Archive for December 2016

Snitch marketing

This flyer has turned up on a couple of college campuses, and it’s probably reasonable to expect there will be more of them:

If you believe someone is an illegal immigrant there are ways you can report them to the authorities

Obviously this isn’t an official publication of the Department of Homeland Security. Debra Monroe, a professor at Texas State University in San Marcos, reports seeing them on her campus; others have appeared on the East Coast.

That’s a real URL, though.

“We are entering,” says the flyer, “an era of law and order in this country.” I dunno. Ratting people out might be legal, but it hardly seems orderly.

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Lake of the ages

Greg Lake might have been my favorite of all the progressive-rock vocalists; he was always clear and forceful, no matter what instrumental backing you threw behind him.

Roger turned this up. It’s Lake’s vocal track from “Epitaph,” from the middle of King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King, a justly famed landmark in prog-rock. (The band had only eight tracks to work with, so instrumental bits and pieces sneak in from time to time.)

And from later days, “From the Beginning,” a song Lake wrote during his Emerson, Lake and Palmer days, here performed live by Lake, probably from his 2012 “Songs of a Lifetime” tour.

Lake died Wednesday of cancer; he was 69. Carl Palmer is still alive; Keith Emerson killed himself earlier this year. And God (or Robert Fripp) only knows how many members of King Crimson survive.

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All you need is one

Brent Scher has come up with the Top Ten reasons Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants, is a swell choice for Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration. We’ll just recount one of them here:

And that was Number Ten.

Ed Driscoll, who posted the link at Instapundit, cracks in classic Letterman style: “From the home office in the third booth in the Ardmore, Oklahoma Carl’s Jr.” According to Yelpers, the Ardmore Carl’s Jr. has closed.

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I go to pieces

Del Shannon, at least, had an excuse:

Me, I’m just somewhere near the end of my rope. God forbid, though, that anyone should discover that I have a rope to be near the end of.

And come to think of it, Del had problems of his own.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Like so much space junk

Any Rockets-Thunder game is going to have that extra dash of je ne sais quoi, what with that whole James Harden thing, plus the long-standing Beverley-Westbrook animosity. What it didn’t have was a whole lot of drama: Houston took command fairly early and gradually pulled away as time wore: 55-49 at the half, 86-77 after three, and double digits in the fourth. The Thunder fought back, wearing that lead down to one (96-95) inside the three-minute mark. At 0:16 it was still a one-point game, 100-99. Patrick Beverley harrassed Russell Westbrook enough to force a turnover; Trevor Ariza was fouled, delivered two free throws, and the last OKC possession ended in an airball. Houston 102, Oklahoma City 99, evening the season series at 1-1, with two games yet to play down in H-town.

Thunder shooting, it seemed, consisted of missed threes (they went 7-28) and point-blank shots that simply refused to go. Westbrook, despite yet another triple-double (27-10-10), shot an improbably horrid 8-25. Meanwhile, Steven Adams was 8-9 for 24 points, a career high, with 10 rebounds. And come to think of it, Harden came pretty close to logging a triple-double for Houston, with 24 points, nine boards and 10 assists. The stat that most sears the eyeballs, though, is bench output: the Rocket reserves put up 44 points, versus 24 for OKC, which explains as well as anything else why the Thunder fell behind in the second quarter and stayed there. And yeah, Beverley gave the ball the old heave-ho at the buzzer, not because he expected to collect three points from 60 feet out, but because (I’m guessing) he thought it would annoy Westbrook.

The Celtics will be here Sunday, as defensive-minded as the Rockets are shot-happy, and probably just as hard to beat. We shall see.

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Peer review

Yeah, it’s Friday, but this is a Thursday-night picture of Rebecca Black down near the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel, and no way am I passing up the opportunity to peer at it.

Rebecca Black in West Hollywood

Rebecca Black in West Hollywood

Says HelloGiggles: “Rebecca looks like a badass fairy queen, and we love it.”

The Hollywood Roosevelt, if you’re keeping score, is at 7000 Hollywood Boulevard; film producer Arthur Cohn (The Garden of the Finzi-Continis) has a star on the Walk of Fame just outside.

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The gospel according to Warren

I know Warren Kinsella is smarter than this:

This refugee family with controversial values violated immigration laws

Um, no. From the second chapter of Luke [ESV]:

1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.

