This will not end well

I’ve had issues with gas stations before. I remember gassing up a loaner G37 one day and not knowing how to open the fuel door. (Hey, my I30 has a proper remote release on the driver’s door.) I got to act foolish for a few moments, one of which I spent looking for the owner’s manual, which the dealership had thoughtfully removed, presumably shrinkwrapped in storage for the benefit of the ultimate buyer. Eventually, I was able to get gas and get going.

Yeah, I was dumb. But I wasn’t this dumb:

Eventually, one of the laughing fellows behind the camera got out and gave assistance to the distressed damsel.

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Now go over there and lie down

If at times our relationship with Turkey seems a bit muddled, at least some of it has to do with our traditional American insularlty: often, we can’t be bothered to find out what’s happening on the street. I didn’t do such a hot job of it when I was actually there, though I can pass off “security” as a reasonable excuse.

I wasn’t there when Makbule Hande Özyener was born in 1973. (Got there about 14 months later.) Of course, I had no way of knowing that she was destined to be a pop star. In 2000 she released her first album, Senden İbaret, from which “Yalanın Batsın” (“you lie down”) was the lead single, heard here in a clip from a TV show:

Senden İbaret moved about three-quarter of a million copies, and Hande Yener, her newly shortened name, was on her way. She continued to make serious chart noise until about 2007, when she abruptly turned to purely electronic sounds. Perhaps anticipating the response, she titled her 2007 album Nasıl Delirdim? “When did I go crazy,” indeed.

Hande Yener shakes it off

Hande Yener takes a seat and a drink

Hande Yener on stage

Some received the new style well; others turned on Yener after singer Serdar Ortaç somehow incurred her wrath. Said Yener:

“I’m not making music only for commercial purposes and I don’t make a music that can’t be understood. Every time one of his albums are released, he keeps talking about me in his interviews. I don’t want to be compared to those who make ‘grocery music’.”

This sounded even more pretentious than it was, and Ortaç shot back:

“If I’m making grocery music I’m proud of it. Grocery is a music genre that appeals to every corner of the society.”

The feud eventually played itself out, and after one more album of electronica to fulfill her record contract, she signed with another label, only to find herself at odds with the label’s management. Lawsuits ensued.

And Hande Yener’s life is still turbulent; now considered a gay icon, and a friend, or perhaps an enemy, of the ruling AKP party, her image now seems protean. If you say this sounds kind of like Madonna, she’ll probably smile.

The current single, her first in English, is called “Love Always Wins.”

Sounds a little Madonnaesque, now that I think about it.

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And Amazon has a chestnut roaster

The Internet has screwed up Christmas shopping, says a Grauniad scold:

Christmas shopping was so much easier when stuff existed.

If you cast your mind back into the distant past, you may remember a simpler time before we lived our lives online. A time when, if you knew your mom loved Linda Ronstadt, you could purchase a recording of Linda Ronstadt, wrap it up, and place it under the tree. On Christmas morning, your mom would delightedly open the package and have something new.

It was hers, this Linda Ronstadt album. It didn’t exist as some sort of intangible entity on some distant corporate server. It was just there, in her house. Your mom had that Linda Ronstadt album, and no one could claim otherwise.

Or let’s say you were 16 and you saw Garden State with your girlfriend, Amanda, and you were both convinced it had changed your lives. Zach Braff, you realized, just understood your generation. When Christmas came around, if you were still under this mistaken impression, you could be very romantic and obtain this film for Amanda. She would treasure it. When she brought her impressive film collection to college, every time she took it out, she would think of you and those heady days of ninth grade, hanging out in Xavier’s basement. (It’s cool you had a friend named Xavier. Not a lot of people do.)

It was a time when the various media everyone accrued was a fundamental part of who they were. Helping to expand others’ collections was a way of helping them build that identity. You were saying: hey, I know what you care about and by God, I’m going to find it for you. And it won’t even be that hard.

I don’t want to brag, but I used to be a great gift giver. You mentioned Smokey Robinson on our first date? Bam, you’re getting the Tamla Motown Gold Collection. You like Sleater-Kinney? Prepare for some B-sides in your stocking. You think you’re some kind of “film buff?” I’ll find you some weird black and white thing you can claim to be really into.

