And Cuban earns a cigar

The Thunder got in trouble early, to the extent that Lance Thomas got to play for a minute or so in the first quarter so that Scott Brooks could express his dismay at the regular rotation players. Dallas jumped out to a 33-26 first-quarter lead, and OKC made no progress in the second. Then came the third, in which the Thunder racked up 30 points and held the Mavs to 17. Dallas, of course, wasn’t going to let that fly, and opened the fourth with an 11-2 run; with 1:57 left, the Mavs were up one, 106-105, and something scary happened to Monta Ellis. (He was able to walk away on that sprained ankle, but did not return.) Still, what made the difference is that Dirk, big bad Dirk, played most of the fourth quarter with five fouls and hit everything in sight, while Dallas defensemen kept Russell Westbrook in check. With 12 seconds left, it was Dallas by five, and, well, Zach Lowe said it best:

And after an exchange of buckets, that’s how it ended: Dallas 112, Oklahoma City 107, and once again the Thunder fail to climb to .500.

The Westbrook line is instructive: nine rebounds, nine assists, five fouls, five turnovers, and 18 points — on 6-23 shooting. To the extent possible, his teammates compensated: Reggie Jackson, 10-17 for 21, and Serge Ibaka, 11-14 for 26. And Serge had 10 rebounds, though no blocks. There was some noise on Twitter to the effect that Steven Adams (11 points, six boards) was not the ideal matchup for Nowitzki, but I’m not convinced there is such a thing as the ideal matchup for Dirk, who cashed in a game-high 30 points, ten of them in the fourth quarter. Dirk also hit all 12 of his free throws, which points you to the Telltate Statistic: the Thunder hit 12 free throws, but missed nine more.

But, as always, the Mavs had more than Dirk. Chandler Parsons pretty much had his way in the first quarter and finished with 26. Ellis, before his injury, had 18. And Tyson Chandler didn’t even have to play: back spasms kept him out, which explains the curious Dallas starting five: Barea and Rondo in the backcourt, Dirk in the middle, Ellis and Parsons up front. Nobody seemed perplexed by any of this, except the Thunder.

This is the next-to-last game of the year; there will be a New Year’s Eve match against the Suns at the Peake, and then comes dear, drear, dreadful January.

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Mails of the unexpected

Generally, you get Christmas cards from the people who always send you Christmas cards. The loan officer who set me up with my current mortgage, whom I’d probably have remembered for purely superficial reasons anyway, has sent me a card every year since 2003.

I was not expecting a card from singer Sabrina Lentini, whose previous EP I’d bought, and whose next EP is made possible by an indiegogo campaign that I’d backed. Apparently she addressed all these by hand: the shapes of the letters are sufficiently irregular to suggest so, and mine, at least, is non-lavishly festooned with a seasonal but nonetheless stock Forever stamp from the Postal Service. (The Santa Ana, California, post office did come up with a Santa image for the cancellation.)

I doubt she sent one of these to every one of her 2,473 Facebook fans. The seventy or so backers of the EP? That I’d believe.

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You serfs have no right to do that

And we’re going to sue you for voting against our revenue measure:

Three towns in Missouri joined together to sue the the residents of St. Charles [County] who voted to ban red light cameras. St. Peters, Lake Saint Louis and O’Fallon are asking a county circuit court judge to overturn the charter amendment banning automated enforcement adopted in November with the support of 73 percent of voters. City leaders argue that the 69,469 residents who voted for the measure had no business limiting the right of local politicians to use automated ticketing machines.

“The charter amendment invades the legislative jurisdiction of cities in contravention of state policy, and conflicts with the authority specifically delegated to cities by the state to address their specific needs including traffic and enforcement of traffic regulations,” attorney Matthew J. Fairless wrote in the cities’ complaint.

