Archive for February 2011

Just zis guy, you know?

Laura Wattenberg at the Baby Names Blog was apparently conflicted over this particular name:

Is a two-headed alien a good enough reason to keep such an unlikely name in our baby name encyclopedia? My first instinct was no, but my husband disagreed. A certain sort of person, he argued, will indeed want to learn about the name Zaphod. He works for Google, so I accept his expertise on that “certain sort of person.” It made me wonder … has anyone actually named a baby in honor of Mr. Beeblebrox?

Sure enough, the U.K. is home to at least three Zaphods and even more boys with that middle name, all born since the Hitchhiker’s series premiered.

In terms of “geek purity,” the name has a great deal to recommend it, she says:

[T]he original Zaphod wasn’t some sleek, all-powerful force of light or darkness. He had a self-confident charm, but was voted “Worst Dressed Sentient Being in the Known Universe” seven times.

Having seen entirely too many Magic: The Gathering sessions in my day, I have to figure that Beeblebrox had to work really hard for that accolade.

And now I wonder if any of those young Zaphods were dubbed Zaphod the Fourth.

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From the How Could I Not? files

First, there’s the name: Abi Titmuss. Just made for Rule 5. She turns 35 today; over the years, she’s been a nurse, a glamour model, a television presenter, and an actress, though maybe not a baker:

Abi Titmuss at the oven

Oh, by the way, it’s short for “Abigail.” And I’m throwing in this quote from her official blog:

I play a lesbian home wrecker who dabbles with the ouija board.. typecast again!!

I am so not going there.

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Revenge of the Care Bears

The Grizzlies have had their soft moments this season, which prompted Basketbawful to dub them the Care Bears. (Then again, you should see some of the things they call the Sacramento Kings — or maybe you shouldn’t.) In the last minute of this brouhaha at the Snowbound Later Arena, the score was tied at 95, and three really bad possessions (two by the Thunder, one by Memphis) later, it was still tied at 95. Several equally ghastly exchanges followed in overtime, but the Griz were slightly less ghastly, and Mike Conley iced the deal with three of four free throws in the waning moments, making their way out of town with a 105-101 victory over the Thunder.

And Memphis did this without Rudy Gay (sprained toe) or O. J. Mayo (suspended). Moreover, they did this without controlling the boards — the Griz were outrebounded 58-36 — and without a whole lot of help from their bench. Still, all five Memphis starters came up with double figures, with Zack Randolph posting a serious 31 points and 14 rebounds, and Tony Allen recording 27 points and five steals. And the Telling Statistic: the Griz turned the ball over only nine times.

Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook dropped the rock eight times by himself; the Thunder gave up twenty-three turnovers. Westbrook had a decent night otherwise, with 21 points and 11 dimes, and Kevin Durant poured in 31 points while pulling down ten boards. And how did Jeff Green do? Uncle Jeff had an off night, with seven points and seven rebounds. The bench did what they could: Serge Ibaka snagged 14 boards, James Harden dropped in 13 points, and Nick Collison was physical enough to foul out. But still: 23 turnovers? That’s enough to give the Griz almost a whole ‘nother Z-Bo.

There follows a weekend trip to the Left Coast, with stops at Excremento (whoops!) and Golden State; then it’s back home Tuesday against the Kings.

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Thermal blues

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Hang a right at Normandy

Joan Baez’ hilarious “Time Rag”, from 1977, contains this bit of fantasy:

I scribbled it down on the wall calendar
And wondered about my interviewer
Maybe he’d be just a real nice guy
Bright and sympathetic with a roving eye
We’d forget all about the assignment due
Formalities, photos, and the interview
We’d hop on into his big rent-a-car
Go for a lovely drive, not far … maybe France

Oh, yeah. Right across the Gulf Stream. Fortunately, we have good tires.

And yet the idea still has resonance:

I said, “I’m taking you out to dinner.”

“Great!” he said. “Where?”

“My favorite restaurant,” I said.

“GREAT!!!” he said. “Where?”

“It’s in France,” I said.

He was silent for a moment. “Oh … I guess we won’t be driving.”

“Actually,” I said, “we will.”

Admittedly, I’m still lame enough to think proposing on the Jumbotron is cool, but what the hell: why not drive to France? (They flew to Paris, rented a car, and drove six hours to a little Breton village called Dinan.)

