It is, after all, December

TLO’s Lucas reports, and on the basis of my 40-plus years of residency I must agree, that it’s Snowpocalypse Now, unless it’s something worse:

Weather panic is not a unique situation in Oklahoma. If a week goes by where the temperatures don’t shift by twenty degrees, the wind doesn’t fluctuate, or allergens aren’t popping, there must be something wrong.

Now that winter has finally arrived, we get to enjoy melodramatic forecasts from local meteorologists. As soon as the temperatures drop and precipitation looks like it will rear its ugly head, get ready for all the Oklahoma weatherpeople to unveil colorful charts and graphs that display the incoming winter hellscape.

I did what I could to forestall the inevitable: I took a couple of days off.

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Excessive whiteness

It’s a tough life for an albino in Africa:

Albinism is a rare, hereditary condition that leads to a lack of pigmentation in the hair, skin and eyes. Without melanin in their skin, those with albinism are more vulnerable to the damaging effects of the sun.

In Africa, albinism is associated with many negative misconceptions and superstitions. As a result, many albinos suffer stigma, alienation and even physical abuse.

There’s no known cure, but at least the misconceptions and superstitions are being addressed:

The Albinism Society of Kenya have held a Mr and Miss Albinism beauty pageant in Nairobi to support those with the hereditary condition.

The pageant, called “Accept me, include me, I can,” included participants from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and aimed to boost the confidence of young people with albinism.

And the winners are:

Emmanuel Silas Shedrack, 20, from Tanzania and Maryanne Muigai, 19, from Kenya were crowned the winners.

There were thirty contestants in all.

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Detangled at last

You might not have expected this level of ferocity from an 8-17 team. But the Brooklyn Nets, up two after the first quarter, were up 16 at the half and managed to push that lead to 23 at various points thereafter. And at some point, Paul George evidently had had enough. In the first 36 minutes, PG-13 had a respectable 22 points. In the next 12 minutes, he had 25 more, including the last score of the game, a three-pointer that put the Thunder up 114-112. According to radio guy Matt Pinto, this was the greatest comeback in OKC NBA history, And it ended in spectacular fashion, with the stop to end all stops: the Nets got the ball back with 0.1 second. With that meager sliver of time, Brooklyn had exactly one option: to lob the ball to above the rim and have another player gently guide it through without getting close enough to get called for goaltending. Chances of this happening: next to nil, changing quickly to nil as the ball approached the net.

The spirit of Joe Btfsplk was evidently moving above the Barclays Center. The Nets shot adequately, a smidgen better than the Thunder from three-point range and much better than the Thunder from the charity stripe. (Fifteen of 26?) Six Brooklyn players reached double figures, led by Allen Crabbe with 22 and Joe Harris with 19. Any other night, they’d have won it easily.

But then there was Russell Westbrook, getting one more triple-double (21-15-17) and passing Jason Kidd on the all-time list, in the arena where Kidd’s jersey hangs from the rafters. And there was nobody noticing Westbrook anyway: Paul George had long since taken over the game, finishing with 47 points, one short of his career high, on 15-27 shooting, 6-13 from beyond the arc, and 11-14 from the line. Oh, and he collected 15 rebounds. It’s enough to overlook the mere 18 points generated by the OKC bench, two-thirds of which came from Dennis Schröder.

Jim Boylen is 0-1 so far as coach of the Bulls. I’m thinking maybe he’s not expecting to even up that record when the Thunder arrive in the City of the Big Shoulders Friday night.

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Terrors of Colorado Boulevard

Francis W. Porretto has apparently been thumbing through the old 45s once more, and briefly he settled on the genre of Car Songs, which was dominated by exactly two acts:

Car and Driving songs: The Beach Boys had hits with “Little Old Lady from Pasadena,” “Little Deuce Coupe,” “Fun, Fun, Fun,” and “My 409,” while Jan and Dean scored with “Dead Man’s Curve.”

