And a bum ba dum bum bum bum bum to you

I probably should have expected this.

Last week, I posted this highly unofficial little number to Facebook:

This weekend, I started seeing ads for Farmers on several Web sites, including Fark.

Moral: Everything is tracked at some level.


We used to write

Michael Bates knew us when, because he was there with us:

We are at least a decade beyond what might be called the golden age of blogging. By the mid-2000s, blog software was stable and accessible without requiring significant technical skills. Google had purchased Blogger, and clunky add-on features (remember comments via HaloScan? photo hosting via Picasa?) were integrated into the blog platform. WordPress emerged as an easy-to-use alternative with a creative user base. Individual voices proliferated.

But it was tough to organize all those voices and keep up with what people were saying. How could you keep up with all of the sites you might like to follow? For me as a blogger, it was important to know what other bloggers were talking about, as it would be fodder for my own blog.

Conversations across websites happened as one blogger would post an entry linking to another blogger’s writing; the software would automatically generate a trackback or pingback, creating a link on the other site back to the commenting article and notifying the writer of the original item. But unscrupulous website owners found the mechanism a convenient way to plant inbound links on other sites to boost search-engine page rank, and legitimate trackbacks were lost in a sea of spam, forcing bloggers to adopt a sequence of strategies to thwart trackback spammers. Most bloggers wound up turning off the capability as not worth the hassle.

“Pingback” is a WordPress-specific thing; however, it can be turned off at the sending end, and you’d never be the wiser. I get pings from exactly two blogs these days; all the rest are spam.

In the meantime, social media sites were growing. Facebook and Twitter provided convenient ways to follow a stream of news and ideas. Initially, these sites would show you everything posted by the accounts you chose to follow, with the most recent first. Over time, they switched to a curated approach, driven by the desire to generate revenue, in which an algorithm would determine which posts you would see, and in what order. If you wanted your Facebook followers to see everything you posted, you’d have to pay for the privilege.

Social media has also redirected and dissipated the energy that writers used to vent in blog posts. Once you’ve responded to some outrage on Twitter or Facebook, there isn’t the urgency to address the topic on your blog.

Without a readily-available RSS aggregator, and with social media giants filtering bloggers’ attempts to notify readers about new posts, it was harder to keep touch with what independent bloggers were writing. Bloggers saw their traffic diminish and with it the motivation to write.

Still, there are plenty of us out here who have run up ten or fifteen or even more years on our keyboards, and we’ll probably keep after it until we literally can’t do it anymore. (The number of sites I list as “in memoriam” is growing appallingly quickly.)

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Maybe not so close

This slightly-NSFW song by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie sits right in the middle of the Hoodie SZN album:

And Hoodie SZN (that last trigraph is pronounced like “season”) made it to Number One, but somewhere it needs an asterisk:

This week’s #1 album on The Billboard 200, Hoodie SZN by New York rapper A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie on Highbridge/Atlantic Records, sold zero CDs, zero LPs, 823 downloads, and 83 million paid streams of individual tracks (counted as the equivalent of 58,000 album sales), The New York Times reports.

Billboard and Nielsen say that the album’s 823 sales last week are the lowest ever for a #1 album, surpassing a record set just the previous week by 21 Savage’s I Am > I Was, which sold 3,481 copies and had 84 million streams. Hoodie SZN has not been released on any physical formats.

The Recording Industry Association of America says that in the first half of 2018, U.S. CD sales totaled 18.6 million copies, down 47 percent from the same period in 2017. In those six months, streaming accounted for 75% of sales, followed by 15% for purchased downloads and 10% for all physical formats combined.

Eight hundred twenty-three copies? Of a Number One album? That many copies of Sgt. Pepper’s were shoplifted in any given week of 1967.

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Let the sunshine in

And that goes for you too, Frank Mills:

CityRep announcement of a production of Hair

Five decades after the fact, Hair is about as relevant today as The Vicar of Wakefield. But as period pieces go, it’s a damned good one, and you probably already know some of the songs.

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Saved by the beer

You’d almost expect something like this to happen on The Simpsons:

A man dying from alcohol poisoning was saved after doctors in Vietnam pumped 15 cans worth of beer into his body.

