1 December 2002
Well Twained

I really, really wanted to hate Shania Twain's Up!

For one thing, the title is rendered, in some godawful imitation-of-someone's-bad-handwriting font, no less, with a blithering smilie [:)] in lieu of the proper U. And then there's that exclamation point, which is only the beginning: there are no fewer than ten of them scattered among the nineteen song titles. (One song, so help me, has two of them.) What's more, her main competition in the country-crossover-major-babe industry is Faith Hill, who could probably walk off with my heart if I actually had one.

Then there was this incredible conceit on a square of card stock, stuffed into the CD case:

Since I've always been comfortable writing and singing many styles of music from the earliest age, I wanted this CD to reflect that versatility....When I listen to the music, depending on what mood I'm in, I might put on the RED CD to hear the songs with an electric, rockier-edged sound, and if I want to hear them with a more acoustic, down-home feel, I listen to the GREEN CD.

Yep. It's a two-CD set, each CD running 72 minutes and odd, with exactly the same songs in slightly different arrangements and mixes, the green presumably aimed at traditional country fans, the red at the crossover buffs. For the um, record, I listened to the green first.

And really, it wouldn't have mattered if I'd started with the red sides. What makes Up! work isn't spiffy production (which Mutt Lange has been doing for decades) or instrumental timbre, but Shania Twain's songwriting. (Lange gets co-writer credit on all these, but while he may have contributed some instrumental bits, I am convinced these are her songs.) It is said that she refused to tour to support her first album, which she didn't write; she insisted on waiting until she could do an entire set of her own songs. The tracks here suggest that she knew exactly what she was doing, and there are enough hooks screwed into these tunes to outfit an entire Ace Hardware store.

There are pickable nits. I grew up in an era when a three-minute song was the exception, not the rule: if you turned in a 3:15 master to Berry Gordy, it wound up as a 2:55 single. Some of these songs are just too long, especially "Ain't No Particular Way", whose lyric sheet contains the cryptic notation "Repeat chorus (1.5x)". Most of the exclamation points are expendable. And the Twain/Lange combine's penchant for avoiding 4/4, while generally laudable, results in some clunky transitions, especially in "C'est La Vie", which alternates between being strangely arrhythmic and being Abba's "Dancing Queen".

But these are still just nits. What matters in a country record, even a record as far removed from country as this country record, is whether you believe what's being sung. And here, Shania shines; even fairly prefab sentiments like "Thank you baby / For lovin' me the way you do" come through as genuine. At her best — say, "What A Way To Wanna Be!", which actually contains the word "exfoliate" — she is wry and witty and warm.

And if you can't get around the red vs. green debate (there are even a couple of blue mixes available at Twain's Web site), there's this:

For me, having the variety of styles is reminiscent of my youth when I used to listen to our local radio station and hear Stevie Wonder, Dolly Parton, Supertramp and the Bee Gees all in the same hour.

I know just what she means. Present-day radio would never permit this sort of thing, which is only one of many reasons why it blows.

And what we're going to see, I predict, is an enormous number of CDs burned at home with some of the green tracks and some of the red.

Incidentally, I had to scrap my planned title for this screed and start over: this does impress me. Much.

The urge to merge, with a splurge

Louisville, Kentucky presently ranks sixty-sixth among the nation's cities. About five weeks from now, it will be sixteenth.

What's the deal? In a word: consolidation. In 2000, voters in Louisville and surrounding Jefferson County passed a measure which would merge the functions of city and county. On the fifth of January, the merger goes into effect.

This isn't the first time a city and a county have merged in the US; it isn't even the first time it's happened in Kentucky. (Lexington and Fayette County tied the knot back in the Seventies.) But it's an uncommon event, and in fact the Louisville/Jefferson merger had been proposed, and voted down, three times before.

