Where we’re coming from

The Z Man on immigration:

I kind of dig the fact that my country welcomes those who can’t seem to get along with the folks back in the old country. I love thinking about what the rest of the world thinks when all those mutts wrapped in Old Glory march into the Olympic stadium. You just know a lot of them are thinking, “I wish that was me.”

In my mind, I see that as a big old middle finger to the rest of the world. I get that from my grandfather … He came here, learned perfect English and made a life for himself as an American. As far as he was concerned, the folks back in the old country were losers.

This, incidentally, is the true source of American exceptionalism: not some appeal to $DEITY, who might well be neutral on such matters, but the idea that we’ve made this place special, whether we were here from the beginning or we just arrived.

And specialness is, after all, part of the plan:

That bit of sentimentality is not intended to get your patriotism up. I’m just stating my bias. I have an unreasonable bias toward immigrants, at least the ones trying to be Americans. But, that only works if citizenship has any value. If anyone can wander over the border and get all the same rights and privileges as me, the citizenship has no value.

It probably wouldn’t hurt if we made it a little bit easier for people to attain that citizenship; but erasing all the distinctions between citizens and noncitizens is the sign of a state that wishes to commit suicide, and I am generally not in favor of states committing suicide, though I can think of a few I would miss less than others.

On the other hand, if people acting, or acting like they’re acting, in the name of the state — you know who you are — should wish to terminate their pitiful existences because of some weird culturally implanted guilt, I know exactly where you can find cottonwood trees. And rope.

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N₂ darkness

Attorney General Scott Pruitt remains convinced that midazolam is the sedative of choice for executions:

Pruitt’s office will argue to the Supreme Court justices on Wednesday that the drugs Oklahoma used in Clayton Lockett’s execution in April 2014 met the test established when the high court upheld Kentucky’s lethal injection method in 2008.

There is not, the state contends, an “objectively intolerable risk of harm” when midazolam is used as a sedative, even though the drug does not have the same properties as the barbiturates that have been administered previously.

And, Pruitt said, inmates challenging the state’s use of midazolam must show there is a “widely available alternative” that would pose less risk of harm.

Speaking for myself, I’ve had exactly one dose of midazolam, and I’d say it was a pretty darn good sedative, but that’s just a single data point, and besides, they weren’t putting me to death, or at least they said they weren’t.

Then again: “widely available”? How about “all over the place”?

Before the first Shuttle launch, some ground crew died in the engine compartment of the orbiter, because they were in there during a nitrogen purge. They apparently never knew they had a problem, but simply passed out. If there’s a CO₂ buildup, the body knows it’s asphyxiating, and tries to do something about it, but no such warning mechanism has ever developed for a pure nitrogen atmosphere, because no animal would have ever encountered such an environment in nature.

So why not simply bring back the gas chamber, but instead of a toxin, simply remove the air and replace it with nitrogen? I’m sure there are other examples, but I fail to understand why this is such a difficult problem.

Governor Fallin has signed a bill to do essentially that as the state’s official backup execution protocol. I suspect the only reason it’s not moved to the head of the list is the fear of legal challenges — as though there weren’t legal challenges by the score already.

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Chronological Klonopin

You think maybe he’s been doubling up the doses?

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How early can i refill my clonazepam in west virginia?

I figure the guy’s having deep benzo reactions, inasmuch as (1) there seems to be a certain urgency to his query and (2) he posted it in the Cars & Transportation section.

For what it’s worth, my current pharmacy will not refill a Schedule IV drug on a 30-day prescription until day 25.

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Quote of the week

Doug Mataconis, on why the 2016 presidential election is an exercise in futility:

Even if you’re not much of a “horse race” person, though, the 2016 election doesn’t give you much to look forward to. More so [than] ever in the past, we are going to see candidates and their supporters pushing out tightly crafted messages designed largely to appeal pander to the worst aspects of their base supporters Joining them will be the SuperPACs that will be pushing messages different from those of the campaigns themselves, and far more negative. This guarantees that there will be little serious discussion of the issues facing the nation, whether we’re talking about the economy, immigration, entitlements, tax policy, federal spending, the relationship between Washington, D.C. and the states, social issues, and foreign policy. Instead, we’ll get prepackaged slogans, exaggerated claims, over-the-top attacks on opponents, and of course stump speech after stump speech of meaningless flowery rhetoric. Both sides will argue that this is “the most important election ever” and that their opponent will bring doom and gloom to the nation. All of this will be covered breathlessly by the always-on political media, which now exists both on cable news networks and the Internet, to the point where it will be impossible for anyone to get away from it. It is enough to make one want to completely unplug, or perhaps retreat to a desert island.