Got that? Joseph and Mary and the as-yet-unborn child were headed for Bethlehem because it was the Roman law. In no wise were they refugees or immigrants.

Shorter version:

That would help, yes.

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Through the sky like a comet

Tomorrow Hailee Steinfeld turns twenty, but already she has enough of a CV to make you think she’s rather a lot older than that. As Mattie Ross in the 2010 version of True Grit, she garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress; in the 2016 indie favorite The Edge of Seventeen, she was a suicidal high-school junior.

Hailee Steinfeld assumes the position

Hailee Steinfeld in Harper's Bazaar 2016

Hailee Steinfeld at the 2015 American Music Awards

That last shot, from last year’s American Music Awards, reminds us that she’s also a singer. Her most recent single, a collaboration with the duo Grey, featuring Zedd, is called “Starving”:

She really sounds like she’s a long way from the edge of seventeen, if you know what I mean.

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A Normal development

The recently shuttered Diamond-Star Motors plant in Normal, Illinois, built as a joint venture of Chrysler and Mitsubishi in 1988, may be seeing future duty as, yes, an automobile plant:

According to Reuters, Detroit-based Rivian Automotive has agreed to purchase the plant and reopen it within five years. Going by Rivian’s website, the only thing we know for sure about the automotive venture is that it’s “coming soon.”

The company, which hasn’t confirmed the purchase, bills itself as an automotive technology venture interested in sustainable mobility. At the helm is CEO RJ Scaringe, who formed the company in 2009.

Still, Normal mayor Chris Koos says it’s a done deal. He told Reuters that Rivian plans to employ a workforce of 500 when the plant reopens in 2021, with that number eventually growing to 1,000 employees. State and local economic development agencies claim Rivian will invest $175 million into the operation by 2024.

A lot of vaporware has wafted past our sensors in recent years, and we don’t even know what Rivian plans to do, let alone how they plan to do it. TTAC’s Steph Willams takes a guess:

Though it sounds like a garden-variety mobility technology startup, Rivian seems to want to produce actual vehicles, though it hasn’t mentioned any potential partners or suppliers. What those (clearly electric) vehicles might look like is anyone’s guess. Assuming this gets off the ground, the rolling stock would likely form part of a ride-sharing service.

Uber, but without Uberness.

Mr Scaringe brings some serious educational heft with him: graduate of Rensselaer, PhD from MIT. And the auto industry is always in need of Smart Guys, especially Smart Guys who go their own way. (See Musk, Elon.)

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Tony the Tiger recoils in horror

This ain’t your pa’s Post Toasties:

One Degree Veganic Sprouted Ancient Maize Flakes

Well, let’s see what we have here:

Honest cereal made from the corn nature designed. Non-GMO, non-hybridized grain, sprouted to boost vitamins and minerals, ease digestibility. Sweetened with low-glycemic coconut palm sugar from Bali!

Actually, that doesn’t sound half bad. An Amazon retailer sells this for $12.99, about quadruple the price of Kellogg’s, but it took me about 30 seconds to find places selling it for half that or less. According to Vitacost, the manufacturer’s suggested retail price is a mere $6.19. That won’t buy you a whole lot of Grape-Nuts.

(Via John Salmon.)

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Don’t look at me that way

Severian led off with this terse observation:

I’m tempted to argue that you can sum up all of pop-feminism with “we think we’re cuter than we actually are, and we’re going to get the government to force you to agree.”

See also Steve Sailer, similarly:

“The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.”

At this point, Nightfly sees an opening:

Is it that they think they’re cuter than they are, or is it that they realize they’re not cute enough to get by on cute alone, so they are determined AT ANY COST to make “looks” a dirty word — or even a punishable offense?

The dreaded Male Gaze. They despise it at least as much as they despise the male who withholds it; the only true joy in feminism is to find some way to humiliate men. (See about every fourth article by Robert Stacy McCain.)

We’re talking about lasses who could work their way into the 5-6 range, right? Well, that means that, in college, their absolute best efforts would leave them behind at the quarter pole of life, though with diligence they could be in that second wave of ladies who settle down (emphasis on “settle” in their minds) in their late 20s or early 30s with guys whom they would have considered beneath them in school, but who are also the only ones left once all the good catches are made.

