Don't you know about The Bird (tm)/Well, everybody knows that The Bird (tm) is the word
(The Web Site Formerly Known As Chez Chaz)

The Charles G. Hill Web Pages,
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Dustbury, Oklahoma, USA

Founded 9 April 1996
It is written
Those who live by the sword get shot by those who don't.
The Vent
#590: Being Julia
(Posted 23 July 2008)
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But I digress... *
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damnum absque injuria
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Eject! Eject! Eject!
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AKA Mike Horshead *
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Brad Neese: Living Large in Oklahoma *
Nice Deb
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Musings from Brian J. Noggle
No Pasa Nada
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things will happen while they can
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* Actually somewhere in Oklahoma

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"I am insanely jealous over his knack for writing catchy headlines."
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  — Stacey

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  — Ken Layne

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"... the dean of Oklahoma bloggers."
  — Michael Bates, Urban Tulsa Weekly

"I tremble in shame before someone who really knows what blogging is all about."
  — Robb Hibbard,

"I'm not sure how much this blog appeals to me."
  — Liz Ditz, I Speak of Dreams

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  — John Salmon

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  — Jennifer, Open Book

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  — Time

"Even after hundreds of visits, I always misread it as 'Dustbunny'."
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29 July 2008
On the sparse side

Things went smoothly at the polling place, largely because there wasn't a whole lot of activity; I completed ballot #269 at a minute before 5 pm. There was the usual waving of signs down the block, which is always entertaining.

I don't expect any real surprises today, but I've been wrong before.

5:50 PM | Political Science Fiction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Cement ponderings

Jed ClampettYou gotta admit, it's faster than drilling:

Vowing to snap America's addiction to foreign oil, President Bush called for hiring experienced hillbillies to roam the countryside shootin' at some food.

"Sooner or later, these poor mountaineers will hit some bubblin' crude," Bush said. "And then we can restore America to gas-guzzling greatness."

In the meantime, though, there's conservation to be done:

"Effective today, all states that use the electric chair on Death Row must switch to an Energy Star model," [Bush] said.

Here in Oklahoma, we use lethal injection, though we're now required to remove all trans fats beforehand.

1:07 PM | Bogus History | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
That's what I like about the South

You may have heard it from Bob Wills; you may have heard it from Phil Harris. Either way, you've almost certainly heard it:

Hot corn bread, black-eyed peas
You can eat as much as you please
'Cause it's never out of season
That's what I like about the South

Many, many verses. (That's the fourth, I think.) A more contemporary version:

Southerners love their animals. They love their horses, dogs, and cats. They also love to eat whatever animal isn't one of those.

And so much more.

(Spotted by Morgan K. Freeberg.)

10:11 AM | Almost Yogurt | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Snaking along the screen

On occasion, Woot has offered items from the Razer line of meece, and I bought one as a backup for home use: whichever failed first, the Logitech that travels with the notebook or the Microsoft on the big box, would be duly replaced by the Razer. Neither of them has given me the slightest bit of grief, but the Microsoft mouse on the work box eventually ground its innards into slag, and Trini fished a mouse out of somewhere or other to fill in. "It's probably not too good," she said, and she was being generous; it was terrible, and nowhere on the applet to set its double-click speed was there a setting at which it was happy.

So I brought forth the Razer, from their Copperhead line in "Anarchy Red." It is a fearsomely precise device, and its capabilities as a pointer are well beyond my ability to point with it — it comes with five preset "profiles," depending on your needs, and I wound up taking one of the slower ones. If this sounds to you like driving an Indy car to Burger King, well, so be it, but I'd rather have a good product that's not being stressed rather than an inferior product that's being worked beyond its design capacity. If you're a Serious Gamer, which I am not, your mileage may vary.

7:44 AM | PEBKAC | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Note to someone who still works here

If there's a job you run that has a better-than-average chance of halting due to an error, it is not wise to run it an hour and a half after the sysadmin has left for the day.

7:16 AM | Wastes of Oxygen | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
28 July 2008
Not a lot to do, really

Tomorrow's primary ballot has, so far as I can tell, exactly two items for me: the County Clerk and State House District 87 races are GOP only, and I don't live in District 2 of the county and therefore can't take part in the de-Rinehartization process.

The Congressional races, though, I have to look at. For House District 5, either Bert Smith or Steven L. Perry will be the sacrificial lamb facing Mary Fallin. In previous such rituals, I have favored Mr Smith, and I will do so again tomorrow.

Either Andrew Rice or Jim Rogers will take on Jim Inhofe for the Senate. Hint: it won't be Jim Rogers.

Of the two Republicans seeking Trebor Worthen's spot in the House — Worthen, after two terms, is bowing out — the only one I know anything much about is Andrew Winningham, and that only because his brother cuts my hair. The survivor will face Democrat Dana Orwig, who failed to oust Worthen in 2006, come November.

7:15 PM | Political Science Fiction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Hey, Grandpa, what's for dinner?

This, I think:

Semi-Boneless Ribeye Steak

And the dog gets the, um, semi-bone.

2:15 PM | Worth a Fork | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
There's just one problem

Doc Searls explains it:

I like the hotel we're staying in. The wi-fi signal is strong, fast and free. The bed is firm and the sheets are fine cotton, topped by a soft comforter. The AC works well and isn't too noisy. I have no complaints except for the lack of a good desk and chair for working on my laptop.

This is standard. Very few hotels have desks with surfaces low enough to allow comfortable work. And few have chairs that aren’t uncomfortable for sitting at a laptop for more than half an hour or so.

