Just across from 419

420 is one of those numbers with so many recorded uses that Wikipedia maintains a disambiguation page for it. Unless you were concerned with 420’s status as a sparsely totient number, you were probably thinking hempish thoughts, in which case Nancy Friedman has a nicely informative piece called “420: The Brand,” inasmuch as 420 “has a long history in cannabis culture.”

420 Carpenter

420 Carpenter in Lacey, Washington, a suburb east of Olympia, provides its customers with, they say, “accessible, top quality cannabis and cannabis paraphernalia¹ in a friendly and professional environment,” which is now legal in Washington state, pending the Feds getting their BVDs in a bind. It does not, from the looks of things, resemble the stereotypical 1960s head shop: they’re vending a commercial product, not a transient lifestyle. If this state ever gets around to legalizing marijuana — and hey, we have gay marriage now, you have to figure anything is possible — we’ll have stores sort of like 420 Carpenter.

Then again, as Nancy Friedman points out:

The store’s actual street address is 422 Carpenter Road.

[Emphasis added.] Were it not for the fact that they’re not alone in their little strip mall — the store occupies Suite 105 — I’d think they’d be pushing city officials for a renumbering.

¹ Am I the only person who read that and thought “propane and propane accessories”?

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A thin recruiting pool

The conventional wisdom, accorded even more conventionality during this particular administration, is that governors make better Presidents than do members of Congress. This sounds questionable to me, and downright ridiculous to Bill Quick:

Who were the most successful presidents of the past 100 years? I’d nominate Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Ronald Reagan, and LBJ. Three former governors, but one — arguably the most effective legislator post Roosevelt — a lifelong creature of Congress.

How about the worst Presidents? I’d go with Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and … George W. Bush. Three governors, one from Congress.

Being a state governor is no guarantee that a president will understand or be able to effectively deal with the intricacies of governance at the federal level, where the issues are larger and more critical, the bureaucracies more embedded and sclerotic, and the egos larger and more tender.

This makes more sense if one imagines, say, a Mary Fallin presidential bid: a nice pair of legs does not offset a tin ear.

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Warmed up in Beantown

No thanks to the Don’t Call It A Polar Vortex, it was about 25 degrees Fahrenheit warmer in Boston than in Oklahoma City. Then again, one does not expect a warm reception at TD Garden, especially when Rajon Rondo is in good form. And Rondo was in excellent form tonight, coming in just short of a triple-double. It didn’t help that the Thunder opened with a chilling demonstration of shooting ineptitude — 1-11! — and found themselves trailing 18-3 midway through the first quarter. Things settled down, but OKC was still down nine at the half, 51-42. And then suddenly things just started to work. Reggie Jackson, who’d had eight points in the first half, played the entire second half and ended up with a sizzling 28, one short of his regular-season career high. Lance Thomas, not previously known as a collector of rebounds or a deliverer of assists, had career highs in both: 13 boards, six dimes. Nick Collison tossed up two more treys and finished with 12 points. Then there was Scott Brooks’ decision to take the stopwatch off Anthony Morrow. Given 31 minutes to work, Morrow missed exactly one shot in the second half and wound up with 28 points. Despite a blah performance by Serge Ibaka (11 points/4 boards/1 block) and a sub-blah performance by Jeremy Lamb (2-10 for four points), the Thunder waltzed all over the Garden floor and left the Celtics on the bad end of a 109-94 trouncing.

Still: Rondo, excellent form. Twenty points, twelve assists, nine rebounds. Avery Bradley added 17; the other three starters — Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk — contributed 14 each, and Sullinger collected 11 rebounds. But that was about it for the Boston offense: the reserves, six of whom saw playing time, came up with only 15 points in aggregate, or just over half what Anthony Morrow did by himself. The extremely thin OKC bench — four, with Ish Smith getting a DNP-CD — managed, um, fifty.

A startling calculation: after that 1-11 start, the Thunder finished 40-82, a tick or two below 50 percent. They even outrebounded the Celtics by six, and the Celtics had been outrebounding everyone this season. But this may be the key: only eight turnovers all night.

Next: things resume at the ‘Peake, with the Pistons arriving Friday and the Rockets on Sunday.

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How this reminds me

Brian Ibbott, host of the Coverville podcast, seems like such a kind, gentle soul. Then this shows up:

Five will get you ten, or eight anyway, that at least one of my favorites will be thus characterized. This is not among them:

And let’s face it, ragging on Nickelback is practically a cottage industry.

