1 November 2005

While I think this Blog Family Tree is a dandy idea, I'd been having a dickens of a time trying to figure out where, if anywhere, I belonged on this particular structure. Surely I have no blogchildren: if anything, I've discouraged people from this sort of thing. And in my official first blog post, in the summer of 2000, there is no reference to any particular individual who might have provided inspiration to me.

But of all the sites I was reading in the late 1990s, the most pertinent to my own decision to turn this site into a blog, I believe, was #!/usr/bin/girl, run by a "digital anime girl" in Seattle. She's utterly unaware of my existence, I'm sure, but I've always found her stuff endlessly fascinating. If I have a blogparent, it's Zannah, and I am informing the Commissar accordingly.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to Blogorrhea )
Bloggy desiderata

It appears that Lachlan and Bayou will be back, whether or not they're able to recover their archives. (Bayou says, "I can't even get into all that is lost or I might start throwing things around my office," and you can't blame her.)

Assuming that Susanna eventually will be back, and that Michele really isn't returning this time, that leaves one item on my Blog Wish List: that Meryl Yourish becomes swiftly employed (and, if possible, somewhat overpaid).

Addendum, 9:40 am: Chris Muir is helping with the Hire Meryl campaign. Bless you, sir.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:32 AM to Blogorrhea )
Ghost/goblin count

2000: Zero.
2001: Zero.
2002: Zero.
2003: Zero.
2004: Zero.
2005: Five!

Too early to detect a trend, maybe, but at least this year I didn't buy three bags full of candy in vain.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:08 AM to General Disinterest )
Nose down, level the wings, accelerate

To a pilot, this is the standard procedure for coming out of a climbing stall. George W. Bush surely knows this.

It might also work in non-aircraft maneuvers as well.

The gander resists sauce

Senator Leahy was on C-Span yesterday, and reportedly complained that Judge Alito "won't bring any more diversity to the Supreme Court than I do to the Senate." Which prompts the following question:

If diversity is the "it" characteristic, and since Leahy doesn't bring diversity to the Senate and yet makes such a big point of it, are we to think that he's urging his constituents to impeach or at least recall him?

Impeachment isn't on the table: this is neither a high crime nor a misdemeanor. But it's fair to say that consistency, foolish or otherwise, isn't the hobgoblin of Leahy's mind.

And besides:

I'm guessing just off the top of my head that he'd have had a fit if Bush had nominated a black lesbian conservative which would, after all, have brought a whole bunch of diversity with one person.

I'd pay to see that. (There are black lesbian conservatives, aren't there?)

Just a few notes in the margin

Somehow I don't think she received them and if she did, she surely didn't act on them but nonetheless, here's a list of notes from Ann Coulter's editor.

My favorite:

Contrary to your impassioned statements, James G. Watt's environmental policies did not, in fact, bring back the unicorn.

(Via Mister Snitch!)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:16 AM to Dyssynergy )
The very definition of "faint praise"

Salon's King Kaufman predicts the NBA season, and no surprise as to the identity of the dweller in the Southwest Division cellar:

If everything goes right for the Hornets this season, they'll be the best pro basketball team ever to play its home games in Oklahoma City.

I dunno. Could they beat the 1996-97 Oklahoma City Cavalry of the CBA, who actually won the league championship?

We'll never know for sure. At this moment, a few hours before the season begins, I'm inclined to think that finishing 31-51 would qualify as a moral victory. (I'm expecting more like 25-57.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:01 PM to Net Proceeds )
At your cervix

Lindsay Beyerstein extends a metaphor:

I don't think the religious fundamentalists who oppose the cervical cancer vaccine are going far enough. I think we should be consistent and oppose all medical care that might encourage irresponsible behavior.

Let's start with tetanus shots. Vaccinating people against tetanus implicitly condones carelessness with rusty nails.

I'm not sure where cholera fits into this pattern, but frankly, if I get to the point where I need to be encouraged to behave irresponsibly, I'm probably not going to have any fun at all.

More to the point, if you followed this opposition to its logical conclusion, it would perforce be a Bad Thing were someone to discover, for instance, a 99-percent foolproof cure for genital herpes; the evil miracle drug would have to be suppressed, lest people actually start inserting Tab A into Slot B as though they ever stopped in the first place. (Persons oriented toward different methods should substitute as appropriate.) I am persuaded that this approach is seriously wrongheaded, though I reserve the right to change my mind should I be stuck in line at the Sav-on and discover packets of Aunt Meg's Vacu-Lyptus Mentholated Abortion Drops sitting there next to the Pamprin.

Lessons from life (one in a series)

It's not particularly difficult to toast an oven mitt the same way you'd warm up a flour tortilla, but there's no good reason to want to.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:29 PM to General Disinterest )
It wasn't even close

Hornets 93, Kings 67 in front of 19,163. A proper christening for the Ford Center.

Two factors: the Hornets owned the boards, and Sacramento, down only one point after the first quarter, went from indifferent shooting to cold to downright glacial.

Last year's Bees started the season with a 2-29 run. Not gonna happen this year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:34 PM to Net Proceeds )
2 November 2005
The morning after the night before

During halftime of last night's Hornets/Kings game, Mayor Cornett, interviewed on the radio, was sticking to the script: when New Orleans is ready once again, the team will return home.

But that word "ready" is open to all manner of interpretation, and while it's still a fact that there is no commitment beyond 2005-06, anything can happen. Cornett, a sportscaster most of his life, knows this perfectly well.

It's way too early to predict anything, of course: the Bees were an indifferent 3-5 in preseason, and there are still 81 games to go. But if the Sacramento Kings, one of the most consistent teams in the league, can stumble this badly at the Ford well, I'm betting they're relieved that they don't have to come back here this season. (There will be two games in Sacramento, and one in Baton Rouge.) And if the Ford itself becomes something of a "secret weapon," if other teams become spooked at the very thought of coming here, it will be that much harder to pack up and move after the season ends.

But we won't know anything about that until a week from Wednesday, when Orlando comes to town. In the meantime, I'm going to work on pronouncing "Bostjan Nachbar."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Net Proceeds )
The second mouse gets the cheese

There's very little I can add to this:

Courtship melodies, which are sung at a frequency beyond human hearing, are common among birds, insects, and frogs, but such behaviour in mammals had been thought to be restricted to humans, whales and bats.

The discovery that mice have a gift for song could mark the most significant leap in the understanding of rodents since it was discovered a few years ago that rats have a chirp-like laugh.

I see one parallel in my own life: were I to attempt a courtship melody, I'm sure she wouldn't give a rat's ass, as it were.

(Via miriam's ideas.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:19 AM to Table for One )
What? No peas?

Two perfectly reasonably questions from Syaffolee:

[W]hy call it a podcast when not everyone has an iPod? And why do most amateur podcasts sound like the equivalent of a deer caught in the headlights?

If I ever do one of these and if I do, Andrea Harris will disown me I promise not to call it a "podcast." (The horrible-sound problem has been discussed here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:04 AM to Dyssynergy )

Carnival of the Vanities #163 is up and about, courtesy of Free Money Finance, which has arranged this week's entries in order of arrival, surely an inspired touch.

If you tuned in looking for my usual discussion of the number itself, well, here you go: In 2003, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) introduced HR 163, which would reinstate the draft and, he said, equalize the sacrifices involved in war:

"I truly believe that those who make the decision and those who support the United States going into war would feel more readily the pain that's involved, the sacrifice that's involved, if they thought that the fighting force would include the affluent and those who historically have avoided this great responsibility."

It was, of course, a crock, and Rangel knew it; even he voted against it, which should give you an idea of how much you should trust anything in which he says he truly believes.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:26 AM to Blogorrhea )
Weapons of ass production

The Texas legislature earlier this year passed something called Proposition 2, which on the face of it appears to be poorly drafted:

This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.

One wonders if said political subdivisions even have to recognize actual marriages.

In an effort to push this proposition, your friends at the Ku Klux Klan are holding a rally in Austin this weekend, and this looks like an appropriate response to the visiting Klux:

What we are planning to do is get into the background of as many media shots as possible so their hate cannot be broadcast on the nightly news. As "turning the other cheek" is a recognized true Christian value, we believe this is a message those Klansters will understand.

So there will be a passel of folks on hand to moon the Klan, an idea with a certain visceral appeal. Unfortunately, this restricts participation to the general area of central Texas or does it?

Send us your Virtual Moon!

That's right, slap a slogan across your lovely arse and send it to moontheklan at hotmail.com (please edit pic to a reasonable size and send as gif or jpeg attachment).

And do it today, before your work schedule puts you hopelessly behind.

(Suggested by the highly-not-safe-for-work Fleshbot.)

We come in peace, shoot to kill

Or at least to dazzle.

The next prototype is due in the spring. (It's tech, Jim, but not as we know it.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:28 PM to Entirely Too Cool )
Cleveland rocks, as it were

Well, okay, two in a row might have been a bit much to hope for.

But you have to figure that any night that LeBron James hits five 3-pointers in a row is a night you're not going to enjoy unless, of course, you're a Cavs fan.

109-87. Next to Houston, to take on the Rockets.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:31 PM to Net Proceeds )
3 November 2005
Great moments in TBS history

Milestones at R. E. "Ted" Turner's original flagship property:

January 1970: Turner buys struggling WJRJ-TV, channel 17, in Atlanta, and renames it WTCG-TV.

December 1976: Claiming the name "Superstation," WTCG begins delivering its signal via satellite to cable systems.

May 1977: Having purchased the Atlanta Braves baseball club, Turner declares himself manager. He is replaced after one game, the team's 17th consecutive loss. In another Braves-related matter, Andy Messerschmidt is assigned #17, and instead of his name or nickname across his shoulder blades, he wears the word CHANNEL, a plug for WTCG. The Commissioner of Major League Baseball is not amused.

June 1979: Turner sacks popular news dude Bill Tush because his flippancy might reflect poorly on Turner Broadcasting's newest venture, a 24-hour news channel.

November 1979: Turner acquires the WTBS call by donating $25,000 worth of equipment to its owner, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (The MIT station became WMBR.)

September 1996: Debut of Dinner and a Movie, a Friday-night series which combines feature films and food.

June 1999: TBS (no longer using the W except on its Atlanta broadcast signal) debuts The Chimp Channel. No effect on CNN is noticed.

November 2005: TBS (now advertising itself as "very funny") introduces a "very funny" Texas Holdem poker game for its Web site, created by the reasonably jocular Sean Gleeson.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:25 AM to Overmodulation )
The light is on

Beacon of Hope at Stiles ParkLast night, for the first time, the Beacon of Hope sliced its way into the sky.

The Beacon, located in the middle of the circular Stiles Park (NE 8th and Stiles), is the centerpiece of Founders Plaza, a monument to the five men who put together what is now known as the Oklahoma Health Center. The one survivor of the five, Stanton L. Young, was on hand for the first-night celebration, and got to throw the switch himself.

The beam will run nightly from sunset to somewhere between midnight and 2 am. (This particular picture is from the architect's conception, and ran here when I visited the park on a Spottings tour this past summer. It was previously published by Downtown OKC.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:25 AM to City Scene )
A handbasket from Helena

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer was in Oklahoma this week. He gave an address at the National Congress of American Indians at the Tulsa Crowne Plaza, in which he said that the worst part of his job was consoling the survivors of fallen warriors.

Schweitzer has oil on his mind these days; he told the NCAI that the US has "140,000 troops in Iraq and we know why they are there. They are there because that is the corner of the oil production world." He also visited Syntroleum's coal-to-natural-gas conversion facility and got in a plug for Montana coal; Syntroleum suggested that synthetic-fuel plants could be built on-site at coal mines, eliminating the expense of hauling coal across the country to processing facilities.

There were rumors that Schweitzer has his eye on the White House, which he denied: "I have the best job in America," he said. "I'm not looking to go downhill."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to Soonerland )
Yeah, it's got a Hemi

Just what you don't need in your rear-view mirror: a Dodge Charger police cruiser, photographed in the very heart of Moparville: Auburn Hills, Michigan.

If it has the SRT-8 (425 hp) package, you're really screwed.

(Found at Jalopnik.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:30 AM to Driver's Seat )
Kind of a drag

All I can say is, Catholic schools certainly have changed since I was a student.

Although the really weird aspect of this, from my point of view, is not so much that the boys dressed up as girls heck, even I've done that, and I'm not even marginally passable but that they went through the whole blush-and-lip-gloss thing in fifth grade? Ten- and eleven-year-old girls are already blowing their allowances on Cover Girl?

(Via Andrea Harris, no big fan of that blush-and-lip-gloss thing herself.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:20 PM to Dyssynergy )
File under: Think Fast

I'm coming up one of those infamous incredibly-short on-ramps with a built-in blind spot, and just emerging from said blind spot is your basic eighteen-wheeler. The usual response to this is simple enough: fourth to second, zoom to 6000 rpm, problem solved. At the end of this burst I'm usually doing 68 mph or so, which is faster than most truckers on this particular stretch.

And about two-thirds of the way up, there appears in the $200 lane a black and white Crown Vic with a light bar, the sort of apparition which discourages doing 68 mph or so, being as how the limit is 60.

Ultimately, it was easy: I can be compressed into a small polyhedron by a Kenworth, or I can take the chance that my next two words won't be "Hello, officer." And as it turned out, the man with the badge was rather anxious to get through the pattern himself, as his exit was coming up, so if he paid any attention to me at all, it was to make sure I wasn't actually in his path.

I suppose it's a good thing I still have enough in the way of driving reflexes to notice these situations, but still, it was an anxious moment or two.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:15 PM to General Disinterest )
Senku very much

Saith the Professor:

Somebody told me the other day that a hybrid car [he's added a Toyota Highlander Hybrid to the family fleet] was a good "branding" thing for me, because I'm a "political hybrid" blogger. I'm not sure what that means, exactly, but it 's kind of cool. What I really am is a gadget-head, which made the hybrid more appealing in fact, I realized that I now don't own a normal car at all: The Mazda has a rotary engine. Maybe I'm just odd. But at least I get good mileage!

Have I got a car for him.

Mazda's Senku, a concept shown at the 2005 Tokyo Auto Show, is, by golly, a rotary rocket with a hybrid powertrain. Like the RX-8, it's a 2+2, but it's about nine inches longer, which matters if you insist on sitting in the back seat, and half of the glass roof contains solar panels which can be used to recharge the battery pack.

Were I ten years younger and ten times wealthier, I'd put this at the very top of my want list. By no coincidence, that describes the InstaMan perfectly.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:09 PM to Driver's Seat )
4 November 2005
Of course, they'll owe one month's rent

There's an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Office in Harlem at 55 West 125th Street; the building is owned by Cogswell Realty (I always thought they made cogs), which is currently leasing another part of the building to a fellow who might know something about taxes: Bill Clinton.

What gets interesting here is that Cogswell is trying to refinance the building, and under New York law, the terms of tenants' leases must be disclosed to any potential investors. And the Clinton lease reportedly has two non-standard escape clauses: if Mrs Clinton runs for the Senate and loses, or if she runs for President and wins. Well, she's already run for the Senate, and she didn't lose.

A Clinton spokesperson says that the lease was drawn up by the General Services Administration and doesn't have anything unusual in it.

Some call it "navel-gazing"

But they're off by a few inches.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:19 AM to Dyssynergy )
Where credit is due

First, a quote from House Speaker Dennis Hastert:

Today's action marks a sad day for one of our nation's most sacred rights: freedom of speech. The federal government seeks to control and regulate the Internet, but the last thing this Congress should be doing is trying to stifle public debate online. This bill would have kept the hands of the federal government off of Internet speech and protected the online debate that's underway. Our world has evolved and grown more technologically savvy. Lawmakers need to adjust to these changes. Unfortunately, opponents of online speech have decided to punish our changing technological world. It's especially unfortunate that Democratic Leader Pelosi voted no to free speech. This bill will come back under regular order, and I encourage all those who support free speech on the Internet to make their voices heard.

The mention of Pelosi is something of a cheap shot it's not like anyone expects anything better from her but otherwise, Hastert is spot-on.

Rather than focusing on the negatives, though, Sean Gleeson chooses to accentuate the positive: he's drafted an open letter to the Oklahoma House delegation, which, to its credit, voted 5-0 in favor of the measure.

(Thanks to The Steel Deal.)

Tomlinson departs CPB

Former Corporation for Public Broadcasting chairman Kenneth Tomlinson has resigned from the CPB board, possibly in expectation of an unfavorable finding by the CPB Inspector General, which has been investigating some of Tomlinson's spending on outside consultants.

Tomlinson came under fire earlier this year for what he described as attempts to correct political bias in PBS progamming; I speculated here that his real goal was to oversee the dismantling of CPB.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:14 AM to Overmodulation )
Whirled without end

Don Danz proposes a new logo for the Tulsa World.

A Google search produces no results for norman trashwrap; yours truly gets the "I'm Feeling Lucky" treatment for oily dorklahoman.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:20 AM to Soonerland )
Okay, so he's a little older

Through the miracle of Photoshop, Dawn Eden finds the right guy.

This seems to be as good a time as any to deny that I have Harriet Miers on my speed dial.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:18 AM to Entirely Too Cool )
One Cingular sensation

Well, maybe not one, technically. Anyway, this is why Wendy keeps her cell phone tucked away neatly in the balcony:

It is a handy place: one that you can easily reach (well, not you you, because that would be creepy) and just a tidier place for personal storage than jeans pockets or a purse. When folded, my phone has a fantastically streamlined, slippery outer shell that allows it to hurtle through space into other dimensions; there are portals to other worlds located in my purse and under the drivers seat in my car, and my phone is always in danger of slipping through them and winding up in the hands of the White Witch of Narnia, but as long as my phone is safely hidden away in the hills, I worry much less.

Which makes perfect sense, if you think about it. (And it wouldn't apply to my rather lumpy Nokia phone, even if I had a place like this to put it, which I don't.)

Also? I never miss a call this way. Even when I'm somewhere noisy or crowded I know when I'm getting a call. I'd tell you how but some of you might feel this is too much information.

I guess some people are horrified by this, but it's just a bra. It's just a bosom. Ever since I've owned one I've been heartily encouraged to show it off and yet I'm not allowed to keep stuff in it? Not fair, I say. So enough with your silly double standards about female support garments, and don't give me that look when I take a call. Let us be, me and my phone and its cozy mountain home. Thank you.

No, I don't have her number. Why would you even ask such a thing?

Addendum, 12 November, 11 am: Jan the Happy Homemaker says that this works pretty well, sort of:

I keep mine right where the strap meets the cup and it is easy to find at all times. Discreet even. But as proud as I have been about not having to "fish" around for my phone, it never occurred to me that the phone could, well, fall into the toilet.

I was pretty good at geometry, but evidently not this good.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:37 PM to Dyssynergy )
Of course, he only asked for one

McGehee wants to know why anyone would read his blog.

The Top Ten reasons follow:

  1. Has steadfastly refused to post pictures of the Olsen twins unclad

  2. Posts more of an Atlanta Journal-Constitution article than ajc.com will let you read without giving them a two-page autobiography

  3. Doesn't write essays about the need for people to floss more regularly for good dental health

  4. A couple of my commenters think he's cool

  5. His site has made me about B$1.1 million on BlogShares

  6. Is way higher than I am in the Ecosystem, making it advisable for me to suck up

  7. Did I mention the Olsen twins?

  8. Is nearly as snarky in his posts as he is in his caption-contest entries

  9. Stands firmly for telling Fulton County, Georgia to put a sock in it

And the Number One reason I read McGehee's blog:

  1. It gives me one additional reason to want to buy him a beer

(Assuming, of course, he's allowed to have beer. You never know, these days.)

Moderation in not quite all things

Rocketboom strikes back! Amanda Congdon (be still, my heart) offers some not-overly-dramatized examples of "crap comments" posted to the site. (Migod, she gets some horrid trollage.) Video, of course.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:44 PM to Blogorrhea )
5 November 2005
Fatuous Flashback 6

What did I know? I was just turning forty-eight:

The half-a-century mark obviously means different things to different people, but it always seems to be some kind of threshold, something that must be traversed in order to get to whatever is on the other side. According to the standard stereotype, women are supposed to take fifty badly, what with the threat of menopause and the presumed deterioration of one's appearance, as though some cosmic force notes the time and date, throws a hidden switch, and suddenly they go from looking like Mariah Carey to looking like Marvin Kalb. This is, of course, palpably untrue. (Two words: Sophia Loren.) More to the point, women I've talked to contrary to popular belief, I have actually talked to women at some point in my life are just as likely to be relieved when all that tedious menstrual business is over and done with, and I don't know anyone who's had a hysterectomy and says she regrets it.

Men, of course, don't get old and crone-like; we become, um, "distinguished-looking". Well, maybe. I figure seven times out of ten I can be distinguished from an abandoned Taliban tent, but that would hardly seem to qualify. And the stereotype that plays here is that at fifty, we suddenly become irresistible to women of twenty-five who find men of their age shallow and callow and blah. This also is a crock, and not just because women have found me highly resistible at any age; one of the essential male drives, it is said, is to preserve adolescence past all understanding, and not everyone who has turned 50 has quite given up on this quest. (Two words: Corvette Z06.) Women (as distinguished from girls) are likely to find sixteen-year-olds of any age dislikable. And personally, I found my adolescence so generally excruciating, a few notable exceptions notwithstanding, that I didn't want it to last as long as it did.

(From Vent #268, 9 November 2001.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:34 AM to Greatest Hits )
Bumper crop

For some reason, bits and pieces of this paragraph have been sitting in the back of my head for half my lifetime, and finally I got hold of the full text.

Original appearance: Car and Driver, October 1979, a column by editor David E. Davis, Jr. He's quoting, he says, "the smartest man in Detroit," who is otherwise unidentified Frank Winchell? Bob Lutz? on the subject of crash tests, and the dummies who have faith in them:

I only hope that my great-grandchildren, looking back on this period with all its stupidity and institutionalized superstition, will appreciate the fact that I was against everything. Take crashworthiness. Nothing else made by man or God is designed to crash. Ships aren't designed to sink. Jet aircraft aren't designed to crash. Only cars. Try to imagine a rainbow trout or a tiger that was designed to withstand a 30-mph barrier impact. A wild duck designed to survive the federal barrier test would be the funniest-looking organism you ever saw. It wouldn't be able to lift off the water, let alone fly. Have you ever noticed that virtually everything in nature is beautiful? That's because it's been allowed to evolve along lines that make it most efficient for the tasks it has to perform. Nature protects her creatures from crashing by providing them with mobility, and the instincts to take advantage of that mobility. Creatures that persist in crashing into barriers don't become better adapted to barrier crashes, they become extinct, as they should.

Of course, now we have a multiplicity of air bags, based on the notion that what you really need is not the ability to avoid an accident it is an immutable law of the American road that anyone who promises to learn how to parallel-park some day can get a driver's license but an explosion a few centimeters from your breastbone that drops the Sta-Puft Marshmallow Man in your lap. And nowadays, you can be ticketed for not fastening your seat belt, which is no different, qualitatively, from being fined for ordering extra mayo on your Whopper. (Not that I'd ever order any mayo on a Whopper, but this is an aesthetic issue, not a health issue, and if it becomes a health issue well, I can only hope that my great-grandchildren, looking back on this period with all its stupidity and institutionalized superstition, will appreciate the fact that I was against everything.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:12 AM to Driver's Seat )
Next-season buzz

The Oklahoman's Jenni Carlson is pretty sure the Hornets will be back here next year:

[T]his is a question of whether the franchise will exercise the option in its contract with Oklahoma City to return for the 2006-07 season and make the Ford Center its temporary home for a second year.

"We'll know by the middle of January," [owner George] Shinn said.

The main reason: season tickets.

"Best practice in the NBA is to get season-ticket renewal information into the hands of ticket holders early," he said. "That usually means February."

Of course, things have a way of happening faster than usual when it comes to the Hornets for an indication of just how fast, see Scott Cooper's cover story in last week's Gazette but the factor here is not how fast Shinn's organization can move, but how fast New Orleans can be rebuilt. Says Carlson:

There's a housing development in New Orleans called C. J. Peete. The neighborhood is less than a mile southwest of the New Orleans Arena, where the Hornets played their home games, and it has more than a thousand homes. That's about half the size of Newcastle. Now, all of it is uninhabited. Uninhabitable, too.

New Orleans' housing authority has already tagged C. J. Peete and one other neighborhood for total gutting and rebuilding. Work has started in that other development, but no one will be able to move in until June. And that's a best-case scenario.

If you're thinking from this that C. J. Peete was otherwise functional before Katrina, think again: the Housing Authority of New Orleans started demolition in 1998. Things apparently don't move quite so quickly in the Big Easy.