The 48-year-old, Nguyen Van Nhat, fell unconscious and was taken to a hospital in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Tri on December 25 where doctors found that levels of methanol — a dangerous form of alcohol — in his body were more than 1,000 times over the recommended limit, the Daily Mirror reported.

When he arrived, medical staff at the General Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit, led by Dr. Le Van Lam, immediately administered him three cans of beer, equivalent to about 1 liter. Over the course of the day, doctors transfused a total of 15 cans of beer into the man’s body at a rate of about one every hour. This slowed down the rate at which his liver processed the methanol, allowing doctors to save his life.

Beer, sweet beer. Is there nothing it can’t do?

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I’m so confused

It’s not entirely unheard of for Korean singers to try their luck with the Japanese market. Then again, most of them don’t try it with a song from Hitsville, U.S.A.:

It’s the last track on the 2018 album BDZ by Twice. And while the group keeps handing off the lead, they all seem to be at least a third below the territory established by Michael Jackson.


A cold reception

It was actually warmer today in Philadelphia than in Oklahoma City, but the 76ers, so woeful for so long, are this year as good a team as any, and the Thunder never could pull away from them; and OKC’s nine-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter had completely evaporated halfway through. At the 1:46 point, Joel Embiid snowplowed Russell Westbrook into a stanchion; Westbrook overcame his worst impulses and dropped in two free throws to put the Thunder up four. The Sixers, undaunted, came back with a trey; after what appeared to be a busted OKC possession, Terrance Ferguson, responded with three points of his own. Then Jimmy Butler went for the rim and collected an and-one. Two more foul shots from Paul George brought the score to 113-110 Thunder with 21 seconds left. Six seconds later, Westbrook fouled out, and Embiid, the foulee, was given three free throws, all of which he made. Butler intercepted the inbound, and once again drove to the rim for a layup: Sixers up by two with 6.9 left. Within two seconds, George had sprung for a trey and drawn a foul. PG-13 hadn’t missed a free throw all day, and he didn’t miss this one. A Hail Mary buzzer-beater went unanswered, and the final was Oklahoma City 117, Philadelphia 115, the first time a Western team has won in the Wells Fargo (!) all season.

The Sixers’ sharpshooters were as sharp as usual: Embiid 31, J. J. Redick 22, Butler 18, and Ben Simmons approaching triple-double levels at 20-15-9. Philly outrebounded OKC 47-45, and out-assisted (is that a word?) them 28-20. But the Sixer reserves contributed only 20 points to the cause, one fewer than Dennis Schröder. Then again, the OKC bench, other than Schröder, hit only seven. For the Thunder, PG-13 knocked down 31, Westbrook 21 (and 10 boards), and Steven Adams 16. And it’s still weird having a shooting guard who, you know, actually can shoot; T-Ferg went 4-8, 3-6 from the three-point circle.

Next outing is Monday against the Knicks in New York for an MLK Day matinee. The Knicks aren’t having a great year, but they can burn you in a hurry if you let them.


A little bit ahead of the Front Range

Maybe someone should warn Sarah Connor:

The Times-Call is a nominal Longmont, Colorado paper published in nearby Boulder.


As Arthur Treacher rotates on his axis

Well, it definitely sounds flaky:

Fish and chips are set to go vegan as Quorn launches an alternative made with protein derived from fungus — to help create a similar flaky texture.

The meat-free brand is set to release breaded and battered fishless fillets in March, both of which took five years to produce.

If they ever try this at Captain D’s, old man D will be busted down to ensign.

(Via Kim du Toit.)

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Despite all his rage

He is still just a troll in the Quora queue: What can I do if a driver throws a bottle at my car after I flashed my headlights at him for 45 minutes and repeatedly asked him to pull over so that we can discuss his driving?

This is a really good way to get shot. I’m acting on the assumption that there are better ways, but this way is still really good.


Out of this world, sort of

This is not something I’d have expected on the river Pecos:

Judge Roy Bean (1825-1903) was understandably not available for comment.

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Oh, those blessed rains

I’m almost surprised someone didn’t think of this long ago:

Toto’s “Africa” has come home, so to speak, thanks to an installation by an artist who plans to play the song on loop in a Namibian desert — for eternity.