I thought at first that I should make a fuss, what with the song about the Little Old Lady being properly a Jan and Dean title — but this perhaps would have been unfair, inasmuch as while the J&D single (Liberty 55704, if you’re keeping score) had crested at Number Three, the Beach Boys did a creditable live version of the song on their late-summer concert LP, which topped the album charts.

Both organizations also put out versions of “Little Deuce Coupe,” which song has provided me with sexual euphemisms (“She’s ported and relieved and she’s stroked and bored”) and a glossary of Californisms (“I got the pink slip, daddy” is “What’s more, it’s paid for“).

But “Little Old Lady” introduced a twist on the California milieu: while anyone who grew up within the broadcast range of Los Angeles stations understood the reference to Pasadena, that leaves only the rest of the world to puzzle over it. The Italians, for one, were not having any of that:

Italian 45 sleeve for Old Ladies Seldom Power Shift

None of this quite explains Pontiac Grand Prix owners Patience Proper and Prudence Prim, members of the Anaheim, Azusa and Cucamonga Sewing Circle, Book Review and Timing Association, which outros with Jan’s “Go, granny, go” refrain.

Oh, and on Beach Boys’ Party! there’s a cover of the Regents’ “Barbara Ann.” Which Beach Boy sings lead? None of them. That’s Dean Torrance (of Jan and) up front. Now how often is a hit song sung by someone who’s not actually a member of the group? At least once more.

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A question of temperature

And nothing more, dammit:

Zooey? M.? Well done.

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Gender, schmender

In case I was wondering how well the various online-advertising entities were tracking me, this would have served quite nicely as a wake-up call:

Banner ad for

This banner ad was fed to me while I was looking up team standings on

(And still I wonder: why didn’t they choose to promote


Tuning the musical fruit

Perhaps we can file this under “more than we wanted to know”:

Scientists often hope to break ground with their research. But a group of Australian researchers would likely be happy with breaking wind.

The team developed an ingestible electronic capsule to monitor gas levels in the human gut. When it’s paired with a pocket-sized receiver and a mobile phone app, the pill reports tail-wind conditions in real time as it passes from the stomach to the colon. The researchers, led by Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh of RMIT University and Peter Gibson of Monash University, reported their invention in Nature Electronics.

And we want this why, exactly?

The authors are optimistic that the capsule’s gas readings can help clear the air over the inner workings of our intricate innards and the multitudes of microbes they contain. Such fume data could clarify the conditions of each section of the gut, what microbes are up to, and which foods may cause problems in the system. Until now, collecting such data has been a challenge. Methods to bottle it involved cumbersome and invasive tubing and inconvenient whole-body calorimetry. Popping the electronic pill is a breeze in comparison. And early human trials have already hinted that the pill can provide new information about intestinal wind patterns and gaseous turbulence from different foods.

I’m convinced. Remind me to buy these guys a beer, and maybe some broccoli.

DOI: 10.1038/s41928-017-0004-x.

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This idea Zucks

Tucked into the corner of my Facebook screen last night:

Facebook wants me to follow Mark Zuckerberg

Um, I don’t think so.

According to the nearest Wikipedant, as of last January Facebook had 2.2 billion regular users. For every user that follows the Zuckmeister, there apparently are 19 who don’t.


Whining little putz

This particular weenie wants to know how to block a YouTube channel:

Youtube keeps automatically suggesting videos from a certain channel, based on my other subscriptions. I’m not subscribed to this channel, and have no interest in subscribing to it, it is complete dreck, yet it keeps showing up in my stream. In certain interfaces, I don’t even see the channel name until I click on the video, and I’ve begun watching the video and figure out it’s that channel again!

The nerve! You should demand your money back.

Oh, that’s right, you haven’t paid one goddamn cent for this service, have you?

Someone showed the little putz how to check “Not Interested” on the recommendation, and he whined about that too: “That feature doesn’t exist on all platforms.” What’ll you bet the guy fears signing into his Google account? It’s required for that particular function to work, and if he were actually concerned with being tracked, he should have burned his computer years ago.