This is at the heart of Garfunkel and Oates’ “29 31.”

And it’s not, you should know, the creation of those horrible folks with the Y chromosome either:

[M]en aren’t the builders of this game, contrary to insane assumptions — we’re just fellow players. Just as there are plenty of women who can never land a Mr. Darcy, there are plenty of guys with no prayer of securing a Ms. Bennett. We all face this realization about our own status in life. I mean, do you think all men are equally handsome, equally ambitious, equally smart, equally accomplished? Plenty of us had to take stock while the top catches had their pick of our peer group, and quickly figure out what else could capture and hold someone’s interest. (Or, not so quickly. I was pretty much 35 years old when I got married — I’m not exactly Dr. Genius McQuarterback over here.)

For a while, I came off as more interesting than I actually was; at least, that’s the only explanation I can find for having any notches on the bedpost at all.

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Oh, well, there are other Amendments

No one will ever miss the First:

Countering Foreign Propaganda and Disinformation Act is a bipartisan bill, introduced to the 114th United States Congress to respond to propaganda and disinformation. The bill was initially titled as the Countering Information Warfare Act.

That word “bipartisan” should set off an alarm: it almost always means that both sides are in cahoots and Up to Something.

In both the House and Senate the bill was included in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017. It passed the House in this fashion in a conference report vote on December 2, 2016. The Senate then passed the measure in a conference report on December 8 — by a tally of 92-7.

Fallout from the CIA allegation that the Russians tried to influence the 2016 presidential election prompted this. The immediate Congressional response, evidently, was “Don’t blame us.”

In the version of the bill incorporated into the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Congress would ask the United States Secretary of Defense to collaborate with the United States Secretary of Defense and create a Global Engagement Center to monitor information warfare from foreign governments, and publicize the nature of ongoing foreign propaganda and disinformation operations against the U.S. and other countries. The bill said this inter-agency effort should: “counter foreign propaganda and disinformation directed against United States national security interests and proactively advance fact-based narratives that support United States allies and interests.”

Sure they will. I’m inclined to believe as Gail Hapke does:

This must stop. The Portman-Murphy Act shreds the First Amendment. What’s the problem? Basically anything the government disagrees with can be labeled “Russian propaganda” with the full force of this law behind it. Read the bill. Dissenters will start to disappear. Contrarians and gadflies will go bye-bye. This is BAD. This is Gulag Archipelago bad.

And this is apparently what some powerful people want: the ability to dismiss stuff from overseas without any repercussions. Count me out.

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Alabama wants asphalt

At least, the County Commissioners want it:

The Association of County Commissions of Alabama voted today to seek legislative approval of a $1.2 billion bond issue for road construction during next year’s legislative session.

The plan calls for a 3-cent tax on gasoline and diesel fuel to pay off the bonds. The tax would expire when the bonds are paid off.

ACCA Executive Director Sonny Brasfield said no counties voted against the plan at today’s meeting in Montgomery. He said about 53 counties were represented at the meeting.

This isn’t the first time this was thought of, either:

A bill to raise the gasoline tax by 6 cents a gallon failed in the Legislature this year, and similar proposals died last year.

It’s been about a decade since I drove on any Alabama roads, but I wasn’t impressed at the time:

One thing I won’t miss is I-65 through Montgomery. There would be suicide on a Guyanese scale in ODOT had Oklahoma City’s soon-they-say-to-be-supplanted Crosstown Expressway deteriorated to this point: the speed limit is down to 45, and even that’s a pain in the ball joints.

Maybe that project is finished — or maybe they need to restart it.

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Have you walked in a Ford lately?

Jeanine Pirro, host of Justice with Judge Jeanine on Fox News, sent this last week to her waiting fans on Twitter:

Clearly a day to celebrate. Tom Ford currently sells this particular “double D’Orsay pump,” albeit with a black heel, for $1190. And that heel is only 105mm (3.1 4.1 inches), though to me it looks taller.

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Sedaka is still back

You might think that Neil Sedaka, who’s been making records for nearly 60 years, might have faded out by now. Not in the least.