Carlson concludes that a second year for the Hornets here in the Big Breezy is pretty much inevitable, and she's probably right, but what happens after that? Everybody George Shinn, NBA Commissioner David Stern, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett is absolutely positive that the Hornets will go back home.


Whenever that is.

Chris Sheridan of ESPN thinks two years is the limit:

Stern appears to be giving Shinn no wiggle room to stay in Oklahoma City for more than two years, and the commissioner does not want to leave a legacy of having failed twice in the Crescent City. (The Jazz played in New Orleans before moving to Utah in 1979.)

So the real-life deadline, in effect, is January 2007. Certainly by then there will be substantial progress toward the restoration of New Orleans. Let's hope so, anyway.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:05 AM to Net Proceeds )
A lover with a slow hand

Or other appendage as appropriate.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:23 PM to Table for One )
From the Fawkes News Channel

The last line of John Lennon's "Remember" (on Plastic Ono Band) is "Remember the 5th of November," a reference to the 1605 Gunpowder Plot against the British Parliament, spearheaded by Guy Fawkes.

For his part in the Plot, Fawkes was given what we might call "cruel and unusual punishment." Had this happened in 2005 instead of 1605, it wouldn't have happened that way at all:

If Guy Fawkes were around today, he would experience a very different outcome. When captured, a finger would not be laid upon him because of the Human Rights Act. He would be granted full legal aid and provided with the services of a high-powered lawyer, perhaps even the Prime Minister's wife.

A support group would be formed to campaign for his release; a large section of the audience on BBC Question Time would work itself into a frenzy of indignation about his imprisonment. He would be made the honorary president of Leeds University Students Union. George Galloway would argue that it is the Government, not Fawkes, which should be in the dock.

After many delays his trial would collapse in farce over a procedural technicality about the collection of evidence by MI5. Released, he would be made a columnist on the Guardian and awarded an Arts Council grant to explore "issues around terrorism".

God only knows what John Lennon would have said, had he survived.

(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

Lacking in essential Bobness

Just to make one thing crystal clear: "Bob" in this Jacqueline Passey post is not me.

Really. It isn't.

(Nor did commenter David Alexander grow up to be me, either, in case that's occurred to you.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:00 PM to Table for One )
Saturday spottings (get lost)

About the time the city announced that they had plans to change some of the downtown one-way streets, there was a piece in the paper about how tourists, despite the newly-installed Wayfinder system, were still getting lost, and one person was quoted as saying that downtown streets simply didn't make sense.

As a thirty-year resident, I was inclined to blow off that claim, until this evening right around sunset when I caught just about every freaking traffic light, and sitting at every other light, it seemed, was some poor soul peering into a map.

And well, yeah, it's a grid, but it's not an intuitive grid. Generally throughout the city, streets run east and west, avenues run north and south, but downtown blows this scheme to hell. Starting at the 200 block South and heading north, you cross Reno Avenue, California Avenue, Sheridan Avenue, Main Street, Park Avenue, Robert S. Kerr Avenue, Dean A. McGee Avenue, and 4th Street. The dividing line between North and South is not Main, but Sheridan; Main, in the grand scheme of things, is a fairly insignificant street despite its name. And there's the perplexing block offset: the 400 block North is not, as you might expect, between 4th and 5th, but between 3rd Dean A. McGee and 4th. No mere Wayfinder can help with this.

About 5:55 I was at 8th and Lincoln (that's 900 Lincoln, by the way) and had the absurd idea of going down the two blocks to Stiles Park and watching them turn on the Big Green Light Saber, a notion for which I berated myself with a couple of iterations of "Do people with lives do this?" When I got there, there were half a dozen people already on hand, waiting for the throwing of the switch.

(Another paragraph starting with A. Do people with lives write like this?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:25 PM to City Scene )
Sudden life

Hornets 91, Rockets 84, at Houston. Apparently the Bees can win on the road.

What's impressive here is that the Rockets had a six-point lead going into the fourth quarter, and held it for a few minutes more before the Hornets went on a berserk 17-2 run. What's more, five Hornets scored in double figures.

Next game is Wednesday at the Ford, against the Magic of Orlando.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:16 PM to Net Proceeds )
6 November 2005
A vision softly creeping

In October 1964, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel got their names their real names, not the "Tom and Jerry" nom de disque they'd used for "Hey, Schoolgirl" back in the late 1950s on an actual Columbia LP, titled Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. Garfunkel, in the liner notes, suggested that there was a "major work" among the plaintive folk tunes: Simon's "The Sound of Silence," at the end of Side 1. The album did not chart, and the duo broke up, Simon departing for England for most of 1965.

Meanwhile, album producer Tom Wilson was pleased that "Sound" was getting some small amount of East Coast airplay, but worried that it wouldn't go beyond that. Folk itself, at least the part of it that was likely to get on the radio, was evolving into folk-rock, a process accelerated by two enormous hits: the Animals' British cover of the New Orleans ballad "House of the Rising Sun," and Bob Dylan's six-minute single "Like a Rolling Stone," which Wilson himself had produced.

With S&G more or less out of the picture, Wilson decided to consult neither; he took the original tape of "Sound," overdubbed a folk-rock rhythm section, and got Columbia to put it out as a single. Simon, by all accounts, was surprised to hear that he had a hit, and was even more surprised at how little it resembled the version he'd recorded. He reunited with Garfunkel, and they hurriedly assembled an album, inevitably titled Sounds of Silence, mostly from songs Simon had written for a UK-only release (The Paul Simon Song Book).

Billboard first took note of the "new" recording on 6 November 1965. By the New Year, it was on top of the Hot 100, where it remained for one week before being bumped by a new Beatles single ("We Can Work It Out"); however, the next week it was back to Number One again. The drawing power of "Sound" was so great that even the forgotten Wednesday album finally made the charts for the first time.

In the forty years since then, you've probably heard the rocked-up hit version more times than you can count. I know I have. But sometimes I'd just as soon hear the original, undubbed version, with just the two voices and Simon's guitar: to me, the simpler arrangement makes more sense for a song about alienation and despair.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:01 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Two eggs, one basket

Or maybe four eggs, one basket: Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune has tapped SMG to manage both the Tulsa Convention Center and the new BOK Center arena. SMG currently manages the Cox Convention Center and the Ford Center arena in Oklahoma City, which, says Michael Bates, could be a problem:

[W]hen a major concert tour is going to make one stop in Oklahoma, you won't have a competition between the two cities to get the show instead SMG will decide, based on their bottom line.

I have to assume LaFortune was thinking that unless he got a brand-name management firm, Tulsa wouldn't get any of these events at all. Still, I'm wondering if Tulsa, or for that matter Oklahoma City, wouldn't have been better served if he'd sought out an SMG competitor: having the four largest venues in the state under a single management strikes me as at least potentially counterproductive.

Addendum, 9:15 am, 7 November: Tulsa Councilman Chris Medlock notes that the major competition was Global Spectrum, a corporate affiliate of cable giant Comcast. And Comcast, as a cable giant, is a competitor to Cox Communications, which runs the Oklahoma City and Tulsa cable systems, which owns a piece of the Tulsa radio market, and which has its name on the wall at Oklahoma City's convention center, managed by SMG. Did Cox ever-so-subtly point this out to Bill LaFortune?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:03 AM to Soonerland )
Your basic Dead Teenager songs

What with Monty introducing the Bride of the Leader of the Pack, I've got my mind on teenage death ditties today, and I'm declaring this thread open to discussion of same.

One observation: The songs recorded by the boys tended to be sweet and sentimental, while the girls went for the throat. (Even "Leader of the Pack" made no bones about eternal verities or anything like that; it was All Dad's Fault, and that was that.) The apotheosis of the latter phenomenon is "Nightmare," recorded by Lori Burton as the "Whyte Boots," the tale of a catfight turned literally lethal. Issued on Philips 40422 in 1967, it did not chart, perhaps because it was, like, too intense.

A few random favorites from the genre:

  • Dickey Lee, "Patches" (Smash 1758, 1962)
    She lives on the wrong side of town, and when her boyfriend is barred from seeing her, she throws herself into the dirty old river that runs by the coal mine in Old Shantytown. Boyfriend vows to follow.

  • Dickey Lee, "Laurie (Strange Things Happen)" (TCF Hall 102, 1965)
    Yeah, him again. Boy meets girl at dance, she borrows his sweater because it's cold, he eventually discovers that she's been dead for a year.

  • The Shangri-Las, "Give Us Your Blessings" (Red Bird 10-030, 1965)
    Young couple want to get married, parental units say they're too young, couple runs crying from the room and drives off into the sunset, never seeing the sign that says DETOUR.

  • Ray Peterson, "Tell Laura I Love Her" (RCA Victor 47-7745, 1960)
    Tommy can't afford a ring for his girl, so he enters a stock-car race to raise funds. He was, of course, the youngest driver there. Jeff Barry originally wrote this about a rodeo, but was persuaded to change the venue. Peterson also cut a version of "Give Us Your Blessings".

  • The Everly Brothers, "Ebony Eyes" (Warner Bros. 5199, 1961)
    Young soldier gets just enough leave time to get married; to save time, she takes a plane to his duty station, but Flight 1203 never arrives.

And I didn't even mention "I Want My Baby Back", surely a sign of restraint.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:48 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Mirror, mirror

Tell me what you want, what you really, really want:

We yearn for something resembling fidelity,
Like an intertwining of sweet dependencies,
Something which surpasses and contains existence;
We can no longer live far from eternity.

So writes Michel Houellebecq in La poursuite du bonheur, and while it's controversial in some circles even to mention his name in 2002, he opined to the French literary magazine Lire that while your major monotheistic religions were ultimately based on "texts of hate," Islam was the "most stupid," a statement which got him hauled before a French court for inciting racism, a charge which did not stick what I've read of him reminds me very much of me: part romantic, part misanthropic, and never quite able to reconcile the two.

In a few months, an English translation of Houellebecq's novel The Possibility of an Island is due out, and its thesis is disturbing: the demand for sensuality has increased so much that actual satisfaction has become a remote possibility at best. Ariadne von Schirach writes in der Spiegel:

In his new book, Houellebecq writes that the consistent pursuit of individuality must inevitably lead to the death of love, to a state in which we will be so in love with ourselves that we will no longer be capable of loving anyone else.

I find this prospect unutterably scary. It's no particular secret that I have loosened my leash, become more self-indulgent in recent years, and while my state of mind has "improved" (read: "become less despondent"), possibly as a result, the idea that I might be heading for full-fledged narcissism is chilling in the extreme. (We will ignore for the moment the idea that anyone with a blog is already a narcissist.) And I have written far too much already for the "Love, lack of" entry in the index; the last thing I need is more fodder for the topic.

But self-indulgence, at least in my case, does not equal hedonism, at least not yet. For one thing, I can't afford to be a hedonist: it requires financial commitments beyond my present capacity. More to the point, I wouldn't be a very good hedonist: I would never be able to persuade myself that I deserve what I'm getting. (This might reflect the not-inconsiderable influence of Jack Benny, who, accepting a prize of some sort, said "I don't deserve this award, but then I have arthritis and I don't deserve that either.")

Still, I don't hold myself so far apart from the rest of humanity that I can claim any immunity to its foibles, and if I'm destined to descend into Houellebecq's brave new world of self-absorption and disgruntlement, I want to know about it now, so I can take either countermeasures or drugs. Or both.

(Translation of the opening quatrain by Richard Davis. This piece was inspired, if that's the word God forbid anyone should find any inspiration in what I write by this post at doxology. Apologies to anyone whose vision and/or digestion was affected by the Spice Girls reference.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:44 PM to Table for One )
7 November 2005
Permanent nest

David Aldridge writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer:

The truth of the matter is that it was a tough go for the Hornets in New Orleans before the hurricane. Like Sacramento, Calif.; San Antonio, Texas; and Memphis and Oklahoma City, for that matter New Orleans might be too small to support two major-league teams. The more established Saints have four decades of history in New Orleans, and the benefits to a city of having an NFL team, frankly, are greater than those of having an NBA team.

(Along those lines, shouldn't the NFL dip into its stadium building fund and publicly commit to helping build a new football stadium in New Orleans that would assure that the Saints remain there? The league has made untold millions hosting Super Bowls in the Big Easy over the years. It's time to repay that debt.)

No city will support a team with an 18-64 record the one the Hornets had last season for long, and Oklahoma City is surely no different. The Hornets are going to continue to be bad for a lot longer than this season. But geographically and financially, it makes sense to leave them in Oklahoma City. Equally important, people in the city are uniquely capable of understanding the pain of loss and shared suffering.

"They were sympathetic because of what they went through," Hornets owner George Shinn said last week. "They understood, and they stepped up. They made it clear to the NBA when they called that [they were not] trying to steal the team. They just want [the Hornets] to have a safe place to land."

And any notion that Oklahoma City isn't a major-league town evaporates the moment you reach the corner of 5th and Robinson.

That's where the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building used to be, before Timothy McVeigh's act of madness reduced much of it to rubble.

Now a wondrous memorial to the dead and the living has risen from the ashes. And there is a nearby museum that details every second of that horrible day and many of the seconds that have come and gone since. There also is a serene outdoor mall with a reflecting pool that connects one end of the memorial to the other. There are 168 chairs lined up on one side of the memorial, one for each person killed in the explosion.

And on each wall these words are engraved:

We Come Here To Remember Those Who Were Killed, Those Who Survived, And Those Changed Forever. May All Who Leave Here Know The Impact Of Violence. May This Memorial Offer Comfort, Strength, Peace, Hope And Serenity.

Oh, Oklahoma City is big-league, all right.

The Hornets aren't going to stay 18-64. (Last year, they won two of their first 31 games; this year, they've won two of their first three.) And there's already an indication that the Saints might be on the way out the door. I do, however, like Aldridge's idea that the NFL, which doesn't exactly have an abundance of Super Bowl sites, should assist with the Superdome repair and/or replacement.

As to the question of whether the Hornets should stay, I admit that right now, I'm more concerned with whether they beat the Orlando Magic Wednesday night.

(With thanks to Doug Loudenback.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Net Proceeds )
Stripped away

When I pay a bill, I write the check number and amount paid on it and throw it in a drawer, or I write the date it was paid through the bank's online-payment service and throw it in a drawer.

The common thread here is "throw it in a drawer," and as I was sealing up the payment for the utility bill, I discovered there was no room in said drawer. An examination of the contents revealed that I had stuff in there going back to October 2003, about the time I started planning the move to Surlywood.

I have a shredder, but it's only half-size nothing over 4¼ inches wide and no more than three sheets at once. Forty-five minutes later, I had a drawer only half full and about ten gallons (my usual kitchen bag allegedly holds thirteen) of what looked like underdone ziti. Presumably I'll have to do this again no later than the summer of '07.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:02 AM to General Disinterest )
Tales from the dung eon

Andrea Harris asks:

Has there ever been a generation in the history of the earth more full of preening regard for the wonderful beings that composed it than the Baby Boomers?

The answer:

  1. No.
  2. Hell, no.
  3. No es posible, Señora.
  4. All of the above.

No penalty for guessing.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:36 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Traveling with plastic

These days, more frequent-flyer miles are earned by credit-card usage than by actually flying. With this in mind, Gary Leff offers suggestions at Marginal Revolution on what cards to carry and how to maximize your take.

(Via Jacqueline Passey.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:37 AM to Common Cents )
What's the opposite of "kismet"?

For some reason, I said this about Maureen Dowd last week:

I might suggest that what MoDo needs is an all-encompassing, utterly transcendent, and most of all brief affair, just long enough to get the blues out of her system but then, it's also been suggested that this is exactly what I need.

Shed those Dowd-y feathers and fly a little bit? Maybe, maybe not. But the mind reels at least, my mind reels at the very idea that MoDo and I might have something in common. (And here's the complete reel.)

I guess it still Hertz

A couple of months ago, Ford Motor Company announced that it would spin off Hertz, its wholly-owned auto-rental unit, to a group of private investors.

Today Hertz chairman Craig Koch says he will step down as of the first of January because of a "family medical issue."

That's the first of January 2007.

The reader who pointed me to this story commented: "I wish I knew 14 months in advance when my family would have to deal with a 'medical issue'."

I don't know. I once left a job because of "mutual illness": I was sick of them, and they were sick of me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:04 PM to Driver's Seat )
Shelf treatment

Our man at The Clog Almanac is soliciting suggestions for reading material while we're quarantined with the bird flu.

First recommendation: Camus' La peste (The Plague).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:00 PM to Almost Yogurt )
A pattern with guts

A model of the human digestive system, knitted.

If the first thing you noticed was the color of the rectum, go to your room.

(Via Jan the Happy Homemaker.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:12 PM to Entirely Too Cool )
8 November 2005
Son of strange search-engine queries

As always, these were actual queries that led to somewhere on this site.

free sheet music to the song entitled "this is the song that never ends": There isn't enough paper in the world to print it all out.

tips on being photogenic: Why in the world would anyone ask me that?

Novelty Songs: Article of clothing worn by little girl in Brian Hyland's chart-topper: It was a yellow polka-dot bikini, though not a particularly large one.

dancing in socks only: Insert "hardwood floor" joke here.

muslim babes shave every 40 days: Whether they need to or not?

weem away: Don't fear, my darling, the lion sleeps tonight.

did the vikings invent pizza in the 800s?: And if it wasn't delivered in 30 months, it was free.

rappers delight country version: The chicken tastes like mesquite, dammit.

chomsky leftish: It's true. Similarly, the Pacific Ocean is dampish.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:23 AM to You Asked For It )
Teenage demise as metaphor

Following up on this item, Fritz Schranck says:

I'll bet somewhere someone did a doctoral thesis on the reason why these ditties were so popular probably suggesting something to do with fatalism and the threat of nuclear war at the time.

I wouldn't be surprised. Rock critic Dave Marsh on "Leader of the Pack," circa 1989:

If the Shangri-Las had recorded [it] three years later [1967], it would have been understood as a Vietnam allegory. And a better one than "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy," at that.

We felt so helpless; what could we do?

Which may explain why the genre mostly died after about 1965: with Vietnam a decidedly-unpleasant reality, fantasy deaths like these became superfluous. (The Shangs' actual war song, "Long Live Our Love," stiffed, so to speak.) The heat of battle overshadowed the Cold War; who cares about the Moody River, whose deadliness merely exceeds that of a knife, when the Eastern world, it is explodin'?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:00 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Words we can no longer use

Three this month, says Lileks:

"Illegal aliens" is doubleplus ungood; the new term is "undocumented worker" or ?undocumented resident." Which slyly suggests that residency is the value that trumps legality. "Gyp" is forbidden, and I understand why; it's derived from "gypsy," and means "to cheat." Fine. But now "codger" is forbidden, as an "offensive term referring to a senior citizen.?

Codger! "Offensive." No word strikes more fear into the heart of modern journalists. "Offensive" could mean meetings and memos and warning notes and angry emails. Some journos love it; so I offend. Fine. It?s in the job description. Others fold up like a card table, horrified but only if the offended person hails from a designated victim group; they don't lose a lot of sleep if they've offended some nutball right-winger. That is merely a sign you're doing something right.

On the spectrum, I'm presumably closer to nutball right-winger than designated victim; on the other hand, I've always prided myself on being an equal-opportunity offender. (Political correctness? If it's political at all, it ain't correct.)

Still, if anyone happens to be setting up a foundation to lobby for the banning of the phrase "speak[ing] truth to power" from now until two days past eternity, I've got a check right here. Call it the whimsy of an old codger.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:05 AM to Almost Yogurt )
How to spot a lie

The volume of lies is increasing at somewhere between twice and 4.5 times the rate of inflation, depending on your choice of information sources; in fact, the volume is growing so quickly that sometimes you might wind up with something that isn't a lie at all.

As a public service, Sean Gleeson provides a handy flow chart to enable you to check these things directly.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:56 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Three of diamonds

That's me: a lump of coal under a lot of pressure.

Besides, canasta players will note that this card doesn't meld worth a damn.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:14 AM to Blogorrhea )
Who gets Trenton?

Well, if somebody has to win in New Jersey, I hope it's this way:

Forrester/Corzine a dead heat ... election officials find more fraudulent ballots cast than real ballots. New Jersey's charter as a state is revoked and it's merged with Delaware. New York is split into North New York and South New York so a new US flag won't have to be created. Governor of South New York Rudy Giuliani becomes the instant front runner in '08.

You know, Delaware might actually object to this.

(Via E. M. Zanotti.)

A brighter, shinier Cam

Cam Edwards' Web site is sporting a spiffy new E. Webscapes design. Of course, I'm a sucker for retro-styled microphones; the most contemporary mike I own is thirty years old and won't even fit in a shirt pocket, let alone clip to one. (And yes, it works with the computer, but then the computer is four years old, which is about 147 in dog years.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:19 PM to Blogorrhea )
Follicular follies

"Cold wax," to me, sounds like cold fusion: it might work in the lab, maybe, but God forbid you should try to replicate the experiment.

Just one excerpt:

[T]he only thing worse [than] having your nether businesses glued together is having them glued together and then glued to the bottom of the tub. In scalding hot water. Which, by the way, doesn't melt cold wax.

I will, of course, take her word for it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:34 PM to Dyssynergy )
Future fire figures

Oklahoma City has thirty-five fire stations, which sounds like a lot until you remember that the city covers more than six hundred square miles. Is this enough? Should some of them be moved?

Today, City Council decided to hire an outside consultant to evaluate the placement of OCFD stations and speculate as to where stations should be added or moved. One move is already planned: Station No. 4, at 100 SW 4th, will be relocated northeast of downtown, though it will be up to the consultant to recommend a location.

The consultant will be expected to come up with five-year and ten-year projections, and, says the Request For Proposals, "analyze the potential to provide Emergency Medical Service (EMS) transport from fire stations." The city currently has about twenty Advanced Life Support companies.

One thing I'd like to see which isn't specifically spelled out in the RFP is whether the city plans to upgrade its hazmat capacities.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:00 PM to City Scene )
9 November 2005
Honey, I canceled your vote

Question from Sister Toldjah:

Would you let someone's political affiliations stop you from dating them?

I'd be more likely to go after someone who didn't use both singular and plural pronouns to refer to the same person (cf. "If you love somebody, set them free" Sting), but I don't think that's a political consideration.

Actually, I think I'm close enough to the center to be incompatible with both left and right. The real difference will be in fervor: someone of an activist bent will likely despair of my general indifference to all the hate and injustice in this world/all those damn Marxists running around loose [choose one].

I think, though, that for a long-term relationship, it's better if the couple is somewhere within the same chapter, if not necessarily on the same page.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:24 AM to Table for One )
The Gas Game (intro)

Oklahoma Natural Gas Company offered (enrollment is now closed) a Voluntary Fixed-Price Plan which would freeze the price of gas to be delivered at $8.393 per dekatherm over the next year. I opted not to enroll, on the basis that I didn't think the price would be that high over an entire year: I expected a peak above that right away, but reasoned that it would subside in two or three months, as gasoline prices did and as diesel prices are starting to do. And besides, the price on my October bill was a mere $6.985. (The delivery fee is fixed and not included in these calculations.)

For the next twelve months, I'll calculate how much I've made, or lost, by choosing to reject this option. I start out behind:

  • November: 2.4 used at $11.044; total price $26.51; VFP price $20.14; loss of $6.37.

We'll pick this up again this time next month. For the record, last winter's peak usage was billed in February: I used 10.4 Dth.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:01 AM to Family Joules )
A different angle entirely

The complaints about wind turbines tend to focus on their presumed unsightliness and their Cuisinart-like impact on passing birds. A firm called Terra Moya Aqua Inc. has responded with a 90-degree turn: TMA's new turbine spins on a vertical axis, which allows for a lower tower and which birds don't seem to notice.

Even better, mounting the blades in a plane parallel to the ground apparently causes a lift effect on the back side to supplement the push effect on the front, which means, says TMA, at wind speeds above 5 mph, the turbine actually turns slightly faster than the wind.

If this thing works at all, and I can't think of any particular reason why it shouldn't, it might eventually supersede more conventional windmills, though I expect that the two types will coexist for a while at least, until TMA's patents run out.

(Via Mister Snitch!)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:50 AM to Entirely Too Cool )
Don't get mad, get Glad

And while you're at it, get Roy Orbison.

Only the lonely would come up with something like this, you say? Actually, they prefer pretty paper.

(Suggested by Dawn Eden.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:30 AM to Dyssynergy )

In Oklahoma City, the only numbered street that's also a section-line road on both north and south sides. (NW/NE 164th is also Edmond's 15th Street; SW/SE 164th becomes 34th Street on the south side of Moore.)