The suit alleges the charter amendment will result in “a loss of revenue” and, therefore, each of the cities has standing to sue. The cities also argue that the Missouri General Assembly gave each city government “exclusive control over all streets, alleys, avenues and public highways within the limits of such city” so that the people who live in the county have no say in the decisions made by political leaders.

Meanwhile, the state has never actually authorized these things, and a case is pending before the state Supreme Court to determine whether they can. Which clearly doesn’t bother at least one of these towns:

St. Peters was the first American city to see a red light camera corruption trial. Former Mayor Shawn Brown was convicted of soliciting a bribe from Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia. He was released from prison in 2008.

Not that this counts as motivation or anything.

(Via Fark.)

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Fourteen and unmad

That was me in 1967, when Donovan unleashed “Mellow Yellow.” Apart from the fact that the record can’t be had (legally, anyway) in stereo, its main distinction has to do with bananas:

Somehow, either in the lyrics or just scuttlebutt, word got around that you were supposed to bake the skins. So I did.

The results were, shall we say, less than enthralling:

So I baked it and then I scraped some of the baked part off and then I ate it. Awful, really awful. And waited for the buzz to begin. And waited and waited. And waited some more. And I was a senior in college at the time. And really dumb.

Of course, if I had a dollar for everything dumb ever done by college seniors, I could probably endow a couple of universities. Still, one of the defining characteristics of Homo sapiens is that individual members of the species sometimes aren’t too damn sapient.

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Disorder confirmation

You know, if I’d actually ordered this, I think I’d have known about it:

Phishing scam disguised as an confirmation

The bad bit of character encoding (in “We’ll”) gives it away, even if you don’t look at the three links, all of which go to the same URL that I have no reason to trust. Besides, Amazon doesn’t collect tax for this state — see “use tax” — and if they did, it wouldn’t be a mere 6.75 percent. (Actually, the state rate is 4.5, but city and county taxes exist, and where I live, it’s a total of 8.375, though none of that is assessed by the county.)

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Several words you can say on the Internet

I have to think the late George Carlin would have been delighted to see the arrival of Strong Language, a blog written by word experts about the seven words Carlin contended (in 1972, anyway) could never, ever be said on television, and many, many more.

One recent entry is by Nancy Friedman, on the second word in Carlin’s list:

Piss is a pretty old word in English: late 13th century, from similar words in French and Latin, according to the OED; it’s generally assumed to be onomatopoetic. For centuries it was regarded as informal but not especially naughty; in Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing (2013), Melissa Mohr notes that the King James Version of the Old Testament includes “him that pisseth against the wall” (1 Kings 14:10) and “the men … may eat their own dung, and drink their own piss” (2 Kings 18:27). (My Masoretic text, from the Jewish Publication Society of America, primly substitutes “water” for “piss” in the latter passage.)

And while you’ve been able to say “piss” on television for many years now, at least in the United Kingdom — British comics from Python on down have long told fellow troupe members, or hecklers, to piss off — it’s seldom that you see the word in an ad in The New Yorker. Friedman has, and she has a scan of it in that article.

Before you ask: yes, the site has an overview of the entire canonical Carlin list. Given its subject matter, you’d have to figure this was mandatory at some point.

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Yet so far from Walley World

This is actually Clark/Westfield. Like anyone’s going to remember that now.

And yes, it would work better, or at least look better, if it had been Photoshopped, but you wouldn’t be able to see it from the Garden State Parkway.

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Thirty days of juke

A suitable introduction:

It’s like those “#1 on your birthday” sites, except this gives you only ten songs for the whole month. But you can hear all ten of them by pushing the appropriate buttons. The list runs out at December 1989, and if the World Wide Web were in existence in 1989, this page would look like it was that old; but don’t let that stop you.

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Doesn’t look so slight to me

Then again, once it’s happened, the probability is 100 percent, right?

Screenshot from Oklahoma Mesonet

This was the Mesonet report at OKC West, taken at State Fair Park. And the water total won’t be forthcoming until the snow — 2-3 inches, more or less — actually melts into their little tin cup.