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Meanwhile in Jakarta

It’s not that we’ve never written about an Indonesian pop star before. In fact, we have; but it’s not easy to climb onto the radar here, awash as we are in pop stars from all over the place.

Sheryl Sheinafia Tjokro was born on this date in 1996, and was by all accounts a fairly accomplished musician in her teens. Blessed with an abundance of Teh Cute, she found herself in demand for TV and film; her most recent acting role was in The Underdogs (2017), a tale of “4 friends who tried to become famous by being Youtubers.” Like that ever works.

Sheryl Sheinafia and her guitar

Sheryl Sheinafia sitting on the stairs

Sheryl Sheinafia goes totally orange

Perhaps the high point in Sheryl Sheinafia’s life up to now was meeting John Mayer:

And I am quite fond of her 2017 single “Sweet Talk,” the video for which looks for all the world like they shot it on a smartphone:

Inevitably, this had to happen:

“Why Georgia,” indeed.

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This seems stressful

Rather a lot of us suffer from high blood pressure, and stories like this don’t make us feel any better:

For the third time in recent weeks, a blood pressure medication has been recalled because it may have been contaminated with an agent linked to cancer.

Sandoz, a generic pharmaceutical company that’s a division of the Novartis Group, said it’s voluntarily recalled losartan potassium hydrochlorothiazide tablets because the pills could contain the impurity N-nitrosodiethylamine (NDEA).

Sandoz said the tablets are manufactured by Lek Pharmaceuticals in Slovenia and the impurity found is a probable carcinogen. However, it said, no issues have been reported concerning the affected tablets.

How times have changed. If you’re around my age, you may remember Sandoz as the developer of LSD, which was first marketed as a treatment for various mental ailments in 1947 under the name “Delysid.” Timothy Leary, at Harvard in the 1960s, began promoting the stuff for, um, nonprescription use. (Eric Burdon’s New Animals dropped a tune called “A Girl Named Sandoz” on the B-side of “When I Was Young”; it fooled no one.)

As it happens, this is the antihypertensive I take, though the stock I have on the shelf did not originate with Sandoz or its suppliers.

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Another suitor for Tribune

Exit Sinclair, enter Nexstar:

Nexstar Media Group Inc. agreed to buy Tribune Media Co. for $4.1 billion, creating the largest owner of local-TV stations in the U.S., according to a person with knowledge with the matter.

Nexstar outbid private equity firm Apollo Global Management LLC with an all-cash offer that values Tribune at about $46.50 a share, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the purchase isn’t yet public. An announcement could come as soon as Monday.

The deal would create a new king of local TV, unseating Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. Four months ago, Sinclair was forced to abandon its own takeover attempt for Tribune after the $3.9 billion transaction drew the ire of regulators. Nexstar had been interested in Tribune last year before Sinclair had agreed to buy it.

Tribune is now set to fetch a higher price from Nexstar — and a 15 percent premium over its closing price of $40.26 at the end of last week.

Locally, this deal creates no complications: Tribune Media owns KFOR-TV and KAUT-TV in Oklahoma City, and the licenses could be passed on to Nexstar more or less intact. Nexstar owns stations in Texas and in Arkansas; their Fort Smith-Fayetteville cluster, with NBC and Fox affiliates, reaches a few homes in far-eastern Oklahoma.


In the absence of rings

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have predicted this, but it happened just the same: the Detroit Pistons, who had won five straight overall and six straight in Motown, did a collective faceplant in the presence of the Oklahoma City Thunder, falling 110-83. (The oddsmakers apparently favored OKC, but by two points, not by twenty-seven.) Then again, when your leading scorer is also your worst performer in plus-minus — Blake Griffin, 20 points, minus 25 — something unexpected clearly is going on.

The blow-by began early, with OKC taking a 26-17 lead in the first quarter; it didn’t help the Pistons that they lost starting shooting guard Reggie Bullock to an ankle sprain just three minutes in. The other guard named Reggie — that would be Jackson — was held to 10 points. And Andre Drummond picked up 13 points, which is believable, and retrieved only six rebounds, which isn’t.

