Marks to be made

Today I get to fill out a ballot, and this is what’s been going through my head while I contemplate the matter.

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Far afield


Unless, of course, there’s a rabid Tasmanian devil on the way to Ljubljana.

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A day without purpose

There were several times tonight when you had to wonder just what the pluperfect hell was going on. Certainly radio guy Matt Pinto was seriously perplexed, early on when Quincy Acy was rung up for a technical on an incident to which Acy was, well, incidental; late in the second, when Rajon Rondo ran up two consecutive technicals for delay of game by inexplicably failing to inbound the ball; and early in the fourth, when he threw up his hands (so to speak) and despaired of ever getting a proper definition of a clear-path foul. Meanwhile, DeMarcus Cousins kept crashing through the paint to the net, undeterred by Thunder defenders or by a brief ankle tweaking in the third quarter. The official Thunder response seemed to be “Meh, we’re winning.” And so they did, 131-116, despite failing to keep Cousins or any of the other Kings out of the paint for long.

Nice stuff: Enes Kanter missed nothing all night, 11-11 and 1-1 on a free throw for 23 points. (Actually, I think Acy goaltended one of those.) And you have to figure that any time Dion Waiters and Kyle Singler both end up in double digits is a good night. (Waiters had 22 and a game-high +30; Singler finished with 11.) Of course, there are those Other Guys: Kevin Durant with 27 and 10 boards, and yet another Russell Westbrook triple-double (20-13-15). Here’s the number that explains it all, though: the Thunder made 47 of 82 shots. The Kings made 48 shots, but it took them 107 tries. Twenty-two offensive rebounds will do that for you.

Still, you don’t mess with Cousins, who despite going 14-33 led all scorers with 35, plus collecting 12 rebounds. And if the Kings’ game plan occasionally seemed repetitive — give it to Cousins inside and let him pound his way through — it was also fairly effective, producing 72 points in the paint, clearly indicating that Cousins wasn’t the only one who could score inside. Six Kings in double figures say the same.

Nothing wrong with starting a road trip with a win. But the crux of this particular biscuit arrives Wednesday and Thursday: the Clippers and the Warriors in succession. The Kings, for now, can be forgotten.


And suddenly it was gone

The ostensible selling point of Snapchat is its vanishing data: everything goes away on a schedule worthy of mayflies. And apparently, “everything” means everything:

Snapchat is famous for its disappearing messages, but unfortunately not everything in this world is ephemeral when you need it to be. The LA-based company disclosed today that a number of its current and former employees had their identities compromised by a cyber attack this month.

“Last Friday, Snapchat’s payroll department was targeted by an isolated email phishing scam in which a scammer impersonated our Chief Executive Officer and asked for employee payroll information,” Snapchat explained in a blog post. “Unfortunately, the phishing email wasn’t recognized for what it was — a scam — and payroll information about some current and former employees was disclosed externally.”

It gets worse. Said @SwiftOnSecurity:

There’s a chance the direct deposit bank info for employees was compromised as well. Good idea to DD into a dedicated account you empty.

We worry about brute-force attacks on our security, and then we just go handing information over to people. And we wonder why this sort of thing happens so often.

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They took a shine to her

From last night’s Academy Award tweetstream:

My first thought, and also my second, was “What the hell ever happened to shone?” I duly consulted Grammarist, which says:

The verb shine has two main definitions: (1) to emit light, and (2) to cause to gleam by polishing. In its first sense, shine traditionally becomes shone in the past tense and as a past participle. In its second sense, shine is traditionally inflected shined. So, for example, we might say, “The sun shone brightly while I shined my shoes.”

Which is about the way I remembered things, until I ran smack-dab into this:

In 21st-century writing, however, the distinction is increasingly fuzzy, and shined is often used where shone would be the traditional inflection. Shone rarely appears in place of shined, though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go get my shoes shone.

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Hard luck, your lordship

A couple of weeks back, the Thunder sent point guard D. J. Augustin and marksman Steve Novak to the Nuggets, ostensibly to obtain Randy Foye, but mostly to cut payroll and the luxury tax imposed thereupon. Denver released Novak, who then signed for the rest of the season with Milwaukee.

And then this:

The Bucks have announced that Steve Novak will miss the rest of the season with a sprained MCL, tweets Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. The newly acquired small forward suffered the injury during Saturday’s game with the Pistons.