The 164th edition of Carnival of the Vanities is hosted by John Bambenek, Part-Time Pundit. The original weekly blog compendium just keeps rolling on.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:42 AM to Blogorrhea )
Ego plus charity

I'll just let Matt Drachenberg tell it:

One of the highest honors a blogger can receive, even better than being mentioned by the MSM, is to have the amazing Chris Muir canonize you in a Day by Day cartoon. Well, now's your chance to get that mention, without having to do any of that pesky blog journalism.

Chris has agreed to create a custom (and autographed) Day by Day panel to support Project Valour-IT!

So here's the deal. We're going to auction off this chance to be immortalized by Mr. Muir. The bidding will start at $50 and will be open until Friday at Noon CST. I suppose you don't have to be a blogger to win, but it would probably give Chris a little more material to work with. And, although I'm supporting the Army team in this effort, the winning bidder can designate which team will receive credit for the donation.

Since the two major motivations for blogging seem to be (1) the desire to Do Good and (2) the desire to see one's name all over the place, this scheme should draw lots of responses. At least, I hope it does.

Leave your bid in the Comments to Matt's original post.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:45 PM to Entirely Too Cool )
In the beginning

State Representative Humus B. Kyddenme last month began drafting a bill for the 2006 session of the Legislature which would mandate the teaching of any and all creation stories which might be pertinent to state residents. With thirty-nine Native American tribes in some way connected to the state, it's possible that the first month of Biology I will be devoted entirely to them. In the Cherokee story, for instance, all the animals originally lived in the sky, above the water, and when the sky became too crowded, Dayuni'si, the water beetle, volunteered to explore what lay below. He found no solid ground, but did find mud at the bottom of the water; the animals attached strings to the corners, hauled the mud up to the surface, and waited for it to dry. (It was left for the wings of the great Buzzard from Galun'lati to finish the job.)

The discovery last week of a small traditional Egyptian community near Tahlequah made it necessary for Kyddenme to include their story as well. Atum, rising from Heliopolis (City of the Sun), produced Shu, the air, and Tefnut, moisture, by "copulating with his hand"; they, in turn, begat Earth and Sky by way of possibly more conventional methods. It's not likely that the state text will contain any illustrations of Atum's act of manipulation, though Rep. Thad Balkman might be able to help.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 PM to Soonerland )
Order option package MCP

Chevrolet has put out a little twelve-page booklet which I found glued to the inside of one of the car mags this month. It's called MEN, WOMEN AND THE TRUCK, subtitled A RELATIONSHIP HANDBOOK, and the bow-tie boys have managed to work in just about any vehicle-related sexual stereotype you can think of. I mean, here's the opening: GIRLS PLAY WITH DOLLS. BOYS PLAY WITH TRUCKS. LET'S START THERE.

But the real winner is page 10, the last full page of text. It begins, yes, with all caps, LADIES, YOU'RE GOING TO OUTLIVE THE MEN ANYWAY.

Not really fair, is it? Nonetheless, it's statistically true. You need to soften this news with more truck to love inside and out. The Chevy Silverado Half-Ton Crew should do the trick. Surround him in an available plush leather-appointed interior larger than either Ford or Toyota. Entertain him with an available 150-channel XM Satellite Radio and rear-seat DVD with auxiliary audio/video jacks. Empower him with a wireless remote control. Give him four full-size doors so he and his friends can make the most of this life. Show him that the most distinctive difference between men and women is your generosity and benevolence when it comes to trucks. And heck, when he's gone, the resale on this bad boy is going to be sweet.

If I hear of a copywriter in Detroit being run over by a Silverado driven by his wife, I'm going to assume it's the guy who wrote this.

And it's back to .500

The Hornets, trailing by one at the half, went totally cold in the third quarter, and didn't recover quite fast enough in the fourth; Orlando wins it, 88-83. Attendance was 18,508.

The Mavericks will be here Saturday, and it won't be on Cox 7.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:41 PM to Net Proceeds )
10 November 2005
Cruiserline Ventiports

That mouthful of Fifties populuxe jargon is, in fact, the official name for Buick portholes, which Donald Pittenger remembers fondly.

His larger point, though, is that General Motors has largely forgotten how to style its cars:

Back between 1930 and 1970, GM pretty much ruled that roost. However, in recent decades the company stumbled. By the early 1980s, cost-saving procedures resulted in a model lineup where it was hard to tell Chevrolets from Buicks, as was famously portrayed on a 1983 Fortune magazine cover. Since then, GM has tried hard to distinguish its brands, though not as successfully as it once did.

Cadillac, at least, has some distinct styling these days. But they'll never be able to explain how come four different brands (Chevy, Pontiac, Buick and Saturn) need a copy of the same indifferent minivan.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:23 AM to Driver's Seat )
Those nutty readers

Traffic at this site is back up over the 1000-a-day mark this week, for no reason I can fathom.

Unless it's because the regulars (whoever they may be) know it's been more than a month since I did a post about squirrels.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:01 AM to Blogorrhea )
A whole lot of ferric oxide

I've seen the billboard. It claims that illegal immigrants cost this state $475 million a year, and yesterday it spurred a news story on KWTV, which I didn't see. The reader who pointed me to it complained, "[I]in my 22 years in Oklahoma City, I have never seen such a horribly biased story. Even though surveys show that illegal immigration is a top concern of the people of this state, you would never know it by this report."

So I went back and watched the story, and it didn't come off so much as biased as it did dismissive: the persons behind Oklahomans For Immigration Reform Now, which inexplicably is rendered as the acronym I.R.O.N., were basically given the back of the editorial hand. (They've posted a response to the story here.)

The Pew Hispanic Center guesstimates [link requires Adobe Reader] that there are between 55,000 and 85,000 "foreign-born persons" in Oklahoma "without proper authorization." Split the difference and call it 70,000. If you buy that $475 million figure in aggregate, that's $6785 a head. This seems more believable if you look at, say, the price of education: Oklahoma City Public Schools in 2004 were spending $5882 per student. But while there are certainly costs involved, there are also benefits: a cursory look down Commerce Street will tell you rather quickly that not all the money earned by illegals is being wired back to Mexico.

My own thinking is admittedly somewhat murky on this issue. Clearly our borders are entirely too porous, and some people we'd rather not have (gang members, the occasional terrorist) take advantage of this fact. On the other hand, people who simply want to work aren't my idea of a threat. And while rounding up seventy thousand people might have a certain visceral appeal, it's not going to happen at least, not on George W. Bush's watch.

And inasmuch as ninety-something percent of Oklahomans have ancestors who were immigrants, I tend to think it's just a bit unseemly to complain about all those damn furriners. When we, as a nation, look at the new arrivals, and our first thought is not what they might bring to the table, but what they might take from the Treasury, we've changed, and not for the better.

A few moments later: Does this mean I think we ought to leave everyone alone and ignore the situation? No. "Out of sight, out of mind" results in stories out of France. But I have a great deal of trouble with the idea of discriminating against people who want to work, especially when we have entirely too many people who don't.

Where has all the selectivity gone?

Jessica Alba, last unseen (here, anyway) as the Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman, seems to think she's being typecast:

The scripts I get are always for the whore, or the motorcycle chick in leather, or the horny maid. I get all those screenplays that start, "Tawnya is in the shower. The water streams down her naked, perky breasts." Somehow, I don't think this is happening to Natalie Portman.

Well, okay, but would it be a bad thing if it were happening to Natalie Portman?

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:49 AM to Almost Yogurt )
It happened just this way

Not from the Sisters Grimm:

Once upon a time, a girl asked a guy "Will you marry me?"

The guy said, "NO!"

And the girl lived happily ever after and went shopping, dancing, drank martinis, always had a clean house, never had to cook, and farted whenever she wanted.

Moral of the story: Martinis give you gas. Or something like that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:40 AM to Table for One )
Equally joked

File under "too much to hope for":

I love funny guys. I think that, when looking for a relationship, one of the first things I consider is whether a guy can take a joke, and whether a guy enjoys being a tease (in the good way). If a guy can get that perfect balance of self-(or me)-deprecating humor, without erring on the side of offensive or making offhand remarks about my Hello Kitty kitchen appliances, he's an automatic in. If he can get me (and I have only met one man my entire life who can do this and he has no idea) to forget the line of joke because his comeback is so good, I'd marry him.

"No idea" describes me often enough, but she's definitely not talking about me here.

This is, however, not all that far from my own benchmark. I have a tendency to throw in vague cultural references, obscure bits of text, and a (half-)vast number of puns, and if someone picks up on more than 50 percent of the aggregate, I am duly impressed. (I'm surprised when I understand half of what I say sometimes.) There remains the issue of why someone that smart would want anything to do with me, but I'll deal with that in the unlikely event that it actually comes up.

And if we must mock Hello Kitty, let it be for the bedroom appliances.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:11 AM to Table for One )
What's more, it's unauthorized

This looks like it has potential:

So ... name your autobiography. Post it in the comments and put a post on your blog inviting your readers to do to the same.

The following have come to mind:

  • Solitary Refinement
  • Love in the Time of Cauliflower
  • Daisy Petals: Divisible by Two
  • Blocked by Google Print
  • Wednesday's Child Is Put Up for Adoption
  • 500 Internal Server Error
  • The Agony and the Eczema

It will, of course, be hard to choose.

(Via this ass-kickingly-cute Midwestern sports dyke.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:24 PM to Screaming Memes )
Fake but appetizing

Jonah Goldberg digs into the veggies and reports:

I tried a wide array of "cheese" products made from various non-dairy substances. And guess what? They all taste like really smart scientists got in a room and tried to come up with a close approximation of cheese. But, sorry, soy pizza doesn't taste like pizza; it tastes like something trying to taste like pizza. That doesn't mean it tastes bad, but it only tastes good to the extent it approaches tasting like the real thing. Throughout my ordeal, I kept referring to my meals as "pod-people food"; when you think of what "pod people" are like in Body Snatchers movies, what makes them creepy is that they're almost human. Meatless Chick'n nuggets, truth be told, don't taste that bad. In fact, I was astounded by how well the manufacturers simulated not just the taste, but the chewy texture, of chicken. But that's what was so off-putting: It's not chicken, and you know it.

The same holds true in clothing: it may feel like silk, it may look like silk, but you'll know it's polyester, and you will be despondent when you wear it.

And how similar a simulacrum, anyway?

[T]he meatless buffalo wings, manufactured by Health Is Wealth, were one of my favorite dishes. Labeled "Completely Meatless and 100% Vegan and Vegetarian," they're made almost entirely from soy and stone-ground wheat. I was disappointed to discover they don't contain fake bones. But why not create fake bones? Well, if one is to take the arguments of the ethical vegans at face value, isn't it a bit disgusting or immoral to make products that look like the foods they consider most evil? Fake hamburgers are really a marvel, but while they still come up short on the taste front, they certainly look like hamburgers. If meat is murder, why hawk products that look like the mutilated corpse? Consider our views on cannibalism, then imagine selling faux human flesh in, say, the form of human thumbs "It tastes just like a missionary!" Wouldn't that still be in poor taste?

Well, yes, I suppose it would.

Still, to borrow a fin from Charlie the Tuna, do we want our garlic-frittered homunculi to have good taste, or do we want them to taste good?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:44 PM to Worth a Fork )
The Braniff will open once more

Last spring, I wrote up a paragraph about 324 North Robinson, the erstwhile Braniff Building, going to waste in the New Downtown.

No longer. Kerr-McGee, owner of the building, is going to have 324 and two buildings around the corner on Robert S. Kerr converted to medium-to-high-buck condos.

The oldest and smallest of the structures is 111 Robert S. Kerr, built in 1902 as the India Temple and originally designated 101 W. 2nd Street. The Shriners moved out around 1909 and the building became known as the Wright Building. The biggest of the three is 135 Robert S. Kerr, which dates to 1921, and which served Kerr-McGee as corporate headquarters from the 1940s until the early 1960s.

Architect Anthony McDermid first proposed the condo conversions to a Mayor's Conference in 2002; he says one difficulty will be pulling the concrete front off 111 and restoring the original surface.

The three buildings cover 270,000 square feet; only about 70 residences will be built, suggesting that they will be very large and presumably pricey.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:13 PM to City Scene )
Now he is six

I have a great deal of trouble with the idea that I now have a grandchild six years old; it just seems so impossible, you know? And yet he was five years old a year ago, four years old two years ago, and so on down the line, in strict compliance with the laws of mathematics.

Oh, well. Happy birthday, Nick. Now cool it for a moment so your mom can get some sleep, okay?

(Aside to someone else born on this date: How is it that he ages one year every twelve months and you age one year every twelve years?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:11 PM to Next Generation )
11 November 2005
The FAQing truth

As Jayne Says:

Most "FAQs" are, at best, frequently "anticipated" questions; more frequently, they are points the author wishes to foist upon you.

How true this is.

(Via A Sweet, Familiar Dissonance.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Blogorrhea )
Thugs on parade

Matt Rosenberg, proprietor of the fine Rosenblog and an ongoing friend of this screwy little site, has a commentary at City Journal, in which he asks, "Why do white liberals accept the 'gangsta' persona as a perfectly legitimate expression of black culture?"

I think David "Clubbeaux" Sims had a substantive point:

White Americans have proven, over time, to be the most fair-minded, open-minded, culturally sensitive people on the face of the earth in world history, but never has any identifiable cultural demographic been more vilified for being culturally insensitive. Nobody ever ever criticizes blacks for not listening to bluegrass, but whites are routinely criticized for not listening to the rap stool pounding out at offensive volume from the car next to you at the stoplight, where your three-year old has to listen to "F-word my ho'" this and "F-word" that. That's the end result of "multiculturalism," being forced to endure absolute garbage just because a non-WASP is perpetrating it.

Well, maybe relative garbage.

My comment at the time:

I'm not suggesting that we pluck kids from the inner city and give them a daily dose of Debussy or anything, but letting them grow up with the descendants of Bad, Bad Leroy Brown as role models isn't doing them one damn bit of good, either.

This was, of course, nearly three years ago; since then, people have taken pains to remind me that most of that stuff is in fact bought by white boys.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:02 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Condition: stable

Someone asked Jeeves this: How can I find out if my ex-husband is alive if he died before the age of 65?

I'm not Jeeves, or any kind of expert on these matters, but it seems to me that if he died before the age of 65, there's a good chance he's, um, still dead.

(I know this because Jeeves sent her here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:43 AM to Blogorrhea )
File under "Always"

Robert Greenwald's documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices will be screened in Fellowship Hall at Mayflower Congregational Church in Oklahoma City this Sunday; however, apparently all the available space has been reserved. Mayflower's Dr Robin Meyers talks about the film here.

Other area screenings will be in Piedmont and at UCO in Edmond on Monday; two scheduled for Norman are reportedly at capacity already. The production company offers a Web tool to find screenings in your neck of the woods. Of course, they wouldn't object if you bought a copy on DVD.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to City Scene )
I, Grunt

December 1974. I'm standing in a metal building on the side of a hill, and "heat" is a concept I'm trying to put out of my mind. There's no snow yet, but the wind is blowing about 35 mph from the frozen North, and I've already been advised to keep the water running, lest the pipes freeze. "Water," in this context, refers to the utility sink; there is no actual latrine. Fortunately, there is lots to do, and as the ancient mimeograph spins, the temperature rises a degree or so. A couple of hours, and I'll have all these orders finished and out to distribution.

The Army considered this post a "hardship" tour: one year, generally, and don't even think about bringing your dependents. In 1974, though, there were plenty of other soldiers who were enduring far greater hardships than I was. And while my job was much shorter on dramatic potential I had a weapon, but it was unlikely I'd be called upon to use it, even on guard duty I knew we were all in this together, whatever "this" happened to be. "When the time comes," Sergeant Irions had said, "we're all Eleven Bravo."

Three decades later, that phrase still sticks in my mind. We all had our specialties I had been a 71B clerk, then got spun off into 75C personnel management but if the barbarians actually showed up at the gate, I wouldn't be fighting them with a typewriter: ol' Seventy-Five Charlie would be toting a rifle with the rest of them.

At that time, I'd had a weapon pointed at me just once: by the Italians, at Fiumicino Airport in Rome. The Carabinieri were waiting for our Pan Am flight, and ordered us off the premises; I later heard that someone had phoned in a bomb threat to FCO, and all incoming flights were getting similar treatment. I wasn't exactly thrilled, but I didn't panic, and that memory was worth something as I loaded more paper into the mimeo and fought off a shiver.

It's still worth something today, thirty years after I left the Middle East, eighty-seven years after the Armistice that ended the World War. (Little did anyone suspect in 1918 that there would soon be another World War, worse than the first.) Fear, left unchecked, eats the soul. The soldier acknowledges that fear, and presses on regardless. For that, and for so much more, we thank him on this day.

(Submitted to Outside the Beltway's and La Shawn Barber's Veterans Day roundups.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:31 AM to General Disinterest )
The incredible shrinking Fed

The Oklahoma City branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City will be shutting down check and cash processing functions these will be shifted to Dallas along with about 130 jobs and will sell off its downtown building at 226 Dean A. McGee in favor of smaller leased quarters.

The remaining Fed staff will concentrate on analysis and projections. One question unanswered: will banks whose checks were processed through the Oklahoma City branch change their routing numbers? Dallas is in the 11th District, Kansas City the 10th, and the first two digits have always indicated the district. (Oklahoma banks are 1030 through 1039 or 3030 through 3039; should the numbers change, presumably they would change to something in the 1100s or 3100s.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:33 AM to City Scene )
This is my rifle, this is my gun

I'd never given any thought to it, and Lynn probably wishes she'd never given any thought to it; I have no doubt she could have done without the visuals.

Five-word summary: "concealed carry at nudist camp". Any more than that and I'll have to figure out some way to offer downloadable Pepto-Bismol® or something.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:17 PM to Birthday Suitable )
It's absinthe but also decathlon

Now that would be one hell of a drink, if it existed; but it's just a combination of random words that wound up as the subject to yet another email stock tout. The actual text was sent as a GIF file, which is always annoying. For your amusement, I reprint the last paragraph, to the extent I can decipher 5-point type:

Penny stocks are considered highly speculative and may be unsuitable for all but very aggressive investors. This Profile is not in any way affiliated with the featured company. We were compensated 3000 dollars to distribute this report. This report is for entertainment and advertising purposes only and should not be used as investment advice.

In this case, it's being used for entertainment.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:13 PM to Scams and Spams )
Bread without no meat

Johnny Tanner has died. The last surviving original member of the seminal R&B group The "5" Royales despite the name, often a six-man group, hence the quotation marks Tanner sang lead on dozens of records, though his brother Eugene took the lead on perhaps their best-known crossover hit, 1958's "Dedicated to the One I Love," later covered to brilliant effect by the Shirelles.

The Royales' breakthrough record was "Baby Don't Do It," recorded for Apollo Records in late 1952; it spent three weeks on top of the R&B charts in the spring of 1953. Like most of the Royales' hits, it was written by guitarist (and bass vocal) Lowman Pauling, who died in 1973.

After leaving the Royales in 1963, Tanner returned to his gospel roots, and stayed there for the rest of his life. It was bone cancer that finally felled him this past Tuesday, at age 78, in the group's hometown of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where there's a Five Royales Drive at the north end of Main Street.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:07 PM to Tongue and Groove )
Dave's not here

Dave Simpson, picked up as editorial cartoonist by the Tulsa World after the closing of the rival Tribune in 1992, was sacked by the World this week: a June cartoon he drew was apparently a blatant copy of a 1981 Bob Englehart cartoon published in The Hartford Courant.

Simpson said he had a copy of the cartoon in his files, unsigned, and thought it was one of his own.

World publisher Robert Lorton said that the paper would begin a review of its journalistic standards; Tulsa political writer Michael Bates is expected to stop laughing by mid-December.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:15 PM to Soonerland )
12 November 2005
Fatuous Flashback 7

One of Victoria's worst-kept secrets:

I looked [in the catalog], and there it was: the Heavenly Star, created by Mouawad exclusively for VS, which appears to be a bra made up entirely of precious stones: about thirty-five hundred of them, set in platinum (of course), with an enormous emerald-cut diamond at the center clasp (does it even clasp?), priced at $12.5 million. No typo: twelve and a half million American dollars. (The matching panty is $750,000, which seems almost like an afterthought.)

Now I belong to the school of thought that says that expensive lingerie is good for show, not so good in actual use: Harvey, caught up in the sheer passion of it all, suddenly rips off Sheila's antique lace, and Sheila, instead of thinking, "Oh, yes, take me, take me now," is thinking "You miserable son of a bitch, I paid eighty-nine fifty for that." To say the least, this is not the sort of thing that strengthens a relationship. I don't even want to imagine Sheila's response to a garment that costs as much as Bill Gates' guest house.

And a few other things bothered me. I mean, surely a 100-percent-mineral panty can't be particularly hygienic. It shouldn't turn your skin green or anything, but still, there's something disconcerting about it, especially if for some reason you have to sit down. Everything you ever hated about thongs will be multiplied, oh, seven hundred fifty thousand times or so.

(From Vent #269, 17 November 2001.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:17 AM to Greatest Hits )
Now that we're out of Katrina footage

I know, we've spent entirely too much time on the subject of Maureen Dowd.

But said subject does tend to spawn interesting tangents. This Dowd-related item at The Passing Parade generated some comments to the effect that there might be a conspiracy to put another woefully-overexposed female, Jennifer Aniston, on every last farging magazine cover in the nation, if not actually on The Nation itself.

Now quoting me, from April 2003:

To: customerservice@bigmagazinepublisher.com

For some unaccountable reason, this month's subscription copy was fitted with the wrong cover, an error which stood out blatantly. I mean, a magazine that does not have Jennifer Aniston on the cover? What were you thinking?

Either I'm way ahead of the Zeitgeist, or wait, was that MoDo on the cell phone?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:02 AM to Warn Mode Due )
Everybody out of the Dead Pool

A group of city employees in Leawood, Kansas, across the state line from Kansas City, Missouri, has been suspended for betting on Kansas City's homicide statistics.

Al Brooks, pro tem mayor of KC, was incensed:

How insensitive and inhumane can someone be?

You might want to ask the growing number of killers on your side of State Line Road, Mr. Mayor.

Remind me to send this to Laurence Simon.

(Suggested by Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:38 AM to Dyssynergy )
Always mind the bollocks

h2g2 (like Wikipedia, except that it has DON'T PANIC in large friendly letters on the start screen) has compiled some information on the Origins and Common Usages of British Swear-words, and a couple of them struck me at an odd angle. On the ever-popular F-word:

In 1999, Conservative Future the youth wing of the Conservative Party started using the logo 'CFUK'. Sadly, this got them into trouble with the clothing company French Connection UK, who had recently rebranded themselves 'fcuk'. It is strange to think that there may be an entire generation who, like Norman Mailer, cannot spell the word.

For the grammarians in the audience:

Curiously, the past participle of 'shit' was once 'shitten', as shown in Chaucer's General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales where he refers to the 'shitten shepherd and clene sheep'. Though we might expect this to have evolved into 'shitted', the more common form of the word in the past tense is in fact 'shat'.

Not to be confused with "Shat" or "The Shat", once known for his portrayal of Iowa-born explorer James T. Kirk.

(Suggested by this Tinkerty Tonk compilation; please don't blame Rachel.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:16 AM to Say What? )
Gonna party like it's 1709

Which, according to Dr Hans-Ulrich Niemitz, is next year.

The Phantom Time Hypothesis [link requires Adobe Reader] by Dr Niemitz and various associates asserts that 297 nonexistent years have been inserted into the calendar, all during the early Middle Ages, where documentation is always sparse and often forged, and where there are many unexplained gaps in the historical record.

What gaps, you ask?

[A] gap in the history of building in Constantinople (558 AD ? 908 AD); a gap in the doctrine of faith, especially the gap in the evolution of theory and meaning of purgatory (600 AD until ca. 1100); a 300-year-long reluctant introduction of farming techniques (three-acre-system, horse with cummet) and of war techniques (stirrup); a gap in the mosaic art (565 AD ? 1018 AD).

And there are other clues as well:

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII started the so-called "Gregorian calendar", which is basically a corrected version of the old Julian calendar of Julius Caesar. The Julian calendar, after being used for a long time, no longer corresponded with the astronomical situation. The difference, according to calculations by Pope Gregory, amounted to 10 days. Now please calculate: how many Julian years does it take to produce an error of 10 days? The answer is 1257 years.