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And for goodness’ sake, stand up straight

Former NCO and current fashionista Erin offers some ways to polish up your look:

After 8 years in the military, I learned that your boots CAN be too shiny. The right jacket can always pull an outfit together. It is dorky to wear a cap completely straight on your head. All hats look better tilted somewhat rakishly atop your noggin. A little metal and shine on your outfit is almost always a good idea. Keep a little bourbon in your desk drawer. (That’s not really fashion advice, but it’s just good life advice in general. In case of apocalypse, you can trade it for ammo.)

Probably wouldn’t work on zombies, but hardly anything not involving high-velocity projectiles does.

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Perhaps a salty public official

There is a tradition in American cities, large and small, of naming municipal buildings after former city officials. Fort Wayne, Indiana is definitely an American city. They are not, however, inclined to name their new facility after their longest-serving mayor:

Despite garnering far more support in an online poll than the thicket of other suggestions, residents shouldn’t expect Fort Wayne’s new government center to be named after the city’s longest tenured mayor.

Deputy Mayor Beth Malloy said naming 200 E. Berry St. the Harry Baals Government Center was “probably not” going to happen.

Harry W. Baals served three terms as Mayor of Fort Wayne, from 1934 to 1947, and a fourth beginning in 1951. (He died from a kidney ailment in 1954.) Maybe they think he has enough of a memorial at Johnny Appleseed Park, located at Coliseum Boulevard and Harry Baals Drive.

Addendum: Noting that in an unofficial city Web poll, Eugene Johnson was running second to Baals, JammieWearingFool asks: “So they could still name the building after a guy named Johnson, but not Baals?”

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There can be only, um, several

The Hill reports on Rep. Allen West’s upcoming appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference:

By choosing West, CPAC sends an interesting message. The Florida freshman hasn’t been afraid to clash with the GOP leadership in the House, and he enjoys a unique status as just one of two black Republicans elected in the House.

Robert Stacy McCain is not enjoying this particular grammatical construction:

Uh, that word “unique” has an actual definition. If there are two of something, it’s not “unique.”

I fear McCain may be fighting a losing battle here: the grammarians will back him to the hilt, but ultimately usage rules.

By coincidence, last night I finished up Origins of the Specious: Myths and Misconceptions of the English Language, by Patricia T. O’Connor and Stewart Kellerman (New York: Random House, 2009). On the question of “unique”:

I think there’s a case to be made for using qualifiers with some absolute terms. Think of the expression “a more perfect union,” from the Preamble to the Constitution. The Founders weren’t talking about improving on perfection, but about striving toward perfection. So something that isn’t perfect can still be more perfect than something else. But the essence of “unique” is its uniqueness. I’m a strict Constitutionalist on this. I won’t qualify “unique,” and I certainly won’t use it to describe something that’s merely unusual, like a hole in one or a triple play. I know the horse is out of the barn here, but I wish it would come back home. In the original sense, there’s just no other word like “unique.”

O’Connor and Kellerman also operate the Grammarphobia Blog.

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Into the blend wall with you

I’m starting to think that education is the new ethanol: there’s always some legislative tool on hand to try to give the gravy train just a little bit more acceleration.

This year’s bludgeon is Senator Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah), who ran against Dan Boren in the OK 2 primary last year, presumably outraged by Boren’s insufficient leftishness. His instructions this year: do something about those damned homeschoolers.

Both SB 393 and SB 394 are nominally about “school attendance,” though all 393 does is delete the existing homeschool exemption from truancy laws, and 394 requires that parents of homeschoolers report to their local districts, once at the beginning of the school year, and once every semester after that to report on “academic progress.” (Text in Rich Text Format for any Oklahoma senate bill can be had here.)

I must point out that this isn’t some nifty new idea cooked up in the back room of the OEA: last year Mary Easley (D-Tulsa) introduced a bill very much like Wilson’s SB 394, prompting Brandon Dutcher to respond:

I happened to notice some empty parking lots at an Edmond public school this morning as I was driving in to work. Apparently the public schools are closed today due to inclement weather. So I was thinking you might want to consider a friendly amendment to your bill: If ever the public schools would like to notify me that they are not educating children on a given day, they could contact me at my office. It’s best not to call our home phone, as my wife is busy teaching during the day and doesn’t like to answer the phone.