Novak appeared in seven games for Oklahoma City and three for Milwaukee this season. He will regain free-agent status at the end of the year.


Somehow this never caught on

In 1986, reports the Pergelator, Veruschka “collaborated on Veruschka: Transfigurations, a book about body paint.” It wasn’t by any means her first time making the pigment sing: there’s an old Playboy pictorial (1970s) in which she has a zipper painted on her forehead, and subsequent pages show the results of, um, unzipping.

Body paint has never really gone away. In 1999 Sports Illustrated got the idea of painted, as distinct from actual fabric, swimsuits, as on the lovely Rebecca Romijn here:

Rebecca Romijn in a painted-on swimsuit

Truth be told, this didn’t impress me as much as a later spread in the very same issue, with a more conventional suit — which she wasn’t wearing at all, but merely admiring it while it hung from a clothesline. Or would have been admiring, had she even looked at it.

Still, if body paint has never gone away, it’s never been front and center in the American mindset either. Coty once tried to sell it at drugstore prices:

Advertisement for body paint by Coty

I suspect that the idea of a paint roller used in this manner put off rather a lot of women who might otherwise have taken to the idea. Today, of course, we have sprays, with all the disadvantages sprays have always had.

(Any external links here are best considered NSFW.)

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Strange search-engine queries (526)

Once you get past the novelty of having five of these in February, it’s the same old thing: mine the search strings for comedy gold, or at least zinc.

turn your radio on john hartford:  What did John Hartford ever do to you?

juan and dori recently got married. if current demographics continue, what is the likelihood (percentage) they will get divorced or separated?  Depends on how quickly Dori finds those photos of Vivian on Juan’s phone.

the strange case of avogadro’s airline flight 6.02 on october the 23rd:  The entire cargo compartment was filled with moles.

i was born unicorn:  Yeah, Blueblood, we know. Now go away and do something vaguely prince-y.

not a clever pony:  No excuses. Act like the noble you’re supposed to be.

shoe morass in a sentence:  The higher the heel of your shoe, the morass you’re likely to show.

trying to be less of an asshole than i was yesterday:  Not to worry. The primaries will be over soon.

web toys for your procrastination pleasure:  Finally, a workable definition of Wikipedia.

fork enid:  Yeah, that’s what they say in Alva. Almost.

fourbucks:  The eventual price for Charles Shaw wines at Trader Joe’s.

double down casino says 403 forbidden:  You’ve reached your limit, Chuckie.

dion waiters defense:  Blankly staring.

blankly staring:  Known as the Dion Waiters defense.

texas asshole massacre:  But that could take days. Weeks, even.

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No flying car for you

However, you might get something else in its place, maybe:

Instead, the future is probably something closer to personal drone transport. People will have quadcopters that can take them on short trips around town and drop them off safely back onto the ground. This would be fun, safe and solve some of the transportation issues of the modern world.

We already have the technology to build a drone that can navigate around obstacles and use GPS to locate a target. The small drones you can by from hobbyist sites are simple to operate because of the built-in navigation technology. Scaling this up is nothing. Building a drone that can lift a person is basic engineering that has been done to death. Add in the software for guidance and navigation and you have a safe flying gizmo average people could use.

Except for the minor detail that average people are not good drivers: your average city thoroughfare is Lake Wobegon in reverse. Expecting these mooks to operate a vehicle a mere five feet tall that’s touching the ground most of the time is tricky enough; putting them several hundred feet in the air is the sort of thing that would get Charles Darwin to twirl at 2000 rpm, deep within Westminster Abbey.

Obviously, the safety issue is the issue. But that’s where the technology of robot cars comes into the mix. If you can safely navigate around a city street, the same technology can be applied to the drone. That way, the typical user does not slam into a building or crash into the ground when landing. Unlike cars, the drone-space would be free of dogs, pedestrians, kids running into the street, potholes, etc.

One word: liability. Nothing is allowed to happen in this world anymore unless there’s someone designated to take the blame when it doesn’t. We’re nowhere near solving this problem with ordinary cars, given the sheer volume of drivers who can’t be bothered to buy insurance no matter what sort of mandate is slapped upon them.

