Dope slapping

We all saw the picture, and it wasn’t that funny:

One of the sillier bits of recent news was the changing of the Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed” (which apparently wasn’t even all that original). I admit my reaction was: “that’s so funny I forgot to laugh” said with the most sarcasm possible.

Confession: I find the extreme “weed culture,” where pot has to constantly be celebrated and that palmate leaf slapped onto everything, kind of puerile and annoying. I don’t care if you smoke it — far away from me — but I also would like for the rest of us to be able to avoid the whole stoner thing. And yes, I say this as someone who almost made a “Dave’s not here” joke to a natural-foods store employee, but hesitated because I figured he was too young to get it.

“Dave” goes back forty-five years, man.

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Imagine every other week

The first week of January brings lots of Retrospectives from the Previous Year, most of which I didn’t read because the Previous Year was 2016, a year I would mostly prefer to forget.

On the other hand, I was happy to go through Lorna Burford’s 25 Favourite Outfits of 2016, because Lorna does that whole Styling thing with grace and panache, and I was pretty sure I wouldn’t find anything disappointing. And I didn’t.

That said, this, by a narrow margin, was my fave:

Lorna Burford on a bridge

And it wasn’t even planned:

This outfit here is proof to me that you make the most of a bad situation. We had been on our way to the beach (I wasn’t wearing this) and our car broke down. After we managed to get home, instead of wasting a Summery day and nice weather, we decided to do a photoshoot and went for a walk. I threw on some random pieces, headed towards a bridge we found and shot the photos there. Spontaneous and it worked out well, even if things were bad before.

Which is, if you ask me, the true test of personal style: you throw on some random pieces, and you still looks great.

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And still more covers

Jon Bellion’s single “All Time Low” came out this past spring. You may be absolutely certain that Rebecca Black knows it inside and out:

With Max Ehrich. Note: Some of the language approaches saltiness.

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Rack adjustment

There are several — at least two, anyway — good reasons why a woman might want a breast reduction, but there are traps waiting along the way to the operating room:

Without insurance approval, getting a reduction in New York City can cost you upwards of $10,000.

My J. Crew Factory Store lifestyle couldn’t accommodate such expenses. Even if I did have ten grand lying around, I’d rather spend it on something more exciting than boob deflation, like a very nice kayak or a few of those Volcano candles from Anthropologie.

Insurance approval was a must for me to move forward.

Easier said than done, though:

Even with all my medical documentation, the insurance company itself had to inspect my honkers. And so, I found myself standing topless in an exam room while a surgeon I’d just met snapped pictures of my chest.

He directed me in what was surely the world’s most awkward photo shoot: “Turn a little to the left … Pull your shoulders back … Move your hair out of the way.” It. was. not. cool.

And even then:

After flinging myself back into the hospital gown with all the poise of an ostrich on fire, I asked the surgeon what he thought my chances were for getting insurance approval. Turns out, after all that, he thought my chances weren’t great. When I pressed, he admitted the approval process was extremely opaque, so he was hesitant to give me any sort of assurance.

Of course it’s opaque. They resist the very idea of patients knowing what they’re doing.

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Cramped quarters again

The last two meetings of Rockets/Thunder, OKC spotted Houston a big lead after three quarters and then defensed the living, um, tissue out of them in the fourth. And it looked like the same thing would happen tonight: the Rockets, down five after the first quarter, led 67-56 at the half and 97-83 after three, and sure enough, the Thunder bore down. With 5:30 left, the Rocket lead was down to three. At the 2:30 mark, it was one. Just inside the 2:00 mark, a Victor Oladipo trey put the Thunder up two; James Harden responded with two free throws to tie it up at 116. Then followed a possibly controversial call in which Patrick Beverley wasn’t as out of bounds as he looked. Harden to the rescue, right? Well, he put up a straight-ahead trey, which Andre Roberson waved off in his own inimitable fashion, and with 25 seconds left, Russell Westbrook wound up with the ball and worked some clock. Then Westbrook backrimmed a trey, Beverley retrieved the rock, and Houston burned up the last of its timeouts trying to inbound. Nené went for the dunk; Jerami Grant blocked it, but also fouled him in the process. Nené hit both free throws, and with 0.7 left, the Thunder was definitely in a hole, and burned up the last of their timeouts trying to inbound. Enes Kanter took the last shot from a position we may describe as “unfavorable,” and the Rockets won it, 118-116, taking a 2-1 lead in the season series.