In 2008, Sedaka, then sixty-nine, premiered an actual classical composition: “Joie de Vivre,” introduced on his Australian tour. This year, he put out an all-acoustic album — just piano and voice — with one bonus track, which turned out to be a full orchestral 14-minute version of “Joie de Vivre,” recorded with the London Philharmonia Orchestra.

In 2013, he turned loose a piano concerto: “Manhattan Intermezzo.”

Of course, if you go to one of Neil’s shows, you can always call out for “Stairway to Heaven.”

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A hard day at the office

This year’s Celtics are a serious defensive unit, perhaps even more so with scoring demon Isaiah Thomas down for the count, and they managed to keep the Thunder at bay through most of the evening, jumping out to a lead as large as 13. OKC is seldom daunted by big deficits, at least big deficits in the third quarter, and early in the fourth they fought back to a tie at 71. Still, the Thunder faced issues, both short- and long-term. For the moment, Victor Oladipo, who came down hard on his late in the first quarter, is gone; as has happened several times recently, OKC was utterly horrible at the foul line, though the Celtics fouled just about as often as they possibly could. (Jae Crowder got his sixth with about three and a half minutes.) Boston bore down, though, and held their ground; at 2:40 OKC, on the strength of a Russell Westbrook trey, tied it up at 92, and two minutes later it was still tied at 94. Westbrook delivered the go-ahead bucket at :31; Jerami Grant piled on two more fifteen seconds later. Marcus Smart stuck an Al Horford miss back in to make it 98-96; Westbrook added one free throw, and Smart tossed up a wide-open trey at the buzzer, which didn’t go in. Oklahoma City 99, Boston 96.

Downside, if you want to call it that: Westbrook’s triple-double streak ended. (His line: 37-12-6.) Upside: the Thunder bench outscored Boston’s reserves, 38-24, though OKC clearly had to go deeper in the bench to compensate for the loss of Oladipo. And something has to be done about Thunder shooting: while they were competent for normal two-point field goals, they were terrible on three-pointers (3 of 21), and just as bad on free throws (14-27, 52 percent). On the other hand, there’s a lot to be said for not fouling: the Celtics only got to the line eight times, making five. Al Horford led Boston with 19 points.

And now, it’s back to the West: Portland Tuesday night, then Utah on Wednesday.

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Strange search-engine queries (567)

Once a week, we dip into the search strings people used to find this site, and we hope we find a dozen or so worth mentioning. (Usually it’s not a problem.)

open season mascots:  The least you could do is tell me the bag limit.

please calp:  The last thing we need around here is a dose of calp.

read the excerpt from anthem, by ayn rand. what disaster took their reason away from men? what whip lashed them to their knees in shame and submission? the worship of the word “we.” in the excerpt, which concept causes the downfall of humanity?  The denial of the word “I.”

economy in shambles:  Shh. Don’t tell Ayn Rand that, or she’ll write another book.

suppose you own the patent for a new type of keyboard, hence giving you a monopoly over the industry. if you lower the price of the headphone from $150 to $120, then we can conclude that at the new price:  People will buy more headphones and ignore your monopoly keyboard entirely.

mazda premacy common faults:  For instance, owners who desperately search the Net in the hopes of finding free fixes for their cars.

shoes off at the door:  If you time it right, you can be pantless by the time you reach the bathroom.

armenian foot fetish:  Awfully specific of you. See if you can find a picture of a Kardashian in strappy sandals.

brenda johnson has used a preprinted form that she got from the internet to create her will. however, she was unhappy with one section of the will and crossed out the parts she didn’t like and hand wrote the changes she wanted. the changes that she made most likely made her will:  Slightly less readable.

www.slit:  Get two of them in parallel and we can do some quantum experiments.

glass hammer valkyrie:  Very stylish, perhaps not so functional.

driving 208 mph:  Most people never drive 104 mph twice.

+”mediocre ceo”:  Got all of his $2 million bonus in stock options.

since most ethics violations are small and rather insignificant in nature, employees need to understand that addressing these issues is secondary to making profits. ceos may be justified in putting these on the back-burner, waiting for more convenient moments to address them:  Which is how you know they’re mediocre CEOs.

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Zero charisma

Tam watches Reince Priebus on Meet the Press, and is suitably unimpressed:

[T]hat’s two RNC chairs in a row that you watch on TV and think “How did this midwit paper-shuffler wind up with the chairmanship of one of the nation’s two major political parties? This guy doesn’t have the suave command presence of the night shift assistant manager of the grocery store I worked at in high school.”

