Get out and walk, deadbeat

I fork over somewhere around $300 a year to insure against the peril of uninsured drivers, of which we have an abundance in this state: depending on whose estimate you believe, somewhere between 20 and 30 percent on Oklahoma drivers don’t carry even a minimum liability policy. Efforts to put Big Brother to work on this problem have thus far proven futile.

England, however, having largely embraced Eric Blair’s design for the future, may have better luck:

Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are already fitted in thousands of petrol station forecourts. Drivers can only fill their cars with fuel once the camera has captured and logged the vehicle’s number plate.

Currently the system is designed to deter motorists from driving off without paying for petrol. But under the new plans, the cameras will automatically cross-reference with the DVLA’s huge database. When a car is flagged as being uninsured or untaxed, the system will prevent the fuel pump being used on that vehicle.

No petrol for you, old bean. This is apparently a major problem in the UK:

One in 25 drivers in the UK do not have insurance — one of the worst records in western Europe.

And to think we complain about one in four.

(Via Autoblog.)

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Lowish fizz

Normally, one does not simply walk into the Pepsi Center. The Thunder were up four after the first quarter, and then went on a 10-0 run — and then totally fell to pieces, as Denver dominated the rest of the half and went into the locker room up one. (“To pieces”? How often does Scott Brooks get T’d up?) Whatever Brooks said at halftime, though, it worked: OKC took the third quarter, 28-14, and held the Nuggets at bay for the last twelve minutes to walk away with a 103-90 win.

This game marked the return, albeit limited, of Thabo Sefolosha, who put in twelve minutes and sank a trey. (Interestingly, Daequan Cook, rotated back to the bench, had a pretty decent night: 11 points in 16 minutes, including three trademark treys.) The scoring stalwarts were up to snuff: Kevin Durant 24, Russell Westbrook 23, James Harden 18. And, significantly, no one played over 35 minutes, an important consideration with the Spurs due in tomorrow night.

Denver didn’t do a whole lot wrong, but they didn’t throw up a whole lot of defense either: they blocked only two shots all night. Come to think of it, they didn’t throw up a whole lot of offense either: they made four 3-pointers in the first half, and only one in the second, while seventeen fell harmlessly away from the cylinder. Andre Miller was the Nuggets’ top scorer, with 17 off the bench, and while rookie forward Kenneth Faried acquitted himself well (8 points, 9 rebounds), he’s a long way from being Nenê.

For the season, the Thunder are now 2-0 against Denver, with the rubber game to come at the literal end of the season (25 April, at the ‘Peake.) This weekend, though, there’s San Antonio to deal with, and the question of whether the Trail Blazers get a fired-coach bounce when they come to town Sunday.

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Water logged

Last September, a report with the dryly scientific name “Hydrogeology and Simulation of Groundwater Flow in the Arbuckle-Simpson Aquifer, South-Central Oklahoma” [pdf] was published, and the abstract thereof began this way:

The Arbuckle-Simpson aquifer in south-central Oklahoma provides water for public supply, farms, mining, wildlife conservation, recreation, and the scenic beauty of springs, streams, and waterfalls. Proposed development of water supplies from the aquifer led to concerns that large-scale withdrawals of water would cause decreased flow in rivers and springs, which in turn could result in the loss of water supplies, recreational opportunities, and aquatic habitat. The Oklahoma Water Resources Board, in collaboration with the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Geological Survey, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma, studied the aquifer to provide the Oklahoma Water Resources Board the scientific information needed to determine the volume of water that could be withdrawn while protecting springs and streams.

The Board has now rendered its decision, and while public hearings are still in the offing, it’s clear that the Board thinks the aquifer is being too rapidly depleted:

The board approved recommendations from its staff that would lower the amount of water that can be withdrawn from the aquifer in a single year from two acre feet per acre to two-tenths of an acre foot per acre.

(Emphasis added.)

This 90-percent reduction would be phased in over five years.

On one side of the issue: municipal water supplies, who see stabilization of the aquifer as a major priority, even if it costs them some money in the short run. On the other: agriculture, which needs, or at least says it needs, pretty much all the water it can get.

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All by herself

The young lady below is actress Eva Amurri, last seen in isolation. No, wait: she was last seen in Isolation, a very creepy-looking 2011 film by Stephen Fry, in which she plays a patient quarantined for reasons no one will disclose.

Hence the trying-on-shoes photo, which is of course the very antithesis of being locked away in a hospital:

Eva Amurri

Eva, born on this date in 1985, is the daughter of Italian director Franco Amurri and American icon Susan Sarandon. I note purely for the sake of completeness that she was born before Susan took up with Tim Robbins — and that Franco and Tim are about a month apart, agewise.

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Other than that, Mrs Lincoln, how was the gift shop?

Evidently somebody at one time thought this was a good idea:

Bobblehead dolls of the man who assassinated President Abraham Lincoln have been pulled from sale at the Gettysburg National Military Park visitors’ center bookstore.

