19 August 2002
Above us, only roof

From the Department of Why The Hell Not: The Air Force, having discovered that as much as half of its on-base housing for families is in disrepair, an issue which affects retention rates, is going to experiment at some bases with turning the facilities over to the private sector for maintenance and service. Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma will be one of the early test sites. Under the scheme, private contractors will bid on first upgrading and then maintaining base housing. One hundred thirty-two of Altus' 966 units will be demolished; the 834 remaining will be refurbished, and 87 new units will be built. Base housing staff will meet with contractors this fall to begin the process.

Is this a Good Thing? Altus' Denise Hastye, in charge of the project, says:

"This is about quality of life. A person who has to go off to fight a war can't be worried about whether or not his family is being taken care of back home."

At least they seem to have their priorities in order.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:30 AM to Soonerland )
None too gentle a breeze

There's a practical limit to how much you can respond to comments on other people's blogs. Today in The Vent, that limit is exceeded.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:00 PM to Blogorrhea )
Brandification

Oklahoma and its residents, reports Mike Congrove at Fly Over Country, suffer from a social stigma: we are "a little slow, too rural, and unsophisticated." Much of this, though regrettably not all of it, is undeserved, but there's not a whole lot we can do about it.

Or is there? If business has an image problem, they call in the brand managers. It's time, says Mike, for Oklahoma to be "rebranded":

"First, change the name of the state. Oklahoma has too negative a connotation. Oklahoma City is a mouthful with a similar connotation. Change the name, redesign the flag, and hold a state-wide contest for a search for a new name. During the name changing ceremony, the governor could create a neat little historical caveat. He or she could officially secede from the Union for one minute then rejoin the Union under the new name. Trivia buffs everywhere would rejoice."

Well, "Baja Kansas" is probably out. Changing the name of the state is a drastic step, but Mike's right: the image of Oklahoma hovers somewhere between rustic and risible. And worse, its elected officials seem to like it that way. Maybe it will take something as dramatic as a name change — or the threat of annexation by Arkansas.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:30 PM to Soonerland )
20 August 2002
You're running against whom?

I'm sure something like this has happened elsewhere at some point, but there's a definite Only In Oklahoma air about it just the same.

Glen Hampton is running (as an Independent) for one of the three Commissioner positions in McIntosh County, against incumbent Democrat J. D. Williams. Hampton's qualifications include experience on county road crews: he runs a grader under the supervision of, um, Commissioner J. D. Williams. Or anyway, he used to run a grader; Hampton reports that he was fired shortly after filing for the post with the county election board. Now Hampton has filed a $100,000 wrongful-termination tort claim against the county, which contends that he wasn't really fired but is on a leave of absence. Williams isn't saying a word, but this isn't the first time he's sacked someone and got slapped with litigation for so doing, either.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:40 AM to Soonerland )
Brandification 2

Lynn at Poet and Peasant takes on Mike Congrove's "Rebrand Oklahoma" proposal:

"I'm not a native Okie; I've only lived here for seven years but I've grown rather attached to the name. I like the way it rolls off the tongue. The only thing better would be one of those Native American derived names that are not pronounced quite like they are spelled. That would give us endless opportunities to laugh at the rest of the country. (I just love it when one of the local TV stations gets a new meteorologist from out of state.)"

They learn quickly enough: the TV stations go out of their way to mention every podunkular town possible during their alleged newscasts, and the aggrieved residents are quick to complain if their little paradise is mispronounced.

But nomenclature, Lynn thinks, is the least of our problems:

"The really bad part though is that politicians play to this inbred bunch. I don't think I've ever seen a local political ad in which the candidate didn't brag about how many generations of his family have lived in Oklahoma. (5 seems to be the magic number) Furthermore, every idiotic, right-wing extremist idea you can possibly think of is probably supported by the majority of Oklahomans if it didn't actually originate here."

Not everything "right-wing" can be fairly categorized as either "idiotic" or "extremist" — some such notions are occasionally endorsed in this corner, in fact — but a perfunctory glance through almost any issue of The Oklahoma Observer (geez, Frosty, get a Web site, wouldja?) will reveal some of what Lynn's talking about. If you've ever had any reservations about Bertrand Russell's quip that "there is not one word in the Gospels in praise of intelligence," a few weeks in Soonerland may prove to be scary.

