Well, isn’t that special?

The Legislature starts its Special Session today, and how long it lasts may be the most important aspect of it, owing to one seemingly odd statute: no bill to raise taxes can be introduced in the last five days of a session. So if they plan to be out of there in a week, there will be no tax increases considered. That said, the search for revenues that can be collected without seeming to raise taxes will be at the very top of the agenda, and one doesn’t just shake the sofa cushions to obtain $215 million.

Expect the Democratic minority to push for restoring the 7-percent gross production tax on oil and gas, and expect the Republican majority to blow them off. Some background:

When commodity prices started to tank — those “new” to the industry were unprepared while oil and gas veterans sighed and began to tighten their belts and update their resumes. Shellshocked non-profits and businesses, who relied on industry support and investment, began the grim task of layoffs, scaling back services or shutting their doors altogether as corporate giving was dramatically reduced or cut completely. The entire impact reverberated across the state, but oil and gas got a big win.

The veterans had been here before, some of them several times: it’s simply the way it is. And then:

Just prior to the commodity price tumble, the industry received a gift from Oklahoma legislators and Governor Mary Fallin — a reduction in the gross production tax from 7% to 2% (1% for horizontal wells). While I didn’t have a crystal ball, it wasn’t hard to ponder “what if” scenarios. I didn’t have to live through history to learn from it — I asked peers, colleagues and friends, “If the industry experiences a downturn, won’t this impact the state budget and funding?” The general sentiment in response was, “Not our problem.”

Sentiments remain generally unchanged for now.


Strange search-engine queries (608)

Welcome to Monday morning. Grab a cup of joe and settle down for this week’s collection of possibly unexpected search strings that somehow lead actual Web surfers into this neck of the woods.

radioactive tender:  “He made me an offer I could refuse.”

youless:  Just yesterday morning, they let me know you were gone.

crickets slowed down snopes:  Yeah, that lack of traffic gets to you after a while.

hummer h1 coming back:  They shouldn’t allow you to buy these things unless you can prove you know how to park them.

bing dorks:  It is, after all, owned by Microsoft.

dildo cupcakes:  Please tell me this isn’t why you wanted to lick the bowl.

enter supervisor password or hit f11 key to proceed f11 key limits functions:  If it didn’t, there’d be no good reason to let you proceed.

who runs swiftonsecurity:  Hint: it’s someone named Swift.

dakota fanning bacon number:  One. Obviously you haven’t seen Trapped.

“emptiness”:  I think we’ve all felt that, one time or another.

gopcare:  Defined by a palpable feeling of emptiness.

theresa may upskirt:  You probably should not assume that just because she’s over 60, she’d appreciate being perved on.

sethisto arrested:  It’s all a plot to turn EQD over to Cereal Velocity.

yellow dog design jelly beans step in harness:  Sounds like a future Kickstarter to me.

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In the right place

“Unfortunate nominative determinism,” says Miss Cellania:

Stubbs Prosthetics & Orthotics Inc.

This is the main office in Chattanooga; there’s also an office in Dalton, Georgia. And let’s hope they have enough handicap spaces.


Singing into the wind

Sabrina Lentini might be the hardest-working teenaged singer around: in four years she’s released two EPs and played possibly a thousand dates, mostly close to her Orange County, California home.

This past summer, though, she put in an appearance at SXSW in Austin and, yes, worked:

She’s on the rooftop of the Westin Hotel, catching the absolute maximum Texas wind possible this side of Hurricane Whatzisname. “Ex’s & Oh’s” is an Elle King song from 2014; the scary structure out of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis is the Frost Bank Tower.


Forward thinking

Steve Sailer floats a hypothesis:

Michelle Obama has felt oppressed for most of her life by the feminist assumption that became conventional wisdom in American society in the early 1970s that tall, broad-shouldered females like herself should play basketball.

I have heard complaints by several tall women over the years along the lines of “No, I didn’t want to shoot hoops, and I don’t know why they kept asking.” So this doesn’t sound too far out of line.

The passage of Title IX to promote women’s sports in 1972 when Michelle Robinson was eight was one of the banes of her girlhood because it led to numerous suggestions from well-wishers that she had the perfect physique for a power forward.

Surely she didn’t look like a power forward at eight. (Twelve, maybe.) And maybe things have changed: of the 12 members of the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx, winners of six consecutive Western Conference titles, only four of them are below six feet tall — Mrs Obama is five-eleven — and they’re all guards.