Count back 1257 years from 1582, and Caesar apparently promulgated his calendar in 325, a neat trick for someone who died in 44 BC. If the years were correct, the calendar should have been off 13 days by 1582, not ten.

I'm not sure what to make of this. It seems at least reasonably possible that we might have lost an accurate count over the years, though I think more likely it's a year or two here and there, rather than a sudden jump of two or three centuries. And it's generally believed that "1 AD" is off a couple of ticks; the sixth-century calculations by Dionysius Exiguus set the birth of Jesus Christ one to four years after the death of Herod the Great, which conflicts with chapter 2 of Matthew's Gospel, in which Herod plays a pivotal role. (The usual date given for Herod's death is 4 BC.)

I'm waiting to see if anyone does a detailed comparison to the Hebrew calendar. (The Muslim calendar, presumably by coincidence, seems to kick in during the period in question.)

Alan Bellows has a good, if skeptical, piece on this at Damn Interesting, which I caught by way of serotoninrain.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:25 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The taxman cometh

I got my property tax bill today, and it was almost, but not entirely, predictable.

Under the 5-percent cap law, the assessed value can go up by a maximum of 5 percent per year, regardless of actual market value, unless there is a change in ownership or a substantial change in the property itself. And the market value, they estimate, has risen a little more than 11 percent this year; however, the assessed value has risen by wait for it 4.998 percent. (Remind me to hire these people next time I need hairs split.)

The actual tax, however, did not go up by 4.998 percent; the tax rate has dropped by a little more than two mills, though it's still slightly higher than it was for 2003. The actual increase is more like 3.7 percent.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:44 PM to Surlywood )
It's not like they're making money on them

Brock Yates, in his Car and Driver column for December, suggests a way for Detroit to clear their inventory of unsold cars:

Why not, as a consortium, offer up maybe 10,000 cars (all stuck in inventory, anyway) at $1 each to help the victims on the Gulf Coast? This would be not only a massive act of mercy while empowering the helpless but also a timeless act of public-relations brilliance.

Can anyone think of a reason why this might be a bad idea?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:59 PM to Driver's Seat )
None of that tedious defense stuff

A lot of shots taken, and a lot of shots made; it's just that Dallas made a couple more of them along the way.

Mavericks 109, Hornets 103. This moves the 4-2 Mavs ahead of the 2-3 Bees in the Southwest Division.

Next game: at Miami on Tuesday, before returning to the Ford on Wednesday to play Denver. (McDonald's has a promotional deal; they ask, presumably rhetorically, "Are the Nuggets Chicken?" Now that's irony.)

Later: The Oklahoman notes that the game was a sellout, even with both OU and OSU home football games the same day.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:34 PM to Net Proceeds )
13 November 2005
Four years and counting

It's the fourth anniversary of MAPS for Kids, a massive upgrading of Oklahoma City schools funded by a seven-year, one-cent sales tax. The price tag for everything on the want list was close to $700 million; 70 percent will go to the Oklahoma City Public Schools, and 30 percent to suburban districts which extend into the city limits.

So what have we gotten for this incredible number of dollars? The Oklahoman dug up some numbers:

Before: Average age of a district school bus, 20 years.
Now: 2-3.

Before: Average odometer reading on buses, 300,000 miles.
Now: 25,000-30,000.

Before: Consistently got unqualified audit opinions.
Now: Two consecutive clean audits.

Before: Poor bond rating.
Now: Improved.

Before: Percentage of schools making adequate yearly progress on state-mandated tests: 54 percent of elementaries; 20 percent of middle schools; 20 percent of high schools.
Now: 96 percent of elementaries; 80 percent of middle schools; 67 percent of high schools.

It is of course true that spending a lot of money does not necessarily result in good schools. But this strikes me as a heck of a lot of progress in just four years from what was by all accounts a fairly horrid operation.

Some thoughts outside the box, from a principal who shall remain nameless:

Unfortunately, to think in a divergent way is not really supported in traditional public education.

In fact, it can make you downright unpopular with the status quo (or anyone who is commanding the direction in an educational enterprise). It is so much easier to educate as it has always been done with a "working harder, longer or better" mentality. For to think and act in a divergent way that challenges the status quo can cause one to be labelled as a problematic person (me).

I just thought I would throw that in ... just in case there is someone else out there who is thinking divergently. Divergent thinking and practices do not get supported (except at your own school with your own folks who see the simplistic beauty of practicing so that every child succeeds). And, there are no overnight answers ... it's one step at a time (and sometimes side-stepping to avoid the bureaucratic sludge in the middle of the road). I would be really worried about writing this if I thought anyone but my loyal faculty and staff might read this post; luckily, I think I am safe.

Let's hope some of that $700 million got spent for sludge removal.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:35 AM to Almost Yogurt , City Scene )
Beyond mere personal ads

A British woman has taken out newspaper ads seeking a boyfriend for her daughter. Applicants should be single, 24 to 30, geographically acceptable, and must produce a 500-word essay detailing their qualifications. The young lady in question is twenty-four, a student, and has a six-year-old son from a previous commitment. Appearance is not a major criterion, though "Brad Pitt lookalikes will not be rejected out of hand".

Meanwhile in Denver (first spotted at Okiedoke), a woman in her late forties is offering a package deal: buy her house, and she comes with it. Asking price is $600k, which doesn't seem out of line for the Washington Park area of Denver, especially given the amount of work she's supposed to have put into it I pulled up some MLS listings in 80209 and even the smaller bungalows start in the 400s but, you know, some things are harder to appraise than others. I bounced this premise off a few women of similar age, and they were somewhat suspicious of the entire venture.

I'm inclined to think that Maureen Dowd isn't going to be trying these particular ploys any time soon.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:10 AM to Table for One , Warn Mode Due )
You can go your own way

Brian Carney of the WSJ thinks it's possible to give those Other Countries some play in Net governance without involving the graftmeisters at the UN:

Here's how it might work. At some point, China will grow tired of the U.S. refusal to give up control to the U.N., and it will secede from the status quo. It will set up its own root server, tweaked to allow access only to those sites the government deems nonthreatening, and simply order every Internet service provider in the country to use it instead of Icann's. The change will be seamless to most users, but China will have set up its own private Net, one answerable to the people's revolutionaries rather than to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Others may follow suit. Root servers could spring up in France, or Cuba, or Iran. In time, the Internet might look less like the Internet and more like, say, the phone system, where there is no "controlling legal authority" on the international level. More liberal-minded countries would probably, if they did adopt a local root-server, allow users to specify which server they wanted to query when typing in, say, Microsoft.com.

As a technical means of content control, going "split root," as they say in the business, is too compelling for governments not to give it a try. But the user experience would likely be much the same as it ever was most of the time. ISPs, as well as most vaguely democratic governments, would have an interest in ensuring broad interoperability, just as no one in Saudi Arabia or China has yet decided that dialing +1-202-456-1414 the White House switchboard number from those countries should go somewhere else, like Moammar Gadhafi's house. Nothing stops phone companies from doing things like that, except that the market expects a certain consistency in how phone calls are directed, so it is in the interests of the operators to supply what the market expects. The same principle would apply in a split-root world.

This won't play well at the General Assembly, where it will be pointed out that members of the Bunghole tribe of West Easteria won't be able to achieve the same level of technical asshattery as the Chinese, but this is the situation for which the phrase "Who gives a flying fish?" was invented.

(Via Robert Prather.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:47 AM to PEBKAC )
Insert Microsoft joke here

In the old days of DOS, there was expanded memory, and there was extended memory, and you had to keep the two of them from snarling at one another by use of some arcane syntax in a startup file. Neither one of them, though, was really the ultimate solution to the problem, and when Windows finally cut itself loose from DOS oh, never mind, I'm just asking for Mac partisans to come in and snicker.

Half-assed solutions, of course, are hardly limited to operating systems, as Michael Blowhard explains:

[T]he medical engineers behind Viagra might justifiably point to my slightly-more-tumescent-than-usual groin and say, See, our miracle pill works! They could high-five each other. But between you and me my experiments with Viagra have me shaking my head over what literal-minded knuckleheads scientists can be. What a stupid, unimaginative, and one-dimensional conception of eroticism Viagra represents: increased susceptibility to congestion. For what kind of spiritually-stunted person is congestion what sex is all about? So I look at the scientists, the technologists, and their publicists and say, "Typical of science and medicine, no? As far as they're concerned, the operation was a success. Too bad the patient namely whatever interest I might have had in participating in erotic pleasure died."

Think of it as the path of least resistance: J. Random Shortarm will presumably be so happy with the imagined longitudinal enhancements that he will overlook all that other stuff.

It's worth remembering, though, that Pfizer's first plans for sildenafil citrate were much more mundane: a treatment for chest pains in men, at which it wasn't worth a darn. Improvements in the libido were duly noted as a side effect, and eventually the suits decided that maybe they could sell it as the quicker pricker-upper; the rest is pharmaceutical (and marketing) history.

So let us not fault Pfizer for their simplistic view of male sexuality these days, thanks to the combined actions of angry feminists and feckless men, that view is now Accepted Wisdom but let us praise them for finding a use for a drug that otherwise they'd have written off their books and ultimately charged off to the taxpayers.

(Disclosure: Despite being in the, um, target market, I have never touched the stuff, and have never felt compelled to try it out. Of course, this is due, not to the superiority of the equipment at hand, but to the lack of suitable opportunities; "at hand," alas, is more than merely a cliché. Should I be concerned about the matter, there are Level I diagnostics available. And "feckless"? Trust me, I have scads of feck.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:33 PM to Dyssynergy )
14 November 2005
Dodging the usual channels

"And when they got through, the title weighed sixty pounds," sang Johnny Cash in "One Piece at a Time" way back in 1976. The tale of a GM assembly-line worker who hides individual parts in his lunchbox until he has enough to build a whole Cadillac, brand-new but weird-looking because of model changes over all those years, it's funny as heck, and it might even possibly be inspirational as well: one fellow was swiping parts from a DaimlerChrysler plant near St. Louis and then selling them on eBay. For his efforts, Ronald Casagrande got 13 months in the Big House and was ordered to pay $131,000 in restitution, $31,000 more than Cash's line worker estimated his multi-year monster to be worth.

Apparently there is karma at work here: a commenter at Autoblog, where I found this story, notes that Casagrande's last name means, yes, "Big House."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Driver's Seat )
When pundits breed

Keith Rogan writes to Mark Steyn:

Conservative columnists with a sense of humor (like you) are a rare breed. With that thought uppermost in mind, I can't help but wonder what sort of "Uber-Columnist" might be created if Ann Coulter and yourself could be induced to breed?

With nothing more than a candlelit dinner and massive amounts of fertility drugs I can envision a future harvest of leggy, bearded, journalism students that could change the world as we know it, possibly.

Perhaps you could send Ann some roses and a dinner invitation to get the ball rolling, so to speak?

If this seems horrifying, wait until you hear Steyn's reply:

Well, if I glimpse Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd necking on a park bench, I'd certainly be willing to even up the score. Lie back and think of Canada, as Queen Victoria almost said.

This exchange serves two purposes. It enables me to get in my Obligatory Gratuitous Maureen Dowd Reference for the day, and it suggests a question: "Is there any demand for hot pundit-on-pundit action?" Somehow I doubt it; I've turned up only two examples [not safe for work] of Ann Coulter fan fiction, neither of which involves another pundit. Still, that's two more than I've found for Dowd, or for Krugman or Steyn.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:06 AM to Dyssynergy , Warn Mode Due )
Welcome to the Big Scrape

This morning at ten, groundbreaking ceremonies will be held for the new Interstate 40, a $360 million realignment of the Crosstown Expressway. The new freeway will be ten lanes instead of (mostly) six, and will run about five blocks south of the old one.

Presently I-40 through downtown carries about 150 percent of the traffic for which it was designed. The roadway is in bad shape, though the elevated deck itself seems to be holding up fairly well. (Rumors that the Crosstown is "crumbling" pop up occasionally; the lack of ongoing emergency repairs would seem to indicate otherwise.) The motivations for starting now, before all the funding is in place, would seem to be two: to hype a new and expanded downtown, no longer split by the old Crosstown, and to kill off any chance of a rail-transit system that might utilize the existing Union Station.

At least this won't take as long as the I-35 reconstruction project, which began under King George III.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:03 AM to City Scene )
I wanna be loved by you

Nice idea for a song, but a lousy idea for foreign policy:

[T]he opinion of "the world" which term of course refers to certain media conglomerations and certain world governments, not the entire population of the earth is not worth consulting, considering what a puling, infantile, hysterical mass of babies this "world" is. Perhaps Mr. McCain has personal reasons for pushing this anti-torture bill, but he should know of all people that words on paper mean nothing to really determined people.

Which, of course, describes McCain, who is really determined to get into the White House.

The torture bill, far from being seen as a conciliatory attempt to make nice to the world, will be seen as a cynical attempt to buy friends and manipulate world politics, the way everything else we do is always seen. The only thing we really have going for us is that no one is quite sure that we are really the bastards they keep saying we are. I still remember the refreshing look of terror in the eyes of world "leaders" like Mubarak of Egypt after September 11th as they offered their "condolences." Nobody was sure what we'd do next; for all the rest of the world knew we had already pushed the big red button and the Middle East would soon be a nice, smooth, radioactive glass bowl. That's the only reputation we need to worry about "They could go crazy at any moment! Don't bother them don't even look at them funny!" Worrying about being loved is for weak nations like France.

Except, of course, for the minor detail that traditionally, France doesn't worry about being loved; as far as they're concerned, they're France, and you're not, and you can just suffer for your lack of Franceness (Francitude?).

But then again, I was really hoping that France would reassert its legendary hardassedness in response to that recent spate of street thuggery. This is, after all, la République that proved itself badder than Baader-Meinhof in 1968; seeing them knuckle under is discouraging in the extreme. (File this under "Grudging Respect".)

I'm not saying we should actively court world hatred or anything, but what's the percentage in trying to avoid it? Your friendly neighborhood Islamofascist is indifferent to that sort of nuance, and the small contingent of "Everything America does is wrong" types won't be persuaded otherwise no matter what.

Let no expired equine go unbeaten

And why not?

NEW YORK Maureen Dowd's Technorati search ranking soared to No. 4 this week as bloggers feverishly posted reviews of her new book, Are Men Necessary?, searched for and read others' reviews, and discussed her irrelevance.

"She's just a well-trained, albeit, clever monkey," wrote Dennis Wright, the writer behind Poliblogger. "Does anyone read her books anymore?" Wright asked in his 18-paragraph review of Dowd's new book. Of Wright's 23 posters, 21 said they had read the book, but didn't think other people would.

"Nobody cares what she thinks," wrote Robert Oakley, responding to Wright on his blog, Rightdude. "I don't care what she thinks. She writes these crappy books and behaves as if we are going to talk about them or even care. I mean, do I seem like I care to you?"

You've already seen my level of indifference.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:36 PM to Warn Mode Due )
Town squares

It's been two years since I decided I'd had enough of sort-of-inner-ring suburbia and moved back into the city, and while I occasionally cry when I look at my checkbook, I have no regrets.

The big difference, of course, is that I own this place, subject to a mortgage the size of a small farm animal. But there are other factors in play, as the Warrior Monk notes:

[T]he bottom line is pretty simple, and it's what I suspect is the bottom line for most people: aesthetics. I just like the look and feel of our Minneapolis neighborhood better than I like most of what's in the suburbs. And I'm sure that most inhabitants of the suburbs feel the same way in reverse. The other factors crime, taxes, schools, commuting times, etc. are not negligible, but for me they are decidedly second-order. They work to push me toward or away from my aesthetic preference, but they don't determine that preference.

Of course, the definition of "suburbs" has changed over the years:

I realize that when 21st Century Twin Citians speak of the suburbs, they typically have newer, sprawling places like Eden Prairie and Lakeville and Woodbury, not older, distinct-from-the city-in-name-only places like Edina and St. Louis Park and Mendota Heights, in mind. Still, it's worth remembering that today's "inner city" neighborhood was yesterday's bucolic enclave.

I remind myself occasionally that in 1948, when this neighborhood was developed, it was way out in the sticks: 50th and May? It might as well have been 150th and May. (Of course, 150th and May is now just another intersection in town.)

Still, it doesn't look all that urban outside my door, and apparently the same goes for the Monk:

When our law school friends who now live in New York City or Chicago visit us, they don't see our neighborhood as urban at all. That's because they live in places that really are urban: bustling, high-density, apartment- and condo-dominated, and so on. Very little of Minneapolis and St. Paul is like that.

The working definition of "urban" around this neck of the woods seems to be "no parking except in assigned spaces." High-rise residences are few and far between, though the demand for them is starting to accelerate.

Finally, this question is perplexing:

Does anyone else find it odd that conservatives the staunch upholders of history and tradition typically live in and defend decidedly newfangled suburbs, while liberals the bold advocates of progressive change typically live in and defend decidedly old-fashioned neighborhoods? I've never been able to figure that one out.

Johnny Carson once boiled it down to this:

Democracy is people of all races, colors, and creeds united by a single dream: to get rich and move to the suburbs away from people of all races, colors, and creeds.

Tell me just what it is that conservatives conserve, and I suspect the answer lurks within. Me, I'll happily defend the 'burbs, but I have no intention of ever living in them again.

Addendum: It doesn't work quite that way in central Florida, apparently:

Okay, test, just how many dumb ideas are packed into that little rhetorical question? For the record, the yards of the homes in the rather older former suburb (as opposed to the "newfangled" ones) that I live in, which is now actually very near to the city centers of Orlando and Winter Park, mostly sported "Bush/Cheney" signs during the most recent presidential election. I did see a Kerry/Edwards sign torn into three pieces by the side of the road. And there are a lot of Jewish people in the neighborhood too. One of the homes I walk past on my way to work had a Sukkot shelter in its yard during the week of that festival.

Here in the Big Breezy, you don't get into solid Republican territory until you get out of the city school district, which may say something in itself.

Additional addendum: The Monk strikes back:

[W]hat makes it more odd to me is that during this whole city vs. suburbs debate we've been having in our little network of blogs here, and that was the backdrop for my post, no one has argued along the lines of "you know, as a conservative I'd love to live in one of those older, traditional neighborhoods in Minneapolis or St. Paul, because it seems like it would fit well with my basic philosophical and tempermental outlook, but I can't because [fill in the blank]" because it costs too much, or because there's too much crime, or because the schools suck, or because it's run by DFL weenies, or because whatever. That I would understand. What I don't understand is why a desire to live in an older neighborhood doesn't seem to have entered into anyone's calculus at all. It seems to have been a complete non-factor.

Why was it a factor for me? Because home sizes have been getting larger and larger over the years, and I didn't want anything more than about 1300 square feet and very few new homes these days are that small.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:53 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Well, they didn't call me

Today the city mailed out 3600 questionnaires in an effort to gauge satisfaction, or lack thereof, with city services. Everyone who was sent a survey was supposed to have gotten a phone call from Mayor Cornett, which I didn't, so I think it's safe to assume that I'm not getting one.

If you got one, I'd like to hear from you.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:41 PM to City Scene )
15 November 2005
911 and all that

The FCC has decreed that Phase II of Enhanced 911 for wireless phones shall be implemented by wireless providers by the end of this year. My wireless carrier has already certified that it can meet the FCC's specs in every county in the central part of the state except McClain, and that won't take long.

But it takes two for this particular tango: the local 911 implementation has to be upgraded to work with the Phase II specs, and it hasn't yet. To finance the upgrade, there's going to be, you guessed it, an election, in which voters will be asked to approve a 50-cent monthly charge on their cell bills to cover the cost of E911 Phase II.

On balance, this seems like a good idea, since, according to proponents, more than half the calls to 911 in this area are made by cell phones, which can't be located precisely under the older technology, resulting in delays.

How does it work?

There are two primary location technologies that can be used with the wireless 9-1-1 system. The first one is called GSM (Global System for Mobile communications), and it utilizes a global positioning system chip in the telephone that transmits latitude and longitude information through satellites and cell phone towers. The second method is called "triangulation," and it uses several wireless towers in the area working in unison to triangulate and estimate the location of the call by providing latitude and longitude coordinates. The latitude and longitude data works through a map that the dispatcher will have on a computer screen, which will pinpoint the caller?s location and provide directions to responding police, fire and EMS units.

If I'm reading this correctly, GSM phones can be read directly; CDMA and TDMA phones will require the triangulation method. (I have GSM.)

Were my paranoia at elevated levels, I might be concerned that the powers that be could track my every move with Phase II, but they insist that the location parameters are transmitted back to HQ only when a 911 call is placed.

The election in central Oklahoma (six counties) will be on the 13th of December.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:23 AM to Soonerland )
Be prepared

The more I think about this, the more sense it seems to make:

I used to have an elaborate escape plan. I knew where I was going, how I was going to live, the phone number of a landlord in Vermont, the rental rate on a three room bungalow on a country road, ways to prevent anyone from finding me, how much cash I needed up front and where it was coming from, when the time came.

The time hasn't come, and probably it never will, but sketching out schemes like this is, I'd like to think, the mark of a prudent person; over the years I've planned out everything from how I'd budget for a house (which I've stuck to fairly well) to how I'd act when I got to meet She Who Is Not To Be Named (which, as it turns out, I didn't follow at all).

Then again, I'm still fumbling with my will, so maybe I'm not as prudent as I'd like to think I am.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:08 AM to General Disinterest )
The reality check comes due

The state has been grumbling that the newly-increased tobacco tax wasn't bringing in as much money as they'd planned: what with people quitting the habit, sales are down about 16 percent overall, and tribal smoke shops, which don't have to fork over anywhere near the full $1.03 per pack, are garnering a much larger share of the market than anticipated.

This, of course, is the Law of Unintended Consequences in action, though it could have been predicted by anyone who got through the first semester of Econ 101. Now Ron Cross, owner of Indian Nation Wholesale Company and a member of the state's advisory committee, is proposing that the entire system be scrapped.

It won't happen, of course. And Sooner Politics' Keith Gaddie notes:

The decision of some cigarette smokers to cut back or quit as a consequence of the new tobacco taxes an admirable public health consequence nonetheless indicates that in our poor state, there is a very delicate revenue tipping point for the consumption of sin. High gas, high cigarettes, and lottery tickets: At the end of the day, where do working poor consumers place their moneys? And what are the consequences for Oklahoma?

The phrase "muddling along" comes immediately to mind.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:52 AM to Soonerland )
Your daily Dowd

Thoughts from Lindsay Beyerstein:

No doubt misogyny influenced some people's assessments. The more interesting question is whether the discussion itself is framed by underlying sexist or misogynist assumptions. Are we treating [Maureen] Dowd unfairly because she expresses herself in a stereotypically feminine way? I would argue that Dowd deserves the criticism she's getting, but that there are a lot of equally frivolous men in the media who are allowed to coast on sexism because the public is irrationally predisposed to see their contributions as serious and important.

Some stereotypically feminine characteristics deserve to be criticized, not because they're associated with women, but because they're intrinsically undesirable. [Dowd-like elision here.] If your life prospects depend on your looks, it's only natural to be preoccupied with your personal appearance. If manipulation is the only tool you've got, every job begins to look like an opportunity for feminine guile.

A variation on the hammer/nail thesis. I'm not persuaded that manipulation is the only tool in a woman's belt, so to speak, but when you know something will work, there's a tendency to use it.

It's true that certain attributes are systematically devalued because they are associated with femininity. However, we shouldn't give women a free pass to behave in ways we wouldn't approve of generally. In an ideal world, David Brooks would be dismissed as frivolous and self-absorbed, too.

What? You mean he hasn't been?

Props to Beyerstein for insisting, quite properly, that double standards suck. But I must say a few words on behalf of frivolity. In general, those who turn up their noses at it have failed to grasp an essential concept: life is not supposed to be serious 24/7. And the context doesn't matter all that much, either: gallows humor isn't always tasteful, but it's funny, and under those circumstances, you need all the funny you can get. I suppose I could fault Maureen Dowd for not conforming to the stereotype of the perennially-unamused industrial-strength feminist or for not fully comprehending the Hundred Years' War on Terror, or David Brooks for, um, not thwapping E. J. Dionne upside the head some afternoon on All Things Considered, but what would be the point? No, they're not answering the Ultimate Questions of Life, the Universe, and Everything, but then they're not supposed to. Life is the journey, not the destination; what I want is a travel guide with a sense of humor. Then again, I'm frivolous and self-absorbed. (Ask anyone.) Does this disqualify me for writing for The New York Times? Probably not. (Lack of Official Credentials and an inability to make up stuff on the fly, on the other hand, probably would.)

