Wende time comes

December 7, 1941, said FDR, was “a date that would live in infamy.” This probably doesn’t say anything about Wende Wagner, who was born the day before. With both parents sports-minded — Mom was a champion skier, Dad a swimming/diving coach turned career Navy officer — she gravitated toward doing those things herself, and it’s said that Billy Wilder, then filming Some Like It Hot at Coronado, California, saw Wagner swimming and invited her to take a screen test. “Not while you’re still in high school,” declared the parental units. (Later, she did the test, but turned down a role in Wilder’s The Apartment.)

And so she became an underwater stunt player on Sea Hunt and The Aquanauts:

Wende Wagner on the rocks

After her first marriage broke up, she decided that maybe standing in front of a camera might not be such a bad thing after all, and signed with 20th Century-Fox, where she had small roles in Rio Conchos and Rosemary’s Baby (on loan to Paramount), and a larger one in the TV series The Green Hornet.

Wende Wagner on the sofa

She retired in the early Seventies, and was seldom heard from thereafter, until her death from cancer in 1997.

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Quote of the week

It helps, says Bill Quick, to think of Eric Garner as a small businessman:

One of the side effects of the legal/regulatory state has been to cut off poor people from small-scale entrepreneurship. Want to open a roadside taco stand? Offer cab services with your private car? Braid hair in your living room? Clean houses without a license or OSHA inspection? Work for less than minimum wage?

Add in a host of other restrictions and requirements that effectively function as a moat to competition that protects larger, better funded businesses, and you block an entire class of people (by income) from entrepreneurial work.

Remember the history of Jews in America? Remember the pushcarts and rug peddlers and all the other modes of self-employment that kept them and their offspring warm, fed, and well enough educated to become the next generation of doctors, lawyers, scholars, and businessmen?

We don’t do that any more. And if you try, you risk your life. Because that makes you a vile criminal.

“You must play by the rules,” say the people who invented those rules to benefit themselves and their cronies.

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Deep Sixing

Kevin Durant, asked if the Thunder might overlook the 1-17 76ers tonight, is reported to have quipped: “Nah. We feel like we’re 1-17 too.” And really, however ragtag the Philadelphia roster may appear to be, you won’t persuade me that they’re tanking: they demonstrated considerable skill closing out quarters, something the Thunder didn’t do until the fourth, and I don’t recall any of the Sixers looking lost or bewildered. Indeed, if anyone looked lost out there, it was Durant, who was off his feed or something; he went 3-11 for 10 points. It didn’t matter, though: OKC wins it 103-91 and goes up to, um, 6-13.

This game, I think, was a good example of complementary efforts. Steven Adams scored seven points but collected no rebounds; Kendrick Perkins pulled nine boards (and a Flagrant 1 foul) and no points. And where you’d expect KD to be playing hero ball, there was Jeremy Lamb, knocking down two treys in the final three minutes to seal the deal. Russell Westbrook led all scorers with 27.

But still there were anomalies. The Thunder bench scored 38; the Philly bench scored, um, 38, including a team-high 21 from Robert Covington. Luc Mbah a Moute, who can’t shoot a trey to save his life, knocked down two of them, easy as pie. Michael Carter-Williams (16 points, 14 assists) and Nerlens Noel (11 points, 10 rebounds) posted the only two double-doubles tonight. And give the Sixers credit for going after the damned ball: they outrebounded OKC 44-40, and held a 19-6 edge off the offensive glass. They might yet break their record for futility (9-73, 1972-73), but I’m finding it hard to see that happening.

One more game on this road trip, Sunday against the low-compression Detroit Pistons — who, I remind you, beat OKC at home last month — and then a couple of interesting home games: with the Bucks (who beat OKC in Milwaukee last month), followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers. (Two words: “LeBron James.”) Assuming the Cavs dispatch the Raptors tonight, they’ll be 11-7.

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Snot what one aspires to

Tam has been suffering with some wretched disease this week, and I think it was worse than what I have, based on this observation:

About the middle of the afternoon yesterday, I became one of the world’s leading exporters of mucus. It’s tapered off greatly this morning and is no longer coming out in festive colors, so everything should be good and copacetic by nightfall, but that was really unpleasant.

