Hungry like the Wolves

The scary part of that first quarter was not that Minnesota had jumped out to a 21-8 lead — the Thunder would make up most of that deficit before the quarter ended — but the sensation that OKC was focusing, not on the opponent at hand, but on the opponent to come. That way lies, if not necessarily madness, certainly a lot of lead changes, and 47 minutes into the game things were still decidedly undecided: in that last minute Karl-Anthony Towns bagged back-to-back buckets to put the Wolves up 96-94. Then with 10.8 seconds left, weirdness struck: Towns looked like he goaltended a Kevin Durant floater, but it was ruled that he didn’t, and Steven Adams got credit for a stickback to tie it up. But Ricky Rubio drained a trey 0.2 before the horn, and that was that: Minnesota 99, Oklahoma City 96, the Wolves’ first win in four tries against the Thunder this year and their first win in OKC in seven years.

It did not help that Andre Roberson tweaked his ankle in the second quarter and did not return. And it definitely did not help that Serge Ibaka played 20 minutes, scored absolutely nothing, and fouled out. For the most part, the Thunder were efficient at clearing the boards, 54-37 on rebounds, but they were otherwise outworked by the Wolves, and there’s always the question of how you survive after 24 turnovers. (Only once have the Thunder done worse than that this season, against the Rockets, and they lost that one too.) At least Enes Kanter was around to collect a double-double (17 points/14 rebounds), and the Durant/Westbrook Axis of Amazing managed 54 points, but gave up the ball 11 times. Meanwhile, while all the talk in Minnesota is about Towns or Andrew Wiggins, the solid rock this evening was Gorgui Dieng, 7-12 from the floor and 11-11 from the stripe for 25 points. (Wiggins finished with 20, Towns with 17.)

Oh, and that opponent to come? The Spurs. In San Antonio. Tomorrow night. When was the last time the Spurs lost a game at home? Hint: it wasn’t this season.


To kill a golden goose

One thing about the estate of the late Harper Lee: they move quickly, if occasionally incomprehensibly:

The New Republic has obtained an email from Hachette Book Group, sent on Friday, March 4 to booksellers across the country, revealing that Lee’s estate will no longer allow publication of the mass-market paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird.

According to the email, which a number of booksellers in multiple states have confirmed that they received a variation of, no other publisher will be able to produce the edition either, meaning there will no longer be a mass-market version of To Kill a Mockingbird available in the United States.

One immediately assumes this decision is dollar-driven, and perhaps it is:

While Hachette only published the mass-market paperback of To Kill a Mockingbird, HarperCollins publishes the trade paperback, hardcover, and special editions of To Kill a Mockingbird, and also published Go Set a Watchman last year. Asked for comment, a spokesperson for HarperCollins, which publishes the trade paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird said that the company “will continue to publish the editions that we have.” HarperCollins’s editions of To Kill a Mockingbird ranges in price between $14.99 and $35.

Why does this matter? Mass-market books are significantly cheaper than their trade paperback counterparts. Hachette’s mass-market paperback of TKAM retails for $8.99, while the trade paperbacks published by Hachette’s rival HarperCollins go for $14.99 and $16.99. Unsurprisingly, the more accessible mass-market paperback sells significantly more copies than the trade paperback: According to Nielsen BookScan, the mass-market paperback edition of To Kill a Mockingbird has sold 55,376 copies since January 1, 2016, while HarperCollins’s trade paperback editions have sold 22,554 copies over the same period.

John Scalzi speculates that this action will “make sure this book is no longer taught,” what with the additional cost of six dollars per student. Truth be told, I wasn’t aware that mass-market paperbacks were being used in classrooms; back in the last century when I was actually reading things for class, we always got the trade paperbacks. (Hardcover, of course, was out of the question.)

I am sorely tempted to order one of Hachette’s last remaining books from Amazon, which is offering it to Prime members for $5.89. (It’s $10.99 on the Kindle.)

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Clearly not out of the woods

And now, a report from this sick beat:

A Nashville man is behind bars for burglary after trying to force his way into a man’s home because he was there to “save Taylor Swift.”

Oh, right. Like Taylor Swift is going to be in Nashville these days.

