1 September 2004
Counting icons on the wall

Seventh grade at a Catholic school in Rhode Island, and Justin Katz is there. In fact, he's been there before, and something is now conspicuous by its absence:

The school's new principal has been going through the building in a thorough sweep of reorganization and redecoration, so when I noticed the absence of a picture, of Jesus looking over a valley, that often attracted my attention when I taught in the computer room, I asked the new computer teacher where it had gone. Apparently, it wasn't the impulse of fresh surroundings that had pulled the picture down, but rather a Title I grant.

Title I, says the Department of Education, is intended "to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments."

A marked absence of any references to wall decor, which prompts Katz to ask:

Is it definitional to "fairness" that a room be free of religious imagery? That would seem manifestly unfair to students from communities that consider religion intrinsic to proper education. If the purpose of a grant is to provide, for example, adequate computers for use by students who otherwise would have to make do with the 1995 donations of working-class parishioners, how is it otherwise than discriminatory to expand on that purpose to ensure that the walls pay homage to anybody except explicitly religious figures? (Incidentally, don't even atheists concede that Jesus was probably an historical figure?)

The knee-jerk (not to be confused with "genuflection") answer is "Separation of church and state, case closed, so there." This might make some small amount of sense if the school in question were being asked to give up its religious instruction, in which case I think it's a safe bet the school would have refused to accept any grant money, under Title I or any other Roman numeral you care to name.

And why is it just religion that is subjected to this sort of treatment, anyway?

Ink would fly among all three branches of our government were any one governing body to offer grants with the provision that no figures representative of racial, gender, or ethnic identity contributed to the educational setting. How turned around we must be for religion among the primary and most explicit areas in which our government is required to take no coercive interest to be the one aspect of life that provokes government leverage for extraction.

And while it's certainly true that some parents are upset by religious imagery, it would seem logical to suggest that those parents refrain from enrolling their children in a school run by a church unless, of course, you think a steakhouse should be required by law to cater to vegans first.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:11 AM to Immaterial Witness )
A page right out of history

The First National Bank of Bedrock?

Well, why not? There is a town called Bedrock, near the western edge of Colorado, and it's not necessarily harder to run Web-based financial services there than it would be in Denver or Salt Lake City.

But the Feds determined that it was a fake, and shut it down; a spokesman for the Comptroller of the Currency speculates that the "bank" site was used to collect personal information from modern Stone Age families potential customers.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:29 AM to Dyssynergy )
More uplifting news

A Federal appeals court has ruled that you still have the right to open your own damn garage door.

If you missed this, the case in question is Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Skylink Technologies, Inc. Chamberlain, miffed that Skylink had come up with a third-party remote that works with Chamberlain openers, sued under the the government's all-purpose harrassment tool, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, arguing that Skylink's remote sneaks around the computer program in its openers.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation published this summation of the appellate court's findings:

Chamberlain's proposed construction would allow copyright owners to prohibit exclusively fair uses even in the absence of any feared foul use. It would therefore allow any copyright owner, through a combination of contractual terms and technological measures, to repeal the fair use doctrine with respect to an individual copyrighted work or even selected copies of that copyrighted work. Again, this implication contradicts § 1201(c)(1) directly. Copyright law itself authorizes the public to make certain uses of copyrighted materials. Consumers who purchase a product containing a copy of embedded software have the inherent legal right to use that copy of the software. What the law authorizes, Chamberlain cannot revoke.

(Disclosure: I have a Skylink remote, though it's not being used with a Chamberlain opener.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:05 PM to PEBKAC )
Local boy makes good

Yes, that's Tulsa's very own Michael Bates appearing in Gawker with a gorgeous New York babe.

Icing on the cake? Said New York babe is the one and only Dawn Eden.

The man is obviously living right.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:00 PM to Blogorrhea )
2 September 2004
American iron

Usually a classified ad for a car causes major MEGO (Mine Eyes Glazeth Over). Then, in this week's Gazette, there was this:

1973 Buick Electra 225. 4400 pounds of Detroit steel, no plastic, no computers, no cat converters.

Originally, the "225" designation represented the car's length in inches, and the '73 was pretty close to that. This year's model was designed well before the first OPEC oil embargo in '73, so not even perfunctory attention is paid to gas mileage; its 26-gallon tank empties seemingly as fast as you can fill it. This particular sample is a four-door hardtop in metallic blue; the top is white, as is the leather interior. The one concession to presumed modernity is the air conditioning, which has been retrofitted to use R134a refrigerant.

Obviously, even at the bargain price of a buck a pound, I can't even be thinking about this behemoth. It would never fit in my garage, and it would triple the cost of my daily commute. Still, it's a serious cruisemobile, something that could never be said of my innocuous little sedan, and while '73 was well into the era of emissions controls, which tended to play hell with driveability in those days, there's something comforting about being able to pop the hood and identify every single part, something that just doesn't happen anymore, and besides... that's it, stop right there, don't say another word, dammit.

Did I mention the ashtray has never been used in those 31 years?


Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:26 AM to Driver's Seat )
The Brad and Zell Show

Zell Miller, says Michael Crowley in Slate, has become a "cartoonish GOP partisan." John Rosenberg, noting the proliferation of "fake" or "in name only" tags that have been attached to members of both major parties, objects:

To say that Zell Miller is a "fake" Democrat, despite his refusal to change parties, is to say that people with his views are not welcome in the Democratic party. Has Crowley checked out Brad Carson, who's running for the Senate in Oklahoma on a platform that one would be hard-pressed to distinguish from mainstream or even conservative Republicanism. If Miller is a "fake," shouldn't Carson change parties?

The American Conservative Union rates Carson's previous three years in the House at 42, which is to the right of most Democrats but nowhere near the median for Republicans. On the other side, Americans for Democratic Action rates Carson at 65, well below the middle-80s garnered by most Democrats over the past three years, but way above the single digits typically awarded to House Republicans. (Over the same three-year period, Zell Miller gets 25 from the ADA and 65 from the ACU.)

Which, to these jaundiced eyes anyway, makes Brad Carson something of a centrist. Certainly he's a few ticks to the left of the rest of Oklahoma's Congressional delegation, a solidly right-wing bunch; and given the state Democratic party's claim to being "squarely in the center of the political spectrum," he's got no reason to depart for the GOP camp.

Still, this is a conservative sort of place: George W. Bush got 60 percent of the popular vote here in 2000, even though fewer than 40 percent of Oklahoma voters are registered as Republicans [link requires Adobe Reader]. Zell Miller-style Democrats may seem bizarre to some blue-state folks, but they'd fit right into the Soonerland mix.

GLBT and sometimes Y

Bryan at Spare Change offers this take on recent outings and what they may mean:

The [Ed] Schrock and [Jim] McGreevey stories are interesting because they were men who allegedly portrayed themselves to be of one mindset when they were actually of another. In these circumstances, their duplicity was worthy of the attention that they garnered when the revelations were made public. That said, I believe that Americans have the right to elect whoever they want. If an openly gay person runs for public office and manages to win the election, so be it. We all have to decide what issues matter the most to us, as well was which personal issues are most directly relevant to a leader's ability to do the job of representing the constituency.

And while I'm personally very conservative, I would never tell a homosexual person that their vote isn't wanted nor appreciated. It seems to me like every vote is precious in this divisive day, and if a fiscally-conservative homosexual person believes in the Republican ideology, then their vote is welcome. It also seems a bit hypocritical that Republicans would tinkle in their britches over personalities like Schwarzenegger & Giuliani (a womanizer and adulterer, respectively, if memory serves), yet claim some moral indignation over the possibility that some like-minded homosexuals might be interested in making over our Big Tent with gold lamé and Mardi Gras beads (I don't know if that's what they'd do, but it seemed gay when I typed it, so there you go).

(Links added by me, though the items linked are either themselves linked or mentioned elsewhere in the original article.)

The Log Cabin Republicans have a slogan: "Inclusion wins." And if certain elements within the GOP might feel an involuntary tightening of the sphincter, well, that's too bad. God knows I have to put up with a great deal of weirdness over here on the Democratic side of the aisle. Color me inconstant that's a neutral shade, right? but I'd much rather deal with, say, a gay gun buff, than with a straight fellow whose disarming manner turns out to be literally so.

Flying high in the F-102

This little darb by Convair was "the world's first supersonic all-weather jet interceptor," nothing you'd willingly mess with.

Not necessarily more down to earth is Carnival of the Vanities #102, dedicated to the cosmonauts of Mir, a wondrous vehicle that more often than not seemed like a Trabant in space.

Our thanks to Blogo Slovo for going to this much trouble to bring the week's best bloggage within easy reach.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:28 PM to Blogorrhea )
Doesn't need more cowbell

Rock orthodoxy holds that black R&B = good, while white attempts at same = somewhere between pathetic and insulting. This pronouncement today is considered every bit as obvious as, say, there being four other guys in the Dave Clark Five; after all, Alan Freed never played those awful white cover versions. The argument can usually be summed up in two words: Pat Boone. Well, okay, I can go for years without hearing "Don't Forbid Me," but Mr. White Bucks had more groove than you think (cf. "Moody River," his fifth Number One).

But if Pat Boone was the Great White Hopeless in this version of rock chronology, the Diamonds were the smirking frat boys. Signed to Mercury, they churned out some decently-charting cover versions of R&B hits all through 1956, none of which got any respect from the purists; even Dave Marsh, as determined a revisionist as exists in this realm, characterizes the Diamonds' approach as "dripping sophomoric contempt."

Dave Somerville, who sang lead on most of those records, begs to disagree. From Dawn Eden's liner notes for a mid-90s Diamonds compilation: "We weren't putting anyone on," said Somerville. "It was serious stuff."

I'm inclined to believe him, not only because he was there, but because Clyde Otis, who started hanging out his shingle at Mercury in late '57, wrote the stunningly lethal "The Stroll," based on a dance theme that owed something to Chuck Willis's "C. C. Ryder," and offered it, not to a respected black R&B outfit, but to the Diamonds. I'd say Clyde clearly took them seriously, and the Diamonds responded with a brilliant recording.

What you remember them for, though, is "Little Darlin'," their biggest hit ever (#2 in Billboard as Mercury 71060), and here, the Diamonds did something unforgivable: not only did they cover a black act Maurice Williams' pre-Zodiacs Gladiolas but they had the temerity to improve on the product. I've spun the Gladiolas disc (Excello 2101), and it's a decent, but by no means inspiring, piece of R&B boilerplate, its modest merits overwhelmed by the crappy acoustics of the back room of Ernie's Record Mart in Nashville, where it was recorded.

The Diamonds, with a track record at a big label, could afford more gimmickry, and they threw everything but the kitchen sink into their revamping. The experts howled. Marsh complained that it was "mocking and cruel," but admitted: "I don't think I've ever played it once without wanting to play it twice." And shed no tears for Maurice Williams: not only did he make a ton of money off this cover version, but three years later he brought forth "Stay," which not only made it to Number One but inspired a lovely late-Seventies live version by Jackson Browne, one of the whitest guys ever to rock and/or roll.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:10 PM to Tongue and Groove )
3 September 2004
How diverse are we?

Well, I'll tell you: we are so diverse that... but never mind. Nobody is buying. Oklahoma City, though many paths intersect here, is still widely perceived as being all of a piece, and it's a piece of white bread with the crusts cut off.

Four months ago, I came up with this:

Dr Richard Florida, guru of the Creative Class movement, was here this spring, and if I'm reading him properly, we can't really buy ourselves a Creative Class: we have to attract one, and that requires not only sprucing up the locations but the local attitudes as well. This doesn't mean we have to do a political 180, necessarily, but it does mean we have to come to grips with diversity in its truest sense: not something imposed from on high, but something that grows from the ground up.

There are now signs that the power structure is actually starting to pay attention to this sort of thing. The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce has begun Project NEXT, which seeks to "make Central Oklahoma attractive to educated and talented individuals and the most successful businesses," a task which they admit will require seeking "input from the entire community, including people that may or may not be [our] traditional partners."

I'm not quite sure the Chamber really has a handle on this yet. "We've got all the main minority groups American Indians, Asians, Hispanics, African-Americans, gays," says Chamber spokesperson Drew Dugan in apparent "See how hard we're trying!" mode. Still, they are trying, and that's something they wouldn't have done forty, or even four, years ago.

Next Thursday, representatives from "all the main minority groups" will descend upon the Cox Convention Center to tell the Chamber what they think needs to be done. It should be interesting, to say the least.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:44 AM to City Scene )
What is your major wardrobe malfunction?

From Heather and Jessica at Dancing Brave:

We're just sad to see Beyoncé wearing hot pants that make her legs look like tree trunks, because we like that she's curvy and we think she has major sexy potential, if only she'd lengthen her hemlines just a tad. We're sad to see people wearing stuff that looks horrible, simply because it has a particular label affixed to the inside. We're sad that little girls are going to look at Britney and think it's okay to wear a skirt that's dropping off your ass, exposing your underwear and your pubic tattoo. In essence, we're sad that naturally pretty people find ways to fug up what nature's given them.

Not that any of these people are likely to be sent to Style Court.

I mean, I like a bit of razzle-dazzle here and there, especially there, but any outfit that invites the question "What was this person thinking?" is by definition the wrong outfit.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:17 AM to Rag Trade )
A matter of four blocks

I figure something like this might be awaiting me a few years down the road:

Former President Bill Clinton, apparently suffering a heart attack Friday, was rushed to a New York hospital for emergency quadruple bypass heart surgery.

The 58-year-old Clinton complained of chest pains Friday morning and decided to go to the hospital, the New York Times reported. Clinton will undergo heart bypass surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital.

No, no jokes. Not this time.

(Via Baldilocks, also resisting the effort to crack wise.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:56 PM to Dyssynergy )
The M word

Oh, did anybody think those ruffians from Chechnya were, oh, say, Buddhists?

Nope, thought not.

Meanwhile, it's probably time to bring out this old warhorse once more.

4 September 2004
The creature from Uranus

Let's see if I have this right:

Some straight couples use anal sex as a way to preserve the woman's virginity.

God forbid her cherry should be popped, but you can fool around with the chocolate all you want.

Who came up with this preposterous confection? Planned Parenthood's Teenwire, of course. And as always, when Teenwire spouts nonsense (or worse), Dawn Eden reports.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:31 AM to Dyssynergy )
Watching the defectives

I take my lunch at 42nd and Treadmill at about 12:25. There is a television set in the breakroom, and the advertising that pops onto the screen reflects the presumed demographics of viewers at that hour; there are lawyers, payday loan services, trade schools, lawyers, auto dealers promising no credit check, and lawyers.

