Quote of the week

Maureen Johnson fields a question from a young reader who aspires to be a young writer:

I’ve been looking into the whole male authors are treated better then female authors, how books are categorized as being boy books that girls can read or just girl books, how female authors seem to get more push back and hate. I’ve been reading quite ALOT of articles and such on this and I was just wondering: What are the perks of being a female YA author?

Apart from not having to pretend that “alot” is an actual word, there are some distinct joys:

The perks of what I do are so numerous as to be like the stars in the sky. Don’t weep for me. I’m ridiculously lucky.

But there’s also this:

Is it ALSO true that female writers tend to have a different FATE than our male counterparts? Yes, that’s true. It’s true in a thousand different ways that I often can’t even talk about, because it would involve talking about people and encounters and conversations. And it’s true in ways I CAN talk about, like when people ask me if I’ll ever write something boys can read (my books carry COOTIES that will make their penises fall off) or if I have an idea and a guy has the same idea, he is likely to get the credit (if it is good) or the fact that what I do has a far greater chance of being called slight, or breezy, or fun, or escapist, or a guilty pleasure, or light, or beach-worthy … and if a guy wrote it it is likely to magically become a masterful work of comic prose, or a subtle and humorous exploration of life and love the likes of which has never been seen before!

[insert vague Dave Eggers reference here]

I suppose, in some totally distended sense of the word, I write YA stuff: the median age of the readers of my fanfiction universe of choice seems to be well short of twenty, though my own material skews older. (Which doesn’t surprise me, given my relatively aged protagonists.) Gender considerations notwithstanding, however, I will insist that it’s slight, maybe even breezy in spots.

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We like your plan just fine

Our Insurance Commissioner weighs in:

The number of health insurance policies canceled in Oklahoma as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been minimized due to the efforts of Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak.

“Here in Oklahoma, my office has always focused on the consumer,” said Doak. “We recognized the possibility of cancellations early on and worked with the state’s largest health insurance companies to lessen the consumer impact. That collaboration led to our approval of their requests to modify policy renewal dates, which allowed a majority of Oklahoma policyholders to keep their existing coverage through 2014.”

Technically, this does not extend their existing coverage, but does permit renewals at some figure resembling the previous premium.

Doak, of course, is not impressed by the administration’s shenaniganza:

“After yet another failed initiative, President Obama is just passing the buck,” said Doak. “How can the federal government make this decision without offering any guidance to the state insurance departments or the insurance carriers? Cancellation notices have already gone out. Rates and plans have already been approved. How is this supposed to work? There are a lot of unanswered questions right now. This is what you get when you pass a bill you haven’t read.”

This is consistent with the NAIC statement earlier yesterday. Very consistent.

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Well, it wasn’t jet lag

The second night on the Left Coast looked as though it would prove no more fruitful for the Thunder than did the first, and the unwinding was eerily similar: OKC and Golden State were tied 62-all at the half, and the Thunder went pretty much to pieces in the third quarter, dropping back by nine; at a couple of times in the fourth they were down 14. (How bad was it? Kevin Durant, who made his first four shots, missed his next seven, and by then he’d piled up five fouls plus a technical.) And then Russell Westbrook decided he’d had enough. With OKC down two and time running out, Westbrook ignored both the clock and the defenders and sank the coldest-blooded trey he’d done all season, putting the Thunder up 115-114 with 2.3 left. But the Warriors weren’t done yet: Andre Iguodala’s fadeaway almost on top of the horn made it Golden State 116, OKC 115.

The Telltale Statistic for the night is this: the Warriors, worst in the league in turnovers — averaging somewhere around 23 a night — managed to cough up the rock only seven times. That and Golden State’s 3-point prowess — they went 14-23, the Thunder 9-22 — managed to offset a career night for Serge Ibaka (27 points, 13 rebounds), 31 from Westbrook on 13-20, and KD checking in with 20, somehow never having fouled out.

But it’s not like you can score a bunch of points in Oakland and expect a W to be handed over. The Warriors score every way there exists, and several that seemingly don’t. Klay Thompson had 27 to lead Golden State; Stephen Curry and David Lee were right behind. The Ig’s last-second hit gave him 14.

Still: seven turnovers. The Thunder handed it over nineteen times, not far off their average, but not at all good in front of an enterprising bunch like the Warriors.

The Thunder will be in Milwaukee Saturday night; the Bucks will have just arrived from what may have been an epic trouncing at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. Maybe.

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Sweet spot apparently found

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.)

I said in that first piece:

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.

I mention this mostly to make it impossible for me to backpedal, should I be proven wrong.