But she’s kind of a girly girl who doesn’t like sports and wants to wear high heels, and doesn’t like the change in our culture that encouraged people to mention her height and brawn in the guise of offering helpful pro-feminist You-Go-Girl suggestions.

That said, both of her daughters were entered into sports programs:

Malia and Sasha had to take up two sports: one they chose and one selected by their mother. “I want them to understand what it feels like to do something you don’t like and to improve,” the first lady has said.

A girly girl she might be, but her fashion sense was decidedly impaired early on; she did, however, improve.

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You must be this old to pull this crap

I’m not sure what the reading is supposed to be on one’s personal odometer when it happens, but most assuredly it does happen:

There’s a dimension of latitude that comes to some of us with age. It would be a mislabeling to call it “freedom”; typically, an individual is just as free before he turns decrepit as afterward. It’s more about the lessening of some of one’s personal inhibitions. Other people’s opinions of us and our choices matter less. We no longer worry as much about “setting a good example for the children,” whether our own or those of other parents. Some of us get a little careless about a few things — vocabulary, associations, flirtations, certain indulgences we carefully limited in our younger years — and become rather insouciant about them.

It’s certainly that way with me. (Send $20.00 and a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the details.) As I look a bit younger than I actually am, I draw a fair number of dubious looks and disapproving comments for it. My usual response to those bothered by my little ways is to shrug, smile, and say “Too bad for you!”

The mistake I made was believing I’d reached that point half my life ago. And back then, there were enforceable penalties for insouciance.

Still, I suffered no consequences even then for peccadillos at this level:

I sing along with the music in retail establishments, at least if I know the tune and the words. I can carry a tune, and I’m told my voice is decent, so I get some pleasure out of hearing something I know from years ago and joining in. The way other shoppers look at me is often enough to blister paint. Now and then, one will actually approach and upbraid me for it.

Which is remarkable, since I couldn’t carry a tune even if I sewed a handle on it. That said, I do have one mitigating factor on my side: I usually know the words. People who don’t know the words will typically concede me a couple of points on that basis alone.

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To the next manor over, born

Lost your battle for dogcatcher in Alpha Township? Why not run for a Council seat in Betaville?

The other day I was driving to work and saw that the town must have an election coming up — there were signs everywhere reading “So-and-So for Mayor.” The name sounded vaguely familiar, which is odd, because I don’t follow local politics in cities I don’t live in. So when I had a free moment I googled up So-and-So … and hey, whaddaya know, he’s a failed Congressional candidate from a few years ago, from another district.

Who says politics is just showbiz for ugly people? This clown is a character actor from central casting, indistinguishable from every other central casting clown Our Rulers see fit to bestow upon our “elections” every few years. Should he not get elected mayor, So-and-So will no doubt be parachuted into some other town to run for alderman or something. His resume and biography don’t matter — he once got elected to something, somewhere, so he’s “electable.” He’ll die in office, and his obituary will gush about “a lifetime of public service” … though it won’t mention all the publics he’s served, since someone might notice that he’s not from any of those places and none of his so-called constituents could pick his mug out of a police lineup. See also native New Yorker Hillary Clinton, or stalwart Chicagoan Alan Keyes, whose totally Constitutional qualification to run in those districts was “once changed planes at La Guardia and O’Hare,” respectively.

And one thing you can be absolutely certain of: So-and-So, on every piece of campaign material from the day after the election until the day he dies, will be referred to as “experienced.” Because we’re utterly desperate for someone to uphold the status quo.

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No place for a whale anyway

The first thing I learned about Jonah and the whale was that there is no whale; Scripturally speaking, it was a real big fish. (Not to be confused with Reel Big Fish.)

The Friar picks up the story, somewhere at sea:

He sits in the fish’s stomach for three days — and if you think about it, the only kind of air anyplace inside the alimentary canal is what we take Pepto-Bismol for, which means Jonah spends three days inside a giant fish burp. After three days of this, it occurs to him to pray. Like many of us, he prays quoting some of the prayers and songs he knows. My Old Testament professor in seminary pointed out the different psalms and songs Jonah quoted, weaving them together in a lament about how bad he had it.

When Jonah finished, my professor said, the fish threw up. His sympathies were with the fish.

Jonah now finds himself near Nineveh, and when God calls again he decides he’ll answer. Nineveh the city stretches so far a person takes three days to walk across it, which makes the hotel chains like it very much. Jonah ambles in about a third of the way and says five words in Hebrew. He did raise his voice, and that may have been because nobody would get near him since, as far as the story we have says, he hasn’t taken a bath since leaving the fish.