I leave for someone with greater psychological insights than I which presumably wouldn't take much the explanation for why I've spent so much time on Maureen Dowd this month.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:07 AM to Warn Mode Due )
It's that time again

The Wizbang! crew presents the 2005 Weblog Awards, and nominations are being taken in a whole bunch of categories.

I note that my site fits into two categories, maybe, and I can think of no reason why it should win either of them.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:22 PM to Blogorrhea )
Overly generous

Nothing particularly unusual about spams offering to embiggen the dingus, but one I got today (from the highly-dubious "Product Reviews and Ratings") contained a come-on that shook me slightly: "Did you know 67% of women are not happy with you"?

My immediate reaction, even before pressing the Delete key (and wondering how this thing got through my filters), was "Only two-thirds?"

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:38 PM to Scams and Spams )
But I have some really good news

I saved a bunch of money on my car insurance.

No, really. And I have no idea why; every single item on the list is 10 percent (rounded to the nearest dime) less than it was six months ago. I note that I have a five-year Good Driver discount, but I had that last time also.

In the absence of any other information and I'm loath to call them up and ask them, lest they discover a mistake or something I'm going to assume that this is due to slightly-less-crappy credit on the last pertinent report.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:40 PM to General Disinterest )
16 November 2005
Coal in your stocking would be better

The lowest form of holiday gift imaginable.

(Found at Fashion-Incubator.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to Dyssynergy )
Just a bit too much Heat

Nemesis, thy name is Dwyane Wade. With the Hornets up by seven with two minutes left, Wade went on a seven-point run that came within a rim width of being a nine-point run.

So there was overtime, and Miami prevailed, 109-102. Let us hope the Nuggets aren't in a prevailing mood this evening when they drop into the Ford.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:26 AM to Net Proceeds )
A hard freeze gonna fall

That was the big story from the Weather Guys yesterday: a Hard Freeze. The definition, so far as I can tell, is "28 degrees Fahrenheit or below for several hours," and that's pretty much what we got. What I don't understand is all the ballyhoo: it's hardly unusual to have one of these in November we've had several in October over the years and there will be a lot more of them between now and, say, the Ides of March.

The Hard Freeze Warning covered the state south of US 60. It was actually quite a bit colder north of 60, but they didn't get a warning. Reason: they've already had a Hard Freeze this year, on a day when it got down to only 30 here in the middle of the state. Tacit admission, I suggest, that this is more of a tradition than an actual warning.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:45 AM to Weather or Not )
Bids for attention

Today's Maureen Dowd commentary, from Sir Cranky:

I read a little more of Maureen Dowd's Are Men Necessary? on the subway and bus. She writes about how male readers frequently email her at the Times, asking her to read stuff they write, or watch them on tv, or hear their lectures. Apparently, female readers rarely do this. There is a subtle putdown in the way Maureen talks about all these guys, giving the impression she thinks a lot of them are kooks and wannabes. Or ineffectual cyberspace pick-up artists. And, if Sir Cranky were to email her his thoughts, he'd be joining that elite fraternity too! Wheeeee!! At the same time, Miss Dowd sounds like a homely girl at a nineteenth century ball, showing off a surprisingly full dance card. "I have Chester for the waltz, and Lewis for the polka, and..."

Disclosure: I have never sent anything to Maureen Dowd.

Can there actually be a connection between the stridency of modern career women like Dowd and her pals, and the meteoric growth of strip joints?

Disclosure: I have never actually been to a strip joint.

Further disclosure: When I was much younger, I had a low-level crush on journalist Elizabeth Drew. (Today's her birthday: she's 70.) Once she said this:

The torment of human frustration, whatever its immediate cause, is the knowledge that the self is in prison, its vital force and "mangled mind" leaking away in lonely, wasteful self-conflict.

This is not quite as dire as, say, Faulkner's assertion that "only vegetables are happy," but I do believe that nine times out of ten, the imprisoned self welds its own bars.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:43 AM to Warn Mode Due )
Because we always need sports cars

AC Cars, founded in 1901, is the oldest British automaker still in business. The very definition of a low-volume manufacturer, they dribbled out small quantities of sports cars for decades, even mailing a few to the US starting in 1937.

Perhaps AC's biggest hit was the Ace, which first appeared in 1953. It was fast, but not wicked fast. Enter Carroll Shelby, who showed up at AC's door in 1961 with the idea of shoehorning a Ford V8 under the Ace's bonnet: a 260 at first, then a 289, finally the brutal 427. The Shelby cars were called Cobra, and their place in history was assured many years ago.

Now AC is coming to America, taking over a Bridgeport, Connecticut plant that once built the 1895 Armstrong, where three models including the newest version of the Ace, introduced in 1997 will be built. Production will be about 50 cars in the first year, eventually increasing to about 700.

The current Ace doesn't look like the Cobra, but it's the same idea: a relatively light bodyshell (though at 3300 lb, it's about half a ton more than Shelby's snake) with a snarly V8 at the front. Don't expect any change back from a $100,000 bill.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 AM to Driver's Seat )
From a nation within

One pertinent quote:

Western civilization, unfortunately, does not link knowledge and morality but rather, it connects knowledge and power and makes them equivalent. Today with an information "superhighway" now looming on the horizon, we are told that a lack of access to information will doom people to a life of meaninglessness and poverty. As we look around and observe modern industrial society, however, there is no question that information, in and of itself, is useless and that as more data is generated, ethical and moral decisions are taking on a fantasy dimension in which a "lack of evidence to indict" is the moral equivalent of the good deed.

Vine Deloria, Jr., a Standing Rock Sioux, author of a score of books including Custer Died for Your Sins and We Talk, You Listen, died Sunday at the age of seventy-two.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:19 AM to Almost Yogurt )

It is, of course, early for Chanukah, but the event it celebrates the revolt by the Maccabees against the Seleucids, which ended in victory and the restoration of Jewish services to the Temple in Jerusalem took place in 165 BC, and after all, this is the 165th week of the Carnival of the Vanities, which you can examine yourself at The Examining Room of Dr. Charles.

(Note to new readers: I always do stuff like this. Call it a whim.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:11 PM to Blogorrhea )
Foundation revisited

Is Kerr-McGee having a clearance sale? Last week they announced a deal to sell off three unused properties for residential conversion, and today the Urban Design Committee is looking over the plans for a new headquarters building for the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, to be built on a lot at 10th and Broadway that's being sold by Kerr-McGee.

The Foundation won't have to move very far three blocks or so but the new structure will give them twice the space they're enjoying in the old Kilpatrick Oil Company building off 13th. And when's the last time something was actually built on Automobile Alley?

The project architect is David Hornbeek of Edmond, one of the designers of the upcoming American Indian Cultural Center.

Update, 17 November: The Urban Design Committee has approved the plans, requiring only minor changes.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:01 PM to City Scene )
No, you can't keep them

Singer/composer Carolyne Mas also runs a shelter for abandoned and neglected animals, much to the dismay of the local government:

Last year a Realtor in Florida sold us this lovely 5 acre property which had in the past been a boarding and training facility for Whippets. After moving in and believing that we were realizing our dream to help those who cannot help themselves, we sadly found out that the property was not zoned for a kennel. We have a very sick neighbor who has gone around soliciting support against us, and he was eventually able to find people to join him in his cause against us people who are one-quarter of a mile away. They are the only persons in the area who do not have animals.

On my birthday this year, I had to go to court in response to the zoning violation, and was given until January 1st to comply. My lawyer told me today that he has been talking to the zoning commision, and any request for rezoning will most certainly be turned down. I am suing the Realtor and all other participating parties who lied to us, but if I cannot comply with the strict zoning standards by January 1st, I could go to jail.

I'm not up on the zoning rules of Hudson, Florida, but I have to wonder how that previous facility got a pass from the powers that be.

Suggestions? Give her a call her number's on the linked page or write her at samlorac-at-aol.com.

(Addendum, 20 November: This story was picked up by Dawn Eden for her New York Daily News column.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:42 PM to Dyssynergy )
The bipolar express

For about ten minutes tonight, the Hornets were as good as any team in the NBA. Unfortunately, that left 38 minutes when they were consistently inconsistent, and while Denver wasn't exactly wonderful, "wonderful" wasn't necessary: Nuggets 91, Hornets 81.

The Hawks will be here Friday; the Bees hit the road immediately afterward.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:29 PM to Net Proceeds )
17 November 2005
Stretching a point

Fox will release the Fantastic 4 DVD on the 6th of December, which of course I will circle on the nearest calendar.

But this item from Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch concerns me:

It came in a box by itself, without a letter of explanation or anything else. All that was inside was this bra, emblazoned with the phrase ''On December 6, seeing is believing.''

Well, and that little tag with Sue Storm's picture on it.

Was this Jessica Alba's bra? Were panties supposed to come with it? And why, when we went to photograph it for this page, did it suddenly disappear? Had Invisible Girl actually put it on and walked off with it? One office wag claimed to be missing a thong from the Batman Begins DVD; had the two superheroic undergarments flown off together? Finally, the bra turned up, but with nothing to say about any feats of heroism it might have performed while it was away. I'm just glad the publicists were promoting Alba's presence in the film and not that of Chris Evans, or they might have sent us a flaming Speedo.

I think it's those Yancy Streeters acting up again. (What would they have sent for Michael Chiklis as the ever-lovin' Thing? A box of orange rocks?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Call me at Frozen Tundra 9-3157

The last couple of days, 50th and Villa has been blocked off for water main (or something) repairs; this isn't a big deal, except that it's getting colder than usual at night and whatever liquid is left in the street will turn to ice. (Normal low for this time of year is about 38.) Yesterday, my usual route around the damage was unaffected, but this morning I had to slog through a couple of inches of slush for a couple of blocks, and if there's one thing worse than ice on the road, it's unexpected ice on the road.

I do hope they can finish this patch job before tonight.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:06 AM to General Disinterest )
Looking for a miracle on 74th Street

Once again, there is wailing and gnashing of teeth over the possibility that the General Motors Oklahoma City Assembly plant may be shuttered after new UAW contracts come up in 2007.

The problem is twofold: the plant builds SUVs (three-row Chevy Trailblazers and GM Envoys), which don't have quite the market share they used to, and when the product cycle for this model runs out, GM hasn't assigned a new product to the plant.

My own thinking is that there will be a temporary shutdown, followed by retooling and a new product line, probably in 2008. But right now, what GM needs is a massive hit in the car market they're holding their own in trucks and the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky roadsters can't do it by themselves. To do this, GM is going to have to break open its estimated $30 billion nest egg and build something, as the Apple corps might have it, "insanely great," a car so compelling that no one can ignore it and, just as important, that they don't have to sell at $3000 below sticker because they're piling up on dealer lots.

Update, 21 November: It's dead, Jim.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:04 AM to City Scene )
Dowd for the day

Middle Class Guy Peter Bella thinks MoDo ought to be sacked:

She indirectly, in a recent column, called Judith Miller a whore. She very delicately and through the use of intellectual obfuscatory vocabulary referred to Ms. Miller's private life and her involvement with men. How ghastly. How horrible. How evil. Had Ms. Miller been involved with women it would be perfectly acceptable, but the fact that she likes men is abhorrent to Ms. Dowd.

If a male had written such a vituperative column, he would have been fired at the demand of Ms. Dowd and hauled before Congress to testify before a money wasting hearing before he was publicly castrated by Ted Koppel and Marlo Thomas. But evidently, a female can get away with it. There are only two reasons for this kind of behavior and vengeance drivel by Ms. Dowd. One, she is jealous that her brilliant counterpart actually has a life, and a sex life to boot, or two, Ms. Dowd is a lesbian who was turned down by Ms. Miller.

I rather doubt the latter: while certainly lesbians don't find men, um, necessary, except perhaps for situations requiring good old Brute Strength, they also don't spend a great deal of time castigating them for their perfidy, an activity which constitutes a significant portion of the MoDo operandi.

What I find worrisome, though, is the idea that someone actually considers Judith Miller "brilliant." And besides, as should surprise no one, I like "intellectual obfuscatory vocabulary." Sometimes it's all I have.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:45 AM to Warn Mode Due )
They don't always work

Generally, I tend to look favorably upon "renewable" energy sources; while fossil fuels dominate for reasons of cost and simplicity, the cost advantages are gradually eroding away, and some of the alternatives are a bit cleaner in use. (For instance, buying from a wind farm through OG&E is now a smidgen cheaper than buying from their gas-fueled plant, thanks to way-high prices for natural gas.) But sometimes these schemes fall flat, as did this one in Queensland, Australia:

The troubled Rocky Point co-generation plant in the Woongoolba-Jacobs Well area south of Brisbane is expected to be sold at a fraction of its cost.

The power plant which uses sugarcane and timber waste to produce electricity has cost its government-owned operator Stanwell Corp tens of millions of dollars since it was commissioned three years ago. It was worth $60 million when it opened in 2002 but is now valued at $7.5 million.

The plant had been forced to write down nearly $48 million, or about 80 per cent of its original value, as Stanwell Corp struggles against operating issues not planned for in the original design.

The Australian dollar, at this writing, is worth $0.734 US.

The technology worked well enough, but it had some unexpected drawbacks:

Stanwell chief executive Gary Humphrys yesterday issued a statement saying the plant's operational problems had to do with the processing of fuel and the disposal of waste water and ash. He said the requirement to store waste water and ash were "not planned in the original project design".

The fuel is obtained largely from a nearby sugar-cane mill; in a nice, symmetrical bit of synergy, the plant supplies the mill with power.

And that waste water?

Rocky Point also faced legal action by environmental authorities over its alleged role in allowing contaminated water to flow into the Logan River, leading to the death of a substantial amount of fish.

Mark this one down as Not Ready For Prime Time. Yet.

(Via John Ray's new Australian Politics blog.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:09 PM to Family Joules )
And you thought your SX-64 was neat

Behold the Atari 800 laptop.

(Via Rocketboom.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:45 PM to Entirely Too Cool )
18 November 2005
With just a hint of freon

Normally, I pay no attention to vodka. (Well, there was that time I blended it with milk of magnesia, thereby producing a Phillips screwdriver, but you don't want to hear about that.)

Vodka used to be something you thought of as Russian. Nowadays, you buy a bottle labeled "Old Russia" and it comes from Oklahoma. So I'm not surprised that the Kiwis would get into the act, but this ad for New Zealand's 42Below vodka [link includes Flash video] is completely wack. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

(Title poached from Lileks, who once characterized one of those superpremium vodkas as "a lovely marriage of velvet and freon.")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:16 AM to Say What? )
Because there's always something

Jacqueline Passey proposes a new game:

Whip out your handy copy of the DSM-IV, load up your favorite blog(s), and see how many mental and personality disorders you can diagnose!

Geez, I'd have you guys here all day.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:04 AM to Blogorrhea )
Because, you know, it's for the children

And, after all, that's all that matters, right?

In the great green room, there is a telephone, and a red balloon, but no ashtray. Goodnight Moon, the children's classic by Margaret Wise Brown, has gone smoke free.

In a newly revised edition of the book, which has lulled children to sleep for nearly 60 years, the publisher, HarperCollins, has digitally altered the photograph of Clement Hurd, the illustrator, to remove a cigarette from his hand.

"Photoshop: Threat or Menace?"

The photograph of Mr. Hurd cheerily grasping a cigarette between the fingers of his right hand has been on the book for at least two decades. Kate Jackson, the editor in chief of HarperCollins Children's Books, said it only recently came to her attention, at a meeting to discuss how to publicize the book's 60th anniversary in 2007.

"We had a lot of copies out on a table, and all of a sudden we realized that in the photo on the back of the jacket he was holding a cigarette," Ms. Jackson said. The company was about to reprint the hardcover and paperback editions, so "as a quick fix, we adjusted the photograph" to eliminate it.

The text and the illustrations inside the book are unchanged, but it's just a matter of time before other children's stories are reprinted and updated:

  • Hansel and Gretel, lured by the witch to a house made of whole wheat toast, save themselves by tricking the witch into getting stuck in a wok.

  • Old Mother Hubbard goes on food stamps.

  • Becky Thatcher warns Tom Sawyer that she doesn't consent to anything further.

  • All three bears will have equal bedding and meal temperatures; this is not only egalitarian, but it will simplify matters for Goldilocks.

  • When Cinderella flees the ball, she leaves behind a sensible shoe.

  • Tom, Tom, the piper's son, will now steal tofu.

(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:50 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Where are all the gamma girls?

From Souldanse:

Researchers have apparently found that men prefer long-term relationships with subordinates rather than co-workers or supervisors. Women, however, showed no significant preference for socially dominant men, or for socially inferior men. They appear to hanker for their peers while, sadly, their peers are at Applebee's hitting on the women who bring them their burgers and pies.

I always assumed that alpha men wanted alpha women, that kings wanted queens. Not so. I guess that holds true only for wolves.

In addition, British researchers have recently "discovered" that the higher a woman's IQ, the fewer prospects she has for marriage. (Jane Austen could have told them that.) To be a droll, dry, wry, sarcastic or clever woman is deadly, apparently. (Yes, you may point out the example of Mr. Darcy, who loved Elizabeth Bennet's witty repartee, but I still say he's secretly gay.)

Down here on the bottom rung, I myself have no subordinates, but I've seen this phenomenon in action, and it's not pretty. (Another reason to avoid fishing off the company pier, despite the occasional presence of cute fish. Besides, not one of them has expressed the desire for a bicycle.)

I can't, of course, address the king/queen issue, inasmuch as I don't know jack.

(Mr. Darcy gay? What did I miss during my last reading? Surely it can't be because his first name is "Fitzwilliam".)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:08 AM to Table for One )
No argument from me

From LOOK@OKC's Hornets Fan:

For a successful season in the NBA, a team needs to win all of the games they should and a few of the games they shouldn't.

The only problem with this, from the standpoint of a team that's 2-5 on the season, is that there aren't that many games they should win.

Then there's the situation with the Atlanta Hawks, who come to the Ford tonight 0-8 but who beat the Hornets in preseason. Twice.

Oh, and Speedy Claxton and PJ Brown got onto the NBA All-Star ballot. I would, of course, never, ever encourage anyone to engage in ballot-box stuffing, at the Ford Center, via T-Mobile T-Zones, or at NBA.com.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:38 PM to Net Proceeds )
Pry me a river

Eric Siegmund was looking over Google Analytics, and being the cautious soul he is, he also read the fine print. This passage drew his attention:

7. PRIVACY. You will not (and will not allow any third party to) use the Service to track or collect personally identifiable information of Internet users, nor will You (or will You allow any third party to) associate any data gathered from Your website(s) (or such third parties' website(s)) with any personally identifying information from any source as part of Your use (or such third parties' use) of the Service. You will have and abide by an appropriate privacy policy and will comply with all applicable laws relating to the collection of information from visitors to Your websites. You must post a privacy policy and that policy must provide notice of your use of a cookie that collects anonymous traffic data.

He asks, reasonably enough:

I wonder how many bloggers will actually read this provision, let alone create and post a privacy policy for their websites?

Well, I hadn't read that, nor had I planned to use Google Analytics, but I have had a privacy policy for years now. And yes, it does disclose cookie use, though it gives me a bit more latitude with what I can do with the results.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:12 PM to Blogorrhea )
Pass the Tang

"More Kool-Aid, Reverend Jim!"

And ever since that horrible day in Guyana in 1978, "drinking the Kool-Aid" has been shorthand for buying into an ideology, for taking a position for no reason that anyone can determine.

Kraft Foods, owner of the Kool-Aid trademark, can't possibly be happy about this, especially since that wasn't the product served at Jonestown.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:51 PM to Say What? )

You can't get much scarier than this: the Hornets at one point had a 26-point lead and watched it shrink to one in the waning seconds before Chris Paul sank the last two free throws and put the game away, 95-92. It was Atlanta's ninth loss in a row, but the Hawks picked up 60 points in the second half 42 in the fourth quarter while the Bees floundered. A smaller crowd than I expected on a Friday night: 17,554.

The Hornets are now 3-5, the same record they amassed in the preseason.

Tomorrow: on the road at Orlando; then to Philadelphia on Monday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:49 PM to Net Proceeds )
19 November 2005
Fatuous Flashback 8

Why buy a house? Tax advantages? Equity-building? Well, yes, but there's this too:

I've lived for fifteen of the past twenty years in essentially the same set of quasi-suburban flats. It's always been what the demographers call a "racially-mixed" neighborhood, though the mix has shifted slightly over the years: in the 80s, it was about 60 percent white, 40 percent black, while today, it's more like 40-60. The impact of that shift is difficult to quantify, but the difference in terms of Quality of Life, whatever that may mean, is probably inconsequential; most people, regardless of racial background, don't go out of their way to be boorish louts. Just the same, it only takes a handful of boorish louts to make life miserable for everyone else, and it is of course unlawful to discriminate against boorish louts. Were I a proper New Urbanist, I presumably would be expected to embrace lowlifes of this sort as part of life's generous cornucopia of diversity. As a normal person who would like to get some sleep once in a while, I'm going to considerable trouble and prodigious expense to get the hell out of here.

(From Vent #365, 17 November 2003 nine days before I closed on Surlywood.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:03 AM to Greatest Hits )
Beyond trading spouses

An Oklahoma man is suing the producers of ABC-TV's "reality" series Wife Swap, claiming they sent him, not another woman, but a gay man, causing him to become emotionally distraught. Jeffrey Bedford of Haileyville says the show misled him as to its intentions.

Named in the suit: ABC, the Walt Disney Company (ABC's corporate parent) and RDF Media, which produces the show.

(First link has been updated.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:23 AM to Soonerland )
Net income

Here in Al Gore's America, it is generally regarded as a Good Thing that the UN and various outposts of governmental malfeasance are not going to be getting their grip on the very Internet that Gore didn't exactly invent. Usually technical or free-speech considerations are invoked to explain why, but there's one factor you don't hear a whole lot about: money.

Already, a trillion dollars has changed hands over the Internet. By far, the United States has benefitted the most from said commerce. The rest of the world thinks it's somehow being "cheated" out of its self-perceived allowance. Nothing could be further from the truth. Moving money on the Internet is the same as buying bread at the grocery store with one simple exception: Trust.

The basic problem for the rest of the world is that it is, in fact, the rest of the world. EBay has taught us all a very important lesson: If you're not buying from someone in America, your chances of getting screwed on the transaction go up exponentially. Personally, I'm not about to buy a single thing from some guy in Chad. I'm not giving anyone in Tunis my credit card number. Ever. I think most, if not all of my fellow Americans share this sentiment. The rest of the world cannot understand this. The Libyans, for example, honestly believe that the US Government is holding back untold riches that can be had via the Internet. I'm serious. This is preposterous, but nevertheless, that's the way they feel. If this was my own blog, I'd call them delusional simpletons. Wait, this is my blog. Alright, they're idiots.

I must point out here that my transatlantic transactions on eBay (not a lot, but enough to justify using the plural) have always gone well. Still, Net security in much of the world is limited to making sure the locals don't get to read about how venal and/or inept their government is, and the "Nigerian scam" didn't originate in, say, New Jersey.

Buckley revisited

In 1983, University of Chicago student David Brooks (yes, that David Brooks) wrote a gently-mocking hagiography of conservative icon William F. Buckley for the Chicago Maroon. Buckley thought it was hilarious, and so do I. Sean Gleeson, with the permission of the Maroon, has reprinted the tale; I wanted to bring it to your attention because (1) it really is funny and (2) I wanted to get the jump on those sleepyheads at The Corner.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:33 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Cognitive dissonance in the making

I have one of Amazon.com's Visa cards, which occasionally earns me a gift certificate. (By "occasionally" I mean "four so far," total value $100, and never you mind how much I had to charge to earn that much credit.)

So I promptly, which is to say "within 24 hours of receiving the certificate," ordered three books, in order from left to right, so to speak:

  • Maureen Dowd, Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide

  • Joanne Jacobs, Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the School That Beat the Odds

  • Michelle Malkin, Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild

Tinfoil hat? I'll have you know this is vanadium steel.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:02 PM to General Disinterest )
An explanation of sorts

Well, you know, if I'm going to bash MoDo's book, the least I can do is read the damned thing.

Anent which, Dowd writes to the Sydney Morning Herald:

[I was] hoping to start cool, sexy conversations between men and women, not spur angry rants from women. It's strong, successful women who are bristling, which is weird, because I thought they already knew that life can be a bit harder for them at times, but also a great adventure.

I doubt anything I have to say on the subject will be cool and/or sexy, but we shall see.

(Via Tim Blair.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:02 PM to Warn Mode Due )
Magic repaid

The Magic won when they visited Oklahoma City; tonight the Hornets got payback in Orlando, winning 98-95 and running their record to 4-5. David West scored a career-high 34 points, hitting 15 FGs in 22 tries and picking up 4 out of 5 free throws, not to mention 8 rebounds.