But every year, as more and more stuff evaporates from the physical world to take up residence on a subscription service, the holidays get a little harder. It’s not like you can just buy someone a Netflix account — that’s a monthly financial commitment, and anyway I think there’s only about three accounts in existence, shared by 78% of the global population.

I realize having unlimited access to every form of media ever created has its perks. I just get a bit nostalgic around this time of year.

Fortunately, one ancient technology seems, against the odds, to be surviving. Yes, Borders is gone, Barnes and Noble is in trouble, and e-readers are omnipresent. But small bookshops have actually seen growth, and ebooks just can’t seem to kill off their paper predecessors. Even Amazon, the maker of the Kindle, is going out of its way to promote real books with its own physical shops.

A great New Yorker cover a few years ago shows an alien sitting among the post-apocalyptic wreckage of a future Earth. Nothing works any more, but the alien has still found a way to entertain itself: it’s reading a book.

I bet that alien would be really easy to shop for.

If there’s anyone left to shop for him.

I can’t get quite so exercised about matters. If one sort of gift has been reduced in stature, others are doing just fine, thank you very much.

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Coal in one’s crew socls

So you’re looking at the game infomation before tipoff, you notice the absence of Chris Paul, and you chortle: “What, is James Harden going to beat us all by himself?”

A few hours later, you realize that the answer is “Damn near.” Clint Capela had a hair-raising double-double 16-23, with ten of those rebounds off the offensive glass, and four other Rockets landed in double figures, but the star of this show was The Beard, who put up so many shots you had to figure some of them had to fall. Fifteen did, out of 35, and Harden finished with 41 points, kind of what you’d expect from the guy leading the NBA in scoring. And Houston is avenged for the Christmas Day loss last year, wearing down the Thunder 113-109 and tying the season series at 1-1.

As usual, OKC defense against the three-point ball was conspicuous by its not having shown up; the Rockets put up 44 treys, making 14. You can point to that and say “32 percent”; but you can also say “42 points,” and that’s the one that counts. The other phrase that pays is “one and done,” and while both sides reveled in offensive rebounds, the Rockets made them count: 23 second-chance points, versus nine for OKC. Both Paul George and Russell Westbrook were a tad under par, with PG-13 picking up a 28-point, 14-rebound double-double and The Force falling short of a triple-double at 21-9-9. This being the third game in four days, could there have been a fatigue factor? Possibly. But tough noogies if there is.

Three days until the next game, at Phoenix. Fortunately, the Suns are fairly terrible this year; unfortunately, the Thunder only have that one game remaining against them, on Friday. (Rumours that the Suns might shove off to, um, Seattle appear to be unfounded.) For now, it’s Christmas dinner and whatever post-mortems Billy Donovan deems necessary.

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You were told to have happy holidays

Received in email a week ago:

Emailed Christmas card from a tree service

By the current standards of email, this is not bad at all. But seven days later, another copy — second verse, same as the first — is delivered to my mailbox. Failure of the system? No. Get a load of this:

Same email with slightly different header

Let’s hope I don’t get another one next week.

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Get those halls decked, stat

So what is this “gay apparel” business, anyway? Erin Palette has the specifications:

Gay Apparel
Light Armor

  • Aura: Faint illusion
  • Caster Level: 4th
  • Cost: 1,151 gp

Gay Apparel is a masterwork reinforced tunic of red, green and white, usually decorated with bells and festive designs of snowflakes, candy canes and reindeer. Because it is essentially a shirt, Gay Apparel can be donned (or removed) as a Move Action (there is no “don hastily” option for Gay Apparel).

When worn by anyone possessing bardic performance, Gay Apparel grants the Lingering Performance feat. When worn by anyone with at least one rank in Perform: Sing, it grants the use of the Basic Harmony teamwork feat even if they lack the prerequisites.

Construction Requirements: Craft Magic Arms and Armor, Basic Harmony, Lingering Performance, Auditory Hallucination.