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Strewn about

In 1937, Sylvan Goldman invented the shopping cart, which someone probably left in the parking lot:

For many years I have used every platform and every tool at my disposal to fight against the terrorists who leave their shopping carts chaotically strewn about the surface of the Earth. Every time I drive into a supermarket parking lot these days it looks like 9,000 people were raptured into heaven right as they put their last grocery bag in the trunk. Or maybe they’re all bomb technicians and they had to go diffuse explosives somewhere. Or maybe they’re Batman. Yes, maybe they saw the Bat Signal and had to go find the Penguin and foil another of his dastardly plots. They must be SOMETHING important if they couldn’t carve out the requisite half-minute to shuttle those cart back from whence they came.

Or, or, or maybe they’re just lazy.

There are exactly two ways to deal with this. One of them is used by the German discount chain Aldi: charge you a nominal sum for the cart, which is refunded when you return it to the proper location.

The other is a bit harder to pull off: it requires (1) a store with a marginal cart supply and (2) a weekend when EBT cards and such are recharged. If there are no carts waiting at the door, people can, and occasionally will, fetch them from the lot themselves. (Hard as this may be to believe, I have actually seen it happen.)

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I suspect this may be truthful

I mean, I have been on the receiving end of something very much like this:

What you drive matters. Sorry. I’m sure you’re saving a ton of money for our first house payment by driving that rolling embarrassment from the decade in which I was born, but you’ll never get to spend it on me because you’ll never get me in the passenger seat. Feel free to call me shallow. Also, feel free to never call me at all.

Okay, it was technically the decade after that, but “rolling embarrassment” might do it justice. So this list of What We Think About Your Ride by Caroline Ellis, not yet thirty, persuades me of her credibility, especially with examples like this:

Chevy Corvette

You think: I look sexy driving this thing.

We think: You’re at least ten years older than you’re telling me you are. Your ex-wife was right to tell you that you weren’t allowed to buy that thing. I’ll take some drinks from you but you’re getting a fake number at the end of the night.

Ouch. And there’s this:

Honda Civic/Toyota Corolla

You think: This is a really reliable car and … sorry, I really don’t have any idea what you’re thinking here.

We think: Great, you’re boring AND poor.

Finally, since I spent a good part of the week in one of these:

Infiniti G35/37/whatever they call it now

You think: It’s just as cool as a BMW.

We think: No, it isn’t.

Side note: Women to whom I have recommended this page — I plugged it briefly on Twitter — were generally delighted. Not one word from the men.

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Pavlova and friend

I don’t do exuberance very well anymore, unlike this delightful youngster:

Child dancing in front of painting of Anna Pavlova

And I miss that.

Sir John Lavery did several portraits of Anna Pavlova; this 1910 canvas hangs in the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow. The Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College in Florida has another.

Pavlova herself once said:

When a small child, I thought that success spelled happiness. I was wrong, happiness is like a butterfly which appears and delights us for one brief moment, but soon flits away.

But oh, for those moments when it’s there!

(Via Boned Jello.)

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Portable banshee

Gwendolyn’s brakes were not looking good, and there was this growling noise which I interpreted as a sticking caliper — which, for all I knew, might actually have caused that bit of scoring around the edge of the discs. It was oil-change time anyway, and I had a coupon for $50 off per axle on the brakes, so I scheduled a spa day on Tuesday for the poor girl.

I would have been happier with a stuck caliper. The noise didn’t meet the usual criteria for wheel-bearing woes, but the industry-standard knock-the-wheel-back-and-forth test confirmed it: both bearings were close to the point when they would bear no more.

While the techs messed with that, I was sent off in a ’12 G37. I was wondering if maybe I’d get a Q50, but no. Not this time. And this particular G threw a tire-pressure warning at me the moment I started it up, which I attributed to it being colder than the very dickens Tuesday morning. It did not recur. I remain persuaded that the 7-speed automatic fitted to most of these things is okay, but not much better than that, though the manual shifting mode works well. And just because, I tried the sort of launch that would aggravate the traction control. (It did.)

The drive home was quieter, anyway. And the brakes? Fronts passed muster, rears needed new pads and a rotor refinish. Things could have been worse.

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And then it fell apart

It’s seldom you can see a pivot point, a moment when things change irrevocably, especially in something as aggressively ephemeral as a basketball game. Yet something happened in the waning moments of the first half in the Staples Center, with the Clippers fighting back from a 14-point deficit. The Thunder were up six when Serge Ibaka and Matt Barnes got into an altercation of some sort. Both players were thumbed; Russell Westbrook put up a zinger just before the horn, but the third quarter was all Clippers — 30-16 — and the fourth started out more so.

Not helping the OKC cause was the sudden shortage of bigs: Kendrick Perkins wasn’t with the team — a death in the family — so Steven Adams started, Hasheem Thabeet was pried off the bench, and Nick Collison got into foul trouble with amazing speed. Facing a Los Angeles team that can hit you from any direction — six Clippers made it into double figures — the Thunder wandered in the wilderness until halfway through the fourth frame, when somehow they put together a 9-2 run over the next two minutes. OKC would eventually pull within four, but no closer: the final was 111-103.

