the difference tonight: the willingness to mix it up with those brutes from Beale Street. The Thunder owned the boards, to the tune of 47-36. There was that 11-1 block differential. And if OKC was horrible from the three-point circle — it was Durant’s fault for missing six while the rest of the team was 7-15 — the Griz were worse at 3-14. As for Russell Westbrook, he took fewer but marginally better shots, 9-21 for 25 points. Butler, in his unaccustomed role as a starter, played 29 minutes and scored 7; more to the point, he provided defense that was roughly comparable to, but different from, what could be expected from Sefolosha, and that may have befuddled the Griz just a hair.

So we’re back to square one: 48 minutes for all the marbles. Or maybe 53 minutes. Or however long it takes.

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Utter twaddle

Seriously: how much does it matter if someone is wrong on the Internet?

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Poster boy for mansplaining

“How dare a mere girl drive something I want?”

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Why do women buy the most expensive model of cars?

To elaborate:

I just saw a girl in an SRT-8 Jeep, I do a lot of driving for work and notice women never seem to buy base models of cars. Guys tend to get what they can afford. Is it because women have other people making their payments or do they just not mind making a $1,000 a month payment for every option available?

Green’s obviously his color.

For ten points, what is the probability that this guy has ever had a second date?

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Darth Vader melted his brain

That may be the one and only explanation:

Turns out, among the things Alan Grayson is requesting from his estranged wife in his response to Lolita’s (yep, it’s still funny) divorce filing are a six-bedroom home and seven separate vehicles, including a mint condition, 1981 De Lorean.

Yes, a De Lorean.

Because, you know, the only people more underpaid than Congressmen — oh, the hell with it:

If the allegations of bigamy are true, it releases Grayson from paying alimony, and being as poor as he is (he’s only the 11th wealthiest member of Congress, with a net worth of $31 million) he could certainly use the break, though it probably doesn’t release him from paying child support for his small, ragtag band of children apparently named as environmentally-friendly X-Men characters or a second-generation Captain Planet cast: Storm, Sage, Skye, Star and Stone.

I’d ask “Where do they find these people?” but then I’d remember that “they” are in Florida.

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Quote of the week

Dead Pony Club labelBritain’s Portman Group, a trade group of brewers and distillers and such, is assigned the task of, says Wikipedia, “advocacy of responsible drinking and research into UK alcohol consumption.” And they will tell you that they were just doing their job when they ruled that BrewDog’s marketing campaign for its Dead Pony Club ale “encourages both anti-social behaviour and rapid drinking.”

BrewDog, the largest Scottish independent brewery, was suitably apologetic:

“On behalf of BrewDog PLC and its 14,691 individual shareholders, I would like to issue a formal apology to the Portman Group for not giving a s*** about today’s ruling.

“Indeed, we are sorry for never giving a s***about anything the Portman Group has to say, and treating all of its statements with callous indifference and nonchalance.

“Unfortunately, the Portman Group is a gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths, funded by navel-gazing international drinks giants. Their raison d’être is to provide a diversion for the true evils of this industry, perpetrated by the gigantic faceless brands that pay their wages.”

It goes on from there.

(Via Fark. This is not even slightly related to Dead Pony Flying, a short-short story by, um, me.)

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What a neat idea

A friend of mine posted this to a listserv:

A local news broadcast is asking viewers to post comments on the station’s Facebook page about their strangest Google searches.

You know, I should try something like that one of these days.

Oh, you mean searches I myself have conducted? Not on your life.

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Third greatest blog idea ever

It’s called, with disarming simplicity, “My Husband’s Stupid Record Collection,” a phrase with which I am entirely too familiar, and this is what it’s about:

This project was my idea, inspired by maybe one too many glasses of wine last weekend, when I was in charge of changing the music. “I can’t believe there are so many records here that I have never listened to. I should try to listen to all of them. And then write about it.” So here we are.

Since hubby has a volume of vinyl not unlike my own — somewhere on the far side of 1500 records — this could easily take a while. So far, she’s made it up to Black Sabbath.

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Take me to your liter

For the most part, the US has resisted the metric system, perhaps, I suspect, to avoid looking like a seven-stone weakling on the world stage when the conversion inevitably takes place. (Which it will; future politicians will be keen to curry favor with the rest of the world, inasmuch as current politicians have been busily reducing their capacity to exert any meaningful force.) One aspect of metrification I hadn’t considered, however, is its potential effect on prose: once the population is assimilated, dozens of formerly standard idioms would perforce require either footnotes or inline translation.

Francis W. Porretto takes it one step further, because that’s what he does:

Millions of books already in print are lousy with Imperial units. Consider especially the horror that would be “metrified porn”: “Deftly he slid his twenty-five-centimeter joystick into her welcoming love tunnel, buried his face in her velvety hundred-centimeter bosom, and began to newton away.” Unthinkable!

Note: The liter, as seen in the title, is not a proper SI unit: they’d prefer you referred to cubic meters, each of which contains 1000 liters. Also, they’d prefer you spelled those words “litre” and “metre.”