I've had no particular issue with desks, except to the extent that they're badly located, but chairs range from not bad to utterly hellish, and the latter have outnumbered the former by about four to one. I have, in fact, complained to innkeepers about this; more than once I've relocated the desk and sat on the bed to work.

So I can endorse this:

I would gladly pay more to stay in a hotel with a good desk and office chair. In fact I think an office-standard desk & chair should be listed among amenities at hotel sites and in services such as Orbitz and Travelocity.

At my usual price point — around $90-110 — I'd almost think this ought to be mandatory.

10:38 AM | Dyssynergy | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Now what?

At this moment, the Oklahoma City Whozits have 13 players under contract — 14 if restricted free agent Robert Smith gets around to accepting his qualifying offer — which leaves at least one roster spot open. (The presumption here is that the two yet-unsigned draft picks, DeVon Hardin and Serge Ibaka, will not actually be signed this year.) The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry predicted three weeks ago that the team "likely will not be players in free agency," which seemed logical at the time.

Then, of course, Sam Presti went after Utah guard C. J. Miles, but the Jazz wouldn't let him go. Mayberry is now hinting at the possibility of landing J. R. Smith from Denver:

Smith, a restricted free agent, has improved in each of his four seasons, save a sophomore setback stemming from a near season-long stint in Hornets coach Byron Scott's doghouse. He shot 46.1 percent from the field last year and 40.3 percent from behind the 3-point line, both career-highs. He was one of Denver's lone bright spots in a first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Los Angeles Lakers, averaging 18.3 points on 53.5 percent shooting.

Smith reportedly earned about $2.1 million last year, and the Nuggets have extended him a qualifying offer just over $3 million. Denver has said they'll match anything anyone offers, but they've spent two years in Luxury Tax Hell and have had to fork over upwards of $15 million for the privilege, which means that Presti might be able to swing this with a serious overbid.

If we're going after ex-Hornets, though, I think a better deal might be Linton Johnson, last seen at Phoenix; he's not as reliable a shooter as Smith, but he's much more ferocious on defense, and signing him won't break the bank: a million a year could secure his services.

Still unspoken: who, if anyone, is likely to be traded. The Whozits have three expiring contracts this year.

8:02 AM | Net Proceeds | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Strange search-engine queries (130)

We honor tradition here, to the extent that there is any tradition on the Web, by emptying out the referrer logs and highlighting some of the entries therein.

possible third term for bush:  Don't hold your breath.

does a world tour mean going to all the states:  Not yet, and I still haven't figured out a way to drive to Hawaii.

improve corvair handling:  First, air up the back tires; second, try not to run over Ralph Nader.

geezer is an offensive term:  Shaddup, ya old fart.

abercrombie jeans vs thigh circumference:  I don't think Abercrombie will sell you jeans if they think you have thighs.

"number of sexual partners in a year":  All these years are starting to blur together.

dyslexic science fiction producers with beards:  Oh, that narrows it down a whole lot.

symptoms: "disinterest" & "procrastination": What is "blogging"?

why does grace hanadarko drive a porsche:  Nobody wants to see Holly Hunter in a Hyundai.

is springdale job corps haunted by a little girl with a red dress on and a bouncing ball:  I believe I speak for everyone here when I say "Springdale has a Job Corps?"

Timing belt replacement facts and myths Infiniti I-30:  Fact: the I30 has no timing belt. Myth: what the mechanic is relying on when he gives you the bill for replacement.

What the hell does "Dustbury" mean?  Business, pal. Business.

6:53 AM | You Asked For It | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)
27 July 2008
Low on the "high crimes" scale

Omigod, let's pillory this guy:

Recently, I was ask to investigate a web site on the Internet regarding Rep. Curt Dougherty. The web site in question is the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR).

The AANR website listed Rep. Dougherty as attending the 75th Annual convention of the AANR in California, where it said he presented a workshop titled “Secrets of a State Official” and received their Government Affairs Award. According to the web site, the convention was held at the DeAnza Springs Resort in Jacumba, Calif. The DeAnza Springs Resort is listed on their web site as a clothing optional resort.

After reviewing the web site, I have a few questions. Why would a state representative from Missouri speak at a AANR convention in California? How did this trip benefit the citizens of District 53? Who paid for the trip?

The answer to 1, apparently, is "They asked him to," and to 3, "He did":

Missouri taxpayers did not pay for Curt Dougherty to travel to California in 2006, according to state house records.

Dougherty said that representatives of the AANR had asked him to speak while he stopped at a booth maintained by the organization at a gathering of the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Dougherty said that he and his wife already had planned to be in San Diego during the 2006 AANR convention, held at DeAnza Springs Resort, east of San Diego. He agreed to attend and speak, Dougherty said. He was not compensated for his talk, he added.

Given Rep. Dougherty's bio, which indicates that he's not exactly your stereotypical libertine, and given the indication from Jeff City that no money was misappropriated, the big gripe here seems to be that Dougherty was in the presence of a bunch of nekkid people; nowhere is it suggested that Dougherty doffed his own duds. (Here's the agenda in PDF format.) And if he did, well, so what? He was on his own time.

Semi-useful suggestion: Next time Dougherty gets a chance to address an AANR convention, it should be in the Midwest Region. Closer to home, you know.

(Seen here.)