I haven't decided which of the two legal firms who dominate this time slot on this channel is more of an irritant. The doughy guy who trots out every catastrophe known to man and then says "Call me, I know what to do" is certainly annoying.

But there's another spot in which a girl soliloquizes about facing an unplanned pregnancy, in which she notes, "I barely make enough money to care for myself." This ad, from an attorney who specializes in adoptions, is certainly lower-key, but what bugs me about this spot is the fact that the poor girl's situation is easily avoidable. Not that anyone will ever say so to the potential Jerry Springer guests who watch television at half past noon.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:03 AM to Life and/or Death )
And it's not even close

Dan Lovejoy has issued his Electoral College projection, and it flies in the face of all this "dead heat" stuff we're hearing from Big Media:

Bush 341, Kerry 197.

In this scenario, the Pacific Coast (except Alaska) and New England (except New Hampshire) go blue, and Kerry picks up Iowa and Illinois; Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey; Maryland and Delaware; and the District of Columbia leaving a mere thirty-five red states.

Why is this happening?

Kerry will lose in November, not because America adores President Bush, but because the Democrats nominated a terrible candidate.

Of course, getting 63 percent of the electoral vote doesn't mean that Mr Bush will get anywhere near 63 percent of the popular vote, but I figure 50.0001 should be more than sufficient.

Size matters

A question from J Bowen of No Watermelons Allowed:

Large men wear larger sized clothes than smaller men. Are you with me so far?

Large men on average are taller than smaller men. Was that controversial?

Then why on earth are the large sizes always at the bottom of the stack, with the runt sizes on top? Isn't that exactly bass-ackwards?

Well, yeah, if you're designing for convenience. On the other hand, if you'd like the stack to have some sort of stability, you put the heavier items (larger sizes contain more material and therefore weigh more) toward the bottom.

Okay, it's a minor thing we're not talking differences of forty to fifty percent here but gravity doesn't cut any slack.

Alternative explanation: Smaller chaps are pickier and will go through more items before buying, leaving their discards on the top; larger fellows are just happy to see something their size.

Whatever the reason, it's no less true of specialty shops that cater specifically to Big Guys, either; 1X is seemingly always higher in the stack than 4X.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:40 PM to Dyssynergy )
5 September 2004
Twice the pain

I expect that posting will be a bit more sporadic in the next few days; I am not technically bedridden, but it's close enough. Over the past two days, not one, but two infections have befallen me, and while one is relatively minor, the other is a candidate for surgery.

This will, of course, play hell with my scheduled knee operation, which I expect will be postponed. In the meantime, I'm awash in antibiotics, which at this level have a generally-negative effect on what higher brain functions I have left.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:02 AM to General Disinterest )
The ballot of Johnny and George

KGOU's Oklahoma Voices program devoted half an hour this week to the onerous task third parties and independents face trying to get on the November ballot in this state. Representatives of the Libertarian and Green parties were in attendance; Richard Winger of Ballot Access News was on the phone from San Francisco. Winger's figures as of today show the Libertarians on 43 state ballots and the Greens on 27, though as of this writing neither of them will be on the Oklahoma ballot.

I did learn a few things from this program. For one, while ballot access in this state has always been difficult, it became much more so after 1968, when George Wallace managed to pull 46 electoral votes and almost 13 percent of the popular vote nationwide. And a spokesman for the state Election Board points out that there's always the question of stalking horses: for instance, there was widespread suspicion in 2000 that Republicans were providing sub rosa support to Ralph Nader's campaign, on the basis that Nader could draw away votes from the Democratic candidate. The Libertarian official noted that it's the job of the electorate, not the Election Board, to determine whether a candidate is someone else's sock puppet.

Richard Winger has noted elsewhere that the Oklahoma law is going to have to be reexamined next year. Last month, the state Supreme Court ordered that a candidate for Congress be placed on the ballot as an Independent despite that candidate's Republican registration; the Tenth Circuit has previously ruled that states may not require specific (or even any) registration for Congressional candidates, so at the very least this clause will be struck. Says Winger:

Since the legislature must pass a ballot access bill on this subject, perhaps other helpful provisions could be added.

Helpful, and long overdue, if you ask me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:41 PM to Soonerland )
Something v. something

Debra Dickerson at Slate says that if we're going to pit one group against another, better class warfare than racial warfare:

Class conflict makes sense; it keeps the powerful from riding roughshod over senior citizens who can't retire from manual labor in the hot sun. The truth is, I have far more in common with the rich white man than I do with [a] poor black grandfather (who would never dare to park on private property in this neighborhood). A world of perfect harmony would be lovely, but until the rapture comes I'd rather blue-collar types of all races faced off against us "suits" than one race against the other. There is nothing logical, natural, or beneficial about a world organized by race the very concept is irrational. Any system divided along racial lines, implicitly or overtly, will be immoral, inefficient, and unstable. (Take, for example, poor whites' hatred of slaves, rather than of slavery, for depressing wages.)

Class conflict, on the other hand, is natural and rational. It brought us the minimum wage, OSHA, Social Security, the weekend, overtime, pensions, and the like. While none of those are unmitigated successes, a system organized along class lines acknowledges that capitalism doesn't police itself and that labor must have a voice it wasn't the capitalists who pushed for child labor laws and the eight-hour work day. Everybody loses when societal goods are distributed on the basis of race, even those in the front of the bus.

There are some mechanisms for correcting the excesses of the market, and all else being equal, I'd prefer to rely on them, but all else isn't always equal, and sticking it to Joe and Susan Sixpack and their 2.3 kids on the basis of philosophy strikes me as unnecessarily cruel.

On the other hand, the bumper sticker I saw yesterday "NO DEDUCTIBLES / NO COPAYS / NO INSURANCE COMPANIES / JUST HEALTH CARE" (I may have a couple of these out of sequence) strikes me as unnecessarily silly, and I rather think it would have carried more weight had it not been stuck on the back of a $30,000 truck.

(Via Outside the Beltway)

6 September 2004
Curves ahead

I've met the Queen of All Evil, and she in no way resembles the strange denizens of Flatland.

I mention this because the Queen's consort has an interesting piece up about the disconnect between the underfed wraiths who are supposed to be the very model of a modern female beauty queen and the actual women we encounter in Real Life.

Besides, he invokes both ancient Greek sculpture and the neoclassical paintings of William Bouguereau, which proves he's serious.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:24 AM to Almost Yogurt )
What it takes to make a pro blush

Costa at Population Statistic meets a cute girl in a bar who may or may not have had Greta Garbo's standoff sighs.

Of such encounters are legends made.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:57 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Void where prohibited

If you're one of the seventeen known Undecided Voters, you've probably already posed this question to the pundits:

The nation has entered an era of uncertainty, and it's becoming more and more important to look out for Number One. Which candidate addresses this particular issue most directly?

Beats me, but there's an analysis at The Anger of Compassion, if you're interested.

Good for what ails me

Very seldom in life are the words "Oh, look, a rupture!" an indication of good news.

But if there's one thing I've learned, it's that "very seldom" hardly ever means "never," and well, that infamous Second Infection I mentioned yesterday has opened up on its own and is draining its contents. (More than that, you don't want to know.) Assuming this pattern holds for the next few days, I won't have to sweat the possibility of surgery.

On the other hand, this will force the rescheduling of my knee operation, but that's no surprise; stuff like that gets cancelled even if all you have is a case of the sniffles.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:34 PM to General Disinterest )
Alas, poor bloggers

This is, I regret to say, what happens when Dave throws out a weird idea for public consumption.

At least I didn't clutter up his site with it.

   To blog, or not to blog: that is the question:
   Whether 'tis nobler on the site to suffer
   The sneers and insults of outrageous trollage,
   Or to take arms against a sea of comments
   And by deleting end them? To blog: to write;
   No more; and by "no more" to say we end
   The head-ache and the thousand horrid spams
   The Net is curs'd with, 'tis a constipation
   Devoutly to be flush'd. To write, to blog;
   To blog: perchance with links: ay, there's the catch;
   For in this sphere of blogs what links may come
   When we have posted that which we think best,
   Still give us pain; there's the respect
   We never get for porting heart to screen;
   For who would bear the emails from the proud,
   The meter stuck, the readership ungrowing,
   The pain of poorly-written prose, the fact
   That Instapundit knows not who we are,
   That N.Z. Bear considers us a worm,
   When we ourselves might our quietus make
   With a blank template? who would once endure,
   To grunt and sweat on every single day,
   To turn out e'en a paragraph or two,
   Though undiscover'd it must needs remain,
   To answer every comment, good or ill,
   And somehow to forget the ones who read
   Though their existence never be revealed?
   Inertia doth make bloggers of us all;
   And thus the art form that we know as writing
   Is covered o'er with arcane codes of markup,
   And writers who might someday be remembered
   Will this way, be they lucky, merely Googled,
   And lose the fame deserved. Soft you now!
   An actual Trackback! Though I am not worthy,
   My traffic is augmented.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 PM to Blogorrhea )
7 September 2004
Ward to your mother

Oklahoma City is divided into eight wards of roughly similar population (65,000 or so), each of which is represented on the City Council. Tulsa has a similar system with nine wards. Ken Neal, writing in the Tulsa World, says this system represents "ward politics of the worst kind," and wants to replace it with a convoluted mess where the nine wards will be consolidated into four, and the five other councilors will be elected at large.

"In effect," says Neal, the current system demands that councilors "are elected to try to put their district ahead of the overall welfare of the city." I don't live in Tulsa and don't have a grounding in Nealspeak, but I'll attempt a translation: "How can we do Great Things for this town if we keep having to piddle around with the petty needs of mere citizens?"

Ward politics by nature is fractious. For many years in Oklahoma City it was the three southside wards (3, 4 and 5) versus the rest of the city. But changing population patterns have changed the Council: parts of Ward 3 now extend as far north as NW 36th, and Wards 6 and 7 dip as far south as SW/SE 44th. Still, any city has limited resources, and this city in particular has to spread them over an incredible distance, so I'm inclined to think the residents of a ward would rather have someone sitting at the horseshoe who has some actual interest in that ward.

Michael Bates predicts the results of Neal's proposed charter change in Tulsa:

This should ensure that no one can be elected to the City Council without a pile of money and the endorsement of the Tulsa Whirled. It would also make it very difficult for the district councilors to represent their constituents effectively, which would be fine with the Whirled. Mr. Neal would no doubt hope that the Councilors elected under the new system would understand that their job is to represent the entrenched interests that financed their expensive campaigns, not the interests of ordinary Tulsans.

And I'm still concerned with Neal's tossed-off phrase: "the overall welfare of the city." If you can't get five councilors to buy such and such a proposal, maybe it's not so good for the overall welfare after all, huh?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:33 AM to Soonerland )
Dickie the jinx

Move over, Red Sox; chin up, Sports Illustrated. You want to see a real jinx in action, look to an undisclosed location near Washington, and heed the words of T. D. Allman in Rolling Stone:

Should George W. Bush win this election, it will give him the distinction of being the first occupant of the White House to have survived naming Dick Cheney to a post in his administration. The Cheney jinx first manifested itself at the presidential level back in 1969, when Richard Nixon appointed him to his first job in the executive branch. It surfaced again in 1975, when Gerald Ford made Cheney his chief of staff and then with Cheney's help lost the 1976 election. George H.W. Bush, having named Cheney secretary of defense, was defeated for re-election in 1992. The ever-canny Ronald Reagan was the only Republican president since Eisenhower who managed to serve two full terms. He is also the only one not to have appointed Dick Cheney to office.

It seems unclear how the John Kerry campaign can capitalize on this situation.

(Via Ken Layne)

And in other free-market news

Bookseller Edward Hyde suspects Regnery is playing games with a top-selling title:

Regnery is intentionally withholding the books and started the rumor about bookstores "suppressing" it in order to force stores to carry more copies of a wider selection of Conservative books in the future, just so we don't have to listen to the wackadoos.

Most of my day today was spent cleaning up customer orders. Regnery says they have 550,000 copies in print; either that's still not enough, or they're lying. We order 500 copies, they send us 30 and cancel the rest; we order the remaining 470 from the first order, they send us 6 and cancel the rest. We don't get enough in to cover all of the copies customers have reserved; we have never been able to stock any on the shelves.

"In print," I suspect, is a term which has different meanings to different people. To you or me or Mr Hyde, it means that there are that many copies of the book out there somewhere. Not having had a book published, I have to wonder if maybe the publisher considers "in print" to include any press runs actually ordered, whether they're complete or not. (I'd appreciate any information on this from anyone who knows.)

Meanwhile, the immediate result, at least for Hyde, is frustration:

I'm almost hoping Bush wins, so no one will care about the Swift Boat Vets any longer and the damned book becomes a $5.98 remainder by Christmas.

Migod, he is serious.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 PM to Dyssynergy )
8 September 2004
Wheels to die for

It's not on their Web site yet, but the October issue of Automobile has a "highly subjective" list of the 100 Coolest Cars and, of course, ten that are the very antithesis of cool.

Among the favored are, as I expected, some of my favorites, including the '53 Studebaker Starliner coupe with its legendary Raymond Loewy styling (#52), the first (1963) Buick Riviera (#49), the Ferrari 275GTB (#35), the '55 Chevrolet Bel Air (#22), and Elwood Engle's '61 Lincoln Continental with suicide doors (#19). The only one I really expected to see but didn't was Virgil Exner's '57 Plymouth, arguably the best-looking car ever to emerge from Chrysler, one of which is buried under the Tulsa County Courthouse lawn.

Over in the Bowser Department are such dogs as the Yugo, the Pontiac Aztek, and the Cadillac Cimarron, a tarted-up Chevy Cavalier introduced in 1982 that well, let them tell you:

On a VH1 "Behind the Music" episode, the Cimarron would be the point where the band breaks up and everybody goes into rehab.

So that's what happened to General Motors in the 80s.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:33 AM to Driver's Seat )
Approaching the Terrible Twos

Next week, in fact. But for now, the Carnival of the Vanities is still in week #103, hosted for the second time by Pete Holiday's Encyclopeteia. (If you're keeping score, first time was #79.)

The second-anniversary edition will return to Silflay Hraka; in the meantime, you've got seven whole days to read all this good stuff, plus something of mine that was thrown in for tragic relief.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:58 AM to Blogorrhea )
Wedlock is a padlock

R&B fans may recognize the title as that of a recording by Laura Lee, whose biggest hit (Hot Wax 7105, 1971) was called "Women's Love Rights." It's been a recurrent theme in feminism for many years; starting a lecture tour in Australia, author Germaine Greer said that the high divorce rate was something to be celebrated:

The big change is the divorce rate. Exactly the thing that people tear their hair out about is exactly the thing I am very proud of. But life for these women is very difficult. The price of their liberty has been taking on a massive amount of toil.