Remind me to ask her how close “midwit” might be to “halfwit.”

Historical note: It took seven ballots for Priebus to win RNC chair. Predecessor Michael Steele had dropped out after the fourth.

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Beyond any conceivable binary

I don’t understand this either:

You’d think if they still need to be changed, they’re too young to be thinking about gender.

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Paranoia for beginners

I defy anyone to read this whole thing without busting out laughing. Here’s the question:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: 
How do I view content that was blocked by my ISP?

And here’s the rest of it:

I believe my ISP is actively filtering out certain materials from being viewed from my Internet service that could have been used as evidence by me in getting some other people prosecuted for slandering my name and image since 2010. I have had lies spread to neighbouring suburbs and businesses well before I signed up for a broadband service from one of my ISPs shop front located in a suburb where lies have spread to.

I am unable to locate chain-posts containing lies and pictures about me that random people have taken after bullying me, but the treatment I get out in public looks very much like someone has been posting lies about me while people choosing to believe in these lies and bully me are taking photos of me and publishing them somewhere (there’s always a trend of random bullying each time someone successfully takes a photo of me)

This is apparently what it’s like to be off one’s meds.

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Paranoia for journeymen

What are these people thinking?

In case you’re not up on privacy mode:

Privacy mode or “private browsing” or “incognito mode” is a privacy feature in some web browsers to disable browsing history and the web cache. This allows a person to browse the Web without storing local data that could be retrieved at a later date. Privacy mode will also disable the storage of data in cookies and Flash cookies. This privacy protection is only on the local computing device as it is still possible to identify frequented websites by associating the IP address at the web server.

“If you don’t let us track you, you can’t use our site.”

Okay, fine. Maybe I don’t want to use your damn site.

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Her Swiftness

On Taylor Swift’s 27th birthday — in case you’d forgotten, she was born in 1989 — it seems logical to present a few of my favorite pix.

Taylor Swift birthday pix

As always with these things, you may click to embiggen.

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Get your green on

Once upon a time, I lived in an apartment complex called The Greenery. It was anything but.

Now, if Pantone calls something “Greenery,” they’re serious:

Pantone 15-0343, Greenery

[I]f you believe the team at the Pantone Color Institute, which calls itself the “global color authority,” green will be everywhere in 2017. Not just any old green, of course: Pantone 15-0343, colloquially known as greenery, which is to say a “yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring.”

That is, the Color of the Year for 2017.

Well, okay. I can deal with that. This, I’m not quite so sure about:

“We know what kind of world we are living in: one that is very stressful and very tense,” said Leatrice Eiseman, the executive director of the Pantone Color Institute. “This is the color of hopefulness, and of our connection to nature. It speaks to what we call the ‘re’ words: regenerate, refresh, revitalize, renew. Every spring we enter a new cycle and new shoots come from the ground. It is something life affirming to look forward to.”

Especially after a winter of so much discontent.

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Shaving Megan’s privates

And you thought texting was distracting:

As authorities nationwide warn motorists of the dangers of driving while texting, Florida Keys law enforcement officers add a new caution: Don’t try to shave your privates, either.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers say a two-vehicle crash Tuesday at Mile Marker 21 on Cudjoe Key was caused by a 37-year-old woman driver who was shaving her bikini area while her ex-husband took the wheel from the passenger seat.

“She said she was meeting her boyfriend in Key West and wanted to be ready for the visit,” Trooper Gary Dunick said. “If I wasn’t there, I wouldn’t have believed it. About 10 years ago I stopped a guy in the exact same spot … who had three or four syringes sticking out of his arm. It was just surreal and I thought, ‘Nothing will ever beat this.’ Well, this takes it.”

Could this possibly be worse? Yes, it can:

The day before the wreck, [Megan Mariah] Barnes was convicted in an Upper Keys court of DUI with a prior and driving with a suspended license, said Monroe County Assistant State Attorney Colleen Dunne. Barnes was ordered to impound her car, and her driver’s license was revoked for five years, after which time she must have a Breathalyzer ignition interlock device on any vehicle she drives, Dunne said. Barnes also was sentenced to nine months’ probation.

