Wind unwound?

The Big Breezy wasn’t all that breezy last year, reports Oklahoman Real Estate Editor Richard Mize:

At first glance, it’s hard to believe Oklahoma City didn’t make CoreLogic’s annual Windy City Index for 2016, neither by top wind speed nor number of wind events. That’s partly because tornadoes don’t count as wind events. So even the couple of little tornadoes that did hit last year wouldn’t have changed the rankings.

Now I want to yell at the weather forecasters with their tornado suits on: “You call that a wind event?

So who tops the index? Nashville, Tennessee:

The windiest city in the U.S. in 2016 was Nashville, according to a yearly analysis of weather data from CoreLogic, a research and consulting firm.

The city came in first among the nation’s largest 279 metro areas, CoreLogic said. The ranking takes into account both the number of strong wind events as well as the total force caused by any severe wind gusts of 60 mph or more.

Nashville had 21 wind-related events in 2016 and a maximum wind speed of 72 mph. It was followed by Reno, Jackson, Miss., Cincinnati and Columbia, S.C., as the USA’s windiest cities last year, according to CoreLogic.

If these places seem awfully close to one another, there’s a reason for that:

All of the USA’s highest wind speeds in 2016 were recorded during Hurricane Matthew’s rampage up the East Coast, with the highest being 101 mph, which was recorded at Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 6.

And if you’re asking why CoreLogic cares, Mize can tell you:

CoreLogic, a financial and property data firm based in Irvine, California — with its Weather Verification Services arm in Norman — collects and [analyzes] this data to provide to the insurance industry. One-fourth of all claims are for wind damage, CoreLogic says.

We may take heart in the fact that Chicago, the Windy City of legend, didn’t place either.


Into something good

The Best of Herman's Hermits: The 50th Anniversary AnthologyOf all the Sixties groups I can name — and believe me, I can name a heck of a lot of them — Herman’s Hermits got just about the least benefit of stereo recording techniques, largely because producer Mickie Most didn’t believe in such a thing: he was a singles man, and singles were mixed to mono because singles were always mixed to mono, and he did much the same thing for the Animals and for Donovan and even for Lulu. (Most’s only real rival here was Joe Meek, and Meek, who died in 1967, is undeservedly unknown in the States; the Yardbirds got similar nonsupport from Giorgio Gomelsky, who died last week.) So a 66-track compilation with, um, 66 tracks in stereo is going way beyond the call of duty; 58 of them have appeared in mono only for half a century.

More astonishing than that is that these 66 tracks appear on a mere two CDs; the legendary German reissue label Bear Family managed to cram more than 87 minutes on each of these discs. (The CD spec originally called for 74 minutes, later boosted to 80.) Better yet, they hired Ron Furmanek to do tape research and produce, and Furmanek is one of the best in the biz. A lot of the early stuff is two-track because that’s all there was; producers of this particular era figured that this was the last step before a proper mono mix, and that’s what they kept.

The songs, or at least the hits anyway, you already know. A few have additional studio talk or countoffs from the original tapes; “Mrs Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” runs out to a cold ending instead of fading at 2:46 like the 45. The booklet runs 140 pages, and explains several things it didn’t occur to me to wonder about, like why the Hermits recorded old R&B stuff like “Silhouettes” and Sam Cooke’s “Wonderful World.” Both these songs, it turns out, were controlled by American gung-ho exec Allen Klein, who took on Most’s representation in the States, and later managed both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. No wonder latter-day issues, when you could find them, came out on Klein’s ABKCO label — in mono, of course.

The band’s fractious post-1970 existence led to no hits, so the collection runs out in 1970. (The last American chart item, “Something’s Happening,” was recorded in late 1968 and released in 1969.) If you remember Herman and the Hermits, this is a pricey way to get all their tunes; a 2004 ABKCO issue called Retrospective contains the hits for about half as much — in mono, of course.

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Fantasy killers

The funny thing about assassins is: you start taking the ass out of them, and there’s still ass remaining. Which is a half-assed way of saying what Roberta X says here:

Then we have the calls for assassination. Hey, idiots, do you know how you get an Imperial Presidency? That way. One of the wonderful, distinguishing characteristics of the U. S. federal government is that we have an effective mechanism for the peaceful transfer of power, to which no less an experienced, partisan figure than President Obama has recently alluded. Do you suppose he’s thrilled with his replacement? I’ll tell you one thing, he does know how the system is supposed to work, and why. And if an incumbent President turns out badly, there are mechanisms for dealing with that, too, like impeachment (a process started against multiple Presidents and often resulting in significant change even without actually removing them) and the more-obscure process of removing an ailing or insane Chief Executive. But with every change of the party in power, the more tinfoil-hatted among the opposition, usually the very same people who have been glowing in their praises for Working Within The System, are suddenly shouting “Off with his head!” I think they’re already off their heads, but it’s not quite the same thing.

