Gloriously knotted

This game figured to be close: whatever oddsmaker supplies Yahoo! gave the nod to the 76ers (14-13) over the Thunder (13-14) by one. That said, OKC took an early lead, ran it to as many as 17, but found themselves on the tail end of a 9-0 Philly run that tied it up at 94 with 53 seconds left. Just before the buzzer, Carmelo Anthony got himself open and delivered a 26-footer that refused to go in. Overtime ensued, as it will, and the Sixers drew first blood. With 8 seconds left in overtime and a 102-all tie, a rather long replay analysis determined that the ball, before going out of bounds, last touched Steven Adams instead of Joel Embiid; Dario Šarić tossed up an airball right before the horn, and suddenly there’s five minutes more to play. It was 111-all with 1.2 seconds left, an eyelash of a time which official Ed Malloy apparently obtained through the miracle of rectal extraction long after the horn; the third overtime began thereafter. Adams fouled out shortly thereafter. With 9.6 left, Andre Roberson came up with a bucket; J. J. Redick had a nice open trey just before the horn, but Patrick Patterson, replacing Adams, swatted it away, and after Russell Westbrook missed two free throws, Patterson retrieved the ball and the Thunder won 119-117 in a mere 63 minutes. Which wouldn’t be a bad thing, except OKC has to head up to New York in the next half-hour or so.

The Westbrook line was even more startling than usual: 27-18-15, another triple-double, but he hit only five of 12 free throws and ten of 33 shots from the floor. (Knock that latter expression out of the team aggregate, and the rest of the team shot a bit over 46 percent. Three-pointers came down at a respectable rate: 15-35, 42 percent. The Sixers peppered the place, to little avail: 13 of 46. But Philly hit the normal stuff at a 44-percent rate, 2.4 percent over OKC.

The Sixers’ roster this year is a mix of raw youngsters and savvy veterans, and the starting five all showed in double figures while playing 48-plus minutes each; Embiid surpassed everyone with 34. Double-doubles for Robert Covington (11/10 boards) and Ben Simmons (12/11 dimes). About the only thing Philly didn’t show me was swingman Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot, which disappoints me mostly because I wanted to hear radio guy Matt Pinto try to say “Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot.”

The usual boys in blue contrbuted their usual share of the Thunder offense: Westbrook 27, Anthony 24 (11-17), and Paul George 24 (8-23). George played the least, a mere 45 minutes, but it’s going to be a long slog across New Jersey to get to Madison Square Garden.

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Not even plain

Back in the spring I stumbled across upon a singer named Jain, born in France and largely raised in Africa, whom, I said, was given to that which is “unbelievably catchy and yet visually implausible.” Her 2017 single, “Dynabeat,” matches those criteria almost perfectly:

Not originally included on her Zanaka album, it was dropped into the Deluxe Edition on the iTunes Store, at least in the States.

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Less is Moore

Dave Schuler (from Chicagoland) points out the following lessons of the Alabama special election:

1. Don’t chase after girls half your age.

2. Don’t even be open to the charge that you’ve chased 14 year old girls.

3. The bad or just dumb things you’ve done in the distant past can come back to haunt you, even if you’ve been given a pass on them for 30 years.

4. Don’t support a bad candidate for strategic reasons.

5. Don’t double down on your support for a bad candidate for strategic reasons.

6. There are some boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed even in presumably rock-solid states.

Anent item number two, Randy Newman says:

They say that money
Can’t buy love in this world
But it’ll get you a half-pound of cocaine
And a sixteen-year-old girl
And a great big long limousine
On a hot September night
Now that may not be love
But it’s all right

Newman wrote that at thirty-five, which strikes me as an age when you might take entirely too much interest in teenagers. Not that I’d know anything about that, of course.

The rule for robbing the cradle, as I learned it in the Deep South, was a minimum of half your age plus seven years. If your eye is on a 14-year-old girl, you need to be, um, at least 14. Damn math.

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Crazed criteria

Syntax nothwithstanding, you’d think this was a straightforward question:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: What is makes a battery good?

But no, this guy has an agenda the size of a farking wall:

I mean Laptop battery, one cost $18.00 in wallmart and the other one $119.00 plus taxes schipping and procesing, hundred dollars of difference what the F…

I really do need a battery the one that i have i paid 25 bucks in some dirty, dreadfull and flirty website place with no “trust” green sight and last two month only 2 years ago and now, i saw an 18 bucks battery in wallmart, what the hell…wait a minutes, everything in walmart are made in Mexico, mostly china or another country with dictatorial regimen support for Trump and his henchmen. That telling that something might be wrong with this particular battery, something smell like “chorizo” no good.