Ibbott will record the show tonight. I am preparing for the worst.

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Instructions to the victor

If we ever actually win another war — and believe me, there exist people who would burst into tears if we did — we should not repeat an earlier mistake:

The Odious Wilson stuck his oar in the peace process and mucked things up, as was his wont, and the eventual Treaty of Versailles has mostly gone down in history as an example of how not to treat a defeated foe. Either plow the ground with salt and sell the population into bondage, or give them a magnanimous hand up, but don’t leave a beaten enemy to nurse grudges while inflicting gratuitous and punitive punishments on them.

On the whole, our handling of the second World War, which fell mostly on the “magnanimous hand up” side of the spectrum, was much better than what we did after the first.

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Kicked to the curb

I’ve kicked into several Kickstarters over the years; most of them eventually reached their funding goal, though a couple missed the mark. It could have been worse, though: suppose there were no backers at all?

This happens more often than you (or at least than I) think, which is why there is Kickended. Buzzfeed (!) explains:

Kickstarter projects have a success rate of about 40%, according to Kickstarter’s site. Among the failed 60%, some come close to their goal, but some sad ones fail to get even a single donor.

These $0 are the ones that Italian artist Silvio Lorusso is interested in. That’s why he created Kickended, a museum of failed Kickstarters that couldn’t raise a single cent. Since it’s actually rather difficult to search Kickstarter for failed projects, Lorusso uses Kickspy, a site designed to help people find projects to fund. Lorusso automatically scrapes projects with $0 from Kickspy and feeds them into his site. So far, he has over 8,000 $0 projects archived. Unlike other collections of bad Kickstarters, Kickended’s interface looks the same as the real Kickstarter. It’s a weird, sad mirror image.

As Lorusso describes it on the site, these failed projects are “free from the pressure of money raising, these retain the purity of abstract ideas.”

Going to Kickended gets you a random project from Lorusso’s collection. The first one I got was called The Nu Envy Experience Fashion Show, from a woman in Memphis who has since deleted her blog.

(Seen here.)

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Bring your own leopard

In today’s episode of Security Theatre, we present the Password Rules from the Child Support division of the Texas Attorney General’s office:

  1. The password must be exactly 8 characters long.
  2. It must contain at least one letter, one number, and one special character.
  3. The only special characters allowed are: @ # $
  4. A special character must not be located in the first or last position.
  5. Two of the same characters sitting next to each other are considered to be a “set.” No “sets” are allowed.
  6. Avoid using names, such as your name, user ID, or the name of your company or employer.
  7. Other words that cannot be used are Texas, child, and the months of the year.
  8. A new password cannot be too similar to the previous password.
    1. Example: previous password – abc#1234, acceptable new password – acb$1243
    2. Characters in the first, second, and third positions cannot be identical. (abc*****)
    3. Characters in the second, third, and fourth positions cannot be identical. (*bc#****)
    4. Characters in the sixth, seventh, and eighth positions cannot be identical. (*****234)
  9. A password can be changed voluntarily (no Help Desk assistance needed) once in a 15-day period. If needed, the Help Desk can reset the password at any time.
  10. The previous 8 passwords cannot be reused.

Sheesh. Just hand them a DNA sample and let them figure it out on their own. They think they’re pretty damn smart in Austin anyway.

(From @RooneyMcNibNug via @SwiftOnSecurity. Title adapted from H2G2.)

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Deer in gear

One statistic that was tossed around a lot during pregame: the Milwaukee Bucks did not have a winning streak worthy of the name — not even two games — all of last year. Then again, they were 15-67 last year, which doesn’t afford a team a lot of opportunities to pair off the wins. The wiser analyst ignored that number and looked at the 3-4 Bucks’ last win: over the mighty Memphis Grizzlies. All of a sudden, we knew they were trouble. The first quarter was all Thunder, to the tune of 22-15; but shortly thereafter, OKC lost the beat, or something. Milwaukee took a three-point lead at the half, stretched it to five after three, and cranked it up in the fourth, aided and abetted by some perfectly dreadful Thunder marksmanship. (How dreadful? They took ten minutes to score nine points in the fourth, and three of those came off an Ish Smith trey at the two-minute mark.) With 31 seconds left, a pair of Serge Ibaka free throws pulled the Thunder to within four, but that was it: the Bucks win it, 85-78, two in a row for the first time since 2012-2013, and OKC drops to 2-6.