According to the police affidavit, 26-year-old Paul Herrin knocked on the door of a man who happens to be a landlord. Thinking it was someone dropping off a rent check, the homeowner opened the door and found Herrin, who shoved the door open and placed his left foot inside to keep the man from closing the door on him.

The homeowner instructed Herrin to leave, but Herrin continued to try and shove the door open, telling the homeowner he was there to “save Taylor Swift, his wife, and that he had every right to search the residence.”

I’m guessing Morgan Fairchild was not available for comment.

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Sartorial notes

Last week’s Rebecca Black video got down to the quotidian details of her existence, and I caught this frame during breakfast-making:

Rebecca Black wears a shirt: With a shirt like this who needs pants?

At no time do we see if she actually is wearing pants, but at this point I prefer to assume that she was.

Addendum: I am informed by the lady herself that it was five years ago today that “Friday” went viral. I did not ask her about pants.

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The new Democratic base

Well, there are the Sanders fans, of course, but it’s hard to imagine them as a majority of the party, let alone of the electorate. Then again, who else is there?

The rest are divided between disaffected Dems drawn to vote for Trump because their notion of an ideal president is Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho, and Hillary supporters who are certain that (1) Hillary is the nominee, finally, this time, and that (2) if the Republicans actually nominate a Republican for president this year, Hillary will be in cuffs before her concession speech ends.

I suppose they have to tell themselves that kind of thing if they insist on supporting someone who, were she less, um, connected, would already be wearing orange jumpsuits on a regular basis.

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This is his jam

Hero or zero? The Chicago police say the latter:

Chicago Transit Authority commuters have been complaining for months that their mobile devices were suddenly losing connectivity while riding Chicago’s subway and elevated train lines. Pictures of the alleged culprit had been circulating on social media and even on Reddit. An undercover operation, police said, led to the man’s arrest on a felony charge of signal jamming, which carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison.

About the suspect:

Dennis Nicholl was arrested after he was identified as the man utilizing a signal jamming device on the CTA Redline. CTA Authorities have been investigating complaints by passengers about cell phone reception. With the help of an anonymous 911 call, the Chicago Police Department and CTA Authorities were able to identify the suspect. Nicholl was observed utilizing the jamming device on the Redline by covert officers in a joint operation with CPD, CTA and the FCC. Nicholl entered the CTA Redline at the Loyola stop on the morning of March 8th, 2016 and utilized the interference device between the Loyola and Granville stops. He was arrested without incident on the Granville CTA Platform.

Counsel, of course, sees him differently:

The lawyer for the financial analyst at the University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences System said his client just wanted peace and quiet on his commute. “He’s disturbed by people talking around him,” Chicago attorney Charles Lauer said of defendant Dennis Nicholl. “He might have been selfish in thinking about himself, but he didn’t have any malicious intent.”

I might give that statement a little more credence, were it not for this minor detail:

The Chicago Tribune said the defendant pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of jamming mobile phones in 2009. His equipment was confiscated, and he was sentenced to a year of probation, the paper reported.

Is there an app for recidivism?

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity, also on the “zero” side.)

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Canned coins

The classic Tootsie Roll bank can still be had, though the most recent version is only four inches tall, exemplifying what Consumerist calls the Grocery Shrink Ray. My own version, once possessed by a sibling, is around forty years old and stands a full seven inches tall. As an experiment, I’ve been feeding it nothing but pennies for the last few years, and at some point last week, it would accept no more.

There once was a time when I’d wrap all those coins. This is no longer that time. Saturday morning I hauled the little tube off to the bank, eliciting a grin from the teller, who apparently was familiar with the breed. We dumped the contents into a proper bank bag, I tagged it with one of my deposit slips, and I was advised that it would be a day or two before the cash vault downtown was able to credit it. Not a problem, said I; it’s not like I’m utterly dependent on this, oh, five-fifty or so.

Apparently the cash vault got to it late on Tuesday; Wednesday I observed that a credit was posted to the tune of $5.87. Not a bad guess, if I say so myself. I duly moved it to passbook savings, along with fifty bucks I’d somehow managed not to spend in February.