To some of these yutzes (“yutzim”?), delayed gratification is no gratification at all. If that sounds like a second-grader to you, well, you should not be surprised.

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We’ll be Bach, somewhere

Our old friend Lisa let it be known what she was listening to instead of the Trump Show yesterday:

Automotive radio tuned to KDFC in the San Francisco Bay Area

This banged into my forehead, since once upon a time I had memorized the dial position of just about every commercial classical-music station in the nation, and KDFC, so far as I remembered, was at 102.1. (They’d had a crosstown rival, KKHI, at 95.7, but they died about 20 years ago.)

So what happened here? It didn’t take long to find the truth of the matter:

The KDFC-FM call sign and programming were previously assigned to 102.1 FM, from its inception in 1948 until January 2011, when the format and intellectual property moved to the former KUSF. The University of Southern California also acquired the 89.9 FM frequency in Angwin, California and its two translator signals in Eureka and Lakeport. The KDFC call sign was officially assigned to the Angwin station.

But that’s 89.9. This KDFC must therefore be — another translator! And so it is.

Historically, 104.9 has been the location of a lot of small-town signals that didn’t compete with the Big Boys; originally FM Class A was limited to 3,000 watts ERP at 100 meters, and only Class A stations were assigned to 104.9. This is no longer the case, and current Class A stations are allowed 6,000 watts. But KDFC isn’t the only classical station that got shunted off to 104.9; WCLV in Cleveland, formerly on a 30-kw stick at 95.5, not only moved down the dial but out of town, into the city of Lorain to the northwest. I remember dialing in from south of Cleveland and making a turn eastward to see if the new and unimproved signal could reach Severance Hall, on Cleveland’s east side. (Answer: barely, at least with the equipment I had.)

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That’ll show ’em

Please note what Fark has done to the Politics tab:

That's 'Politics' in Russian, or at least in Cyrillic

This is worth about six hundred fifty paragraphs from the likes of Vox.

Update, 9 pm: And sensibly, they didn’t allow the joke to go on too long; the tabs have been, um, normalized.


Just call ’em the Jays

And this is why:

And when will these be seen?

For every Sunday home game and again on Canada Day, the Jays will wear these red-soaked alternates.

Never argue with the Baseball Establishment. They’ve already scared the devil out of Tampa Bay.

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Return on disinvestment

For a mall that isn’t quite dead yet, this is an astonishing statistic:

A Pennsylvania mall that was foreclosed on after its owners failed to repay $143 million has been auctioned off for $100.

Wells Fargo Bank was owed the money from a 2006 loan and submitted the winning bid for the 1.1 million-square-foot Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills on Wednesday. The bank was acting as trustee for MSCI 2007 HQ11, the trust that bought the mall in suburban Frazer Township.

Wells Fargo foreclosed last year on the mall, which opened in 2005. The mall once was worth $190 million but recently was appraised at just $11 million and is slightly more than half occupied. Pittsburgh Mills Limited Partnership defaulted on the loan.

In its day, the mall was notable enough to have a Wikipedia entry.

(Via Fark.)

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Pants of incendiary nature

The Castaways’ original version of “Liar, Liar” ran eight or nine seconds short of two minutes and ended with a nice, cold thump, as though the prevaricator in question had finally been silenced.

But that was 1965. Twenty-three years later, Debbie Harry covered the song for the soundtrack of Married to the Mob, and despite being just as speedy as the Castaways, she takes almost three minutes to bring things to an acceptable closing. Like anyone wanted Blondie Herself to disappear in a hurry.

As mobsters go, these are pretty cartoonish, but then again, Married to the Mob was supposed to be funny.

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And timely, too

This was the Quote of the Week at Finestkind Clinic and fish market:

Not long after [Andrew Ferguson] and I met, we were driving down Pennsylvania Avenue and encountered some or another noisy pinko demonstration. “How come,” I asked Andy, “whenever something upsets the Left, you see immediate marches and parades and rallies with signs already printed and rhyming slogans already composed, whereas whenever something upsets the Right, you see two members of the Young Americans for Freedom waving a six-inch American flag?”