Let me amplify that “perfectly dreadful.” On a night when Reggie Jackson rolls to a regular-season career-high 29 points, and sharpshooter Anthony Morrow is available for limited minutes, and Kendrick Perkins goes three for four, the Thunder shot … 33 percent. Factor out those three guys, and the team was 10-55, barely 18 percent. Ibaka had 14 points but only one block; Steven Adams had 10 rebounds but only two points.

Meanwhile, sixth Buck O. J. Mayo led Milwaukee with 19 points, Brandon Knight paced the starters with 16, and Johnny A (sooner or later someone’s going to call Giannis Antetokounmpo that, and it might as well be me) produced 14 points and nine rebounds. And when Johnny wasn’t pulling them down, Zaza Pachulia was: he had ten boards for the night.

By sunset tomorrow, the Thunder hope to have something resembling an offense, and they’ll have to try it out on the Celtics in Bosstown. Good luck with that.

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Nothing earth-shaking, apparently

You may remember this from 2011:

Six Italian seismologists and one government official will be tried for the manslaughter of those who died in an earthquake that struck the city of L’Aquila on 6 April 2009.

The seven are accused of misinforming the population about seismic risk in the days before the earthquakes, indirectly causing the death of the citizens they had reassured.

Convictions followed. Now those convictions — well, most of them — have been overturned:

Shouts of “Shame, shame!” greeted the appeals court … after the acquittal of six scientists convicted of manslaughter 2 years ago for advice they gave ahead of the deadly earthquake that struck this central Italian town in 2009. The scientists were convicted in October 2012, and handed 6-year jail sentences, for their role in a meeting of an official government advisory panel.

Only one of the seven experts originally found guilty was convicted today: Bernardo De Bernardinis, who in 2009 was deputy head of Italy’s Civil Protection Department and who will now serve 2 years in jail, pending any further appeals.

And this must be pointed out:

[The] original verdict generated controversy the world over and led many to argue that science itself had been found guilty. In explaining his sentence, the judge was at pains to emphasize that he had not convicted the experts for having failed to predict the earthquake — something, he said, that is beyond the powers of current science — but rather for having failed to carry out their legally binding duties as “public officials.” He said that the experts had not analyzed a series of factors indicating a heightened seismic risk, including the fact that previous quakes to have destroyed the town were accompanied by smaller tremors, as well as the nature of the ongoing swarm itself.

Note: the scientists go free, but the government official goes to the Big House. Clearly Rome has its priorities in order.

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Dollars for scents

Various forces converged this week to tell me that famed fashion designer Tory Burch now has her very own fragrance:

Tory Burch announces a new fragrance

As usual, I’m behind; she actually pushed out this product last fall, though apparently Bloomingdale’s had an exclusive for the first year.

Burch, arguably the wealthiest art-history graduate around — Forbes says she’s worth about a billion — is inclined to share the wealth:

The New York-based designer is promoting a new partnership between her Tory Burch Foundation, a nonprofit launched in 2009 to support the economic empowerment of women, and Bank of America.

The joint effort, launched in January, is known as Elizabeth Street Capital and named for the New York street where Burch launched her first boutique. Through it, Bank of America is giving a total of $10 million in loans to female entrepreneurs — first in eight markets, including Charlotte and the Carolinas region, New York, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia, and then in other markets over the next two years.

An exceedingly comfortable place to be in. Then again, she always looks comfortable:

Tory Burch in her flagship store

Before you ask: she’s forty-eight.

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All those clouds look alike

Even the National Weather Service says so:

Partly sunny, or is that partly cloudy?

Then again, there’s a lot to be said for getting multiple uses out of the same graphic, with the possible exception of the one they use with the word “Hot,” described by a regular reader as the Eye of Sauron; the less I see of it, the better. It’s not going to show up for rather a long time, though.

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After a hot morning mess

Nineteen seventy-three. I’m wearing khakis because while I thought I looked better in fatigues, which isn’t saying much, the crusty warrant officer (then again, aren’t all warrant officers crusty?) who ran our shop insisted, and I wasn’t one to bend rules — at least, not his rules. Our little subcommand had lots of duty stations worldwide, some of them desirable, some of them less so. There was one post, though, that nobody ever seemed to want, and given the fact that transfer orders for enlisted personnel had to get past my desk, rather a lot of individuals who outranked me — I was a lowly Specialist Four at the time — seemed willing to do me favors to get them out of that assignment if at all possible. I never promised anything, and I never tried to collect on any of those markers, but sure enough, disposition forms materialized, signed by the correct officers, changing their destinations to some preferred location.