Fortunately, our bloggers are brilliant.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:15 PM to Soonerland )
21 August 2002
Mountains and hillsides enough to climb

Since it's Jackie DeShannon's birthday:

"What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
It's the only thing that there's just too little of."

Well, that and parking spaces.

What the Arabs have to Gein

The word for today is "sociopath", and Susanna Cornett puts it into an international context.

"Sociopaths have no 'tender feelings' that you and I would recognize, even though some of them fake it fairly well — Ted Bundy, for example, was engaged twice during the time he was sexually torturing and killing women. You need to understand all this because the men who lead al Qaeda, the men who lead the Palestinian killer cults, are just that kind of sociopath. They enjoy killing. It's about power, it's about playing a game, it's about one-upmanship and feeling the rush of knowing that you will not stop even at murder — society's greatest taboo. The people who die at their hands are so much cattle, fodder for their ideological slaughterhouse. They don't shrink at blood, people, they revel in it. Seeing an Israeli street scattered in body parts, hearing the sound of an American businessman's body bursting into jelly on a New York City public plaza, gives these men a hard-on. Do you get it? Do you understand? They are not human as we know human. What?s more, they cannot be. CANNOT BE. Never. Ever. Period. End of story."

And just in case you missed the point:

"[B]efore someone tries to bring up their right to disagree with Israeli or US policies, I'm not obviating those differences. I'm saying, those things don?t matter when the issue is terrorism. There is no context where terrorism is the right thing to do.
"Let me say it again: There is no context where terrorism — killing innocent people deliberately to gain an advantage or just to cause fear, when neither they nor their leaders have first attacked or sought to harm you — is right."

[applause]

22 August 2002
Spammer, email thyself

Today's spam originated in Australia, where evidently they cut the crap and get to the point:

"You get emails every day, offering to show you how to make money. Most of these emails are from people who are NOT making any money.

"And they expect you to listen to them?"

Of course, I'm expected to listen to this.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:45 AM to Scams and Spams )
Kickboxers in Peril

Most of my dreams have long since been dashed into shards, but I'm getting close to one of them: reading all the books by James Lileks. (I doubt I'll ever get to go through all his columns.) Not that this does Lileks a whole lot of good, of course; only one of them — the beautifully-snide The Gallery of Regrettable Food — is still in print. I did make a point of ordering it from Amazon.com through Lileks' own site so he could make an extra quarter or so on the deal. But I'm gradually acquiring the other volumes in the curious Lileks oeuvre: the first essay collection, Notes of a Nervous Man, made its way to my shelf earlier this year, and the second, Fresh Lies, has just arrived. The first Jonathan Simpson novel, Falling Up The Stairs, got here earlier this week, and the second, Mr. Obvious, is due Real Soon Now.

Needless to say, all these titles are worth your while, and worth the effort to track down. Since the publishers don't seem to be in any rush to return them to the stores, I'm taking what is, for me anyway, an unprecedented step: the $22.98 I spent for these used books (shipping via Dawdling Courier, LLC, not included) will be matched by $22.98 stuffed into Lileks' tip jar. It seems like the very least I can do.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:10 PM to Blogorrhea )
23 August 2002
No lists please, we're British

Given the sheer quantity of flak stirred up by the BBC's putative "100 best" list of Great Britons, it was inevitable that someone would put together a list of the 100 worst. And it surprises me not at all that a handful of individuals appear on both lists.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:40 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Enuff Z'Nuff

It wasn't that long ago I counseled patience with the comments server.

No more.

There are still some tweaks to make, but the future of this site is Movable.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:05 PM to Blogorrhea )
24 August 2002
Left behind

Dean Esmay reports that in the last half of the 20th century conservatism ceased to be the red-headed stepchild of American political thought — and then found itself at the dawn of the 21st to be the dominant strain.

Part of this, of course, is the fluidity of definition, especially political definition: the stance which was called "liberal" during the formative years of the Republic scarcely resembles late-20th century liberalism. Conservatives were old mossbacks or worse; conservatism wasn't stupid, in and of itself, exactly, but John Stuart Mill argued that "most stupid people [were] conservatives."