The merger won't be as painful as it looks. Louisville and Jefferson County have shared some services — schools, transit, purchasing — for years. On the other hand, there are some divisive issues lurking. For one, the new Greater Louisville will have a population of just under 700,000, and with the inclusion of previously-unincorporated suburbs, that population will be distinctly whiter, which means there will likely be complaints that African-Americans are being disenfranchised, or at least having their political power diminished. And there are fears in the dozens of smaller municipalities in Jefferson County that the merger will eventually lead to their disappearance.

And what's the point of all this, anyway? It's the same old Louisville, isn't it? Well, yes and no. For most people in the combined city/county, life will likely go on much as it has. But there's a sensation that the newly-expanded Louisville will be able to "play in the big leagues", to come up for consideration when national businesses look to expand. The examples of Jacksonville, Florida and Indianapolis, fairly sleepy medium-sized metropolises before consolidation and now bustling big cities, indicate that there may be something to it after all. And it occurs to me that the city that might most benefit from it — St. Louis, Missouri — is probably the least likely to get it, since it's wholly separate from St. Louis County, and there is no indication that either city or county is even contemplating such a notion, or would want to.

I am reasonably certain that this sort of thing would never work in Oklahoma City (population 510,000). For one thing, the city already covers over 600 square miles; almost all the developed land (and most of the undeveloped land) in Oklahoma County has already been annexed, either by Oklahoma City or by another municipality. To further complicate matters, Oklahoma City extends into two other counties, Canadian and Cleveland, neither of which is likely to be receptive to any such ideas.

They love that dirty water

The embattled archdiocese of Boston, having been unable to settle some 450 claims of sexual abuse by its clergy, is now on the verge of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

There are distinct advantages to a Chapter 11 filing. Existing civil lawsuits will be suspended; no new suits can be filed. But there is also a downside: the filing will be widely construed as an admission of liability by the archdiocese, and their financial records will be opened to the public for the first time. Some church properties — notably, the chancery in Brighton, to include Cardinal Law's residence — are likely to be turned over to the court to pay claims against the church.

Cynics, of course, will scoff. "They're already morally bankrupt; this just takes care of the money."

(Muchas gracias: Bill Peschel.)

2 December 2002
Etched in the darkness

Half an hour before dawn. A sliver of moon hangs unsteadily above; only the vaguest hint of sunlight peeks over the horizon. The trees offer their bare limbs in supplication. The winds are hushed; only the occasional motor vehicle disturbs the silence.

Would that every winter's day began this way.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:52 AM to Weather or Not )
It won't be called "Murrah 2"

We used to have a Federal building in Oklahoma City, named for Alfred P. Murrah, judge of the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit from 1940 to 1970.

After everything came crashing down in 1995, plans were drawn up for a new facility. The new building, as yet unnamed, will open next fall, and already it's full; ten Federal agencies are slated to move in.

So far, so good. But there's one minor hitch.

The new building is located at NW 6th and Hudson (400 block west).

The Oklahoma City National Memorial, erected on the site of the Murrah, is located between NW 4th and NW 6th west of Harvey (300 block west).

A lot of people with windows facing east or south are going to be able to see the memorial. And not everyone, I imagine, will be able to shrug it off.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:46 AM to City Scene )
And tell Tchaikovsky the news

During the weeks preceding Thanksgiving, our local classical radio station takes votes from listeners, and on Turkey Day and the day following they count down those works which are most requested.

Since 1995, when this little promotional event got started, the composer at the top of the heap has been Ludwig van Beethoven; in fact, the ever-popular Symphony No. 9 has won every year but one, when it was edged out by No. 5. (Myself, I prefer No. 7, which took third this year.) As a general rule, you're not going to find anything really weird in lists of this sort; it's highly unlikely that more than a handful of people are going to vote for anything by, say, Lukas Foss. (Even Cathy Berberian knows there's one roulade she can't sing.) Still, it's always interesting to see the list, and it seems churlish to gripe about the warhorses that always place; there is, after all, a reason why these works are still around decades, centuries, after they were composed.

(My favorite? Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 3. Don't ask.)

3 December 2002
A touch of frost

We dodged last week's threatened snow and ice. We will not be so fortunate this week.