Nor is this restricted to Oklahoma, either: Senator Edward D. Maloney (D-Chicago) has introduced a bill in the Illinois legislature which would require all students not in the public-school systems to register with the State Board of Education.

And none of this is a surprise, after all: if government is willing to compel you to spend money for questionable schools, it’s certainly willing to compel you to spend money for questionable fuel and questionable health-care coverage.

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You could call it a spending reduction

The First Lady goes on NBC’s Today Show, and somehow it’s news-y:

The first lady donned a navy polka dot knee-length day dress with a ruffled collar by Swedish retail chain H&M. The dress is part of their current collection and retails for $34.95. She paired the dress with a thick red belt and yellow kitten heels. It appears she did not wear the red sash that accompanies the dress.

Let’s take a look:

Michelle Obama with Matt Lauer on the Today Show 2-9-11

Now there are those who think Mrs O should strictly Buy American, but this is a pretty good look for her, although the belt, seemingly as always, hits her at the wrong place — and hey, she saved a few bucks, which in contemporary Washington is something which should be encouraged.

(Found in the tweetstream.)

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Why you don’t want a flying car

Or, at least, why he doesn’t want a flying car:

Lets say, I have a vehicle that is 20+ years old. Should I be driving it one day, and something happens to make it stop running, I simply pollute the air with some appropriate words, and coast off the side of the road.

If, however, my FLYING 20 year old car should stop working, it’s going to fall.

Actually, this would also happen were it 20 hours old, but the point is clear.

That said, some perfectly-wonderful people fly aircraft, and seem to survive.

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Al Sharif don’t like it

Apparently there is a protocol for assigning names to camels:

“Ibil” and “Hijen” are the most common names given to both genders and camels of all sizes. From these, new names branch out according to the size, development stage and characteristics of the camel.

Seems reasonable. More specifically:

“Al Mataya” or “Al Rahila” is a name given to a young camel that people can ride. “Al Shamlal” is for a camel that is light and fast, and “Al Sharif” is for a camel that is old, tired and slow.

Me, I’m just grateful that no one mentioned “My Humps.”

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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Where is the love?

And how often do I get to do two Black Eyed Peas references in semi-rapid succession?

ESPN SportsNation screen shot

I gotta feeling New Mexico just doesn’t give a damn.

(Via FAIL Blog.)

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Snow has a decidedly-unpleasant effect on me, as does winter generally; among other things, it causes me to turn inward, meaning I miss some of the things around me, such as last week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 411th in the series, which was titled “CoTVing in 2 feet of snow.” Which is a figure you don’t see often in Oklahoma, except over the last ten days.

By the time this is up, #412 will likely be ready to go, so to cover both these numbers, here’s a Volkswagen Type 4, which first appeared in 1968 as the 411, replaced by the 412 in 1972. I assume that, like pretty much all rear-engined VeeDubs, it was good in the snow.

Volkswagen Type 4

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons.)

Update: And now, #412.

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What’s up, Doak?

Newly-hatched Commissioner of Insurance John Doak wants you to know that “Valentines Day’s Life-Changing Moments Prompt Several Insurance Questions.” At least, he wants me to know that: one of his underlings sent me an email to that effect, accompanied by a Microsoft Word file, two pages, over 600 kb.

Now few things on earth will get you into my spam filter faster than sending me a Word .doc, especially a copy of something that should be on your Web site at … no, wait, I’m not seeing it on the site at all.

But I am seeing this:

Attention Users: This site is best viewed in Internet Explorer 7 at 1024 by 768 resolution.

If you do not have Internet Explorer 7, you can download it here for free.

As though I wasn’t already irritated by the guy.

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Whir art thou

Brian J. Noggle is positioning himself as the Nigel Tufnel of baking:

The authors use the mandate tense and order me to do a lot of different things to the poor ingredients, but I am a simple man, with a simple Oster hand mixer that goes to six. As such, whatever the verb in the recipe, seriously, they can’t mean anything but “Mix at 6,” can they?

  • Cream the eggs and butter? Set the mixer to six.
  • Fold the nuts into the batter? Set the mixer to six.
  • Combine the flour and spices? Put on a dust mask and set the mixer to six.
  • Chop the walnuts? Set the mixer to six and chase them around the bowl until they’re small.

Alas, I can only aspire to this level of Tufnelity, though my five-speed mixer — unless OFF counts as a speed — has, yes, 11 little descriptive labels along its slide switch, although two of them are “WHIP,” which suggests an imperative of its own.