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Not to be confused with Ten Years After

Roger sent this along, and I couldn’t possibly resist putting it up here: an analysis of decade-specific words in song titles listed in Billboard.

Some of these may seem obvious: if you hear a song with “twist” or some variation thereof in the title, it’s almost certainly from the 1960s. I ran a search on the database on my desktop, and between 1960 and 1988, there were 54 chart items containing “twist” — but 46 of them were before 1965. More startling: “you” doesn’t place in the top five of any decade until the 1990s, and “love” is a factor only in the 1980s, a gentle rebuke to those who think we’ve had enough of silly love songs.

And if we’re going to play pronouns, in the 90s “you” lives cheek by jowl with “u,” and “u” persists into the new century while “you” drops below threshold, though “ya” makes a top-five appearance. After 2010, all those variations on “you” are gone — but “we” is preeminent. Sociologists ought to have a field day with that one.

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Quote of the week

The conclusion of a heartfelt piece by Brandon Finnigan at AOSHQ:

We live our lives, and make more lives, and mourn those lost, and celebrate our milestones, the milestones of others, and fuck up, and fix ourselves, and fuck up further, and triumph, and fail, and repeat all of this until our heart taps out. That is the shared experience of billions. We are well aware of the workings and complexities of the universe we live in, and for some it depresses: we get maybe ten decades of life in a multidimensional spacetime that will last trillions of years.

But those among us who see it that way get things all wrong. Sure, there is an incalculable amount of stuff in our universe (or multiverse if you subscribe to that eleven-dimension reality). Yes, there are probably trillions of life forms in this one. But the few bits of stuff lucky enough to be alive, and further, self-aware, like the bits within ourselves, have an incredible moment. The life we live itself is fantastically beautiful, especially since it isn’t guaranteed, it has no certainty, and rises and falls in the blink of a cosmic eye. Whether by chance or by divine hand, that we are even here, with the conscious ability to do and see and explore and try and hope while we are, is extremely precious. Why waste it in an introverted darkness? Why wallow? Life is promised to none of us. Live it.

This is here more for my reference than for yours.

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Devoid of buzz

Most of this game, it seemed, consisted of watching the Thunder retrieving a Hornet miss: Charlotte’s two heavy hitters, Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker, were held to 10 points between them. (Walker had 6.) Then again, all you really need to know is this: both Lance Thomas and Grant Jerrett played. In fact, no starter for either side played in the fourth quarter until Perry Jones was reinserted with three minutes left, perhaps to give him some simulated crunch-time experience. The Hornets, who’d won four straight coming into this game, looked pretty much stunned by halftime, at which point they trailed 59-40. The final was an almost-embarrassing 98-75.

There was some Charlotte offense: reserve point guard Brian Roberts knocked down 17 points in less than 20 minutes, and Marvin Williams added 11. (Cody Zeller and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were the top-scoring starters, at, um, nine each.) The Buglets shot a dismal 29 percent, 21 percent from outside, and while they did pull off eight steals, they lost the rebounding battle 57-52. And if 52 sounds like a lot of rebounds for the losing team, well, the fourth-quarter version of the Thunder obligingly missed a lot of shots, dropping OKC to under 41 percent. (Jerrett put up five treys, none of them actually going through the net.)

Russell Westbrook, who sat with three minutes left in the third, still racked up 29 points. Serge Ibaka put together another double-double: 13 points, 14 rebounds, along with four blocks. (The Hornets had two blocks total.) Anthony Morrow led the OKC bench with 11. And a 44-24 advantage in points in the paint never hurts.

So it’s back to Not Quite .500, by which we mean 15-16. Next opponent, however, will presumably be a little tougher: the Mavericks, in Dallas on Sunday.

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Standing in the draft

It is seldom a swell idea to antagonize visitors, though some folks can shrug it off [link NSFW]:

A few nudists I have spoken to tell me they answer their doors naked, and they have given pretty good reasons for doing it, and that I should too.