7:13 PM | Birthday Suitable | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
A show tune from the future

The song of the seagull is different these days
Its cry has turned into a sneer
But no one has noticed the change in the air
Since all of those turbines came here
The sky and the ocean were sisters in sight
Reflecting each other in style
But now there are shadows that fall on the shore
And they're going to be here for a while

The whirring of blades can be heard through the night
A slice here, a dice there, and more
Industrial processes ought to be banned
Their presence makes all of us poor
What happened to beauty, to sense of delight?
These horrid things really aren't green
They've ruined our life on the hills by the sea
Where the wind turbine farm can be seen

They told us that this was the best of the ways
To produce all that power we used
We told them that surely there must be another
But bureaucrats coldly refused
"Since oil is just awful and nuclear worse
There's no other option," they said
And so they destroyed everything we hold dear
So our seaside existence is dead

We still hear the blades as they cut through the sky
From daybreak on into the night
We still see the shadows that fall on the shore
The darkness that shatters the bright
It wasn't our fault that they built all these things
Our hands, they are perfectly clean
And we curse all the world from the hills by the sea
Where the wind turbine farm can be seen

(Suggested, quite unintentionally, by Tam.)

11:50 AM | It Could Be Verse | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Next: Dr Scholl goes to Rome

Have you ever said to yourself, "You know, I kinda like the FitFlop, no matter what some crummy blogger thinks, but what I really want is a gladiator sandal"?

Aurelia FitFlopI didn't think so. But in case you did, here's what you're getting, and this is why:

Kirna Zabete owners Beth Buccini and Sarah Easley loved the FitFlop's foot feel, function, and fitness-giving concept but could not find a pair that would suit a Balenciaga dress or a Rick Owens jacket. "We knew we had to have them," says Buccini, "but our clients would want the urban cool girl version."

Okay, urban cool girls, unsheath your Visas: this will run you $165, which is about thrice the price of a nonurban uncool FitFlop. (The black kid version, shown here, is $15 less.) And, well, this indisputably qualifies as distinctive footwear.

(Seen at Popgadget.)

10:20 AM | Rag Trade | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Excellence in something or other

The St. Louis Rams were a slightly-less-than-indifferent 3-13 last year, which doesn't bother Rush Limbaugh in the least, since he doesn't own the team — yet:

[T]he conservative talk radio host said he would be interested in buying the St. Louis Rams if the team were for sale. "The Rams would be a great team to have," Limbaugh said in a phone interview from his Palm Beach, Fla., studio. "I have a lot of friends in ownership in the NFL, and my desire to get involved has not been a secret." Limbaugh grew up in Cape Girardeau but said that does not play into his thinking about the Rams.

There is no indication, however, that current Rams ownership — Chip Rosenboom and Lucia Rodriguez, children of the late Georgia Frontiere — have any plans to sell. And there's one other hurdle to be cleared:

"I have no debt whatsoever. This would require changing that," [Limbaugh] said. "There is a whole lot of interest in the Rams with the NFL being a business entity that a lot of people want to be involved in. But it's becoming a billionaires' club."


Rush's brush with team ownership is sure to be as successful as his last venture into an NFL-related enterprise. Guess this means Donovan McNabb can cross off St. Louis as a future roster destination.

On the upside, hatred of team owners seems to be running a little higher than usual lately, but if there's one thing that bothers Rush Limbaugh hardly at all, it's being on the receiving end of hatred.

Maybe it will happen when Condi Rice becomes NFL Commissioner.

8:54 AM | Dyssynergy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
26 July 2008

A couple of Homeland stores had an unexpected promotion today: Tax-Free Day. "Save more than 7 percent," they said. Since both the participating stores were in Oklahoma City limits, the savings would presumably be 8.375 percent. I checked a few items and didn't spot any price increases, and the register tape from the self-checkout indeed reports 0.00 tax, so I guess they meant it.

Of course, they're going to have to remit something to the Tax Commission anyway, so it's not really "tax-free," but anything that saves me $3.50 on a forty-dollar grocery run is something to be encouraged.

7:48 PM | Common Cents | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Going against the grain

Gas prices are falling across town: unleaded regular, probably with some ethanol content, can be had today at various places in Oklahoma City for less than $3.40 a gallon. Yet people are still paying several cents extra to avoid ethanol altogether, and you can't blame them: some engines really don't seem to like the stuff. What's more, the vaunted 113 octane rating is comparatively insignificant, considering it's only ten percent of the mixture, and it's suggested here that producers are starting with lower-octane gas to begin with and then using the ethanol to bring the octane up to pump spec.

More important to some is the mileage issue. Ethanol packs less actual energy than gasoline; Texas officials report that on E85, fuel consumption is about 40 percent higher. In my own car, the effect of the E10 mixture has been unclear; there has been no significant change in mileage, and no other issues have cropped up.

It occurs to me that instead of selling the stuff as Gasoline Helper, ethanol promoters could have pitched it as some sort of quasi-racing fuel additive. Formula 1 racing now specifies 5.75 percent "renewables" in its approved fuel (specification here), and may go higher. After all, people don't expect racers to get good gas mileage.

4:55 PM | Family Joules | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Finding the principal Skinner

According to everything you've ever heard, Lynyrd Skynyrd was named after Robert E. Lee High School gym coach Leonard Skinner, who punished founding members Gary Rossington and Bob Burns several times for breaking the school's strict dress code.

At least one musical pundit is questioning this story. From today's listserv:

I have reason to believe, however, that that's a crock, and that the actual source was the lyric of Allan Sherman's 1963 hit "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh", which includes the line, "You remember Leonard Skinner? / He got ptomaine poisoning last night after dinner". According to this theory, the reason for the deception was embarrassment over the "silliness" of Sherman's song, in contrast with the group's seriousness of purpose, although it may also have been to avoid legal action (from Sherman, if not the gym teacher).

By "deception," I assume he means the willingness of Skynyrd members to promote the gym-teacher story.

Anyway, said pundit is looking for corroboration or refutation, one way or another. Me, I'm waiting for a remake of the Coasters' hit "Poison Ivy" by the Joe Spivey Band.