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Also available in HD

Which, often as not, stands for “Horrible Detail.” Did you ever notice that A&E, for instance, has very little E and nothing resembling A? This is how it happens:

Maybe there’s some kind of evolutionary arms-race thing in there: a channel starts out with high intentions, it’s going to show smart programming. But then, to get ad-revenue dollars, they find they have to get eyeballs. And by and large in our culture, the way to get eyeballs is either to have really good programming (which is hard to do and expensive, and often really good programming doesn’t capture audience) or to have something sensationalistic — either the aforementioned freak show, or a show with lots of people shouting at each other and barely-bleeped four-letter-words. And so, the channel goes, “Okay. We’ll put on a show following this particular subculture and see how it does. Maybe we can even claim it’s ‘educational,’ seeing as people mostly don’t know about this subculture…” and so on. And then they decide they need a show about tattoo artists. And one about the Amish. And one involving either a pawn shop or antiques pickers. And a weird medical show. And a cooking competition show. And a show about the supernatural. And slowly, this channel that once planned on being different becomes oh, so much the same as the others.

I thought we got cable to have diversity of programming?

As in most areas of the culture, “diversity” is primarily a numbers racket: if you have 106 channels, hey, it’s got to be diverse, right? In the cable context, “diversity” means that on each “topic” you have four largely indistinguishable channels, usually one owned by NBC Universal, one by Disney, one by Viacom, and one by Fox. Smaller players occasionally bob to the surface, but are quickly slapped back down. And since the bigger players control the largest number of eyeballs, they can enforce their will: if you want Obscure Disney Toons, you have to take at least three flavors of ESPN.

Fortunately, this is the sort of thing that can’t go on forever, and, as Herb Stein assures us, it won’t.

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SLAPPed around

SLAPP is a term we hear entirely too often, simply because the procedure it describes is used entirely too often. Let Michael Bates explain:

In a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, a plaintiff seeks to punish the defendant for expressing his opinion or stating a fact he doesn’t like aired publicly by subjecting him to a costly legal process. The SLAPP plaintiff can achieve his objective — silencing criticism — even if he ultimately loses his case in court. The cost in time, money, and anxiety of defending the lawsuit will deter the defendant from future criticism and may also deter others from speaking out.

This sort of behavior is intolerable, and we can expect more of it — in some of those other states, maybe. Oklahoma, meanwhile, is discouraging it:

The Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act authorizes a special motion to dismiss to be filed and heard early in the process. The motion must be filed within 60 days after the suit is filed, and discovery is suspended until the court rules on the motion. The hearing on the motion must be held within 60 days of its filing, (The time may be extended to 90 or 120 days under special circumstances, but 120 days is the limit.) After the hearing, the court has 30 days to rule.

The defendant must first establish that the suit is based on, relates to, or is in response to his exercise of his freedom of speech, freedom to petition government, or freedom of association.

In response, the plaintiff must establish “by clear and specific evidence a prima facie case for each essential element of the claim in question.” The defendant can obtain dismissal of the case if he can establish “by a preponderance of the evidence each essential element of a valid defense” to the plaintiff’s claim.

What makes this different from an ordinary motion to dismiss is that the judge can go beyond “the four corners” of the complaint. The court doesn’t have to take the plaintiff’s charges at face value.

If the court dismisses the case, the court is required to award court costs, reasonable attorney fees, and legal expenses as well as sanctions “sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions.”

If the motion to dismiss is “frivolous or solely intended to delay,” the court may award costs to the plaintiff.

The Act was signed into law by Governor Fallin last week, after passing both houses with not a single Nay vote. Typically for Oklahoma legislation, it goes into effect on the first of November.

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Paint it, black

Some time before the second half, the Fox Sports Oklahoma feed on Cox Cable turned to utter darkness, which was assumed to be a technical problem. After dialing around for a moment, I decided otherwise, and said so:

Me, I rely on radio guy Matt Pinto, so I had no problems keeping up — unlike the Thunder, who trailed from the start and fell behind by 20 late in the third quarter, just about at the moment when FS Oklahoma returned. (This was also just about the moment that the Clippers/Warriors game got underway on the Left Coast, reinforcing my belief.) Those who were watching got to see a 13-0 Thunder run. And with 6:35 left, OKC got its first lead of the night, 79-78 on a Kevin Durant trey. It would be their last in regulation: the Thunder, down 87-82 with 3:39 left, burned their last timeout. Somehow they managed another four-point play, Zach Randolph fouling Caron Butler on a trey; at :04, Russell Westbrook took the ball away from Mike Conley and dunked, tying it up at 90; Z-Bo’s last-second dunk came too late, and, yes, boys and girls, it’s overtime again.

The overtime began ominously: a Mike Miller trey, a Durant two-pointer, another Miller trey, another Durant two-pointer. The Griz were up 100-98 with 39 seconds left; Durant hit one of two free throws to bring the Thunder within one, yet another Miller trey went awry; OKC got the ball back with 2.9 left, Durant missed a fadeaway, and a Serge Ibaka stickback was just a hair too late. Memphis 100, Oklahoma City 99, and the series moves back to Grizville for Game 6.