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Those youthful newsrooms

The problem with online versions of newspapers, we are told, is that they can’t bring in the kind of revenue to support the traditional newsrooms. This situation, however, leads to another one, possibly worse: when the buyouts come, the experienced hands are the first hands on the door, and the new kids aren’t quite tuned in to the basic functions:

Even if some kind of online journalism develops that spends time on things like state legislature budget meetings — and no clickbait headline is ever going to make one of those appealing — will there be anyone around who knows how to bulldog the selfless public servants spending our money into saying how it’s being spent? Journalism may be the only profession that’s predicated on being a pain in the ass … to everybody. What happens when the only people who write just know how to do long form first-person celebrity profiles? Or can diagnose fifteen different kinds of patriarchy in a budget press release but can’t ask a coherent question about where the money goes?

This is why the Wall Street Journal has no reason to fear Buzzfeed. Yet.

If Donald Trump had actually run for president in the mid-90s, for example, newsrooms across the country would have salivated over the idea of telling people about his bankruptcies, ridiculous spending habits, whacko political positions, lack of serious thought to his policies and so on. Sam Donaldson would have taken a truckload of No-Doze in order to have been at every Trump public appearance possible and shout question at him until security dragged him outside. Some journalists would have done this because they disliked Trump, of course. But many more would have done it because it was their job to be a pain in the ass and there are fewer asses larger than Donald Trump.

We don’t have that today. We have Hitler comparisons and twenty paragraphs on Trump’s coded racism and dutiful snickering over his implications about the functionality of his genitalia. It’s not that today’s news folk like Trump — although when CBS chair Les Moonves chortles about how good Trump is for his ratings, you may wonder — it’s just that they really don’t know how to go after him on anything of real substance. Years of Bush/McCain/Romney/Palin/Insert Name Here are eeeeevilstoopid! work, combined with supine worship of President Obama’s pants crease, March Madness bracket and supergeniuscoolestever-ness, mean that news outlets that want to seriously investigate the emperor’s wardrobe can’t find the people to do it.

What isn’t being said here, of course, is Glenn Reynolds’ common dismissal: “They’re not journalists. They’re Democratic operatives with bylines.” Not all of them match that description, of course. But inevitably, institutions tend to move leftward, unfortunate consequences of the Gramscian Long March crossed with the Peter Principle.

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You don’t know Jack, yet

Perhaps the world was waiting for an instant-messaging app that’s not all that instant:

[W]ith the ability to instantly send, there’s come an expectation to instantly reply and sometimes the vibration of our phones can feel like an annoying and persistent knock on the door rather than a communicative joy. The idea of patiently waiting for a response to something in a world where we’re all connected has understandably started to fade as slower methods of communication are phased out.

That’s why messaging app Jack is trying to do something a little different by taking the instant out of instant messaging. Jack works by allowing you to send someone a message, image, video clip, or audio clip that they’ll receive instantly but gives you the ability to decide when the recipient can open it, whether it’s one hour, one day, or one year in the future. The recipient can see the time counting down to when they can open their message and the developers hope that this will bring “the pleasure of anticipation” back into communication.

I am pleased to note that behind Jack there really is a Jack.

One thing I’m wondering: can you adjust the time once the message has been sent?

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Random penguin

In 1950, Bugs Bunny, out of the kindness of his rabbit heart, escorted an abandoned penguin all the way to Antarctica, only to discover that the bird actually hailed from Hoboken, New Jersey. As tales go, it was pretty tall, but it’s nothing compared to this real-life caper:

Retired bricklayer and part time fisherman João Pereira de Souza, 71, who lives in an island village just outside Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, found [a] tiny penguin, covered in oil and close to death, lying on rocks on his local beach in 2011.

João cleaned the oil off the penguin’s feathers and fed him a daily diet of fish to build his strength. He named him Dindim.

After a week, he tried to release the penguin back into the sea. But, the bird wouldn’t leave. “He stayed with me for 11 months and then, just after he changed his coat with new feathers, he disappeared,” João recalls.

And, just a few months later, Dindim was back. He spotted the fisherman on the beach one day and followed him home.

“Ooh, I’m dyin’!” says João. Maybe.

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Free to fade away

No visuals here, just the cover art. This is track two from Jimmy Webb’s El Mirage album, turned loose on the world in 1977. Just in case someone asks “What’s your favorite George Martin production, other than Beatles material?” — and someone will — this is it. (It’s also his arrangement.)