And why might that be?

This is because women misunderstand the corporate world. They think you are meant to work in the corporate world, when you are in fact meant to take credit for other people's work.


How this connects to Greer's announced topic for the day "Shakespeare and sexual difference" I'm not in a position to explain.

I will point out, though, that the very same Laura Lee LP which features "Wedlock Is a Padlock" also contains a mournful version of the standard "Since I Fell For You." All together now:

When you just give love, and never get love,
You'd better let love depart.
I know it's so, and yet I know,
I can't get you out of my heart.

You made me leave my happy home,
You took my love, and now you've gone,
Since I fell for you.

How, um, empowering.

(Via The Currency Lad)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:02 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The label that will not die

Producer, entrepreneur, and alleged "free man in Paris" well, he did stoke the star-maker machinery behind the popular song David Geffen brought forth upon this earth in the early Seventies a new label, which he called Asylum, and offered it unto Atlantic Records, that they might distribute it.

The first artist signed to Asylum was Jackson Browne, though the first actual album issued was Judee Sill (SD 5050). Geffen took over a floundering post-Jac Holzman Elektra in 1973 and moved Asylum under the Elektra banner or maybe it was the other way around. In the middle Seventies, Asylum, as the prime outpost of L. A. pop, simply ruled, with the Eagles and Linda Ronstadt and Canadian expat Joni Mitchell all over the media map. Eventually, Geffen departed, setting up a label bearing his own name, and Elektra gradually put Asylum out of its misery.

The Warner Music Group, which still owned the label name, now has decided to resurrect Asylum once again, this time as a hip-hop shop. Things have certainly changed in the Hotel California.

(Via The Media Drop)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:40 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Well, not much debt, anyway

The goal, said City Manager Jim Couch, was to finish MAPS right and without debt.

By any reasonable reckoning, they did the job right; the nine original Metropolitan Area Projects were massive undertakings, and the results are breathtaking.

But did they go over budget? Here are the individual projects:

  • SBC Bricktown Ballpark ($34 million)
  • Bricktown Canal ($23 million)
  • Oklahoma Spirit Trolleys ($5 million)
  • Cox Convention Center renovation/expansion ($60 million)
  • Civic Center Music Hall renovation ($53 million)
  • State Fairgrounds improvements ($14 million)
  • Ford Center ($89 million)
  • North Canadian Oklahoma River development ($53.5 million)
  • Ronald J. Norick Library ($21.5 million)

Which comes to $353 million, a fair chunk of change by any measure. However, the city claims to have collected only $309 million from the temporary sales tax (since expired) that funded the projects.

Of course: government projects result in cost overruns. Nature of the beast. No doubt some of the difference was made up by the sale of naming rights. And I've had years (don't even ask) when I overspent my income by 14 percent. So I'm not as cranky about this as I could be, I suppose, especially since the City isn't actually running a deficit, unlike some governments I could name.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:19 PM to City Scene )
The music goes round and round

Few keyboard instruments have been as influential in popular music as the Hammond B-3 organ, unveiled by Laurens Hammond in 1935. In order to give it something like the flexibility of pipe organs, Hammond came up with a set of drawbars nine of them, each with eight positions that provided the kind of timbre control available with pipe-organ stops.

There were two things beyond the B-3's capabilities, though: it couldn't travel solo it required an external speaker and it couldn't do any real vibrato. The man who solved both these problems at one shot was Donald James Leslie, who in 1940 came up with an external cabinet that contained two rotating horns (one high-frequency, one low-frequency) through which the speakers projected their sound. What's more, the rotation speed and angle were adjustable over wide ranges.

Leslie's Electro Music company began building these speakers in Pasadena, California in 1945; he had offered the technology to Hammond, but was turned down. Still, organists found the Leslie to be a superb companion to the B-3, and bought them in droves. Hammond, infuriated, reworked their speaker outputs to be incompatible with the Leslie's inputs. Hammond dealers were forbidden to sell Leslies, and Hammond briefly offered an in-console rotational system that proved to be a poor substitute for a Leslie. Nothing Hammond did, though, made any difference: you bought a B-3, you went somewhere else and got a Leslie for it, and you had yourself a world-class electronic organ. Eventually, Hammond started looking the other way when their dealers stocked Leslies, and many Hammond artists would demand that Leslies be available for their live performances.

In 1965, Leslie sold his company to CBS; the following year, Hammond Laurens Hammond had retired in 1960 cut a deal with CBS to buy Leslie speakers directly. The old war was over, and in 1980 Suzuki, having acquired the Hammond company, bought out CBS's interest in Leslie.

And it turned out that Leslie speakers had uses beyond sitting beside an organ; when John Lennon worked up "Tomorrow Never Knows," the most ambitious track on Revolver, he got the voice-through-a-tunnel effect by feeding the microphone to a Leslie.

As for Don Leslie himself, he retired in 1980, still in the San Gabriel Valley, and died last week at ninety-three. I think I'll dig up some Jimmy Smith discs in his honor.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:51 PM to Tongue and Groove )
9 September 2004
Vaguely Onionesque

This guy has a future, albeit fuzzy:

When 20 year old Eric James started blogging from his mother's basement he had high expectations. Since he first began nearly three months ago he has been blogging with steadfast regularity in hopes of sharing his views, opinions, and writing with others. "I wanted everyone to see my blog and think, that's really cool," James said. But after blogging for three months, the uncomfortable reality that no one cares about what he writes on his web page is setting in. "You put your heart and soul into something, and you think it's worthwhile. I guess it just goes to show that you can't expect people to spend their time reading about the things that you yourself may find interesting as an individual," says James. "I just want to make the world a better place."

The three month old site, entitled Pessimism, has yet to accumulate more than 500 page hits, the majority of which come from James' friends whom he regularly reminds to visit the site. James makes sure to keep the 'comment' feature open to anyone who visits the site, yet claims to have received only 2 comments from people he does not know. He has received no emails regarding his page.

I will add only that apparently he has since moved out of his mother's basement and into an environment a tad less hospitable.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:20 AM to Blogorrhea )
GI party

This morning I see the man with the knife, who will evaluate the waning-but-not-gone-yet bulbousness in Keisterville and decide what to do about it.

If he sends me to the hospital, this is the last post for the day, and thank you for visiting.

(Update, noon: Well, he is sending me to the hospital, but not today; surgery will be tomorrow morning at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City. It is not expected that I will remain overnight, as this is considered fairly routine stuff. To them, anyway.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:39 AM to General Disinterest )
The Eternal Revenue Service

Francis W. Porretto would definitely like to see the Federal income tax go away:

If Dubya, Frist, and Hastert get behind this one and push hard, not only will I join the Republican Party, I?ll give it my firstborn child. (I could use a spare room, anyway.)

Fritz Schranck is a little more cautious:

As with Bruce Bartlett and several others, I'm more than a little dubious, especially considering how high the sales tax rate would need to be to match the revenue from the current income tax system.

But that's not his biggest beef:

From my perspective, beyond the fundamental problem of setting a revenue-neutral sales tax rate is a small matter of trust.

I just don't believe Congress would abolish the income tax code permanently. Even in the unlikely event that the Linder plan or something like it becomes the Federal government's primary revenue-raising system, I fully expect some future Congress to return to the income tax whenever it felt the need for more cash.

I would be happy to spend more time thinking about the difficult issues raised by a national sales tax proposal, but only on one small condition if it was accompanied by the repeal of the 16th Amendment.

Which leads to the next question: if Amendment XVI goes, does the payroll tax go with it? Or does its fixed rate, inasmuch as it is sort of "uniform throughout the United States," give it a pass under Article I, Section 8?

Zymurgy's First Law of Evolving System Dynamics kicks in right about here: once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a bigger can.

Next: Ringo Starr's spice rack

In 1965, John Lennon bought a Swiss KB Discomatic portable jukebox and stuffed it with 45s; when he left his first wife his first life, if you will behind, the jukebox stayed with Cynthia, and wound up in storage at his old home in Weybridge. John Midwinter, a music promoter from Bristol, bought it at auction at Christie's in 1989 for something like £2500.

While the Beatles' singles, in England anyway, were all Lennon and/or McCartney compositions, their early albums contained about a dozen American R&B remakes, and it should surprise no one that the contents of John's jukebox proved to be largely Stateside recordings; only three Donovan's "Turquoise," the Animals' cover of Sam Cooke's "Bring It On Home to Me," and the Big Three's "Some Other Guy" were recorded in the UK. And there's a typo in the list at #37; "Bad Boy" is actually the Larry Williams original, which the Beatles remade in 1965. (The Miracles did not issue a track by that title, but did cut a single called "Bad Girl.")

And why 41 tracks? The Discomatic held forty 45s; as it turns out, "I've Been Good to You" is the B-side of the Miracles' "What's So Good About Goodbye." Of course, this means that there were 80 songs involved. And I'm willing to bet that John actually paid more attention to "Hey Gyp," the B-side of "Turquoise," than he did to "Turquoise" itself; while the A-side is a wispy hippie dream from Donovan's "Colours" period, "Hey Gyp" is a goof on American R&B with lines like "I'll buy you a Cadillac if you just give me some of your love, girl," sufficiently insane to inspire Eric Burdon to cut a suitably-wack version with his New Animals.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:00 PM to Tongue and Groove )
Fisher will go to the dock

The Oklahoma House has voted to impeach Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher, sending five articles of impeachment to the Senate.

A list of the articles of impeachment is here. The Senate will organize a court to try the impeachment within ten days; a two-thirds majority of the 48 Senators is required to remove Fisher from office. House Speaker Larry Adair (D-Stilwell) has named a six-person board of managers to prosecute Fisher, led by Frank Davis (R-Guthrie).

Fisher says he won't resign, and Irven Box, representing Fisher, says that it is unfair for the Senate to try the commissioner while he's facing criminal charges in district court.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:47 PM to Soonerland )
10 September 2004
Off to see the wizard

And that, I hope, will be the end of that.

I'm tempted to say something about how I've got nothing to worry about, that everything will fall into place as it should, but somehow that sounds so September 10th, you know?

See you this evening, or tomorrow. I think.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:14 AM to General Disinterest )

Well, that was fun.

So far as I know, keeping in mind that I wasn't awake for any of the important stuff O Twenty-first Century Anesthesia, how wonderful thou art things went according to plan. There were, however, a few moments of serious disconcert:

  • While dragging myself out of bed this morning, I was beset with the worst possible earworm: Men at Work, "Down Under."
  • "We now ask for a deposit, even from our patients with insurance." I hasten to add, they weren't adamant about it, and they probably would have let me slide.
  • The anesthesiologist bore entirely too close a resemblance to Harry Dean Stanton.
  • The clocks were right when I arrived, but didn't feel compelled to remain so: I watched in utter confusion as thirty-five minutes, per the clock in my prep area, passed in a matter of seconds.
  • Some of these nursing types are entirely too attractive.

This is petty quibbling, though. I left here around 8:30 and was back home by three, which isn't bad at all. I thank all of you who expressed kindly thoughts, prayers, or calls for good karma on my behalf.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:17 PM to General Disinterest )
Let's call it "fair and balanced"

Now here are some uplifting notions. I particularly liked the third, "Be nice and fair to everyone, including people who are different from you." Who could possibly argue with that?

Then you click on Buttons and see stuff like this:

"All religions are fairy tales"
"A village in Texas has lost its idiot"
"Daddy's little war criminal" (with photo of George W.)
"Back off! I'm allergic to Republicans"
"It's your hell, you burn in it"

This is "nice and fair"?

The Happy Homemaker gives this the skewering it deserves.

Just say you will

NPR's All Things Considered had an obituary for Billy Davis, 72, whom they identified as an advertising executive. Which indeed he was; he created that "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" bit for Coca-Cola that grabbed the attention of the tragically-hip types at NPR, and the "If you've got the time...." spot for Miller Beer.

But before he did any of these things, Billy Davis was a singer, a songwriter, and a producer. For the first three years of their existence, he was the sort-of-fifth member of the Four Aims, later the Four Tops. (Top Lawrence Payton was his cousin.) Their demo, filled with Davis originals, got them signed to Chess Records in Chicago; they had no hits during their tenure with Chess, but Davis' songs were passed on to Chess acts like the Flamingos and the Moonglows.

It was about at this point that Davis started dating Gwen Gordy, and met Gwen's brother Berry; they began writing songs together, credited to Gordy and "Tyran Carlo," and one of them, "Reet Petite," became a small but indelible hit for Jackie Wilson in 1957. They continued to write for Jackie, and in 1958, with Gwen also credited, came up with Jackie's biggest hit up to that point: "Lonely Teardrops," which made it into the Top Ten in early 1959.

A falling out with Nat Tarnopol of Brunswick led Davis and the Gordys to set up shop on their own: Gwen, sister Anna, and Davis set up Anna Records in Detroit, which got its first hit in 1960 with "Money," a Barrett Strong single written by Berry Gordy and Janie Bradford. (Strong would later wind up as Norman Whitfield's writing partner in the late Sixties, while Whitfield was producing massive hits for the Temptations.) Harvey Fuqua of the Moonglows came on board while Berry Gordy was starting up his Motown and Tamla labels; Fuqua also came on to Gwen Gordy, and eventually Davis found himself squeezed out.

Back in Chicago, Billy Davis took over A&R at Chess, where he pushed the legendary blues label into contemporary soul; he updated Etta James, brought back the Dells, and introduced new acts like Fontella Bass, whose enormous hit "Rescue Me" in 1965 got the attention of the ad agency McCann-Erickson, who after three years finally persuaded Davis to join them as their director of music.

The rest, of course, is advertising history. And, well, I didn't want his rep as an ad man to overshadow his days in the record business, which is why this is here.

Besides, when Billy Davis was a kid, he drank Pepsi, not Coke: at the time, Pepsi was selling 12-ounce bottles for the same five cents Coke was asking for six ounces. I have no idea about his taste in beer.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:20 PM to Tongue and Groove )
11 September 2004
A letter to a friend

Dear Mo:

Yeah, I know, it's that time again. And if it's been tough being a Muslim in the States the past three years, it's really got to be tough when the 11th of September rolls around and the calls of "Never forget!" rise from the land and all you can do is hope they forget about you.