2:50 PM | Tongue and Groove | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Doing the stroll

Last year, I noted that my little corner of the city rated a not-too-shabby 78 on Walk Score. The city as a whole rates a 43, which would immediately suggest that walkability is not evenly distributed. (Given the sheer physical size of this town, hardly anything is.) And indeed, if you look at their map, you see scattered patches of green and yellow in a sea of "car-dependent" red.

Blair Humphreys finds the methodology a bit too simplistic:

[T]heir "algorithm" simply measures the proximity of amenities from a given point. So anything within ¼ mile of a mall would receive the highest rating and while it is true that malls are incredibly walkable (when you are inside), it is not true that malls create walkable neighborhoods — in fact, it is quite the opposite when surrounded by parking. This is also true of densely lined retail arterials like May Avenue. While they certainly provide access to a number of retailers and amenities within a short range of distance, very few people would actually walk from shopping center to shopping center and consider the experience enjoyable. A few better ways to measure walkability in my opinion would either attempt to include measures for the elements listed above or would simply count the number of people actually walking. After all, what good is "walkability" if no one walks? But what do you do if it is "bad walkability" and everyone walks?

To be fair, Walk Score does acknowledge its limitations.

And yes, I live between May Avenue and a mall. I don't think I've ever seen anyone walking from around here to Penn Square; there are folks who will walk to the shops in Mayfair Village or along 50th, or maybe to the Target at 53rd and May, but that's about it.

Besides, it's July and it's pushing 100 outside, which surely discourages walkers.

11:05 AM | City Scene | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Express, yourself

This is the way the letter began:

We're sending this letter by Express mail because we really don't want you to miss this amazing opportunity. Right now, you can get a great price on a bundle of [name of offending company redacted, but over the years, I've noticed, I'm almost Always Talking & Talking about them] most popular communications and entertainment services — plus cash back when you order new qualifying services.

"Express mail," as described by said firm, is not at all the same as "Express Mail," a product of the US Postal Service with bold logos, easy to recognize, especially if you've ever worked in accounts receivable for a firm with a lot of deadbeat customers. And in fact, tucked away into the not-really-a-stamp postage block in the upper right corner is the telltale legend PRESORTED STANDARD.

I suppose this little ruse is intended to impress the sort of person on whom a company might spend $15 at a single whack on a customer-retention program. This sort of person is not me.

9:42 AM | Dyssynergy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
25 July 2008
Dangerous curves

The road, I mean. Sheesh:

Today, I took a friend and the Porsche out for a yummy drive on Mulholland. Yes liberals, that's correct, I drove over 40 miles total — for NO reason other than to make you shit yourselves.

I was amused by the leisure drivers in their Ford rental cars, braking before turns in the road instead of accelerating. Or those ridiculous environmentalists pushing their Prius up the hills.

I find it reassuring that it's still possible to have a "yummy drive" on Mulholland. I had one myself, twenty years ago, in my battered old Toyota Celica, approximately two hours after buying a Thomas Bros. map — though not, as you will see, actually reading it.

And I think I comported myself well, at least compared to the Ford-borne tourists. I got to about the 17000 block and the road seemed to disappear; I pressed ahead and found myself on some sort of goat path. About a mile farther down I spotted some four-by-four that had been abandoned, and the alarm went off in the back of my head: Where the hell do you think you're going, anyway?

So I did the U and doubled back, and rather than go all the way back down Mulholland, I took the first side road to the north, which turned out to be Encino Hills Drive, a nice, curvy little residential street that suddenly PLUNGES TO CERTAIN DEATH. I arrived at Hayvenhurst with purple smoke pouring out of the rear wheel wells, which only just started to subside by the time I reached Ventura Boulevard.

Two days and two new brake drums later, I took on Dead Man's Curve, or what's left of it, anyway, because that's how Angelenos know you don't actually live there. I did in fact have a California driver's license at this point, and within a week I would be in possession of an actual smog certificate for the Celica, but the guys sneering on Sunset didn't know that. Then again, I'm not a gorgeous woman in a Porsche.

8:08 PM | Driver's Seat | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Miles stands pat

Utah reserve guard C. J. Miles will not be jumping to the Oklahoma City Doomaflatchies; the Jazz, as is their right with a restricted free agent, matched the OKC offer. (And almost literally at the last minute, suggesting that there was some agony in the front office.)

No comment from Sam Presti yet; I have the feeling he's bound and determined to find some use for the mid-level exception this season.

5:33 PM | Net Proceeds | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
More than just girl talk

The Writer Chick has put up a three-part series titled Women + Blogosphere = Impact, which consists of a small (sample size=14) survey of women bloggers plus WC's own answers to the questions posed. Since my own audience intersects with hers hardly at all, I figured I'd bring up some of the same points here and see what happens.

From a survey respondent:

[I]n general, women are more outspoken in their empathy. While men may relate to someone's story, they don't necessarily say too much about it. When I am reading other people's blogs, I comment when what they write about triggers an empathetic story in me. I rarely write one-liners when I comment. I want to share my knowledge and learn from theirs. I think men tend more towards networking, which is sharing information. Women lean more towards building communities, which is sharing wisdom.

This might seem obvious to some of you; it wasn't quite so obvious to me, but then I write one-liners all the time. That said, I'm quite interested in finding where the line is drawn between mere "information" and actual "wisdom."

Also from the survey:

I wonder if men are a little more fearless when it comes to blogging. However, I believe blogging gives women a chance to say things, especially anonymously, that they would never dream of saying out loud in their day to day life.