And a fa-la-la to you all.

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Sanctuary much

Now this is how you do sanctuary right [warning: autostart video]:

A non-stop church service in the Netherlands — aimed at stopping an Armenian family from being deported — has become so popular it has issued tickets for the Christmas period to control numbers. The service has been going around the clock since October 26 — more than 1,400 hours.

Under Dutch law, police officers are not permitted to enter a church while a religious service is taking place. So, church leaders hatched the idea of meeting non-stop to prevent the Tamrazyans from being removed from the country. Since then, hundreds of pastors and volunteers have taken part in the service.

And it’s not like the family sneaked over the border late one night:

The Tamrazyans have lived in the Netherlands for almost nine years, but their claim for political asylum was rejected. The Dutch Minister for Migration, Mark Harbers, has so far refused to use his discretionary powers to intervene and allow them to stay.

“Just before Christmas, when we celebrate God’s humanity-loving and peaceful deeds, we feel strengthened not to forsake our responsibility for the Tamrazyan family,” Rev. Theo Hettema, chair of the Protestant Church The Hague, said in a statement.

(Via Dawn Summers.)

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Pronounced “fffp”

Okay, it’s not really pronounced “fffp.” However, it did have me emitting strange noises yesterday:

The current stable release is 7.3. (Weirdly, 7.0 is considered “old,” but 5.6 is still supported. There never was a 6.x release.) After finding where the toggles were, I have updated every site under my control to 7.2.11; the host tends to be conservative in its adoption of fresh versiuns.) Memory usage is much the same as it was under 7.0. We’re using FastCGI because, well, we can.

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Oh, snap, three, snap

Country music is still out there. It’s just that the country in question seems to be Sweden, where pop production is utterly mechanized:

God forbid that Dolly Parton should ever meet up with Max Martin. (Then again, she’ll outlast him, as she’ll outlast us all.)

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Seven weeks until Valentine’s Day

I don’t speak a word of Arabic, but this seems awfully romantic just the same:

Charmaleena makes jewelry in Jeddah, on the Saudi coast of the Red Sea.

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2018 Sociopathfinder

Is there any reason why this individual shouldn’t be snuffed out like an old stogie? Do you ever Key random cars in a parking lot, say walking between 2 cars heading into a store, taking one of your keys and running it down?

Said one respondent: “You deserve a beatdown if somebody catches you.”

This was his return volley:

So I don’t deserve one if they don’t … Kinda like a Serial Keyer … The fear of being caught .. Oh My .. The Excitement, Adrenalin pumping as you feel your key running deep into their car .. Down to bare medal. It almost makes one feel euphoric, almost Godly … Catch Me If You Can … Hee Hee Hee

Definitely psycho.

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Strange search-engine queries (673)

‘Twas the day before Christmas, because that’s the thing.
But there’s no one on Yahoo, nobody on Bing;
The absence of Googlers, the records doth show,
And we never get anything from DuckDuckGo.

heirarchy of knees:  In general, Zooey Deschanel > Jennifer Aniston.

does porn make you stupid:  Consider the possibility that you were stupid to begin with.

causes of action real estate drug house:  Try to avoid whispering the phrase “meth lab.”

jesus poor always capitalist:  Render unto Sears the things that are Sears’.

“we built this city on basketball”:  Gotta be Oakland, at least until the Chase Center opens up across the Bay.

ugly wheels worst:  The total of the diameter of your “rims” and the length of your penis can never exceed 24.

angela merkel in bikini kurfurstendamm:  In the land where FKK culture arose, not even the Bundeskanzler need wear a swimsuit.

34dd chest:  Definitely not the Bundeskanzler.

maxim the hottest girls from australia turkey and new jersey:  Well, East Coast girls are hip; I really dig those styles they wear.

new jersey turnpike in the wee wee hours:  I’ve driven the Turnpike, and believe me, you don’t dare stop to wee wee.

standard per diem rates for touring musicians:  Not much, but more than you’ll make from streaming.

bad fitting suit:  Right this way, Mr. President.