What happened in the interim isn't exactly clear, but Mr Esmay cites one particular factor that hadn't occurred to me: the decline of the purely-intellectual Left. Once upon a time, almost all of our philosopher types came from the left side of the spectrum; today, most of the left-wing voices we hear are spouting the same bunch of platitudes over and over. "Aside from a few rare exceptions," says Mr Esmay, "most 'liberal' argumentation seems to come from one of three places:"

  1. "People who disagree with me are racist."
  2. "People who disagree with me are warmongers who glory in violence."
  3. "People who disagree with me want the poor to starve and suffer."

This is the state of what once was the American intelligentsia: outflanked, then outnumbered, reduced to ad hominem arguments constructed for maximum cliché value.

I'm not about to argue that we've reached some sort of classical-liberal (let's call it "libertarian") Nirvana, or even that we're on the way. For one thing, there is still a substantial authoritarian component on the Right, and it has enough blind spots of its own to support the entire Western beam industry, let alone the odd mote. But with the American left in at least slightly self-inflicted decline, some benefits will clearly accrue. For one thing, there will be a lot less of that "Marx was right, but the Soviet/Chinese/whatever implementation was wrong" claptrap. And the leftist assumption that any conflict can be solved with an application of some sort of logic, especially their sort of logic, came crashing to the ground with the World Trade Center. "Increasingly," says Mr Esmay, "people associate 'liberal' with being just plain dumb." And with good reason, sometimes.

Buncha Evheads

According to IMAO, the Blogger Pro spellchecker chokes on "blog" and "blogging".

What's next? Greymatter refusing color changes in its template files?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:09 AM to Blogorrhea )
Words with the Lone Wolf

Fifty Penn Place in Oklahoma City is not your average mall. For one thing, it's vertical: retail and restaurants occupy the lower levels, office space fills up the tower. What's more, it's mostly devoid of chain stores. Instead of the usual panoply of Bed, Bath and Boredom, 50 Penn Place offers a place for beautiful women (I assume unbeautiful women are turned away at the gate, since I've never seen any there) to see the latest manifestations of, say, Stuart Weitzman's shoe obsession.

And there's Full Circle, a bookstore that sprang from the loins of a drugstore turned nightspot, moved simutaneously uptown and downstairs, and competes very nicely, thank you very much, with Messrs. Barnes and Noble and those other out-of-town guys. I was there today to see an old friend try his best to injure his carpal tunnel by signing as many books as people would be willing to haul away. And since Brian A. Hopkins is now a Known Factor, and an honored one, in the realms of horror and dark fantasy, quite a few of those books made it past his pen and through the door. Apparently I'm not as forgettable as I thought I was, because he spotted me quite a distance from the table, though mercifully he seemed to have forgotten my pseudonym from those days. I filled up the holes in my Hopkins collection, we traded stories, and eventually I got the heck out of the way so the next fan could get a chance and the woman behind the checkout (beautiful, of course) could collect forty bucks or so from me. It's an experience I hope to repeat when — not if, but when — he wins that Nebula award.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Patent nonsense (1)

So apparently British Telecom was combing through its archives and found something bearing U.S. patent number 4,873,662 which, BT thought, was the basis for the hyperlink. Visions of dollar signs (what with sterling giving way to the euro, doncha know) danced in their heads, and they hit up more than a dozen ISPs for licensing fees. When said ISPs told BT to go pound sand, BT decided to make a test case out of one of them: the soon-to-be-transmogrified Prodigy.

Prodigy, asserting that BT was full of it, petitioned for summary judgment to have the case thrown out, and now Judge Colleen McMahon, saying that "as a matter of law, no jury could find that Prodigy infringes the [BT] patent," has ordered exactly that.

Just because I'm spiteful, here's a hyperlink to BT. (Muchas gracias: Planet Swank.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:49 PM to PEBKAC )
25 August 2002
Sliding commission

The election of county commissioners — there are three in each of Oklahoma's 77 counties — would seem to be No Big Deal. Then again, about twenty years ago it was discovered that more than half of the state's 231 commissioners had gotten their fingers into some very rich pies. The Legislature responded by requiring independent boards to oversee county budgets. Still, the position of commissioner carries considerable clout, and apparently Shirley Darrell, who used to be in charge of District 1 in Oklahoma County, would like to have her job back.

