A lot of apps for that

Pergiel’s Corollary to Parkinson’s Law:

I’m pretty much convinced that the amount of driving expands to fill the available space. No wonder people (Google at least) are working on self driving cars. It’s not so cars can fly down the freeway without anybody at the wheel, it’s so people can play tiddly-winks on their iPhones while their car spends an hour crawling along at five MPH to deliver them to work or home.

Well, okay, as long as I don’t have to do any actual work.

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Whoops, nothing there

I have bloodwork on a regular basis, and since it’s at the same place each time, they manage to find a vein more often than not. This was not, alas, always the case.

But some of you younger folk may never, ever have to experience a failure of this kind again:

Frequent donors will love it.

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Sitting in his Nowhere Land

The other day (like you should care), they bought a house that wasn’t there:

A funny thing happened yesterday: Our house ceased to exist. In fact, our entire street.

On Google Maps, I mean. Put in our address and … nothing. Clancy was trying to map out her route to work, and this complicated that greatly.

It could be worse. Imagine this:

  • House catches fire.
  • Alarm system dials 911.
  • 911 dispatch computer records the address.
  • Address is automatically looked up on Google Maps.
  • Google Maps can’t find it.
  • Emergency call is blown off, and house burns down.

And you wouldn’t have a case against Google, because how would you know the 911 crew were even using it?

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Not to be taken lightly

I think it’s fair to say that there was a great deal of trepidation going into the home opener, given the Thunder’s depleted state and the rumors that Reggie Jackson, at least, would be back tonight. He wasn’t. (I refuse to believe that this has anything to do with his newly-established restricted free-agent status.) And then things … happened. OKC held Denver to 17 points in the first quarter, 16 in the second, and sat on a 20-point lead after the third. The Nuggets, of course, didn’t go away, and their relatively fresh bench ran off eight consecutive points before Kendrick Perkins (!) knocked down a basket. And then another. If you ask me, Perk is relishing his new role as a reserve: he’s getting just as many minutes, what with all the injuries, and he’s doing a whole lot more than just watching the post. With 3:19 left, the Nuggets had shaved that 20-point lead down to a mere three; but the Thunder weren’t going to let this one get away. A 12-6 OKC run left Denver in a nine-point hole with 18 seconds left, and two Nuggets possessions produced no points. Final: Oklahoma City 102, Denver 91.

Pretty much everyone’s line looked good tonight: five of eight players in double figures, and of the three who didn’t, Nick Collison and Andre Roberson outrebounded everyone else on the court (Roberson 8, Collison 7), and Sebastian Telfair, despite five fouls, served up nine assists, also a game high. Serge Ibaka and Perry Jones both knocked down 23 points — this gives PJIII 55 in two nights — and Perk had 17. When’s the last time Perk had double figures? (The 5th of January, against the Celtics, when he had 12; it was his only double-digit performance of the year. I tell you, he likes coming off the bench.)

As could have been expected, the primary Nuggets threats were Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo, who had 25 and 14 points respectively, a lot of those coming in the 35-point fourth quarter. (Timofey Mozgov, not a factor in the fourth, garnered 19 points early.) But if you want a Telltale Statistic, you can’t do better than this: six Denver reserves scored 23 points (JaVale McGee led with 8), but three OKC benchmen — that’s all there were — scored 31.

Now comes another faraway back-to-back: Brooklyn on Monday, Toronto on Tuesday. No one was injured tonight, so maybe we’ll have nine players for one of those. Just don’t expect any high-fives from Russell Westbrook, who had hand surgery today and who will be, they say, reevaluated in four weeks.

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Well, damn

MTV apparently found this video a bit too saucy, even for 1992:

There is, of course, a VEVOfied version suitable for family consumption — maybe. I haven’t decided if the scary part is in the sheer eroticism of some of the imagery, or that “Damn” coming out at the very beginning of the chorus.

Or maybe it’s just sheer kineticism:

Sophie B. Hawkins in 2010

Identification for this shot:

Sophie B. Hawkins poses in the press room during “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops” presented by the USO at the MCAS Miramar on December 3, 2010 in Miramar, California. “VH1 Divas Salute the Troops” concert event will be televised on Sunday, December 5 at 9:00 PM ET/PT on VH1.

The B., in case you’re asking, stands for “Ballantine.”

Hawkins campaigned for Hillary Clinton in 2008; she hasn’t said if she’d do so in 2016, but she did say this:

[A]t the Love Heals benefit, Hillary Clinton wrote a letter for Bronson Van Wyck in lieu of presenting him an honor, and I have to say this; if Hillary runs again, her whole campaign should be the way that letter was written. From the mother. The mother of the planet. She is a great mother, and anyone who has children can agree that being a great mother is the toughest job. So there. This planet needs a great mother.

Hawkins is for some reason thought of as a one-hit wonder, though “As I Lay Me Down” (1995) made #6 in Billboard, only one notch lower than “Damn.”

And today is her 47th birthday.