George Martin in the studio meme: did more with 4 tracks than most do with Pro Tools

(Meme swiped from Tape Op Magazine.)

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Fast-breaking id

After three quarters, the Thunder were up by ten, and the general air seemed to be “Don’t get cocky, kids”; last time these two teams met, less than a week ago, the Thunder were up by seventeen after three quarters, and somehow lost by five. At the time, it seemed like they’d forgotten how to finish a game. Tonight, it looked like they’d learned something: halfway through the fourth, OKC had run that ten-point lead up to 19. This was about the point that the Clippers remembered that earlier in the game they were actually making three-point shots, and decided to go back to them. J. J. Redick promptly snapped off a pair of them, cutting the lead to 13; a minute later, he nailed one more. But the boys from L.A. would make no further progress, and at 2:25 Doc Rivers threw in the towel. The Thunder go up 2-1 in the season series, 120-108, a game in which they never trailed, but a game in which there were a whole lot of ties; the last tie was 75-75, in the middle of the third.

The usual Clipper offensive weapons were deployed competently, for the most part, but starting with that last tie, they started to miss shots, something they hadn’t done for most of the game. The most consistent shooter, in fact, was Jeff Green; Uncle Jeff knocked down 10-13 for a team-high 23. And while J. J. Redick (22 points) was 5-8 on treys, so was Kevin Durant (30 points/12 rebounds). One thing I always wonder about in Clippers/Thunder games is whether Russell Westbrook is consciously trying to show up Chris Paul. In this game, at any rate, CP3, good as he is, was seriously outclassed; Westbrook’s triple-double, 25-11-2019, included a new career high for dimes. The Telltale Statistic, though, doesn’t show on the box score. Oklahoma City had 15 second-chance points. The Clips? Zip.

The Timberwolves will be here Friday night, after which everyone must clamber onto the plane and head for San Antonio. The Spurs haven’t lost at home all season, like another team whose name we won’t mention, lest we jinx the whole scheme.

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Hung up on minor details

Cover of Deliciously Decandent by Fiona MoodleyThe wondrous world of seemingly random retweeting, which of course it isn’t — nothing on Twitter is truly random — landed a promo for this book in my stream, and while I admit to partaking of the occasional romance novel, by which is meant it’s probably no more than a third of what I read, give or take a percentage point here or there, I think this one might be just a hair beyond my specifications. The story goes like this:

He is every woman’s fantasy. He can have any woman but her. He will do anything just to have her in his bed were she belongs.

She is a widow and has a little girl. She cannot afford to be promiscuous but she is drawn to him like a moth to a flame.

When they come together it is explosive. Sparks don’t just fly it dominates. Can he keep her in his bed or will she run away?

Points for noting that promiscuity has its price, if not necessarily in an obvious currency. But how do we know if it’s truly “decandent,” whatever the heck that means?

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The ‘roll goes ever on

Somebody has been handing out fake parking tickets in beautiful downtown Asheville, North Carolina:

Asheville’s Transportation Director says somebody downtown has been giving people fake parking tickets… The fake tickets were for $100, while the city’s normal fine is only $10. The city wants to stop whoever is behind it. The police say they can only charge the person with littering. If a person pays the fine, then the charges get more serious.

And this somebody did a fairly decent job of fakery:

“When someone first glances at the citation it does look official, but there are some key things when you start looking at it,” said [Transportation Director] Putnam.

The ticket is physically larger. It was dated Friday, March 5th when it was the 4th. It had a fake officer ID and made up violation code. The ticket also had a QR code for smart phones to scan. The city’s tickets do not have QR codes.

So what happens if you scan that QR code? This happens.

It’s nice to know that some things never change.


The tinnest of tin ears

In the best of times, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is not exactly overflowing with clues, and we’re a hell of a long way from the best of times. Yesterday, though, they stepped in it big time:

You’d think someone would have known this: Duckworth lost both of her legs in Iraq.

NRSC pulled the tweet after a few minutes, but the damage was done; screenshots, like so much of the Internet, are forever.

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Magic dirt

Why are some places better to live than others? Maybe it’s something in the soil. Or maybe not.

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