The dolls of John Wilkes Booth with a handgun were removed from shelves on Saturday, a day after a reporter for Hanover’s The Evening Sun newspaper asked about them, officials said.

In case you missed out:

The Booth dolls, which are about 7 inches tall and come in boxes that look like the inside of the theater where Lincoln was killed, sell online for about $20 each. They have proved to be popular, as more than 150 of the original run of 250 have been sold, and more are being made, Kansas City, Mo.-based manufacturer BobbleHead LLC said.

In other news, there is a manufacturer called BobbleHead LLC.

So far, no one has spotted any Jeffrey Dahmer Happy Meals.

(Via Fark.)

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Somewhere east of San Diego

Dave Landman, owner of the clothing-optional DeAnza Springs Resort near Jacumba, California, would like you to know that his acquisition of the entire community of Jacumba, population 550 or thereabouts, does not mean that the whole town is expected to undress accordingly: “Everybody out there wants this to become the first naked town in the United States,” he says, “and it’s not going to happen.”

Landman says his first priority is to reopen the Jacumba Hot Springs Hotel, which is about a mile from DeAnza; this way he’ll be catering to both nudists and “textiles.”

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I knew her when

CNN, like some other news organizations, is coming around to the idea of crowdsourcing: they’ve come up with the tag iReport, which simultaneously explains the premise and sneers at Apple’s lawyers, in this day and age something of a coup.

Each week, iReport designates a Pundit of the Week, and this week’s is Mary Beth Cox:

I think what I have to say is important. That may sound conceited, but the truth is, what everybody has to say is important, especially if they’re passionate about it. More people should make iReports. I work. I have kids. I can’t go to the Capitol or make phone calls to my legislator all the time. But I can take 20 minutes to make an iReport and say something that connects with somebody or starts a discussion.

I can personally vouch for her ability to do this sort of thing: she was an officer in our Neighborhood Association before her family relocated to Virginia, and once in a while she’d show up in a health-related segment on a local TV station, so being in front of a camera doesn’t scare her.

This is her profile page at CNN. I am reasonably certain that the occasional traffic I get from cnn.com isn’t due to any intervention on her part — I don’t think she’s looked at this site more than once or twice — but I’m always in the mood to promote friends and neighbors, even if they’ve long since moved away.

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He’ll always be true

It’s been nearly fifty years (sigh) since the Beatles cut their first single for EMI’s Parlophone label. Being a new and untried band — their years of hard work in Hamburg clubs notwithstanding — they had to prove themselves to EMI producer George Martin. They recorded the song in June 1962, with Pete Best on the drums. Martin, not present at the session, reviewed the tapes and thought Best was the weakest link; he decided he would sign the band, but relegate Best to live performances, and use a studio drummer on the records. Word of this got back to the Beatles, and eventually manager Brian Epstein was prevailed upon by John, Paul and George to fire Pete. (In 1965, he released an album called Best of the Beatles, which proved he could be as cheeky as the others; he swears there are no hard feelings.)

So a second session was scheduled for September, with new drummer Ringo Starr, the name Richard Starkey was using as a member of the Raving Texans/Rory Storm and the Hurricanes. Martin didn’t like this one much either, and the next week a third version was cut, with Ringo playing tambourine and studio pro Andy White behind the drum kit. This was Martin’s choice for the single; the band felt otherwise, and Martin yielded. So Parlophone R4949 had Ringo on drums; however, the version on the Please Please Me album — and on the American single, first issued in 1964 by Vee-Jay’s Tollie label — was the Andy White version. (Capitol, EMI’s US outpost, hadn’t been interested, though their Canadian division did put out the Ringo version.)

White also played on the B-side of the single, “P. S. I Love You,” and thereby hangs a tale:

The Carteret-based rock band [the Smithereens] was recording a second Beatles cover album, a collection of B-sides.

Dennis Diken, the Smithereens drummer, asked White to play on “P.S. I Love You.” “It just occurred to me: How cool would it be to have the guy who played on the original track?” Diken said last month.

White, then seventy-seven, was happy to oblige; in fact, he’s played live with the Smithereens since then.

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Wings sold separately

As for the attitude, you’re pretty much on your own:

Horse getting the Rainbow Dash treatment

Before you ask: nontoxic paint. Pinkie promise. Though I have to wonder if it’s maybe 20 percent sweatier.

(Original by *rydeer-photo on deviantArt; other views have been posted. First spotted — or striped, or whatever — here.)

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Having not quite dezombified the place

Tangential Diversion, Volume CXVII:

Monday afternoon I left the office, got home, wheeled out the spreader, and distributed 5 kg of industrial-strength weed killer to various points in the front yard. After the inevitable brain fog cleared up, it occurred to me that while this treatment might actually remove some of the non-green stuff, it’s not likely to have any effect on zombies.

Which, of course, got me thinking about Plants vs. Zombies, the videogame, with an insanely catchy tune by Laura Shigihara. “What’s she been up to?” I wondered.

Apparently it’s Minecraft:

Lyrics (and a buy link) are here. (I bought.)