I still contend that the stories of immense heat in Hell are apocryphal; what is ordered up by the minions of Lucifer from the main tower at One Brimstone Centre is endless freezing rain, and the damned are always driving to work.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:19 AM to Weather or Not )
Roundup of the rotten

John Hawkins at Right Wing News has posted, for the third year, his list of the 20 Worst People, Places And Things On The Internet, which begs the question:

"Only twenty?"

I might quibble about the final rankings, but everything there, in my opinion, certainly deserves to be there. Nice work, Mr. H.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:40 AM to Blogorrhea )
Going for twenty

When this site was launched in 1996, one of its pages was devoted to whining about my incredibly bad luck at picking Playboy's Playmate of the Year; up to that point, I had been completely wrong for thirteen years straight.

Now it's nineteen years straight, and I have no reason to think I'll do any better this time around, but inasmuch as the January 2003 issue is out with the annual Playmate Review, it's time to make a fool of myself once more — mainly because this page draws about five percent of the site's traffic, mostly from people looking for pictures pirated from Playboy (which I don't have), and I hate getting "Why haven't you updated?" letters.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:59 PM to Blogorrhea )
From the Department of Too Cool

Jamie Zawinski's WebCollage pulls in random images from the Net and, well, forms them into a collage. About every minute or so, an old image is replaced with a new one and the page reloads. (And yes, you can click on the image and go to the page whence it came.)

I discovered this quite by accident: it pulled in a page of mine, however briefly, and someone looking at the collage duly clicked on the link. Highly spiffy, if you ask me.

4 December 2002
Winter Wonderland and other myths

The weather outside is frightful. We didn't get a whole lot of snow, but we compensated by getting enough ice to serve the nation's bartenders through July. To the north and west, that ice is covered with four to seven inches of snow. About 27,000 people statewide are freezing in the dark.

I think I'll go knock on neighborhood doors and ask people to run their SUVs a few extra minutes today.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 AM to Weather or Not )
The Carnival comes to town

The lovely and talented Michele at A Small Victory is happy to host the first Traveling Edition of the Carnival of the Vanities, your first look at stuff you would have read when it came out if you had had the time or had known where it was. As always, I recommend it highly, especially since none of it is mine.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:25 AM to Blogorrhea )
Bookish

Spark is not happy with the unsolicited assessment she received:

Today, the garage attendant said to me, "If there's a movie with a librarian in it, I'll recommend you."

I asked, "Why?"

"Because you remind me of one."

And apparently this is not something to which she aspires:

Have you ever heard of a sexy librarian? Here I thought I had the sex-kitten-trapped-in-an-intellectual's-body thing going on, and all the time I just look like a goddamn librarian.

What better place to trap a sex kitten inside the body of an intellectual than at the Reference Desk?

Lloyd Dobler would understand.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:31 AM to Table for One )
Specialty of the house

In Chicklit's Paper Jam, Anna Carey reports on a small English publishing house with a narrow but clear focus: Persephone Books Ltd, which puts out high-quality editions of "forgotten books by female writers" and distributes them through its own Web site (and its own store in a former betting shop in Bloomsbury).

Given the sheer number of titles published each year — easily a hundred thousand in the United States alone — a lot of good books will inevitably fall through the cracks, and the number of undiscovered classics hiding in the crevices must be fairly huge by now. Persephone so far has retrieved 38 of them, and while this isn't a quantity likely to upset the descendants of Mr Barnes and Mr Noble, it's definitely a worthy effort, especially since, in the words of the founders, the books are "guaranteed to be readable, thought-provoking and impossible to forget." Such a deal.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Another one bites the dust

Aimee Deep hasn't mentioned it yet in her blog, but the Madster file-sharing service which used to bear her name (when it was Aimster) has been ordered to shut down. What's more, a contempt-of-court hearing has been scheduled for 19 December, to determine whether Madster's failure to comply with a previous order to block all sharing of copyrighted files qualifies as such.