“We have jobs,” said Andy.

[P. J. O’Rourke, from the introduction to Parliament of Whores, published in 1992]

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You had, um, one job

Snoopy the Goon reports on a curious, or perhaps not so curious, Russian decree:

State Duma Deputy, Yelena Mizulina from the party “Fair Russia”, Chairman of the Duma Committee on Family Affairs, Doctor of Jurisprudence proposes to introduce a penalty for men for failing to perform their marital duty.

“The family is a social unit,” says Mizulina. “Evasion of execution of marital duty is an evasion of duty to the community. If a man for no apparent reason (eg health-related.) systematically fails to fulfill his conjugal duty, or executes it carelessly to get done with it — he must pay a fine to the State. This measure will further strengthen the family and improve the morale in the country. And adultery must be punished as treason — by imprisonment. It is proposed to set the quota of execution of marital duty in Russia for men aged up to 45 years — to 1 time per week. For older people, this rate can be reduced.

Admittedly, this is a Snoopy + Google Translate version, but I still quail at the term “execution of marital duty.” Snoopy, for his part, doesn’t:

I would suggest that for the public to get into the spirit of the thing, a few public executions here and there, from time to time, would be helpful.

Might improve compliance, at least at first.

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Standard cab

I don’t quite believe this just yet, but the idea tickles me something fierce:

Checker pickup truck

If this looks to you like half an old Checker Marathon, the definitive 1960s taxi, with a truck bed attached, well, that’s kind of what it is:

Checker Motor Cars, based in Haverhill, Massachusetts, is the indirect descendant of the Kalamazoo, Michigan company that cranked out odd but iconic Marathons from 1961 until 1982. Those boxy vehicles, which looked old even when the model debuted, populated taxi fleets from coast to coast and earned the Marathon a cult following. The original company officially bit the dust in 2010 after leaving the auto manufacturing business in 1982. Now, a reborn Checker services and restores those earlier vehicles.

Yeah. So?

With fingers crossed, Checker plans to take advantage of the recent Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act and build two models — a two-door pickup version of its classic sedan (called the Sport Pickup Cross-over), and a six-door, 12-passenger version, similar to the old Aerobus airport hauler. The company says it’s making headway, with a host of suppliers lined up.

“Low volume” is defined in the law as 325 per year, and Checker doesn’t expect to bump up against that ceiling. The pick-em-up will be powered by a GM crate engine, which makes sense, inasmuch as the original Checker cars, after a few years with the same Continental inline-six that powered Kaiser/Frazer cars, were equipped with Chevrolet mills.

Production target date: sometime in late 2018.

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Miserable data

Steve H. Hanke, current proprietor of the Misery Index, explains the methodology:

The Misery Index has been modified several times, first by Robert Barro of Harvard and then by myself. My modified Misery Index is the sum of the unemployment, inflation, and bank lending rates, minus the percentage change in real GDP per capita. A higher Misery Index score reflects higher levels of “misery,” and it’s a simple enough metric that a busy president without time for extensive economic briefings can understand at a glance.

Heh. Indeed. And the first three are way out there beyond the rest:

Venezuela holds the inglorious spot of most miserable country for 2016, as it did in 2015. The failures of the socialist, corrupt petroleum state have been well documented over the past year, including when Venezuela became the 57th instance of hyperinflation in the world.

Argentina holds down the second most miserable rank, and the reasons aren’t too hard to uncover. After the socialist Kirchner years, Argentina is transitioning away from the economy-wracking Kirchner policies, but many problematic residues can still be found in Argentina’s underlying economic framework.

Brazil, at number 3, is a hotbed of corruption and incompetence, as the recent impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff indicates.

The US, 39th among 59, checks in with a 9.4. Here’s how your Top Three did:

  1. Brazil: 75.0
  2. Argentina: 83.8
  3. Venezuela: 573.4

Least miserable? The Japanese, with a 0.4.

(Via Fausta’s blog.)


One last laurel

Twenty-four times a year, The Oklahoma Observer would blast into one’s mailbox, with laurels when the situation permitted and darts when someone messed up. This was the way of Forrest J. “Frosty” Troy, who edited the Observer for decades — his wife Helen, whom he considered the brains of the operation, was the publisher — and who finally retired in 2006, once he found a kindred spirit (Arnold Hamilton) to take it over.

Reliably liberal in the last-century sense, Frosty was occasionally predictable, but every now and then he’d throw the readers (typically about 7,000 circulation) a curve, and it would almost always turn out that he was way ahead of that curve.