That is what my question about batteries is that for, thanks for bright me with your patient and intelligency, thanks a lot cuz google works schit on this peculiar issue.

I’d ask him for a source that details the Mexican government’s support for Donald Trump, but I’d have better luck asking the neighborhood ferret quantum-mechanics questions.

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Meanwhile in Chile

“Not to worry, compadres, we’ll have that gate open in no time!”

He wasn’t kidding, either.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Hoist a few at Jerry World

When do they have time to compile this information? A 60-minute game takes less than four hours:

The difference between Dallas and Boston appears to be 0.001% BAC, or about half a 3.2 near-beer. Biggest question in the replies: “What about the Bills?” The answer:

The original 2015 map was a viral sensation, drawing so much attention to the intoxicated activities of Buffalo’s fans that the Erie County Sheriff’s Office responded. It noted that the city had been working hard to clean things up around New Era Field, and our data confirms that. Buffalo, coming in hot at 0.76 BAC for No. 1 back in 2015, eased into 19th place this year, slightly below the league-wide average at .040. And that’s a trend that extends around the league. Average BAC is down from 0.47 to 0.40 compared to 2015. Further, this year’s “winner,” the Cowboys at 0.62, would have only tied for fifth-most intoxicated two years ago. Cheers to responsible drinking!

Not being an NFL fan, I simply question their decimal-point placements in several instances; 0.5 percent should be enough to kill you.

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Marginal raunch

At least, that’s how I saw it. The Egyptian authorities have sentenced singer Shyma and producer Mohamed Gamel to two years, presumably in separate slammers, and fined them each ten thousand pounds ($560) for taking part in this spectacle:

On a scale of one to Miley Cyrus, this is about a five; there’s a one-point penalty for the banana and #69 sight gags. Apparently the title translates to “I Have Issues”; if she didn’t before, I’ll bet she does now. Meanwhile, somewhere aroubd 60 percent of the YouTube thumbs are downturned, though a Frenchman in the comment section offered her asylum in his home country (“Qu’elle vienne se réfugier en France! Je la prends chez moi!”).

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All static, all the time (2)

From 2015: “Two years from now,” they predict, there will be no FM radio in Norway:

Norway’s Minister of Culture announced this week that a national FM-radio switch off will commence in 2017, allowing the country to complete its transition over to digital radio. It’s the end of an era.

As Radio.no notes, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) will provide Norwegian listeners more diverse radio channel content than ever before. Indeed, DAB already hosts 22 national channels in Norway, as opposed to FM radio’s five, and a TNS Gallup survey shows that 56% of Norwegian listeners use digital radio every day. While Norway is the first country in the world to set a date for an FM switch-off, other countries in Europe and Southeast Asia are also in the process of transitioning to DAB.

As of yesterday, the deed is essentially done:

Norway on Wednesday completed its transition to digital radio, becoming the first country in the world to shut down national broadcasts of its FM radio network despite some grumblings.

As scheduled, the country’s most northern regions and the Svalbard archipelago in the Arctic switched to Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) in the late morning, said Digitalradio Norge (DRN) which groups Norway’s public and commercial radio.

The transition, which began on January 11th, allows for better sound quality, a greater number of channels and more functions, all at a cost eight times lower than FM radio, according to authorities.

Downside: DAB receivers start at around €100; only about half of Norway’s motor vehicles are equipped with DAB; and at least some of the radio audience is missing in action:

According to a study cited by local media, the share of Norwegians who listen to the radio on a daily basis has dropped by 10 percent in one year, and public broadcaster NRK has lost 21 percent of its audience.

Some local stations, not affiliated with the DRN group, are still running their FM transmitters.

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Look what she made him do

That’s what he told the police, anyway:

The man accused of trying to stab someone with scissors in Downtown Portland [Oregon] on Sunday told officers that Taylor Swift “told me to kill him,” a court document states.

Officers were called out just before 11 a.m. on reports of a stabbing at NW 3rd Avenue and Burnside Street.

Witnesses told police that Brent Shannon Thicksten, 43, was acting menacingly toward people in the area. The victim said he feared for his safety and started running away, which is when Thicksten allegedly chased him.

The victim ended up with a cut to his lower back; police say he did not need to go to the hospital for treatment.