Madster has argued that the encryption used by its network makes it technically impossible to separate copyrighted from non-copyrighted files, as demanded in the previous order, and that breaking encryption is in itself a copyright violation.

While the swapping of copyrighted music files seems to be clearly illegal, I remain persuaded that, regardless of how many injunctions the music industry can obtain or how many lawsuits they can win, their current batten-down-the-hatches business model is way past its sell-by date, and they know it. Surviving a kick in the McNuggets from Aimee Deep's Manolo Blahniks merely prolongs their agony, and ours.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:47 AM to Fileophile )
Waving it in the wind

Even if you've never heard of Bonzi Software, you've seen their ads: they look like half-assed (maybe quarter-assed) imitations of Windows dialog boxes, usually titled "Message Alert" or something comparably absurd. You're too smart to click on those silly things? Then you're not part of the class-action suit filed against Bonzi by a Pacific Northwest legal firm.

While I personally wouldn't mind seeing Bonzi and its imitators forced to gargle with ground glass, I'm not quite sure that litigation is the answer, and I'm reasonably certain that the outcome of this suit will be a windfall for the lawyers and little or nothing for anyone else. And right now, the people I really want to see disemboweled with a slotted spoon are the ones who, when you close their popup ad, ask if you'd like to change your start page to their sleazy site. Not even Bonzi does that — yet.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:36 PM to PEBKAC )
5 December 2002
God's own prune

The Big Tree in the courtyard is suddenly about one-third less Big; the ice storm frosted up the limbs, a hard freeze afterwards made sure the ice wasn't going to melt, and gravity took care of the rest.

I don't think it's doomed — while there's a nasty break in the trunk, it's not the worst this tree has ever suffered — but if you're in the habit, as I am, of thinking that trees are something that endure no matter what, the sight of massive branches not exactly writhing on the ground is a shock to the system.

Besides, I know better than "no matter what"; another tree in the same courtyard, twenty-five feet away or so, fell victim to bagworms a few years ago and did not recover. Only a fragment of stump and an odd grass pattern remain to attest to its existence.

Evidently reminders of mortality have more effect on me now than they did when I was young and semi-indestructible.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:29 AM to Soonerland )
A dispatch from Bizarro World

I admit up front that the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade is not marked on my calendar as a Day to Celebrate. Of course, I'm not Planned Parenthood. They, however, are going all out to commemorate the event.

Well, maybe not all out. I don't see any parades scheduled. But there is an art competition, in which they will select an "original piece of artwork or poster that celebrates these 30 years of choice and illustrates the concept that 'Behind Every Choice is a Story'."

Okay, fine. Until you read the Terms and Conditions, which contains this innocent-looking notice:

Children under age 18 must have a parent or legal guardian's permission* to submit their designs and for us to publish it along with their name.

The asterisk points you to a Parental Permission Form.

Now it strikes me — it certainly strikes Rosemary Esmay — that Planned Parenthood gets their BVDs knotted every time someone suggests that children under age 18 must have a parent or legal guardian's permission to have an abortion. "Oh, yes, vacuum out your uterus any time you like. Just don't get us in trouble with the Contest Police."

What's wrong with this picture?

So you want to be a literary critic

On the off-chance that some of you aren't reading Cinderella Bloggerfeller, I point you to the latest exposition from Cindi's bloggergänger Dr. Dinah Dienstag, unexpectedly appearing on a Thursday for once. (I doubt there will be a name change to "Donnerstag", but you never know.)

This time, the good Doctor brings us a list of Essential Clichés, bits of cant which simply can't be overlooked by anyone seeking to make his mark in the murk of Post-Modern Criticism. Or something like that. In the midst of all the pseudo-literary bushwa circulating these days, it's kind of hard to tell.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:31 AM to Almost Yogurt )
So safe, so sane and so secure

Kim du Toit finds one way to salvage the Department of Homeland Security:

[N]ow that you have all 170,000 federal employees under one roof, fire one third of them, immediately. The rest will have to become more efficient, and nonsense like turf wars and political silos will disappear out of necessity and sheer survival.