To do that, Darrell will have to beat former OKC council member Beverly Hodges, who defeated Darrell four years ago. But there's a primary next Tuesday, and Darrell is being challenged by one of her former deputies, Jim Roth, who has mounted a fairly high-dollar direct-mail campaign. How high? He's sent me seven postcards, roughly 7.5 by 10 inches, each with two-color art and a different pitch. It was the seventh of those cards in which Roth came out swinging against his old boss, complete with what purported to be a copy of a warrant for Darrell's arrest on charges of racketeering, bribery, perjury, and other Bad Things. And indeed, Darrell was charged with all these at one time or another, but as anyone this side of Bill Clinton can tell you, a charge does not equal a conviction.

Roth describes himself as a "penny-pinching Democrat", which may even be true: Oklahoma officials of both parties are renowned for parsimony, although it's seldom reflected in the local tax rates. But there's still the thought in the back of my mind that the struggling remains of the local Democratic organization is pushing Roth mainly because he doesn't have Shirley Darrell's legal baggage. And there are other suspicious types out there; last year, when the arrival of the new census figures required that the district lines be redrawn, members of the African-American community protested that the new lines were cunningly designed to put the screws to Darrell because four mostly-black precincts were reassigned from District 1 to the comparatively-whiter District 2, which doesn't hold an election for commissioner until 2004.

And it gets better. Roth, should he prevail in both the primary and the general election, would be the first openly gay officeholder in the state's history. The state GOP, which is somewhere to the right of Fred Phelps, will not take this lying down. And Beverly Hodges, the Republican incumbent, who's been known to pinch a few pennies in her time — she voted to defund Oklahoma City's Human Rights Commission back in 1995, and she turned down a statutory raise last year — doesn't have a free ride through the primary either; she's drawn three opponents, including Courtenay Caudill, daughter of Oklahoma County Clerk Carolyn Caudill, who is — get this — Jim Roth's current boss. The Executive Committee of the Oklahoma County GOP took considerable umbrage that the County Clerk, one of their own, would dare to encourage a Democrat, especially a gay Democrat.

If it sounds like an awfully big tempest for what is, after all, a fairly small teapot, remember: This is Oklahoma, where politics is a blood sport. Almost.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:02 AM to City Scene )
It was a dark and stormy quarter

The announcement came last month:

"Gregory FCA, the Philadelphia area's largest investor and public relations agency and publisher of the electronic IR Reporter, is staging a writing contest commemorating the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history (WorldCom), this year's crisis in market confidence and all the pervasive prevarication that made it possible....Entrants should pick their favorite infamous public company -- as targeted by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the media or your own shrinking 401 (K) statement -- and rewrite the company's last annual earnings release (the one right before the big shoe dropped) in the words of the contestant's favorite author."

And now come the winners. Who knew Bernie Ebbers was just the latter-day incarnation of Holden Caulfield?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:21 PM to Almost Yogurt )
There's always room for J. Lo

Hmmm....

"Isn't life as a modern woman hard enough without the dwindling number of realistically dimensioned women in the forefront of popular awareness? I want Jennifer Lopez to play an opera singer in a movie — and gain 100 pounds for the part!"

All this "rage" from Mona Magno-Veluz, because she, um, gained five pounds.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:30 PM to Dyssynergy )
26 August 2002
Shock jocks are a crock

We don't get Howard Stern here in the Sanitary State of Oklahoma, and I don't feel particularly put out about it: it's always seemed to me that the more the envelope is pushed, the weaker it becomes, and eventually everyone is going to be disgusted.

So I didn't shed quite so many tears over the demise of Opie and Anthony as did the OmbudsGod, and while the God's conclusion ("It's high time for the FCC to get out of the business of abridging freedom of speech on the airwaves") seems fairly inarguable, I still tend to believe that if anything goes, the audience goes — elsewhere.

As usual, James Lileks is on the case:

"Maybe the next time some promotions director floats the idea of sponsoring a fellatio contest in a day-care center, he'll be met with hard looks instead of high-fives. This stuff is 'controversial,' sure — but only by the most banal definition. Sawing off a puppy's legs on the air is controversial. Stuffing a midget up Anne Sprinkle and having him broadcast from her oft-examined cervix is controversial. It's also sick. It's tiresome. It's the work of people so jaded they think that intellectual bravery is defined not by the traditions you honor, but the ones you debase."