There's just one small problem, though: you're not going to be forgotten. And it's not because of anything you did, either; it's simply a fact that entirely too many acts of heinous violence have been committed by Muslims, not just on 9/11, but as some sort of ongoing process. "What's that got to do with me?" you ask.

It's simply this: while the tides of history roll over everyone, they don't necessarily maintain an even depth. We are at war, Mo. And we are at war, not because of something you did, but because of things that were done ostensibly in your name, and in the name of your God. Until such time as we can weed out every last terrorist who claims to be doing the will of Allah, it is only prudent to assume the worst. Professional complainers call this "racial profiling"; the real world calls it "self-defense."

And really, Mo, this is an area where you can actually help. I know you don't want anything to do with those murdering thugs swarming out of the Middle East, but until you say so, how does anyone else know? There has been very little outcry from the many Muslims about the activities of the few. While it may seem unfair, silence does breed suspicion, and that makes it hard on you and on your friends. It's not that you'd be speaking out against Islam; you'd be speaking out against murder.

Sure, I still believe in "innocent until proven guilty." That's a legal construct, though; it carries the force of law in the courtroom, but it's unenforceable anywhere else. Until such time as we can put an end to terrorism committed by Muslims, any Muslim, however innocent, may be the target of some sort of suspicion. For that matter, I have roots in Syria, a place which could qualify for the junior division of the Axis of Evil; they could just as easily suspect me.

Anyway, this will pass. It may take a few years; it may take a few lifetimes; but it will pass. Let's hope by this time next year, we've made some substantial progress rooting out the terrorists. After all, you live here too, Mo.

See you in about a year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:47 AM to Outgoing Mail )
What happened while I was out

A quick pass through the 'sphere to see what I missed, and apparently it was quite a lot:

  • A movement may be cranking up to recall Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune.

  • Nearly 18 percent of homes in South Carolina are "manufactured housing," formerly known as "mobile homes," formerly known as "trailers."

  • A few people, not a lot, were actually crass enough to whoop and holler during the June 5 A Prairie Home Companion when host Garrison Keillor announced the death of Ronald Reagan. (Keillor himself had only kind words for the Gipper, though this was well before the avuncular Minnesotan suffered an apparent meltdown.)

  • I'm pretty sure that when I was an Army personnel clerk, I had a Times New Roman, or at least Times Roman, typeball for the Selectric I was issued. On the other hand, I don't remember it as being a proportional font, which suggests to me that IBM reworked the typeface just enough to fit it into fixed width; certainly my typewriter wasn't capable of handling proportional fonts.

  • Aaron Hawkins of Uppity-Negro.com died this week.

I've got to quit being sick.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:07 AM to Blogorrhea )
Drive through, please

I worked at Mickey D's in the early Seventies, and, well, I don't remember anything like this: Playboy is putting together a pictorial of women who work at McDonald's.

Hmmm. Maybe I will have fries with that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:33 PM to Almost Yogurt )
12 September 2004
Thoughts from a sitz bath

What everyone wants to know, right after "So when are you dragging your sorry ass back to work?", is "How did this happen?"

I don't really know for sure. But I do know this much: stress reduces the reserve capacity of one's immune system, and bacteria are opportunistic little bastards. I suspect it was simply the combination of both these ingredients; attacks I would have routinely fought off during quieter periods actually got the better of me this time.

And really, it's rare I get knocked down like that, so I'm treating this as one of the standard post-adolescent You Are Not Indestructible reminders.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:06 AM to General Disinterest )
PJ and the bare

In regard to that Jonathan Klein crack about the typical blogger being "a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas," I wish to state for the record that I haven't owned any pajamas for approximately thirty-five years.

And that's nothing, compared to this: Beth Donovan isn't even a guy, let alone a pajama owner.

(And apparently she doesn't always sit in her living room, either.)

Sunday spottings (for once more)

Someone once asked why I would go to the trouble of visiting parts of town that are generally considered, um, less desirable. It's simple: I don't want to get into the habit of thinking about a 600-square-mile city in terms of the few blocks that surround my house. Things happen all over town, and given the priorities of the press, which enjoys harping on tragedies even more than boasting about some dubious manifestation of "progress," I'd just as soon see for myself.

So I was near Linwood and Blackwelder today, where small firms under the general heading of "light industrial" vie for curb space with homes built around the time of World War I. And every other block, there's a church, and this being Sunday, those churches were busy. (I caught sight of an old-fashioned revival tent on a double lot.) A few black faces, but mostly brown; kids on bicycles, men unloading trucks, women in their Sunday best.

Now the roads through there aren't great, and I suspect the rest of the city's infrastructure is probably an upgrade or two behind schedule, but this struck me as a relatively nice, if obviously not at all upscale, neighborhood. (I spot-checked a couple of houses for sale, and you can still buy in around here for thirty-five to fifty-five thousand.) Professional worriers, faced with a few blocks like this, would undoubtedly start screaming "Blight!" and calling for intervention. And indeed, there's room for improvement, starting with what appears to be, at first glance, a higher-than-average crime rate. But I am becoming persuaded that the kiss of death for any neighborhood comes at the exact moment when the studies and the surveys and the recommendations start coming out and the focus shifts from "How can we make this area better?" to "How can we get these people out of here?" I, for my part, am loath to tear up an area of affordable housing just because it's not pretty.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:48 PM to City Scene )
Well, crud

The Oklahoma RedHawks won their division with an 81-63 record, eight games ahead of the Memphis Sounds, but the post-season is already over: the Iowa Cubs will be going to the Pacific Coast League championship, having dispatched the 'Hawks in five games, including a 6-2 shellacking this afternoon that wasn't as close as it sounds.

Yeah, I know, there's always next year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:38 PM to Base Paths )
13 September 2004
Not with a bang

This note showed up on the Web site of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives:

Semiautomatic Assault Weapon Update

By statute, the prohibitions relating to semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices expired on September 13, 2004. As a result, certain sections of the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, and its implementing regulations, 27 CFR Part 478, are no longer in effect.

This page explains matters further.

Do I feel any safer? Not especially. On the other hand, I'd just like to say that I really, really like the idea of Federal laws that actually expire.

It's a living

Though probably not the easiest to explain to your friends.

Which reminds me: Are the events of this past week paying me back for this?

(Via Erica, who traces this, um, meme back to here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:32 AM to Dyssynergy )
All of the people, all of the time

A cousin of mine has informed me that she's been asked to run for the City Council in Austin, Texas, which prompted me to check out the way they run things in the City of the Violet Crown.

Turns out that Austin has a council-manager form of government, something I'm familiar with, but there's a twist: all six of the council members are elected at large. Which means that whatever power base she's built up in her section of town (just north of the University) doesn't mean a whole lot, since she's got to make her pitch to the entire city of 650,000.

I admit to being unable to understand why this is supposed to be a Good Thing. If each of the council members represents the whole city, why do they need six of them? The traditional complaint about ward representation, as used in Oklahoma City and more recently in Tulsa, has been that it encourages members of the council to think about neighborhood needs rather than the needs of the city as a whole, but the fact remains: neighborhoods do have different needs. Residents of Balcones Drive in northwest Austin don't necessarily have the same concerns as residents of Springdale Road on the east side.

There is, of course, a practical limit to how far down you can scale these things. I live in Ward 2 in Oklahoma City, which extends roughly from NW 23rd to NW 122nd, from Broadway to Portland, excluding areas adjacent to the Lake Hefner Parkway. This ward is currently represented by Sam Bowman, who lives in the Cleveland neighborhood, north of 23rd and east of May, at the southern end of the ward. It would be disingenuous to argue that everyone in Ward 2 is dealing with the same set of issues. But were we using at-large voting here, we'd have to guess which of the council members might be most interested in our problems if we wanted something done; as it stands, we take our problems to Sam Bowman.

And truth be told, I don't know how well a neighborhood activist like my cousin, who is used to hearing from a few hundred folks on a regular basis, will take to having more than half a million breathing down her neck.

Beautiful dreamer

Courtesy of the Baseball Crank, the last days of Stephen Foster, American composer, as recounted by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre.

This paragraph caught me:

While writing "Old Folks at Home," for example, Foster needed a Southern-sounding placename to fit his opening lyric's "Way down upon the (beat, beat) River." He couldn't find one that fit so he just knocked a syllable off Florida's Suwanee River.

Which, if you've ever seen the Suwanee, you know the old folks would have abandoned at their earliest opportunity. South Carolina myth, of which there is an abundance, holds that the river Foster really meant to enshrine was the Pee Dee, but he probably never saw it either; most of Foster's tender, wistful Americana was written in the city of New York.

Peripherally: MacIntyre, for his part, is best known at Surlywood for writing The Woman Between The Worlds, a Victorian-era science-fiction novel written in the middle 1990s, an utterly unfilmable story that I hope to see someday translated to film.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:15 PM to Tongue and Groove )
Blocking up the scenery?

There aren't a lot of political yard signs at the moment: on my block, there's a total of one. Of course, the election is still seven weeks away, so there's still time for the little buggers to blossom, but for now, there's just the one.

Apparently, had I stayed in Charleston, where I lived during the 1960s, I might not be allowed to have such a thing today:

From Crowfield Plantation in Goose Creek to new subdivisions west of the Ashley, neighborhood covenants prevent homeowners from putting their politics on display. That means no John Kerry signs. Ditto for George Bush.

Of course, the new arrivals are supposed to sign these things voluntarily, but....

"If you can have any sign, then you can have a political sign," said Charleston lawyer and ACLU member Armand Derfner. "The Supreme Court has said you cannot discriminate against political speech. Period."

Any restriction against outdoor political advertising would likely be struck down in court if someone pursued it, Derfner said.

If anyone pursues it, I'd like to hear about it.

14 September 2004
Good-faith guesstimates

Brad Carson has pulled even with Tom Coburn in the race for the Senate seat being vacated by Don Nickles. A poll of "500 likely Oklahoma voters" shows Carson at 39 percent and Coburn at 37 percent; calculated margin of error is 4.4 percent.

Michael Bates has been parsing the poll numbers, and this statistic he turned up is most interesting: Coburn leads in four of the five Congressional districts, but is trailing badly 58 to 25 percent in the Second, the district which he once represented and which Carson represents now.

I did a little poking around in the results [link requires Adobe Reader] myself, and found a few bits worth mentioning:

  • State Democrats are evenly split on the Presidential ballot: Bush leads 43-42 among Democrats, with 15 percent still on the fence. (82 percent of Republicans are already in the Bush camp.)

  • There's a gender gap, but probably not the one you think: Bush is doing better among women (63-25) than among men (56-33).

  • The lottery (SQ 705) might actually pass: 57 percent said they'd vote for it. Democrats favor it overwhelmingly, and Republicans tilt slightly towards it.

  • SQ 711, the anti-gay-marriage measure, is a two-to-one shoo-in.

Of course, anything can happen in the next few weeks.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:59 AM to Soonerland )
Truth in advertising

It was Sinclair Broadcasting's NewsCentral that got it first: from the archives of the Navy, they obtained the After-Action Report written by Lt. (jg) John Kerry after the incident for which Kerry won a Silver Star.

Jim at It'z News to Me caught it first on WBFF-TV, the Fox station in Baltimore, Sinclair's hometown. (I caught a replay on Oklahoma City's Fox station, KOKH-TV.) Jim has links to the complete NewsCentral report.

And Captain Ed, who knows more about these things than I do, reads and concludes:

When you look at the action on the spot report, it reflects well on the young Lieutenant Kerry. Although it's difficult to see how this action should have resulted in a Silver Star, it would seem a commendation of some sort would be appropriate. It's all of the exaggeration, lies, and paperwork alterations after the fact that calls Kerry's character into serious question.

Given the tendency of some of us to think the worst of John Kerry no matter what a tendency Kerry and his campaign handlers have encouraged in recent months it's something of a relief to hear that there was in fact a time when his instincts were sound and functional.


John Cole reports that the following look better, or at least as good, on high-definition television:

  1. Natalie Portman
  2. Heather Locklear
  3. Jennifer Garner
  4. Beyoncé Knowles
  5. All female cast members of NBC's Las Vegas
  6. Nature, in particular oceanography
  7. All sports

The following, however, are not improved:

All people who are not Natalie Portman, Heather Locklear, Jennifer Garner, or Beyoncé Knowles.

It is, of course, reassuring to know that John Cole has his priorities in order, but this isn't, at least to me, a compelling reason to spend the extra bucks for HDTV.


Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:56 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans?

Paul at Wizbang describes what happens if Ivan comes ashore at the worst possible place:

The tidal surge will top the levees and the bowl will fill from river to lake. The studies say that if we took a direct hit from a category 4 or 5 storm, a city of one million people could be under as much as 30 feet of water. According to the experts there could be over 50,000 dead. What's more, since we would have to pump the water out the bowl, they say the city could be underwater for as long as 10 months.

I'm hundreds of miles away and I'm coming down with the chills.


Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:00 PM to Dyssynergy )
15 September 2004
Forging ahead

Susanna Cornett has come up with a possible profile of the person who faked those infamous CBS memos:

I'm coming down on the side of rabid-leftist geeky on-the-fringe-of-the-important-people guy (I think it was a guy, yes) in his late 20s, who maybe has a dad or an uncle or someone who was in the military, possibly in Texas, who wanted to see Bush go down. He handed it off to someone who wanted to believe, who then handed it off to Rather who wanted to believe. Without the ones so desperately wanting to believe, this would not have gotten legs. And if it hadn't gotten legs, no one would have been able to cut them off at the knees.

This makes as much sense as any speculation I've seen, and far more than the ludicrous notion that the Bush campaign engineered the whole thing. Karl Rove may be the second coming of Machiavelli, but I doubt even he could have plotted something this intricate in advance.

And whoever the culprit...

CBS must atone, preferably along the lines recommended by Beldar:

Dan Rather and everyone else at CBS News who had direct managerial authority over, and supervisory involvement in, the production of last Wednesday night's 60 Minutes II broadcast about the Killian memos must be fired. Not retired. Not pensioned off. Not allowed to resign. Not given 30 days' or even three days' notice.

They must be fired instantly, effective immediately, "for cause" and "with prejudice," forfeiting all unvested future benefits from their employment. They should be escorted by security personnel from the building, with their belongings sent to them in due course after they've been screened for relevant evidence. All of their computers, files, and other items of potential evidentiary value must be segregated immediately and secured under lock and key with a tight and explicit chain of custody. There must be no spoliation of evidence permitted.

This must be done publicly before the close of business on Wednesday, September 15, 2004, and preferably before noon.

