Still pretty after all these years

Last time we checked in with Tristan Prettyman, she’d been let out of her major-label contract, for which she blamed me. Still, she keeps working, and right now she’s touring with Eric Hutchinson on what is called the City and Sand Tour. For a surfer girl from Southern California, this makes perfect sense.

Tristan Prettyman at Waikiki

(Parenthetical — obviously — note: Waikiki, seen here, is a sister city to, um, Bixby, Oklahoma. I have no idea how this happened.)

This trip to Hawaii, I should point out, was not actually on the tour: that was, I think, last year. (All these pix are from her Facebook timeline.) This on-stage shot, however, is from the current tour:

Tristan Prettyman on stage

Of course, unless you’re an A-list star, the road can be a tedious and boring place, and there are tedious and boring things that have to be done, like this:

Tristan Prettyman kills time while doing the wash

Her new EP, Back to Home, released independently, is on my Get list. No videos yet, but here’s a take — literally, a take — on “Say Anything,” which you might have heard in the film Safe Haven:

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Sweet spot apparently preserved

I repeat myself verbatim from this date in 2013:

A couple of years ago, I did a piece on The Incredible Shrinking Consumer Reports Buying Guide Issue, which over a five-year period had dropped from 360 to 221 pages. The following year, I noted that the Buying Guide had actually grown to 223 pages.

How big is it now? [#twss] Once again, two hundred twenty-three pages. (As with last year, that last page is devoted to the mandatory Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation.)

This issue is dated 2015, which means that I’m on record as predicting it’s the last hard-copy edition:

By 2015 at the latest, you’ll have to be subscribing to their Web site and/or installing their app to get any of this information. Count on it.

If there actually is a 2016 issue come November ’15, I will recant with vigor.

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Plunging into it once more

About to come upon us, so to speak, is the annual presentation of the Literary Review Bad Sex in Fiction award, for which ten nominees were perhaps too easy to find.

And as always, they’re all pretty dire, though this one recommends itself for being (1) consciously overpoetic and (2) not particularly explicit as these things go. From Ben Okri’s The Age of Magic:

She became aware of places in her that could only have been concealed there by a god with a sense of humour. Adrift on warm currents, no longer of this world, she became aware of him gliding into her. He loved her with gentleness and strength, stroking her neck, praising her face with his hands, till she was broken up and began a low rhythmic wail. She was a little overwhelmed with being the adored focus of such power, as he rose and fell. She felt certain now that there was a heaven and that it was here, in her body. The universe was in her and with each movement it unfolded to her.

The complete shortlist is here for your perusal: the winner will be selected on 3 December.

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Hearts strong as horses

It doesn’t happen very often, but now and then Car and Driver will put together a comparison test of the sort that boggles the mind. In the December issue, it’s a comparo between a horse-drawn carriage in New York’s Central Park and the electrified buggy that’s been proposed as its replacement. The new horseless contraption has a couple of advantages, including an 84-hp electric motor — the original carriage has, um, 1 horsepower — and comparatively easy rechargeability. The horse, meanwhile, gets a minimum of five weeks’ pasture time each year by city ordinance. But both vehicles have rigid axles and leaf springs underneath.

C/D, as usual, presented their test results — the carriage with an actual horse, an 11-year-old gelding, was 1.2 seconds faster from 0 to 3 mph — and their conclusion box. For the original horse-drawn carriage:

+ Quaint, quiet, semi-autonomous, pleasantly furry.

Occasional stubbornness, no emissions controls.

= Working horses built civilization. Here’s one of the last that still has a job.

In terms of experience, the old-fashioned buggy outpointed the new one, 51-36:

Having two brains at the controls allows the driver to interact with his customers, face to face; that’s impossible with the eCarriage. A horse just makes it a better tourist experience, even if you’re looking at the back end of it.

And speaking of horse’s asses:

In the long run … NYCLASS [New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets] will likely win this battle, if not because it’s able to get the horses banned, but because the land under the horses’ stables is so valuable that the stable owners won’t be able to resist selling.

Those stables are located just off the West Side Highway in Hell’s Kitchen, an area of Manhattan that has been rapidly gentrifying of late.

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Damn right they is

Screenshot from the Oklahoman: Personal info breaches is a concern, many say

From this morning’s Oklahoman, page 3C. I couldn’t find the story on NewsOK for some reason, but since it’s an AP wire story, it’s all over the place. Try here.

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Where it all goes (’14)

The property-tax bill has arrived, and the bank will cut them a check on the 30th out of my depleted escrow account. Fortunately, while the amount isn’t exactly trivial, it’s smaller than it was last year, the result of stagnant property values and an unexpected decrease in the actual tax rate. As always, the county treasurer has sent along a manifest showing what this sum is being used to fund, and last year’s numbers appear in [brackets]:

  • City of Oklahoma City: $120.39 [$126.58]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $462.53 [$478.05]
  • Metro Tech Center: $120.39 [$122.50]
  • Oklahoma County general: $90.78 [$94.52]
  • Countywide school levy: $32.26 [$32.77]
  • County Health Department: $20.18 [$20.50]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $40.52 [$41.16]
  • Total: $887.04 [$915.88]

This year’s millage is 113.84, down from last year’s 115.70. (Record millage: 117.58, 2011.)

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Long-term dementia

Someone has compiled a list of the Top 100 (or so) Demented Discs, as played on the Dr. Demento Show between 1974 and 2013, based on the annual Funny Twenty-Five surveys. I am still trying to figure out how I actually paid genuine coin of the realm to own all ten of the Top Ten.

At the other extreme, this is my favorite of the songs tied for Number 97:

It even exceeds this small-screen favorite, if you ask me.

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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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