A probable cause affidavit states that Thicksten told officers his wife, Taylor Swift, “told me to kill him.”

A long list of ex-lovers will testify that TSwift is insane, but it must be stipulated that she’s never married anyone who tried to stab somebody with a pair of scissors, or who stole a pair of forklifts.

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Round about Circle City

Paul George, perhaps not surprisingly, was not greeted enthusiastically by his old team. (There was a little video strip before tipoff, with clips of famous Pacers of the past, and PG-13 wasn’t in it; eventually someone mentioned that exactly the same video ran last year.) Victor Oladipo, part of the Paul George trade, has been the big playmaker for Indiana this year; VO5 — excuse me, VO4 — did well tonight, if slightly below his 24-point average. With about 40 seconds left and the Thunder leading by two, Oladipo appeared to run into Josh Huestis; somehow, Thaddeus Young wound up shooting two free throws, making one. As the shot clock wound down, Alex Abrines put back a Russell Westbrook miss to make it a three-point game with 15 left. Five seconds later, PG-13 stole the rock, drew a foul, sank two freebies, and possibly emitted a smirk. The Pacers put up an air ball, and it ended with OKC up 100-95.

Thunder shooting was a blah 41 percent, and the bigger the name, the blah-er the stroke: PG went 3-14, Carmelo 4-14, Westbrook 3-17 (yet a triple-double, 10-17-14). Meanwhile, Abrines went 5-8, Steven Adams hit 11-16 for 23 points and reeled in 13 rebounds. For the Pacers. Oladipo was 9-18 for 26 points, Young an 11-10 double-double, and Domantas Sabonis, the other piece of that Paul George trade, came up with 8. Oddity: halfway through the fourth quarter, Indiana had made exactly one point from the free-throw line, from Myles Turner. (Had he made both shots, all five starting Pacers would have been in double figures, as were the Thunder starting five.)

Coming up: back-to-back against Philadelphia and New York, Friday and Saturday. The Sixers, one game over .500, figure to be the tougher of the two, but you never really know: most of us aren’t used to seeing Philly anywhere near being the favorite, but there they are, seventh in the East.

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Meanwhile in Kinshasa

Roberta X is still watching Mr. Robot, though not without issues:

I loathe the implied politics, the economics are risible, and the whole thing plays out as if Karl Marx and Noam Chomsky had done a screenplay for Atlas Shrugged — but then Orson Welles produced and directed it with a modern crew shooting and editing.

Once that’s said, you can tell there’s one of her legendary footnotes on the way, this one about the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

The DRC has been about as beat up by history as any other place on the planet, provided the other place has had very hard times. There are more French-speakers there than in France and over three-quarters of then are literate; the country is rich in natural resources from rubber trees to gold, diamonds and a host of other minerals and could generate enough power to transform the continent from a single hydroelectric project — a project that seems to keep getting stalled. Everyone from local slavers to King Leopold II of Belgium to their own government has abused the people and looted local sources of wealth, along with a succession of local wars continuing into this century; what could be one of the world’s wealthiest nations is instead a country with less than a thousand miles of well-paved highway. Of course, the show could be referring to the Republic of the Congo instead, which had a long history as a communist client state. But there’s a lot less there in the way of exploitable resources and none of it glows in the dark.

And they’re close by: Kinshasa (once Léopoldville), the capital of the DRC, is right across the Congo River from Brazzaville, the capital of the Republic Of. (For OKC Thunder fan reference: Serge (Air Congo) Ibaka hailed from Brazzaville. Interestingly, he plays for the Spanish national team.)

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Learning to conform

I noted last week that it’s really quite all right to be different. Then again, I am sixty-four years old. It’s harder to reach that conclusion if you’re fifty years younger than that:

One form of bullying — one form I experienced a lot as a kid — is for people to find something about you that is DIFFERENT, and to harp on that difference. And it gets to the point where even if you liked being different in that way at the outset, you come to hate it, because the fact that you don’t fit in, that this other person sees you as weird, is being shoved in your face day in and day out. Few adults are strong enough to stand up to that, and even fewer kids.

(I will present as an exhibit: how in 7th grade I forced myself to listen to “top 40 radio” even though I hated it, because I felt like I needed to know what songs and artists were popular, and I knew that the kids thought I was weird because I listened to WCLV instead, and that I liked classical music. Yeah, I did something I hated in the name of seeming more “normal.” Spoiler alert: it didn’t work.)

