1 June 2004
General Lee speaking
This Caren Lissner story can't possibly be excerpted, so:
The other day, I took a walking tour of Dorothy Parker's old haunts, and afterwards there was a small lunch at the Algonquin. Some people were talking about Dorothy's friends hanging out in speakeasies, and several people said that Prohibition was the dumbest thing ever.
"That's how the mob made their money," one woman said.
You know what? The other 11 were just damn culturally illiterate.
Now if we could just remind the politically illiterate that Prohibition was the dumbest thing ever.
Presumably less than Hung
The WB's Superstar USA, says Donna, is "immensely evil":
Those poor deluded people! I am unsure if they are in on the joke or they were deprived of oxygen in their mother's womb. It was wrong to sit and laugh at these quite possibly simple-minded singers but I found that I couldn't take my eyes off the tube! It held me in an evil grip! Thankfully I do not have a tv that gets reception in my house so I will not be tempted to watch this horrible show again. Of course, I may just find myself at my parent's house for the finale, but that would be purely coincidence.
Inasmuch as I've never been impressed by anyone I've seen on American Idol, not even William Hung, I rather doubt I'll be paying much attention to this batch of sub-karaoke warblers, and I thank Donna for doing the dirty work for me.
Just the artifacts, ma'am
Before Freddie cuts in he does that constantly, you know here's the chorus:
Johnny get angry, Johnny get mad,
Give me the biggest lecture I ever had,
I want a brave man, I want a cave man,
Johnny, show me that you care, really care for me.
Hard to imagine that Hal David, wordsmith for such eloquent songs as "Do You Know the Way to San Jose?" and "Don't Make Me Over," would ever have come up with something like that, but hey, it was 1962, and you can't do everything with Burt Bacharach at your side. And besides, Sherman Edwards' melody is perfectly tailored to a (presumably) teenage singer to whom angst is more important than range.
Joanie Sommers (née Joan Drost) was actually twenty, but no matter: she had Sweet Sixteen all over her lovely face. I know this because right in front of me, I've got a copy of the original sheet music for "Johnny Get Angry," published by Tod Music, Inc., and the reason I have this is because Dawn Eden, who has a smile even bigger than Joanie's, was kind enough to send it along as part of her effort to reduce her volume of pop ephemera from "Crushing" to "Overwhelming."
Thanks, Dawn. If I never seem to wish that I were dead anymore, it's at least partially because of you.
For your eyes only
Somehow this just struck me as hilarious. The Bare Buns Family Nudist Club in northern Virginia has a collection of Frequently Asked Questions, and most of them are pretty much like the questions asked of other clothing-optional operations.
Except for this one:
Question: I have a government security clearance. Will I risk losing it by attending your parties?
Our membership includes people who work for the FBI, the CIA, Secret Service, and the Pentagon. Although some generally poorly informed people consider our activites controversial, the things we do are legal and wholesome, and the government's security people know that. The only way you could become a security risk through your participation in nudist activities is if you are so overly secretive that you think that you must at all costs prevent your parents, your employer, or someone else from finding out, which might make you subject to blackmail.
This doesn't mean that you must tell your family, friends, co-workers or your pastor that you've visited a nudist club, but that it would be OK if they were to somehow learn about your new interest.
When securing or renewing their security clearances, some people list the officials of our club as character references; the people who are investigating them seldom bat an eye when we confirm their participation in wholesome, family clothes-free activities.
I can't wait for this to come up in a Congressional hearing. "Yes, Senator, I did remove all my clothing, at an undisclosed location."
2 June 2004
Tanks a lot
One of the signon screens at AOL last night screamed GAS PRICES AT RECORD HIGHS. Of course, if you apply an inflation adjustment, it would take prices around $3 a gallon to qualify for the "record," but even apart from that matter of economics and/or semantics, the price at the pump has dropped five or six cents here on the Lone Prairie; prices as low as $1.72 have been sighted around town. (Independent reports can be found here.)
This doesn't mean the worst is over by any means, but the AOL report does suggest that Big Media is more interested in scaring up a story by scaring its customers which, these days, scarcely qualifies as news.
Standards of vagueness
"Dangerously vague," said Judge Phyllis Hamilton when she ruled that last year's "partial-birth" abortion ban is unconstitutional.
True Blue Gal Deb reprints the pertinent legal language, and wants to know what's so vague about it. And Judge Hamilton also objected to the absence of an exception to save the health of the mother. Saving her life, of course, is covered in the first paragraph, but I suppose it's necessary to protect her self-esteem and her emotional stability as well.
I fail to see how anyone, with the possible exception of Scott Peterson, benefits from this ruling.
On the upswing
Cam Edwards asks:
[I]s life better for you now than it was five years ago, and do you credit the government at all?
2. There are two ways in which the government has contributed to improving my existence: tax policies that put a few extra coins in my pocket, and foreign policies that put the interests of this country above the interests of the soi-disant "international community."
"How very strange," muttered Simon and/or Garfunkel, "to be seventy."
They'll get there fast enough. Meanwhile, Dear Old Dad goes ten percent beyond, turning seventy-seven today, and while it would be starry-eyed in the extreme to say he's in the best of health, he doesn't seem to be deteriorating much, either.
Still, I worry. Emphysema has turned his lungs into a wasteland, and he's tethered to an oxygen source. He can walk fairly well, sometimes better than I can, but he can't walk very much, simply because that plastic lifeline will only go so far. And while he wasn't a traveling sort of fellow maybe all those years in the service took the Wanderlust out of him it's hard for me to accept the fact that he'll likely spend the rest of his life in those same three or four rooms.
What matters, though, is that there is a "rest of his life"; with Mom gone twenty-seven years now, and the surviving children spread across town, he's the unmistakable center of the family, and were it up to me, he'd stay there as long as possible.
And he has one secret weapon: the woman he married after a decent interval of widowerhood, who is still by his side and always will be. I pretend to chafe at having a stepmother my own age, but I have no doubt that without her, he'd never have lasted this long.
To both of them, I raise my glass, and towards the sky, I raise my hopes.
In Oklahoma parlance, an Eighty-Niner is someone who was actually on hand for the Land Run on 22 April 1889, which resulted in the founding of Oklahoma City. More recently, the name was applied to the city's minor-league baseball club, which is now known as the RedHawks.
And blogwise, the 89er is the 89th edition of Carnival of the Vanities, hosted this week by Read My Lips, seven days' worth of superior bloggage in a single handy package. Even if it is in Texas.
3 June 2004
That's how this business goes
Once again, you know the words:
I am the morning DJ at WOLD
Playing all the hits for you, wherever you may be
The bright good-morning voice who's heard but never seen
Feeling all of 45, going on 15
Actually, Harry Chapin placed this station in Boise, Idaho, where stations whose call letters start with W are conspicuous by their absence, but no matter: the real WOLD, a daytimer in Marion, Virginia on 1330 kHz, has, according to 100000watts.com, gone silent pending a sale.
WOLD-FM (102.5 MHz) continues.
Gladly, the cross-eyed bear
For its first three-quarters of a century, the City of Oklahoma City managed to get by without an official seal. In 1965, Mayor George Shirk announced a competition to design a city seal; this is the prize winner, designed by Larry Thompson, who got $500 (a fair chunk of change in '65) for his efforts.
Listening to everything
"Partly cloudy," said the Weather Guys, and so it was, but I figured enough stray rays were filtering into my back yard to justify grabbing a few, and so I did.
Away from the street, it's fairly quiet; the first noise I heard was the sound of a dozen birds taking off once they heard the back door opening. Well, fine, be that way, I thought; normally they tend to sit there and stare, or if they sense that yard work is about to be performed, they wait for some fresh surfaces to explore, but generally they don't split all at once.
In the absence of flapping wings their chirping session usually ends around sunrise I tuned into some of the other noises around: the high-pitched buzz of the resident insects, the wind (down around 8 mph, which is way low for here) rustling the leaves above me, air conditioners cycling on and off, and the occasional passing vehicle with the stereo turned up to a Spinal Tap-like eleven.
Then there was that loud crashing noise from a house on the next block, which definitely broke the mood of the moment and left me wondering if maybe I'd stayed out just a few seconds too long. Nothing at least, nothing on this side of the fence lasts forever.
Dude, where's my bicycle?
Robb Hibbard has permalinks at last!
And to commemorate this august (though it be June) moment, a list of his criteria for moviegoing:
Generally, I'll watch anything that has any or all of the following: 1. Inventive use of profanity; 2. Laughable nudity; 3. Art chicks in emo glasses who think they're on a higher plain intellectually than the pathetic people around them.
Somehow I suspect his DVD shelf has far more diversity than mine.
4 June 2004
Politicians do love to count jobs, and it's always amusing to see their counts come back and bite them.
Senate candidate Kirk Humphreys has been boasting that 54,000 jobs were created in Oklahoma City during his stint as mayor; his press secretary has since conceded that this figure is inaccurate.
The correct number, says Rick Buchanan, is 38,000.
The correct number, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is 16,332; if you add in the entire metropolitan area, you can get to 38,000, but it's unclear to me how Humphreys, as mayor of Oklahoma City, contributed a great deal to job growth in Shawnee or Norman.
Things I learned today (2)
Every day is a learning experience, or ought to be, and here's what I'm finding out:
No other description needed:
5 June 2004
Well, somebody's getting a break at the pumps: the price in Iraq is running around five cents a gallon for the cheap stuff these days.
Iraq being short of refinery capacity at the moment, the US government is buying gas in the region at around a buck-fifty and delivering it to filling stations at further expense. I assume they figure they'll make up the difference in volume.
From CaribPundit comes this story of a movement in Guyana to raise the age of consent, currently twelve, following the attempt of a 37-year-old businessman to marry a 13-year-old girl over the objections of her mother.
This hit me harder than I thought it would, and I know why. About ten years ago, I had a pen pal of 14 or so; we were both fans of Roundhouse, a comedy-plus-music series that aired on Nickelodeon for three years. I still have a photo of her somewhere. But it would never have occurred to me to visit her, let alone try to lure her into the sack. (The show was eventually cancelled, we fell out of touch, and surely she's forgotten me by now.)
This is undoubtedly related to the vaguely-creepy feeling I get these days from the Playmate of the Month, who almost always proves to be younger than either of my children. Maybe I'd feel differently if I'd been brought up in Guyana, but I doubt it.
I'm whipping down the Lake Hefner Parkway at the speed that was legal half a mile ago fercryingoutloud, and the Blossoms, Darlene Love and all, pop up on the speakers with the 1961 semi-hit "Son-In-Law," a smart-alecky response to Ernie K-Doe's enormous hit "Mother-In-Law," which goes something like this:
He's gone all night and he's got no job
Don't comb his hair, he's such a slob
You can find him on the corner with the rest of the mob
My no-good son-in-law
Exactly the person, in other words, who might muse, "If she would leave, that would be the solution." "Son-In-Law" stalled at #79 in Billboard, which is actually pretty good for an example of that now-forgotten genre, the answer record, the song that takes note of the plaintiff's top-charting plea and details the case for the defense.
Most of the time, it's obvious what's being answered, as it is with Wendy Hill's "Gary, Please Don't Sell My Diamond Ring." Seldom did answer records chart very high, though Jeanne Black's "He'll Have to Stay," which refutes Jim Reeves' "He'll Have to Go," made #4.
But for the greatest answer record of them all, we have to reorient ourselves toward early-Fifties country music, and a fellow named Hank Thompson, who besides selling sixty million-odd records, starred in the first-ever TV variety show in color (live from Oklahoma City, even) and recorded the first-ever country live album (At the Golden Nugget, 1961).
Thompson's signature song, a tremendous hit in 1952, was "The Wild Side of Life." He didn't write it Jimmy Heap and the Melody Masters put it out a couple years earlier but Thompson made it his own. It contained this chorus:
I didn't know God made honky tonk angels
I might have known you'd never make a wife
You gave up the only one that ever loved you
And went back to the wild side of life
Songwriter J. D. Miller saw an opening here, and Kitty Wells was coaxed out of semi-retirement to hurl Hank Thompson's words back at him:
It wasn't God who made honky tonk angels
As you said in the words of your song
Too many times married men think they're still single
That has caused many a good girl to go wrong
A situation that has changed little in half a century, I might add. "It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels" sold a million, a first for a female country artist, and a rare example (well, rare before Loretta Lynn) of a woman in Nashville actually talking back. And just to make a point, Kitty followed it with an answer to Webb Pierce's "Back Street Affair."