And I don't think you have to be suffering from creeping oldfarthood to believe this, either.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:06 AM to Overmodulation )
The best of all possible wishes

If you graduated from that school of thought which teaches that anything that originates online is by definition artificial and unreal, well, here's your reality check. Spoons is getting married, and thereby hangs a tale, which you must read for yourself.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:16 AM to Blogorrhea )
Mom! Big Brother won't give me a hall pass!

Columnist Michelle Malkin rails about California's attitude toward parents who home-school their children, which has apparently mutated from surly indifference to outright hostility:

"Mocking home schoolers as fringe radicals and religious extremists, meddling with their teaching materials, and forcing them to beg public school officials for permission to educate their own children wasn't enough to defeat the growing movement. So now California's educracy has adopted a new motto: If you can't beat 'em, criminalize 'em."

The latest example of this hostility is a memo from California Deputy Superintendent Joanne Mendoza which basically says that paperwork for homeschooling will not be accepted from anyone without state-approved teacher credentials. And according to ScrappleFace, that's not all it says.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:25 PM to Wastes of Oxygen )
27 August 2002
Twenty-four

It's a curious age, twenty-four: still young enough to snicker when you get carded, not really old enough to be taken seriously by smug boomer types. And it's an age where things tend to happen, even if it's only waiting for another couple of years to go by so your car-insurance premiums will drop to a bearable level. I even got married at twenty-four, though I would seriously question the sanity of anyone seeing me as a role model.

And now my daughter is twenty-four. She's not getting married or anything like that, but she definitely buys into the idea that this is an age where things tend to happen: she's getting ready to move to a larger apartment, and she retains a back-burner plan to buy a house when she gets a few more dollars together. (On this latter item, she is way ahead of her old man, whose financial planning is dubious at best.)

The mathematics of all this started to sink in a few years ago. When she was two, I was twenty-seven, a ratio of 13.5. When she was ten, I was thirty-five, dropping the ratio to 3.5. Next year she'll be twenty-five and I'll be fifty, bringing it down to 2. "At what point do you start treating your children like adults?" asks every parent. I think the process becomes automatic, once you get to the point where you realize that you're not all that much older than they are anymore, a point that was underscored when last I visited my father (current ratio approximately 1.5) and one bald fact — "This man has a son pushing fifty, fercrissake" — stared me in the face.

Oh, well. Enough of my pointless noodling.

Happy birthday, Becky.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:28 AM to Next Generation )
Maxed out

You probably didn't know that Sony was still building the occasional Betamax, so it likely makes no difference to you that production will end after a 27-year run.

Maybe I ought to go get my SL-HF900 fixed; they bring big bucks on the used market, even today. Fortunately, my SL-HF840D still works, and I have plenty of blank tapes.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:16 AM to Dyssynergy )
Poll-dancing

Well, I'm just back from the voting "booth" — in actuality, it's a cardboard box with sides just high enough to keep Joe Schmoe from looking over your shoulder — and it occurs to me that if the idea of redrawing the precinct lines was to equalize the size of the precincts, they botched the job bigtime. Two adjacent precincts share this polling place, though they have separate staffs and separate machines, and the one in which I live had drawn four times as many voters with two hours (of twelve) left to go. Somebody needs to rethink these boundaries.

The one good thing about Oklahoma elections is that they're almost immune to Florida-style screwups. All the properly-marked ballots (improperly-marked ballots are immediately expelled by the machine and the voter is given another chance) are sealed, loaded into trucks and driven to the county seats; final results will be in well before midnight.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:26 PM to Soonerland )
And now there are two

Grandchildren, that is.

Well, technically, not until April 15 or so, but the groundwork has been laid, so to speak.

For Russell and Alicia, it's their first child, and the mixture of delirium and fear and wonder that comes with being a first-time parent is going to be a constant companion for the next eight months.

And they'll love every minute of it. Just you watch.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:16 PM to Next Generation )
28 August 2002
The morning after

Even in Oklahoma, incumbents don't always get a free ride. State Senator Dave Herbert, first elected in 1986, was tossed out on his ear this time around by political novice Joe Smith, who had the advantage of name recognition — everyone knows a Joe Smith, even if it wasn't this Joe Smith — and a push from organized labor, which was presumably in the mood to punish Herbert for expediting a referendum on right-to-work. Smith is a Democrat; he will face Republican Cliff Aldridge in November.