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Wolves were waiting

After last night’s ordeal in Salt Lake City, you might have been hoping that coming home to play Minnesota might be simple, even restful. Um, no. The Timberwolves were out for blood, and it didn’t take them long to get the first taste: after twelve minutes, they’d built a ten-point lead. And they kept the pressure on into the second quarter, right until the moment that Karl-Anthony Towns delivered a knee to Steven Adams’ dangly bits. Suddenly the momentum changed, and OKC finished the half with a 19-5 run to take a ten-point lead at the half. Third quarter, no problem, right? Not tonight. The Wolves won that one 33-17, and it took nearly half the fourth quarter for the Thunder to get back in gear. At 1:24, the game was tied at 108; thirty seconds later, an Adams stickback put OKC up by two. Another thirty seconds, and that two-point lead had been cut in half. An Andrew Wiggins layup gave the Wolves the lead at :14. Half of that time expired, Russell Westbrook fouled out again, Wiggins picked up one of two free throws, the ball changed hands two or three times, and the Thunder’s last possession ended not with a goal, but a whiff. Minnesota 114, Oklahoma City 112, the first Wolves road win against a Western opponent since last season.

Wiggins was Minnesota’s go-to guy all night, finishing with 30 points (11-20) in a daunting 42 minutes, a good 15 minutes longer than any of his teammates. Towns, in the middle, knocked down 18. The Wolves shot 49 percent, 52 on treys (14-27), and moved the ball decidedly better, 25 assists to 17. Paul George broke thirty again, with 31 points and 11 rebounds; Westbrook, before winning a free trip to the locker room, posted yet another triple-double, 23-11-10. And you have to wonder if the Wolves simply have the Thunder’s number: since the beginning of the 2017-18 season, Minnesota has taken four of five from OKC.

So it’s off to Houston and a Christmas-afternoon meeting with the Rockets, minus Chris Paul for now but newly fortified with Austin Rivers. We leave with some actual good news:

Good on you, Dre.

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As the cycle beginneth anew

Roger wrote this for an Advent devotional at his church:

Quite a few of my friends are apathetic or even antagonistic towards the church. I totally get that. I’d been there myself some years ago.

My friends often see some elements of the church favoring those who have, the insiders. “Send money” so the pastor can have a bigger house, a better plane. I actually heard one of these guys say that if Jesus had come to earth in the 21st century, rather than the first, he’d be riding around in the newest and fanciest airbus.

That’s not the Jesus I’m seeing in this passage. He is instead a sacrificial Lord. While He is learned enough to swap scripture with the scribes and elders, He’s spending most of His time tending to the marginalized.

Scripture seems pretty solid on this: I’m sure that Christ would have had more interest in feeding five thousand with what started out as barely enough food to fill a bag of Subway sandwiches than in buying a couple days’ lunch for a dozen or so passengers in a Gulfstream.

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Sunshine of your lava

Poster for Krakatoa East of Java

The bright colors of Sixties Cinerama bear little resemblance to the reality of 2018:

The BBC issued this report:

At least 20 people have been killed and 165 injured after a tsunami hit the coast around Indonesia’s Sunda Strait, government officials say.

The country’s disaster management agency says two people are missing, and dozens of buildings were damaged.

It says the possible cause of the tsunami were undersea landslides after the Krakatoa volcano erupted.

The Sunda Strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra connects the Java Sea to the Indian Ocean.

Or maybe, to give it a Hollywood flourish, “Krakatoa 2”: the eruption in 1883, sort of portrayed in that 1969 disaster film, destroyed most of the island on which the volcano sat, and killed more than 30,000 people. In 1927, a new island was detected at the site of the old one, and it continues to grow at an average of five meters per year, fed by the sort of undersea flow that may have contributed to the present-day tsunami.

Incidentally, the film lost many millions in its original release, and was given a second release under the title Volcano, the filmmakers having learned that Krakatoa is in fact west of Java.

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Scumbag Steve makes a haul

This came down the line from NextDoor yesterday:

Thief caught on camera

This does not appear to be the original Scumbag Steve. And as always, no offense is intended toward actual bags of scum.

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