The Sixers are next.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:43 PM to Net Proceeds )
I guess it cures headaches

Unfortunately, I don't see any reason to stock up on this, though I did briefly entertain the idea of buying a case and FedEx-ing it to Maureen Dowd.

(Via Mister Snitch!)

20 November 2005
Train in vain?

Jon at Plum Crazy reprints a newsletter from the Regional Plan Association which, in its call for the reinstatement of sacked Amtrak President David Gunn, makes a few points about passenger rail itself:

Gunn, the former head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, had an imminently practical vision for restoring and improving the nation's intercity rail service that was very similar to how he restored and improved subway and commuter rail systems in this region in the 1980s. He eschewed dreams of fancy European high-speed rail, or libertarian management schemes built on the virtues of privatization. Instead, Gunn focused on unglamorous tasks like repairing or replacing wrecked cars, crumbling tracks and ancient catenary lines.

I think they meant "eminently," unless said vision was actually on the verge of becoming practical.

Using tried and true technology, Gunn maintained that Amtrak could soon have trains whipping between cities within major regions at more than 110 mph. True, that's not the 200 mph of France, Germany and Japan, but it was a practical and affordable vision, Gunn said.

Oklahoma's Heartland Flyer tops out at 79 mph, until it crosses the Red River and slows to 59. Not too bad, since I-35 construction has made it difficult to maintain that speed on the highway; but a 110-mph train would make it to Fort Worth in a mere two hours, which would likely both bring in more riders and justify increasing the fare.

All that was needed for this was a healthy level of government funding. But here things stopped. For some reason, many rail opponents believe that building and maintaining a road, port or airport at government expense is fine, but to do so for a railroad is wasteful socialism. This obtuse and easily refuted argument has nevertheless repeatedly stalled Amtrak.

Your hard-core libertarians wouldn't make this distinction: they'd consider them all socialist.

The irony is that more support exists across ideological lines for swift, dependable train service than ever before. People and politicians who actually live in the Northeast, mid Atlantic, Florida, Northwest, California Coast, and Gulf Coast deal with overburdened highways and beleaguered airports and are willing and even eager to spend taxpayer dollars for swift, dependable train service. It's no fluke that Sen. Trent Lott, a Southern conservative, and [Sen. Frank] Lautenberg, a Northeastern liberal, have attempted to save Amtrak from the Bush administration's privatization schemes.

The National Association of Railroad Passengers, a lobbying group founded in the 1960s before the creation of Amtrak, had this to say about Gunn's departure:

There is obvious concern that removal of Mr. Gunn is the first step in an effort to kill the rail passenger business. However, Amtrak Chairman David Laney, in a message to employees today, cited Amtrak's April strategic plan and budget request and wrote: "The good news in this strategic plan is that we can improve Amtrak, upgrade service in the vital Northeast Corridor, expand rail services in densely populated and increasingly congested corridors across the country, and bring more economic discipline to Amtrak's long distance services."

We endorse those goals so long as "economic discipline" does not mean route cuts, or making the trains unattractive to travelers.

No surprises here.

As for Lott and Lautenburg, this is the gist of their proposal. One interesting provision calls for a method to return an Amtrak route to the host railroad (Amtrak owns very little actual track itself), should that railroad be interested.

All else being equal, I'd like to have as many transportation options as possible, with as many providers as circumstances permit. The Bush administration talks of turning the railroads over to the states, which has a certain philosophical appeal, but would 49 state subsidies (I'm assuming Hawaii doesn't want to be put on the national rail grid) be an improvement over one federal subsidy? I'm thinking multi-state compacts: one to govern the BosWash megalopolis, for instance. Closer to home, perhaps Texas and Oklahoma could work together on the Flyer.

The purist position here would be "Let it die"; if a route doesn't make money, it should be abandoned. But no form of mass transportation is truly self-sufficient: roads and airports are built mostly with taxpayer funds. The real question, for me, is this: Can a passenger railroad over long distances actually make money if it doesn't have to allow for all the cost inefficiencies inherent in a governmental quasi-monopoly? Would the Flyer work better if BNSF ran it?

On the Flyer, traffic was up 23 percent last year, so demand isn't a problem. Taking the train to Fort Worth and back runs a maximum of $98; airline fares vary, but this morning's Southwest fares to Dallas Love Field and back run a minimum of $39 each way plus whatever airport charges may apply, so in general, the train is competitive on price. I'm thinking this route could survive whatever happens to Amtrak.

Split decision

The new John Marshall High School, at 122nd and Portland, is about four miles northwest of the old one, and some residents of that area complained when the site was chosen, fearing an influx of troublemakers. (By, um, coincidence, the school is more or less next door to the OCPD's Hefner Division HQ.)

To accommodate a second high school on the northside, boundaries were redrawn the school board will vote on them tomorrow but not everyone is happy with the new lines. One parent is quoted as saying that the new John Marshall location was chosen to "get rid of the riffraff," and argued, "This is going to be a total disaster for the black community."

I don't see how. The old John Marshall was about 76 percent black; the new one, says the planning director for Oklahoma City Public Schools, will be about 73 percent black. The new Eisenhower High School, to take over the eastern half of the old John Marshall territory, is expected to be 80 percent black. (Eisenhower used to be an elementary school, but will be duly expanded; as a PK-5 facility, it was about 85 percent black.)

Still, it's an interesting divergence of perceptions: some residents north of Lake Hefner are concerned that the riffraff are moving westward, and at least one parent is concerned that said riffraff are being herded into the east. Perhaps students should wear badges, identifying them as either "riff" or "raff."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:09 AM to City Scene )
Always low wages

If there's a corporation people love to hate, it's Wal-Mart, which has been blamed for everything from global warming to the heartbreak of psoriasis. One interesting premise has popped up recently: that taxpayers are essentially subsidizing Wal-Mart because so many of its, um, associates are also drawing some form of public assistance. This should also therefore presumably be true of any comparatively low-wage job, but there's no political advantage in dumping on K mart or Burger King.

One argument I hadn't seen before boils down to it's your own fault for working there:

One of the great mantras of the Left is that Walmart workers who are single parents typically earn less than the poverty level. It is said that they can't live on the low wages paid by the evil profiteering Walmart. One has to ask: if you are a single parent, why are you working at Walmart?! Unless you are management, it is a well known fact that you will not make a living wage working in retail, regardless of what store it is. Or are the crusaders on the Left claiming that anyone can be a single parent and make it by working at Target or Kmart, because those companies pay so much more? Retail is a half step above fast food in that anyone working there is typically a student, a part-timer working their second job or full timer working their household's second job, a retiree, or ... a loser.

If you are working any retail job full time or part-time and you are the sole provider for your household, you are a negligent parent. You are not supporting your family because you have not taken the initiative and responsibility to make sure you have adequate training and skills to get a job that will take care of you and your children.

Actually, this is a relatively recent development. For most of the 1960s and 1970s, it was possible, though probably not particularly enjoyable, to support a family of three on the extant minimum wage. I'd hate to have to try to do that today on $5.15 an hour. For that matter, I'd hate to try to do it on the average $9.68 paid by the Beelzebub of Bentonville, about $20,100 a year. (The official poverty figure for 2005 is $15,067.) Still, I don't consider myself especially effective at managing money; I'm sure there are folks out there far more proficient than I at getting maximum value for their dollars. Some of them might even work at Wal-Mart. (Employee discounts, you know.)

The bottom line is that nobody makes anyone work at Walmart, where they know they will not make a "living wage." Nobody makes anyone have children that they know they can't support before they have them. Nobody makes anyone languish in a dead end job while taking public assistance. Nobody makes anyone vote for Democrats who perpetuate the Welfare State that makes you feel like you can take other people's hard-earned cash in the form of taxpayer-provided benefits without any sense of obligation or responsibility.

Are the Republicans trying to abolish the Welfare State? If they are, they're doing a craptastic job of it.

It is of course true that ultimately you have the responsibility for your own earning capacity. And Oklahoma has some of the best vocational training around, if that capacity seems a bit limited for now. The biggest problem, as I see it, is that the working public doesn't have much of a fallback position: many people are, as the saying goes, one paycheck away from disaster. And the problem with health care is that you get it from your employer, meaning you're stuck with whatever dubious package they got whether it meets your needs or not. (God forbid I should have to buy auto insurance at work.) If there were a sensible marketplace for non-group insurance but no, let's not go there. Too many gatekeepers have too much to lose, and they won't yield. Meanwhile, I generally prefer to shop at Target, which isn't a workers' paradise by any means either, but which so far hasn't aroused a lot of wrath.

Well, this sucks

Comment enough. From the Guardian:

Mouth cancer can be caused by a virus contracted during oral sex, a new Swedish study has shown. People who catch a high-risk variety of the human papilloma virus, HPV, at that time are more susceptible to falling ill with mouth cancer, according to new research.

"You should avoid having oral sex," said the dentist and researcher Kerstin Rosenquist, who headed the study at the Malmo University's Faculty of Odontology in southern Sweden. HPV is a wart virus that causes many cervical cancers, including endometrial cancer in the uterus. The main factors that contribute to mouth cancer, most commonly contracted by middle-aged and older men, remain smoking and drinking alcohol.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:30 PM to Dyssynergy )
21 November 2005
Hundred best, my eye

Steph Mineart has read 41 of Time's 100 Best Novels, and she has some issues with the list:

When I read the list I was disappointed at what was missing and some of the crap they included. These people can't tell me they actually read Infinite Jest. I don't believe it. And what the hell is Are you there God, It's me Margaret doing on this list? If they needed to pick a teen novel, there are 30 better than that.

I tried to read Infinite Jest. Really, I did. Eventually I decided to perform an experiment: climb a ladder, drop Infinite Jest and Pynchon's V. into a tub, and decide which of them I would miss less when they hit the water.

Tie goes to the shorter title.

She also didn't like The French Lieutenant's Woman ("TOTAL SUCKAGE!") and Portnoy's Complaint ("SUCKED!"). (Me, I sort of liked Portnoy, but it's hardly a great novel, and it's a lousy after-dinner read.)

So we're not completely on the same page. Not a problem. This question, however, I can resolve:

I also wonder why they picked the year 1923 as the starting point. What's significant about that year?

One of the great moments of the 20th century, according to Time's reckoning: the first issue of Time (third of March, to be exact).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Live at 24 frames

Six minutes of last night were spent watching Maureen Dowd on The Daily Show, an old 2004 clip at Comedy Central's Web site. If you're going to tell me I needn't have bothered, well, you're right, I needn't have bothered. Still, curiosity won out.

The superficial stuff I got through in a matter of seconds: very nice legs, a hairdo apparently specifically designed for maximum flipability should she decide to act saucy, and a smile that isn't really a smile. Yes, it turns upward at the edges, and yes, she does noticeably brighten when someone (or when Jon Stewart, anyway) agrees with her, but it's not a smile: it's as though she's keeping her teeth at Maximum Clench back there, in case Dick Cheney gets mentioned. Either that, or she doesn't want anyone to know that she's chewing gum.

I have a weakness for what I call "voices that will melt zinc." Dowd, alas, leaves my metal cold; one-third nasal, one-third whiny, and one-third Lily Tomlin's "Ernestine" character, she undercuts her every effort to sound flirtatious. If this is supposed to be saucy, it's the Chef Boy-Ar-Dee stuff in a can, and it's been left on the stove too long.

The horror, I suppose, is twofold: first, that MoDo is probably only six months in charm school and $75,000 worth of therapy away from being a genuine catch, and second, that I'd even think of that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:32 AM to Warn Mode Due )
It's official

General Motors will shutter nine North American auto plants, including Oklahoma City Assembly.

The full GM announcement is here.

Robert Farago noted last week at The Truth About Cars:

[CEO Rick] Wagoner vows to cut 25k hourly employees by '08. Only GM?s contract with the UAW prohibits plant closures until September 2007. And that means Wagoner actually intends to "idle" the excess workers, or try to lure them into early retirement. Either way, the employees will be almost as big a drain on GM?s resources as if they were building cars no one wants.

The actual cut appears to be 30,000, but Farago is correct. From the GM announcement:

Given the demographics of GM's workforce, the company plans to achieve much of the job reduction via attrition and early retirement programs. GM will work with the leadership of its unions, as any early retirement program would need to be mutually agreed upon. GM hopes to reach an agreement on such a plan as soon as possible.

Translation: Do not expect 2500 Oklahoma City auto workers out on the street this spring.

Update, 8:50 am: WWMTD? If Mark Tapscott were running GM:

I would leak a draft of a bankruptcy filing, then when the media frenzy is well underway pick up the telephone and tell the UAW leadership they will determine whether the papers are filed or not.

Now that sounds like a plan.

Update, 12 noon: Can a buyer be found for the plant? Maybe. Certainly neither Ford nor DaimlerChrysler needs any more plant capacity, but I can imagine Nissan (which is relocating its US headquarters to Tennessee) or the Hyundai-Kia combine looking over the possibilities.

Update, 6:30 pm: J. M. Branum calls for a job action:

Personally I think the UAW needs to get off its butt and take some action with a real strike. Every GM worker nationwide should be walking off the assembly lines right now and refuse to let scabs into the plants, while at the same time consumers would straight up refuse to buy GM products. If this happened on a mass scale, I think GM would have to back down, but unfortunately I don't think this is going to happen. Because folks aren't willing to stick together (and I don?t just mean autoworkers, but in other professions too), the Man is able to screw the workers.

Here's the United Auto Workers statement on the closings.

Update, 8 am, 22 November: Mayor Cornett keeps a stiff upper lip:

On the plus side, we have a lot of interest in Oklahoma City in general. We're always looking at our inventory, what we have to offer to corporate America. Being able to offer this plant at that location, on the interstate and next to Tinker, is very inviting. It also opens up a very qualified work force for someone else to come in and create some jobs.

And the one thing we learned from the Hornets deal is that Cornett can move in a hurry when an opportunity presents itself.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:55 AM to City Scene )
The five one one

Florida has launched its 511 service, which provides information for travelers statewide through a single number. This brings the total number of 511-equipped states to twenty; eventually the Federal Highway Administration would like to see 511 utilized everywhere in the country, though it's going to take a while (and a fair chunk of change) to implement.

Besides, who can remember something like 405-425-2385?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:22 PM to Driver's Seat )
I have $4 in pennies on my desk

Brad Warbiany's Mutual Fund Theory of Government:

Republicans are bond investors. They think government can offer certain expected returns (services) to you. Those returns aren't very big, but they're dependable. The Republican theory of government is to not promise too much, but not to screw it up either. Republicans view the goal of government as taking on a task they know it can handle, performing it adequately, and no more.

Democrats are actively-managed mutual fund guys. They say you're way too stupid to manage your own money. The only way you can hope to get rich is to place your trust in smart people like them. There are slick marketing campaigns to make you believe that they can manage your money much better than you can. They give you confusing sheets of investment performance over time to make you think they're going to make you rich beyond your wildest dreams, but in reality, they aren't all that good at what they do.

Libertarians are index-fund guys. The key point between Libertarians and Democrats is that actively-managed mutual funds are all marketing and no performance. The S&P 500 as an aggregate outperforms 85% of actively-managed funds every year. And the systems the Democrats offer aren?t in the other 15%. Index funds are a simple system, based on performance, of understanding underlying truths about a system and setting up rules to make the most of those truths. An index fund looks at the way the market works, sets up rules of how to buy and sell individual stocks in a simple, hands-off approach, and then just sit back and watch the market work.

Aw, come on, surely somebody got rich following the Democrats.

Actually, there is a place for actively-managed funds, if you're (1) not really sure about what you're doing or (2) if you wish your portfolio to be cleansed of evil, nasty, horrible companies like these:

  • Tobacco vendors.
  • Defense contractors.
  • Distillers and brewers.
  • Gaming operators.

On the other hand, you might want to concentrate on those particular industries in the hopes of a better return.

Disclosure: I made no changes to the investment options for my 401(k) account this year.


That is to say, Allen Iverson, who played only about 34 minutes tonight, but who scored 24 points in a 103-91 Sixers victory over the Hornets that wasn't as close as that twelve-point margin suggests: the Bees shot less than 40 percent.

Back to the Ford on Wednesday against the Timberwolves, before a holiday road trip.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:23 PM to Net Proceeds )
22 November 2005
Time to be regained

Marcel Proust's Questionnaire, first posed to him (he didn't write it) when he was 13 years old, lives on in somewhat-altered form on the back page of Vanity Fair; there have been issues where I thought it was the only thing worth reading. (I answered it myself once, though not under the auspices of V.F.)

MoDo gets her turn in the December issue, and some of her responses are amusing:

What is your greatest fear?
Jeb Bush 2008.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Bringing unnecessary presents for unnecessary men.

What do you most value in your friends?
Availability at deadline.

How would you like to die?
After my enemies.

On what occasion do you lie?
The Proust Questionnaire.

I'd like to think she'd come up with those if you asked her in person; it would demonstrate some redeeming antisocial value.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to Warn Mode Due )
What about those approval ratings?

Andrea Harris sees it as a spiritual thing:

[A]t heart liberals are old-time fundamentalists whose God is social approval, and they've noticed that strong, confident people tend to make enemies of weak, envious people. Being weak and envious themselves, they fear the responsibilities of being citizens of a strong, confident nation with enemies, and they identify more with weak, envious nations who want to see us broken in the dirt. It's a vicious circle.

If nothing else, this explains why I became much more content with my lot in life after I quit giving a damn. (I suppose the next step is to cancel SiteMeter, but then I've already paid for next year.)

"I just want to be loved. Is that so wrong?" It's not enough, Harvey, old friend, it's not enough. You don't ever want to put yourself in the position of having to grovel for that love.

Me, I tend to think that this is the best idea Lyndon Johnson ever had: get them by the 'nads, and their hearts and minds surely will follow.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:37 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Rumble off in the distance

Mike Hendrix, no slouch of a guitarist himself, gives a proper sendoff to the late Link Wray.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:01 AM to Tongue and Groove )
What's in your treasury?

The city of Port St. Lucie, Florida is charging the cost of a new freeway interchange on its Visa card.

There's a $6 million limit on the card, which must be paid off monthly. The estimated $24 million price of the road work, once completed, will earn the city $125,000 in reward credits from Bank of America.

Vendors apparently don't mind: they get paid a lot faster than they would otherwise.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:35 AM to Common Cents )
Debugging is a pain

And this tells you exactly where it's a pain.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:51 AM to PEBKAC )
Anything you can do I can do better

Actually, they had me at "David Bowie as Nikola Tesla", but the idea that they're filming The Prestige at all fills me with all sorts of weird anticipation; this novel by Christopher Priest was genuinely creepy, in a good way. (The Brothers Judd review it here.)

I'll add this to my Must-See list when it appears, probably late next year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:15 AM to Entirely Too Cool )
Bring out the bird calls

Actually, I look more like Olivier Messiaen than Nixon Casablanca does.

I mean, it's even the same Bad Hair.

(Title not entirely explained here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:41 PM to General Disinterest )
The mark of excrement

Matt Rosenberg says nothing will change at General Motors:

I've been a Honda guy ever since I grew up. Reliability is what matters. And so I don't expect that GM's big job cuts, announced today, will make a whit of difference. They'll still be out there peddling third-rate product to the public, with the sycophantic hacks of the American auto press still pimping for them, just like always. The main concern at GM will remain the care and feeding of the union and union pensioners, and moving enough product to get some numbers that investors and analysts like. But not making good motor vehicles.

General Motors, if you look at the balance sheet, isn't a car company: it's a finance company (GMAC) that vends motor vehicles on the side. Which is why talk earlier this year that GM might actually spin off GMAC, one of its few divisions that ever turns a profit, was viewed as suicidal; they did eventually sell off three-fifths of their commercial-mortgage operation, then unloaded $55 billion worth of car loans onto Bank of America, perhaps to raise cash during these troubled times.

My own prescription, and if anyone actually follows it, I will be surprised:

  • Sell Saab. It was a lousy deal to begin with, and the result is some very unSaablike vehicles for the sake of economies of scale. People buy Saabs because they're supposed to be unique, even goddamn weird; Saabs are not supposed to be like Subarus (9-2X) and Chevys (9-3) and most especially Chevy trucks (9-7X).

  • Cut back to 2.5 divisions: Chevrolet and Cadillac, with Hummer on the side as a niche product. Buick, Pontiac, GMC, Saturn all expendable, all way past their shelf date. (Jack up the Solstice's price by $5000 and give it to Cadillac.)

  • And now that you don't have to make three or four copies of the same damn car anymore, you can afford to make one version, and make it excellent.

Then again, there's always Chapter 11.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 PM to Driver's Seat )
23 November 2005
Own your own floor

The Metro man, subbing for The Downtown Guy, gets in a plug for 125 Park Avenue, an office building going office condo. Five stories tall, 125 will have a maximum of five owners: one per floor, though they'll sell you two adjacent floors if you're so inclined.

The slogan for 125 right now is "View. Location. Presence." Good things all; but if you had to go by their Web site, you'd probably question that view.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to City Scene )
To set the record straight

I have no connection with Open Shorts Media or any similarly-named organization.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:06 AM to Blogorrhea )
Five feet high and rising

Italian experts from the University of Padua are proposing to keep Venice from sinking further by pumping sea water underneath the city, thereby making the sandy base on which it rests expand. After ten years of this, Venice is supposed to rise by 30 cm (not quite a foot), about as far as it has sunk in the past few centuries.

This operation will cost 100 million euros (about $120 million), a drop in the bucket compared to the ongoing 4.5-billion-euro floodgate-construction program.

In other news, New Orleans officials are reported to be exploring the possibility of towing the city on a very large barge across the Gulf of Mexico to somewhere south of Corpus Christi, Texas.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:52 AM to Dyssynergy )
Welcome to Dullsville


Edmond has about 80,000 people; if none of them proved to be interesting, that would be interesting in itself, would it not?

(The IP of the searcher traces back to, yes, Edmond. Grade-school essay, maybe? Or just someone bored out of her skull?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:37 AM to Blogorrhea )

As in U-166, a German U-boat from World War II which was lost somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico and recently found.

Or as in Carnival of the Vanities #166, presented this week by Don Surber's Pajamas Media, and how he got media in his pajamas I'll never know.

(Update, 11:45 am: Maybe I will know after all.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:11 AM to Blogorrhea )
Nails on a blackboard, maybe

I wandered into the shop next door for a few moments, and someone was blasting Alanis Morissette's "All I Really Want" from behind the machinery. (I was, of course, most amazed that I recognized it immediately; I tend to follow Dawn Eden's dictum, "I don't consider myself legally bound to know about any music past 1968.")

As the song wound down, two guys were standing in front of the stereo rig, and, said one of them, "That was Trent Reznor, by the way."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:00 AM to Tongue and Groove )
The next flag may be white

About 90 days ago, I mentioned that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder was planning a hostile takeover of Six Flags, Inc., the Oklahoma City-based theme-park operator.

Snyder apparently is going to go through with it; while his Red Zone LLC hasn't been amassing additional Six Flags stock, he's announced that he has secured 57 percent of the votes from shareholders for his slate of three board nominees. The new board would presumably then oust Chairman/CEO Kieran Burke and CFO James Dannhauser, after which former ESPN executive Mark Shapiro would replace Burke.

Six Flags had hoped to auction itself off in December, and is continuing to resist the Snyder plan. Shareholder votes will be in by the end of the year. I still believe that corporate headquarters will eventually be relocated, no matter who prevails in this struggle.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:35 AM to City Scene )
Obligatory Dowd content

Because, like, I haven't, all day.

Anyway, since this was in my Quote of the Week queue, I figured I'd use it. From Ace, on MoDo's Are Men Necessary?

Women do a lot of ribbing of men Maureen Dowd's made a cottage industry of it; she just wrote a book that I've nominated to the Guinness World Records committee as the World's Longest Friendster Profile.

That's gonna leave a mark. Fortunately, with a good foundation and careful blending, no one need ever know.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:48 PM to Warn Mode Due )
No, no, I said 'Grand Forks'

This survey by Men's Fitness and Shape asserts that the horniest women in America are found in, um, North Dakota.

Somehow I just knew it had to be a state with a very small population.

(Via Joshua Claybourn.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:54 PM to Table for One )
Not Scopes II

This week's Oklahoma Gazette has an actual debate of sorts on "intelligent design", pitting UCO professor (and blogger) Dr Kurt Hochenauer against Rep. Thad Balkman (R-Norman), perhaps the prime mover for the theory in these parts.