This could not possibly last forever, and of course it didn’t. Eventually they decided to fill one particular billet with me. It was a short tour — 12 months — and it came with a stripe. I shrugged. “I’m twenty years old,” I said, “and I’ve never been east of Boston or west of Amarillo. Maybe I should quit bitching.”

And so I was packed off to the Middle East, which was quieter than it is today and much quieter than some Southeast Asian locations at the time. It was, first and foremost, a duty station, so duty came first; but I did manage to spend some free time wandering about this crazed place without working up too much of a sweat. (Really. Typical middle-of-summer high temperature: 80°F. What was I worried about?) Of course, things can and do happen without notice, and as the phrase goes, everyone’s secondary MOS is Eleven Bravo.

That post has long since been closed, its need for it having largely evaporated and its host country having grown restive, even surly, over the years. Still, a lot of us passed through its gates over the years, and some of us are still around, even though we’re no longer wearing fatigues. Or khakis.

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Old yarn, updated stretch

The best satire is sufficiently plausible to persuade all but the most cynical of us. Some of us, I fear, are insufficiently cynical:

[T]he rumour that Facebook will be charging users to use the service is NOT a hoax according to the National Report. It is reported that their will be a fee of $2.99 per month for users to use Facebook. However, there is an option to keep your Facebook account and use it for free for 1 hour per week. If the person exceeds that time limit, they will be charged .49 cents per minute. This is ridiculous!

Says the National Report:

Jack Phillips from DeQuincy, Louisiana told reporters that he is not happy with Facebook’s decision to implement a new monthly fee.

“I can barely pay for my girly subscriptions as it is, now this Zuckerberg character wants another $3 a month out of me? Well I don’t think so bud,” Phillips said. “There’s free news out there that I get all my learning from, like The Epoch Times. I know their stories are not real, some fancy word called ‘satirical’, but they makes me laugh. Sure, their grammar and spelling is just God-awful, but I like that; it makes me feel smarter.”

That passage, about halfway down the article, should have given it away. And if it didn’t:

To order your monthly subscription please call the 24-hour Facebook hotline at (785) 273-0325. Discounts are available to those who pay for an entire year at once.

Trust me, Zuckerberg can afford a toll-free number, and even if he couldn’t, he wouldn’t use a local line in Topeka, Kansas, especially one that’s billed to the Westboro Baptist Church.

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Among my souvenirs

I have lots of inexplicable stuff, but nothing in this league, to be sure:

An iron gate with the infamous sign “Arbeit macht frei” (“Work will set you free”) at the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau in Bavaria has been stolen, police said [last] Sunday.

The theft of the historic wrought iron gate, which measures two metres by one metre, apparently happened overnight, police said in a statement.

The site has no surveillance system, but is monitored by security guards and the theft apparently took place between their rounds of the camp, said police, who have appealed for any possible witnesses.

Police are now offering a €3000 reward for information leading to the capture of the thieves, and Frau Bundeskanzlerin has weighed in:

Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Tuesday for thieves of a gate to the former Nazi concentration camp at Dachau to be swiftly brought to justice, as she received an award from Holocaust survivors… “All the more appalling… are acts like the theft of the gate of this concentration camp memorial,” she said. “I hope that those who did that are caught quickly and held to account.”

Unnamed neo-Nazis seem to be on the police list of Expected Perps.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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So how come you didn’t vote?

There is exactly one proper response:

I take voting seriously — if I have skipped an election, it is because my former party has nominated someone as objectionable as the other party has and I want no blame for whichever loser wins and subsequently makes losers out of the rest of us.

I will presume to speak on behalf of many registered voters of several parties and say that if those who send out letters about our voting frequency would like us to vote more often, they should make more of an effort to nominate candidates who do not suck.

But that couldn’t happen, could it?

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Meanwhile on a cold and grey Chicago morn

Low — but not unprecedented — aspirations:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How do I become a drug dealer?

There is, of course, a motivation for this:

Im ******* sick and tired of being dirt poor, how do I sell drugs? IM NOT ASKING THIS FOR YOU TO TELL ME NOT TO, IM VERY AWARE OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF SELLING DRUGS. AND THIS IS MY ******* CHOICE. So please take your scared of the police and getting into trouble, BULLSHIT elsewhere, unless you have some USEFUL ******* advice for ****’s sake.

Hey, it’s your funeral, pal. Amateurs don’t stand a chance against the pros.

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