I'm not so sure that we're "fearless." "Heedless," I might believe; there's a lot to be said for a damn-the-consequences attitude, though it does occasionally result in, well, consequences. There is, however, some vestigial tendency among some of us to take the words of women less seriously than we do the words of men, and while I'd argue that this attitude is on the wane, it's far from being altogether gone. No wonder the women don't always speak up. WC herself touches on this phenomenon:

I do think that male bloggers are taken more seriously. Regardless of topic. Even the ones who write poetry or prose or the touchy feely stuff — perhaps especially, because you know it's like a big deal when a man reveals his deepest feelings, right? But not so much when women do? WTF? I mean, seriously — why is this?

I try to avoid appearing to have deep feelings, although once in a while, despite my best efforts, something creeps into the text. (If you were wondering why it is that some items appear here in the blog and others wind up in The Vent, this is a contributing factor.) Fortunately, my poetry is bad, so no one is likely to accuse me of being feely. Touchy, maybe.

A personal note: Were I to reorder my blogroll chronologically, starting with the first person I'd ever read on a regular basis, the top of the order would be Steph Mineart's, which has been around in one form or another for fourteen years; I was reading her before I ever posted anything of my own. Was she influential in my early blog development? I don't doubt it. Then again, there are people who claim to be influenced by me, so take this with several units of sodium chloride.

3:35 PM | Blogorrhea | Permalink | Comments (9) | TrackBack (1)
Down to six

So it's Thunder — or it's Barons, Bison, Energy, Marshalls, or Wind.

Neither Energy nor Wind sits well with me: they're too abstract. (Wind, in fact, downright blows.)

Marshalls would be okay if they lost an L; right now it looks like an off-price retail store.

That leaves the B-words. Barons will work, once the punsters have played out the "Baron Wasteland" angle, which shouldn't take long; Bison have more of a local connection and a reputation for speed.

The NBA, of course, won't say a word.

11:47 AM | Net Proceeds | Permalink | Comments (7) | TrackBack (0)
One less hellhole

Apparently there are — there were, anyway — apartments worse than the CrappiFlats™ where I spent nearly a quarter of my life. I found this story tucked away into the Metro section of the paper, and decided it merited some sort of discussion.

The city [of The Village] will pay the cost of removing asbestos and demolishing the former Vintage Lakes Apartments, 10301 N Pennsylvania Ave., in hopes a developer will replace the apartments with single-family homes, The Village City Manager Bruce Stone said.

City officials closed on a deal Friday and purchased the blighted area for $3 million. The apartments had gone up for sale after the former owners filed for bankruptcy and faced foreclosure.

Mr Stone didn't say "Good riddance," but he could have, I think:

The apartments, near Hefner Road and Pennsylvania Avenue, closed in March after struggling with leaks, faulty heating and cooling systems, mold and crime problems.

And he means crime problems:

Stone said since the apartments closed, the crime rate has dropped in the city. He said about 30 percent of all calls for police service came from the apartments.

Imagine what the rest of the tenants thought.

But here's what really grabbed me:

An estimate for asbestos removal is $1.5 million. Cost of demolishing the apartments is about $850,000.

Presumably in that order. It will be, said Stone, up to nine months before the 40-acre tract is actually scraped.

9:50 AM | Soonerland | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Etiquette note

If someone's work day begins at, say, 8:00, it is considered bad form to page her before 8:01.

8:02 AM | General Disinterest | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
Quote of the week

Matthew Phenix, in the September Automobile, on one of the superest of supercars:

When production of the F1 ended in 1998, McLaren had given the world seven prototypes, seventy-two street-legal examples, and twenty-eight full-on race versions. The Sultan of Brunei owns eight or so, and untold numbers have been destroyed at the hands of overexuberant owners or their spoiled-rotten children, ungrateful offspring who should be damned to spend all eternity sitting in traffic at the 101/405 interchange in Los Angeles, wedged into the third-row seat of a clapped-out Plymouth Grand Voyager between Bill O'Reilly and a wet dog. With a full bladder.

In fact, all three — the wretched child, the wet dog, and the [whatever] O'Reilly — should all be at Desperation Point, whizwise, if you ask me.

Correction: Fixed issue date.

7:00 AM | QOTW | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
24 July 2008
The enormity of it all

I'm assuming that everyone here recognizes "enormity" as being, not an alternate form of "enormousness" or anything like that, but a serious pejorative. My trusty Webster's New Collegiate defines it as "the quality or state of being immoderate, monstrous or outrageous, esp: great wickedness"; in the #2 slot, we find "a grave offense against order, right, or decency."

The following is a paragraph from an Associated Press sports story:

There seems to be no shortage of questions regarding the transition of the franchise formerly known as the Seattle SuperSonics, but a spokesman for the team said Thursday that the team's move is proceeding quickly, considering the enormity of the task.

Now: is this AP guy expressing an editorial opinion on the franchise relocation, or is he just unaware of the proper use of the word?

(Note to AP: Send any bills to Department of Sanitation, 297 West Street, New York, NY 10013.)

7:45 PM | Say What? | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Automotive contrarianism

This would seem to be beyond dispute:

America has the hots for hybrids. On the flip side of high gas prices, the value of any vehicle with fuel economy below 20 mpg has collapsed. Brand new "gas guzzlers" sit on dealer lots collecting incentives, rebates, finance deals and dust. The price of used fuel-suckers has dropped by 25 percent in the last four months, and THEN the rest.

So what's the plan?

This is the perfect time to shop for a twin-turbo twelve-cylinder behemoth.

And he did, too:

Two years ago, when new, the Mercedes S65 [AMG] sold for $180k. I bought a pristine example with 23k on the clock for $70k. There are still two years or 27k miles left on the original manufacturer's warranty.