She faces a year in jail for probation violations, presumably without access to razor blades.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Havana bad day

It’s a trip to Cuba! Wonderfulness — until the details get complicated:

They have been planning this trip for months, looking for airline tickets they can afford that won’t have them spending umpteen hours in Atlanta, arranging for accommodations, travel to Treasure Island, deciding what to take and figuring out how to pack it all into bags that won’t incur an excess weight penalty. We’re looking good with only a week until departure and then dutiful daughter gets red flagged on her passport.

It seems that if you are going to Cuba, you need to have two, full, blank pages in your passport. Daring daughter has used the stuffing out of her passport and if you combined all the blank spots that are left you might get two pages, but that won’t cut it. So she needs a new passport.

Why is this? State doesn’t say, but Cuba isn’t the only country that requires or expects such things.

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For all you debacle fans

Before this game was even half over, a dispirited Judge Radar grumbled:

It didn’t start out that way. Late in the first quarter, OKC was up nine. But things went straight to the hot nether regions after that. The Trail Blazers had a stiff 16-point lead at halftime, and after the third quarter Portland had run it to 21. Part of the problem was the absence of Victor Oladipo, who messed up his wrist last time out; but the real issue was the Thunder’s sudden inability to make shots, coupled with some recurring defensive lapses. The towel was thrown in halfway through the fourth, and both benches did the mopping up, with the Blazers claiming a surprisingly easy 114-95 win. The only redeeming feature of the evening, so far as I was concerned, was getting a half-price pizza from Papa John’s.

How bad was it? Not even a double-double from Russell Westbrook (20-6-6). Only two other Thunder players in double figures. Then again, one of them was Jerami Grant. Meanwhile, six Blazers scored in double figures, led by Mason Plumlee with 18. Portland shot around 60 percent of the night, finishing with a highly decent 54; the Thunder, once they dropped below 40 percent, stayed there, ending up at 38. OKC did collect the bulk of the rebounds, 44-36, but they also turned over the ball twenty times, versus a mere 13 for the Blazers.

Tomorrow night: it’s all that Jazz in Salt Lake City.

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Staying here for now

Eddie Holland’s younger brother is Brian Holland, and the guy in the middle of the collective is Lamont Dozier. As Holland-Dozier-Holland, they produced all manner of hits for Motown, and more for themselves after leaving. Everybody knows this. Not everybody, but a decent number of folks, know that Eddie Holland was the primary wordsmith of H-D-H, and that he had had a small-scale singing career, though he chose not to pursue it: stage fright, apparently.

That said, Eddie Holland came up with some dandy 45s, though his biggest hit sounds like Jackie Wilson — I mean, exactly like Jackie Wilson — and was written, not by Holland, but by Barrett Strong and Mickey Stevenson.

“Jamie” made it to #30 in Billboard, Holland’s only trip to the Top 40. What would happen if Eddie Holland had the full H-D-H machinery behind him? This:

Died at #76 in 1963. But “Leaving Here” was never, ever forgotten. Ask Lemmy:

For that matter, ask The Who:

Or head a few miles west of Detroit to Ann Arbor, home of the Rationals:

The Rationals had one chart item, but this wasn’t it; their cover of Otis Redding’s “Respect” slid up to #92 for one week. They’re still playing it, too.

The amazing thing, of course, is that guys never, ever take Eddie’s advice, which is why all these fine girls are moving away.

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An old hardware friend gives it up

For over a decade, through three different desktops, I have been pumping sound through the PC Works 2.1 speaker system — so old, it was never called “2.1” — made by Cambridge SoundWorks, which also made the Model 88 radio with the sacred name of Henry Kloss on the front. (I have two of those, of similar vintage.)

This weekend, PC Works, which I’d kept going through a series of cleanings — the little potentiometer that served as a remote volume control attracted desk debris — finally turned on me by refusing to turn on: the power button popped out whenever pushed. I have no idea if this was a bad switch or a circuit breaker, though I suspect the former, inasmuch as I was able to keep it running for a couple of days by taping down the switch.

Yesterday I replaced it with this apparatus, without the holiday bow. It does not sound quite as good, but it will do for a spur-of-the-moment sound system, especially at this modest price. Already its little potentiometer that serves as a remote volume control is decidedly wonky.