If it's not, then the executives who failed to do the firings should be fired before the close of business on Thursday, September 16, 2004.

This is not, I point out, due to any particular animus toward CBS: this is the absolute minimum CBS must do to retain even a shred of credibility as a provider of news.

And then the investigations will begin:

If Dan Rather is still an employee of CBS News by next Monday, then the appropriate committees of the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate should convene public joint investigative hearings immediately, with Dan Rather as their second subpoenaed witness.

The first witness must be an appropriate custodian of records from CBS News, who must be directed to bring every shred of paper, every email, every piece of videotape, every computer file, every outtake, every script, every memorandum of staff meetings and every bit of advice rendered by inside or outside legal counsel to CBS News prior to the broadcast.

A little bit of history here:

Viacom was spun off from CBS in the early 1970s in response to an FCC ruling prohibiting broadcast and cable ownership in the same market. With one asset to speak of old CBS reruns available for repackaging Viacom built itself into a media power, with connections to broadcast through its syndication properties, and ownership of cable networks such as Showtime and MTV (which it acquired from Warner Bros. and American Express). In 1987 Viacom was taken over by Sumner Redstone's National Amusements; in 1999 Viacom bought CBS, its former corporate parent.

Since just about all mass-media firms are assembled from similar components these days, and those components are largely interchangeable could Sumner Redstone be thinking about unloading CBS right about now?

(Update, 18 September, 6:20 pm: Fusilier Pundit has been contemplating the possibilities of a spinoff of CBS.)

(Update, 19 September, 8:45 pm: Sumner Redstone has sold off 341,500 shares, though I don't know if this was a CBS-related action or if it might have something to do with the pending sell-off of Blockbuster. It is, however, less than 1 percent of his equity in the company.)

Entering the Terrible Twos

That's right, buoys and gulls, the Carnival of the Vanities is two years old, and hosting the little brat this week: its actual parent at Silflay Hraka.

As always, the Carnival features some of the best stuff churned out in the past seven days by your favorite pajama-clad pundits, and now that it's come home again, let us all thank Bigwig for making this event not only possible but inevitable.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:10 AM to Blogorrhea )
Greatest Hits, volume XI

Originally posted 30 June 2001

Justin Hayward would certainly never say so, but a newcomer picking up the Best of the Moody Blues compilation, issued by The Label Formerly Known As PolyGram in 1996, might well conclude that the Moodies were basically Hayward's backup band. For some reason, this air of Justincentricity bugged me. Admittedly, Hayward and/or John Lodge wrote most of the group's hits, but the two-year period before Hayward and Lodge replaced Denny Laine and Clint Warwick produced a bunch of worthy 45s, the second of which "Go Now!", a cover of Bessie Banks' 1963 American R&B ballad made the US Top Ten and remains the band's biggest hit in Britain. While the Best of... set does include "Go Now!", and Hayward makes it clear in the liner notes (an interview with John Peel) that he had nothing to do with it, the casual listener could easily assume that nothing happened with the band until the Days of Future Passed LP.

To the rescue, the Dutch label BR Music, which has issued a two-CD set with the unwieldy title the singles + (BS 8123-2), snagged by yours truly today at a Best Buy store for a meager $15. On hand are all the UK singles (including a couple of B-sides) from the 1964-1966 Laine/Warwick era, the two flops that followed (one by Hayward, one by Mike Pinder), and then the Usual Material with, unexpectedly enough, the 45 version of "Question", which diverges wildly from the version on A Question of Balance. It's not gloriously remastered like the PolyGram set, and the packaging is not entirely cheese-free, but as a representation of the historical record, it's a must.

Speaking of historical records, the August Playboy showed up today, in which Go-Go's stalwart Belinda Carlisle shows up in her birthday suit. I honestly don't know what she expects this to do for her career, or for that of the group, but damn, she does look nice, and since Playmates have generally tended to be about twenty years old or so, I make it a point to applaud, and to appreciate, pictorials of women twice that age. Not that I have any better chance of seeing them in real life, either.

What we can learn from hurricanes

Via email from a friend on the Redneck Riviera, way too close to Ivan to suit either of us:

  1. An oak tree on the ground looks four times bigger than it did standing up.

  2. Even after all these years it is still nice to spend time with Col. Mustard in the ballroom with the lead pipe.

  3. When house hunting look for closets with lots of leg room.

  4. Water from the shower is much colder than water from the kitchen sink and tastes just as bad.

  5. AA, C and D are the only alphabet we need.

  6. The four-way stop is still an ingenious reflection of civility.

  7. Radio can be the best way to watch television.

  8. Chainsaw-wielding men are nothing to be afraid of.

  9. SUVs are the best makeshift tents on the market.

  10. You can use your washing machine as a cooler.

  11. It's your God-given right to sit on your back porch and eat Chinese takeout by candlelight in your underwear.

  12. We shouldn't complain about "useless" tools in the garage we actually DO need a generator.

  13. You can't spell "priceless" without I-C-E.

  14. Downed power lines make excellent security systems.

  15. Lakes can generate waves.

  16. Gasoline is a value at any price.

  17. Cell phones: Breaking up isn't hard to do.

  18. The life blood of any disaster recovery is COFFEE.

  19. The need for your dog to go out and take care of business is directly proportional to the severity of the storm.

  20. Candlelight is better than Botox it takes years off your appearance.

  21. Air conditioning: BEST. INVENTION. EVER.

  22. Water is a comfort food. But 3-day-old Cheetos are too.

  23. Shadow animals on the wall still fun.

  24. No matter how hard the wind blows, roadside campaign signs will survive.

  25. You should never admit to having power at your house in the presence of coworkers or neighbors who do not.

  26. There's a plus to having NOTHING in the refrigerator.

  27. Getting through the day should be an Olympic event.

  28. The movie theater can be a most pleasant place, even if the feature is Alien vs Predator.

  29. Somebody's got it worse.

  30. Somebody's got it better. Obviously, they're getting preferential treatment.

Thanks, Deb, and you too, Squiddy.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:52 PM to Dyssynergy )
Sealed with a kissoff

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has voted 3-2 to abandon the county's 47-year-old seal in an effort to avoid a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The revised seal will drop the image of the Hollywood Bowl with the cross over it, remove the oil derricks, and replace the goddess Pomona with a Native American woman carrying a bowl of acorns.

If this isn't silly enough for you, LAist has a recommendation for a new design.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:25 PM to Dyssynergy )
Where have you gone, Joe Isuzu?

Japan's oldest maker of motor vehicles they built their first car in 1916 has fallen on hard times in the US. For 2005, the model line has been cut from three trucks to one, and that one, the Ascender, is not a compelling buy, inasmuch as General Motors, which owns 12 percent of Isuzu, sells basically the same truck at Chevy, GMC, Buick and (with a heavy dose of artificial Swedener) Saab dealerships.

Still, I'm not ready to count them out yet. Isuzu still sells well outside the US, and in 1999 GM owned forty-nine percent of the company; three years later Isuzu managed to buy back most of the General's equity, and they plan to repurchase the rest and go it alone after the 2006 model year. They might even sell cars again here, something they haven't done since 1994.

As for Joe, inveterate liar that he was, I assume he's found a job in Big Media.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:41 PM to Driver's Seat )
16 September 2004
Post-teenage lobotomy

I mean, this cannot be happening. Johnny Ramone has died.

First it was Joey, then Dee Dee. I hope to hell Tommy's well.

I mean, I expected the bands I grew up with to get old, because I was getting old. The Ramones were supposed to spit in the eye of all that maturity crap. Three chords, no waiting, glue, then Carbona, and we're gonna beat on the brat, and whaddaya think of that?

I think I wanna be sedated.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:01 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Overly-targeted marketing

A spammer, identified as "Tammie Ortega," unloaded upon me today an offer for, and I quote, "drugs out the ass."

Further comment from me would be superfluous.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:53 AM to Scams and Spams )
A jubilee in Nichols Hills

Well, it will probably be slightly restrained: this enclave within Oklahoma City's north side is not known for being loud and boisterous.

Still, a seventy-fifth anniversary is something to celebrate, and the founding of Nichols Hills in 1929 was fairly remarkable, if only because the motivations for its founding were such a departure from the norm for Oklahoma City over the preceding forty years.

Mrs George R. Bixler, who was town clerk in Nichols Hills for many years, described it this way:

One man who had accumulated sufficient worldly goods, turned a few years back from building just houses, and decided to express his idea of a community where homes and only homes would be the paramount issue. This man, the late Dr. G. A. Nichols, had one ambition back in 1929, and this was to develop an area near Oklahoma City which would be an ideal place for homes and families.

Every home in the community was to be protected against encroachment of undesirable surroundings by permanent building restrictions. The streets, he decided, would be laid out with the express purpose of slowing down people with that deadly mania for "getting some place fast." The streets were not to be thoroughfares. They were, rather, to invite leisurely travel. It was the founder?s idea that no one should want to travel at an excessive speed through the hills. They were to be the "hills of homes," to be enjoyed by all who passed that way. Such, then, was the founder?s conception of Nichols Hills.

Dr. Nichols bought 2,700 acres of rolling prairies and farm land north of Oklahoma City. From Kansas City he brought in a firm of engineers to lay out the streets as he visualized them. The old fashioned "checker-board idea" of cut and dried straight streets and square blocks had no place in this new development. The streets were to follow the natural terrain of the country side, with the entrance to be at N.W. 63rd and Western. The long graceful sweep of the curving streets, he decided, were not to go anyplace particular but were just to roam around the hills past the homes.

The natural prairie was attractive and effective. But, it was decided, that where homes were to be built there must be trees, and lots of them. Consequently, a whole forest of trees were moved in from distant places. In that first year more than 5,600 large shade trees and 35,000 smaller ones were transplanted to the new community of Nichols Hills. There also were hundreds of different kinds of pine, spruce and junipers planted. Plots for small parks dotted the whole community, and there were larger park areas in every available space.

The entrance at Northwest 63rd and Western was marked by two stately towers of true Normandy architecture, and Avondale Drive took off from there in a northwesterly direction. All street names at that time were scooped from the English countryside. While the new streets were still a gleam in the developers eyes, people who wanted to get away from the corner drug store and the hustle and bustle of the city bought the lots from a piece of paper. They began to construct their homes, and before they were finished the paved streets rolled past their doors and everyone was very happy.

And indeed, if you drive on the grid in north Oklahoma City, things change radically once you cross 63rd; even Pennsylvania Avenue, a busy city thoroughfare, becomes a winding residential street with a 25-mph speed limit.

It's still a lovely place, though its lack of room for expansion it's surrounded on three sides by Oklahoma City, and the city of The Village, incorporated in 1950, lies directly to the north has resulted in the occasionally-unlovely prospect of fine period homes being torn down and replaced with contemporary faux châteaux. There haven't been that many demolitions yet, though, and I suspect the city strictly limits the number of permits it grants for such things, so I rather think Dr. Nichols' countryside will look about the same (give or take a few sport-utility vehicles) over the next seventy-five years.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:49 AM to City Scene )
Did you ever have to make up your mind?

It's not often easy, and not often kind, if you're a 21st-century liberal; the contemporary liberal mindset, says Marianne M. Jennings, is hard-coded into its holders' DNA, and the results are obvious:

Equivocation seems to be engrained in the liberal mind, but equivocation is but a symptom of a genetic fear of finality. For folks who want to impose upon us one great social experiment after another, liberals hold an astonishing fear of final decisions. No death penalty because it's too final and what if we made a mistake? Abortion is necessary because what if birth control fails us or we fail birth control, or we just change our minds post-conception? You can almost hear the pens scratching prescription pads in the blue states as the Paxil and Zoloft refills are doubled. Vanquish the very thought of living with consequences of choices!

Mr. Kerry cannot make up his mind. How cruel this flip-flopper moniker for Mr. Kerry! The poor soul is afflicted with liberal DNA. So were Carter, Clinton, and the indecisive Dukakis. All Clinton staffers' books describe Clinton's agonizing decision process of debating, redebating, and generally flogging issues to death. Few CEOs are Democrats because one does not get to that level without being decisive. Who started think tanks? Liberal DNA because you can make a living just debating what to do. Who dominates universities? Liberal DNA because you never have to produce results; you can just think, ponder, and equivocate.

Reminds me of the Judean People's Front People's Front of Judea.

Let it be said that there's nothing wrong with thinking things through, and that entirely too many notions have emerged from the Bush administration with little evidence that any such thought ever took place. (To pick an example not entirely at random, there's the President's immigration-reform package, which is a "reform" only in the sense that it changes the shape of something.) Still, BushCo occasionally acts; the Democrats promise to do better, but they haven't finished burnishing all the fine points yet. Perhaps this is an argument for electing more Democrats to Congress, on the basis that gridlock is goodlock.

(Muchas gracias: John Rosenberg.)

17 September 2004
Things I learned this week

Convalescence has its drawbacks, but it did enable me to catch up on the world around me, so to speak. And here's some of what I discovered:

  • John Kerry is doomed.

  • Unless California moves now to cut auto emissions even further, thousands of San Franciscans will die by 2100.

  • The Constutional amendment proposed by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), which would allow 20-year naturalized citizens to serve as President, is widely seen as a step to get California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger into the White House. However, it could just as easily work for Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan.

  • It is apparently possible, almost, to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" to the tune of "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." (I have lost the link to the source; if you know it, please advise.)

  • Of the two major parties, the Republicans are generally seen as the more religious and/or sanctimonious. And the 2004 GOP platform invokes the name of God four times. The Democratic platform, however, has seven references to God.

  • Even if you trade motor vehicles even up, with no money exchanged, Rhode Island will still charge you sales tax.

I feel so much brighter now.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:20 AM to Blogorrhea )
Long live the King

The King of the Oldies, that is. His name was Robert Kurt Curtis, he was 53 years old, and he had spent just about half of those years documenting the rock and roll, the soul, the dance music of his beloved Florida.

This year, all that documentation came out in book form, and a monster of a book it is. Or "books," perhaps, since it takes more than one to bind the nearly 2000 pages of photos, charts, interviews and raw data.

And on the very day publisher Florida Media Inc. was sending this behemoth to the press, Kurt Curtis dropped dead, of causes yet to be determined.

"I want to be remembered," he had said, "as the guy who saved the history of Florida rock music."

Which, of course, he was.