And the wicked souls of Nineveh repented; the Lord stayed His hand, and Jonah pitched a hissy fit; he’d gone through all that business with fish guts, and he was expecting an ending with serious entertainment value.

There are, of course, contemporary Jonahs, though perhaps not with the seafood connection:

Well, we probably all know some people in our churches who just don’t seem happy unless they or someone is talking about someone else going to hell.

It might be well to remember that they’re not going to be the One making that fine Judgment call.

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Tidy Heidi

Actually, I have no idea how tidy Heidi El Tabakh really is, but professional tennis players tend not to be slobs. (Okay, some of the guys … but never mind about them.) Heidi was born in Alexandria, Egypt this week 31 years ago, and moved to Canada circa 2005. The year before that, she played in a doubles tournament in Edmond, Oklahoma, just up the Broadway Distention; she and Anne Mall, from Ireland, defeated Carine Vermuelen and Kelly Anderson of South Africa, 3–6, 6–3, 6–4.

Heidi El Kabakh waits for it

Heidi El Kabakh takes a break for it

Heidi El Kabakh prepares to serve

In April 2016, she put her career on hiatus due to recurrent injuries; her WTA singles rating had dropped from #142 to below #1000. She’s still going to kick your behind at table tennis, though:

And a fan from Canada reports:

… the latest rumors suggest that El Tabakh has moved or is about to make the move into coaching.

She’s definitely too young to stay retired.


Scalping justified

Warren Meyer looks at the fine print:

[The] view of scalpers as leeching middlemen with no economic value but rather as rent-seekers who merely mark up tickets and pocket the money is unfortunately common. But they are in fact a perfectly normal functioning of markets. They perform at least two economic functions:

  1. Events often are mispriced for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they charge too much, as in the recent McGregor-Mayweather fight, and the arena is half-empty. The market can’t do much to fix this. But sometimes events are under-priced, and the demand far exceeds the available supply of tickets. When this happens, some method of rationing must occur. Back in my day rationing was by who was lucky enough to dial in at the exact right moment or who was willing to camp out all night. Resale markets, including scalpers, where tickets are resold well above face value are another approach. Scalpers don’t make money taking some sort of middleman fee, they make money buying tickets at face and then taking the risk that they can resell them later at a higher price. They are not always successful. I have sold a number of tickets I could no longer use under face to get rid of them, taking a loss.
  2. If you cannot resell a ticket to the person you want for the price you like, you lose some of your property rights in that ticket and it is less valuable to you. Look at airline tickets, which are all electronic today and cannot be resold or transferred. Are you better off as a consumer not having a secondary market for airline tickets? Do you really like tickets that are use-them-or-lose-them propositions? The contention in this article that consumers are better off if their concert tickets worked more like airline tickets is simply nonsense. Scalpers increase our consumer sovereignty.

Los Angeles Dodgers games on the radio have scads of sponsors, one of which is Barry’s Tickets, who, according to their radio spot, sell Dodgers tickets at no more than — sometimes less than — face value, with no hidden fees. (“NO WAY!” says the announcer.) The idea, of course, is to suggest, ever so subtly, that all those other sources are overcharging.


Quote of the week

The American health-care system in a nutshell, per Chuck Pergiel:

This whole medical insurance debate is complete and utter horseshit. (Heh, my new catch phrase.) What we need is real information, but we’re not getting it. It might be out there, but digging it out would be a lot of work, and why bother? Nobody in power is listening, they are all listening to each other trying to score political points by telling bullshit stories.

Our healthcare system is built on a fantasy, a fantasy that is carefully nurtured by everyone with a financial interest, like doctors, lawyers, insurance executives and media moguls. This fantasy has doctors curing all diseases, patients recovering fully and leading happy, productive lives. Oh, that happens occasionally, and for common afflictions that are well understood, it might even be the norm. But the more people you have, the more variation you have and the more obscure, inscrutable diseases show up. Life is a terminal disease. People spend their lives trying to be happy. They should spend their time getting ready to die.

Health care is a trillion dollar business in this country. All those people who are engaged in the debate over insurance are just trying to influence the trajectory of that money so that more of the random spray that emanates from such a powerful stream will land on them and make them rich. Because even a single droplet from that trillion dollar stream is worth a million bucks.

I take issue with that “getting ready to die” business; I mean, with the death rate seemingly frozen at 100 percent, everyone’s going to go through that routine at least once, if only for a few seconds, and there are enough differences among us to insure that a Standard Preparation Routine would fall under the general heading of “one size fits none.”