The answer record has largely been supplanted over the years by the tribute recording, often overlaid with entirely too much attempted irony: see Dread Zeppelin, or Rolf Harris' attempt to tie down "Stairway to Heaven." Which means we probably won't hear a 21st-century equivalent of, say, Jon E. Holliday's "Yes, I Will Love You Tomorrow," which isn't the least bit amusing, or the Romeos' "The Tiger's Wide Awake," which is.
(Note: There were a couple of MP3s linked here; they were taken down after 36 hours to avoid the wrath of the Recording Industry Association of America, which objects strenuously to this sort of thing, even when the recordings are not available commercially and likely never will be.)
A moment of silence
Rest in peace, Mr. President.
On the marquee at La Baguette, a French restaurant a couple miles from me:
6 JUIN 1944
They didn't need to say anything else.
6 June 2004
Wrapping up MAPS
After ten years, the Metropolitan Area Projects Citizens Oversight Board is ready to close the books. The once-fractious board voted to put itself out to pasture this week.
MAPS itself was remarkable: a single, massive upgrade of public facilities, financed by a one-cent sales tax for 5½ years. When MAPS was put to the voters in 1993, the city suggested that the projects would spur some $150 million in private investment; during the period the tax was collected, revenues and accrued interest totaled over $350 million, and the private sector so far has kicked in around $1.5 billion. In a city previously considered somewhere between sleepy and moribund, this is a turnaround on par with the '69 Mets.
One worry I had was that things were going to cost even more than the city had projected and the entire scheme was going to wind up in the hole. The final financial report shows about $450,000 still in the kitty, which will be devoted to project upkeep. And that penny sales tax expired in 1999; voters were sufficiently impressed with the results it got to reinstate it in 2001 for "MAPS for Kids", a scheme to upgrade public school facilities in the city, which is projected to cost some $620 million, 70 percent of which will go to schools within the Oklahoma City school district and the balance to schools in suburban districts which serve outlying parts of the city.
I could be cynical and ask what they're going to do in 2008 when the MAPS for Kids tax expires surely they'll think of something, right? but for now, I'm waiting to see whether the improvement in facilities is enough to jump-start the process of improving the quality of education.
Welcome to Life. Here's your eraser.
I know this feeling well, some of it, anyway all too well:
I'd like to remove the entries that refer to men I've dated to take away nearly every one of them, in fact. It's hard to look at the photos of me happy on the arm of someone special and think about how much I miss that feeling. But I can't do it at least, not now, when I'm not dating anyone. It's too much like tearing pages out of a diary. More than that, it feels dishonest, even Communist like rewriting the history books.
There are no entries here which deal with women I've dated, because there are no such women, at least since this site opened in 1996. But there are plenty of items which for one reason or another make me cringe: really badly-argued premises, bathetic whining, desperate attempts at bandwagon-jumping. Were I anxious to make a good impression, I'd scythe away the lot of them.
But I don't. I can't. For better or for worse, this is the document of my existence, the one reference work by which I measure what progress (if any) I have made, and stripping it of things which might embarrass me will inevitably reduce its usefulness in conducting those measurements. Of more than three thousand pages that have accumulated on this site over eight years, I have deleted a total of four, and those four not only had essentially no redeeming social value whatever but could have made life difficult for other people as well.
And if by some fluke I do actually date someone, I'll post about it. Just don't hold your breath waiting.
And now they're hooked
Joanne Jacobs points to this story in The New York Times Magazine which details the semi-detached suburban sexual encounters of contemporary teenagers, and there's something vaguely, maybe not so vaguely, impersonal about the entire process:
[I]f you want it to be a hookup relationship, then you don't call the person for anything except plans to hook up. You don't invite them out with you. You don't call just to say hi. You don't confuse the matter. You just keep it purely sexual, and that way people don't have mixed expectations, and no one gets hurt.
I rather think Dawn Eden might disagree with that last bit.
And Dr. Drew Pinsky, he who hosts the "Loveline" show, sees a downside, particularly for girls:
'It's all bravado. Teens are unwittingly swept up in the social mores of the moment, and it's certainly not some alternative they're choosing to keep from getting hurt emotionally. The fact is, girls don't enjoy hookups nearly as much as boys, no matter what they say at the time. They're only doing it because that's what the boys want.''
And what the boys wanted, when I was growing up, could be graphed on a baseball diamond. No more:
''We need to establish an international base system,'' Brian said. ''Because right now, frankly, no one knows what's up with the bases. And that's a problem.''
Jesse nodded in agreement. ''First base is obviously kissing,'' Brian said.
''Obviously,'' Jesse said.
''But here's the twist,'' Brian said. ''Historically, second base was breasts. But I don't think second base is breasts anymore. I think that's just a given part of first base. I mean, how can you make out without copping a feel?''
''True,'' Jesse said. ''And if third base is oral, what's second base?''
''How does this work for girls?'' asked Ashley, the 17-year-old junior. ''I mean, are the bases what's been done to you, or what you've done?''
''If it's what base you've gone to with a girl, you go by whoever had more done,'' Jesse told her.
''But we're girls,'' Ashley said. ''So we've got on bases with guys?''
''Right, but it doesn't matter,'' Jesse said. ''It's not what base you've had done to you, it's what bases you get to.''
Kate shook her head. ''I'm totally lost.''
''See how complicated this is?'' Brian said. ''Now if someone asks you, 'So, how far did you get with her?' you have to say, 'Well, how do your bases go?' ''
I don't know. (Third base.)
7 June 2004
As the fish drown
AmeriDebt, a credit-counseling operation which ran massive advertising campaigns before running afoul of the Federal Trade Commission, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The firm, which stopped acquiring new customers last fall, is continuing to serve its existing customer base; at least five states have filed suit against them, charging that AmeriDebt misrepresented its services.
In the maw of the machine
I knew I was in trouble when I managed to miss completely the third page of disclosures and whatever on the clipboard.
But I put that out of my mind, shed everything metallic, and was duly crammed into the business end of this gargantuan contraption that, had it been colored something other than Industrial Beige, would have fit nicely into an episode of Looney Tunes with music by Raymond Scott.
At first, I shrugged it off. They handed me a pair of headphones, and tuned me into the local classical station, and the processing began.
It did not help that the radio station took this opportunity to introduce us to a Dutch composer about my age who apparently operated under the assumption that the real problem with Schönberg was that he was too goddamn melodic. And I'm lying here on too narrow a slab yeah, yeah, I know trying desperately not to twitch while my synapses are playing a suite from Herrmann's score for Psycho.
The station switched to Mozart, and it didn't help. By now my pulse was in triple digits, and I would have been sweating profusely had not every drop of liquid in my body, with the exception of the quart that had mysteriously backed up in the bladder, been diverted to relieving a mouth dry as the Mojave. Four or five or a hundred and twenty passes who knew? and I was literally screaming yet somehow still inaudible: "GET ME OUT OF THIS THING!"
In 1985, a petroleum tanker drove over the top of my car. By comparison, I took that calmly.
They say that fear eats the soul. I'd be really surprised if there's enough left for a snack.
Thank you for calling City Futilities
About 3,000 Oklahoma City utility customers got an unpleasant surprise this month in their water/sewer/garbage bills: $581.84 listed as "Balance In Dispute." I got the impression, talking to the harried but sort-of-smiling clerk, that 2,900 or so of them had called in today to complain.
She did say that it was safe to ignore it, but if I went ahead and paid it, they wouldn't complain a whole lot. I suppose they wouldn't, inasmuch as $581.84 (it's the same amount on all the affected bills) is about a year's worth of service at this address.
(Update, 8 June, 4:50 pm: The City is now claiming 10,000 bills were so affected.)
8 June 2004
The Cornerstone Baptist Church in Stafford, Virginia lacks something you'd think might be essential to a congregation of this denomination: a proper baptismal pool. Previously, they had been borrowing the facilities of other churches in the area. But Rev. Todd Pyle, ever-resourceful, hit upon a solution, and one with Biblical antecedent at that: hold baptisms in the Rappahannock River, at the Falmouth Waterfront Park.
Officials at the park were less than delighted, and tried to break up the ceremony, claiming it might be offensive to others using the park.
Perhaps surprised by the level of outrage their action generated including objections from the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute and the state branch of the ACLU [link is to a Microsoft Word document] park officials promised to reevaluate their policies. Meanwhile, Rev. Pyle is looking for another place to conduct the ceremony.
(Via Tongue Tied)
Whole lotta shakin' goin' on
Okay, maybe not that much. But Oklahoma is riven with fault lines, and they vibrate fairly frequently; yesterday, an hour and a half before sunset, a 3.0 temblor (temblette?) rumbled its way through Ardmore.
The most earth-shattering quake ever recorded in Oklahoma struck El Reno in 1952.
Where will we put all these people?
Apparently the question of whether Oklahoma City has enough downtown hotel rooms has been settled: the Big 12 Conference announced today that the 2007 basketball tournaments will be held in OKC, the women's in the Cox Convention Center, the men's in the Ford Center.
The girl with the thorn in her side
Why Michele isn't throwing away her Smiths recordings:
You can make all the arguments you want about supporting anti-Bush or anti-America musicians and artists monetarily. I don't care. I prefer to live life enjoying those things that bring me pleasure, even if it means that Morrissey or the Beastie Boys or Johnny Depp gets a couple of bucks out of my paycheck. If I were to toss out every album and/or cd of every musician that behaves like a jerk or says stupendously stupid things, I'd be left with barely anything to listen to or watch.
Amen to that. Dixie Chicks, anyone?
(Update, 4:25 pm: More specificity in the opening.)
9 June 2004
Gone to pieces, bits and pieces
This started with retroCRUSH's 50 Coolest Song Parts survey, which is based on the perfectly reasonable notion that "sometimes there are pieces of songs that are cooler than the song itself." With a nod to Michele, who's already worked up a list, here are some of my favorite fragments. The criterion for inclusion is simple: does it make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, even now, however many years later? These do.
Feel free to contribute your own bits.
Screenwriter/librettist Jim Friedland, courtesy of Dawn Eden:
I learned to never judge Ronald Reagan, and to give leaders the benefit of being an active citizen who can differ with them but treat them with the respect both leaders and citizens deserve. As I've grown older, I've felt increasingly that he really has had no successors on the national scene that "Reaganism" had turned into another name for the kind of conservatism which conserves less and less and less every year. I hope that people make the benefit of his death a renewed sense of hope and openness and of idealism with open ears and a sense of the pragmatic and to look for those qualities in their candidates, whatever their politics may be.
This "no successors" idea explains much about occasional Republican efforts to engrave Ronald Reagan's name on every conceivable flat surface and his image on Mount Rushmore: there is, I've often suspected, an inchoate feeling within the GOP that while there are political victories still within reach, the party has already peaked, and in the absence of Reagan is destined for a slow but inexorable decline.
Of course, this notion ignores the prodigious capacity for self-destruction that exists in the Democratic party, and the fact that the Democrats don't have a Ronald Reagan either. (They did at one time, but they drove him away.)
Still, a "renewed sense of hope and openness" is what Ronald Reagan was all about, and if we can recapture some of that in the wake of his death, we all benefit.
Days of our lives
An observation by Justin Katz, posted as a comment to this item:
Not long before I discovered blogging, it occurred to me that future biographers will have a rough time. As much as all of our transactions are documented (somewhere), there isn't much by way of personality flavor. Writing about Moby Dick in college, I read through hundreds of pages of Melville's personal letters, and sometimes, buried in a laundry list, would be some indication of his personality.
I think blogs will more than answer that gap.
To some extent, yes. Unfortunately, I wasn't blogging in, say, 1960, and while I made a couple of fitful starts at a journal (don't you dare call it a "diary," even if it is) during the Sixties, nothing much remains; I am left to reconstruct those days from unreliable memory and unrelated ephemera.
It would be nice to have something like this.
As if to knock me down
No one seemed particularly anxious to accept my nonexplanation of why I wasn't dating, as affixed to this piece, and I can't say I'm especially surprised.