Vanuatu, anyone?

Then again, this is inevitable in our current hyperpolitical culture:

To a significant degree, we live in a nation that is almost equally divided between Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives. One of the things this means is that even the most trivial differences between the two sides become exaggerated to the point where compromise becomes nearly impossible. Additionally, the fact that both sides generally spend most of their time sending messages to their own bases means that they feed into the hyperpartisanship that has been created by cable news, talk radio, and the Internet to the point where it all becomes a horrible, soul-sucking, self-sustaining entity. As long as that’s the case, it hardly matters who wins one election or the other, or which party controls Congress by a handful of seats, because the way the system works guarantees that the battle will continue until … well, that’s really the point. The way we fight political battles today, the only way either side can be happy is if the other side is utterly destroyed. That’s never going to happen, though. There will always be Republicans, Democrats, liberals, and conservatives. They used to be able to talk to each other, but now all they seem to do is yell at each other, and as a result we have a political system that is frustrating, annoying, tiresome, and so predictable that is utterly boring.

Some folks, largely Democrats, whine about “getting the money out of politics.” I’d be happy if they got the frigging politics out of politics.

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Strange search-engine queries (482)

How this works: Every week, several hundred people arrive at this site from various search engines. Most of them are looking for fairly ordinary stuff. The rest are scrutinized by our voracious staff, and selections are made, based purely on the basis of snark potential. It’s funny when it works.

song “sweet violets” sweeter than all the roses from Fritz among the gypsies:  And ever since that time, something substantially screwed has been described as “on the Fritz.”

what fuse number for overdrive for 1996 mercury mystic:  I’ll bet you donuts to dog turds it’s not the fuse that’s on the fritz.

1995 ford probe overdrive light flashing:  Hint: it’s not the fuse.

paypal overpayment by quadrillions:  Not to worry. They’ll reclaim the funds, a few trillion at a time.

On the following map, identify these city elements: original city center, older auto suburbs, newer auto suburbs, streetcar suburbs:  I’m betting this is not a map of Snake’s Navel, Nebraska, and that the whining little putz looking for this does all his homework this way.

tyronza ark.nude local girls:  I don’t think girls are even allowed to be nude in Arkansas. And how many could there be in Tyronza, population 762?

exhibitionist nude in public on library pubic and.walking fully nude on nude vista:  So we know that this guy (1) has a fixation and (2) isn’t very good at this, since, per the string, he’s looking for Web pages and not images.

2002 mazda mpv harsh shiffting repairs:  You know, if I could collect a dime from every loser out there praying for an easy fix to his slushbox woes, I could probably get out of debt in a week.

90 model mazda 626 o/d off:  That’ll be 10 cents.

1999 mazda 626 shifting erratic:  Make that 20 cents.

credit card company fico score bank of america providian:  Of course, Providian doesn’t exist any more; it was taken over by Washington Mutual, which doesn’t exist anymore. At no point, though, does this chain lead to Bank of America.

www.which tyre sizes are recommended for mazda cronos 1990-1997 model 2 l 4 cyl sedan:  Did it ever occur to you to look at the sidewall of your actual tyres, Nigel?

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I was here first

Pink rose and orange iris battle for the sunlight. So far, it seems to be a draw:

Rose and iris living together

Then again, there are dozens of roses nearby, and barely half a dozen irises, so you know which way to bet.

(Blown up to ridiculous size at Flickr.)

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Stepping outré

I still think there’s a greater need for variable heel heights, but maybe that comes later. In the meantime, we’re on the verge of variable trim colors:

I do hope there’s enough security built into this system to keep other people from changing your shoes with their apps.

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Not at all bragging

Really, Anil Dash is not telling you this to puff himself up or anything:

I’ve got more Twitter followers than you. I’ve got more Twitter followers than Ted Cruz, and I’m only a little bit behind Björk. If my followers were a state, we’d be creeping up on Wyoming in terms of population. Having half a million followers on Twitter is a genuinely bizarre experience, especially considering I’m just a random tech nerd on the Internet and not an actual famous person.

Anyone whose name I recognize on sight is not, I submit, “just a random tech nerd.” Dash was VP of Six Apart, whose Movable Type product used to power this very site and several zillion others back in the day.