Somehow I thought Westbrook would pull out another miracle. Despite 10-31 (!) shooting, Russ collected a triple-double for the night: 30 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds. Durant finished with 26 points; Ibaka wound up with 15 points and 12 boards. Reggie Jackson wasn’t a non-factor, exactly, but he wasn’t making any headlines with six points, five rebounds and five turnovers. Caron Butler led the bench with 15, including 4 of 8 from beyond the arc; minus Butler, the Thunder were 8-23 on treys.

The aforementioned Mike Miller led all Memphis scorers with 21; Randolph had 20 with ten boards, Conley 17, Marc Gasol 11 with 15 boards. Here’s the number I noticed: the Griz had 11 steals — Miller and Tony Allen had three each — while the Thunder pulled off only two.

Thursday night in Memphis. About the only thing I’m certain of is that it will go to overtime.

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The real thing

Today would have been Tammi Terrell’s 69th birthday. She’d long suffered from migraines and such, but the truth wouldn’t come out until a fall-1967 concert appearance with Marvin Gaye: she buckled on stage, he caught her, and doctors eventually found a brain tumor.

Tammi Terrell at her smiling best

She’d recorded with little success for several labels, usually as “Tammy Montgomery” — her birth name was Thomasina — before Berry Gordy signed her to Motown (on this date in 1965, in fact) and came up with a new name. (Hey, it worked for Stevie Wonder, didn’t it?) She cut a few singles, most notably “I Can’t Believe You Love Me,” and in early 1967 became Marvin Gaye’s new duet partner, though they were never actually in the same studio at the same time for “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

In 1969, Motown issued a solo album by Tammi, eleven sides, most of which dated to her early days at the label before becoming paired with Gaye.

Irresistible LP by Tammi Terrell

By then she was too ill for a tour; she began 1970 in a wheelchair, ended January in a coma, and died in April. There exist a few live solo recordings, ultimately collected on Come On and See Me: The Complete Solo Collection, which includes this version of “I Can’t Believe You Love Me.”

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A semitonic for the troops

Not that I’m going to turn it down or anything — what, are you nuts? — but I’m just not the kind of guy who jumps up and down yelling “Tax cut! Tax cut!”

Not for this pittance, anyway:

Senate Bill 1246 will gradually lower Oklahoma’s top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 4.85 percent over several years. The cuts are dependent on revenue triggers, meaning general revenue in Oklahoma must see an increase before the cuts take effect.

“This is a responsible, measured tax cut that will make Oklahoma more economically competitive while providing much needed tax relief to working families,” said Fallin. “If Oklahoma wants to attract and retain good jobs — rather than losing them to neighboring states — we must improve our tax climate. I am proud that the Legislature has taken action to do so and I am happy to sign this bill into law.

“This tax cut will put more than $200 million annually into the economy and make Oklahoma a better place to do business, meaning more opportunities and jobs for Oklahoma families and more revenue for core government services.”

You know who’s going to be most impressed by this? Characters who can’t afford to move from where they are but still fantasize about packing their bags, and who spend several hours a day looking at infographics and other crap in an effort to find the Absolute Best Place that they’re never actually going to live.

Oh, and Grover Norquist.

My usual complaint about the state income tax follows:

SB 1246 affects Oklahoma’s top income tax bracket, which applies to individuals earning more than $8,700 a year or couples earning more than $15,000 a year.

No way on God’s semi-green earth should someone making a quarter over minimum wage be in the top bracket.

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Oh, those saintly poor people

Much is made of the presumed perfidy of the One Percent who ostensibly control all our lives and own a putatively disproportionate share of the national wealth.

But as of right now, no member of the One Percent has ever done anything to me other than fark up my tax return, while several 99-percenters last night took it upon themselves to improve their financial condition by swiping the outside air-conditioning units on this block.

Rogue financiers, at least, have just enough of a moral sense to submit themselves for appropriate punishment. Common street thugs, lacking even this sliver of conscience, will go on as they had before, knowing the government, who needs their electoral support, has their back.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Gun-Free Zone signs to pull down.

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Save the world on your own time

I’m sure none of the journalists who read this site — you know who you are — need this little reminder. Just the same, it bears repeating:

I just read a story online that started more or less like this (I’m paraphrasing): “The rules of journalism state that I should do X, but I’m not going to do X, because it’s hard and I don’t wanna.”

If you can’t adhere to the ethics of journalism — or, worse, you never learned them — then you can’t rightfully call yourself a journalist. If you can’t report fairly and leave your reader to make up his or her own mind, what you’re doing isn’t reporting — it’s punditry and should be identified as such.

KWTV used to promote its news department as “Making a Difference.” I semi-humbly propose that without the truth, nothing makes any difference.

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So usual; very spam

Spam from dating services fell below the dime-a-dozen threshold years ago. The only reason I looked at this one — “Want to meet singles over 50? See photos!” — was because of the URL buried in the links, a subdomain of DogeUsedWow.com, which actually exists. (I suppose there’s bonus levity in the fact that Whois points to a contact person with an aol.com address.)

Maybe they’ll offer to set me up with the Queen of Shiba.

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