Contrary to what some East Coast pundits might have thought, J. C. Watts didn't give up his seat in Congress because he feared being defeated this fall; even after redistricting, Watts wasn't in any danger. His anointed successor, political consultant Tom Cole, easily won the GOP nod for the Fourth District seat, and the top two Democrats will likely destroy each other in the runoff, which would put Cole in the so-far unfamiliar position of being able to hire his own political consultant.

And in the District 1 Commissioner race in Oklahoma County, previously harped on herein, it will be Jim Roth vs. Beverly Hodges in the general election.

The big story, though, is the gubernatorial race. Frank Keating won't be back due to term limits. Former First District Rep. Steve Largent breezed to an easy GOP primary win; the Democrats (again!) have a runoff. Vince Orza, who will likely win this runoff, ran for governor in 1990 when he was a relatively-moderate Republican. Whether he'll do any better as a relatively-conservative Democrat remains to be seen.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:25 AM to Soonerland )
Information overkill

Chris over at Fly Over Country is going through those Second Thoughts that afflict all of us with cacoethes scribendi, and wondering if maybe he should chuck it all and go fire up the PlayStation. Most bloggers, he says, are "hyper-informed people," and wonders if any of them actually enjoy life or are simply looking to score points.

I can't speak for anyone else — often as not, I can barely speak for me — but I am rather fond of the idea of having my own soapbox, especially since it doesn't cost a great deal and doesn't have to get approval through Official Channels. I do occasionally run out of topics, but I think this is true of everyone who writes, with the possible exception of Stephen King. And God forbid anyone should think I am hyper-informed; since I started the daily-update routine two years ago, I have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stuff I didn't know.

Am I trying for "the next Gotcha!"? Not really. I just call 'em the way I see 'em. And if I don't see 'em, well, I'll try to link to someone who did.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:49 AM to Blogorrhea )
29 August 2002
Targeted marketing

It's apparently impossible to keep track of every single nuance of popular, or for that matter unpopular, culture. A video producer from UC Davis was shopping at a Target store in Elk Grove, California when he happened upon a pair of shorts imprinted with the double-8 symbol embraced by neo-Nazis and other dumb Klux. He informed the store manager and passed the word on to the Southern Poverty Law Center, who turned up the heat. Target is now busily pulling all the pertinent merchandise off the racks.

It could have been worse. At least there weren't any lawsuits involved.

Subtle shadings

Let me know if this new column color is even more difficult to read than its predecessor.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:28 AM to Blogorrhea )
Targeted marketing, too

What is this, Nazi Nostalgia Month? British sportswear manufacturer Umbro had the temerity to name a new shoe Zyklon Beige, which presumably was not any kind of nod to the Reich's gas chambers, but geez, are memories this short these days?

Umbro, of course, will be dropping the line, or at least its designation.

Now who's going to be the first to boycott Volkswagen?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:23 AM to Rag Trade , Say What? )
Let me tell you how it could be

Radley Balko has observed that governmental accountability is in the toilet, and that one way to force Washington to face the music is to get rid of income-tax withholding:

"Withholding tips the scales against the taxpayers, and in favor of government....Withholding not only makes it easier for the government to collect taxes, it makes it easier for politicians to raise them. That's because you never see the money that's withheld from your paycheck. You never need to notice that gaping wound in your bank account once your tax check has cleared. What's more, tax increases are spread out over 24 paychecks, which softens the blow to taxpayers, making tax hikes more politically palatable."

Not all of us get paid twice a month, but the point stands. I would hate, of course, to write one huge check in the spring, but if the government can be forced into fiscal discipline, well, so can I. Now, while we're on the subject, can we throw FICA into the mix?

(Muchas gracias: Hanah Metchis at Quare.)

30 August 2002
Where all the candidates are below average

In Arguendo has weighed the merits, such as they are, and has decided to vote for the reelection of Gray Davis to the office of Governor of California, on the basis of the following:

"While we will be the first to admit that we have two pretty sub-par candidates for the state's highest office, our view is that Simon is MORE sub-par."