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This month has gone on too long

Personally, I tend to believe twenty-eight days is too long for a month like February, so you can imagine what I think on those quadrennial occasions when it has twenty-nine. I’m not as vexed as this guy was, though:

In February 1997, John Melo was convicted of home invasion and sentenced to ten years and one day in prison. Seven years later, he filed a motion complaining that the [Massachusetts] Department of Correction had miscalculated the length of his sentence. Why? Because it had failed to credit him for the additional days he had to serve on account of the February 29’s during leap years.

Melo’s motion was allowed, but he didn’t win the case. In 2006 the Superior Court ruled (Commonwealth v. John Melo) that not only did his case have no merit, but it had been a mistake to ever allow it to proceed in the first place, noting that he had clearly been sentenced to a term of years, no matter how long each year may be.

And besides, we’re talking two whole days here, 2/29/2000 and 2/29/2004. He probably spent more time than that in the prison library, looking for loopholes like that.

Melo may not have had a compelling case. However, it is true that the extra day in February can be somewhat unfair. For instance, if you’re a salaried employee you essentially have to work an extra day for free during a leap year, whereas hourly employees get an extra payday. Similarly, banks often don’t include February 29 when they calculate the interest they owe their customers, thereby giving themselves an extra bonus day of profit at everyone else’s expense.

At 42nd and Treadmill, at least, we don’t have the payday issue: both hourly and salaried employees are paid biweekly. And my bank account earned a whole six cents in interest last time around; it’s hard to imagine one day more or less would make much difference.

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Not a major market

Most of this is completely inarguable:

Why buy the cow when you get the milk for free?

Donald Trump isn’t buying TV ads in Super Tuesday states prior to the big day. Doesn’t need to. He’s got all the coverage he needs, and has since June.

New Hampshire TV stations got rich from Jeb Bush and his SuperPac friends.

Well, one New Hampshire TV station: WMUR-TV Manchester, the only actual Big Four network station in the entire state. (It’s ABC, if you care, and why would you?) Everything else is low-power, PBS, or aimed at the Boston market. Still, I’m sure Hearst Television, owner of WMUR, was happy to cash those checks from the Jeb! machine.

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Keeping it in the family

Welcome to Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, the oldest hotel on earth:

Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, Japan

How old is it, you ask?

Nestled among a number of picturesque hot springs in the mountains of Kyoto, the traditionally-styled Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan in the Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, is recognized as the world’s oldest hotel, inn, and possibly even business in general, catering to everyone from ancient samurai to modern tourists for over a thousand years.

Originally established in 705, the traditional “onsen” or “hot spring” was the brainchild of the son of the reigning emperor’s aid. The natural hot springs in the area allowed for the creation of a number of healing baths that drew visitors and military men from all around to come and relax. Among these early patrons were a number of samurai and famed shogun, giving the spa a bit more notoriety still.

From its inception, the Keiunkan onsen has been passed down within the original family through the centuries. 52 different generations of descendants have cared for and operated the inn, growing the space and modernizing it slowly with each passing epoch.

The Friar quips:

Sometime in the next few years, its guest registry is expected to surpass Mount Fuji as the tallest point in Japan. Rates start at about $300 a night in US dollars. Feel free to mention my name; it’s guaranteed to draw as blank a look there as anywhere else on the globe.

Is it just me, or does $300 a night seem unbelievably inexpensive for the oldest hotel on earth?

(Photo by 663highland on Wikimedia Commons.)

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Quote of the week

Do political pitches seem dumber than before, this time around? Maybe — just maybe — it’s not the politicians that are dumber, but the electorate:

I read Cyril Kornbluth’s Marching Morons stories years ago; I know what it means when “performance” cars have to play engine sounds through the stereo system to keep the driver happy. The vapid uselessness of popular culture mounts steadily and in more ways than one. We’re well past the Age Of The Common Man and entering the age of the Illiterate Techno-Peasant With A Grudge. Better buckle in; it’s going to be bumpy. Care for a nice glass of lead-laced water for the ride?

Etan Cohen, co-writer with Mike Judge on Idiocracy, said last week that he never expected the film would wind up as a documentary. Of course, President Camacho, taking office in January 2017, can be expected to address this failure of prognostication.

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A downright speedy slog

A bit tired but always game, Heracles, having captured three-headed Cerberus, asked if there might be a thirteenth labor. Came the response: “We want you to guard Stephen Curry.”

The hero demurred. “No way I can keep up with that SOB.”