I had my own issues in seventh grade, one of which was still being nine years old at the beginning of the first semester. I did not take it well. And being so far chronologically offset from the rest of the class, I didn’t quite fit in with the Scarifyingly Heterosexual school activities, which led some to murmur that I might be happier with the boys. Not them, of course. It is a measure of how bad off I was socially that I didn’t realize what they were saying until several years later.

Plato probably didn’t actually say “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” but the statement is still a good and a true one. And it seems that as the world becomes harder and colder (or appears to have), more and more people are forgetting to be kind — or are deciding not to, in the interest of getting ahead/getting someone to notice them/throwing a punch before someone throws it at THEM … and, it just doesn’t HELP.

This latter paragraph is about fifty-five percent of Twitter, and about eighty-five percent of political Twitter.

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Contributory stupidity

A couple of Florida legislators would make it illegal to have your car stolen. Not for the thieves — that’s already in the books — but for you:

Last week, State Representative Wengay Newton and Senator Perry Thurston introduced matching proposals (House Bill 927 and Senate Bill 1112) that would make leaving your car unattended without stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key a second-degree misdemeanor. Under the Florida statute, the crime would be punishable with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

“This is ground zero. There’s no more cars stolen anywhere in the state, then they are right here in St. Petersburg,” Newton told WFTS in an interview. “Shut your engine off, lock your engine, and take your keys. There’s a good chance when you get back out there, your car might be there.”

Would the threat of a $500 fine make you more protective of your $25,000 car?

Yeah, that’s what I thought. Then again:

Pinellas County arrested juveniles 499 times for stealing cars in 2015, which was more than anywhere else in Florida and exceptionally high compared to other parts of the country. It’s become a serious issue for locals, especially since the Tampa Bay Times ran numerous stories suggesting most cars stolen by teens were left unlocked by their owners with the keys inside.

When in doubt, blame da yoots.

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In Swiftness and in health

So I was moving 438 pictures of Taylor Swift to their own directory, and I was forced to ask myself: “Self, why do I have four hundred thirty-eight pictures of Taylor Swift?”

No answer. But since it is her birthday, here are nine of ’em.

Nine pictures of Taylor Swift

That first split-personality whateveritis was pieced together by someone going by the name of “Chief”; I think he did this for deviantArt.

As usual, you can embiggen any individual photo with a simple click.

And happy birthday, Taylor.

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Writing for one’s trunk

Few of today’s scribes, says Francis W. Porretto, will be remembered as “great”:

In part that’s because there are so many writers today, if we allow the title to anyone who’s ever emitted a Kindle eBook. But in larger measure, it’s because there’s a whole lot of detritus obscuring good storytelling in our time. It begins with emphasis on “style.” It ends with “message fiction.” In the middle are the emissions of critics, most of whom couldn’t compose a comprehensible note to their mothers, and literary prizes most commonly awarded by prize juries on the basis of personal acquaintances, commonality of style, and “politically correct” sentiments.

Most of the garbage will get caught in the filter of time. The good stuff will be read by generations to come. Their readers will select from those survivors which books and writers are to be called great. We won’t be given a vote, except by what we choose to buy, read, and recommend to one another today.

And the contents of our future shortlist might well surprise our present-day selves.

“Message fiction” ranges from innocuous to inane to insulting. Every subgroup of the species apparently has to have its own subgenre. Amazon sent me a couple of snippets of what passes for “nudist fiction,” because algorithm A happened to collide with algorithm B. From what I’ve seen, these stories exist because otherwise-uninteresting people in their birthday suits want to read about other otherwise-uninteresting people in their birthday suits. (And there’s Stranger in a Strange Land, in which Valentine Michael Smith is perfectly comfortable when skyclad, but that’s about as minor a plot point as exists anywhere in Heinlein.) I did read a perfectly scurrilous novella about the secret love life of Donald J. Trump, but it did have its amusing points, and more important, it wasn’t intended to make any political points at any level anyone would consider serious. Authors who want to Save The World are doing readers no favors.

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More than twice as many

If you have reached a Certain Age, you probably remember your crummy little box of eight Crayola crayons, and you took pain to point out to the parental units that a box of sixty-four could be had, with an actual sharpener built into the box. Truly, you knew, this was the Cadillac of crayons.

And so it remained, until such time as it didn’t:

Crayola box of 152

So much for the box of 64. This humongous container is bound to meet every conceivable crayon need and satisfy any possible combination of kids.

Until they see this:

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