The fact is, whatever ideal I have kicking around in the back of my heart is ill-defined at best; I have a few desiderata that can be translated into words, but after so many years of vague, inchoate yearning, I don't think it's possible for me to be too specific about the object of my
On the other hand, some people know exactly what they're looking for.
10 June 2004
The weather station at Will Rogers World Airport reported more rain yesterday than during the entire month of May.
Admittedly, this May was drier than usual, but this is yet another example of the feast-or-famine nature of Oklahoma weather. And the punchline? Even with this deluge, we're still down about 3.5 inches for the year.
And come August, we'll be wondering where all the damn rain went. Count on it.
Going like ninety
It's the 90th edition of Carnival of the Vanities, this week hosted by Ambient Irony, and, well, it could be verse. Miss it at your peril.
Serenity wants you to know that just because she's a woman, it doesn't mean she has to, um, take things sitting down.
I am duly impressed, and, as she says, knowledge is power.
In 1956, the Maddox Brothers and sister Rose issued a single called "The Death of Rock and Roll." America's most colorful hillbilly band gone apocalyptic? Not necessarily. After a couple of false starts okay, half a dozen or so they get down to business, and it sounds like this:
Well, I've got a woman
Way over town
She's good to me
Not exactly the words of Ray Charles, a year and a half earlier, but it's the same song, and while the collective Maddox tongues were firmly in cheek, they perhaps sensed that their blend of bluegrass and boogie was becoming obsolete, and this was the very stuff that was going to displace it.
Not that "I Got a Woman" was all that auspicious in and of itself. A thinly-disguised rewrite of a gospel song ("There's a Man Goin' Round Takin' Names"), it topped the rhythm and blues chart, but Ray had already been to the Top Five with "It Should've Been Me," a Memphis Curtis number that hewed much more closely to R&B conventions. And the white segment of the nascent rock and roll audience wasn't quite ready for Ray and his rawness and his decidedly non-Pentecostal passion built on gospel chords; it wasn't until 1957 that he got a pop hit, and when he did, it was a reworking of Stephen Foster's "Old Folks at Home," issued as "Swanee River Rock."
After seven years at Atlantic, Ray Charles moved to ABC-Paramount, which promised to leave him alone and to let him keep his own masters, both among the most unheard-of contract provisions anyone had ever heard of. His debut for ABC in 1960 was a remake of Titus Turner's "Sticks and Stones," but Ray had lots of surprises to spring on us. While he'd written most of his own material at Atlantic, from now on he would be looking for previously-recorded songs that he could make his own.
And considerations like musical genre were secondary at best. During 1961, for instance, Ray hit big with "Hit the Road Jack," aimed at the pop market, and "One Mint Julep," an example of big-band jazz cut for ABC's Impulse label. And in 1962, he moved into country music with the seminal Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music album. And while Ray didn't sound particularly country or at all Western Dave Marsh once asserted that Ray's version of Don Gibson's "I Can't Stop Loving You" was "no more country than The Rite of Spring" his claim to "modern" is indisputable.
The big hits petered out in the late Sixties, but Ray kept making music because, well, that's what he did. And he never, ever took himself too seriously; in the Eighties he did a series of ads for Pioneer's LaserDisc video system, pointing out that while he couldn't vouch for the picture quality, the sound was superb.
And now he's gone, his liver having given out after 73 years. His soul, in any sense of the word, is eternal.
11 June 2004
Getting mighty crowded
About one-quarter of the Oklahoma House will have to be replaced this year because of term limits, including Robert Worthen, who has represented District 87, where I live these days.
During the three-day filing period this week, no fewer than seven people filed to run for District 87; only District 19, in the northeast part of the state, drew more.
One of the four Republicans vying for the seat is Young Republicans official Trebor Worthen, who is Robert Worthen's son, and whose first name is "Robert" spelled backwards. Another is Tina Majors, who ran second in the GOP primary in 2002 for Senate District 40. Then there's Reece Kepler, who scores for Best Domain Name: RememberReece.com. I know nothing at all about Karen Khoury.
On the Democratic side, there's David B. Hooten, who may or may not be this David B. Hooten; Steve Harry, who won the Senate District 40 primary in 2002, losing to Cliff Branan in the election; and John Morgan, who owns a small business and who lives around the corner from me.
There's no Senate race here Cliff Branan's term runs through 2006 so I get to fixate on a House race this time. The primary will be 27 July (right after World Tour '04), with runoffs if needed on 24 August. So far, the only candidate I've met is John Morgan, who, as noted, lives around the corner from me.
I was in a 49th-birthday funk fortunately, it's impossible to do that more than once when I came up with this bit of projection:
Some day, more likely some night, that "finite number of breaths" will be reached, everything will come to an end, and no one will know until two or three days later because some mundane task wasn't performed on time, some phone call wasn't returned, or, most absurdly, because this goddamn Web site wasn't updated.
I wouldn't have thought about it today except that Lachlan, filling in at suburban blight, reported this ghastly tale:
The decomposed body of a man dressed in pajamas was discovered in an abandoned Tokyo apartment building 20 years after he is believed to have died, police said Thursday.
A Tokyo Metropolitan Police official said construction workers were preparing to tear down the building earlier this month when they found the man's skeletal remains laying face-up on a mattress on the tatami reed mat floor of a second-floor room.
Lachlan says that in a town the size of Tokyo, this isn't all that surprising, but:
[T]here is something ineffably sad about a man dying alone.
How much pain did he endure? Did he die in his sleep? Impossible to know, of course. Still, I cannot escape the image of a man in his final moments, in an abandoned building, with no one there. I can only hope he wanted it this way, and that his isolation was a chosen path.
At least I can reasonably expect my absence to be noted within the first week.
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Erica is baffled again:
I don't know what the hell kind of dream I was just having, but whatever it was made me think I could relieve some intestinal gas by deleting trackbacks.
Under the circumstances, the least I can do for her is send her one for testing purposes.
The divine giggle
"Does God have a sense of humor?" asks Abigail at Lazy Reflections.
First thought out of my head was "Have you ever seen a platypus? Exhibit A."
But that really doesn't answer her question, nor is it particularly kind to the platypus. (I mean, if I need to see an ungainly creature which seems to be assembled from random parts, I need only pass by a mirror.)
And I think really she's already answered her own question, since she admits to being a fan of P. G. Wodehouse, who, in her words, "uses Biblical imagery in such a way as to make it humorous without a hint of mockery."
I'd also point her to this observation by Dawn Eden:
I realize that life is a joke and I'm in on it.
So much of Christianity is about paradoxes Jesus' saying, "Whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it," or God's telling Paul, "My strength is made perfect in weakness." There's a cosmic absurdity to being an immaterial soul in a material body, a Spirit-driven creature in a flesh-driven world.
In the twenty-first century, when rapid-fire gags constitute most of what's considered "humor," this notion may seem almost quaint. Still, if you love paradoxes as much as I do, and I really, truly hate them sometimes, it makes perfect sense.
One last bit: Car and Driver once got a letter from a subscriber perhaps, now that I think about it, a former subscriber complaining that the magazine's studied irreverence had gone entirely too far this time. The aggrieved correspondent signed off with: "My God will not be mocked."
The editorial reply: "We wouldn't dream of mocking God. But we'll be damned if He can't take a joke."
Which, I think, pretty much says it all.
12 June 2004
To bang the Drum all day
Two classic films will be screened during this year's deadCenter Film Festival: Sir Carol Reed's The Third Man and Volker Schlöndorff's The Tin Drum. But Festival buzz is all about the one premiere on the schedule: Banned in Oklahoma, a documentary by Gary D. Rhodes about what happened when some censorious doofus got it into his head that The Tin Drum was obscene and managed to stir up a thoroughly embarrassing cause célèbre that gave Oklahoma City a cultural black eye and a bill for half a million dollars in legal judgments for following the lead of said doofus.
An abridged version of Rhodes' documentary can be had in the Criterion Collection DVD edition of The Tin Drum, but this is the first appearance anywhere of the full 54-minute film.
Received wisdom (one in a series)
Bruce works in retail, which gives this observation additional resonance:
"Why do you want what you want?"
The answer to that question should never be "I don't know".
I almost always have an explanation for any purchase I make, although sometimes it's as lame as "It made me feel better."
And I wonder if I'd make more such purchases if I had more discretionary income.
Apparently my haphazard attempts at lawn care are at least slightly appreciated; a neighbor informed me that the yard "looks nice," which is far more kindly an evaluation than I'd give to it.
(Mental note: There is a GFCI-type circuit breaker installed in each of the outside electrical outlets. It's much easier to check it, and quite a bit faster, than it is to go poking around the breaker box.)
Seen a couple of blocks away: an Oldsmobile in Classic GM Vanilla, inscribed with the words "VOTE KHOURY," presumably a reference to Karen Khoury, one of the four Republicans seeking the state House seat for this area, which is being vacated this year. I didn't get a look at the driver, inasmuch as I was trying to avoid running over things at the time.
Sign at a restaurant a couple miles north: "BUY DAD SOMETHING HE NEEDS THIS YEAR A DRINK."
(For Steve Gigl, by request)
Somewhere in a tube Fallopian
Is an ovum meant for me
Which will share my dreams utopian
And a chromosome or three
We are up against the walls
As our leader is created
Between uterus and balls
Oh, my views are quite contrarian
And thus subject to attack
But they can't be called lapsarian
Since they haven't left the sack
Our positions will take guts
And the source of all our power
Well, it's right here in the nuts
There's a certain similarity
As you go from his to hers
You need not invert polarity
When this wondrous thing occurs
Hanging low and waiting here
Hoping someday for insertion
Let those passages be clear
File under: "How much is that doggerel in the window?"
13 June 2004
Imagine the home version
Last night's Scary Dream posited the existence of a game show called Fisk This! Each of the three contestants was handed a 100-word paragraph on the State of the World, or something equally lofty and imposing, and then got 60 seconds to explain why everything in it was wrong.
Somehow I had been tapped to write source material for this series, a position I acquired after a brief dalliance with a twisted spinster. (Not the Twisted Spinster, I hasten to add.) And as jobs go, it wasn't too bad, until the season finale, when one of the contestants was the Twisted Spinster, who, rhetorically at least, not only tore me a new one but rerouted all the plumbing to take advantage of it. The producers of the show thought it would be amusing to bring me out in my tattered state, and there was at least one great emotional upheaval, and then the angels of mercy saw fit to drag me out of bed.
I refuse to read any more into this than I have to.
Fetus, don't fail me now
Fourteen states have enacted laws which provide that killing a pregnant woman can result in two charges, one for the woman, one for the child on the way.
An Illinois man is complaining that the law in his state is discriminatory:
Brandon L. Carone, 20, of Algonquin, has pleaded innocent to reckless homicide, reckless homicide of an unborn child and other offenses related to a March 7, 2003, crash that killed 31-year-old Kimberly Morvay of West Dundee.
Kane County prosecutors contend Carone was high on cocaine when his car crossed the center of Randall Road in Dundee Township and plowed head-on into Morvay, who was 10 weeks pregnant.
Carone wants Kane County Judge Patricia P. Golden to declare unconstitutional Illinois' fetal homicide law.
He argues in part that the law is unfair because women are allowed to terminate their pregnancies however they choose without prosecution but men are not protected in the same way.
Roe v. Wade was cited as a precedent, which did not impress the prosecution:
Kane County Assistant State's Attorney Jody Gleason said state law and the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, which protects a woman's right to end her pregnancy, do not apply to Carone.
"The defendant is not in the position that the mother is in when he made the decision to drive intoxicated," Gleason said.
What I want to know is this: How long before this case turns into promotional material for Planned Parenthood and its friends?
(Via True Blue)
Wagering on the Daily Double
Now that Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen are, um, legal, McGehee thinks the demand for unclad photos of them will be diminishing.
I have my doubts. In the mind of the Average Perv, "twins" trumps "underage"; if anything reduces the demand, it will be their desire to separate themselves into individuals lately, interviewers have been asked not to refer to them as a unit rather than their long-awaited post-jailbait status.
Still, Mary-Kate seems awfully insubstantial for serious fantasy material these days.
14 June 2004
The longest days
Sunrise this morning came at 6:14, which is about as early as it can get around here. Sunset will be at 8:47; over the next week or so, it will slide toward 8:50 before retreating again after the summer solstice.