Inexplicably, the Rockets deployed a nearly balanced attack: Harden was good for 26 and 12 assists, but all five Houston starters reached double figures, and so did Eric Gordon, with 22 off the bench. The Thunder had more rebounds, 54-43, but the Rockets moved the ball better: 27-15 on assists. Kanter recorded the Thunder’s only double-double — 15 points, 13 boards — while Westbrook posted a lopsided 49-8-5 line. (King Zero was 16-34 from the line, 8-15 for three-pointers.) If Billy Donovan is looking at anything right now, it’s that gap between Oladipo’s trey, the last points scored by OKC, and the horn.

Next outing: at home, against the Denver Nuggets on Saturday.

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I can’t see over this damn truck

In Ukraine, they’ve solved this problem:

Traffic lights from Ukraine

(From the Pics subreddit via TYWKIWDBI.)

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Maximizing one’s motto

Kayser, before they were Kayser-Roth, used to plug their unmentionables with the slogan “You owe it to your audience.” It was perfectly sensible for them to buy ad space in Playbill:

1935 issue of Playbill including a Kayser hosiery ad

Waiting for Lefty, which opened on this date in 1935, occupies a unique spot in the history of American theater: it was Clifford Odets’ first play to be produced, staged by the Group Theatre, and it was a hit for both Odets and the Group. The subtitle, too long for Playbill — on this page, anyway — was “A Play in Six Scenes, Based on the New York City Taxi Strike of February 1934.” The storyline:

The piece is a series of interconnected scenes depicting workers for a fictional taxi company, but inspired by an actual taxi strike. The focus alternates between the drivers’ union meeting and vignettes from the workers’ difficult and oppressed lives. Not all are taxi drivers. A young medical intern falls victim to anti-Semitism; a laboratory assistant’s job is threatened if he doesn’t comply with orders to spy on a colleague; couples are thwarted in marriage and torn apart by the hopelessness of economic conditions caused by the Depression. The climax is a defiant call for the union to strike, which brought the entire opening night audience to its feet. The play can be performed in any acting space, including union meeting halls and on the street.

And come to think of it, rather a lot of hosiery mills were struck in the 1930s.

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Approved by chowhounds

After a passel of cooking shows on the Food Network, a defense thereof:

[T]he reason I like these shows is probably the same reason a lot of people dislike or deride them: they are unrealistically ideal. The people in them seem to have fairly perfect lives — they must have a lot of money; their houses are always clean; they live near good places to buy food so they don’t have to fight the crowds at the Wal-mart and they don’t have to try to find the least-squashed-looking cauliflower in the produce section there. And you know what? I want that fantasy. I want to believe that someone out there doesn’t lead a life like mine, which feels like it’s about thirty percent making it up as I go along, twenty percent having no idea what I’m doing, and fifty percent fearful that I’m actually doing it all wrong. And I know (intellectually, again) that the people don’t have perfect lives — surely Ree Drummond and her husband argue sometimes, or their kids aren’t as sweet and cooperative as we see on the show, and Ina Garten probably gets angry at times or maybe has that one flakey friend who agrees to do something for her but never does — but emotionally, I want to believe there are people out there who don’t seem to have so many big messes in their lives.

I can’t imagine Ina Garten angry, at least not without the accompaniment of apocalyptic-looking storm clouds just above her brow.

On that Life Ratio, I figure there’s a 50-percent chance that I’m doing it all wrong, but I figure the rest of the species routinely faces basically the same unfavorable odds, which takes some (not all) of the sting out of it.

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Laws of surpassing murkiness

Jack Baruth notes that there are stretches of Interstate hither and yon upon which literally no one observes the posted speed limit, and proposes the sensible question: Cui bono? Who benefits from this?

There’s always someone, of course:

Perhaps you’ve heard of the book Three Felonies A Day, written by civil-rights attorney Harvey Silverglate. In the book, Silverglate argues that the law has become so complex, particularly as regards technology and chain-of-custody issues, that it is almost impossible to get through your day without committing a felony of some type. Not everybody agrees with the specific examples and assertions made in the book, but I think it’s fair to say that most of us have unknowingly done something that would be punished much more severely than you would expect. That goes double for people who work in tech. I’ve seen people violate multiple federal privacy laws, totaling dozens of years’ worth of prison time, in a single email. And don’t get me started on the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and its repugnant, pernicious effects on ordinary human beings.