Now that's some serious depreciation: 61 percent in two years. (I had been congratulating myself on snagging a quasi-luxoboat that had fallen 60 percent in six years.)

And "guzzler" is in the wallet of the beholder:

Let's address the mileage issue right off the bat. Driven sensibly, an S65 averages 17 mpg overall. That's not bad for a 5k pound leviathan. And that's all I've got to say about that.

God (or Royal Dutch Shell) help you when you start driving unsensibly. I figure, with 604 ponies on tap, it starts about four seconds after shifting into D.

3:22 PM | Driver's Seat | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Tracking the Birdman

Last time we looked in on Chris "Birdman" Andersen, he'd applied for — and gotten — reinstatement to the NBA, and the New Orleans Hornets, his last team of record, did pick him up, though they didn't play him much.

So with that contract now expired, Andersen's first team, the Denver Nuggets, have signed him to a one-year deal for what appears to be the six-year veteran's minimum of $998,398 — which means that the two years he spent on suspension apparently count toward his overall NBA service.

The Nuggets will be at the Ford twice this season; it will be great to see the Birdman in action again, even if he's playing for the opponents. (And he'll likely get one heck of a cheer the first time he sets foot on the court. We're funny that way. I expect the Hornets will get a full-fledged standing O when they come to town.)

10:58 AM | Net Proceeds | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
What makes a music venue great?

There might be lots of possible answers to that question, but it appears the Blue Note has made up its mind. The current version of their Gazette ad, which started (I assume) two months ago, contains the following assurance:

8 Consecutive Weeks of Bands Failing to Suck!

Let's hope they have a nice, long string of non-sucky acts in their genre of choice: "punk rockabilly and honky tonk styled music."

7:53 AM | City Scene | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Distracking number

The following was received in email:

Subject:  [RE] UPS Tracking Number 5033479403
From:  "United Parcel Service"
Date:  Wed, July 23, 2008 1:29 pm

Unfortunately we were not able to deliver postal package you sent on July the 1st in time because the recipient’s address is not correct.

Please print out the invoice copy attached and collect the package at our office.

Your UPS

Attached to this was a 65k zip file ( which, when unzipped, yields an executable (same name with .exe extension), which I of course am not about to run.

In terms of subtlety, this is right up there with the guy who used a stolen credit card to buy an identity theft protection package.

Update: Today I got two copies of a similar scam: this time, the attachment was described as a Customs form, the completion of which was essential to delivery of my package from France.

6:54 AM | Scams and Spams | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
23 July 2008
Bared Clause

Last month I brought up the case of unsigned Mancunian popsters The Get Out Clause, who, presumably unable to afford to produce a music video on their own, played in front of several dozen surveillance cameras and then requested the footage under Britain's Freedom of Information Act.

I have now received their current disc (£5), which includes a DivX'ed copy of the "Paper" video, plus audio for "Paper" and three other songs. It's quite likable, if you have an ear for keyboardless Britpop and just slightly overwrought words, which of course I do. And apparently they scraped up enough funding in preorders to cover the cost of actual pressed CDs — these are not CD-Rs — and the trifold artwork, which looks something like this:

Paper by The Get Out Clause

Actually, that's the Flash picture that emerges when you load up the disc, but it's close enough. (And besides, I need a new scanner cable.) Their MySpace page contains some earlier tracks not included in this collection.

The tricky question: will this band now remain unsigned? And now that they know they can sell a few discs without The Industry behind them — and also on iTunes, I notice — will they even care if they do?

7:07 PM | Tongue and Groove | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
What's the freeway password?

Metcalfe's Law: The value of a telecommunications network is proportional to the square of the number of users of the system.

Other networks, such as the network of highways, don't fare so well:

Roads are networks, and cars are the nodes that operate on those networks. There would be hardly any roads without cars, and cars would be almost useless without any roads. Especially considering the fact that car taxes are used to build roads, having more cars out there helps to create a mutually beneficial system for all drivers, by creating the infrastructure from the sum of all road users' contributions. So more cars equals positive network externalities. But then there comes a point at which roads become overloaded with cars, and the value that the network provides to individual nodes begins to reduce. For cars, Metcalfe's Law is in fact a bell curve that peaks at some happy medium of free-flowing cars on good quality roads, and descends steadily to eventually arrive at some point on the N6 heading east just outside Moate.

Therefore cars, as network objects, are intrinsically broken. Maybe not quite broken, because they still work to some extent, but after a point they definitely suffer from negative externalities as more nodes are added to their system. But despite the fact that cars are social objects, they have not at all been designed as such. Bound to the physical world, they can't provide you with any way of setting a threshold and insulating yourself from an overloaded network the way a decent social network might. And that's why the user experience of driving a car is often so shitty. Looking at it this way, the more nodes you add to the network, the less effective they individually become.

I'm more apt to blame the drivers than the cars, if only because almost every time you see a car in trouble, there's a driver involved. And drivers have their problems: they don't know what's happening two blocks or two exits ahead, the traffic reports on the radio invariably have several minutes of lag time, and in case you hadn't noticed, 50 percent of drivers have below-average skills.

Worst of all, unlike the case with networks of packets, cars don't route around damage worth a damn. In fact, they don't do so well even when there's no damage; yesterday afternoon on I-35 northbound, things came close to grinding to a halt because a couple of vehicles had pulled off to the side and rather a lot of that aforementioned 50 percent slowed down to satisfy their misplaced curiosity. I do my best to ameliorate matters, but I can do only so much.

(Via White Pebble.)