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800 years ago today

Something I found while looking for something else:

The Siege of Sinope in 1214 was a successful siege and capture of Sinope by the Seljuq Turks under their Sultan, Kaykaus I (r. 1211–1220). Sinope was an important port city on the Black Sea coast of modern Turkey, at the time held by the Empire of Trebizond, one of the Byzantine Greek successor states formed after the Fourth Crusade. The siege is described in some detail by the near-contemporary Seljuq chronicler Ibn Bibi. The Trapezuntine emperor Alexios I (r. 1204–1222) led an army to raise it, but was defeated and captured, and the city surrendered on 1 November.

I knew that Sinope — today’s Sinop, a nifty little town of 35,000 on the Black Sea, occupies that same space — had changed hands several times over the years, though I hadn’t paid much attention to the details, and the last time I dug around for anything was when I was actually there, forty years ago.

What opened my eyes, though, was the demonym for persons from Trebizond: “Trapezuntine.” I felt briefly abashed for not knowing this. (It’s from the Latin “Trapezus,” which I am told was adapted from ancient Greek.) The Trapezuntine empire expired in 1461 at the hands of Mehmed II of the Ottomans; the surviving city of Trabzon, a place I had a chance to visit but didn’t, was its capital.

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The POODLE bites

In fact, the POODLE chews it, and the little bastard needs to be put out of its misery.

(Title from the late Frank Zappa.)

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You heard it here second

Bill Quick calls next Tuesday’s outcome:

I’m going to predict that the GOP takes all the close ones except for those the Dems are able to steal. So, call it a minimum of eight Senate flips, maybe nine.

Followed by a month of outraged leftists in media and government squawking that it didn’t mean anything.

I’d say he’s right on the money — and, given the GOP’s performance in recent years, so are the outraged leftists.

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Queen Lucy the Plymouth Valiant

Does Hyundai have Narnia on the brain?

Buried in a Reuters article on Hyundai’s new Prius-fighter was talk of Hyundai’s new Aslan sedan. The Aslan is intended to take on the growing sales of imported sedans in South Korea, namely the VW Passat, BMW 3-Series and Audi A4. Based on a front-drive architecture, the Aslan seems to occupy a slot between the Sonata and the Grandeur (aka our Azera) — which made it all the more surprising when Reuters reported that “The automaker is also looking at introducing the Aslan in China, the United States and Middle Eastern countries.”

China I can believe — they thrive on largish sedans with either actual luxury or remarkable simulations thereof — but I can’t see how they’ll sell any of them here. The White Witch certainly wouldn’t put up with it.

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Energy Star-crossed

Evidently we have been conditioned to accept inferior performance in the name of energy savings:

Well, the fan system dutifully came on, but I thought, “I didn’t really hear the furnace kick on.” But then I thought that it being “high efficiency,” maybe I wouldn’t. So I waited a bit, and then felt next to one of the vents, and realized that the air blowing out of it was at best, lukewarm. But then again, I thought, “maybe that’s the way with high efficiency furnaces, and I just have to wait.”

(Funny how so many of us have been programmed to think “efficient” and “environmentally friendly” means “less comfort less quickly”)

Turns out that this wasn’t the issue with the furnace, but the programming is real. On the far side of my office is a Kyocera laser printer, picked up by the sysadmin for a ridiculously low price — in fact, I think he got it off Woot — which is utterly dedicated to keeping its energy consumption down, and it doesn’t care how long you have to wait for a single freaking page to print. Once it’s oozed down into “Sleeping” mode, you can count on a minimum of half a minute before the paper emerges from the dark cavern.

And actually, it’s a pretty good printer, hard to break — I’ve managed to snatch it back twice from what appeared to be its death throes — but the cleaning instructions are inscrutable at best, and running a test page after cleaning takes, yes, a minimum of half a minute.

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Goblin report

For a change, I was ready by 6 pm: decorative light hung, bowl of goodies primed with the first load. On the off-chance that traffic levels might had stagnated, I bought about 17 percent less candy than last year. And no, I didn’t plan to slip anyone any Brussels sprouts.

Sunset was 6:38; ten minutes later eleven of them descended upon me. An hour passed with no more activity, and I finally closed up shop. This is disappointing in several ways — there were 45 last year, and 49 the year before — but mostly because instead of the two pounds I typically gain in November, it will probably be more like three. Or five.

Admittedly, it was a trifle colder this year than the previous two, but close to seasonal norms (high today was 60, normal is 67).

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Outré conformists

Jack Baruth sneaked this little observation into a piece about jazz:

I believe that “art” has to have a critical or contemplative or innovative component to it. Unless art makes you think about the human condition for a minute — unless it puts a new thought in your mind or forces you to re-examine thoughts you’ve already had, or advances the “state of the art” in some way — it’s not art, it’s craft.

I’d suggest that art really should have a subversive component, but we haven’t had anything that was genuinely subversive in the art world for a very long time. Piss Christ would have been subversive had it been done in the year 1450, but other than that the art world in the twentieth and twenty-first century has mostly provided tame tingles for elderly Manhattanites looking to scandalize their long-dead parents. If you doubt me, then ask yourself why Jeff Koons is rich and Banksy isn’t in jail.