(Muchas gracias: Costa Tsiokos.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:14 AM to Tongue and Groove )
We're not as think as you drunk we are

Men's Health magazine, tossing together a salad of disparate data bits, has come up with a list of the Least Sloshed Cities in the US, and at the top are Montgomery, Alabama; Yonkers, New York; and Hialeah, Florida. (I assume this data got mined before Florida became the hurricane capital of the solar system.) All these towns scored A-plus on a combination of DWI arrest rates, alcohol-related traffic deaths, and mortality rates for various ethanol-related liver diseases.

Scoring an F were New Orleans, Spokane, Kansas City, Albuquerque, Anchorage, El Paso, and worst of all, Denver. (Must be those Rocky Mountain Blogger Bashes.) Here in the Okay City, we're tied (with Seattle) for 82nd out of 101, with a solid D.

I think this calls for a drink.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:37 AM to Dyssynergy )
Keeping Washington out of Rathergate

There has been some call for a Congressional investigation into CBS News practices in the wake of the network's recent, um, malfeasance. Patterico explains why this is a bad idea:

There are few things that the government does better than the marketplace. I don't think that policing the media is, or should be, one of them. I think that governmental involvement in such matters is fundamentally inconsistent with the ideals of the First Amendment, which is designed to keep government out of the media's hair.

Also, I think that the power of the internet is developing an increasingly effective mechanism for the redress of grievances against the mainstream media, as the CBS documents scandal has demonstrated.

Meanwhile, the Interocitor recommends a different sort of governmental action:

While CBS has the freedom of the press to air nearly any damn thing it wants, there is no requirement that anyone else accept them as an objective news agency. I may be wrong, but I doubt al Jazeera or the Weekly World News has a seat in the White House pressroom, Air Force One, or rotates onto the occasional press pool. So, a humble suggestion:

Kick them out until they apologize!

No questions at the press conference, no phone calls returned, no contact of any kind with the Administration. Freeze them out. Treat them as the pariahs they are. Their freedom to publish does not extend to anyone's duty to co-operate.

Better yet, give their spot in the pool to the Weekly World News.

Actually, this will look like a spate of spite on the part of the White House, and for the moment, I think it's probably more useful for the Bush administration to keep them around, just to ward off the inevitable Kerrying-on from the Democrats. Still, the larger point here is that Big Media are accustomed to thinking of themselves as being owed a certain level of deference, and putting a few creases in this belief might be worth it in the long run.

Of course, should it turn out that there's an actual conspiracy, in the legal sense, behind the machinations at CBS News then bring on the investigators, and let the chips fall.

18 September 2004
The last few bars

Lynn S. says that these are the greatest symphonic endings of all time:

Dvorak's Stabat Mater
Beethoven's 5th Symphony
Dvorak's 9th Symphony
Rossini's William Tell Overture
Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain (the Rimsky-Korsakov orchestration)

An impressive set. I might suggest the following for #6 and below:

  • Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3 (always makes me hyperventilate)

  • Ravel's Boléro (yeah, I know, we're glad it's over)

  • Haydn's Symphony No. 60 (the fake ending after the fourth movement; there are two movements to come)

  • Holst's The Planets (pick either the end of "Mars," which is thunderous and scary, or the end of "Neptune", which is ethereal and almost as scary)

Hmmm. Wonder if next we should try beginnings?

(Update, 8:20 pm: Greg Hlatky offers his Top Ten, which duplicates none of the above.)

Subduing the Party Monster

I have no idea whether they checked all of Macaulay Culkin's major crevices when they booked him into the Oklahoma County Jail yesterday on charges of possession of what the government persists in calling "substances," including six-tenths of an ounce of marijuana. On the other hand, they did let him go once he'd posted $4000 bond.

One thing bothers me: at 4 pm, the time of the initial bust, 70 mph on I-44 would normally put one at the back of the traffic pack even at 5 pm, traffic is often moving at close to 75 mph so I have to assume that the improper lane change was what drew the attention of the gendarmes.

Which, for that stretch of 44, surely must be a first.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:01 AM to City Scene )
Don't get sick in the Great White North

Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, a group which might be characterized by Big Media as a "conservative think tank" if it's just a "think tank" with no qualifier, they mean it leans left has written a book called Miracle Cure: How to Solve America's Health-Care Crisis and Why Canada Isn't the Answer. Some of what she's found out:

In theory, Canadians enjoy an almost ideal system the government pays for all necessary health care, which is delivered by private practice physicians and independent hospitals. The day-to-day reality is starkly different. When Canadians need care, they face a series of waits: one for access to a primary care doctor, another for access to scarce diagnostic equipment, and another for the necessary procedure.

Between 1993 and 2003, the median waiting time from referral by a general practitioner to treatment increased by 90 percent, from 9.3 weeks to 17.7 weeks, according to an annual survey of physicians by the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute. For cancer patients, the waiting time for medical oncology more than doubled from 2.5 weeks to 6.1 weeks, and the waiting time for radiation oncology increased from 5.3 weeks to 8.1 weeks.

For comparison, I offer the time-frames from my recent illness, which I consider to have begun on the 4th of September, that being the day I decided to seek medical assistance rather than ride it out. The 4th, I note, is a Saturday.

  • Waiting time to see primary physician: 58 minutes

  • Time between referral to specialist and actually being seen by specialist: 18 hours, 45 minutes

  • Time between being seen by specialist and actual surgery: 25 hours, 30 minutes

  • Out-of-pocket expenditure: To be determined, estimated $420

I can see why Canadians might want to spend a few loonies south of the border.

(Via Eternity Road)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:59 AM to Dyssynergy )
Saturday spottings (on time)

Construction has begun, it appears I saw no signage, but the location and the size match up on the Embassy Suites hotel on the eastern edge of Bricktown, which is supposed to open in January 2006, and which will give owner John Q. Hammons three of the five major hotels in downtown Oklahoma City. (Hammons also owns the Renaissance and the Courtyard by Marriott; the other two are the Westin scheduled to morph into a Sheraton and the not-yet-reborn Hilton Skirvin.)

Meanwhile, Harkins Theatres says its new 16-screen motion-picture showplace will open on the first of October. I've got my doubts, but I figure they'll do their darnedest, especially since the Centennial Fountain near the entrance is now up and running.

I saw quite a few new Bush/Cheney yard signs today, though no new signs for Kerry/Edwards. On the other hand, Kerry stickers seem to outnumber Bush stickers, at least on the cars that were in front of me. Whether this reflects anything other than what the local parties were able to hand out this past week remains to be seen.

A billboard on the south side: YES ON 712 / Education and Jobs. State Question 712 [link requires Adobe Reader] is the State-Tribal Gaming Act, which provides the following:

The Act contains a Model Tribal Gaming Compact. Indian tribes that agree to the Compact can use new types of gaming machines. These machines are used for gambling. Compacting tribes could also offer some card games.

If at least four Indian tribes enter into the Compact, three State licensed racetracks could use the same electronic gaming machines.

The Act limits the number of gaming machines racetracks can use. The Act does not limit the number of machines that Indian tribes can use.

The State Horse Racing Commission would regulate machine gaming at racetracks. A tribal agency would regulate authorized gaming by a tribe. The Office of State Finance would monitor authorized tribal gambling.

Proceeds from authorized gaming at racetracks go to:

  1. the racetrack;
  2. the owners of winning horses,
  3. horsemen's organizations,
  4. breed organizations, and
  5. the State to be used for educational purposes.

Some of the proceeds from authorized gaming by Indian tribes goes to the State. The State would use these proceeds for educational purposes and compulsive gambling programs.

Pitching this as an "education and jobs" measure, I believe, is highly dubious.

And just a little bit of Mitsubitching to the fellow in the dingy white Diamante: if you're going to have dual fart-can exhausts, you might consider actually fastening them to the car rather than have them dangling a few inches above the pavement.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:14 PM to City Scene )
19 September 2004
Make mine a No. 2

The Happy Homemaker has turned up a menu, probably dating to the 1960s judging by the prices, from a Sonic Drive-In.

Of course, I would rather not have known that Tater Tots are "shredded & molded," but you can't have everything.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:11 AM to Worth a Fork )
I approved this post before I rejected it

Well, this makes perfect sense:

First there are only two ways to go. One way is neither right nor wrong and the other way isn't.

No, actually, it isn't John Kerry.

(Via Dawn Eden)

Third-party news

Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik will make it to the ballot in 48 states and the District of Columbia, assuming all the current petitions get through the appropriate state election boards. The two exceptions are New Hampshire and Oklahoma, where the party's petition efforts fell short; the party is challenging the Oklahoma board in court on the basis that the state's ballot-access laws are unnecessarily onerous, and Richard Winger reports in Ballot Access News that there may be a challenge in New Hampshire:

Since a major party candidate can win a statewide primary, without regard to whether he or she has substantial support in both of New Hampshire's U.S. House districts, the party may argue that the state has no interest in requiring a petitioning candidate for that same office to show substantial support in both of New Hampshire's US House districts.

New Hampshire law calls for 1500 petition signatures in each district, 3000 in all. (Oklahoma, with about three times the population, requires 51,781 statewide.) New Hampshire does allow write-ins, so if Badnarik can pull 4 percent of the vote, the party will automatically qualify for the ballot in 2008. Oklahoma does not permit write-ins.

As of this writing, Richard Winger reports that the Constitution Party, whose ticket is headed by Michael A. Paroutka, is on the ballot in 38 states and pending in three others; Ralph Nader's independent candidacy, also backed by the Reform Party, is on in 35 and pending in eight more; the Green Party's David Cobb is on in 28 states with one pending; and the Socialist Workers' Party, which has nominated Róger Calero, has qualified in fourteen states with one more under consideration. None of these candidates will appear on the Oklahoma ballot.

Deconstructing Danny

James Lileks imagines Rathergate for art-history students:

We understand that there has been some controversy over the newly discovered Michelangelo painting featured in 60 Minutes' expose of curatorial malfeasance at the Metropolitan Museum. Some outside experts note that close analysis of the wood frame reveals the presense of modern staples, and while we agree this is curious as are the words "Abilene Frame Shop" engraved into the wood it is hardly conclusive. Others have questioned the use of acrylic instead of oil paints, and the presence of nylon fibers embedded in the brushstrokes have led some to question whether the painting is indeed 500 years old. These are issues worth pursuing, and we will redouble our efforts. But it's a little bit frustrating to see all this reduced to a debate over slivers and threads, instead of the real question, namely, how did Michelangelo's "Madonna of the Dealership" include a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air rendered with such astonishing detail, half a millennium before the car was designed? That?s the issue we think should be the focus of our attention.

Not that CBS would cover such a thing on 60 Minutes anyway; this is Sunday morning, pre-Face the Nation fare, and besides Charles Kuralt is dead.

And Woody Allen, of all people, anticipated this situation. In a short story ("The Scrolls") originally published in The New Republic (!) in the early Seventies, Allen posited that a newly-discovered set of Dead Sea Scrolls might not be entirely genuine:

Scholars will recall that several years ago a shepherd, wandering in the Gulf of Aqaba, stumbled upon a cave containing several large clay jars and also two tickets to the ice show. Inside the jars were discovered six parchment scrolls with ancient incomprehensible writing which the shepherd, in his ignorance, sold to the museum for $750,000 apiece. Two years later the jars turned up in a pawnshop in Philadelphia. One year later the shepherd turned up in a pawnshop in Philadelphia and neither was claimed.

Archaeologists originally set the date of the scrolls at 4000 B.C., or just after the massacre of the Israelites by their benefactors. The writing is a mixture of Sumerian, Aramaic, and Babylonian and seems to have been done by either one man over a long period of time, or several men who shared the same suit. The authenticity of the scrolls is currently in great doubt, particularly since the word "Oldsmobile" appears several times in the text, and the few fragments that have finally been translated deal with familiar religious themes in a more than dubious way. Still, excavationist A. H. Bauer has noted that even thought the fragments seem totally fraudulent, this is probably the greatest archeological find in history with the exception of the recovery of his cuff links from a tomb in Jerusalem.

Truly everything old is new again.

20 September 2004
The name isn't real, either

Former stripper Jessica Conrad has written a book called Dance Naked: A Guide to Unleashing Your Inner Hottie (New York: Harmony Books, 2004). Conrad believes that one way to improve your love life assuming you're a woman whose love life needs improving is to follow some of the tips used by, yes, professional strippers. I'm not part of Conrad's target audience, and I surely have no inner hottie to unleash, but I did read the book, and being the analytical type, I found some interesting, or at least marginally bloggable, data.

For example, the top twenty-five stripper names, in alphabetical order:

  1. Alexis
  2. Amber
  3. Ashley
  4. Bailey
  5. Brittany/Britney
  6. Chantal
  7. Christi
  8. Cindy
  9. Dylan
  10. Heather
  11. Jaime
  12. Jasmine
  13. Jennifer/Jenny
  14. Jessica
  15. Jordan
  16. Kate/Katie
  17. Madison
  18. Melissa
  19. Michelle
  20. Ryan
  21. Sienna/Sierra
  22. Taylor
  23. Tiffany
  24. Tyler
  25. Xena

Each of these has a general connotation: Cindy is "superfriendly but young," while Heather is "the ultimate popular-girl name." Conrad herself opted not to use her name Jessica "Jennifer's friend who also wants to be friends with Heather but isn't" and after some flirtation with "Melody" and "Petra," she became "Kayla." Interestingly, some of these names apparently have waiting lists: presumably a strip club (a place I have never actually been) doesn't want duplicates.

"Xena," by the way, is "funny and strong." Of course.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:58 AM to Dyssynergy )
The Wintour of our desk content

"Save this portion for your tax records," said the subscription offer: "The cost of this subscription may be tax-deductible when used in business/professional purposes. Consult your tax preparer."

Well, I understand the premise here, but I did consult my tax preparer, which is myself, and I told me that there was no way I could justify deducting a subscription to Vogue.

Besides, the Fall Fashion issue (September), which averages over 700 pages, would never fit through my mail slot.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:09 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Bullets bitten: 1

Biter: CBS.

Okay, fine. They should not assume, however, that an apology will get them off the hook.

Back into the fray

I went back to work this morning.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have put in the usual ten hours I was pretty well flattened by the end of the day, and not in a good way either but at least life is returning to some semblance of normalcy, and better yet, I didn't have to start out three or four days behind.

The office hotties seemed to be slightly hotter than usual, though, a fact which gives me pause. (Among other things.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:39 PM to General Disinterest )
21 September 2004
Put on your high-heeled sneakers

Dawn Eden doesn't have much nice to say about Sex and the City, and given her priorities in life, there's no reason she should.