You probably don’t want to spend any time wondering who might import the stuff.

It occurred to me that we really need some new drugs to replace the wimpy stuff they sell over the counter at Rite-Aid: the bloody dismembering of NyQuil is still fresh in my mind.

Or maybe we need some old drugs:

One Night Cough Syrup

I defy anyone to cough after a tablespoon of that.

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Dawning is the day

When this appeared in the media a couple of days ago, noises were made to the effect that we might be seeing a Whole New Era:

Gas price at OnCue, 44th and Shields

Of course, for this to be true, everyone else would have had to rush out and match this price, seen at the OnCue Express at 44th and Shields. As of today, the Duo at 59th and Blackwelder will sell you E10 at $1.999, if you’re paying cash — add a dime for plastic — and the 44 Food Mart, just east of that OnCue, has dropped to $1.989. That’s it. This is not, I shouldn’t have to point out, a Whole New Era. And GasBuddy counsels caution:

GasBuddy anticipates that some motorists in Texas, South Carolina, and Missouri may see $1.99 show up soon as well. Areas of Houston, Spartanburg, and St. Louis are the only metro areas within “striking distance” of less than 20c/gallon.

We should make clear that at this time, we do not believe any city or state will see average prices under $2/gal, but yes, a handful of stations across the United States may see these prices. Should oil prices continue to decline, as some of our analysts have predicted, it will open the door to motorists in more cities seeing a few $1.99 prices.

I’m still paying $2.619 for premium, of course.

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One weird (and costly) trick

Although you can’t blame them for wanting to preserve the business:

Prostitutes in the Russian Arctic port of Murmansk have unexpectedly hiked prices for their services by up to 40%, blaming the tumbling rouble exchange rate for their decision, it seems.

They also want to peg the cost of services to the dollar in the longer term if the situation doesn’t improve, sources at one brothel tell the local FlashNord news agency. Two hours with a prostitute in Murmansk cost 3,000-7,000 roubles ($57-132; £36-84) before the price rise, the agency says. The management of another brothel says it’s “trying to keep prices down, but the cost of living is rising and the girls can’t work at a loss”. The rouble has lost more than 40% of its value against the dollar and 60% against the euro since the start of the year, as a result of Western sanctions over Russia’s involvement in the eastern Ukraine insurgency and a fall in oil prices.

Vladimir Putin surely never anticipated this.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Unevenly matched

After noting in a post that Reese Witherspoon is threatening to become the next Meryl Streep, Robert Stacy McCain explains the apparently unfortunate dynamic at work:

Here’s the thing about Out of Africa: The girls get to see Robert Redford, one of the most handsome leading men in cinematic history. The guys get … Meryl Streep.

You see what I’m talking about? It’s like every Barbra Streisand movie, ever.

There’s this feminist fantasy film formula where the ugly duckling is paired with the impossibly handsome man. Somehow, with her feisty ways and her quirky sense of humor, she manages to make this sexy hunk of a man fall passionately in love with her. It’s basically Chicken Soup for the Unattractive Girl’s Soul, except it’s toxic.

This kind of fantasy encourages unrealistic romantic aspirations in quite the same way as all those movies where the clumsy schlub magically lands the Playboy Centerfold Dream Girl.

As a clumsy schlub in my own right, I must point out that Streisand actually pulled it off, in Peter Bogdanovich’s What’s Up, Doc? Granted, this was 42 years ago, and she was playing opposite Ryan O’Neal, a large sheet of drywall, but nonetheless, she pulled it off. It’s possible to make a case for The Way We Were, with Redford, but I think Arthur Laurents’ screenplay was always more of a political piece than a love story, and the film suffers as a result.

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Defending the rush

There are two types of people who object to Black Friday, says Bark M., and he has a refutation for both:

First, you have the “don’t ever spend a dime because you’re going to be old someday” people. Let me think … would I rather die with $5M in the bank, or would I rather enjoy my youth? Has anybody ever been sad that they bought their dream car? Has anybody ever regretted a trip to Europe? There’s a difference between charging yourself into oblivion and simply enjoying your money while you can. I’ve been guilty of overspending a bit at times, but I have priceless memories that made it worth it. Yes, I put my kids’ Disney trip on a credit card (SHOCK). No, I didn’t pay it off immediately (DOUBLE SHOCK). Do I regret it? Not one bit.