And contrary to popular belief, I did not select this model, which is almost exactly the same age as my toaster, on the basis of Lickable Beater Surface. Though, you know, I could have.

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The perils of single source, revisited

You may remember this from a couple months ago:

Since this machine and its support were spun off to Infoprint, the quality of OEM ribbons has dropped dramatically: they’re severely overinked and tend to leak onto the paper. Infoprint alleges that no one else is having a problem with these things, implying that it’s Somebody Else’s Problem. Yeah, right. If I call in a tech to examine the situation, about 15 seconds at most will elapse before he notices the droplets of ink oozing out of the fabric.

Sooner or later, excess ink will do pretty much what you think it will do, and I did indeed call in a tech from Infoprint. He stared at the machine in disbelief, as though I’d asked him to restore some hulking relic from a back-street bazaar in Mozambique. We’re talking filth flarn filth. [Not even slightly safe for work.]

Amazed that this could be caused by OEM ribbons, he dialed up Level 2 support, and they said, probably laconically, “Yeah, all the production run, June, July and September twenty ten, it’s overinked.”

So now I have to hunt down a box of ribbons with the Proper Date. I am, however, vindicated.

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Quote of the week

Once in a while, I should probably point out that selection for QOTW doesn’t necessarily mean I endorse whatever it is I’m quoting: occasionally, though admittedly not that often, I’ll put up something with which I have a problem, which thereby gives me the excuse to kvetch about it.

That said, the Friar and I are very much in agreement on this one:

If we’re going to have this many snowstorms of the century during my lifetime, I expect to have at least that many centuries of actual lifetime. To whom do I address this request?

Along those lines, a story once — well, rather a lot more than once, actually — told by a family member:

So I loaded the truck bed with snow and started driving south. The first time someone yelled, “Hey, mister, what’s that white stuff in the back of your truck?” that’s where I settled down, and I’ve been here ever since.

Guess it’s time to move.

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Not a pyramid scheme

I caught this thread on Fark earlier this week:

Ok. I’m an ass. But, I haven’t watched the news in about month. Who can summarize the Egypt thing in one paragraph?

The departure of Hosni Mubarak — not to be confused with “Hose me, Mubarak,” which really should have been a Falco song — would seem to necessitate a second paragraph. But I admit, I’m just as much overtaken by events. I put this up on Facebook Thursday night, and it’s already obsolete:

Hosni Mubarak, demotivationally

Still, three minutes in Microsoft Paint (!) for a brief jape? I’m okay with that.

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Further out of stock

NASCAR is cutting carbs left and right:

What’s this newfangled techno-wizardry we’re talking about? Fuel injection.

For the first time since the series kicked off in 1947, the so-called stock cars that travel full-throttle around tracks all across America will abandon their carburetors in favor of an Engine Control Unit sourced from McLaren and a computer processor from Freescale. That tandem reportedly beat out eight rival bids.

Note: “an” ECU and “a” computer processor. This is, of course, consistent with recent NASCAR practice:

[O]nly approved software can be run and [NASCAR] will have special electronic tools at its disposal during every event to ensure the legality of all ECUs.

Any bets on when full Robo-Drivers® will be deployed?

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No leprechauns involved

There is, however, Pot of Gold:

Pot of Gold by Seychelles

Seychelles’ Pot of Gold is a classic T-strap pump, leather and satin, with cutouts at presumed points of interest and a conical, stacked 3½-inch heel. Nordstrom sells it for a modest $89.95. I do know at least one woman who wants this shoe.

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Deckly speaking

Oh, wait, that’s, a facility built into the latest TweetDeck which enables you to sneer at the sacred 140-character limit.

Overly (note: not long tweets have been possible before now, but I’ve never quite seen the need for them: I have, as the phrase goes, other avenues open to me.

I admit here that I’ve used it once, mostly to see if it worked. (It did.) But there’s a lot to be said for keeping it short and sweet: Motown, by and large, started to get less interesting once Berry Gordy decided it was okay to put out singles longer than three and a half minutes.

Besides, as Sissy Willis says:

We commend the Twitter staff for responding in record time with an option to disable the bug feature for us purists who share Thomas Jefferson’s view that “the most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.

Hear, hear. Or just: “hear.”