I wasn't persuaded in either direction there's an "It is written" phrase that comes up occasionally on the sidebar which says "Evolution is God's way of issuing upgrades," which is pretty much my position on the subject (and which, you'll note, sidesteps the question of origins) but Balkman loses (on) points for talking around ID without ever actually using the phrase: it's as though he suspects that particular dog isn't evolved enough to hunt.

"Critical analysis of evolution?" Absolutely. Any scientific principle worth its sodium chloride ought to be subject to critical analysis. On the other hand, "critical analysis" and "Thad Balkman" really don't belong in the same sentence, and God only knows what I'm risking by this heedless juxtaposition.

Still, this comment by Sean Gleeson is probably the most sensible observation I've seen on this subject lately:

I propose to revisit this topic in 100 years, and we'll see what the scientific consensus is then.

A lot can happen in ten decades.

Update, 29 November: J. M. Branum says he's "torn between both perspectives."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:10 PM to Immaterial Witness )
Taming the Wolves

A genuine nailbiter in front of a sellout crowd at the Ford. The Hornets trailed Minnesota by as many as 18 in the second quarter and were down 48-36 at the half, but would not be denied; the Bees pulled it out, 84-80.

Now 5-6 on the season, the Hornets will hit the road and head west, playing at Seattle on Saturday, Golden State on Monday and Denver on Wednesday. (Next home game, against Philadelphia, is on the 2nd of December.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:32 PM to Net Proceeds )
24 November 2005
Bringing in the sleeves

Hmmm. Record-jacket art, eh? Okay, I'll play.

Dark Side of the MoonMost recognizable (by general public) album cover:
Probably Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon; after all, it did spend something like fifteen years on the charts, and I read somewhere that one out of every 20 persons under 50 in this country owns a copy. I'm no longer under 50, but I still have my LP (and, for traveling purposes, the CD). And the hair stands up on the back of my neck when those infernal clocks go off in "Time," even now.

It's a Beautiful DayPersonal favorite album cover:
I think perhaps It's a Beautiful Day: I never quite get tired of looking at it, and the LP itself still gets spun now and again to me, at least, it sounds better than the CD, even after thirty-seven years and the occasional click. (The original session tapes, I am told, are tucked away at Sony somewhere, and allegedly a lovely remastering job was done, but nothing ever came of it.)

Mauriat MagicSexiest album cover:
I had to think about this one for a moment, and when I did, I realized it had to be a gatefold. For those who don't recognize it, which should be most of you, this is Mauriat Magic by Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra; this is the album which followed Blooming Hits, whence came the lilting "Love Is Blue." Magic had one smallish single "Même si tu revenais," with the arbitrary English title "Love in Every Room" and a rather revealing (for 1968, anyway) Victor Skrebneski photo. Then again, it doesn't reveal that much.

Top Ten album covers of all time (personal favorites):
Besides the three above, in no particular order:

  • The Rolling Stones, Their Satanic Majesties Request (that weird lenticular thing)
  • The Mothers of Invention, Weasels Ripped My Flesh
  • Judy Collins, Wildflowers
  • The Beatles, The Beatles (a.k.a. The White Album)
  • The Who, Who's Next
  • Joni Mitchell, Ladies of the Canyon
  • Jethro Tull, Thick as a Brick (the fake newspaper)

And at any moment I'm sure I can think of ten or twenty others which deserve to be up here.

Reasons for gratitude

Just a few that come to mind this morning here in the U. S. of A.:

  • A relatively low incidence of street fighting.

  • The fact that someone can close a major manufacturing facility without a Federal investigation ensuing.

  • Knowing that sleeping until 9 am tomorrow, thereby missing all the Deals of the Century, is no big deal.

  • Remembering that "crushing dissent" here means application of the taunt and the shun, not the thumbscrew and the firing squad.

  • Happy couples, even if I'm not part of one.

  • My very own soapbox, for a relative pittance.

  • The sensation, at least on the local level, that my humongous tax bill is actually doing something.

  • The fact that two years ago, I was somewhat overextended and living in a crummy flat, and now I'm in a relatively nice house of my own and still only somewhat overextended.

  • Six thousand people come to read this stuff every week.

For a dyed-in-the-wool ingrate like me, this is quite a list.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:15 AM to General Disinterest )
Down by the riverside

Tulsa attorney David McKinney is spearheading a campaign he calls Do The River First, a call for Tulsa County voters to reject three of the four propositions on the "4 to Fix the County" ballot and spend the money instead on Arkansas River development, which, he says, "is the best chance we have to improve our economy."

Certainly it's worked for Jenks, to the south of Tulsa, which is busily developing its stretch of the Arkansas while Tulsa commissions studies and such. And, McKinney points out:

Our overall sales tax burden is almost 10%. It is unlikely that the voters will approve any higher sales tax. This means that if we do not use the expiring 1/6% sales tax for the Arkansas River, we will not have any substantial amount of sales tax money available to DO THE RIVER for five more years.

Worse, he says, other cities in the region are way ahead of Tulsa in riverside development:

Most Kansas cities and towns including those that share the Arkansas River with us have ambitious river development plans. These include Topeka [link requires Adobe Reader] and Wichita.

Our neighboring cities [are] turning their rivers into economic development engines. These include Dallas/Fort Worth, San Antonio, Des Moines, Memphis and Kansas City. And look what Oklahoma City has done ? and they had to CREATE their river through Bricktown!

(Links in the first paragraph added by me.)

I have one small quibble with this:

Instead of spreading a thin, ineffective, coat of tax money around the county, we should focus our available sales tax dollars on a project that really will improve our community. Oklahoma City used this approach when it concentrated its sales tax proceeds on the successful Bricktown project.

The two situations aren't strictly comparable, since Oklahoma City's MAPS projects tended to be much larger than anything on the "4 to Fix the County" agenda, and only 2.5 of the nine MAPS projects (the ballpark, the canal, and half the trolley routes) were specific to Bricktown. The only MAPS project that is really comparable to anything in "4 to Fix" is the general upgrading of State Fair Park. There's Vision 2025, of course, but any plans Vision 2025 might have for the river will, "due to a multiplicity of complicated issues", take a long time.

Perhaps more to the point, both "4 to Fix" and Vision 2025 are Tulsa County projects: they are funded by a county sales tax, and inevitably, given the structure of county government in Oklahoma, this leads to turf issues. (McKinney alludes to this: "The extension of ["4 to Fix"] will pay for road projects in the suburbs, balanced almost to the penny so each commissioner has the same money to spread around his/her district.") MAPS, by contrast, was undertaken entirely by Oklahoma City; Oklahoma County has no sales tax of its own.

Then again, would riverfront development in Tulsa move along more swiftly if the City of Tulsa were more directly involved? Somehow I doubt it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:25 AM to Soonerland )
News from the Norma Triangle

A resident of Dicks Street in West Hollywood is trying to get the name of the street changed to something less risible.

Especially, you know, since it's such a short street (two blocks, Hilldale to Doheny).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:35 PM to Dyssynergy )
At least we don't have commandments

Well, okay, if you say so: The Seven Deadly Sins of Blogging. Let's see how grievously I have transgressed:

  1. Using Free Blog Hosting Services
  2. Ignoring the Basic Principles of Good Web Site Design and Usability
  3. Being the Jack Of All Trades
  4. Not Posting Regularly
  5. Publishing Badly Written Posts
  6. Spamming and Stealing
  7. Failing to Establish a Personality

Hmmm. Whatever else one might say about DreamHost, they certainly aren't free, so I should be safe on #1.

I have a feeling #2 is going to venture into Jakob Nielsen territory. Here are the Things To Do:

  • Pleasant color combination i.e., no neon or flashy color
  • Clean layout with plenty of white space
  • Logical navigation system with clearly marked section and subsections
  • Prominent and scannable titles and group labels i.e., users should be able to quickly read through the headings to understand the content of the page
  • Fast load time i.e., 5 seconds or less. Any longer and you risk losing your visitor

Well, I have no white space: it conflicts with my "pleasant color combination." On the other hand, this layout is not too far from clean, though it's far from standards-compliant. And if anyone understands all the category names, it's someone other than myself.

As for Jackness (#3), well:

The better thing to do is focus one subject and be the master at it. Start with the subject that you find most interesting and write a few short posts expressing your thought or commenting on something you've read. As your expertise grow, do some research and write longer articles to establish your authority on the subject.

If you are multi-talented and have many things to blog about, create one blog for each subject.

Oddly, the things at which I am the acknowledged master tend not to be things I blog about.

On the question of regularity (#4), this is post #5509 since Movable Type was installed (about twenty, mostly test posts, were deleted), so I'd say I probably produce enough material.

There are a few posts among those five thousand and odd I consider to be, um, constructed not particularly well (#5), but this is one of those eye-of-the-beholder deals. (Nominations for Worst. Post. Ever. are being accepted anyway.)

For the most part, anything I steal I link back to (#6), and I endeavor never to spam.

Then there's #7. "Failing to establish a personality" is a real-world consideration; it is obviously inapplicable to blogdom. (Let's see if anyone believes that.)

On the whole, I think that while I am not likely to burn in hell, I will probably roast for three hours at 350 degrees. And by January, I may think that's an improvement over the weather.

(Stolen Obtained from Fistful of Fortnights.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:05 PM to Blogorrhea )
Miracles do happen

See? Someone other than me has blogged about replacing a shower curtain.

(McGehee is gonna have trouble defending his King of the Borebloggers title if this keeps up.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:44 PM to General Disinterest )
25 November 2005
Happy Black Friday

Here's an open thread to kick off the season.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:34 AM to Blogorrhea )
Warding off the beaver

Apparently you can't.

As part of the North Canadian Oklahoma River MAPS project, about 7000 trees were planted along the banks. You got your water, you got your trees, and inevitably, you got beavers.

There is no money in the tree budget to replace the two dozen or so trees that have had close encounters with teeth, but there is also no money elsewhere in the budget to stamp out the little flat-tailed SOBs, and there's not much enthusiasm in the city government for taking them on. Apart from the cost, picking on poor innocent gnawing critters makes for bad press, and anyway, it's not like this was an unpredictable event: young beavers migrate once they reach adulthood, and hello, here's a whole new ecosystem to play with.

So the beavers will be left alone, and that's fine with me; it will take them a long time to finish off seven thousand trees.

(Minor changes after first publication: see Comments.)

Update, 10 pm: TV news coverage, albeit with little bite.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:36 AM to City Scene )
Recurving the Crescent

Fritz Schranck says that merely returning the evacuees is not the be-all and end-all of the New Orleans recovery project:

I respectfully suggest that the impetus for restoring the City of New Orleans should not be centered upon bringing back to the city the folks who were forced to abandon it.

I hasten to add that if those folks want to return, great for them, and great for the city. Nonetheless, the point of all the billions of Federal dollars in aid should not be simply to bring 'em all back. The goal should be far more broadly defined.

NOLA had more than its share of longstanding problems before Katrina. Among other issues, the crushing poverty, persistent violent crime, and the constant, low grade fever of official corruption combined to discourage old businesses to stay and new businesses to locate there. Newspaper stories from cities and towns where Katrina refugees relocated show that many of these folks are discovering how much better their lives could be if they stayed where they are now. Having now seen that the Big Easy's problems are not the norm everywhere else, most of these former residents are going to demand far more than levee repairs in order to be convinced to go back.

With the exception of certain members of the parasite class, I don't think anyone wants New Orleans to go back to being basically Haiti with better restaurants. And I don't think everyone will go home: the population has been declining for years anyway a net loss of twenty thousand people between 2000 and 2004, if the Census Bureau is figuring correctly and it's reasonable to assume, based on this trend, that at least a few folks displaced by Katrina were getting ready to bail out of the Big Easy anyway.

However awful the devastation that hit New Orleans and the rest of the Gulf Coast, I'd be more comfortable with the recovery effort if the folks in charge openly recognized the situation for the opportunity it presents to clear up some of these systemic issues. If their plans and actions showed that they are making a genuine effort to improve the schools, the criminal justice system, and the business climate beyond the tourism industries, then plenty of Katrina's victims will be encouraged to return and a lot of other hopeful people would join them.

F. Scott Fitzgerald once said that there were no second acts in American life, a piece of disinformation so profoundly at odds with the reality of American existence it's a wonder it hasn't been picked up as a campaign slogan. The scene is new, the old set has been struck. People want to see New New Orleans. If it's to succeed, there has to be some assurance that the new boss doesn't turn out to be the same as the old boss. And if that assurance isn't forthcoming, you may as well ring down the curtain and move the Mardi Gras to Topeka.

(Mr. Schranck, a friend of long standing who turns 52 this week, also covers trivial matters.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:35 AM to Almost Yogurt )
It's those damnable prepositions

Jennifer of I Make Out with Geeks approvingly quotes Maureen Dowd:

Smart men are better in bed because they're more imaginative and more studious, pouring over a woman as though they're getting their master's degree in her.

Does that count as lab work?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:24 PM to Table for One , Warn Mode Due )
How to kill an afternoon

The Northwest Distressway runs right between Penn Square and 50 Penn Place, and there wasn't a parking spot to be had at either, suggesting that Black Friday might produce some black ink for the merchants therein. Unfortunately, I was on the way to Heritage Park, which wasn't even close to being packed: the Salvation Army guy at the door seemed awfully glad to see anyone show up, let alone someone who would stuff a greenback in his bucket. If you can't fill a mall on the day after Thanksgiving, you might as well call 1-800-BULLDOZER and put it out of its misery. I did, however, get a decent haircut, which is the reason I went there in the first place.

For comparison purposes, I wheeled out 29th, where all the retail traffic seems to be headed, and sure enough, there were big crowds at Kohl's, at Lowe's and at Target. (And, new to me since last time, there's a Steak n Shake going in at about 7181 SE 29th.)

It wasn't until the long drive back home that I slid into reflective mode, what with the alleged significance of this date and all, and wished, briefly, that I could qualify for the carpool lane, if we had one. A few excessively-appealing images popped into my head, which I did my best to suppress.

We won't discuss the period I spent unraveling holiday lights. I tried a couple of string placements, didn't like either of them, dragged out the ladder, and came down with major vertigo the moment I hit the first rung, which is not a good sign; what's more, the ladder paid me back with a splinter that felt like it was the size of a Fourth of July sparkler. Clearly I'm going to have to approach this task from a different angle.

Addendum: Patrick at OKCTalk.com talks to the manager at Penn Square, and comes away with this bit of demographic wisdom:

There is a social phenomenon that young people especially want to shop at the "hot" malls and will drive past the B-level malls even if they have many of the same stores.

Two things happen to malls that aren't on top. One is that new retailers won't go there even if the rent is a giveaway. Most national retailers are public companies and Wall Street looks at sales per square foot. They can only handle so many new openings each year, so they would rather pay high rent at a successful property than free rent at a low volume mall. Even with high rent, a million dollar volume store is more profitable than a half million dollar store with almost free rent.

(Emphasis added.)

I give them two years, maybe.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:00 PM to General Disinterest )
26 November 2005
Fatuous Flashback 9

Winter and I have never gotten along well:

There are few things in life quite as annoying as a storm that refuses to get the bloody hell out of the way. The little patch of atmospheric disturbance that was supposed to have cleared out by noon was still dropping flurries at four, and it's not done yet. The official total at the airport was four inches, but those of us who moved on up to the east side got six or seven. And, of course, with all this snow cover, the warming trend we were promised will be delayed two or three days. Insurance companies and other members of the family Mustelidae call events like this "acts of God", which at least puts the blame where it belongs. People in New Jersey must be laughing their heads off.

(From this untitled entry, 28 November 2001. The previously-rotted link has been replaced with a fresh one.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:18 AM to Greatest Hits )
Otherwise known as "Buy Not Much Day"

I don't think Phoebe is all that worried, but she asks anyway:

Sean went to the grocery store and bought spaghetti sauce.... Is one permitted to buy food on Buy Nothing Day? Hmm.

When they say Nothing, they mean Nothing. (So I got a haircut and blew $16 on dinner.)

Personally, I think they ought to move National Ammo Day to coincide with Buy Nothing Day, since the people who are most likely to support the one are also the most likely to guffaw at the other.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:41 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Do this, don't do that

So the question is, "Have you ever....?"

Smoked a cigarette or tried it: Never touched the stuff.

Crashed a friend's car: No.

Stolen a car: No.

Been dumped: This implies being in a position from which dumping is possible. (As a rule, however, I tend to flee first.)

Shoplifted: No.

Been fired/laid off: Not lately, but yes.

Been in a fist fight: No.

Snuck out of your parent's house: Yes.

Been arrested: No. I have had some interesting encounters with the police, but none got to this point.

Gone on a blind date: Yes. To make sure I didn't come back, she left town.

Lied to a friend: If I had, it was for something utterly trivial.

Skipped school: More than I should have.

Seen someone die: If you mean "at that exact moment," no.

Been to Canada: Missed it by one block or the width of an inlet.

Been to Mexico: No.

Eaten Sushi: No. There's something disquieting about it.

Met someone in person from the internet: Dozens.

Taken pain-killers: Almost daily, it seems.

Had a tea party: Not since I was five.

Cheated while playing a game: Not intentionally.

Fallen asleep at work: Sometimes I do my best work under those conditions.

Used a fake ID: No.

Felt an earthquake: Yes. I did not enjoy it much, and said something unkind about Carole King afterwards.

Touched a snake: Yes. What's more, one or two of them tried to return the favor.

Been robbed: Break-in about five years ago.

Petted a reindeer/goat: When I was very, very young, maybe.

Won a contest: I won a football pool at work once. (Well, okay, twice.)

Been suspended from school: Yes.

Been in a car accident: A petroleum tanker drove over me in 1985.

Had braces: No.

Eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night: Almost did a quart once.

Witnessed a crime: No.

Swam in the ocean: If you want to call my haphazard thrashing "swimming," then yes.

Sung karaoke: I have performed; I hesitate to call it "singing."

Paid for a meal with only coins: Once, but it was like $2.69.

Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose: Not during this, but yes.

Been kissed under mistletoe: No, which is particularly galling, since it's the state flower.

Crashed a party: I seldom go even when I'm invited.

Worn pearls: Not my style.

Jumped off a bridge: No.

Ate dog/cat food: No.

Kissed a mirror: No.

Glued your hand to something: No, which surprises me.

Done a one-handed cartwheel: Not even with two hands.

Talked on the phone for more than 6 hours: I think my record is about 4:20.

Didn't take a shower for a week: No way.

Pick and ate an apple right off the tree: Yes.

Been told by a complete stranger that you're hot: No. Nor by acquaintances or friends, either.

Been drafted by the A's: They would have told me, wouldn't they?

(Via Tinkerty Tonk; the last item is not part of the original meme.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:11 AM to Screaming Memes )
Fine for parking

"Beware the Frabjous Brassiere-Latch,
More frumious than the Bandersnatch!"

A commentary by the late Allan Sherman, circa 1973:

Dear Reader: If you have tears, shed them now for the ardent young lad of those years, on the night of his first conquest. Pity him, sitting there in the front seat of a borrowed car, both emboldened and embarrassed by the throbbing of his own erection. This boy had to know not only how to dress and undress himself, but how to disrobe a silent, uncooperative girl in almost total darkness, with one hand from behind and with no practice except a few stolen moments in the attic with his sister's brassiere and his mother's dressmaking form.

Wish him well, for this will be his first live encounter with the diabolical American brassiere-latch. Pray for his quivering fingers as they make first contact with this engine of torture, with its treacherous snarl of hooks, snaps, clasps and traps.

Women's brassiere-latches in 1940 America looked like innocent little pink satin rosebuds, but each one secretly contained a special spring-loaded delayed-action guillotine, ready to snap off unwelcome boyfingers at the slightest movement of the concealed hair trigger.

Build a better mousetrap, the saying goes and with the brassiere, Yankee Ingenuity did exactly that. But the true stroke of genius was the new bait. The old-fashioned mousetrap was loaded with cheese; nobody cares much about cheese, except mice. But when American Know-How reloaded the brassiere with tits, every heterosexual male in the country was hopelessly trapped. (Remember at that time, tits were available only in brassieres. If you wanted a tit, you had to open up a brassiere to get it. It was something like eating a lobster. Trouble, but worth it.)

This passage has troubled me for many years what the hell were they putting into those undergarments beforehand? Kleenex? but it never occurred to me to challenge the basic truths at its core: I still have scars from an encounter with underwire.

And it appears that things have not necessarily improved for the next generation, either.

(Via Michael Blowhard.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:38 AM to Table for One )
And it should be reusable, too

The price of a first-class stamp is going to increase two cents in January, to 39 cents, and, well, what legendary American is forever associated with the number 39?

Right. Which is why the president of his fan club is calling for a Jack Benny 39-cent stamp. There's even a PR campaign.

And there's also a petition, which I have signed. As a former resident of Waukegan, Illinois, I see this as a must. (Current residents will note that the Jack Benny Center for the Arts is located at, yes, 39 Jack Benny Drive.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:39 AM to Entirely Too Cool )
Welcome to the West Coast

Last year, the post-Thanksgiving road trip for the Hornets was horrid: they lost them all. This year they start off with a win at Seattle; down by twelve with two minutes left, the Sonics made a quick eight-point run, but the Bees prevailed, 105-99, bringing their record up to 6-6.

For the fourth game in a row, David West scored over 20 points. Next game is Monday night against Golden State at Oakland.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:13 PM to Net Proceeds )
A rather biting photograph

Nick HavlikWayward Daughter occasionally coughs up a picture of her one and only, who turned six earlier this month. And when she does, well, it's time to warm up the scanner, and so I did. At least the lad isn't developing Dumbo-esque ears like his grandfather (seen here at the age of 8, maybe 9 at the outside), which would be a catastrophe.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:43 PM to Next Generation )
One benzene ring to bind them

Regarding that massive petrochemical spill in China's Songhua River, the Interested-Participant asks:

[W]here's the international media on this story? How come no reporters are asking questions about a Chinese cover up of a major environmental disaster? And, while I'm at it, where are the environmental protesters? How come Greenpeace isn't marching in front of the Chinese Embassy? Where are the UN monitoring teams? And, above all, why wasn't there some attempt to isolate and clean up the spill?

Well, it did make The New York Times, though it was banished to the "International" section. As to the lack of outcry from the Usual Suspects, maybe it's just this:

[I] guess ecological disasters don't count if those suffering are not politically correct minorities ... or if you can't blame the disaster on Bush....

And since when do the Chinese ever admit to screwing up anything?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:16 PM to Dyssynergy )
27 November 2005
Even more strange search-engine queries

Right out of my referral logs, and offered to you, the reader, though I have no idea what you'd want with them.

closest nordstrom store to Tulsa:  The Kansas City store (in Oak Park Mall, 11143 W. 95th Street, Overland Park, Kansas) is about twenty miles closer than the store in Dallas' North Park Center (8687 N. Central Expressway), measured from One Williams Center downtown.

where are japanese mazdas made:  In Japan, mostly. (Mazda's central facility is in Hiroshima, with a secondary plant in Hofu.)

how do fish drown:  The easiest way is to take them out of water, where they can't regulate their oxygen intake.

nude flight attendants:  Never seen any. (If I thought I might, I might start flying again.)

nasty jockstraps:  Usually this is caused by wearing them.

How does a business owner decide whether to use employees or machines:  Have you seen some of these employees these days? Sheesh.

where are the horniest women in arkansas:  Off the top of my head, I'd guess 1200 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock 72201.

ways to look stupid:  There must be fifty.

what should i go when the check engine light comes on in my 1999 mazda 626?  Most people I know would probably go "Oh, ****."

smart women dating:  Are you sure you didn't mean to ask this of Maureen Dowd?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:13 AM to You Asked For It )
It's that age thing

Lachlan, who is way younger than I am, reports:

One of my coworkers, we?ll call him Dan, came up with this unknowing gem today.

Dan: Would you take a look at this video tape? I think it's prohibited for sale on the site.

Me: Sure, send me the link. (Remember, I work for A Cool Company. Details will be, to protect my ass assets, sketchy and vague.) Link arrives. I scan it. It's a page for a copy of "Ruthless People."

Me: So, umm, why do you think this is prohibited? I don't see anything unusual.

Dan: Well, that beta comment threw me.

I search the text again. There it is, in big black letters.

Me: Dan, beta is a format. Like VHS. This tape is just really old.

Dan: Oh.

Poor Dan. It could just as well have been on one of Edison's cylinders; it was that far removed from his existence. And small-b beta, nowadays, means something wholly different.