I’m already old. And while I didn’t go shopping that day, I am allergic to crowds, and I’m still working on getting myself out of the hole. Still, I can’t dispute this premise: the only person who regrets buying his dream car is the one who overspent to get it. See next paragraph.

Second, you have the “I don’t need or desire material things” crowd. Sorry, but for ninety-nine percent of people, that’s nonsense. The people who say that are mostly the people who can’t afford the material things. Yes, I know you have an uncle who looks dirt poor but could pay cash for a Maybach anytime he wanted. Yes, I know what you think of people who make $40K a year and lease 320is. But you can’t tell me that there isn’t something that you could buy RIGHT NOW that would make you happier, even if only short term. Other than non-emotional things like toilet paper, everything I buy, I buy it because I enjoy it.

If you ever run out of toilet paper, it suddenly becomes emotional. Trust me on this.

I wrote this three years ago:

Now admittedly there are a few gadgets I covet now and then, and I still buy the occasional book or “record” album. But, to rework a phrase of Barack Obama’s, I’m starting to believe there’s a point where you’ve accumulated enough stuff. I have a whole room full of stuff that I haven’t been able to get organized in eight years, and I am loath to add to it if I can help it. (Is it really necessary for me to have every issue of Entertainment Weekly? It didn’t matter so much for the first few years, but with issue #1200 imminent — well, you get the idea. I blame Jeff Jarvis.)

Note: EW is now well into the 1400s.

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Not one viewer more

For some time now, “Gangnam Style” by PSY has been the most-viewed video on all of YouTube. Now lesser-viewed videos — which is all of them — tend to run into difficulty after 301 views:

After a video reaches a certain number of views … YouTube tells the database to freeze the view count until YouTube can manually verify the correct count to protect against botting attempts — using automated computer processes to artificially inflate the number of views. YouTube view counts are initially tracked by servers near the end user. By looking at reports from these individual servers, YouTube engineers can detect suspicious patterns in the data.

“At some point the decision was made that we need to draw a line between what is innocuous and the database can handle and all of a sudden serious business … The proportion was calculated to be at about 300.”

So why 301? Blame it on one YouTube programmer’s errant less-than-or-equal-to sign. The code tells the database to keep counting views up to and including the time when the count is equal to 300, allowing one final view to get counted before it freezes.

At the other end of the spectrum, there’s PSY:

We never thought a video would be watched in numbers greater than a 32-bit integer (=2,147,483,647 views), but that was before we met PSY. “Gangnam Style” has been viewed so many times we had to upgrade to a 64-bit integer (9,223,372,036,854,775,808)!

Incidentally, since YouTube made this announcement (Monday), there have been six million more views.

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The usual blondishments

Actually, we don’t know her hair color, but I assume by default that every word of this spam is bogus:

I was browsing and saw your profile and just had to contact you

This might seem crazy but I thought you were cute and have to know if you are dating anyone?

Even if you are.. we should chat because I think I am someone you could have a good time with.

Lets chat on facebook and Ill tell you more. I can show you some of my latest photos. I think you will really like what you see.

Hit me up on messenger soon and lets hookup.

You can get my profile and contact details here.

Chat soon

xoxo Katie

There follows, concealed by text color if I were dumb enough to read HTML mail, about twenty lines of pure word salad. “Here” yields up an address at privatelymessage.me.

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A hard day at the office

I might have expected something like this on Black Friday, but not on the following Monday:

An employee of Walmart in Ada faces felony charges after allegedly setting two fires in the bathrooms at work Monday morning.

Police say Lois Smith, 49, lit a fire in the trash can of the women’s bathroom and lit another fire in the trash can of the men’s bathroom.

Says the police spokesperson:

“[W]hen confronted she said that yes she had done it, that she was stressed out at her job and was upset so she started the fires.”

There are four degrees of arson in this state; this will be at most second-degree. (First-degree requires that the structure burned be an actual residence, and that it be 85% destroyed.)