Mental note: Don’t get Jack started on the DMCA.

Outrageously low speed limits do not protect the freeway motorists of Cincinnati or Northern Virginia. In fact, you can argue that they increase the risk of driving on those freeways. So Cui bono? I think you know. Changing the limit from 65 to 45 on Route 71 benefits law enforcement. It creates the following benefits:

  • It turns a normal flow of freeway traffic into a river of cash into which the police can dip at will. Want to write ten tickets a day? A hundred? A thousand? It’s all possible.
  • It increases the cash value of those tickets for both insurance companies and municipalities while simultaneously making it harder to fight those tickets.
  • It allows profiling.

After all, they don’t have to bust you on some trumped-up nonsense if they can just write you up for 59 in a 45 zone.

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Where’s the buzz?

I remember when Nicolas Batum caused massive grief for the Thunder as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers; when he was dealt to Charlotte, well, we’d have to see him only twice a year instead of four times. Turns out that Batum, at least in this game, was just about twice as much of a pest as he was in the Rose Garden/Moda Center: with the game tied at 101 late in the fourth, the Hornets went on a 13-3 run, and much of that running was done by Batum, who finished with a season-high 28 points and dribbled it out for a 123-112 win.

No one — well, no one not named Russell Westbrook — was complaining about the officiating, but damn, those Hornets know how to draw fouls; Charlotte took forty-nine free throws, making 40 of them. (OKC was 19-23 from the stripe, a better percentage; but still, 21 points handed to the opposition.) Alongside Batum in the Hornets backcourt, Kemba Walker rang up 20 points, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist drew a double-double (14 points, 11 rebounds).

Two double-doubles among the Thundermen: Westbrook (of course), 33 points and 15 rebounds, Steven Adams, 18 points and 12 boards. As per usual, Enes Kanter led the bench with 22. The Thunder did manage to control the backboards, kinda sorta, 51-46; but the Hornets served up more assists and shot about 2.5 percent better. You gotta wonder if maybe the Thunder were looking ahead to an even tougher road opponent: the Rockets, who will be waiting in Houston tomorrow night. But Westbrook, who played 35 minutes and drew yet another technical (two previous Ts were rescinded, so he has ten), probably isn’t worried about playing time.

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Buy your Pepsi in Camden, New Jersey

I am a fan of neither Pepsi nor of Camden, but foiling the pols in Philly would be worth it:

Philadelphia rang in the new year with a controversial new beverage tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened drinks. The tax, which went into effect on Sunday, is the first one of its kind in a major city in the United States.

While the tax is technically 1.5 cents per ounce, which doesn’t sound too terrible, when buying a 10-pack of 20 oz bottles those numbers climb pretty quickly … a 10-pack of Propel flavored water that originally retailed for $5.99 had an additional three dollars tacked on to it in taxes.

The Cola Wars being what they are, I can usually find one of the two and a half major brands — I do love the zip of RC, but it’s lacking in majority — in a two-liter bottle for a buck. Tack on a cent and a half per ounce and that two-liter bottle is suddenly $2.01.

Where is all this money going to go? Ostensible community-health programs? Not a chance:

The money generated from the tax will help fund Mayor Jim Kenney’s Pre-K program.

Answer me this. Did any of your friends attend Pre-K? It didn’t even exist for some of us: as a resident (then) of Texas, I couldn’t start first grade until I was almost seven. This might not matter if the School District of Philadelphia were doing a good job. Fat chance of that:

The Philadelphia public schools do not educate any group of their students as well as national averages for each group. They fail to come anywhere near to providing the quality of education given to students in nearby districts. Although family income and parental education levels have some effect on student achievement, this simply defines the task of the schools. The extent of these failures in Philadelphia is too great to be attributed to anything other than the quality of the schools themselves.

All the more reason to get those kids as early as possible, so they can get used to their eventual fates: smuggling Dr Pepper from Delaware.

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The lowest form of taco

Yet it’s always in demand, and has been for many years:

[W]hen it comes to Jack in the Box tacos, there are two kinds of people: those who think they’re disgusting, and those who agree they’re disgusting but are powerless to resist them.