The Clips were utterly commanding on the boards, 50-35, and stalwarts Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford broke the 20-point mark. The Blakester also reeled in 12 rebounds; over at the point, Chris Paul rang up 14 points and 16 assists. (“And one foul,” grumbled radio guy Matt Pinto.) In the wake of these numbers, OKC clearly needed even more than Westbrook (19 points, 10 assists) and Kevin Durant (33 points, 10 assists) were able to provide, and the bench had a so-so night at best.

Tomorrow night against Golden State. How much recovery time does this team really need?

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Oh, come on

The Get Laid Now spam — once I actually got one with that very subject line — is, of course, never going to go away, given the persistent nature of both human desire to get lucky and spammers’ desire to get past your filters. Still, this subject line seems a bit lamer than usual: “CynereMoses44 granted access to her private vidz!” How generous of her.

Then again, the sender, per the header, was one “Neria Brainless,” which perhaps is redundant. Superfluous, even.

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Ladies and gentlemen, your new electorate

I saw this, and thought “This must be some kind of joke, right?”

Do you got insurance?

Afraid not. Here’s the source:

Got Insurance is a project of the Thanks Obamacare campaign, created by the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative and ProgressNow Colorado Education to educate everyone about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.

This is apparently some nonstandard usage of the word “education.”

There is, however, an upside: the sort of person who would respond to a campaign of this sort is clearly too dumb to be allowed to reproduce, and it’s probably worth the effort to keep them in a nonparental state.

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Moore or less

Real-estate site Movoto.com has rated America’s Small Cities — by “small” they apparently mean “just under 60,000 population” — and based on their criteria, Moore, Oklahoma slides just into the Top Ten:

While the 57,810 residents of Moore have to contend with tornadoes, the people who live in this Oklahoma City, OK suburb also have to be a bit more concerned with crime. That’s because the city has the only above average crime rate in our top 10 at 45 percent above the national average. Fortunately, some other factors help even things out.

For one, the cost of living in Moore is 10 points below the national average, and the median household income, at $55,710, is 5.6 percent above. The median home price is 37 percent below average at 128,000 but there are 169 residents per home for sale.

A real positive standout for Moore is its unemployment rate, which at 4.3 percent is an impressive 40 percent below the national average.

The only other city in Oklahoma meeting their population criterion was Midwest City, which is tied for thirty-first out of 50. At the very top of the rankings is Rowlett, Texas, in a far corner of Dallas County. (The eastern edge slides over into Rockwall County.) Rock bottom: Ocala, Florida.

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Click here for Communism

To you, it’s a $20 ticket for not buckling your seat belt. To Mark French, it’s much, much more:

He says it’s about government overreach, and he says that leads to such things as Obamacare, gun control and government deciding how large a soda pop you can purchase.

“Where does it end?” French asks. “It doesn’t, there’s no end to it.”

Americans have to draw a line in the sand at some point, French says, and the seat belt ticket gave him his line.

“Why is a seat belt required to be worn to keep us safe in a car, but not on a bus?” French wrote in an email encouraging local residents to show up in the courtroom to support his cause. “Why are we allowed to rock climb, snow ski, water ski, hang glide, hunt and eat candy bars? Why is it not unlawful to refuse medical advice? Are we ready to be told by government that we cannot drink an extra large pop?”

I was more or less sympathetic toward the guy until I read this:

Traveling in the opposite direction from the east, Montana Highway Patrolman Steve Spurr testified he observed a white car with no front license plate pass him. The rear plate, Spurr said, had a protective cover that made it difficult to see the plate number. Both are traffic violations.

There’s a lot to be said in favor of subverting the system — but being clumsily obvious about it will not help.

(Via Fark.)

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Logistical issues

Dr. B writes from the Philippines:

The storm surge was 20 plus feet in Tacloban. That would mean you could drown on the second floor.

As for the usual complaints by western press:

Before you send in aid, you need for the winds to stop (which would be Saturday afternoon) and repairing the roads etc. Then you need to get there. Airplanes are fast, but limited. Roads are blocked. The sea has to be calm and the port needs to be open, and the roads from the ports/airports need to be cleared.

That takes time. So the country folks will get help from each other, or will die. Luckily, these things happen all too frequently, so they help each other.

See also this Belmont Club report.

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Candidate for replacement

Opportunity: Gorgeous actress on red carpet. In Italy, no less, and wearing Balenciaga. Difficulty: Utterly preposterous outfit.

Solution: Set it up correctly, and then find a snarky quote about it.