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Sick as the nearest canine

About 8:30 this morning, it hit.

“It” may be a rhinovirus, or it may be something much worse. I’m not planning on something worse, mind you; but anything that keeps me awake at night is horrible by definition, and the longer it takes for me to drift off, the more likely I’ll pray for eternal surcease.

In one of God’s little jokes, I have an actual medical appointment scheduled for tomorrow. (I figured that CFI Care — not its real initials — would be jacking up the rates at the end of this month, and indeed they are: copays will rise up to 17 percent, and the annual deductible is now $5,000. I didn’t get the usual handout, but I suspect the base rate for this gold silver bronze pyrite policy is now up over $6,000 a year. It could be worse; and I expect it will be next year. And no, I qualify for no subsidies.)

Then again, if it actually kills me — well, something had to at some point.

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One step sideways, two steps back

My reaction to the latest redesign at Consumer Reports: meh. I figure it’s yet another milepost on the way to “Read our Web site, you jerk.” But that’s a fairly mild reaction compared to this:

I am not a particularly great fan of infographics-for-the-sake-of-being-infographics or big splashy things with large numbers or images and very little text. I GET that apparently most people have acquired an attention-span-destroying parasite and so they must be catered to (apparently), but the design is really ugly and it took what used to be a fairly useful magazine and now it just makes it so slick.

“Slick” as in “oil spill,” I’m guessing.

Oh, there’s an infographic at the link. Because reciprocity.

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Because BlueHawks wasn’t happening

The announcement that the Oklahoma City RedHawks of the Pacific Coast League will be renamed “Dodgers,” what with the team being part of the Los Angeles Dodgers organization — common ownership, and there’s a farm-club deal in place — did not go over well on Twitter, although some of us tried to temporize:

One common argument was that there is no history of dodging here in the Big Breezy. I demurred:

I don’t think this mollified anyone. Meanwhile, owners of the Iowa Cubs were not available for comment.

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Unsuit yourself

After a successful trial run, a naturist club in Buckinghamshire is planning to have skinny-dipping days for the general public:

Diogenes Sun Club in Shire Lane, Chalfont St Peter, will open its heated indoor pool on Saturdays, January 10, February 21 and March 7 from 7pm to 9pm.

The club has 300 members; if they should add a few more as a result of this promotion, they’re surely not going to complain.

Pre-booking is essential at www.diogenessunclub.co.uk. Entry is £5 for adults, under 18s must be accompanied and go free.

This pool of theirs is surely a far better vessel than the clay wine jar the original Diogenes the Cynic (c. 412-323 BC) is supposed to have used for a home.

(Via Nudiarist. Exercise discretion when clicking on some of these links.)

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All about that face (no hijab)

Sıla Şahin, twenty-nine today, is a Turkish-German actress who has spent the last five years on the German soap opera Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten — more or less, Good Times, Bad Times, which could be the subtitle of any of a hundred soaps worldwide. You probably should not assume anything from her Muslim-sounding name.

Sıla Şahin in white

Sıla Şahin at a fashion show

A bit of controversy erupted when Şahin appeared in a pictorial for German Playboy (she was even on the cover [NSFW]) in 2011. News reports ran something like this:

A Turkish Muslim model appears naked on the May issue of Germany’s Playboy magazine, sparking debate in the country over Muslim women and sexuality as well as causing a rift with the model’s conservative family.

The Turkish German model, Sıla Şahin, had been living in Berlin and starring on the German television soap opera Good Times, Bad Times. In many ways, she had been an example of how a “well-integrated Turkish German should behave.”

Playboy’s German editor Florian Boitin pointed out some minor details:

“Sila isn’t Muslim. Her father doesn’t belong to any [religion] and her mother is Christian [sic]. And the Playboy cover with Sila Sahin is not a religious statement,” Boitin told FOX411.

Boitin continued to explain that as Editor in Chief he believed there was every reason to put Sahin on the cover to cater to a specific demographic within Germany.

Three million Muslims, half of whom presumably wanted a peek?

Şahin defended her appearance as one of those “freedom” things, though she probably didn’t help her cause by invoking the name of Ernesto “Che” Guevara.

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