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Grave matters indeed

The Nanny State worries so about the death rate, which last I looked was hovering right around 100 percent, that I’m surprised they haven’t made it illegal to die — as it is in one town in Italy, though not for, um, health reasons:

Since the start of the month it has been illegal to die in Falciano del Massico, a village of 3,700 people some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Naples in southern Italy.

Mayor Giulio Cesare Fava issued the tongue-in-cheek decree because the village has no cemetery and it is feuding with a nearby town that has one — creating a logistical problem about what to do with the deceased.

This is not to say that the village has had universal compliance with this law:

“The ordinance has brought happiness,” [Mayor Fava] was quoted Tuesday as saying. “Unfortunately, two elderly citizens disobeyed.”

Penalties against the lawbreakers have not yet been announced.

(Via this Annemarie Dooling tweet.)

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Operating on backup

The Rockets have been short on personnel of late: Kevin Martin, Kyle Lowry and Jordan Hill were all sidelined with various ailments, and Houston was doing what seemed to be a fast fade. Then they showed up in OKC, and no one noticed their absence: it was tied at the half, Houston was up four after the third quarter, and when the Thunder managed to run up an eleven-point lead with two minutes and odd left, the Rockets erased it and then some, snatching a 104-103 win with a Courtney Lee trey with fifteen seconds left; Kevin Durant got one last shot, which didn’t go, and a Serge Ibaka stickback wouldn’t stick.

Kevin McHale managed to make a rotation out of eight players, and six of them scored in double figures: Lee and rookie forward Chandler Parsons had 21 each to pace the team, and perennial threat Luis Scola added 18. The Rockets did a good job of spreading the work around; everyone but Jonny Flynn had a rebound, and everyone but Samuel Dalembert had an assist.

Durant had a Durantesque night — 28 points, 12 rebounds — and mostly the Thunder hewed pretty close to spec, though Daequan Cook’s shooting slump doesn’t seem to have let up. A 47-37 advantage on the boards was effectively offset by forced turnovers: the Rockets snagged seven steals and six blocks, OKC getting only four of each. More worrisome was the way the Thunder suddenly became unhinged after that eleven-point lead (which would have been 13, but an Ibaka jumper was ruled to have missed the shot clock), with Russell Westbrook ending up with a technical and various Unkind Noises being made from both benches. (Lee, it seemed, was the the primary peacemaker; Westbrook may yet pass Kendrick Perkins for most Ts on the team, Perk having had a couple rescinded by the league.)

There’s only one thing to say here: you don’t want to lose before playing the Nuggets. Scott Brooks probably will have a few other things to say on the plane to Denver. And if that weren’t disquieting enough, that Thursday game is immediately followed by a Friday game with the Spurs. At least it’s not in San Antonio.

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Something of a shortening effect

Someone identified as “I’m in your area” left the following bit of spam in handy pingback form:

[...]always a big fan of linking to bloggers that I love but don’t get a lot of link love from[...]

With it was a URL shortened by bit.ly. Rashly, I gave it a looksee, and it turned out to be a page on something called “xProfiles,” featuring a young lady identified as being from, yes, this area, and while something in the back of my head (or perhaps somewhere a bit lower) appreciates the idea of a female gamer wearing damn near nothing, I don’t think it’s such a good idea to throw her any linky love lust. Especially, you know, if she’s just down the road a piece.

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Don’t get in line for this

It’s not actually “coming soon.” Just the same, I would so watch this:

Bogus poster for a Walt Disney biopic starring Ryan Gosling

And if anyone does it, it will pretty much have to be Disney, because they wouldn’t have to jump through Major Clearance Hoops to use any of Walt’s personal archives.

(Poster by Pascal Witaszek, via The Daily What.)

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Not guaranteed Styx-proof

The road to hell, we are assured, is paved with Good Intentions, which inexplicably is the name of this Seychelles wedge:

Good Intentions by Seychelles

The Seychelles brand, says their manifesto somewhere, is “designed for a girl with a different point of view. Her soul is romantic and her spirit is independent. She has a keen eye for style and she mixes classic and modern style with effortlessness.” Fortunately for me, I know a few such.

“Good Intentions” is three inches tall plus one inch of platform, and it’s here because it’s orange, or so they say. Lindsay of Broke & Beautiful likes the silver version, and she thinks this color is really more of a fire-engine red; she may have the better of the argument. There are blue, black and tan variants as well, all with this stacked heel, and they run $110ish, though Zappos will let them go for $87.99 for, as the phrase goes, a limited time.

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For the sake of diversion

Robert Stacy McCain, in case you hadn’t noticed, is “a highly-skilled news industry professional,” which explains this particular item:

I must suppress my narcissistic impulse to share my personal opinions on these topics, in order to give readers what they really want: Meghan McCain talking about her breasts.

Having never been a news-industry professional at any skill level, and seldom having been inclined to give readers what they really want, here’s a non-bewb shot of Meghan McCain:

Meghan McCain on a talk show showing no cleavage but a whole lot of leg

Accordingly, you should hit his freaking tip jar before thinking about mine.

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