And no, I don't think the change in the vernacular hastened the format's decline; the appearance of Beta inventor Sony's first VHS machine in 1988 one of which I have, in fact probably sealed the deal, and a lot more people in 1988 were worried about home video than about computer software development.

I will mention in passing that this particular Sony machine, which offered a weird 15-year clock, would literally time-stamp a recording: you set the timer, the program records, you rewind, and there are the recording details at the beginning, right on the tape. Great for archivists, and for practically no one else on earth. This is the sort of gee-whiz thinking at Sony that brought us simulated digital frame grabs (on a late-Eighties Beta machine I still have), a clock-radio that requires half a dozen button operations to change the alarm time (which I bought and now deeply regret), and now CDs that hijack your operating system. It's almost enough to make one say kind things about Microsoft. (Now there's some Ruthless People.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:53 AM to General Disinterest , PEBKAC )
On the outside looking in

John Sutter has a piece in this morning's Oklahoman which looks at the nine incorporated communities which exist as holes within Oklahoma City limits.

One issue for them is trying to retain an identity when their mail goes to somewhere else: only Bethany and Mustang have their own post offices. Still, if you key a Warr Acres or Nichols Hills address into the USPS's database, you'll get the correct town. (This didn't work with any Village or Valley Brook addresses I tried, all of which came back designated as Oklahoma City; I wrote about this phenomenon here.)

Sutter says that for these municipalities, existing as an enclave is "a challenge at best," which is no doubt true. However, the worst-case scenario a "death sentence" seems a bit far-fetched. He cites the case of the one-time town of Britton, incorporated well before the days of statehood and absorbed into Oklahoma City in 1950. This much is indisputable:

At one time, Britton had a bustling downtown scene centered on the intersection at Britton Road and Western Avenue, now in northwest Oklahoma City. The area struggles with high crime and failing businesses.

I suspect this is due more to changing demographics than to the changing of the guard. In retrospect, I think it might have been better for The Village, which was founded in 1950, and Britton to merge, but this wasn't in the cards: for one thing, Floyd Harrison, a central figure in the incorporation of The Village and the developer of Casady Square, didn't want competition for his shopping center from downtown Britton.

Then there's the case of Valley Brook, a quarter-section on the south side with a checkered reputation (speed traps, "gentlemen's" clubs) and presumably not much in the way of prospects: there apparently hasn't been a building permit issued there in a decade. Valley Brook doesn't have the money, the beauty, or the selectivity of Lake Aluma, an enclave in the northeast quadrant, but I suspect it has basically the same attitude: "Leave us alone." And I think it's safe to say that there's some of that at the heart of all of these communities, and the smattering of unincorporated areas that still exist on the city's fringe: they may not always be sure what they want, but they definitely don't want to be just another part of the city.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:29 PM to City Scene )
Despite the name

Found in comments to this Black Friday post:

I wonder if Jesse Jackson or the esteemed Rev. Al shop on this day. It's so racist.

Let's see. You've got people with enormously-inflated senses of entitlement, demanding concessions at every turn, and complaining loudly if those concessions are not immediately forthcoming.

And on the day after Thanksgiving, you have shoppers.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:41 PM to Dyssynergy )
All the hypotenuse that's fit to print

This New York story explains why you should have paid attention in geometry class:

The question before the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, was whether a man named James Robbins was guilty of selling drugs within 1,000 feet of a school which carries a longer sentence when he was arrested in March 2002 on the corner of Eighth Avenue and 40th Street in Manhattan and charged with selling drugs to an undercover police officer.

The nearest school, Holy Cross, is on 43rd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. How to measure? On foot, Mr. Robbins's lawyers argued, the school is more than 1,000 feet away from the site of the arrest, because the shortest route is blocked by buildings. But as the crow flies, the authorities said, it is less than 1,000 feet away.

Law enforcement officials calculated the straight-line distance using the Pythagorean theorem (a2 + b2 = c2) measuring the distance up Eighth Avenue (764 feet) as one side of a right triangle, and the distance to the church along 43rd Street (490 feet) as another, to find that the length of the hypotenuse was 907.63 feet.

Lawyers for Mr. Robbins argued that the distance should be measured as a person would walk it because "crows do not sell drugs." But in a unanimous ruling, the seven-member Court of Appeals upheld his conviction and held that the distance in such cases should be measured as the crow flies.

"Plainly, guilt under the statute cannot depend on whether a particular building in a person's path to a school happens to be open to the public or locked at the time of a drug sale," Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye wrote in the opinion.

Mr. Robbins is currently serving a 6-to-12-year sentence.

Here in Oklahoma, we have no shortage of laws that are predicated upon keeping one's distance from this building or that institution; it will be interesting to see if this New York interpretation catches on here.

(Via Orin Kerr.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:12 PM to Dyssynergy )
Holy tera

Maxell's first holographic storage system will ship in late 2006, they say, with a storage capacity of 300 GB eventually expandable to 1.6 TB.

Terabytes on your desktop! At this point (meaning I don't do any video work on the PC), I can't even imagine 1.6 terabytes, which works out to 1,759,218,604,442 bytes, or 45,211,344 Commodore 64s (at 38911 BASIC bytes free).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:31 PM to Entirely Too Cool , PEBKAC )
28 November 2005
Bazaar outcroppings

It's hard to imagine a magazine less relevant to my existence than Harper's Bazaar; it's aimed at (1) women (2) with a lot more money than I'll ever have (3) and the willingness to spend it on clothing, for Prada's sake.

So I just renewed it for another year, because, hey, it's about as realistic as those science-fiction magazines, and what's more, it's a whole lot cheaper. Besides, fashion is fascinating, and not just because the Bazaar version is hyperexpensive and presumably designed for women with the general contours of twelve-year-old boys; in some ways, you can read it as an informal poll of how things are going otherwise, as the Princess explains:

If there is any indication of the mood of the country, it is typically how the consumers feel: if there is a chance that they might be depressed, the mood at the mall will be sullen and low, with people crowding around the clearance racks instead of trying on bright formalwear and expensive shoes. Skirts get longer, colors get darker, and the salesclerks are rude and unforgiving. But today, shopping was pleasant for the first time in a few years. The colors on the Gap sweaters didn't fade into the background, people were conscious about saying "please," "thank you," and "excuse me," which is an oddity even inside Club Monaco. I have to take this as a positive indication.

And it's not just socioeconomic phenomena that are filtered through fashion. In the December issue, Maureen Dowd (of course) draws a bead on the unfortunate (according to feminist theory) fact that Looks Matter:

It's still a catch-22 for women. If you pay too much attention to fashion and looks, you may be deemed superficial; if you don't pay enough, you may be deemed sloppy.

And here she quotes a friend of hers in the D.C. establishment:

"I'm constantly asked by my male colleagues ... how much I spend on shoes and how many pairs I own. Do I ask them what they spent on their super-high-tech home-movie theaters? No. It makes me defensive."

I'm not even going to try to decide whether a $3000 HDTV is worth more or less than five pairs of Manolo Blahniks at $600 each.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Rag Trade , Warn Mode Due )
The perfect gift for your moonbat friends

The International Conspiracy in a Box comes with everything you see here:

  • 1 Jewish action figure, complete with Israeli Mossad uniform

  • 2 shadowy Illuminati figures with thin veil to hide behind

  • 1 plastic Skull & Bones replica dungeon

  • 1 vague document to be waved about as proof of their theory

  • 1 roll of aluminum foil with instructions on how to fashion it into a beanie

  • 1 "anonymous source" action figure who won?t reveal his identity "for obvious reasons"

  • List of telephone numbers for all of the major radio talk shows

Also available in Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy model. Order now!

In a new old-fashioned way

There are logistical issues involved in rocking around the Christmas tree, says Lileks:

How this rocking is done I am unsure, since the tree is usually in the corner; thus it would be difficult to rock around the Christmas tree. You would have to rock in a semi-circular pattern. The people on the end would either have to circle around the others, which would mean they were rocking around the persons rocking, or the entire line would have to shift back and forth, permitting the occupant of the center position no more than a few feet of rocking. It is also unclear what sort of rocking we are talking about here; most rocking doesn't take you around anything. From the Bruce Springsteen grin-and-thrust-and-pump-hip dance to the Foghat-stoner stand-in-place-and-bob-head style, most rocking is done in place. So the whole song falls apart under analysis. Note: it is possible to rock around the clock, this being an expression of rocking performed in time, not space.

"I'm sorry," sobs Brenda Lee.

Amsterdam phone, will ya?

St. Petersburg Times columnist Robert Friedman apologizes for overdoing it, for violating the "newspaper industry's voluntary two-puns-per-section quota for headlines."

I do hope no one has trumpeted that "voluntary" business to Dawn Eden. But Friedman has extenuating circumstances:

As a young man, I entered a magazine contest The Trygve Lee Memorial Pun Toss and Yokohama Throw that offered prizes for the best puns involving geographical locations.

In case you saw this and thought Friedman was pulling your chain, let me assure you that the T.L.M.P.T./Y.T. was a real competition, and entries spilled over four pages of an early-Seventies issue of National Lampoon. My favorite was, and is:

My sister stole all my Halloween candy, and I hope it'll Rotterdam teeth out.

Of course, this site never stoops to such things; it's not like anyone is likely to hire me for a Punjab.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:41 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The wrong side of the TrackBacks

Sean Gleeson snags a picture of the Blog Building near NW 21st and Portland.

Obviously this place hasn't been updated lately.

(This is probably not the time to mention that this used to be, and for all I know might still be, the Odd Fellows' Hall.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:55 AM to City Scene )
Where there's a Will

The Downtown Guy says that for the state's centennial in 2007, we need something to grab the nation's interest:

A movie. A wide release movie that hits theaters across the country. Of course, it can't be something corny. It can't be a remake of Oklahoma. It's got to fit in with what today's audiences are looking for.

Think about some of the biggest critical hits the past few years: Ray. Walk the Line.

Now, who is widely held up as one of the best representations of Sooner pride, someone whose life story was pretty incredible?

Will Rogers. I'll let someone far more qualified than I take up this argument and explain why his life story is so perfect for the big screen, and why it's time to retell his story to today's generation.

It's time. With Gray Frederickson and others in state, and maybe some help from E. K. Gaylord II's movie studio, is it really such an impossible idea?

Get a good script writer, convince Frederickson and his young charges that this is the opportunity to make something great, something that can pay off big dividends for their state, and then present a plan to Gaylord's studio that suggests that maybe this can make money and draw in crowds, and if not, it would still be a great service to his state.

I like. And both these guys have a decent track record Frederickson's won an Oscar, fercryingoutloud which might make the project easier to sell upstream.

Last time Hollywood tried this tale was in 1952 with The Story of Will Rogers, directed by Michael Curtiz (Casablanca), and starring Will Jr. as his dad. Obviously we don't have this option today, and we probably shouldn't figure on getting an A-list cast, so as to keep the budget within reason. And we don't have a whole lot of time, since 2007 is a mere 13 months away. If you have casting suggestions, drop them into Comments.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:20 PM to Soonerland )
The peacemaker of Palos Verdes

So why should Patterico (yes, really, Patterico) be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize?

Certainly he has advantages over previous winners and nominees:

  • Unlike Kofi Annan (winner 2001), he has never had a child involved in money-laundering.

  • Unlike Mohamed ElBaradei (winner 2005), he can actually recognize a nuclear facility from a very long way away.

  • Unlike Stanley "Tookie" Williams (nominee 2001), he has never actually killed anyone.

  • Unlike Henry Kissinger (winner 1973), he has never dated Jill St. John.

I do not occupy a position high enough in the hierarchy to be able to nominate this most excellent individual for the prize myself; if you serve in such a position, I urge you to consider Patterico for the next Nobel Peace Prize.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:14 PM to Dyssynergy )
29 November 2005
It was not to be

Three in a row? Not if the Warriors have something to say about it, and they did, breaking open what had been a close game in the third quarter and dancing away with it.

Golden State wins it, 99-83, and ex-Hornet Baron Davis, who promised to kick in $500 for Katrina relief for every point he scored, will write a check for $8500.

The Bees now head for Denver; they'll play the Nuggets Wednesday before coming back to the Big Breezy.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:00 AM to Net Proceeds )
More on the hanging judge

Former judge Donald Thompson, who resigned from office after charges of manually-operated sexual misconduct were brought against him, is facing new charges: improper use (or, more precisely, non-use) of briefs during trials, and storage of inappropriate materials on his office computer.

Counsel for Thompson argues that the prosecutors, by adding these new charges, are "surly" and "vindictive." Meanwhile, DNA tests have fingered Thompson as the creator of various chair deposits, possibly with contributions from the manager of Thompson's rental-property operation, who is mentioned in several not-all-that-appropriate emails on Thompson's PC.

Just when you think you've heard it all ....

(Previous coverage here, here, here, here and here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:29 AM to Soonerland )
To the GOP Mantra Department

Repeat after me:

"More ideas and less bribery."

That's a start, though you still have a long way to go.

Tales of 90265

I've been to Malibu a couple of times, though not since 1988 or so; but I have no reason to think it's changed much in the intervening years, and the QC Report confirms:

Malibu is a place with absolutely no sense of proportion. The scenery isn't just lovely; it's perfect except during the fires and mudslides, which are biblical in their scope. The discretionary income isn't merely large; it could fund malaria treatments in up to twenty developing nations which is something best not to dwell on as you window shop on the Coast Highway. The people aren't lovely; half of them are the physical definition of beauty the other half are the definition of what kind of bank statement it requires to breed with the physical definition of beauty.

During my brief stint as a Legal Californian, I almost always felt like a fish out of water, and not a particularly attractive fish at that, and it didn't help that the few people I actually knew out there apparently derived their entire awareness of Oklahoma from The Grapes of Wrath.

Still, I had to appreciate the place for its sheer gorgeous insanity:

Malibu is proudly inconvenient; it seems to derive perverse pleasure in having only two major routes of entry, both of which have been known to close due to the aforementioned fires or mudslides.

Me, I spent a lot of time farther down the coast, lost in the labyrinthine streets and coves of Palos Verdes. (This is one of the few times in my life when I actually bought lottery tickets on a semi-regular basis, perhaps hoping I could buy my way into California not the state, which had already issued me the appropriate identification, but the sheer idea of it.)

And I have no doubt I could relate to this:

[T]his is small-town parochialism at its worst. Small-town insularity wearing a six-carat yellow diamond for a Sunday afternoon soy latte.

I suppose I could have grown to hate the place. But someday I'll go back for a while, secure in the knowledge that I won't have to stay there. For now, my old California license plate (expired 5-90) has a place of honor which means, basically, that nothing else is hanging in front of it on my garage wall.

(Via The Happy Homemaker.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:58 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Fhtagn yourself

So it's settled, then: we lose that hack Bil Keane and let H. P. Lovecraft do the captions henceforth.

(What could possibly go wrong?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:26 AM to Entirely Too Cool )

A perfectly reasonable question from the lovely and talented Samantha Burns:

I don't get why, as bloggers, we sometimes put up the warning, "not work safe" for links to naughty or indecent content.

Um ... isn't anything you look at while you're at work "not work safe"? I mean aren't you supposed to be, uh, WORKING?

I have no response to this, except to note that there is "not work safe" and "NOT WORK SAFE", and there is something of a difference.

[Preceding link sort of safe for work, changing to NOT SAFE FOR WORK if ... oh, never mind.]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:44 PM to Blogorrhea )
In the Hinrichs files

Michelle Malkin has been sifting through the unsealed documents from the Joel Hinrichs case, and she didn't find much therein:

None of the hundreds of e-mails in Hinrichs' Yahoo.com account accessed by the FBI/JTTF are included in the release. Nor are the names or URLs of any of the websites he visited from his home computer or any of the nine campus computers searched by the FBI/JTTF. The last line of Hinrichs' suicide message is reported, but not the rest of the text document. So, was he simply a troubled soul, a freelance Islamist bent on mass murder at the OU football stadium, or something else? The unsealed papers neither prove nor disprove any of these theories.

I have serious doubts about "freelance Islamist," but I suspect "troubled soul" doesn't fully explain it either.

An FBI spokesman told Malkin that the investigation was not complete, but was nearly so.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:48 PM to Soonerland )
Today's business-writing tip

By way of Mister Language Person:

In writing proposals to prospective clients, be sure to clearly state the benefits they will receive:

WRONG:  "I sincerely believe that it is to your advantage to accept this proposal."

RIGHT:  "I have photographs of you naked with a squirrel."

Precision is truly its own reward.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:18 PM to Almost Yogurt )
30 November 2005
$45 cash back

Well, actually, it's a check, and anyone who paid Oklahoma income tax for 2004 will be getting it as a rebate. (I had no idea the state was so flush with cash that they could afford to hand out these things; maybe they're making a killing on the Gross Production Tax or something.) Taxpayers who filed joint, head-of-household or surviving-spouse returns will get $90.

Says the Treasurer's office, 1.2 million checks totalling $92 million will be disbursed. That's an average of $76 and change; apparently comparatively few of us are (sigh) single these days.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:05 AM to Soonerland )
In answer to a flood of email

Well, okay, two.

Lynn was kind enough to mention the "cool rotating quote thingy" on the sidebar, which is labeled "It is written"; for the curious, this uses a Movable Type plugin called MTRandomLine and a text file full of stuff.

Old-timers will remember that in days of old with sysops bold and broadband not invented, there were offline readers (I used Blue Wave) with cool rotating quote files of their own; the basis for my MTRandomLine file is, indeed, my old Blue Wave tagline file, though I am no longer constrained by the old 74-character (I think) limit, which means that a lot (though not all) of the previously-uncredited quotes are now credited when I can find the credits and the time.

As it happens, the one item Lynn quoted was one of the longest in the file:

"For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter's is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you're trying to breathe liquid methane." Neal Stephenson

MTRandomLine rotates a new quote onto the page whenever there is a page or comment rebuild. If you see one you like, feel free to swipe it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:34 AM to Blogorrhea )
White flags

The announcement was typically subdued:

Six Flags, Inc. (NYSE:PKS) announced today that the results of Red Zone's consent solicitation have been certified by IVS Associates, Inc., the independent inspectors of election, and that all of the proposals that were the subject of the consent solicitation have been adopted. As a result, Messrs. Daniel Snyder, Mark Shapiro and Dwight Schar have become directors of Six Flags, replacing Messrs. Burke, Dannhauser and Shuman, and Red Zone's other proposals, including the amendments to the Company's By-laws, have been adopted.

In other words, the palace coup is complete; Dan Snyder's group has positioned itself on the Six Flags board and will presumably remove the old Six Flags management team. (Previous coverage here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to City Scene )
Specter fumbles

Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) seems to think the NFL and the Philadelphia Eagles are somehow violating the law by their suspension of surly nogoodnik Terrell Owens. The backstory:

On Nov. 5, the Eagles suspended Owens for four games without pay for conduct "detrimental to the team." The team also made clear its intention to deactivate him with pay after the suspension ended, as it did this past Sunday.

Specter was horrified:

The senator said the league and the Eagles had effectively blacklisted the all-pro wide receiver by forbidding him from playing and by banning other teams from talking to him. He called such treatment "vindictive and inappropriate."

"It's a restraint of trade for them to do that, and the thought crosses my mind, it might be a violation of antitrust laws," Specter said. "The NFL can have whatever rules it wants on authorizing suspension or keeping you on the team for the balance of the year, but they can't violate the law."

In fact, the NFL can have whatever rules it wants on authorizing suspension:

Last week, arbitrator Richard Bloch upheld the team's right to do all of that, saying those steps were in keeping with the labor agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association.

An NFL spokesman commented ... that it was "difficult to see" how antitrust laws might have been violated. Said league spokesman Greg Aiello: "The arbitrator's decision is consistent with our collective-bargaining agreement, and it simply enforced the terms of the player's contract."

I don't get it. Did the Senator lose a bunch of money on the Eagles or something? Does the benching of Owens somehow threaten the availability of abortion? There's got to be some reason why Specter's having a fit.

(Via Ravenwood's Universe.)

Update, 3:30 pm: Specter punts.

Nine hundred thousand

Considering that 800,000 was reached on the 10th of August, my efforts to discourage traffic seem to be failing miserably.

Still looks like a million before the 10th Anniversary (the 9th of April), easy.

For the record, #900,000 (at 9:53 CST) comes from the Milford, N'Hampsha area, searching for "coal in stocking gift" and winding up here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:54 AM to Blogorrhea )
Between vignette and vinaigrette

I am not particularly fond of the erstwhile cast of Friends, and of the three female leads Jennifer Aniston was always my third choice, but I must defend her against this absurd John Derbyshire blast:

While I have no doubt that Ms. Aniston is a paragon of charm, wit, and intelligence, she is also 36 years old. Even with the strenuous body-hardening exercise routines now compulsory for movie stars, at age 36 the forces of nature have won out over the view-worthiness of the unsupported female bust.

It is, in fact, a sad truth about human life that beyond our salad days, very few of us are interesting to look at in the buff. Added to that sadness is the very unfair truth that a woman's salad days are shorter than a man's really, in this precise context, only from about 15 to 20. The Nautilus and the treadmill can add a half decade or so, but by 36 the bloom is definitely off the rose.

"Salad days," indeed. I don't know where Derb's eating these days, but surely he knows that it's the dressing that makes the salad: otherwise, what you have is nothing more than a bowl of wet vegetables. (Should I wish it undressed, I will order it so.)

I know too many gorgeous women over 46 to believe this nonsense.

(Via Is this blog on?)

Update, 1 December: Derb keeps digging:

Conservatives, as I recall, are the ones who believe that "human nature has no history." It follows that we are at ease with the fact that the human female is visually attractive to the human male at, or shortly after, puberty, and for only a few brief years thereafter.

Civilized male conservatives, among whose number I very much hope to be counted, regard the visual attractiveness of women as a welcome lagniappe in the grand scheme of things, other attributes being far more important practically all the time, and those other attributes being the grounds for our respect.

So, John, how about those farm subsidies?

(Anything to get him off this topic.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:25 PM to Table for One )

XM channel 167 is where you'll find Air America Radio.

For the rest of us, File It Under presents Carnival of the Vanities #167, the latest installment of the first (and still the oldest) weekly blog compilation.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:53 PM to Blogorrhea )
A voice fades, but not really

Kent Anderson sounded really overwrought on KCSC today. I assumed it was Whatever Is Going Around, but apparently it might have been pure emotion at work: he's left the station behind to follow a different muse entirely.

The last piece he played: J. S. Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring, in a harp transcription by Yolanda Kondonassis. Somehow that makes sense.

And if you haven't read Department Thirty yet, I'm just totally hurt that you're not taking my advice.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:08 PM to Overmodulation )
The 7 types of highly effective bloggers

Assuming you define "highly-effective" as "traffic-generating," anyway. Mister Snitch explains:

Not every blogger practicing these distinct styles gets as much traffic as they might like. However, each style has the potential to drive traffic. Other styles of blogging, such as the let's-discuss-what-I-ate-for-lunch style, aren't suited for driving traffic, unless of course you're talking about what Madonna had for lunch. As a rule, navel-gazing gains an audience of one.

Incidentally, Swanson's new Chicken Strips dinner is new only to the extent that it contains fewer strips than its predecessor.

The seven types (see the linked page for full descriptions):

  1. Meme-du-jour bloggers comment on the high-profile ideas of the moment. This type of blogger is usually focused on political issues.

  2. Caterers determine what an audience segment wants to hear, and pursue that theme aggressively.

  3. Nichebloggers, aka localbloggers. The subject is usually something the writer is passionate about, or has special expertise in.

  4. Internet guides, such as Instapundit, create little original material. Their strength is that they are trusted link finders/filters.

  5. The celebrity-blogger is someone whose site traffic comes from fame achieved outside of blogging.

  6. The service blogger performs a service, often to the 'Meme' blogger (see 1).

  7. The long-tail blogger is the rarest of successful breeds. This style requires consistent blogging over a long period of time (hence the rarity in a fairly new medium).

Some blogs, of course, are hybrids: they have characteristics of more than one type, or of types not under consideration here. I see rather a lot of overlap between #3 and #7, for instance, as does Snitch.

(Disclosure: Mister Snitch sent the #7 paragraph to me for review before posting, mostly for statistics verification.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:30 PM to Blogorrhea )
The road trip ends well

Carmelo Anthony's injury didn't matter much: Andre Miller pulled 33 points to lead all scorers. Still, the Hornets, cold in the first quarter and only up 1 at the half, held on to beat the Nuggets in Denver, 102-95, finishing the West Coast trip 2-1 and jumping back up to .500 ball. Desmond Mason, making his first start this season, picked up 26 points.

The 76ers will be here Friday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:26 PM to Net Proceeds )
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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