One of my goals this summer is to banish, at least temporarily, my normal sickly whiter-shade-of-pale coloring. This could be rather easily done by lying in the sun for extended intervals, but there are good and sensible reasons not to do this: apart from the increased threat of melanoma, the medication I take to regulate my blood pressure bears a warning about excessive sun. (I have read the prescribing information on the drug, and the real danger seems to lie in fluid depletion.) With short but concentrated exposures twenty to thirty-five minutes per day I seem to be suffering no side effects, and areas that don't get any sun during the work day have gradually darkened from "born gosling" to "underdone pork," which I reckon to be an improvement.
Of course, the single darkest body part will be the left arm, for obvious automotive reasons.
Who could do a convincing version of Queen's "We Are the Champions"?
DragonAttack makes a persuasive case for Ann Wilson or Bruce Dickinson.
But mostly, it should be someone other than William Hung:
[I]f William Hung is going to remain famous, he should stick to songs from the Desmond Child school. Then he will just be slaughtering formulaic claptrap, and that will keep the gag gift crowd happy without destroying any classics in the process.
Desmond Child, be it noted, cowrote "She Bangs," which was Hung's first, um, hit.
I expect a Mrs. Miller revival any day now.
The torture chambers of Kent County
Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), on why he's making such a fuss over that "torture" memo:
There's a reason why we sign these treaties: to protect my son in the military. That's why we have these treaties, so when Americans are captured they are not tortured. That's the reason in case anybody forgets it.
You might infer from this that Senator Biden has a son in the military, and indeed he does: 1LT Joseph R. "Beau" Biden is serving in the Delaware National Guard as a judge advocate. Unless you think Delaware is some sort of hellhole, the likelihood that Beau Biden is going to be tortured is pretty low, and it doesn't increase much if he gets called up for Iraqi duty.
Still, the Senator's comments were apparently calculated to make people think that Beau was somehow in the line of fire, and indeed the senior Biden backpedaled slightly on Fox News Sunday yesterday:
I don't have a son in the Gulf. He hasn't been called yet.
Now did Biden think up this little deception himself, or did he rewrite someone else's?
(Via Michelle Malkin)
That's the way love is
The "Ask the Critic" sidebar in Entertainment Weekly, like most such features, is highly dependent on the quality of the questions asked, and it's probably a good thing we see only one or two questions a week and not the thousands which were thrown away.
Sometimes, though, they strike gold. Asked about a pop-music figure who might deserve a biopic, Owen Gleiberman suggests exactly the one I'd most want to see: Marvin Gaye, played by the comparably-inspiring Taye Diggs. I'm not sure I'm ready for Beyoncé Knowles as Tammi Terrell, but I'll be doggone if Morgan Freeman isn't perfect for the vengeful Marvin, Senior: the showdown between Gaye and his dad (you know the story) should be enough to qualify for Oscar® bait. How sweet it is, indeed.
15 June 2004
Cracking at the seams
It's not too common to close a road because of heat, but a stretch of Interstate 40 in Canadian County, near the Kilpatrick Turnpike, was shut down yesterday afternoon because of heat-induced pavement migration.
In other words, holes. Big ones.
I spotted the makings of something similar this morning on I-44: it was as though the concrete had pulled back from the expansion joint, leaving a substantial gap. This stretch of road being fairly bumpy at its best, not everyone is likely to notice, at least at first, though the wankers who fit their workaday sedans with twenty-inch wheels and 35-series tires are in for an increase in their daily ration of jaw-rattling jolts.
(Update, 8:20 pm: There's apparently another one, this time on Lincoln Blvd. near 36th Street. Since my Wednesday route home goes right through this intersection, I think it's time for Plan B.)
O Lord, won't you buy me a PlayStation 2
Abigail's been given one of those Teen Study Bibles, and she is not impressed with its approach:
Throughout the Teen Bible there are extra pages on things such as school, guilt, parents, dating, death, and others. They feature a dictionary definition of the word and an alternate "teen" definition. Then they give a little bite of Scripture for each one. Here are some of the "teen" definitions: School "a place where teens have to learn stuff adults never use but say teens will need someday" Prayer "talking to the ceiling and wondering if anybody's listening" Church "what you have to get dressed up for so you can be bored for an hour at a morning service" Parents "adults whose actions often drive teenagers crazy" Siblings "a monster, younger or older than you are, who lives in your house but couldn't possibly be related to you or any other human being". Yup, that's what it means to be a teen. But you would think the church of all institutions would try to fight against that mindset!
It is automatically assumed these days that anyone in this age group is motivated most strongly by snarkiness; a spoonful of smartass, the publishers are sure, makes the eternal verities go down.
This strikes me as counterproductive. What teenagers want more than anything else is to finally get into adulthood, to be what they imagine is "grown up"; when a church is telling you to wallow in your adolescence, it dilutes any other message.
Abigail is smart enough to see this:
I'd rather have all teens thinking of church as boring than having those who are devoted to it slighted by this demeaning of it. It's mortifying how low the dignity of the Bible has to sink to be considered "cool".
Not to mention the dignity of the teens trying to understand it; even if they're getting Scripture intact, the wrappings serve to dumb it down. Were I her age, I think I'd be insulted by a package like this.
Strapped for time
Lynn doesn't see anything wrong with guys wearing sandals, at least in a casual context. Fair enough, I suppose, since there are substantial periods of time when that's all I'm wearing, and you can't get much more casual than that.
Well, yeah, okay, there's the wristwatch. Big deal. It's a Casio and it's twenty-five years old. I've now spent more on batteries than I did buying the darn thing in the first place. And it keeps fairly lousy time, though I figure that most of mine is borrowed anyway.
What? No. No pictures. Go away.
Taste takes a holiday
Saturday would have been Anne Frank's 75th birthday.
And what better birthday present can you give yourself than your very own LiveJournal?
(Via Better Living Through Blogging; Dave, we're both gonna burn in hell for just mentioning this thing.)
16 June 2004
Search for: ME
If ever I had any doubts that politicians pay attention to the Net, even down here at the D-list blog level, those doubts have been erased.
Last Friday I posted a list of candidates for House District 87, in which I live. Three Democrats and four Republicans are seeking to replace Robert Worthen, the GOP incumbent who is being term-limited out of a job. And of those seven, at least three have already taken note of that list; there are comments from them or their campaign staffs posted to it. I expect a couple of the others will follow shortly.
Ah, Google. How much you've changed this world of ours.
Things I learned today (3)
And a day without learning is like a day without sunshine, or something.
"And so it goes." Nick Lowe
This week's edition of the Carnival of the Vanities is brought to you by Jessica's Well, the leading blog in the Midland-Odessa-Monahans Metroplex, and by now you should already be clicking on the link to see what's there.
No way would I allow this mutant '59 Cadillac / 23rd-century sewage-treatment plant / Gatling gone wild on my shelf.
I mean, I'd feel compelled to don body armor whenever I was in the same room with it.
Never meant to be
A commenter to this post asked me, more or less point-blank, why I wasn't dating Dawn Eden.
The obvious answer: she's 1498 miles away, give or take a wrong turn. "Hey, you wanna take in So-and-So at the Such-and-Such?" simply isn't feasible.
But there are deeper fissures between us than mere distance, and this one may be the deepest of all:
Today I found in the 3-for-$1 bin at Bleecker Bob's a 45 that looked, well, interesting. The songwriter was Ian Whitcomb of "You Turn Me On" fame, while the producer was Phil Ochs' old buddy Andy Wickham.
Unfortunately, once I got home, I discovered that not only is it dreadful, but it's actually on a compilation of The World's Worst Records (along with the far more listenable Mrs. Miller).
The record is "Hands," by one Debbie Dawn. If you would like to take it off my hands, I might just might be convinced to pay the postage, depending on the level of your enthusiasm.
Fain would I relieve fair maiden of her burden, but for the following:
(1) I actually have a copy of The World's Worst Records Vol. 2.
A genuinely crummy and marginally offensive record, and I have two copies of it. Any chance of winning her heart has obviously gone straight into the toilet.
17 June 2004
But now I'm found
American Equine Nutrients is located just off I-35, about a mile from Remington Park. Their product line, perhaps unfortunately in this Internet age, bears the brand name 404.
Despite this, be assured that their Web site is up and reachable.
For what it's worth
It's called Intrinsa, a name I expect to see inflicted upon a handful of poor, defenseless baby girls a couple of years from now, and it's a testosterone patch for women that, says manufacturer Procter & Gamble, improves sexual desire and satisfaction in women whose ovaries had been removed.
Geez. I don't have ovaries, for obvious reasons, and my libido is basically shot to hell. Hmmm.... True Blue Deb says that she's not familiar with the technical term "female sexual dysfunction," but:
I have lived through a period of Zero Desire. Getting off the Paxil straightened that right up though.
I suppose I could quit taking Paxil, but that would require me to start taking Paxil.
Inasmuch as I don't have a partner to disappoint, though, this is probably less of an issue than it could be.
Ladies and gentlemen, the Slobbovian ambassador
The real source of male slovenliness, says Andrew Sullivan, is women:
If women weren't so damn forgiving of slobbiness, if they weren't prepared to look for the diamond buried in the rough of a man's beer-belly, men might have to shape up a little. The only reason gay men are on the whole better turned out than straight men is because they have to appeal to other shallow, beauty-obsessed males to get laid, find a mate, etc. The corollary, of course, are lesbians. Now there are many glamorous lesbiterians, but even the most enthusiastic Sapphic-lover will have to concede that many are not exactly, shall we say, stylish. The reason? They don't have to be to attract other women; and since women find monogamy easier, they also slide into the I'm-married-so-what-the-hell-have-another-pretzel syndrome. When straight women really do insist on only dating hot guys, men will shape up. Until then, it's hopeless.
Unfortunately, it's not a diamond: it's a kidney stone.
Of course, I wouldn't have this problem if I didn't persist in falling for women who are so far out of my league it seems impossible we could be playing the same game.
(Update, 6:35 am, 18 June: Dawn Eden rakes Sullivan over the coals.)
Hither and yawn
Bruce's most recent intro paragraph contains the following valuable information:
I currently reside in Broken Arrow, a suburb east of Tulsa; a place so sleepy I could sleep naked on the front porch draped in jewelry and nobody would bother me.
I don't think even Fargo is that somnolent.
Given the possibilities, though, perhaps he should follow this with a disclaimer: Don't try this at home.
(And I don't have a whole lot of jewelry, now that I think about it.)
18 June 2004
And someone makes three
Bill at Hawken Blog points out that third parties have had more influence than you think:
Virtually every significant progressive gain in American history was originally proposed by an alternative third party the abolition of slavery, women's right to vote, the 40 hour work week, unemployment insurance, worker's compensation laws, the minimum wage, pure food and drug laws, the abolition of child labor. In fact, the very foundation of what we today would consider the bare minimum for a just and compassionate society was championed by third parties.
Even non-progressive third parties have influenced the course of American politics. Ross Perot's 1992 and '96 runs for president put the issue of the balancing the budget on the table. The Dixiecrats in 1948 represented the anger of conservative southern Democrats with their party?s newfound liberal civil rights plank. They would break away and join the Republicans in large numbers after Barry Goldwater's 1964 conservative takeover of the party.
The Republicans, you'll remember, started out as #3 behind the Democrats and the Whigs, and pushed two issues: slavery, which they didn't want, and women's suffrage, which they did. Eventually, the Republican concentration on the former at the expense of the latter, even after the Civil War Between The States For Southern Independence, convinced the suffragists to go out on their own.
Whether the Greens or the Libertarians or some other third party (actually, anyone beyond the Greens or the Libertarians probably should be considered a fourth party) will eventually become strong enough to become a major party remains to be seen, but I'm persuaded that having them nipping at the heels of the big boys is a Good Thing, and that this state's ongoing effort to keep them off the ballot whenever possible is counterproductive at best.
Drawing on experience
South Carolina is lifting its ban on tattoo shops, which leaves one state where the practice remains illegal.
And why is that? Mike snickers:
Our Oklahoma legislators likely felt such a ban encourages an influx of tattoo-hating companies into the state.
But of course. And let's face it, we're never going to run out of either dermatologists or Southern Baptists not that there's a whole lot of either in Iran, which ranks as just about the only other place on earth that bans tattooing.