3:37 PM | Driver's Seat | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
FOP has had enough of Rinehart

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 155, which consists of officers under the Oklahoma County Sheriff, has voted No Confidence in District 2 Commissioner Brent Rinehart [link to PDF file], last seen circulating a goofy comic book as part of his reelection effort.

I don't know how much clout the FOP has, but I think they might have had just a tad more of it had they spelled Rinehart's name right.

( story here.)

1:33 PM | City Scene | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
We got your diffusion right here

Let's see how far this goes. It seems to have started around here.

So far as I can tell, if someone Spreads It from this point, it will show up here; I presume I left some sort of trace at Outside the Beltway.

Update: From the actual FAQ:

Each node represents a blog/website whose author chose to spread Happy Flu, the background circle's size depends on the number of hits (number of times the applet was displayed on a given website). An edge is a path along which the applet travels from page to page and its length represents the time it took for one page to contaminate its neighbor.

So there.

11:55 AM | Screaming Memes | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Of Thunder and theft

This sure is a lot of ideas for a guy from New Jersey:

The Trenton Thunder, the Double A affiliate of the New York Yankees, have announced a special promotion designed to "ease the pain" for fans of the NBA's Seattle Supersonics, who will move to Oklahoma City for the upcoming season. According to Oklahoma City media outlet, KOCO-TV, the city's relocated NBA team will be named the Oklahoma City Thunder for the 2008-09 season.

The Trenton Thunder are now offering a complimentary ticket to any Seattle Supersonic fan. To receive a free ticket, fans must stop by the box office at Waterfront Park and be wearing their Seattle Supersonic hat, jersey, t-shirt or other merchandise. Each Seattle fan will receive one free ticket based on availability.

"We just want to help ease the pain for Sonics fans worldwide and offer them a night of fun with the Thunder here in Trenton," said Thunder General Manager Brad Taylor. "We can't blame Oklahoma City for choosing the best nickname in all of sports and certainly wish them well."

Okay, I laughed. And why wouldn't I?

(I note with amusement that the Thunder play at Samuel J. Plumeri Field at Mercer County Waterfront Park, One Thunder Road, Trenton. Robert Mitchum would have been pleased.)

(Via TrueHoop.)

10:35 AM | Base Paths | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Beyond the mandatory tags

If all you're looking at is the fuel-economy sticker, you're missing the point, says Mark Alger:

[F]uel economy — or Energy Star status — ought to be the last criterion for choosing any vehicle, appliance, or device, only being number n+1, where the first n criteria are such things as: does it do the job for which it is being selected, does it do so better than its closest competitors, does its cost/benefit ratio suit my needs and budget, can I operate [it] in comfort and safety?

Last big appliance I bought was a water heater. Yes, I did look at the Energy Guide placard. It was closer to the more expensive end of the scale, but only slightly — and the difference between the two extremes was trivial: maybe twenty, twenty-five bucks a year, within the limits of sampling error. (The device is, I note, a lot cheaper to operate than the vintage-1985 tank it replaced, but I didn't buy the new one to save money; I bought the new one because the old one was leaking.)

Regarding fuel-economy numbers, there are few real laggards these days. For any particular size and weight, the mileage is fairly predictable, the laws of physics being generally inexorable at this level; a 4800-lb SUV is going to suck down a lot more dinosaur extract than a 2800-lb compact. A difference of 1 or 2 mpg isn't, or at least shouldn't be, a deal-breaker; you'd get that much of a difference just from sample variations.

7:43 AM | Common Cents | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Another rung

The Performance Sports Center, on Lincoln north of Memorial, will become the temporary practice facility and training site for the Oklahoma City Nameless Wonders until such time as the city constructs the permanent facility.

GM Sam Presti apparently was impressed:

The NBA size court and weight and training facilities are efficient for us in the interim. It's an excellent location and we feel our players, coaches and staff will fit in well there. The Oklahoma City area offered several good facilities, but we decided this best met our needs.

The team is apparently buying the facility outright, which invites the question of what happens to it when the new practice venue gets completed. (I left that very question for Darnell Mayberry.) The location makes sense if you expect, as I do, that team members will be acquiring residences in far north Oklahoma City or in Edmond.

Update: Mr Mayberry comes through:

Talks are ongoing between the team and the building's current management to determine whether the current management will reclaim full ownership and operation of the building once the team's permanent facility is built, according to Performance Sports Center general manager Scott Hill.

Works for me.

7:06 AM | Net Proceeds | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
22 July 2008
A classic never goes out of style

Then again, if it had never been in style in the first place — but no matter. Let us cheer the fact that at least one member of the Royal Family understands the word "frugal":

Princess Anne has worn the same dress she wore to the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer 27 years ago to another royal wedding.

The Princess Royal wore the white dress with yellow floral print to Saturday's wedding of Lady Rose Windsor and George Gilman, at the Queen's Chapel, London.

The 57-year-old even completed the outfit with the same hat she wore to Charles and Diana's wedding in 1981.

I'm impressed that she's the same size after twenty-seven years.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

7:21 PM | Rag Trade | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (1)
Chery gone sour

Malcolm Bricklin's on-again off-again connection to the Chinese automaker Chery has now devolved all the way into litigation:

[T]he deal eventually fell apart when Chery decided to hook up first with Israel Corp and Quantum LLC for a different joint venture which has also yet to come to fruition.

Bricklin's company, Visionary Vehicles, which is now know as V Cars LLC, has now filed a lawsuit against Chery, Israel Corp, and Quantum LLC, et al. The suit is being filed under RICO statutes, typically used to go after mobsters, and V Cars is hoping to pursue Chery for the potential profits the company feels it could have made over the course of the deal. How much? $14 billion.