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Saturday spottings (get a whiff of this)

The city has not issued a formal estimate of how much this double-play Snow Monster has drained its coffers, but I’m going ahead with a Scientific Wild-Assed Guess of $15 million, as follows:

  • Overtime for sand truck and snowplow crews: $1,250,000.
  • Sand: $1,362.
  • Repairing 90 percent of the fresh potholes: $13,748,638.

I figure ten percent of the potholes will be missed entirely, or will have to be repaired yet again after a spring rain.

Speaking of snow, whoever first described something as “pure as the driven snow” had obviously never driven in any. Rather a lot of folks who found the stuff amazingly filthy were lined up at car washes today, which I didn’t find inexplicable, exactly, but it seemed like such a waste: you can’t go 500 yards without running into a puddle of something wet and splattery, and there goes the $2/$5/$40/whatever you paid for a few minutes of the pristine.

And then, having threaded my way through the running water at the supermarket parking lot, I began the day’s Shopping Adventure, which contained something perhaps a little more inexplicable: youngish couple (with smallish child) are positioned in the laundry-products aisle — no, not in the middle of it, thank heaven — and while she watches with what appears to be amused detachment, he opens up jugs of detergent at random and sniffs.

“There are times when I think they’re all pretty rancid,” I offered, to no discernible effect.

I didn’t hang around for an explanation — I grabbed a bottle of Era and moved on — but I’m guessing it’s something like this: family was visiting his mom and dad, they got stuck there when the snow came down, and now that they’re home, he wants that same smell he got when his mom did their wash for them.

This could easily be solved by a phone call (“Yeah, we were wondering what brand of detergent you use”), but guys don’t ask directions either.

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And it’s not even Wednesday

Christina Ricci is thirty years old today, which means that all that Addams Family stuff is more than half a lifetime ago.

Besides, she’s long since developed a look of her own, deployed here at the 2009 premiere of Brüno:

Christina Ricci at the Bruno premiere 2009

Still, some of that wicked ingenuity that served her well in the house of Gomez and Morticia was there from the very beginning:

When her elementary school held auditions for The Twelve Days of Christmas, Ricci was in danger of losing the lead to another kid. So she hatched a plot only slightly more diabolical than the one she would later act out in The Opposite of Sex. Ricci taunted her rival so much that he socked her. When she tattled, he lost the part.

Clearly this is a woman with whom one does not mess.

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It’s a T party

The Kings dominated this one early, which should be no surprise to anyone who’s paid any attention to the Thunder lately: they’ve had some seriously weak first-quarter defense of late. Eric Maynor took care of that with a half-court shot to close out the quarter, putting OKC up 27-24; they would not trail again, despite some anxious moments, and they got the win in Sacramento, 99-97.

What was most remarkable about this game was not Maynor’s 50-footer, nifty as it was, but the sheer number of technicals handed out: Maynor got one, Serge Ibaka got another, Russell Westbrook got yet another. (Didn’t seem to be a plot by the officials, since Tyreke Evans also got one.) Evans was making his presence known early on, and he put in more minutes (46) than anyone else. He got two of three free throws with 39 seconds left to pull the Kings within four, and when the Thunder couldn’t come back with a score, Evans delivered another layup. Kevin Durant earned a trip to the foul line with 5.9 left, but sent up a pair of bricks. Evans fired a trey for the win, which didn’t land, Omar Casspi tried to put it back, but that was the end of it.

Six Kings hit double figures, led by Evans with 30; DeMarcus Cousins got the only double-double of the night, with 14 points and 12 rebounds. Sacramento got most of the rebounds (49-36), most of the assists (18-12), and that late 12-2 run; had this game gone to overtime, I suspect the Kings would have won it handily.

Durant, in spite of those chunks of masonry — he missed five of 13 from the line — still managed to accumulate 35 points; Westbrook came up with 22 before disappearing late, Maynor running the point towards the end. (As of this writing, no one has explained why.) If you buy this plus/minus stuff, consider this: all the Thunder starters finished minus, all the bench players finished plus. James Harden had 11 points and five steals; Maynor finished with nine points. The Uncle Jeff factor: Green had eight points and four boards, which might qualify as “meh.”

It’s tomorrow night at Golden State, then back home to play these same Kings on Tuesday. It’s not going to be any easier, I suspect.