Mr Davis being staggeringly unpopular in Golden State blogdom, it should be no surprise that In Arguendo is getting critical comments posted to this statement, but I have to admire the sheer efficiency of this argument. Not everyone, of course, supports the notion of voting for the lesser of two evils, but as Jim Hightower used to say, if the gods had meant us to vote, they would have given us candidates.

Déjà entendu

Game developer Hudson Soft and hardware manufacturer JVC say they've come up with an uncopiable CD. Well, a CD-ROM, anyway; the process does not work on audio CDs.

Any bets on how long this claim will stand?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:38 PM to PEBKAC )
31 August 2002
A crack in Kyoto

To hear some people talk, you'd think George W. Bush, all by his lonesome, was sabotaging the entire array of worldwide environmental activities, just by thumbing his nose at the Kyoto Protocol.

Now the Russians may balk at Kyoto, having done the math and having figured out that they're not going to make any money on the deal. If the Russians bail, Kyoto is dead; the U.S. and Russia combined are responsible, per Kyoto documents, for about 53 percent of Punishable Emissions, leaving a mere 47 percent for the rest of the world, and Kyoto cannot take effect unless countries with 55 percent of said emissions sign on.

Conspiracy theorists should have a ball with this. Expect charges that Washington and Moscow have been putting together a deal all along in an effort to kill Kyoto. Frankly, I rather hope they have.

Destined for the B-list

I happened upon a place called Conservatives Suck. Its foci, in no particular order, seem to be baseball, Bush-bashing, and bare breasts. Not the stuff of legend, perhaps, but a lot easier to read than, say, Bartcop.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:12 AM to Blogorrhea )
Have you had your Phil?

Phil Donahue's new MSNBC show is barely outdrawing infomercials these days, and to add to the general level of mirth, now John Bono's Big S Blog ("Migod, what a big S!") has inaugurated the Donahue Show Death Watch. If you'd like to speculate as to just how long America's News Channel (yeah, right) can keep this fossilized specimen of Sixties cluelessness alive, feel free to play along.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:06 PM to Almost Yogurt )
It's marketin' time!

Perhaps in answer to DC Comics' Batman: The 10-Cent Adventure, which came out last winter and sold an amazing 700,000 copies, Marvel has shipped Fantastic Four #60 (actually #489, but who's counting?) with a startling cover price of nine cents and a temporary revision of the mag's long-time slogan to "The World's Cheapest Comic Magazine". Even ignoring the effects of four decades' worth of inflation, this is less than the price of issue #1 in 1961, which sold for a dime.

As usual, Canadians suffer from the exchange rate: they have to shell out a whole fifteen cents for this issue. And of course, as an unreconstructed Sue Richards (née Storm) fan, I'm happy to pay even regular retail. But you haven't bought a comic book in years and years, so what you want to know — apart from "Why is this greyhaired hack blogging about this sort of thing when there's a war on, fercrissake?" — is: "Is it a good story?"

I think it is. In fact, I think it's worth 25 times the price. Which is what you'll pay for #61 (#490) next month, if Marvel's promotional mavens have been sufficiently prescient.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:00 PM to Almost Yogurt )
When is it a date?

Many have puzzled over this question, but the answer has never quite been forthcoming.

Until now, maybe. I stumbled across this on a LiveJournal account — no permalinks, scroll down to 29 August at 9:54 am — and it seems as good a definition as any:


It's a simple definition of what constitutes a genuine date and how to distinguish it from two friends of the opposite sex hanging together. It's a date if both the man and woman have the genuine desire at some point to see the other naked. Doesn't mean a date has to end in sex or whatever that night. But both the man and woman use the dating process as a way of getting to know each other, get comfy, so eventually they can show each other their nipples.

And I need to remind you that both parties have to have nudity as an eventual end goal. I hang out with a lot of women I want to see naked but that doesn't make it a date.

(Boldface as in the original.)

The only issue I might raise is the possibility that men, at least of the straight persuasion, want to see damned near every woman they know to which they are not related in a state of déshabillé.

(Should this technically be déshabillée? My French is limited to the ordering of dressing and/or fries.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:20 PM to Table for One )
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

Click the Permalink on an individual entry to read comments and TrackBacks if any