(Disclosure: I have no such decorations. I believe I am the only family member who lacks them, in fact. I attribute this less to aesthetic concerns than to a general dislike for needles.)
Before we all fade away
Years ago, I subscribed to Townshend's Theory of Generational Purity, which goes like this: I hope I die before I get old.
One of the more rational responses to this came from critic and Who historian Dave Marsh, who said, "Well, when you find out what that means, you'll hope something else."
Over the years, I've guesstimated the upper limit of my lifespan at twenty-two, twenty-five, forty, forty-six, and somewhere between fifty-nine and eighty-seven. I need hardly point out that the first four of those predictions proved to be false.
But how long do I really have, and perhaps more to the point, how long should I have? This is the kind of unanswerable question which Joe Gandelman tries to answer in this much-linked piece about human longevity and reasons to prolong it.
Part of the problem, says Gandelman, is that society has already defined "old" and is unwilling to bump up the numbers to match the stretching of the human lifespan:
[T]he people who insist that at age 80 or 90 "it's time to make room for others" forget that aging folks can mentor younger people, offer bits of life-changing wisdom, keep a family together, work longer years before retiring (age 65 retirement these days is an absolute JOKE), and as we have seen help fill some gaps in the labor pool.
My replacements are already in place, and so are their replacements. I don't see any evidence that hastening my departure will expedite things for the grandchildren; Dear Old Dad certainly doesn't see himself, at seventy-seven, as an obstacle to his progeny, and there's no reason he should.
On the other hand, assuming I make it to sixty-nine (which I think will be the "official" retirement age by the time I get there), I would very much like to quit work, but I doubt I'll have the resources to do so, even with the remains of Social Security and the proceeds from my 401(k). I might feel differently were I doing something that actually helps to advance the human condition, but in my position as Cog in Dubious Wheel, I am way short of the motivation it takes to keep on doing it.
And rolling over the big 5 on the chronometer has had one distinct advantage: it has enabled me to think, and occasionally to say, "I'm fifty, and I shouldn't have to put up with this crap." This is the kind of elderly cantankerousness I can embrace wholeheartedly; why, sixty might actually be fun.
Pete Townshend, I note, is fifty-nine.
Not entirely a monologue
As of this week, dustbury.com in its Movable Type incarnation (which began in late August 2002) is actually averaging (slightly) more than 1.0 comments per post.
For the very first time today, the average is now two comments per post.
Which doesn't sound like much, but considering that there are nearly 2,800 posts in this 34-month-old database, that's a hell of a lot of comments. (About 150 comments that were deemed spam have been deleted, along with a handful of duplicates; these are not included in the total.)
For those keeping score, it was Myria who actually struck the magic number. I thank her, as I thank you all. I suspect that seventeen months from now, I might be up to three comments per post.
No Olsens involved
"If you don't do something insane once in a while," I have always maintained, "you'll go crazy."
With this in mind, the following scenario may be coming soon to a chat room near you, or at least near me:
Rude Interloper: yea i bet ur just like all the others
Me [interrupting]: You're in no position to make any judgment calls about either of these women.
R.I.: is that so and how do u know did u go out with 1?
Me: With both of them, in fact.
Me: Simultaneously, yet.
R.I.: no way there only half ur age
Me: Not yet, they're not.
(Note: This is not an actual chat transcript. If this had been an actual chat transcript, you would have long since abandoned this site and gone to read Fark or something.)
19 June 2004
Who are these people?
Sometimes it's the items I glance at and don't seem to notice that come back to bother me later.
This paragraph from Triticale is a case in point:
Here in Milwaukee, there is real historical significance linking the name of Father James Groppi to the 16th St. Viaduct, but with the Menomonee Valley which it bridges no longer a barrier, and with 16th street south of the Valley now Cesar Chavez Drive, people crossing the Groppi Bridge are indeed unlikely to ponder the good Father's efforts to improve the city.
It was about a minute past the time I'd read this when I thought: "Wait a minute. I've heard of this guy." So I ran back through browser history this is, incidentally, the one meaningful argument against "open links in new window" and refreshed my memory. As in Milwaukee, Catholics in Charleston played a substantial role in the civil-rights movement of the Sixties, and as a student at a Catholic high school, I got a view of the scene that was no worse than second-hand. And while the diocese of Charleston didn't produce any figures as iconic as Fr. Groppi, we had no shortage of clergy doing the grunt work to help bring Dr. King's dream to life.
While Fr. Groppi is remembered only in some circles, pretty much everyone has heard of Dr. King. In fact, as noted by Andrew at Pathetic Earthlings, his name is everywhere, which inevitably dilutes his memory in ways not anticipated by those who wished to honor him:
It doesn't deny Dr. King's legacy to say that there is enough. After a while, it is lost in the repetition. When is the last time you passed by a Martin Luther King Road and stopped to ponder his many gifts to this country? My guess is not lately.
Everyone knows who Dr. King is or, worse, thinks they know. And when his name drops into the civic furniture of America, the uniqueness is lost. The moment of pause, which is all any building or statue or boulevard can hope to provide, is lost. Another King Hall? It passes by, as if it were Sutter or Fremont, Lexington or Lincoln. But if you were confronted with the Benjamin O. Davis Civic Auditorium or the Ralph Carr University Center, might you not take a look?
I don't think it's quite as bad as Andrew suggests: I pass through Oklahoma City's Martin Luther King Avenue five or six times a week, and it does give me a brief reminder of the man and his mission, though there's always the question of why this particular stretch of road was renamed for Dr. King, as opposed to, say, Northeast 23rd Street east of Kelley, which is the primary business thoroughfare through the city's largely-black east side. (Short answer: MLK is relatively well-kept, while 23rd is a mess.)
The most telling thing about MLK, though, indeed about the MLK in your town as well, is that it's always, in full, Martin Luther King Street / Avenue / Boulevard / Road. And quite unwittingly, Dr. King seems to have started another trend: streets renamed for dignitaries are now always given the full John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt treatment. Downtown Oklahoma City boasts streets named for E. K. Gaylord, Robert S. Kerr and Dean A. McGee; just east in Bricktown is Mickey Mantle Drive (which, nicely enough, runs past the ballpark). All of these people, even Mantle, contributed substantially to the modest greatness that is OKC, but with their full names in white on green on every street corner, it seems to me that their contributions might appear to outshine those of, say, Paul Braniff, Anton Classen, Charles Colcord, William Couch, Robert A. Hefner, G. A. Nichols, or John Shartel, all of whom played major roles in the city's first century and all of whom are remembered on street signs without their first names.
And I expect I'll continue to argue this point when Oklahoma City, as it must, inevitably renames a street for Cesar Chavez. (There's already a Cesar Chavez Alternative [Middle] School, on Southwest 10th east of Walker; Walker, incidentally, is named for Dr. Delos Walker, who was the first president of the Oklahoma City school board.)
An odor of skankity
My office, like many at 42nd and Treadmill, sits on a concrete floor. This presents no particular problem in itself, except that the actual building is parked in the middle of a flood plain, and before substantial corrective measures were taken, you could count on a quarter-inch of water on the floor for every inch of rain that falls.
Since I tend the server farm, and since water and computer equipment don't mix very well, a floor was built a few inches above the floor, and the high-dollar equipment was parked thereupon. This took care of the flooding problem once and for all, but introduced another: there is no such thing as a crawl space that's too small for wee forest creatures.
Sometime during the middle of last week, a creature meeting the general description of "wee" found access to said crawl space and was unable to find its way out, and its presence became known rather quickly. The upside: no one else was affected, because this room has its own separate ventilation system. The downside: the stench was concentrated rather quickly, because this room has its own separate ventilation system.
Unfortunately, for budgetary reasons, this is not one of those modular floors which can be pulled up a square foot or so at a time; disassembly (and moving all the hardware) will take just about as much time as waiting for the beastie to disintegrate sufficiently. If ever I could use a three- or four-day weekend, it's now.
For your summer reading list
The Rabid Librarian (14 June, 11:27) lists four dozen bizarre but apparently genuine medical texts which are catalogued in the National Library of Medicine's PubMed database. Some of these just demand your attention:
Collect the whole set.
(Update, 20 June, 8:15 pm: Sya has links to some of the actual documents.)
Saturday spottings (again)
Some of the things I saw around town today:
Bill Graves, one of the looser doorknobs in the Oklahoma House, is being term-limited out of a job, and Mrs Graves isn't going to be handed the District 84 seat on the proverbial silver platter: one Democrat and a fistful of Republicans are chasing this position. One of the GOP chasers is evident Greg Kihn fan Sally Kern, whose campaign signs bear the nonce word "KERNservative."
Also on the campaign trail is District 2 Commissioner Jack Cornett, no relation to OKC Mayor Mick Cornett or to your blogging Cornetts, whose reelection signs this year contain an actual line-drawing of a cornet. Let us hope this mnemonic notion does not occur to, say, Senate District 25 candidate Dennis Loudermilk.
At a stand inside the supermarket, a woman was handing out cans of C2, the new Coke that they hope won't be another New Coke. After twelve ounces of the stuff, I am prepared to say that it's okay as a diet Coke, but no match for the Real Thing".
(Update, 4:30 pm, 20 June: Chris Lawrence, whom I trust implicitly in such matters, says that C2 probably makes a better mixer with vodka.)
20 June 2004
How deep the rot
Abigail, late last night:
There has been another beheading. I heard the comment that it was inhuman. I disagree. I think that act is very, very human. For humanity, at its core, is dark and evil.
What we call civilization is the process of dealing with that dark and evil core and preventing it from running amok. It's a process because it's ongoing: it never ends. There is no point at which we can declare "Okay, we're civilized enough," and discontinue the process.
And contrary to the delusions of our believers in multiculturalism, those of us whose early development was informed by the writings and the histories of those often-derided Dead White European Males are generally doing a better job of keeping that core under control. I suggest that this is because the DWEMs were raised in a culture which actually acknowledged its existence (cf. Genesis 3) and proposed some semblance of a solution.
The DWEMs believed in the most basic form of egalitarianism: we are all fallen, we are all unworthy. Contemporary society has inverted this notion for the sake of our collective self-esteem, even as it berates us for using more of the world's resources per capita than your average tribesman in Borneo, who through no fault of his own might have to save up for a couple of years to make a trip to Starbucks.
Then there are the beheaders, who subscribe to a simple binary notion: you are one of us, or you are an infidel who shall be slain. It is appalling, but not at all surprising, that the multiculturalists are willing to give them a pass: we hate DWEMs, they hate DWEMs. The fact that most of the world's woes of the past thirty years were engineered by the beheaders and their friends impresses these people not a whit. "If they hate us," comes the mewl, "there must be a good reason for it." And of course there is: we are infidels, therefore we shall be slain, and since it's their culture, we are obliged to honor its provisions, and anyway, it's our fault for being over there in the first place when we should have been here, riding the bus downtown to our mandatory diversity-training sessions.
As belief systems go, present-day Islam is a strong contender for the dubious title of "Worst. Philosophy. Ever." (One can only hope that the Scientologists never obtain weapons of mass destruction.) The American left calls for withdrawal from the entire Middle East, so that lives may be saved.
Because, of course, nothing can ever happen to us over here.
We got your high-rise right here
For years, they sat by side by side, the Dome and the Tower, on the southeast corner of 23rd and Classen. The Dome, designed by Robert Roloff on a theme articulated by R. Buckminster Fuller, was completed in 1958, and was threatened with demolition a couple of years ago. Now owned by a local optometrist, the Dome is being refurbished, though its characteristic gold tint, weathered with age, will not be restored due to difficulty and expense.
But what of the Tower next door? Built in 1966, Roloff once again at the helm, it's a pretty fair knockoff of Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower in Bartlesville; it's in decent shape but is mostly empty, and a local developer picked it up this spring at a fire-sale price, suggesting that part or all of it may go condo.
This fits in with my ongoing notion that people will live downtown or close to it if you give them something distinctive, something secure, and something convenient. There aren't many high-rise residences in this area anyway, so "distinctive" is a given. The major disadvantage for downtown living has been the lack of grocers: the nearest supermarket to downtown is the Homeland adjacent to Mesta Park, at 18th and Classen. But it's only three blocks from the Tower, and three blocks farther north is Kamp's, eliminating this particular problem.