That’s gonna leave a mark or two, though if you ask me, the real marks are the chuckleheads who pay big bucks for stuff that loudly pretends to be cutting-edge but is really about as edgy as the Michelin Man.

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Beside some unnamed road

Finally, someone I can endorse:

And assuming that’s his real name.

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The uncreative process

[Dream sequence, 30 October 2014]

Third-world hellholes conform to no specification but one: for the well-to-do, they aren’t particularly hellish. So when I found myself a guest of The Only Really Nice Hotel In Town — “four stars,” said the guy down the street who sells Michelin tires — I had to wonder why, since I’m about as patrician as dirt, and not the fertile, loamy stuff for which you pay extra at the nursery either. Still, everyone seemed to know my name, and there was this one twelve-year-old girl who fancied herself in love with me, something that never happened when I was twelve, you may be absolutely certain.

It was difficult finding all my personal effects, which seemed to be scattered among several cubbyholes on the ground floor, though my car was neatly garaged. Weirdly, they had room for exactly four cars, though TORNHIT boasted nearly a hundred rooms. Everyone was just as deferential as they could possibly be, and I was growing increasingly puzzled when a lanky lad, I guessed twentyish, offered to show me something of considerable interest.

So we walked along the not-quite-ruined avenue, and within a couple of blocks we’d come upon an old-style record store: they had CDs of some current stuff along one wall, but the big draw was good old fashioned vinyl.

“Isn’t this great?” said the kid, gesturing toward a different wall.

I stared in disbelief. The titles were extracted from my old mix tapes, the artwork was similar if a tad jazzed up, and the biggest print on the jacket was reserved for my name. Despite my debatable command of the local language, I could make out the ad pitch: Own Them All! At least fifteen different titles were on display, and a few more were in a rack on an adjacent corner. We’re talking gatefold packages, 180-gram vinyl, the works.

“Of course, you have all these already,” said the kid.

I nodded. “Of course.”

The store owner saw us, rushed to our side, and some electronic device somewhere began serving up a track from the newest release. It didn’t sound like anything I’d ever heard before, let alone actually assembled. It was jagged, yet somehow mellow; it was scary fast, but somehow soothing. (Closest equivalent in the “real” world: a Taylor Swift cover of Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music.) “It’s the best thing you’ve ever done!” said the storekeeper, not softly enough; in a matter of seconds we were mobbed.

When we got back to TORNHIT, a small number of fans had gathered to get my autograph on their copies of “my” records. Why they hadn’t done this at the store, I don’t know: inadequate planning, perhaps. Still, it was entertaining to interact with the fans, though I had to fake my way through a lot of answers that I simply didn’t know.

And then came dinnertime, and I discovered that I had misplaced — or that someone had appropriated — my white dinner jacket. “They’ll never know the difference,” I persuaded myself, and if indeed they did, well, they didn’t say a word.

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Another case where you can’t tell the players without a scorecard:

The Australian Progressive Party and the Australian Progressives went public within days of each other. The parties have superficial similarities and they have nearly identical names and website colour themes. They both claim nation-wide interest in a spread of state and federal seats. They want to appeal to a wide voter base by producing policies on a range of issues rather than being a one-issue party of protest. And both rely on grassroots members and donations to stay afloat.

The People’s Front of Judea was not available for comment.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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Attrition intensifies

And then there were eight. Russell Westbrook banged up his hand in the second quarter and did not return, the seventh Thunder player injured in this annus horribilis. (Suddenly, the signing of the relatively unheralded Lance Thomas to the 15th roster spot looks like yet another brilliant act of Prestidigitation.) If the remaining players had been able to control the ball, they might have pulled off the win, the mighty Clippers being slightly disorganized and otherwise looking like a team playing its first game of the season — which they were — and Scott Brooks suddenly looking like the world’s greatest manager of minutes. With :34 left, it was L.A. 89, OKC 88; the 27th Thunder turnover gave the ball back to the Clips, and Chris Paul promptly missed two free throws; OKC came up empty once more, and Blake Griffin sank two freebies to give the Clips a three-point lead. Nick Collison tossed up two in return, and J. J. Redick finalized the deal with two more: a Serge Ibaka trey at the buzzer went awry, and Los Angeles won it, 93-90.

Westbrook, while he was around, had two points and four assists in eight minutes. Sebastian Telfair looked better than he did last night — decent ball movement, timely free throws — but for him to get any rest, Perry Jones III once or twice found himself running the offense. Jones, fortunately, had a career night: a game-high 32 points and seven rebounds. With 17 from Ibaka and 11 from Telfair, you have to wonder what might have happened if the Thunder had hit some of the six free throws, or the fifteen treys, they missed.

Griffin, who fouled out in the last minute of the game, led the Clips with 23; CP3 had 22, and Jamal Crawford contributed 16 from the bench. L.A. lost most of the standard stat categories: shooting (43-39%), rebounds (47-33), assists (23-17). However, they turned it over only 12 times, and in this game, that was enough.

First home game is Saturday night against the Nuggets. Will anyone be recovered by then? Ask me at game time.

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