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What the hay?

Somehow this seems disquieting:

A Dutch restaurant is now serving up some stallion with its scallions.

The offbeat food truck Keuken van het Ongewenst Dier, which translates to “The Unwanted Animal Kitchen,” now supplies its “My Little Pony Burger” year round to Babbe Hengeveld, a chef who runs her own restaurant Food Guerilla, reports Vice Munchies.

Keuken van het Ongewenst Die has been serving the burger periodically for years and the patty itself is made from the meat of butchered, aging horses that have worked at a local amusement park, Slagharen.

Many years ago, there was a small classified ad in the Oklahoman asking for “50 Head of Poor Horses” every week. They didn’t say that said equines were going to end up in sandwiches.

For what it’s worth, the Pony Burger is not a big seller:

“They don’t sell well because people do feel bad about the idea of eating horse,” Hengeveld told Vice. For some, horses will always be seen as pets in the same way dogs are. Cows and chickens, in many Western cultures, aren’t kept as pets so they’re okay for food.

“Will trade,” said the anguished dad in another classified ad, “two young ewes with friends and personality for two anonymous lambs for the freezer.” Or something like that.

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Millions of cats

“Cats here, cats there, Cats and kittens everywhere. Hundreds of cats, thousands of cats, Millions and billions and trillions of cats…”

Wanda Gág’s 1928 picture book, still in print, is the tale of an elderly couple who decide they want a cat, and subsequently find rather more of them than they’d anticipated.

I mention that because of this: “How loud would it be if all of the cats in the world meowed at the same time?”

There is an answer, kinda sorta:

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Sadly out of tune

Second night of a back-to-back? Check. Opponent with a winning record? Check. Game on the road? Check. Shooting under 40 percent? [sigh] Check. The Jazz were all over the Thunder tonight, and the occasional flash of Oklahoma City brilliance was snuffed out every time. In desperation, Russell Westbrook, after missing a four-foot jumper inside the three-minute mark, apparently fouled the nearest Jazzman just to get out of there; a timeout was called, and the benches were emptied. Utah really thrashed the Thunder, 109-89, and moved one game ahead of OKC in the Northwest Division standings. (Portland, to whom the Thunder lost last night, remains in third.)

Exactly one Thunder player showed up more plus than minus: Nick Collison, +9 in 16 minutes. (Weirdly, Collison and Kyle Singler played exactly 16:18 and scored two points each, but Singler was -12. Timing is everything.) Westbrook had a fairly blah night, 27-6-5 on 7-25 shooting; OKC overall was 30-82, 36 percent. As usual, Enes Kanter led the bench with 19; not as usual, he drew a technical, and there was a brief furor when it looked like he might get a second one and an all-expense-paid trip to the locker room. Since the Jazz feel about Kanter about the way the Thunder feels about Reggie Jackson — well, never mind.

Both Alec Burks and George Hill were out for Utah, but the Jazz didn’t need them; Rodney Hood was, if not on fire, certainly close to kindling temperature, scoring 25 points in 31 minutes. Rudy Gobert had the night’s only double-double, with 12 points and 12 rebounds. The Jazz shot 58 percent, high enough that seeing Shelvin Mack lead the reserves with 15 points didn’t seem all that amazing.

After a dispiriting road trip, the Thunder are back home Saturday afternoon with the threat of snow and the arrival of the Phoenix Suns, followed by the Atlanta Hawks on Monday.

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Is this a feature?

It sounds like a bug to me:

On Wednesday, Uber rolled out a handful of its self-driving cars in San Francisco to be used by the public. Also on Wednesday, one of those cars ran a red light.

It’s not totally clear how that happened or who is at fault, since the cars have a safety driver ready to take over as well as an additional engineer. But it is very clear that the robot car — a Volvo XC90 the company developed in collaboration with the automaker — ran a red light.

The view from the dashcam in a cab:

Interestingly, Uber doesn’t have a California permit for self-driving cars; they claim that there is a human operator always at least somewhat in control. California is not impressed with this argument.

Update, 7 pm: The DMV has now shut down the Uber program.