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Real fungi

Marko Kloos lays down some well-deserved smack on Chris Lee, formerly representing the 26th District of New York, and on any subsequent dimwits with the same M.O.:

If you’re in a high-profile public job like, say, Member of Congress, and you use your real name while trolling Craigslist for some extra-marital action, you are dumber than a tub of mushrooms, and I wouldn’t trust you to run my checkbook, much less the affairs of the nation.

Extra credit for guessing which phrase can be left out entirely without changing the truth of the matter.

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Battle of the Belge

It was some years ago that a Mr St John of Huntingdon said he couldn’t think of anything more derogatory than “Belgians.” I don’t know about that, but right now, Belgium is in a dead heat with Somalia for “Longest period without a proper government,” the parliamentary elections having been held way back in June, and yet there’s still no coalition.

Senator Lysistrata Marleen Temmerman has proposed the following measure to push things along, as it were:

A Belgian senator and physician wants her fellow legislators to go on a “sex strike” until the country can break the stalemate that has left it without a government for nine months.

Marleen Temmerman’s “legs closed” campaign started as a joke, she told the Star on Wednesday. Now she can only hope it might work where everything else has failed.

“It sounds funny, but the situation is very serious. We have to get a government. There are people crying in the streets for services.”

Belgium is pretty much fragmented for the moment: there are distinct Walloon (Francophone) and Flemish (Dutch-speaking) regions, each with a measure of autonomy and neither with a great deal of fondness for the other. (Brussels, the capital, is officially bilingual.) Temmerman, judging by her Web site, is Flemish; a stance like this would suggest that she’s not among the separatists who would like to see the country split into Whatta Walloonia and Stupid Flanders.

And it’s not like there are no role models:

“We have two cultures, but everywhere in the world people are living with different cultures. Look at Canada. You have a government, why can’t we?”

The Parti Québécois was not available for comment.

This represents a change from earlier in the month, when Temmerman played the perhaps-inevitable “Can’t you guys take a joke?” card, prompting a retort from Jeroen Overmeer, who heads up the New Flemish Alliance, which won a parliamentary plurality but which has yet to form a government:

“Ordinary people may joke about the political situation, but members of parliament have a greater responsibility.”

But Temmerman responded: “I see two different groups of people here. You have people who see the humor who can laugh about it. And you have people who don’t see the humor of it at all.”

(Via Ferdinand Barduma, who made the Aristophanes connection before I did, and Erlend Johan Alvestad, who found the followup.)

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Balls for me, but not for thee

Polite little story from Great Falls’ Prairie Star:

According to Anne Key who ranches with her husband, Tom, near Great Falls, Mont., lambing is in full swing and it is going great.

“We had tagged the 200th lamb on Jan. 28,” she said. That was the start of a crazy weekend. By Monday, Jan. 31, they had tagged 40 more lambs and the tiny fluff balls are still coming.

Dynamo Dave wanted to throw in a kind word for those “tiny fluff balls,” but the Prairie Star wasn’t having any of that:

“Your comment cannot be accepted due to the presence of profanity. Please remove any objectionable content from your comment and try again.”

Speaking of comments, the late Harry W. Baals was not available for any.

Be that as it may, our best wishes to the Keys.

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And worth every scent

Axe display at Walmart

And they say Walmart doesn’t know what they’re doing.

(Via FAIL Blog.)

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Big shots

Well, maybe not all that big, but the Warriors put up a lot of shots: tonight in Oakland they put up 99 of them, and David Lee’s dunk with 21 seconds left was the 99th, putting Golden State up by four. Monta Ellis added two more free throws in the waning moments, and that was it: OKC turned the ball over on its next possession, and will be sent home with a 100-94 loss.

The Warriors hit 43 of those 99 shots. Of the ones they didn’t, twenty got turned into offensive rebounds. (The Thunder had only two offensive rebounds all night.) Then again, this is what they do; Oklahoma City didn’t have any effective way to shut them off.

Ellis led all scorers with 33; as is his wont, he played almost the entire game (45:46). Lee recorded 23 points and 19 rebounds; Stephen Curry had 23 points and 13 assists. (The Thunder had only 15 assists all night). There wasn’t much more, but the Warriors didn’t need much more.

OKC put up only 59 shots; they hit 31, for 52.5 percent, but they got creamed on the backboards, and the three top scorers — as usual, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green — produced 29, 21 and 12. That last turnover was the Thunder’s 20th, and that number is pretty scary in its own right.