Still, the former HBO series did have some impact on popular culture, to the extent that it's had some small but measurable effect on women's shoes, pushing them a notch or two in the direction of sheer frivolity. Not that I'm inclined to complain I get to look, I don't have to wear but the laws of physics sooner or later will overrule the demands of fashion.

Much later, if you're Syaffolee:

I wear running shoes approximately 99.9% of the time that I am wearing shoes.

There's a lot to be said for stability.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:20 AM to Almost Yogurt , Rag Trade )
Arraign upon the plain

Macaulay Culkin, last seen getting busted in Oklahoma City, was read the charges yesterday: two misdemeanors, one for possession of marijuana, one for possession of a prescription drug (Xanax) without a prescription.

The Oklahoman reports from police records that Culkin and his traveling companion, pulled over for minor traffic violations, would probably have gotten off with a warning had they not been so obviously "nervous."

DA Wes Lane will perforce suggest Culkin enter a drug-treatment program.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:00 AM to City Scene )
Rehms of great material

It's the twenty-fifth anniversary of The Diane Rehm Show, which began as a local show on D.C.'s WAMU in 1979 (titled Kaleidoscope in those days) and eventually became a staple of the NPR schedule.

The voice has changed over the years in fact, in 1998, it nearly disappeared altogether, the result of spasmodic dysphonia but it's still one of the most distinctive voices in all of radio. Even nonfans appreciate Diane; Fraters Libertas' Saint Paul describes her as "elitely biased, icily beautiful, politely intolerant, and nasally clogged," which, given his view of public radio generally, counts as louder-than-faint praise.

Not being a policy wonk, I'm probably not part of Diane's target audience, but I do try to catch at least her first hour every day. It's an easy habit to get into, since in this area the show is carried right after the last hour of NPR's Morning Edition, and it's a habit I don't plan to break.

Thank you, Diane. I don't think either of us has twenty-five more years to run, but I'm grateful for the hours we've had.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:54 AM to Overmodulation )
From the Department of Major Upgrades

Tropos Networks has built a number of Wi-Fi systems for public-safety use, but they've never tried anything this big: a wireless network for the city of Oklahoma City, 600-plus square miles of spectacularly-irregular polygon.

The new network, which should be fully operational by the end of next year, will cost around $5 million. And no, there will be no public-access hot spots, at least at first.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:24 PM to City Scene )
The second time around

The Carnival of the Vanities first stopped at The Eleven Day Empire back in January '03 edition #16. (If you missed it then, now's your chance.)

And after a mere eighty-nine weeks, James DiBenedetto is back again with version #105 of the original weekly Best of the Blogs compendium, and as always, it's worth your time and clicks.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:25 PM to Blogorrhea )
22 September 2004
Heading for a fall

After an unusually cool summer, September so far has looked very much like May: rather warm and exceedingly dry. The prognosticators have been tripping all over themselves trying to determine What It All Means, but they're overlooking the obvious fact that this is Oklahoma and the weather does pretty much what it wants regardless of anyone's forecast.

Meanwhile, leaves are falling, more or less on schedule; a few of them fell on me while I was trying to soak up the last few rays of the summer sun. And this morning, as I slid open the garage door, there was a single leaf, dancing about a foot above the driveway, mostly at the mercy of the morning winds but still never actually approaching the ground. I stared in disbelief, wondering what magic I might be seeing, until a stray ray of light sliced through the scene and revealed a slender strand of spider stuff holding up the leaf.

And you know what? Contrary to the insistence of your friendly neighborhood stage magician, knowing how something works doesn't destroy the sense of wonder. At least, not for me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 AM to Weather or Not )

The Artist Formerly Known As Cat Stevens was bumped off a London-Washington flight when someone at the Transportation Security Agency noticed that Yusuf Islam's name was on the national Do Not Enter list. The plane landed in Bangor, Maine, and Islam was escorted from the premises before the flight to Dulles resumed.

In recent years, Islam has adopted the voice of the moderate, more in tune with the gentle nature of his Seventies songs, but his actions have often belied his words, which undoubtedly is how he got onto the Department of Homeland Security's watch list.

What's that you say? John Lennon? Oh, please. Even if the government thought it had reason to fear Lennon's political activities, the antics of John and Yoko weren't a whole lot different from anybody else's antiwar activities of the time. (Well, except John Kerry's.)

More to the point:

Lennon: All we are saying is give peace a chance.

Islam: Salman Rushdie must die, and Saddam Hussein is my brother.

There is a difference.

(Update, 28 September, 8:30 pm: Time is claiming that Islam's deportation was the result of a spelling error on that Federal list.)

Calling all wordsmiths

New York's Algonquin Hotel, hoping to restore its reputation as a gathering place for the literati, has reopened its Oak Room with a brand-new Round Table.

Like the original Round Table around which the likes of Dorothy Parker and Robert Benchley traded quips, the new Table is rectangular, and there's an ancient Underwood typewriter on hand in case of inspiration though there's also a Wi-Fi hotspot, should the inspired be ready to upload on a moment's notice.

Among those attending the opening of the new Round Table were Nat Benchley, grandson of Robert; Kevin Fitzpatrick, president of the Dorothy Parker Society of New York; and Anthony Adams, son of FPA (Franklin Pierce Adams).

I wonder if Dawn Eden will be dropping by for the occasional luncheon.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:00 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Your basic dissembling colostomy bag

With the increasing number (and size) of service fees levied by seemingly everyone these days, most of your How To Manage Your Feeble Finances articles suggest the same thing: "Try to talk your way out of them."

And every week, a couple of dozen characters call up 42nd and Treadmill to try exactly that. I think one or two have succeeded this year. One who did not is the guy who defaulted on a $135 payment last week and was assessed $30 by our Department of Meanies, and who argued to our customer-service person today that we ought to let him off the hook because he's "unemployed."

But Pharaoh's heart was hardened, for the following reasons:

  1. A supervisory type on the premises actually knows the sleazeball in question, and he's not unemployed at all;
  2. When we opened the last batch of stuff for today, he had another order in, this time for over $200.

From this day foward, the individual in question will be viewed with the same skepticism as a CBS photocopy, and for much the same reason.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:17 PM to Dyssynergy )
No longer keeping it reel

Robb Hibbard has had it up to here with his nonpower mower:

I'm a non-Green Green no more. The next time I mow a yard the action will be accompanied with the gasoline fumes and the mangled, long-forgotten toys and other detritus spitting from the discharge chute and the angry looks of neighbors whose quiet summer evening I've spoiled via my motorized grass ripper.

It's time I joined the rest of a saner humanity in wearing shoes while doing yard work; in polluting the Earth for the sake of a yard that meets, at the very least, the aesthetic minimum.

I have two rules that serve me in meeting said aesthetic minimum:

  1. Do not have the best yard on the block.

  2. Do not have the worst yard on the block.

This year, I believe I met these requirements for all but six or seven days of the mowing season, largely because my power mower spent ten days in the shop.

And Robb, two words: "sport sandals." Excellent for this sort of thing.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:19 PM to Dyssynergy )
23 September 2004
It's not just Tom and Brad

Mike at Okiedoke has an interview with independent Senate candidate Sheila Bilyeu.

Pertinent quote:

As long as the Democrats and Republicans are catering to corporate greed, trying to trash each other and third party people and trying to make themselves look good, we will continue to have a government that is incompetent and uncaring.

Well, okay. I'm more of a benign-neglect sort of guy myself, but I'm also persuaded that there have to be other letters in our political alphabet besides D and R.

Bilyeu's official site is here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:30 AM to Soonerland )
Gently down the stream

My first thought, of course, was this: "OCU has varsity rowing?"

Which they do. And on the third of October, Oklahoma City University hosts the Head of the Oklahoma Centennial Regatta, over two and a half miles of the no-longer-ludicrous North Canadian Oklahoma River.

Even Harvard is sending a team.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:29 AM to City Scene )
If you blink, you miss it

Courtesy of Always Victoria, some indications you might be from a small town:

  • Third Street is on the edge of town.

  • You don't signal turns because everyone knows where you're going, anyway.

  • Running from the cops consists of hiding in the cornfield.

  • Anyone you want can be found at either the Dairy Queen or the feed store.

  • The closest McDonald's is 45 miles away.

  • So is the closest mall.

  • Being able to hit a road sign with a beer bottle while driving down the highway is considered a necessary skill.

And, of course, many, many more.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:08 AM to Almost Yogurt )
King Leer

Roger Ebert was, and is, quite unapologetic about having written the screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, so you can be sure that the one commentary on the death of Russ Meyer that I wanted to read was Roger Ebert's farewell in the Chicago Sun-Times.

I've seen only a smattering of Meyer's oeuvre, but what I've seen is fascinating; yes, these are skin flicks in the classic sense, but in these skin flicks the women hold all the cards, control all the scenes.

And anyway, you gotta love a director (he deserved, but probably would have shunned, the term "auteur") who, upon being asked where he found all these implausibly bosomy actresses, explained that beyond a certain cup size, they find him.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:05 PM to Almost Yogurt )
The kid stays in the picture

The Supreme Court of the state of Oklahoma today refused to consider a request by the American Civil Liberties Union to remove State Question 711, a referendum which would bar same-sex marriage, from the ballot.

The ACLU had claimed the measure was vague and discriminatory; the Supremes were not impressed.

They were also not impressed with a request by embattled Insurance Commissioner Carroll Fisher to delay his impeachment trial, which was also denied.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:31 PM to Soonerland )
24 September 2004
Affecting the disaffected

Mike Clingman of the state Election Board says that more than 31,000 voter registrations have been received in the last two months, and projects that there may be as 80,000 more by the second of November.

His explanation? "The 2000 election taught people that every vote counts." What's more, the 2004 election features, in addition to the Presidential race, a statewide Senate race and a collection of hot-button state questions.

Of those 31,000, 55 percent registered as Republicans, though Democrats still have a numerical majority: as of the end of August, 2.03 million voters were registered in Oklahoma, 52 percent of them Democrats, 37 percent Republicans.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:34 AM to Soonerland )
They said so

"Who says so?"

"You know. They say so."

"And who are They?"

[We pause here to allow surly grammarians to pop a Xanax.]

"They" is the Missouri inventor formerly known as Andrew Wilson, who last week was granted permission by a circuit judge to change his name to simply "They."

They is 43, lives near Branson, and holds more than a dozen patents; They's latest product is Shades Eyewear, sunglasses with an integral visor, which should make They a lot of money.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Only in New Jersey (natch)

I suppose it was inevitable, given the travails of the outgoing governor, but still it's hilarious: Fritz Schranck reports that sexual-harassment complaints against Garden State officials are now informally dubbed "McGreevances."

Ol' liberal Brad

We've already examined just how liberal Brad Carson is, and the answer is "Not very"; certainly he's to the left of the average House Republican, but he's quite a bit to the right of the average House Democrat.

Meanwhile, Bruce has caught a Tom Coburn ad that apparently says otherwise:

I just saw an ad from Tom Coburn that accuses Brad Carson of being a Liberal... not just any liberal... more liberal than even Hillary!

If you've bothered to read any of the actual roll call votes that they list in the paper you KNOW... you know, that this claim is total and complete bullshit. Carson votes very often with the Republicans. He has to to make it in Oklahoma politics. But, we can always expect the GOP to roll out the tired ol' "liberal" tactic, even on a guy like Carson, who while liberal on certain issues is to the right of many who are actually IN the Republican party.

Of course, it would be difficult to be farther to the right than Tom Coburn: beyond his point on the political map there are notations of "Unknown" and "Here there be dragons."

And I haven't seen this particular spot, but if this is the best they can do, they deserve to lose this seat.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:10 PM to Soonerland )
25 September 2004
Where the melting pot works

"It's an American dream," said Eric Burdon; "includes Indians too."

And many, many more, as Susanna Cornett notes in a lovely tale of a Chinese restaurant in Alabama where the dream is very real.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:57 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Fisher takes a powder

It won't affect the criminal case against him, but Carroll Fisher, by resigning his position as Insurance Commissioner, will avoid having to go through the impeachment trial and becoming a larger footnote in Oklahoma history.

What is interesting here, at least to me, is that Fisher seems to be convinced that he'd get a fairer trial in the criminal court than he would in the Oklahoma legislature: "I will have a fair and level playing field, which I didn't feel I had in the impeachment process. It was too political."

Governor Henry, accepting Fisher's resignation:

I appreciate the fact that Carroll Fisher did the right thing and resigned prior to a potentially damaging and embarrassing impeachment trial.

We will proceed without regard to party affiliation to try to find the best person to fill this position. By that, I mean someone who obviously fits the statutory qualifications ... but also who has unquestioned honesty and integrity and the ability to come in and ensure that office functions in an appropriate and efficient manner.

Finding someone to fit the statutory qualifications, anyway, shouldn't be difficult.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:24 AM to Soonerland )
Be vewy, vewy qwiet

I'm downloading Windows XP Service Pack 2.

[semi-maniacal laughter]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:21 PM to PEBKAC )
It's all about the Brooksies

Apparently my blog d'insignificance has about 38.3 percent of the clout possessed by David Brooks.

(Motivated by Syaffolee)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:57 PM to Blogorrhea )
Jammed up in the Quote-O-Mat

Wild Bill at Passionate America is vexed by a Clark Duffe commentary in the Oklahoma Gazette which quotes Alexander Fraser Tytler:

A democracy?can only exist until the voters discover they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy, always to be followed by dictatorship.

The problem is that Tytler might not actually have said that, a notion supported by Snopes. When I referenced the quote myself earlier this year in Vent #385 I provided a link to this page, which tries to explain the quotation's origin:

[T]his has also been attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, Alexis de Tocqueville, R. G. LeTourneau and others. It is likely that it is actually two quotes, put together. Parts of it show up in printed record as far back as 1950, when the "Fatal Sequence" portion was cited in a speech by Eugene E. Wilson at a special United Nations Convocation at Hillyer College in Hartford, Connecticut.

The "Fatal Sequence" portion, which follows the section excerpted above, goes like this:

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence:

From Bondage to Spiritual Faith
From Spiritual Faith to Great Courage
From Courage to Liberty
From Liberty to Abundance
From Abundance to Selfishness
From Selfishness to Complacency
From Complacency to Apathy
From Apathy to Dependency
From Dependency back into Bondage

This source suggests: "We urge you not to be concerned with the authorship of this quote, but to focus upon the truth that is in the words." Well, okay, so long as it's not in a CBS memo somewhere. And remember, as Edmund Burke said, "The only thing necessary for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing."

Except, of course, that he didn't say it.