I just don’t have the nerve to do it though. I’d probably just collapse laughing if I did.

I’d like to hear some of those reasons, because I can’t think of any just now. This is not to say I’ve never done it before, but there are good reasons not to. Said I, about a year ago:

Actually, this is not an issue for me: I keep a robe by the door, just in case. (There were these two Jehovah’s Witnesses that one time, but that was years ago.) As a general rule, I am disinclined to outrage the neighbors. That said, it must also be said that there used to be a woman around the corner who in two years saw me dressed exactly once: there has always been a small number of people who have given notice, one way or another, that they won’t be perturbed at the sight. The operative word, though, is “small”: I don’t think there’s ever been more than four or five names on the list, and most people just call first so I’ll have time to feign decency.

And there’s perhaps another issue. I have developed a decent, so to speak, relationship with a pizza joint, based on (1) never ordering at inopportune moments and (2) being generous with tips. As a result, I tend to get my pizza somewhat faster than predicted at the time of ordering. I would hate to jeopardize this sweet deal by flashing the delivery person.

Now if sister Joni (1962-2003) were still around, I’d have to ask her about those reasons; she seemed to have no qualms about answering the door in whatever state she happened to be in. (She was on my list, and if she had had one, I was certainly on hers.)

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Importuning the Googlebot

Sent to the help desk in just this side of despair:

Why is help chat unavailable? How do I turn off the blinking (that’s a euphemism) touchpad? How do I correct spelling errors? Nevermind, a mouse will fix that. Why isn’t touchpad in the dictionary? But that is all incidental to main issue. Why aren’t local files automatically uploaded to the net? And did you really download all of my documents from the net to my Chromebook? By the way I plugged the charger into an adapter and plugged that into the wall and I was rewarded with a big fat spark. I suspect the charger is toast, but I am loath to try it in case something worse happens. BA is a big city, but I am afraid finding a replacement charger is liable to take all my available time and cash. P.S. I was going to say chromebook isn’t in the dictionary, but it was only the lower case ‘C’ that was clamoring for attention. And why do I think adaptor should be spelled with an ‘O’?

BA, incidentally, denotes Buenos Aires, not Broken Arrow.

The result:

Update: A Google-bot called me back immediately after I sent my message, only to tell me that my wait time would be 30 minutes. Are you kidding me? I am going to hang on hold for half an hour waiting to talk to someone about something simple? Well, thanks but no. I will figure this out on my own.

This is the new standard for customer service: get on it right away, and then cough up the answer at about the time you probably would have gotten to it anyway.

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She still gotta be

Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be” was one of my favorite songs of 1994, and after it popped up in the shuffle, I played it a second time, and started wondering whatever happened to her: she definitely had the songwriting chops, and she was certifiably photogenic, so where the heck is she?


The answer, apparently, is “In Canada, without a recording contract”; Sony dropped her after her 2003 album Dream Soldier failed to make any waves.

Dream Soldier by Des'ree

One single was issued from Dream Soldier: “It’s Okay,” which barely charted in Britain and never made any headway in the States. It deserved better:

Most of her catalogue is on YouTube from, um, unofficial sources, though she did upload a video of her appearance at cd:uk, which was live in the same way American Bandstand was live. I’m guessing this was taped in 1999, after Ford used “You Gotta Be” in a commercial for the Focus, prompting Sony to reissue the single:

Despite dumping Des’ree, Sony subsequently issued an album called Endangered Species: The Best of Des’ree, which includes some alternate versions from the vault and a selection of live tracks.

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Premium inversion

In the fall of 2008, I said something to this effect about my insurance bill:

For the car, that is; I’ve already gotten the notice for the house. (The car, incidentally, costs more, probably because it’s easier to steal.)

After the last few years of, um, rate adjustments, it now costs nearly twice as much to insure the house as it does the car.

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