So a split of the California trip, and now back home to await the Kings, followed by the All-Star break. At 34-19, the Thunder is still on pace for 52-53 wins, but the schedule isn’t going to get a whole lot easier.

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Strange search-engine queries (263)

If you’re just joining us, this is a weekly routine wherein we acknowledge the fact that rather a lot of traffic comes from inadvertent search hits on the archives, and that some of said searches are downright hilarious, or at least somewhat loopy.

this is not a valentine:  If you have to ask, you’re not getting any. Valentines, I mean.

tim mcgraw penis:  I consider this purely a matter of Faith’s.

is there nude women at the pennsylvania renaissance faire:  That would take all the fun out of making medieval costumes, wouldn’t it?

beautiful woman expensive clothes duing housework sexy vids:  If she can afford expensive clothes, she might be able to afford paying someone else to do (not “du”) the housework.

does chikfilet have wifi at racetrack in Kansas city:  This is the first warning sign of I Won’t Go Anywhere Without My Precious Device Syndrome.

middle aged amature ugly slut women who fart and then shit on the toilet tubes:  That’s a good way to get yourself banned from Chick-Fil-A.

why are democrats called jackasses:  It’s a sexist thing. Many Democrats are actually female.

wood chuck chucking wood osha:  The woodchuck was fined $10,000 and was required to obtain EPA certification for any future such incidents.

hydrochlorothiazide marijauna:  Instead of giving you the munchies, it makes you go to the bathroom every two hours.

96 2500 can i bore the motor:  Sure. Just start reading this page out loud with the hood open.

Oh, and to the wisenheimer in Edmond who asked for zooey deschanel:  Well, duh.

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He only loves me for my can

Diet Pepsi has introduced a new beverage can. Same volume, but taller than the industry average; the rules of geometry being what they are, it’s also narrower than average, and you can predict what happens next:

The National Eating Disorders Association said it takes offense to the can.

Reinforcing stereotypes, doncha know, especially the one where women are “more attractive if they appear to be five or six inches high, a little thinner than the usual Pepsi can, and made of aluminum.”

Obviously what these poor, overwrought ladies need is to lap their empty calories out of a short, squat bowl, which won’t upset their worldview quite so much as something Disgustingly Skinny.

Me, I’ll go pour another Dr Pepper.

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Thoroughly crushed

Those of us who have loved neither too wisely nor too well have perhaps an enhanced sensitivity to the Classic American Crush, the heart demanding an object of fixation to fill an otherwise-empty space, and the eyes alighting on just such an object at exactly the wrong time. Recounting the full list of those who have unwittingly filled this role for me would be painful for me and probably embarrassing for them, so for the moment I’ll confine myself to fictional characters.

When I was eleven, Freddy Cannon put out a bizarre little stomper called “Abigail Beecher,” a name positively redolent of Victorian gentility: you half-expected her to be teaching history in some classroom with dark-paneled walls and a blackboard so old it was actually green. Well, that much she did; but according to Freddy, she drove a Jaguar E-type, was conversant with contemporary teenage dance steps, and occasionally even surfed. Not a Van Halenesque object of lust, exactly, but someone you couldn’t possibly ignore, especially if you were an Impressionable Youth.

Officially in those days I didn’t know much about history, mostly because I was getting my romantic advice from Sam Cooke. So I spent some time in contemplation of what Art Fleming on Jeopardy! called “unreal estate,” which inevitably led me to Mrs Darrin Stephens, of whom I would write at the tender age of fifty-one:

For a squirrelly little kid like me who never imagined himself with so much as a temporary girlfriend, a “card-carrying, broom-riding, house-haunting, cauldron-stirring witch” was exactly the ticket to suburban happiness, and that doofus Durwood, or whatever his name was, simply wasn’t worthy of someone like that.

For the moment, I overlooked the likelihood of clashes with the in-laws, but who doesn’t?

Still, both Miss Beecher and Mrs Stephens were older and wiser than I, and eventually my teenage self turned to someone my own age and my own level of bewilderment: Cassandra Mortmain, narrator of Dodie Smith’s novel I Capture the Castle, who explains her situation in the opening pages of the Sixpenny Book:

[U]p to now my stories have been very stiff and self-conscious. The only time father obliged me by reading one of them, he said I combined stateliness with a desperate attempt to be funny. He told me to relax and let the words flow out of me.