Judas on a joystick! Fourteen billion American dollars from a passel of hitherto-untested Sinowagons?

Were I Malcolm Bricklin, I think I'd just bide my time and wait for Cerberus to bail out of Chrysler, then ride in on the proverbial white horse to save the day. Bonus: all the Cherys he can sell.

2:14 PM | Driver's Seat | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
So much for "nothing to hide"

Naturism is promoted these days as healthy and wholesome and stuff like that, as in this blurb from AANR:

Our clubs foster a wholesome, nurturing environment for members and their families.

The underside of this premise, of course, is that some people are barred from the premises:

One of France's most popular naturist resorts was revealed yesterday to be keeping a blacklist of "undesirables" who break the rules and sully the pristine environment.

The René Oltra centre, known for its sandy Mediterranean beaches in Languedoc-Roussillon, has been authorised by the data protection authority CNIL to keep a file of people who breach its regulations.

And how was this discovered, you ask?

The exclusion list came to light this year when an unidentified naturist was refused access to René Oltra and contacted the CNIL to find out if it was illegally discriminatory.

Inspectors found the resort had a list of "indelicate" clients whose offences ranged from non-payment of bills and making too much noise to lack of personal hygiene and the wearing of clothes.

With one obvious exception, these are good enough reasons to get you thrown out of a lot of places, and not just in France, either.

(Seen here. The CNIL link is safe for work; beyond that, you're on your own.)

11:37 AM | Birthday Suitable | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
One grade, no waiting

Depending on whom you talk to, ethanol as a motor fuel is either the greatest thing since sliced bread or the biggest boondoggle since New Coke.

This dichotomy gave Kwai Wah Pang of the five-store Synergy Flash Mart chain an idea: sell gas both with and without the stuff. Instead of the usual 87/89/91 arrangement, Pang's loaded his tanks with E10 and straight gas, both at 87 octane, and you can get either from the same pump — or, if you're inclined to split the difference, an E5 mix. (There's no premium to be had, but "I wasn't selling any premium gas anyway," says Pang.)

C-stores are having a rough time of it these days; think of this move as an example of how adversity occasionally breeds creativity.

Addendum: Trini reports that there's a similar station in West Siloam Springs; she thinks there might have been as many as eight different mixtures.

9:16 AM | Family Joules | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Finally, the killer iPhone app

Because you gotta have more cowbell, that's all there is to it.

(Via Brad Neese.)

7:36 AM | Entirely Too Cool | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
A measure of uniformity

A long time ago, I came to the conclusion that when it comes to looking alike, conformists and non-conformists were pretty much even: Brooks Brothers and Beatniks are both brands, and rather stodgy ones at that.

Think-tank researcher and fashionista (a combination well-nigh irresistible, dammit) E. M. Zanotti contributes a data point:

Republicans get a lot of flack for the apparently mass-mailed dress code of Steve & Barry's chinos and Ralph Lauren polos as well they should. It was all well and good when William F. Buckley was around and the Preppy Handbook was a best-seller, but yes, college Republican squares need to up the ante in the wardrobe department. Just switching to Burberry doesn't do much for the image except reinforce it. But back to the dress code. Everyone at Daily Kos was surprisingly similar looking. All of them had that "so rebellious its conformist" thing going on — like they'd received a directive from their fearless leader requiring square eyeglasses, a slightly visible extra piercing and a one-size-too-small tee shirt emblazoned with a nonsensical yet hip-looking pattern. At least we vary the colors. I'll be damned if there's any earth-toned organic cotton yarn left in this world after this last weekend. Somewhere, in the third world, they're having to use the discarded "recycled" polyester thread.

I have no idea what E. M. herself was wearing, but evidently it was more than Robert Novak's old heart could take.

6:58 AM | Almost Yogurt | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
21 July 2008
GOP first

This year, Republicans will be listed before Democrats on state general-election ballots. Under state law through 1994, Democrats were listed before Republicans; some GOP candidates sued the Election Board, and that law was eventually thrown out.

So now, the names of both parties are sealed in a mayonnaise jar kept on Clem McSpadden's porch, or something like that, and then one is drawn. (Doing the drawing this year: Kitti Asberry, vice-chairman of the Oklahoma Democratic Party.) I assume that if we ever get around to allowing third parties, they too will be added to the jar. Asberry believes that independents and undecided voters have a tendency to go for the first name they see:

A lot of times when they see the first position on the ballot they'll go ahead and mark it before you can look anywhere else.

And state GOP chair Gary Jones says yes, it's an advantage, albeit a small one:

It's not that significant, but we've got races that are won by two votes and that could make a difference.

If I remember correctly, in the few nonpartisan elections we have — Mayor of Oklahoma City comes to mind — the candidates are listed alphabetically.

Side note: When State Questions are on the ballot, the order is Yes, then No. Should these be randomized? Sometimes I think they should; other times I think it will just slow down the balloting.

8:21 PM | Soonerland | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Block that color!

Or, in this case, both colors:

Work Space by Kenneth Cole

This is "Work Space" by Kenneth Cole, from his Reaction series; it's a relatively simple quarter-strap pump with a three-inch heel, and while you can get it in dark brown or black, the two-tone version strikes me as the most appealing, even though it might be just a hair too frivolous for some "work spaces" out there. Zappos sells this for a modest $83. Author "galligator" at notes:

I like the color combination and relatively manageable heel height. I am also tickled that these bring back 80's color combinations with the bold black and red blocking; now, if we can only avoid shoulder pads and women's "Power Suits", I'll be happy.

I like this too, though I don't ever expect to see these on anyone at work.

6:11 PM | Rag Trade | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)