That said, there apparently exists no sum of money so small that someone won’t try to get a piece of it: ask the guy who buys 10,000 shares of Consolidated Veeblefetzer at $37.19 and sells them in three minutes for $37.20.


Handy crapparatus

For lack of a better description:

I have no idea what this contraption is for, and I strongly suspect I don’t want to know. Belly Bandit’s usual business is post-partum shapewear.

(Via Jessica Stone Levy.)

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Sliding by

A recent Popcrush article on Rebecca Black contains a ten-page slideshow, including some pictures you just might have seen before. A couple of the captions, though, seem a bit at odds with one another.

Number 8, “On the Tiny Details”:

“Details matter. Perfectionism can be problematic. but in everything you do, pay attention to the smallest details. The slightest change in a song or even an outfit can make or break it. This stuff has your name on it forever, so it’s important to be proud of it and know you paid attention to every element of it.”

Number 9, “On Pressure”:

“Try not to put an immense amount of pressure on yourself all of the time. Sometimes this industry can feel overwhelming or frustrating, but we can’t help the fact that we’re human and that we’re not perfect! Mistakes are okay and everybody makes them, so when you’re freaking out, try to bring yourself back and remind yourself of that.”

In the meantime, here’s the full video for “Heart Full of Scars.” As the cool kids say, it’s a bop.

(A couple of R-rated words here and there.)

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Hoplophobe express

Hoplophobia is a political neologism coined by retired American military officer Jeff Cooper as a pejorative to describe an ‘irrational aversion to weapons’.” — Wikipedia

Kim du Toit has a rational aversion to American Airlines:

AA is already on my Shit List because even when one has the proper U.K. temporary firearms licence, they flatly refuse to transport any privately-owned guns to the U.K. — long guns, not just handguns, which I’d understand given the Brits’ mortal fear of the latter. This means that when I go to visit Mr. Free Market for a bit of birdshooting or deerstalking, I can’t fly on American; I have to use British Airways. As they’re “OneWorld partners,” it doesn’t affect my airline miles, but it does limit my travel options somewhat. And to judge from the comments on frequent-flier websites and forums, BA seems to have turned into a pretty second-rate airline over the past few years.

And yes, you read that right: an American airline refuses to transport legally-owned long guns to Britain, while a British airline has no problem doing so. Were it not for the fact that I fly out of DFW (American’s major hub), I’d use another airline, you betcha — but all other U.S. airlines out of DFW require that I connect in another city rather than fly direct to Heathrow. And in a couple of those connecting cities (Newark, Boston, New York), possession of a firearm can result in harassment at best, and being arrested at worst — even though you’re just passing through their little gun-hating jurisdiction. (Amazingly, Chicago isn’t a GFW city, in this situation anyway.)

FYI, “GFW” = “gun-fearing wussy.”

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The pentameter’s reading funny

Security is lacking, I declare;
However many layers there do lie,
Not one allows connection, to yourself,
Or to another who might wish to try.
This service cannot be performed; I beg,
Please try again tomorrow at this time,
Lest we conclude that there is no more rhyme.

Shakespeare quote of the day: an SSL error has occurred and a secure connection to the server cannot be made

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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Let us write for you

I suspect anyone who’s survived 180 days of blogging is now subject to this little inconvenience:

I received a guest post spam email a few months ago from someone who was very eager to write a post for this site. The person introduced herself as “a pioneer in online wholesale business.” In fact, she claimed to have “over 50 years experience in wholesale business.”

That was the first red flag.

She said she was “impressed by most of the posts/content” and added a little emoji, perhaps to soften the blow of such a statement. Fortunately, she didn’t elaborate which ones she was not impressed by.

If you have 50 years’ experience on any Topic A, it stands to reason that you probably don’t have a Topic B. This interloper certainly didn’t:

She then offered suggestions of five blogging topics she was ready to write for this site. Here was the writer’s actual list:

  1. Become a Successful Wholesale Supplier in 30 Days
  2. Want to be Amazing Wholesale Supplier? Here’s How
  3. How Much Can You Really Save by Shopping in Bulk?
  4. Opening a Restaurant? Read These Time (and Money) Saving Tips
  5. How to Coordinate Wholesale Shipping With International Partners

Or maybe she already had these five articles written and was looking for some poor sucker kind soul to help pass them along.

It gets worse. The last few of these I’ve received insisted on following up. Twice. Once, thrice. (“Just in case you missed it…”)

It’s at least somewhat obvious to me that these people are doing the least possible research: someone who’s written twenty thousand posts does not need to peel off fifty bucks for an article about wholesale shipping.

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