I ate a ton, or at least many kilograms, of these things during my sojourn in Southern California; I hadn’t thought about them for some time, but since Jack has opened up half a mile from me — second-closest fast-food chain, behind Popeye’s and just ahead of Whataburger — my mind keeps drifting back to an earlier, greasier time.

(Via Aaron M. Renn.)

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How smart are these cookies?

Or are they just easily manipulated?

I’ll bet someone was told to Stuf it.

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A two-state solution, sort of

Andrew Jackson was born in the Waxhaws, on the border between North Carolina and South Carolina; Jackson generally described himself as coming from South Carolina — which is the reason we studied this in South Carolina history — but the surviving town of Waxhaw is on the Tar Heel side of the line.

Jackson was born in 1767. Could this sort of thing still be an issue 250 years later? Of course it can:

Some S.C. residents who went to bed on New Year’s Eve in the Palmetto State will wake up New Year’s Day as North Carolinians.

A two-decade effort using GPS technology to clarify the exact, down-to-the-centimeter border between the Carolinas comes to fruition this year.

The border adjustment, approved by both states, moved 16 people who thought they lived in South Carolina into North Carolina. Three N.C. families now will have S.C. addresses.

“It’s not shifting at all,” former state Sen. Wes Hayes, R-York, said of the 334-mile border. “We just pinned down exactly where the original line was.”

There were some incentives involved:

For example, children whose states of residence changed still can attend their previous public schools, and, for the next 10 years, they also will get in-state tuition at public schools in either state.

A deal also was cut to allow the Lake Wylie Mini Mart — once thought to be in South Carolina but now in North Carolina — to continue selling fireworks and alcohol, and to keep selling gas at South Carolina’s lower tax rate.

So long as the Mart’s owners retain it, anyway: if they ever sell out, the new owners will be subject to North Carolina law.

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Assaulted with battery details

Question of the day:

Why anyone would want to put a charging station for electric vehicles in Beatty, Nevada, is beyond me. You are on the road from Las Vegas to Reno. Your only other choice is Death Valley. Some kind of bullshit, this is.

No present-day electric vehicle can make it from Las Vegas to Reno, about 450 miles, on a single charge; Tesla, whose chargers these are, claims a mere 265. (Beatty is closer to Las Vegas than to Reno.)


I’ve been trying to figure out why I don’t like electric cars. Right now they have some shortcomings, but they are getting better every day and so it probably won’t be too long before they perform as well and are as cheap as, or cheaper, than a gasoline powered car. So why don’t I like them? There are a number of issues you could quibble over, but the gasoline empire has corresponding problems of its own, it’s just been around longer so we have learned how to cope.

Except for that business about charging, performance is pretty much on par. I put ten gallons of Shell V-Power in my car yesterday, which took me about four and a half minutes and cost me $27. I can drive a couple hundred miles on that, easy, and then, four and a half minutes later, I’m on the road again. No existing electric can do that. Then again, 200 miles in a Tesla, at Oklahoma electric rates, would cost between $5 and $10. If you don’t ever have to go 200 miles, electric makes a pretty good case for itself.

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Principal with interest

I always assumed that “Victoria Principal” was a screen name, nothing more. Which shows you how little I know: “Principal” is for real her surname, but her original given name was, um, Vicki.

Victoria Principal standing sort of tall

The Wiki guys describe how she got her first role:

In 1970, Principal moved to Hollywood. She had no money, no car, no agent, and no prior television or movie-making experiences beside the commercials she had made in her teenage years. She reportedly supported herself by teaching backgammon. Nine months later she had a car, an agent, a little money but auditioned and won her first film role as Marie Elena, a Mexican mistress, in Paul Newman’s The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972), for which she earned a Golden Globe Nomination as Most Promising Newcomer.

Victoria Principal cranks the tunes

In 1973, Playboy beckoned; Principal would do a pictorial and would take the female lead in The Naked Ape, an R-rated flesh-fest that Desmond Morris had nothing to do with.

Victoria Principal without a stitch

But she’s probably best known for her nine years as Pamela Barnes Ewing on the prime-time soap Dallas.

Principal opted out of the 2012 Dallas revival. She had Good Deeds to Do, one of which was funding the American Humane Association’s Red Star Rescue Team, which worked here in central Oklahoma to reunite lost pets with their families after the 2013 tornado on the city’s southern edge, through Moore.

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