He insists that he didn’t do anything to merit this large following:

Somewhere around half of my followers are only there because I was included on the “Suggested User List”, a now-retired feature that used to recommend people to follow when you joined the service.

Basically, somebody who worked at Twitter back in 2009 added me to that list, and all of a sudden my online network got upgraded to the kind of numbers that are usually only reserved for rock stars. It doesn’t bother me that I didn’t end up with a ton of followers online because of any merit of my own; these things are always arbitrary. But in addition to getting onto that one weird list, I picked up a lot of my real followers simply by being early to Twitter. That’s a tactic that definitely helps you get more followers, and I’d strongly recommend joining Twitter in 2006 if you have the option. #helpfuladvice

Now he tells me. (I signed up in 2009.)

And a lot of those 550,000 followers — I looked — want something, and often that something is this:

“Hey, can you get me verified?” A variation on wanting attention or amplification for one’s work are the young folks (and they’re invariably under 25 years old) who very insistently plead for me to help them get a verified checkmark. Of course, I have no say in who gets verified, and I don’t even really understand the criteria by which the networks choose whom to bestow their blessing upon. But more importantly the checkmark doesn’t do anything! It’s the most clear case of star-bellied sneetches I’ve yet been able to find in adulthood, but this fact does nothing to temper the deep conviction of some that getting a blue checkmark on their Twitter or Facebook account would change their lives. Sometimes I want to email these people and ask how they think a few blue pixels on their Twitter account could have this kind of impact, but I haven’t yet figured out a way to do that without revealing what a complete asshole I am.

And this is the part we’re overlooking:

The fact is, online celebrity is just a simple reflection of the existing networks of privilege that confer benefits on people in every other realm of life.

In my particular case, being picked as a suggested user on Twitter changed the trajectory of my online life, but how is having a friend who was an early Twitter employee any different from the Old Boys’ Club? It ain’t.

Like Americans near the poverty line who don’t realize that on the global scale they’re downright wealthy, Twitter users with more modest accounts don’t realize how much reach they might actually have:

In comparative terms, almost nobody on Twitter is somebody: the median Twitter account has a single follower. Among the much smaller subset of accounts that have posted in the last 30 days, the median account has just 61 followers. If you’ve got a thousand followers, you’re at the 96th percentile of active Twitter users.

That’s me: the 96th-percentile guy. I don’t much care that I’m not verified or that I don’t have a following the size of Wyoming; my overall goal is to keep myself from thinking that I’m some sort of big deal. And regarding that Ted Cruz remark: during much of 2012, Rebecca Black had more Twitter followers than Mitt Romney.

(Via Michele Catalano, a civil servant who has 60 percent more followers than Anil Dash.)

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No-wheel drive

The Topic That Never Goes Away comes around again:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Is the Subaru XV Crosstrek a manly car?

And then he violates the First Rule of Holes (“quit digging”):

hey guys, i’m just a typical engineering student in college and ive been wanting to buy a car for some time, Ive thought of getting the Subaru XV since its loaded with tons of features like all wheel drive of course and nice rims lol.

Would this attract me hoards of girls as opposed to the Forester (lesbian stigma), what personality would you like I have if I drive one of these. Let me know, thanks :)

I know exactly one XV Crosstrek owner: a woman of rare beauty and prodigious talent. (And, of course, with a prior commitment.)

I note purely in passing that sniggering about Subarus and lesbians once got an automotive editor fired.

And it’s “hordes,” not “hoards,” though I suspect this “typical engineering student” will have his best chance with “whoreds.”

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Why Google still rules

Apparently they can handle even the most horribly mangled English:

(Via Rand Simberg.)

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An easier ramble

America’s most successful early compact car was the Nash Rambler, though most of us remember it in purely audio terms:

In a case of being at the right place at the right time, Tam got a shot of a perfectly lovely ’54 Custom and noted parenthetically:

Such cool lines! (Although I read that in ’55 they added cutouts for the front wheels and reduced the turning circle by six feet.)

Which is true, at least for the Ramblers; the senior Nashes retained the skirted look up front, and were still tedious in tight spots. (According to legend, that look was Nash president George Mason’s idea; when Mason died in the fall of 1954, the company moved as quickly as it could to banish it.) Still, the big Nashes had less of it in 1955, and even less in 1956 — though the ’56 Hudsons, based on the Nash bodyshell, had properly opened wheel cutouts, probably because American Motors, the surviving company following the Hudson/Nash merger, would just as soon you didn’t notice that both cars were built on a shared shell.