German-Namibian artist Max Siedentopf has set up the sound installation, called “Toto Forever,” in an undisclosed location in the 1,200 mile-long Namib Desert.

The desert, on the west coast of Southern Africa, is around 55 million years old — making it the world’s oldest desert and the “perfect spot” for his work, Siedentopf, 27, told CNN in an email. “Hopefully the song will play just as long,” he added.

Siedentopf is using solar batteries to power the entire installation, which consists of plinths supporting six speakers attached to a single MP3 player that contains one track: Toto’s “Africa.”

This is seriously neat, as sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti.

Wait, what? Kilimanjaro is a hundred miles away from the Serengeti?

Oh, well. Never mind.

(Via Stephen Green.)

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Two years or 20,000 ice cubes

Remember when you filled out one side of a card, slapped a stamp on the other, and the manufacturer of whatever you just bought — a refrigerator, for instance — would start the warranty forthwith? Things seem to have gotten a little more complicated:

Some goofball over there decided it would be best to set it up so you can text them a picture of a part of the warranty notice that comes with the unit, but when I tried to do that the paper was too close to the phone and the serial number was out of focus. So I took a picture from further away, including the larger-print serial number next to the intended picture, but their photo reader algorithm misread the number. I declined to confirm those numbers.

So I went online and tried again the new old-fashioned way; the first time, the wrong model number was my fault, but I went back through to try again, got it right, and discovered that neither registration was shown on my account page where it was supposed to be (I hoped to delete the wrong one). So I tried again, again making sure both numbers were correct. Still nothing on the account page.

Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s Kirk vs. Nomad.

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We noticed there’s always a They

Both edges of the trench, according to the Z Man’s reckoning:

When people talk about the political divide in the West, they often focus on practical matters like nationalism versus globalism. In reality, the divide is between the search for factual truth versus the search for moral truth. Not only are the goals different, but the methods are different. Both sides look at the human condition and wonder why things are as they are, but one side seeks to explain the great diversity of man, while the other side seeks to exterminate these differences, in order to reach a moral end.

That’s why there is so much more diversity of thought and opinion on this side. There can be only one moral framework, one set of moral truths. If two men say they’re Jesus, one of them must be wrong, thus the ever narrowing of our intellectual class. As the free thinkers and the curious are cast out, they find their way to this side, having to first cross the river of the damned, accepting biological reality. Living outside the favor of the popular gods is not always a lot of fun, but it’s vastly more interesting than the other side.

Then again, anything opposed to globalism will get at least some of my attention.

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Definition of a good night

It makes sense to me, anyway:

Or, as Churchill said, “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

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Purple reign

Someone on Quora asked today if LeBron were playing tonight against the Thunder. Short answer: no. Neither was Rajon Rondo, who’s been out since Christmas. But it’s not like the Lakers needed their brand-name players: okay, all the L. A. starters finished on the minus side of the Great Divide, but the Laker bench pounded the Thunder reserves unmercifully. (Example: Ivica Zubac, backup center, knocked down 26 points, a career high, on 12-14 shooting, and 11 rebounds to boot.) With 35 seconds left, the Lakers were up three; the score was unchanged thirty seconds later. Russell Westbrook earned three free throws in those waning moments, and made them all. With 2.9 left, the Lakers got one last possession; Kyle Kuzma put up a trey for the win, and didn’t get it.

They could wait. The overtime was almost all Lakers; the final indignity, perhaps, was a technical called on Raymond Felton, who otherwise had a DNP-CD. Los Angeles 138, Oklahoma City 128, and when was the last time you saw an overtime game won — or, for that matter, lost by ten points? The pundits will look for Redeeming Social Value, noting, for example, that the Thunder put up 54 (!) treys and made 22, a respectable 41 percent. Still, L.A. not only owned the boards, they collected rent on them, to the tune of 63-44. Kuzma posted a game-high 32 points. Westbrook? 25 points and 13 assists, but 7-30 from the floor. And someone should give Nerlens Noel a hand for surviving Concussion Protocol.

It gets no easier. Saturday’s trip to Philly won’t even be close to a cakewalk: the Sixers are 30-16 as of tonight. The MLK Matinee at Madison Square Garden — well, the Knicks are terrible, but are they terrible enough?