Security is another matter. This isn't a high-crime area, exactly, but it's a high-traffic area, which introduces issues of its own. And given the Tower's positioning on the edge of the Asian district, there's the question of whether its appeal will be limited to young Asian professionals, though there are easily enough such to fill up the Tower's twenty stories. (Each floor, reports the leasing agent, could accommodate three residences, roughly 1500 to 1900 square feet.)
I'm not looking to move there myself; I'm rather attached to my little patch of ground. But I tend to look favorably on plans to improve the general state of city dwellings, on the not-exactly-altruistic basis that if the quality of life in the central city as a whole goes up, so does mine; after all, I live around here too.
Poindexter Freeway, 1 mile
The Democrats' American Jobs Plan wants to stop outsourcing by repealing tax breaks that encourage it, they say and plans to put two million people to work by "modernizing and rebuilding our infrastructure."
Ravenwood, noting that most outsourced positions are in IT, finds the notion of putting computer types to work building roads and such amusing:
No offense to computer workers (as I am one), but I'd rather not ride on a rail system welded together by some out of work poindexter. Perhaps I'm an old fashioned guy, but when I envision people in construction I picture big burly guys that whistle at women who walk by. For some reason pasty skinned computer nerds who haven't seen the sun since the latest computer worm hit the scene don't spring to mind.
We had some (not much) sunshine today, in fact.
I rather suspect, though, that the road contracts issued by this New WPA would specifically forbid whistling at women who walk by.
And anyway, the nerdiest of the nerds could just as easily be put to work dragging broadband into rural America, so that everyone in the nation can follow not-safe-for-work links from Fark.
Spring is resprung
The National Weather Service's Forecast Discussion, which circulates behind the scenes, is available to the general public via the Web but is not promoted as a major forecast product. Which is a shame, really, since sometimes the Discussion tells you more than the actual forecast.
Here's what they sent down the line at 3:00 today:
SUMMER OFFICIALLY BEGINS AT 0057Z THIS EVENING...BUT NO ONE TOLD THE ATMOSPHERE. REMARKABLE AND PERSISTENT LONGWAVE PATTERN IS HIGHLY ANOMALOUS FOR 1ST WEEK OF SUMMER - MORE CLOSELY RESEMBLING SOMETHING ASSOCIATED WITH WINTER ARCTIC OUTBREAKS - WITH STRONG PERSISTENT VORTEX VICINITY HUDSONS BAY AND EQUALLY STRONG/PERSISTENT RIDGE NEAR W COAST OF NOAM.
That's "North America"; if there's a strong/persistent ridge near Noam Chomsky, I don't want to know about it.
The bottom line:
GENERAL PATTERN WILL FEATURE FREQUENT INTRUSIONS OF UNSEASONABLY COOL AIR FROM CANADA INTO THE CENTRAL/EASTERN U.S... CONTINUING NW FLOW ALOFT OVER AREA WHICH WILL BE STRONGER THAN USUAL FOR LATE JUNE...AND A FRONTAL ZONE MEANDERING BACK AND FORTH OVER AND THROUGH THE AREA. THERE DOUBTLESS WILL BE VARIANCE FROM DAY TO DAY IN TEMPS AND COVERAGE/AMOUNT OF PRECIP DEPENDING ON WHERE THE FRONT OR OTHER CONVECTIVE BOUNDARIES ARE. BUT BETWEEN THE COOL AIR INTRUSIONS AND EXPECTED CLOUD COVER ASSOCIATED WITH THE FRONTAL ZONE AND ASSOCIATED CONVECTION...EXPECT A PROLONGED PERIOD OF GENERAL COOL AND WET TO CONTINUE.
After one of the driest Mays on record, I suppose it's a good thing we're getting a June drenching. And better to soak now than two weeks from now when I hit the road not that whatever pattern exists here is necessarily going to hold through Kansas and Nebraska.
21 June 2004
Playing the numbers
You gotta love this. From Dawn Eden:
The other night, I ran into a woman I know who informed me she was so dissatisfied with the caliber of men she was meeting through her social circle that she had joined a personal-ad Web site.
Unfortunately, she added, the Web site one of the biggest in the business had thus far turned out to be a bust. The five responses she'd received in her ad's debut week ranged from the perverted to the inane. But what could she expect? According to a survey on the site, she was compatible with only 4 percent of its members.
Just a lonely little 4 percent. How sad. I gave her the requisite "poor baby" platitudes. It wasn't until I got home that it hit me.
Assuming that the Web site's statistics hold true for real life which they probably do, given the large sample and assuming what I learned in fifth-grade math still holds, Personal Ad Gal can theoretically walk into any room containing 25 men and discover one case of mutual boat-floating.
It boggles the mind.
The numbers being what they are J. Random Guy being a 96-percent flop it becomes a better-than-even bet that one of these fellows might do the trick once you get seventeen in the room. (0.96 to the 17th power comes in at 0.4996; in other words, the chance of a match is 1 minus 0.4996, which is 0.5004.) It never becomes quite a certainty, as Zeno might have pointed out, and there are always imponderables to figure into the mix, but by and large, it shouldn't take a pool of candidates large enough to fill the Albert Hall to come up with Just The One.
Still, it's probably a good idea not to get too enthusiastic about the odds. As Dawn says:
In the film Big Fish, a boy sees a vision of his own death. That knowledge gives him marvelous confidence throughout life. In his moments of greatest fear, he can reassure himself by remembering, "This is not how I go."
Single women are told to view single men with an open mind, as though each one might be The One. I submit that this is counterproductive. When the difference between the right man and the almost-right man is analogous to that between lightning and the lightning bug, and when one faces the daunting task of weeding out 999,999,999 million almost-right ones, the answer is not to keep playing the field.
Until lightning strikes, the answer is to keep remembering: "This is not how I go."
Is there a chapel in the pines, waiting for us around the bend? I don't know. But one thing I do know: respect the power of the storm. When the atmosphere is right, things can change literally within seconds.
One man, one motivation
This Bill Quick post at his Daily Pundit site expressed some impatience with George W. Bush. A commenter asked if Quick would therefore be supporting Kerry, and Quick replied:
The fact that I won't vote for Kerry under any circumstances should not be construed that I will vote for a man who seems to be trying to do as perfect a Kerry imitation on the important issues as he can.
I don't vote against, I vote for. And if there's nobody I can vote for, then I don't vote. Please spare me your tired and lame remonstrances about a non-vote for Bush being a vote for Kerry. That's Bush's problem, not mine. If he wants my vote, I've made it fairly obvious how he can get it. If he doesn't want it, I'm not going to give it to him anyway.
This is as good, and as terse, an explanation of this quandary as I've ever seen. And with the names inverted, it works just as well in the other direction.
He who transgresses, stains
In the history of the nation, only seven state governors (two from Oklahoma, which surely means something) have been impeached and removed from office.
In an effort to avoid becoming number eight, John G. Rowland will resign as governor of Connecticut today, a week after the state Supreme Court ruled that the House committee on impeachment could compel him to testify.
Rowland, who has been fighting a variety of ethics complaints for most of his current term, is expected to announce his departure this evening; M. Jodi Rell, the state's lieutenant governor, will assume Rowland's duties.
We have always been at war with carbohydrates
CT at The Critical 'I' spots something unexpected in the Atkins Diet logo.
Now I'm thoroughly creeped out.
22 June 2004
Alphabet soup for you
(Swiped from Dave.)
Act your age? If I have to, I suppose.
Born on what day of the week? Wednesday's child, full of woe (full of something, anyway).
Chore you hate? Washing dishes; fortunately, there aren't many.
Dad's name? Ged. Not with a J, but with a G. And a hard G at that.
Essential makeup item? Does sunscreen count?
Favorite actor? The late Gene Kelly.
Gold or silver? Gimme silver.
Hometown? Born in Illinois, grew up in South Carolina, wound up in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Instruments you play? I can pick out something vaguely tunelike on most piano-type keyboards.
Job title? "System Operator and General Flunky." Okay, forget the "general."
Kids? Two. (Gender division: one of each.)
Living arrangements? I own my own home, or at least the 1/200th of it that's paid for.
Mom's name? Bette. Not with a Y, but with an E.
Need? A knee operation, and a functioning oil well to pay for it.
Overnight hospital stays? 2000, when my blood pressure dropped off the scale and random pains came in to fill the gap.
Phobias? Certainly claustro.
Quote you like? See "It is written" (left column, main page) for sample.
Religious affiliation? Deist with vaguely-Christian leanings.
Time you wake up? 5:55 am on weekdays, though it usually takes me to 6:01 to bestir myself. Weekends are anyone's guess.
Unique talent? You're soaking in it.
Vegetable you refuse to eat? Zucchini. Deal with it.
Worst habit? Like I have good ones?
X-rays you've had? Mostly dental, with the occasional chestal.
Yummy food you make? I am a genuinely lousy cook.
Zodiac Sign? Sagittarius, who never believed in those things anyway.
Documenting the undocumented
The next voice you hear is that of Albert Najera, the Chief of Police of Sacramento, California.
Why are we criminalizing behavior where the "criminals" would comply with the law if they were allowed to do so by the state? Why are we penalizing people for coming to California after we entice them here with jobs and quality of life standards far above what they can ever achieve in their homelands? Why don't we face reality and concede that we cannot keep our standard of living and our low cost of quality products and services or our booming building industry without foreign nationals? Why are my officers wasting their time persecuting these people when the actual incidence of their criminality is very low?
And what was this "crime"?
My officers were properly and lawfully towing cars driven by foreign nationals because the individuals were not licensed by the state. We also were unintentionally depriving a man of the tools of his trade, his means of supporting himself and the customers of his service.
I also noticed a young family standing by the warm glow of the police command vehicle. That family also had their vehicle towed, legally and properly, because the young father was unlicensed. I will never forget the look on the young boy's face as he watched the family car roll away. This working family, now facing a tow and storage bill that could easily run $1,000, suddenly was without transportation.
Ah, yes. Driving without a license. I can see how Chief Najera's heart bleeds for these folks. I can also see no chance of any sympathy for me, were I caught in this situation; while I have Latino roots, I also have a driver's license and US citizenship.
The Chief, on the other hand, thinks California ought to be issuing credentials to people who don't have any, just on general principle:
California must do what the federal government may never be able to do: Develop a public policy to deal with the reality of our interdependence on the labor and services provided by foreign nationals.
We cannot wait for the U.S. government to declare these people legal, semi-legal or some other unrealistic terminology. To simply say these people are "illegals" and wait for the feds to do something is hurtful, wasteful and divisive.
Last time I checked the Constitution, Congress had the power "to establish a uniform rule of naturalization" (Article I, Section 8); this would seem to suggest that California has no authority to bypass existing federal laws (Title 8, United States Code).
But the Chief is right on one count: declaring these folks "legal" or "semi-legal" is indeed unrealistic.
I have no doubt that the "interdependence on the labor and services provided by foreign nationals" is as extensive as Chief Najera says it is. I still don't think it's a good enough reason to do an end-run around the laws. To quote California's best-known immigrant, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger:
I waited for 10 years to get my American citizenship. And I know first-hand how immigrants who come to this country and obey the laws have struggled to achieve their dreams. I am pro-immigrant. But we should not invite fraud or undermine law enforcement. The federal government has expressed security concerns... and, in a time of heightened national security, we should not undermine our nation's immigration laws.
Of course, if you're an actual citizen and you don't cough up your identification, you're busted. What's wrong with this picture?
(Suggested by Ravenwood's Universe)
Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 will open Thursday in Oklahoma City at the Cinemark Tinseltown. You can't get in, though: all the seats for the premiere were sold at $25 each, and proceeds will go to the Progressive Alliance Foundation, which in turn will donate half the take to the families of Oklahomans killed in Iraq. Friday and subsequent showings will be open to the general public.
Unclear on the concept
I don't know which is worse: the fact that Ben Domenech got comment-spammed by a candidate for Congress, or the fact that said comment-spam was as woefully inept as this:
Its time to Bring back the middle of the roaders,and I can do just that! Being a ceo who made a bottom line every day or be fired ,not promoted;I know how to run a balanced budget,and get tax relief where it belongs,the middle class and the poor.The minimum wage must be raised now,plus union negotiations must be part of NAFTA!Medicare must have a Drug Zhar to re-negotiate drug prices every year like is done at the Department of defense and every Drug Chain and Supermarket Drug Store now being done;that took losses in the pharmacies from the tripple didgets in the red to the tripple didgets in the black today.It can be done,and it must be done!