Fans of automotive progress should note that the ’54 Rambler had a turning circle of 42 feet; a 2001 Chevy Tahoe, seemingly about twice its size, could turn in 39 feet. (My own ride does 35.4 on the stock wheel/tire combo.)

And after both Nash and Hudson names were retired for 1958, the Rambler continued, under the name “Rambler American,” on the same platform through 1962, and got its only real redesign for ’63; it was replaced by AMC’s Hornet — a name Hudson had used during its postwar glory days — in 1970.

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Post-Brooks

Not that you were waiting for them, exactly, but here are some thoughts on the sacking of Oklahoma City Thunder coach Scott Brooks.

(Warning: Contains several gratuitous pop-culture references.)

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No better date than this

I mean, Miss Rhode Island says so:

Then again, it got up to 84 today in Oklahoma City. Decide for yourself if that’s too hot or too cold.

(Scene, of course, from Miss Congeniality.)

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Reese is the word

Yesterday, I described a young woman in a dream as resembling “a vertically compressed Reese Witherspoon,” which, when you think about it, is rather difficult to pull off, inasmuch as Reese Witherspoon doesn’t have a whole heck of a lot of vertical to compress: she has occasionally claimed to be five-foot-two, but several sources credit her with an inch less than that. Of course, Hollywood trafficks in reality only when it has to. And I remain something of a fan, ever since her film debut in The Man in the Moon, way back in ’91 when Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon was just barely fifteen. (Which means, dear God, that she’s pushing forty.)

Reese Witherspoon in Bottega Veneta

Reese Witherspoon at the Pirch Store in Glendale

You may note that in neither of these pictures does she look especially “vertically challenged.” She has, however, apparently gone Full Hollywood, stretching a bit in a Bottega Veneta bodysuit, then turning up at one of those stores that’s so exclusive no one ever actually goes there. (Just kidding.) And once, after too many glasses of wine, she attempted to play the “Do you know who I am?” card with a Georgia trooper. She was, however, properly contrite afterwards: Suthun girls — Reese was born in New Orleans — don’t do this sort of thing, even after they’ve gone Full Hollywood.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Not even a first round

While discussion of revising the NBA draft continues, James Joyner offers up a case for abandoning it entirely:

First, the draft is inherently immoral. Prospects give up their right to chose for whom to work and the right to negotiate terms of their employment outside very narrow parameters as a prerequisite for the right to work in the cartel. To be sure, it’s collectively bargained between the owners and the players union, but the union pointedly doesn’t include those subject to the draft. Consequentially, they’ve negotiated a deal that artificially lowers the earnings of the best new talent for their initial years in the league, thus shifting more of the wages to those already in the union.

It might actually be worse than that, since rookie scale is fixed by the CBA, and the teams get two years’ worth of options before the players have anything to say about it. In theory, a team may offer a draft pick anywhere between 80 and 120 percent of rookie scale; in practice, almost all of them, once added to the roster, are paid 120 percent. (Until he’s added to the roster, though, a draft pick isn’t paid squat; many play overseas until needed, and the Thunder actually stashed one pick last year in the D-League.)

Second, the draft has the perverse effect of rewarding teams for losing games and dumping valuable assets. The worst current teams, the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks have not only traded away their best older players — which is absolutely rational for teams not close to contending for a championship — but have systematically dumped their best young players in a quest to get to the top of the draft. That’s bad for the league and bad for the fans of those teams. (Oddly, the other contender for the worst team in the league, the Minnesota Timberwolves, have gone in the other direction. They traded away their best player, Kevin Love, rather than lose him in free agency but got a king’s ransom in young talent and draft picks in return.)

Absent a draft, weak teams would have an incentive to work towards improvement in order to draw fans to the arena. They would still play for the future, jettisoning older players and stockpiling prospects and draft picks, but they would play their best young players and try to get better. The premium would be on player development, rather than winning games per se, but the nature of the sport is that they’d nonetheless win a lot more than 16 or 17 out of 82 games if they weren’t intentionally tanking.

Then there were the ’72-’73 Sixers, who won nine games and lost 73. They would have had to improve to tank. Some teams are just terrible: the just-arrived Oklahoma City Thunder opened the ’08-’09 season 3-29, and they already had Kevin Durant. (And Russell Westbrook, but he started the season at the two because nobody believed he could run the point.) They wound up 23-59, as predicted by EA Sports.

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