The one person I had hoped would have something to say on Frosty’s death at 83 was one-time Oklahoman editorial writer and current City Sentinel wheel Patrick McGuigan, and Pat did not let me down:

After he stopped coming to the Capitol, members of the House and Senate staff would stop by the press room to ask if I knew how he was doing. I told them what I knew through friends. Frosty moved into a home for those afflicted with memory loss. For awhile, he and the legendary Paul English — each of them scourges of politicians in both parties — were roommates. That seemed appropriate, somehow.

Like my parents of blessed memory, Frosty made the prayer list in the weekly bulletin at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He was still on the list distributed last Sunday.

Some people hated Frosty. Once upon a time, I guess I did.

But I came to love him. Those are the right words. The guy who had denounced many of my writings and policy preferences — and the reporter who gave you-know-what to every governor in my lifetime — emerged, in the actual knowing, as a man much like myself.

He was in love with Oklahoma and in love with words. He possessed a healthy combination of optimism and pessimism.

Which latter, I think, comes from living here long enough. And just for the record, when I put together a brief sendoff for Midwest City founder and Oklahoma Journal publisher W. P. Bill Atkinson, it was Frosty Troy who helped me with the details, some of which I’m reasonably certain no one else would know, or would admit to.

(Paul English, long-time Capitol reporter for the Oklahoman, died last spring.)

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I’m sure someone can explain this

I’m pretty sure, though, that I can’t. A note affixed to my most recent (okay, only) Amazon PrimePantry order:

Frequently Bought With ZzzQuil Nighttime Sleep Aid

About the only thing these items would seem to have in common is that 4½-star rating.

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Advantage: cheapness

Out of yesterday’s tweetstream:

Which ends up here, and to these two paragraphs deemed relevant to my interests:

The blood pressure medication Dean had taken for 20 years was hydrochlorothiazide. It is the most commonly prescribed medication for blood pressure, not because it is safe or effective, but because it is the one insurance companies choose to pay for! Below is an eye-opening quote from an article sent to me by a reader. (Thanks, Joan.)

‘In an article published in Postgraduate Medicine, Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute, leading cardiovascular research scientist, James J. DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., and cardiologist James H. O’Keefe, M.D., examined some of the most commonly prescribed blood pressure medications and their effectiveness in reducing heart attacks and mortality versus a placebo. In many instances, the research revealed that often the most popular medications are not only not the best, in many instances they are not any more effective than a placebo or may actually cause harm… The most commonly prescribed thiazide diuretic in the United States is hydrochlorothiazide, with more than 1 million people receiving a prescription in 2008. However, this medication increased cardiovascular death and coronary heart disease compared to both the placebo and control in two clinical trials. Alternatively, only 25,000 people received a prescription for chlorthalidone in 2008, even though this medication consistently demonstrated significant reductions in heart attacks and strokes compared to placebo… Currently there is no universal rating system in the United States where medications can be selected by clinicians based upon their effectiveness. Rather, insurance companies ‘pay for performance’ or ‘pay for service,’ but this does not guarantee the selection of effective medications.”

Read the full article here:

I have always suspected that a drug manufacturer would rather sell you a hundred thousand pills over 25 years for $4500 than sell you a single treatment for $20,000. They evidently make it up in volume.

That said, I have been taking some form of HCTZ — generally in combination with, yes, potassium — for more than a decade. My heart’s fine, if a tad irregular; it’s everything else that’s messed up.


Tuning forked

Some time during the last century, I was trying to create the illusion that I could play piano, and the poor woman tasked with Making It So immediately noticed that the family instrument was tuned a hair differently. “The current standard calls for the A above middle C to be tuned to 440 Hz.”

Compulsive math whiz that I was at the time, I immediately found something wrong with this, based on my devotion to C Major: should not middle C, the anchor of the entire keyboard, be a nice binary multiple like 256 Hz? Tune to A=440, and middle C becomes 261 point something, which seems inelegant. She reassured me that the Pitch Police were not on the way, and I went back to fumbling with scales.

And I didn’t think about it for at least fifty years, until an image was dropped into my Facebook timeline:

Conspiracy theory on musical tuning

I note for reference the following:

I decided to flush this from my mind with the playing of Deep Purple’s “A’ 200,” from the Burn album, but I could not find my cassette, and none of the proffered versions on YouTube would play at all.

I blame the Rothschilds.

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