Apparently Mr Mortmain had anticipated my own style by several years. And ultimately poor Cassandra is waylaid by a crush of her own, which unwinds in the most torturous of ways — except for the fact that, well, it doesn’t. Of these three women, she’s the one I’ve had the least success getting over.

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Occupational hazards

Earlier this month, I said something to the effect that Her Majesty’s Government was putting entirely too much effort into “making life easier for the criminal element.”

Just in case you assumed I was engaging in the fine art of hyperbole, here’s a fresh example of what I mean:

A spate of thefts in several towns and villages in Kent and Surrey over the past few months led to many householders taking action to protect their property.

Some have been warned by police that using wire mesh to reinforce shed windows was “dangerous” and could lead to criminals claiming compensation if they “hurt themselves”.

Now in a civilized area, this situation doesn’t come up, as Peter explains:

Anyone trying to break into my shed is likely to encounter a rather more effective deterrent than window mesh. In fact, he might find it so effective that he’ll never burgle a shed again!

And that’s the bonus benefit: a very low recidivism rate.

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The next big thing, Part XCIV

Jeffrey Zeldman is kicking in a few bucks to an application called Readability. No big deal? Don’t be too sure:

Readability focuses the user’s attention on the content, creating an enhanced — and often much more accessible — reading experience. It also subverts the typical web browsing design paradigm, where each website offers a different visual experience. Instead, to the Readability user, all web content looks the same, once she has clicked a button to engage the Readability view.

Web designers are even now falling on their swords. But that’s barely the half of it:

What Readability 2.0 adds to the mix is automatic payment for content creators. How it works is simple: I pay a small fee each month to use Readability. Most of that money gets divided between the creators of the web pages I’ve viewed in Readability.

For “most,” you can read “70 percent.” And there goes another paradigm:

For the first time, content monetization is no longer the problem of content creators. Writers can stop being salespeople, and focus on what they do best: creating compelling content. The better the content, the more people who engage with it via Readability, the more money writers will make — with no bookkeeping, no ad sales, and no hassle.

I have to admit, I am intrigued by the possibilities of this scheme.

The bucks — okay, more likely the cents — aren’t going to roll in unless I include a snippet of Readability code in the template, as Zeldman explains:

[T]he program is opt-in.

If you want to participate, you go to and *register* your site with the program, inserting a unique identifier in your template that the site creates for you.

Easy enough, though of course I have about 8000 static pages that would have to be updated.

I remember when CSS first appeared, back in the Jurassic period of Web development, and we were told that it was important to keep content and style wholly separate. Now we know why — maybe.

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Zooeypalooza 9!

We’ve gone too long without one of these, wouldn’t you say?

Zooeypalooza 9!

Embiggenment of individual photos can be had with a click.

Previous Paloozas: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, and ZP 8.

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The Party of Huh?

Wherein I attempt to rebrand the Grand Old Party as something a trifle less useless.

Update: Now crossposted at Eternity Road, with the title I probably should have used in the first place.

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The redoubles gave them away

A paragraph from Phillip Alder’s contract-bridge column yesterday:

When the World Bridge Federation joined the International Olympic Committee, players had to obey the drug rules, which restricted caffeine. However, the IOC has relented, accepting that caffeine is not a performance-enhancing drug for a bridge player, as it might be for an athlete; it just helps contestants to stay awake.

Actually, if I need the queen of trumps to be on my right for the finesse to work, I’m rather hoping the player holding same dozes off.

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Gee, Wally

It’s all fun and games, running the onscreen caption machine, until, well, something like this happens:

Wally Szczerbiak

The Random Dude portrayed is former NBA forward — and current CBS analyst — Wally Szczerbiak. Clearly the network needs to do a better job of recognizing its own staff.

(Via Henry Abbott.)

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The inherent vice of hotel pools

Donna reports that the pool at Atlantic City’s Borgata is “very clean,” and explains why this qualifies as news:

Having spent a large part of my working life traveling across the US and staying at Holiday Inns, I can tell you that about 95% of the pools out there have a floating top layer consisting of oil, sweat, hairspray and piss.

It ain’t exactly Churchill’s “blood, toil, tears and sweat,” but then it’s hard to imagine Churchill staying either (1) in Atlantic City or (2) at a Holiday Inn.

And come to think of it, isn’t sweat heavier than water?

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