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The actual Inauguration timeline

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A majority in perpetuity

I don’t know if this would actually work, but I’d be interested in seeing it being tried:

I’m confident that if Trump really wants to found his own party, and make sure it never loses another election, he should immediately create his own version of the Bund Deutscher Mädel. Give women social sanction to be feminine again, and the rest takes care of itself — no more Pajamaboys, no more Bronies, no more whatevers calling xyrzelves “xyr.” Suicide rates would crater, birth rates would skyrocket, and two young folks will be able to make googly eyes at each other without needing three cameras and a lawyer present.

“Yeah,” you say, “but … Hitler Youth!”

Trude Mohr, the group’s first Reichsreferentin:

Our volk need a generation of girls which is healthy in body and mind, sure and decisive, proudly and confidently going forward, one which assumes its place in everyday life with poise and discernment, one free of sentimental and rapturous emotions, and which, for precisely this reason, in sharply defined femininity, would be the comrade of a man, because she does not regard him as some sort of idol but rather as a companion!

Your garden-variety feminist would of course hurl at this, but then she has no desire to be the companion, let alone the comrade, of a man.

And bronies, I suspect, will persist regardless.

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Oh. “Cashew.” Sorry I misunderstood you.

My usual nut supplier advised today that cashew prices would rise at least $1 a pound in 2017. (They currently sell a five-pound sack of raw whole cashews for $51.) Apparently this is why:

Get ready for some cashew sticker shock.

The global popularity of the kidney-shaped nut has been growing faster than any other tree nut — even almonds. Demand jumped 53 percent since 2010 and outpaced production in at least four of the past seven years, industry data show. Now the worst drought in a century for Vietnam, the largest exporter, is raising concern that supplies will be even tighter in a market valued at $5.2 billion.

A lack of rain in the once-fertile Mekong Delta and elsewhere in Vietnam has cut output of its major agricultural exports including rice, black pepper, coffee and seafood. This year’s cashew harvest fell 11 percent, and domestic prices jumped by as much as a third to an all-time high, a growers’ group estimates. That spells trouble for buyers in the U.S., by far the biggest importer.

It’s already trouble in Vietnam:

The domestic price of raw nuts has jumped to 52,000 dong ($2.33) a kilogram, the highest on record, from 38,000 dong at the start of the year, according to the cashew association.

That’s a lot of dong.

Fortunately, I use relatively few cashews.

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Allow for shrinkage

Last trip to the doctor — this would be the last week of November — I was sufficiently gloomy that he said he would refer me to a psychologist.

Apparently the first appointment available is on the sixth. The sixth of February.

Hey, it’s a blessing of sorts that I’m not very good at suicidal ideation.

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Achievement unlocked

After all, this doesn’t happen every day:

On a Dec. 7 flight from from Oakland, California, to Kansas City, Missouri, the captain of the aircraft went over the PA system to announce to passengers that they had consumed all the alcohol on the plane, according to sports journalist Jimmy Durkin, who tweeted about the incident. The captain congratulated the passengers for their feat, which was accomplished during the three-hour-20-minute flight.

By “Raiders” apparently Durkin meant fans with Oakland insignia and such; the actual Raiders weren’t on this flight.

And congratulations to the captain for keeping track of these little details.

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Something you can always have

I brought this up on TTAC (!) yesterday, and it occurs to me that it might be, at the very least, timely.

So be it. Lore Sjöberg’s Reznorized Christmas carols, “Nine Inch Noels”:

Hint: Don’t play the bit from “Closer” at work.

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In search of lingua franca

As of now, the official language of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft is, um, English:

The Volkswagen Group can’t be fairly thought of as entirely German anymore, so the news that the company is switching its official language to English to help attract managers and executives is a rational, if surprising, decision. While many VW Group companies are still staidly German in character and culture, consider the other companies that it controls: Bentley (British), Bugatti (French), Ducati and Lamborghini (Italian), Škoda (Czech), Scania trucks (Swedish), and SEAT (Spanish). Not to mention the large Volkswagen Group of America operation, which constructs cars in Chattanooga, TN.

Volkswagen’s explicit motivation is to improve management recruitment — making sure the company isn’t losing out on candidates for important positions because they can’t speak German — and that’s inherently sensible in a globalized economy.

I could say something about how all the German-speaking auto executives on earth are tainted by VW’s Dieselgate scandal, but that can’t be true, can it?

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