26 September 2004
Mistakes on the lake

I have, perhaps, an inordinate fondness for the city of Cleveland, but it's always been perfectly obvious to me that for all its surface gloss, and its recent investment in high-dollar attractions such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Jacobs Field, something was very wrong underneath it all. (During World Tour '01, I made a point of going through some of the more decrepit parts of town rather than visit the tourist traps.) And Cleveland's status as the nation's poorest large city, beating out even the likes of Detroit and Newark, would seem to confirm that wrongness.

Costa Tsiokos isn't surprised:

The much-publicized and promoted addition of these (nominally) publicly-owned venues had the desired effect: It gave a veneer of robustness to the city, when there really wasn't one. Unfortunately, their construction was more flash than anything else. It shows how much noise big-ticket projects like this make, while the nitty-gritty of hard socio-economic data tends to get ignored.

Or, as pundits of yore would have said, you can't spend yourself rich.

On another level, Cleveland's high poverty rate, despite all that investment into that concrete and glass, seems to debunk the chief arguments for indulging in these types of projects. Every metro area gets pitched a program of boosted revenue streams by virtue of having the newest and shiniest arena/concert hall/whatever. They're supposed to attract or retain major league sports, headlining concerts, tourism events and the like. Along with that, the halo effect would be the creation of grass-roots economic activity: Jobs at the venue, restaurants and other businesses around it, etc. These predictions are key to securing public funds for facilities that are used by private enterprises.

But despite playing the arena game as deftly as any other metro area, Cleveland has an anemic local economy to show for it. So why should any city or region sink public dollars into these things? Status is nice, but if it doesn't pay off for the local economy, the justification disappears.

Which is why when Oklahoma City assembled its wish list of Metropolitan Area Projects, the new shiny arena was only one of nine proposed investments in the central city, which cost upward of $300 million in aggregate but which have generated so far more than $1.6 billion in additional investment.

As more recent pundits might have said, "Go big or go home."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:11 AM to Dyssynergy )
Yet to be answered

Craig Ceely has five questions for the Presidential candidates of the top three (yes!) parties, and frankly, I'd like to see the answers to some of these myself.

For John Kerry (D):

Do you really think that teachers' unions and trial lawyers and government programs are what made this country great?

For George W. Bush (R):

If the entire country is so much safer now than it was, why do we need to extend the PATRIOT Act?

And for Michael Badnarik (L):

You've stated that, once elected, you'll call a special session of the Congress in order to have them take your "course" on the US Constitution. Is there anything in the Constitution which gives you the authority to do that?

As the phrase goes, read the whole thing.

Aw, nuts

I'm kind of sorry I missed this; I'm sure I would have had a ball.

(From Good Grief! Does this blog make my butt look big? via deblog)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:40 PM to Almost Yogurt )
27 September 2004
No dice, son, you gotta pick these

If I seem to be bringing up third-party candidates rather a lot these days, it's simply because I continue to be frustrated by this state's tacit insistence that there is D, and there is R, and that nothing else matters.

Says J. M. Branum, an Oklahoma Green:

Given the current state of our election laws, independent and third-party minded Oklahoma voters are given few choices this fall. We can either hold our nose and vote for the "lesser of two evils" or we can refrain from voting.

Which is the idea behind None Of The Above: to refrain, but in an organized manner.

To vote NOTA go to your regular polling place and ask for a ballot. Vote on the state and local candidates and measures that you want to, but leave the Presidential campaign ballot line BLANK and then turn in your ballot.

On November 3rd, we can then go to the Oklahoma State Election Board and get the record of the number of "undervotes" (the number of ballots cast for which the voter did not vote for President).

If this number is substantial, it might suggest to the Legislature that our existing ballot-access laws are effectively disenfranchising a large number of voters.

And if you read this and think "I'd just be throwing my vote away," well, if you can't stand the thought of four years of Kerry or four more years of Bush, why would you vote for either?

"If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice." Rush, "Free Will"

Tonight's the night

27 September 1954, New York City. A new television show, and host Steve Allen is warning the audience: "This show will go on forever."

Fifty years later, it looks like Steve was right.

I just wish NBC would do more to celebrate the anniversary of what has been arguably its most influential program.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:03 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Changing hands

I never understood exactly why Microsoft bankrolled Slate in the first place; Redmond has always aspired to being a content provider, but the e-zine neither generates enormous revenues nor establishes technical standards that can be used elsewhere, and it's unlikely that MSN garners any extra dial-up subscribers just from having Slate under the wings of the butterfly.

Still, Slate has been breaking even, and when Microsoft put it up for sale this summer, I figured one of the dead-tree media would grab it and run it as an annex to its own Web presence. New York Metro.com is now reporting that the DTM in question is the Washington Post Company, though neither MS nor the WaPo will confirm at this time.

Of course, what I want to know is this: will all the old MSN-based links at Slate be changed?

(Update, 1:55 pm: Revised the first line. See comments.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:43 AM to Blogorrhea )
Hey, we're only supposed to catch drunks

The city of Oakland, California, at least for the time being, is no longer setting up roadblocks to catch drivers under the influence; it seems that the license checks are also catching rather a lot of illegal immigrants, and well, that is so discriminatory, you know?

The umbrella group Oakland Community Organizations has been fighting the roadblocks. Says OCO's Jesus Rodriguez:

These checkpoints make people's lives miserable, not make them safer. I've watched while the police have towed away cars [full] of groceries, leaving children crying on the sidewalk.

Cars found to be operated by unlicensed drivers in Oakland are routinely towed; it costs $125 plus storage fees to retrieve a towed vehicle.

As a general rule, I am not a big fan of DUI checkpoints: while yanking drunks off the road is certainly a laudable goal, I doubt the police are getting all that much of a return on their investment of time, money and equipment, and meanwhile you and I are waiting in line, our patience wearing thin, our time deemed officially worthless.

On the other hand, I have to side with Larry Reid of the Oakland City Council, who isn't particularly sympathetic to the plight of the, um, undocumented:

I don't care if they are illegal immigrants. They should not be driving on our streets without a license, without insurance. I expect the Oakland Police Department to do its job and get them off the street.

Meanwhile, the city is revising its guidelines for checkpoints, which may include advance notification of checkpoint locations to Latino community organizations. I wish someone would tell me about these things in advance. Then again, I'm legal and therefore presumably not entitled to such consideration.

(Via Tongue Tied)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:39 PM to Dyssynergy )
28 September 2004
Sprawl for one, and one for sprawl

It was probably inevitable: someone has come up with a study which purports to show that urban sprawl is a health issue, that people who live in the 'burbs are susceptible to varying illnesses because, well, they drive everywhere, befouling the air and depriving themselves of the joys of walking all over the place.

The proponents admit that they weren't able to find any increase in mental illness in suburbia, and they seem almost disappointed about it. But considering the folks who move out there in the first place they tend to have higher incomes, to distrust city school systems, and worst of all, to be white it's pretty clear what the real problem is: the suburbs are a breeding ground for Republicans, and obviously this sort of thing must be discouraged by any means necessary.

(Via Jeff Jarvis, who notes: "Yesterday's 'sprawl' is today's 'preservation' project.")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:34 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The dead heat becomes less so

Brad Carson, says this week's KWTV/Wilson Research Strategies poll, now leads Tom Coburn by five percentage points in Oklahoma's Senate race, the first time Carson has had a lead that exceeds the poll's 4.4 percent margin of error.

Four weeks ago, Coburn led Carson by nine percent.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:14 AM to Soonerland )
Why are we here?

Billmon says the Blogosphere" has sold out:

Even as it collectively achieves celebrity status for its anti-establishment views, blogging is already being domesticated by its success. What began as a spontaneous eruption of populist creativity is on the verge of being absorbed by the media-industrial complex it claims to despise.

Geez, I wonder why no one sent me the Absorption Memo.

What's happening, of course, is that the marketplace is adjusting, as marketplaces always do: some blogs are on the rise, and others are being eclipsed in the process. Michelle Malkin observes:

In essence, Billmon believes the game is rigged. But in blogging, as in life more generally, there is tremendous opportunity for those inclined to seize it.

It cannot be denied that early bloggers enjoy an advantage over latecomers. A blog that launches today, no matter how good or heavily promoted, will not soon overtake Instapundit or Daily Kos. Yet even the mightiest blog won't retain its position in the "charmed circle" for long if it is running on fumes.

But is the game really rigged? It's all sour grapes, says La Shawn Barber:

I've read entries on new blogs where the writer expressed frustration because of low readership. Are you kidding? As I've said on this blog many times, the primary reason you write must be your interest in or passion for writing. For me it is the very act of writing itself that compels me to post everyday.

It's wonderful having readers and commenters, but that is secondary, believe it or not. New bloggers must be patient and willing to create a niche for themselves. There is plenty of room for all of us, but Insta-Status, most will never reach.

Imagine a perfectly average blog, getting an average number of readers. Now consider: half of the blogs on earth will get fewer readers than that.

"Eighty percent of success," said Woody Allen, "is showing up." I'm here at the top of the D-list (or maybe the middle of the C-list) mostly because I show up. And while I'll never surpass those young upstarts like Reynolds, if I thought I was just wasting my time, I'd shelve this thing faster than you can say "PayPal is evil."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:35 AM to Blogorrhea )
And when he walked me home

It's official: Phil Spector has been charged with the murder of actress Lana Clarkson, who was found dead in Spector's home in February 2003.

Spector, who posted $1 million bail, said very little when the grand-jury indictment was read, but responded angrily after leaving the courtroom: '"The actions of the Hitler-like DA and his storm-trooper henchmen are reprehensible, unconscionable and despicable."

The trial could be held as early as the 16th of December.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:21 PM to Dyssynergy )
Through the sun and rain

Old friend Tanisha Taitt (okay, she's not that old, but she's highly cherishable) is coming out with her first album, Overflow, next month. If you have a taste for pensive soul-pop with a folk twist and an ethereal kiss and who doesn't? this is something you must hear. (And if you must hear it right this minute, here's the leadoff track.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:14 PM to Tongue and Groove )
29 September 2004
Carnival 106

Just sit right back as Last One Speaks presents the 106th weekly edition of Carnival of the Vanities, the original collection of the best bloggage of the last seven days. There's enough material here for at least a three-hour tour.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:28 AM to Blogorrhea )
From the Department of Gimme A Break

"American Taliban" John Walker Lindh has asked that his 20-year prison sentence be commuted. Counsel for Lindh pointed out that Yaser Esam Hamdi, also accused of aiding the Afghan "militant" group, is being released and exiled to Saudi Arabia without criminal charges being filed, and that "comparable conduct should be treated in comparable ways in terms of sentencing."

A spokesman for the Department of Justice noted that, unlike Hamdi, Lindh had actually entered a guilty plea.

In other news, Governor Schwarzenegger's office could not confirm a report that the Menendez brothers had petitioned him for clemency on the grounds that they are orphans.

(Update, 4 pm: John Ashcroft isn't buying it: "Lindh was fully adjudicated and had his opportunity in court to state his position, and the system operated to provide a punishment for his activities, which were clear and unmistakable.")

Like we did last summer

DragonAttack contemplates the wonder that is Chubby Checker, and questions abound:

"Can you book him for a banquet?"

"And if so, does he charge on a sliding scale?"

And most important:

"Can he Twist again?"

I'm thinking Yes to all three, but further exploration is warranted.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:24 PM to Tongue and Groove )
Coming soon to T-town

Models for the new downtown Tulsa arena were unveiled today at a Rotary Club meeting, with a display to the general public to follow. Groundbreaking will be around the first of the year; the arena, which will cover four square blocks Denver to Frisco, 1st to 3rd is expected to open in 2007.

The design specifications for the Tulsa arena are here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:07 PM to Soonerland )
A Rather predictable prediction

But I wouldn't be surprised to see it happen just this way. From Paul Bouchereau, who covers the media beat for the Oklahoma Gazette, in today's issue:

CBS will take a ratings hit that will recover in three months, KWTV [the Oklahoma City CBS affiliate] will get a few calls and letters that will become landfill, and some CBS producer will take the fall for Rather. By this time next year, it will be forgotten and George W. will sit restfully in the Oval Office.

It may not take three whole months; I suspect some people will tune in on election night just to see if CBS gets itself into another train wreck.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:41 PM to Dyssynergy )
30 September 2004
Nobody expects the Spanish disestablishment

The Roman Catholic Church holds a "privileged position in society," says Spain's Socialist government, which has decided to take steps to reduce its influence, to cut state funding to the church and to remove crucifixes from government buildings.

Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has announced ambitious plans to turn Spain into more of a secular society by simplifying divorce laws, liberalizing abortion laws and sanctioning same-sex marriage.

But maybe "secular" isn't the right word, since Zapatero is also seeking greater rapprochement with Islam, which may include the teaching of Islam in Spanish schools and some funding of mosques. Which suggests that Zapatero has learned one thing from contemporary American politics: that "secular," a word which used to be neutral, is now often as not a synonym for "anti-Christian."

(Via The Penitent Blogger)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:24 AM to Immaterial Witness )
Oh, that liberal media

You've no doubt already read this, but what the hell. Lileks gives the political breakdown of your average newsroom:

In general, you'll find that most journalists drift to the left. They range from traditional Democrats to moderate-to-indifferent Democrats to fiercely partisan Democrats to DINOs who might well be Republicans if the idea of voting GOP didn't make them feel as if Mom would rise shrieking from the grave and accuse them of making FDR cry. There are a few Republicans in any newsroom, but they harbor the love that dare not speak its name.

I'm going to have to give some serious thought to where, if anywhere, I fall on this particular continuum.

Incipiently verbose

Say hello to Sadie Rose Ellis, not quite one day old but already capturing hearts and minds.

It's really hard to maintain Standard Blogger Grumpiness when you gaze into a face like that. (Awwww....)

Congratulations to Jay and Deb. The fun is just beginning.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:44 AM to Next Generation )
A first time for everything

Now here's something you don't see every day: a Glenn Reynolds article gets fisked.

Then again, the piece in question was in the Guardian, meaning just on general principle it gets extra attention from the pajama-clad panjandrums of blogdom.

Me, I never tried to fisk anything from the Insta-Man. It would always come out something like this:


I assume that he's been waiting to exhale; if so, he probably needn't have held his breath. There's a reason this has been largely ignored by the dead-tree media up to now: it isn't anywhere near the divisive issue he seems to think it is.


Despite this, he assents. But is there anything more exasperating than a blog post whose sole purpose is to agree with another blog post? I mean, really.

Now I'm going to go put on a hat so I can tip it to The Shape of Days.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:33 PM to Blogorrhea )
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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