The offender is Dwight D. Leister, running for Arizona's 8th District. I've got a single "didget" for him.
How many of you are in the quartet?
This is just a marker, and what it's marking is the conclusion of four years of daily bloggage. (The site itself, of course, began way back in 1996, when file sizes were measured in trilobytes, but the very first of the daily updates was on 23 June 2000.)
Pertinent passage from that first posting:
[W]hile it has been relatively well-received during the four years of its existence, by which is meant that no one has sent me any live explosives just yet, the possibility of stagnation constantly lurks and occasionally even looms.
Burnout, of course, is a standard worry in blogdom, and some of my regular reads have gone on hiatus for lengths to be determined; I haven't gotten to that point yet, but considering I've worked nearly fourteen years at 42nd and Treadmill, I'm obviously a glutton for punishment.
Am I better off now than I was four years ago? Definitely. Am I a better writer than I was four years ago? I have no idea. Still, while I've got my doubts about that whole practice-makes-perfect meme I mean, nobody's perfect, right? I'm staying in practice, just in case.
See you at the beginning of Year Five, some time tomorrow.
23 June 2004
Oh, that Dick
I don't know how I missed this. It's from Vice President Dick Cheney's address to NRA members at their Annual Meetings in Pittsburgh back in April.
Here among friends, I can confide that President Bush has once again asked me to head up his vice-presidential search committee. And once again, I've accepted the assignment.
As for the President's opponent, he has only begun his search for a running mate. The big question is, will he go for somebody who is sober, serious, and well versed in policy, or will he follow President Bush's lead and settle for pure charisma?
Well, I thought it was funny.
Warr on taxes
The community of Warr Acres, an enclave within Oklahoma City's northwest quadrant, has one claim to fame: its 6.5-percent sales tax rate (2 for Warr Acres, 4.5 for the state of Oklahoma), the lowest in the metro area. (Neighboring Bethany collects 8.5 percent; Oklahoma City, 8.375 percent.) Signs posted on the way out of town contain the ominous message "Warning: Higher Taxes Ahead."
Unfortunately, there may be higher taxes ahead for shoppers in Warr Acres. With the closing of the Wal-Mart store along the community's section of Northwest Distressway Sam's myrmidons relocated to a larger box farther up the road, within Oklahoma City limits tax collections are way down, and Warr Acres' share of a widening project for MacArthur Boulevard, its main north-south thoroughfare, is coming due. Mayor Marietta Tardibono is considering raising the sales tax, which will require a vote by residents, probably early next year.
This isn't the first time that a suburb has lost a retailer to the city, either; Albertson's closed its store on the northwest corner of Britton and May, in The Village, and moved across the street to the southwest corner, which is in Oklahoma City. A Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market at the opposite end of The Village is presumably taking up some of the slack, but nothing so far has replaced the town's two auto dealerships, both of which have moved to areas with large clusters of dealers.
Still, this is very much the opposite of the situation in many other metro areas, where retailers are bailing out of the city and moving to the 'burbs. Oklahoma City no doubt is congratulating itself on its foresight in annexing everything within arm's reach in the 1960s.
Seek, and ye shall flounder
Two search-engine queries, slightly off-kilter, from this morning's statistics.
The saner one was this one for "girls with great legs". I am, of course, a major admirer of such, and some women meeting this general description (you know who you are) do read this page, but I have to assume the poor fellow was looking for photos, which he didn't find.
The one I find harder to figure was this one for irbesartan hydrochlorothiazide cannabis. The first two-thirds of this represent the high-zoot combo pill I take for my blood pressure; that last, of course, is more of a, um, populist pharamceutical. Was the searcher looking for contraindications? Here's the original context:
I'd bet a month's supply of Avalide" (irbesartan/hydrochlorothiazide) $37.50 (Canadian) in Saskatchewan, $58.79 (US) down the street at Eckerd's that if the likes of Bristol Myers Squibb owned a patent on cannabis, this drug case [medical marijuana] would never have made it to the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, I'd rather read these than the endless trolling for variations on the theme of mary kate olsen + anorexic. Then again, as Defamer says, "Saddest of all in this troubling Olsen chapter is that from now on, Ashley will henceforth be known as the Fat Twin."
Sandy, my battered (no thanks to spring hailstorms) Mazda sedan, got her 30,000-mile fluid replacements today, only 2276 miles late, and she got a clean bill of health from the techs, which is always nice, especially since she's only about three-fourths paid for.
And while the tab $431 might seem stiff, I look upon it as cheap insurance; after all, we're about to hit the road for four thousand miles, and the last thing I need is to be sidetracked by some sort of system failure, especially now that the warranty (3 years) has expired.
My maintenance schedule, in some regards, is more extensive than that recommended by the manufacturer; there is no way, for instance, that I'm going to keep the same batch of coolant for 50,000 miles, no matter what color it is.
Of course, when this really starts to get expensive is at 60,000 miles, when in addition to everything that was done today, I get to change out the timing belt. (Unless, of course, I've somehow managed to relocate to California or to parts of the Northeast, where the same timing belt magically retains its tension and its teeth for a full 105,000 miles, the result, I assume, of the stroke of the governor's pen rather than any actual engineering.)
24 June 2004
A choice piece of legislation
Congressman Joe Pitts (R-Pennsylvania) has introduced House Resolution 4543, which well, let him tell you about it:
Each year, 1.18 million women have abortions. Yet no long-term study has ever been done in order to assess the emotional impact of abortion on women. There is strong anecdotal evidence that women who have abortions may experience feelings of loss, guilt and depression in connection with their abortion. H.R. 4543 provides $15 million to the National Institutes of Health to research the emotional impact of abortion on women. This bill also creates a $1.5 million grant program to fund the development of treatment programs for women who suffer from post-abortion depression.
You can read the entire measure here [requires Adobe Reader].
Of course, you wouldn't need $15 million to assess the impact of abortion on fetuses, but no one worries about whether they're depressed or not.
(Via After Abortion)
Not as think as you drunk I am
Fritz Schranck notes that Delaware is the only state which has not reduced its too-drunk-to-drive level from 0.10 percent to 0.08. Failure to do so will cost Delaware federal highway dollars, in a process known outside government circles as "blackmail."
Personally, I hope Delaware stands its ground. Both the original 0.10-percent figure and the new, unimproved 0.08 number are purely arbitrary, and no one has shown any evidence that highways are any safer with the tighter limit. In most alcohol-related crashes, the offending driver is well over 0.10 percent; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration admits that more than half of DUI busts nab drivers at 0.20, and two-thirds of fatalities involve drivers over 0.15. Dropping the limit from 0.10 to 0.08 was simply an effort to Look Like We're Doing Something and to buy silence from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which has grown increasingly hysterical over the years.
The two Delaware politicians who are blocking 0.08 are Senate President pro tem Thurman Adams and Senator James Vaughn. Next time I'm in Delaware, I'll buy them a drink. And then I'll send them home in a taxi, just on general principles.
(Update, 2 July, 8 pm: They've drunk the Kool-Aid. Damn.)
Bowling for column space
Fahrenheit 9/11 is a marketing phenomenon, says Frances Lee of Case Western Reserve University:
[I]t seems to echo The Passion [of the Christ]: intense enthusiasm, organized groups buying tickets with proselytizing zeal, the sense that one is getting something that corporate America wanted to stifle.
James Joyner has his doubts:
I hereby predict the movie will do far less box office than did The Passion. There are far more evangelical Christians than incredibly fat moonbats.
Moore's last film brought in a shade over $21 million domestically, and almost the same amount overseas; I think Fahrenheit 9/11 will exceed these figures comfortably, though Passion's $370 million ($600 million total) is well out of reach.
A certain lack of jurisprudence
Donald Thompson has served as a district judge in Sapulpa, Oklahoma for two decades, and apparently mandatory minimums didn't do a thing for him: Attorney General Drew Edmondson has filed an official complaint against Judge Thompson, charging him with, um, banging his gavel, so to speak.
Apparently he sacked his court reporter, the usual audience for his display, after she cooperated with an investigation into his behind-the-bench activities.
The complaint can be viewed in full here.
(Courtesy of Guy S. at Snugg Harbor, who noted: "In handing out a stiff sentence.....he hands out a stiff sentence!")
What would a week be without the Carnival of the Vanities?
Don't ask. This time around, your basic Single Southern Guy plays host to blogdom's first and fiercest weekly showcase, and guess what? There's even a contest.
Off with you now. There's reading to be done.
25 June 2004
The price of their toys
Is it too late to start hinting around that I want one of these?
Yeah, I know. Most of my deepest, darkest desires are just about as absurd. At least this one is cheap.
(Via No Watermelons Allowed)
Don't rain on their parade
The Weather Guys predict a 30-percent chance "it probably won't, but if it does, we told you it would" that it will rain on the city's seventeenth annual Gay Pride parade, or, to give it its full name, OKLAHOMA CITY GAY, LESBIAN, BISEXUAL, TRANSGENDERED & INTERSEX PRIDE PARADE AND FESTIVAL. It's enough to make you feel like the token straight.
The actual parade starts Sunday at five at Memorial Park, 35th and Classen, after a couple of days of festivities. Last year's event (let's not call it a "bash") drew about 20,000 spectators, a fair number of which did not actually qualify as G, L, B, T or I. My brother will happily point out that Surlywood is not adjacent to, but is in close proximity to, the zone known as "Homo Heights," and indeed my ZIP code contains more same-sex couples than any other in the state, but what the hell? On the nose of life's complexion, this, to me anyway, is not even so much as a freckle. Your mileage may vary.
(Update, 27 June, 9:30 pm: No rain. I wandered down the parade route earlier today to gauge the crowd and to get a look at some of the floats. If nothing else, the experience demonstrated the truth of my assertion that Oklahoma City is a darn good town for theatre.)
Blogging is motivated by a "narcissistic impulse," says Musickna at Heronwater, which ultimately manages to justify itself:
[P]erhaps that is reason to go public. Mirror gazing is lonely by nature. To be acknowledged, even negatively, is to break out. But I realise that this is not really what I want. What I want is to establish a record of my thoughts from time to time, and by writing here I develop a conceit that I am somehow more important here than I would be simply writing into a private journal.
This is a conceit that thus far has managed to elude me, and possibly some others: despite, say, BlogStreet's assurance that my own little Box O'Brouhaha is somewhere around the 454th most influential, it's a rare raindrop indeed who feels any responsibility for the flood.
Besides, blogdom suffers from cookie-cutter syndrome:
Most writings I read in blogs are striking in their sameness. There is very little originality, certainly in blogs emanating from comfortable middle-class Western homes (where most computers are to be found), regardless of the age, occupation or political persuasion of the writer.
I defy anyone to find any originality on this site.
The Dover boys
Once again, Fritz Schranck has the scoop on some Delaware lawmaking. Senate Bill 22 would raise the state's minimum wage, in increments, to $7.15 by January 2006. The Senate, dominated by Democrats, passed it easily, but the House, controlled by Republicans, isn't buying.
And to express the quality of their disdain, they came up with this amendment to the bill:
In order to effect the wholly positive benefits promised by the sponsors and in order to eliminate the loss of jobs and increase in prices to consumers which always follow government mandated wage increases, the law of supply and demand is hereby repealed.
I suspect this action might exceed their jurisdiction and if it doesn't, to whom do I apply for an exemption to the laws of physics? but I applaud their creativity.
26 June 2004
Bowing to the inevitable
Citadel's KSYY, formerly known as "The Spy," has given up their alt-alt-rock format in favor of something vaguely Tejano. Whether this will get them so much as a 1 share remains to be seen; they're still stuck in Kingfisher with the power of a couple of fluorescent bulbs.
Then again, with the Latino population growing and only two other stations broadcasting in Spanish (KZUE, an AM daytimer in El Reno, and KTUZ-FM, licensed to Okarche what is it with Canadian County, anyway?), maybe there's hope for them after all.
A vague hint of dislike
What Andrea Harris thinks of Michael Moore:
I hate that smug, pompous, smarmy, ruin-the-Oscars, grandstanding, knowitall hypocrite with the heat of a thousand nuclear reactors all on overload. If a comet hit the earth and killed thousands of millions of people and caused a ten-year sunless winter that finished off every last living thing on the surface of the planet, that would be okay, because at least Moore would bite it. That is how much I hate this man.