He wasn’t kidding. In the middle of the second quarter, Curry put together a string of three treys in what seemed to me no time at all, nearly wiping out a double-digit Thunder lead. And then the gods came up with a plot complication: a minute and a half into the third quarter, Curry, after assisting on a Harrison Barnes dunk, rolled his ankle, and disappeared into the locker room for the next five minutes. No way Steph would stay gone, and sure enough, he didn’t; with 1:15 left in the third, one of those patented Curry treys gave the Warriors their first lead of the night. Kevin Durant responded to this with two treys of his own, and the Thunder were up five going into what Judge Radar called “Twelve Minutes of Hell.” With 11:33 of that 12:00 elapsed, OKC led 100-99. KD used up half the remaining time to find a spot from 26 feet back, and splashed the trey; Klay Thompson drove in for a layup, and with 0.7 second left, Andre Iguodala, drawing Durant’s fifth foul, nailed two free throws to tie it at 103, and five minutes more hell ensued.

Then, 47 seconds into the overtime period and the Thunder up by five, Steph Curry drew a foul from KD, his sixth. (Bye-bye, Kevin.) Shortly thereafter, Curry’s eleventh trey of the game — tying a career high — tied the game at 110-all; in the last second, he got his twelfth, and that was it, 121-118, a Russell Westbrook trey at the buzzer falling short. And with 24 games left, the Warriors, 53-5, have already clinched a playoff spot.

Curry’s 46 points, of course, dwarfed everyone else’s. (Durant had 37 to lead the Thunder.) Overall shooting was almost dead even, Golden State 45-95, OKC 46-96. And neither side was particularly adept from the stripe, the Warriors making 17 of 25, the Thunder 17 of 26. The commanding OKC lead in rebounding — 62-32 — was more than offset by the turnover count: the Warriors lost only 11, the Thunder 23. You almost have to wonder what it would have been like had Steph Curry not spent five minutes in the locker room getting some fresh tape around his ankle.

Coming up: three games on the West Coast in four days, Monday at Sacramento, Wednesday at the Clippers, and Thursday at, yes, Golden State. Get your prayer shawls out of storage. In the meantime:



Her name was Joanne

Joanne Gignilliat Trimmier Woodward, as of this writing, is the second-oldest person in Wikipedia born on the 27th of February: she’s 86 today. She did a whole lot of Golden Age television, and won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1957 for The Three Faces of Eve, in which she played a woman with dissociative identity disorder — what we used to call “multiple personalities.”

Joanne Woodward on the beach

In 1960, she was among the first group of celebrities honored on the Hollywood Walk of Fame; she was the first to pose for a photoshoot with her star, which has led to the belief that hers was the first star on the Walk, which it wasn’t.

Joanne Woodward on the Hollywood Walk of Fame

She and Paul Newman were married for fifty years, until his death in 2008.

Joanne Woodward with Paul Newman

Which may explain the dedication in Lucky Them (2013), Woodward’s most recent film, in which she has a small voice-only role and an executive-producer credit: it’s to Newman, “an inspiration, mentor, cheering squad, and darn good reason a gal could still have trouble finding a gent to fill his boots.”


Like Lazarus, but with department stores

Consumerist follows up on a chap we’ve mentioned before, named Ellia Kassoff:

[Kassoff has] been battling Macy’s for several years over a slew of trademarks for stores Macy’s acquired and shut down. Today, Kassoff says he’s reached a deal with the department store giant that will allow him to try to breathe new life into several long-dead retail brands.

Kassoff has a knack for researching defunct brands and taking a risk on claiming trademarks that he believes are up for grabs because the most recent owners of those marks have not used them.

One of those is Foley’s, a Houston-based department-store chain founded in 1900, which Macy’s absorbed in 2006; there were four Foley’s stores (formerly Sanger Harris) in Oklahoma.

“After over five hours of negotiating with Macy’s, we finally hammered out a deal that we’re really happy with,” says Kassoff, who hopes to bring these stores back to the markets where they are remembered fondly.

“Consumers noted the current shopping experience is quite drab, as there is no localized marketing or buying for the regional stores anymore,” he says of his research into retail habits. “People want to go back to the days when shopping was a real experience at their local department store. They really miss that.”

It may take a while; one of Kassoff’s other ventures, the return of Hydrox cookies, is so far limited to a few of the major grocery chains.

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