With that in mind, here’s the Wikipedia synopsis for the Spike Jonze film Her, opening Real Soon Now:

Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) is a complex, soulful man who makes his living writing touching, personal letters for other people. Heartbroken after the end of a long relationship, he becomes intrigued with a new, advanced operating system, which promises to be an intuitive entity in its own right, individual to each user. Upon initiating it, he is delighted to meet “Samantha” (Scarlett Johansson), a bright, female voice, who is insightful, sensitive and surprisingly funny. As her needs and desires grow, in tandem with his own, their friendship deepens into an eventual love for each other.

I am required, of course, to see that, if only because I wrote this.

And then you wonder: whom did Twombly give up for this disembodied voice? It was his wife Catherine, played by Rooney Mara, and if she was wearing this, he might actually be better off:

Rooney Mara in Balenciaga at the premiere of Her

Oddly, Mara’s attending a screening of Her, in, yes, Italy. For the snark, I turn to the lovely and talented Fug Girl Heather:

There is a hideousness to this which defies description. It looks like a bad joke: “A Gap t-shirt, a Vegas wedding dress, and a pair of L’Eggs from Planet Gargantua walked into a bar. The bartender said, ‘What can I get you?’ And they said, ‘A concussion.’”

Still, she’s a material girl, which the Scarlet Johansson character isn’t. I have yet to decide for myself whether that’s a problem.

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Suck will be embraced

Michael Bates has made his official disendorsement for Mayor of Tulsa:

Both the Taylor and Bartlett campaigns have spent piles of money pushing their preferred memes — positive memes about their own candidates and negative memes about the opposition. Because I wish they could both lose on Tuesday, I’ve spent my limited blogging time during this campaign trying to debunk the nonsense from each side. No, Kathy Taylor did not bring us to the brink of bankruptcy, and Dewey Bartlett Jr didn’t rescue us from bankruptcy. Dewey has been as big a spender as Kathy. You can’t push all the blame for the trash mess onto Bartlett Jr; Taylor deserves a big share of the blame, too. Neither candidate is visionary or competent or bold. Both backed the Great Plains Airlines bailout. Both have had problems working respectfully with those who disagree with them, particularly their fellow elected officials.

Tulsa voters have made a mess. Maybe if their noses are rubbed in it they won’t do it again.

I hear it’s really nice in Bixby these days.

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But privacy!

Like the Postal Service is going to deliver to someone named, oh, how about “herbtarlekxoxo11″:

I recently bought something off eBay. Will the package have my name (on my account) or my eBay username? Does the buyer have access to my real name?

Um, aren’t you the buyer?

If you insist on leaving no trail, go to the farking thrift shop like everyone else. And pay cash.

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Nabiscold

Cookie sales in China aren’t zooming upward the way they used to be:

At Mondelēz distributors in China, there are piles of unsold Oreo and Chips Ahoy cookies. Why? China is in an economic slump. The brand is used to 25% sales increases every year, and increases are down to only 3% in the first quarter of 2013.

Aw. Quelle fromage.

Now if we find out they’ve been hoarding Mallomars — well, perhaps we should not go there.

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Ermahgerd! Studernts!

Says so right here:

Cranberry School Geography Bee

The Cranbury School is located in Cranbury, New Jersey (Exit 8A), in case you need to brush up for the next Geograohy Bee.

(One of many inscrutable offerings at BadNewspaper.com.)

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Sun returning

It was de rigueur at one time to mock that silly Greenwich Village fellow John B. Sebastian for this infamous lyric: “The record man said every one is a yellow Sun record from Nashville / And up North here ain’t nobody buys ‘em, and I said ‘But I will’.”

Sun Records, of course, was from Memphis; Sam Phillips was never one of those Nashville cats. Then in 1969 Shelby Singleton bought Sun from Sam Phillips, and eventually moved Sun headquarters to, um, Nashville. So Sebastian got the last laugh, and he is welcome to it. Sun wasn’t recording any new material, anyway: Singleton was content to maintain the Sun catalog as it was.

Then Singleton died in 2009, and Collin Brace, who’d only just started at the label, saw his chance. The first act signed by Sun in forty years is Julie Roberts, who’d done two albums for Mercury and a third on her own Ain’t Skeerd imprint.

Roberts’ first Sun release is Good Wine and Bad Decisions, and if that’s not a classic country title, I’ve never heard one. There exists a lyrics-only video of the title track. Chuck Dauphin of Music News Nashville notes:

What is so captivating about this disc is that she couldn’t have recorded it during her days on Mercury a few years back. Sometimes, survival is one of the most attractive trait of all, and over the past few years Roberts has survived losing her home in the 2010 Nashville flood, a battle with MS, and more than a few nights with decisions that she might have regretted. Knowing where you have fallen, and not killing yourself over it is something that Roberts can sing and write very ably about.

Something for the wish list, you may be sure.

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