And yet somehow we're not dating. :)
Incidentally, the section quoted above is, by a considerable margin, the mildest thing she had to say; some workplaces might consider the full text Not Safe.
The doctor is out
When last we heard from Jeffrey Schimandle, he was losing his license to practice medicine in Oklahoma. A decent interval having elapsed, Dr Schimandle applied to the Oklahoma State Board of Medical Licensure and Supervision for reinstatement, and was turned down; Elizabeth Scott, assistant Attorney General, representing the Board, says that Schimandle has "thumbed his nose at the state of Oklahoma."
Schimandle vows to appeal to the state Supreme Court. Meanwhile, I noticed this quote by psychologist Ray Hand, who testified in Schimandle's behalf at the hearing:
[He's] a bright guy with a lot of potential.
If I remember correctly I went to a lot of shrinks in the 80s Dr Hand once asserted that I was a bright guy with a lot of potential, and well, we all know how that worked out.
Saturday spottings (once more)
Just driving around town doesn't mean anything unless you see something, after all.
Last Monday, IBC Bank completed its acquisition of what used to be Local Oklahoma Bank, and they wasted no time pinning up temporary signage at the
Habitat for Humanity has completed and sold the two houses they built in East Heritage Hills, and I wandered by today to see the results. I was properly impressed: it will be a while before these structures start to appear weathered, but stylewise, they fit in nicely with the smaller Craftsman homes that dominate that strip between Broadway and Robinson.
Conventional wisdom, seldom all that wise these days, holds that women pick out their vehicles on the basis of space and reliability; men have the need for speed. Anyone who's ever seen She Who Is Not To Be Named pushing a sandal to the floorboard should know better than that, but the stereotype somehow persists. As has been my wont of late, I struck up a conversation with a woman at the supermarket; she drives a '99 Mazda Millenia, and yes, it has the brand's traditional aversion to repair shops, but what she most appreciated about it, she said, was the little supercharged V-6's ability to put her in front of anything that wouldn't move out of the way while she was trying to merge onto the freeway. And until such time as ODOT rids us of the last of these two-car-length on-ramps, there's absolutely no substitute for good old Zoom Zoom.
Evil running-dog capitalists
Workers of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your royalties on Communist Party USA merchandise.
27 June 2004
There's a shot of Kirsten Dunst in a sundress on the cover of Vogue this month, and the import of this didn't hit me until about 0.4 seconds into the usual perfunctory inspection: migod, she's going to grow up to be Susanna Cornett.
Well, I guess she'd have to pick up a couple dozen IQ points first.
The tiniest of slips
One Myron Tereshchuk (could there possibly be two Myron Tereshchuks?) has entered a guilty plea to a charge of attempted extortion. He had run a service which produces extracts of patent and trademark registrations for the legal profession; the service ran afoul of the Feds for some reason or another, and Tereshchuk decided that it was the fault of MicroPatent LLC, a competitor of his.
Using other people's unsecured wireless networks, Tereshchuk broke into MicroPatent's network and sent threats to its management, culminating with a demand for $17 million in exchange for not broadcasting MicroPatent's proprietary information all over the Internet. And it might have worked, had not the demand ended with the following instruction:
[M]ake the check payable to Myron Tereshchuk.
The FBI, which had suspected the guy earlier, paid a visit to his house and found evidence nearly as incriminating, plus raw materials for grenades and ricin. Boom lowered, perp arrested.
Sentencing is scheduled for late October.
The Virginia reel
Oklahoma's political history is replete with "colorful" characters, where "colorful" is, often as not, a euphemism for "raving loony." One of the legends is perennial candidate Virginia Blue Jeans Jenner that's exactly the way her name appears on the Democratic primary ballot for House District 12 who has never actually been elected to anything, but last time out did manage to pull a third of the votes in the 2002 Democratic primary for Labor Commissioner, losing to Lloyd Fields, who in turn lost to Republican Brenda Reneau Wynn in the general election. Michael Bates has an ad run by Jenner in her 1988 race for mayor of Tulsa, in which she quips:
[V]ote for this dental hygienist who knows how to deal with folks who talk out of both sides of their mouth.
And this morning, Emperor Misha I finds a letter from Jenner in The Dallas Morning News:
Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry gets my vote for "Wimp of the Year."
He earned my dubious honor by being "Bush-Lite" and proposing to raise the federal minimum wage to $7 an hour by 2007. Horsefeathers. My husband sacks groceries for $7 an hour and has no health benefits, so we will get no help from Mr. Kerry. What we need is a living wage of $10 an hour.
Employers are cutting hours to save money and make most of their employees part-time, thus denying them benefits. Mr. Kerry says his $1.85 increase in the minimum wage would give a family enough dough to buy 10 months' food or pay eight months' rent. The senator hasn't been to the grocery story lately or tried to rent a one-room apartment hole-in-the-wall.
Misha's response well, you'll have to read it for yourself.
(Incidentally, my dental hygienist is a hottie, and has no political ambitions. I think.)
Aggressive people, says a British insurance company, tend to drive black cars, which, in the UK anyway, crash more often than cars of other, um, colours.
The Churchill Company's analysis shows the following, in descending order of crash likelihood:
[D]rivers who like black see themselves as rebels. Silvers are cool and aloof; greens are prone to hysterics; and yellow are idealistic lovers of novelty. People who favor blue are introspective and cautious; grey calm, sober and dedicated with tendencies to slip out of personality; red energetic and quick-thinking; pink gentle and loving; white status-seeking extroverts and cream self-contained and in control.
My car, it says right here on the sticker, is painted Mojave Beige.
Now get the hell out of my way.
28 June 2004
Stories behind these walls
Around the corner from me is a Talking House.
No, really. I pulled in closer to see what was going on, and there was a sign directing me to tune the AM radio to 1610 kHz. And in one of those digitally-recorded voices that sounds just as garbled over the phone, up pops a loop explaining the virtues of this house, why you should drop everything and buy it now, and the person you should call should you want to do so.
It's a nice place, and I'm sure the eventual buyer will enjoy having bought into this neighborhood for a price in the low, low six figures, but for some reason this technique put me off, perhaps because the infinitesimal power output of the tiny transmitter virtually guarantees that you'll miss part of the pitch before you get out of range, which means that if you're at all curious you'll have to double back toward the house, which strikes me as less intrusive than having a lasso catch you as you walk away, but not much.
We're no angels
Anyone who has spent more than thirty minutes at a party, or fifteen minutes in an online chatroom, knows that some guys are real jerks yet somehow manage to land the babes.
If you're The Washington Post, however, it takes you days in a secondary-education compound and 2600-odd words to come to the same perfectly-obvious conclusion.
(Via the delightfully-terse Michelle Malkin)
You're choking in it
The Code Warrior reported today that over the weekend, we were favored with some fourteen thousand individual spams, which would take a large part of the morning to delete and which in the interim would likely slow the corporate mail service. (Well, duh.)
There is, of course, no way to be properly avenged, but I suspect it will be easier for a mailbag full of Levitra® to pass through the eye of a needle than for a single spammer to avoid eternal damnation.
I'm stocking up on extra-small needles as a precaution.
Sweeping down the meter
Back around the first of the year, I mentioned that I'd signed up for OG&E's Wind Power program, which I cited as "an environmental gesture that will actually accomplish something without a great deal of lifestyle adjustment." Actually, the only thing that's changed around here, apart from slightly bigger checks to the utility when it's cold I bought a flat 600-kW block, which is more than my monthly consumption during the winter is the little Wind Power sticker in the front-window grid.
FPL Energy, which built the turbine farm that serves OG&E, plans to construct a new 106.5-megawatt farm near Woodward, and Public Service Company of Oklahoma will buy all those watts.
There's just one catch: Congress must act to renew the production tax credit for such facilities, which expired at the end of 2003, or the deal is off. So far, the Senate has voted to extend the credit to 2006, but the House has yet to act. The amount of the credit is 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first ten years of plant operation.
Yeah, I know: tax credits. What this means, of course, is that wind power is not yet fully competitive, pricewise, with fossil fuels. On the other hand, we'll never have to deal with an Organization of Wind-Exporting Countries.
29 June 2004
The hits just keep on coming
One of the "Inspirations" listed on the front page of this site is one Todd Storz. I've explained why before, and now Rich Appel, through the invaluable Hz So Good newsletter, has tossed a timely reminder my way:
A week or so before Elvis made history in Memphis, another sort of history was being made not that far away, in Kansas City. On June 15th, the Cook Paint and Varnish Company sold WHB radio in Kansas City to the Storz group. As you're probably well aware, Storz, as in Todd, was already operating successful radio stations in Omaha (KOWH) and New Orleans (WTIX), which were as legend has it the first two stations to feature the most popular songs played all day, as opposed to the block programming heard on many other stations at that time. Having heard another New Orleans station feature music between two network shows and calling it "the top 20," Storz thought featuring forty current songs vs. twenty would be twice as nice, and it was on WHB in late June of 1954 that listeners first heard a program which not only played the "top 40" but actually reviewed them in reverse order, beginning with the number 40 song in the area and ending at number one. Storz would take this same "Top 40" radio format to Minneapolis in 1955 on WDGY and to Miami in '56 on WQAM (on which Burger King would have been foolish not to advertise). Looking back, it's a good thing Storz made everything up to date in Kansas City and took over WHB fifty years ago today, or millions of us might now be listening to "Paint and Varnish" radio, and who knows what that might sound like.
The very first Top 40 countdown, before Casey Kasem, before anybody, fifty years ago this week.
(Long Distance Dedication: This goes out to Dawn in New Jersey.)
What part of "term limits" don't you understand?
Oklahoma legislators are limited to twelve years in office. Not all of them are enthusiastic about the limitation, either.
Senator Jim Maddox (D-Lawton), who was holding that office in 1992 when term limits began, would complete twelve years under the provisions of the law in 2004. Maddox, who was reelected in 2002 (half the Senate is chosen in "off-year" elections), argued that the voters intended to send him back to the Capitol for four years and that he should be allowed to complete those four years.
The state Supreme Court has now decided otherwise; Maddox is gone after 2004, and a special election will be held to fill the District 32 seat for the following two years.
At least marginally buzzworthy
Courtesy of Robb Hibbard, a list of things wasps don't like:
I think I can qualify on at least some of these.
30 June 2004
And where's the National Lager Association?
Last year, Missouri enacted a number of booze-related laws, and one of them kicks in tomorrow: keg registration.
Retailers will now have to tag each keg containing four gallons of more and keep a record of the purchaser, including name, address, and date of birth, for a minimum of 90 days. (Ripping off the tag means you lose your deposit.)
This is nothing particularly new in the Show-Me state: the city of Springfield has had a similar provision for three years. I doubt seriously, though, that anyone can show that it's had any measurable effect on underage drinking, the ostensible purpose of the law. David Overfelt of the Missouri Retailers Association sees it the same way: he considers it "a feel-good thing for the anti-alcohol groups."
Meanwhile, a couple of states away in Colorado, Republican Senate candidate Peter Coors continues to argue that 21 is unworkable as a minimum drinking age in the first place, a notion which, when floated, immediately brought out the big guns of the Nanny State.
My own policy on drink is similar to that of Mark Twain: when others are drinking I like to help, otherwise I remain dry. And I continue to believe, as I did when I was eighteen and hoisting a few, that any age limit set by the government is arbitrary by definition.
(Muchas gracias: Brock Sides.)
The leech is back
Medically approved, as a matter of fact.
Hirudo medicinalis has a long, more-or-less respectable history as an instrument of healing, so to speak, and at least two physicians out here in the not-so-wetlands are putting them to good use.
I leave for someone else the task of writing the joke about how the French firm Ricarimpex has received FDA approval to market leeches in the US.
The new kid-size 2Pac
I actually sort of liked some of the recordings ("tunes" would never do here) by the late Tupac Shakur.
But that doesn't mean I want the guy's thug-life mumblage taught in the schools, fercryingoutloud. If this is poetry, then Little Richard's "Awopbopaloobopawopbamboom" is grand opera.
On the other hand, the Shangri-Las easily qualify as theatre.
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