Thunder scoring involved the usual suspects, albeit in an unusual bunch. Steven Adams topped them all at 21; Russell Westbrook, 18; Paul George, 17 (with 10 boards); Jerami Grant, 15; Dennis Schöder and Nerlens Noel, 12 each. Terrance Ferguson was back, and he still plays better defense than offense, but at least he was back. Hamidou Diallo? Perhaps not 100 percent yet; he was listed as active, but drew a DNP-CD.

The Eastern Safari continues Wednesday in Brooklyn; the Nets fell to Cleveland tonight and have now dropped six straight. Meanwhile in Chicago, the next stop (Friday):

When the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune says something is “not the greatest,” you can safely assume it sucked. Of course, it would have been easier on Hoiberg if they’d given him some players to work with.


An ATM without so much rat in it

Perhaps the critter thought he needed fiber:

Eating money will not make you rich, but rather turn your insides into tub of paper confetti. A rat in Assam state, India, learned this hard truth earlier this week when it squeezed its way inside an ATM machine, consumed and destroyed $17,662 worth of Rupees, and promptly died.

The ATM in question was on the fritz for a few days when technicians were called to inspect it, Reuters reports. What they found looked like the contents of a paper shredder, with the rat already dead and buried within the mountain of minced up money.

The bank was properly appalled:

State Bank of India branch manager Chandan Sharma told reporters:

“The ATM was out of order for a few days and when our technicians opened the kiosk we were shocked to find shredded notes and a dead rat … We have started an investigation into this rare incident and will take measures to prevent a recurrence.”

The rat was small enough to evade the ATM’s security camera and burrow inside, ultimately ripping through $17,662 of its $42,685 supply. When the rodent’s body was retrieved, it was already a stiff and withered corpse.

The love of money will get you every time.

(Via Tracy Chou.)

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Another future bus patron

What are these people thinking? I got a title loan on my car is there any way around not paying?

Sure. Just surrender the car to whatever repo person is dispatched to collect it, and hope that it brings enough at auction to cover the balance of your loan.

Of course, this means you’re going to have a credit score of about twelve and a half for the foreseeable future, so you might want to put the money you’ll no longer be spending on the car into a savings account, in case you ever want to buy anything ever again.

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Bundle up, children

In 2009, Jean-Julien Chervier wrote and directed La Fonte des neiges (“The melting of the snows”), a two-reeler in which a horrified 12-year-old boy is dragged to a naturist camp by his cheerfully naked mom; in a spectacularly passive-aggressive move, he wears about twice as much as might be appropriate for the season, plus blackout glasses.

I don’t remember my mom ever being cheerful, let alone naked, but I did sympathize with the overdressed lad. Things happen when you’re twelve:

Hormones start rushing through our veins and we become very insecure. Add to that a lot of important decisions that suddenly have to be made and a group of friends of whom some are slightly further in the process and others slightly behind.

You need to think about what you want to study, you need to decide which music you like, you need to find a girlfriend or a boyfriend, you need to have sex for the first time and most importantly: you need to belong. At that age, you can’t afford to make a mistake. You’re a skater and you wear baggy pants and grow your hear and listen to some kind of punk music. You’re a nerd and have to know everything about the latest games and star wars and Stephen Hawking. Being a naturist isn’t often seen as the best choice at this age. It has very little visual aspects which make it easy to become one. Except the nudity of course, but let that be the one thing you’re currently completely uncomfortable with.

I had a sister who, at twelve, declared herself a nudist, but I don’t remember anyone in her peer group who ever followed her example, and after she died (early forties), friends of hers descended upon me and asked why she was That Way. I had no answer for them. The happy few friends of mine who go unclad when they can — the operative word is “few” — all seem to have started experimenting with it during adolescence.

And that French kid eventually got talked out of his clothing by (quelle surprise) a girl visiting the camp, with the help of an odd-looking plant she’d found on the premises.

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