Sounds logical to me.

World ends, film at 11

Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Truly, the end is at hand.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:42 PM to Almost Yogurt )
6 December 2002
The iceman stayeth

The cloud cover that was supposed to bug out yesterday hung around until midnight, so the promised warmup fizzled out short of the freezing mark, and this morning, with skies clearing, the mercury hid in the bottom of the thermometer and refused to show its face.

As ice storms go, this one was comparatively minor, though I'm sure the folks on the East Coast who were subsequently hit by it would argue that point. Local damage was relatively slight, most homes are back on the power grid, and I'm sure sales of Frozen Tundra Barbie will recover before long.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:03 AM to Weather or Not )
FatWallet revisited

Last time, you'll remember, FatWallet.com was being threatened under the DMCA by retailers who claimed that their prices were trade secrets and therefore covered by copyright. One of those retailers, the ever-surly Wal-Mart, went so far as to subpoena FatWallet to demand the name of the person posting Wal-Mart prices on FatWallet's message board. How were these prices obtained? Newspaper inserts require a certain amount of lead time, online prices are right there where you can see them, and, well, you can guess the rest.

A law clinic at UC Berkeley said that they would fight Wal-Mart's subpoena and DMCA claims on behalf of FatWallet. Wal-Mart, for its part, has decided to cool its jets for now.

None of this is likely to put much of a dent into the DMCA, but it's almost always a good sign when people refuse to roll over and play dead for the big shots.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:57 AM to PEBKAC )
Credentials, please

As anyone who's used a recent Windows machine knows, certificates aren't necessarily what they're cracked up to be; the presence — or, for that matter, the absence — of digital signatures may turn out to be meaningless.

By no coincidence, something similar is true in one's life away from the computer as well. Alexandra at Out of Lascaux might have the potential to be a truly great teacher, but so long as she's lacking the appropriate signatures, we may never know:

Teachers need to be Certified to teach in our school systems. What does this mean? It means they attended several "education" classes, either in college or as an "alternative program" and did student teaching for a year or so. The NEA will tell you that Certified is synonymous with "qualified," but I beg to differ.

The National Education Association, which aspires to be a Great and Powerful Professional Organization, has the urge that typifies almost every G.P.P.O.: they wish to define the profession in their terms, and their terms only. Included in those terms, of course, is the desire to restrict the profession to those who have had the proper indoctrination.

Not that the indoctrination necessarily does anything to enhance actual teaching. Alexandra continues:

My problem with many public school teachers is that they are not educated, they are trained. The difference is that education teaches you to think: training teaches you how to act.

And, of course, how to complete the paperwork before and after you act.

I am neither educated nor trained, but I can certainly tell the difference between the two, despite my complete and utter lack of certification. (Those of you ready to hit the Comments link to tell me that I am indeed certifiable — well, I already knew that.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:44 PM to Almost Yogurt )
7 December 2002
Do we read his lips?

Governor-elect Brad Henry said yesterday that he will oppose a proposal to raise Oklahoma's state sales tax from 4.5 to 5.5 percent as a way to fill the estimated $700 million shortfall in the state's budget.

This is perhaps a tad less courageous than it looks: almost every county in the state levies an additional sales tax, as do most municipalities. Add it all up and you're paying a stiff 8.375 percent in Oklahoma City, which isn't even the highest in the state. It's not likely that Henry would want to start his term by pushing some Oklahoma towns perilously close to ten percent, especially if there's some joker around to point out that the sales tax in New York City is a mere 8.25 percent.

But still: a Democrat who disdains raising taxes. How often do you get to hear that?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:04 AM to Soonerland )
The once and future Solid South

The occasion of Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday has opened the door to a closet where a lot of our less-savory history has been stashed. Thurmond, you'll remember, ran for President in 1948 on the so-called "Dixiecrat" ticket, a campaign remembered fondly by, among others, Trent Lott. Not that Lott would actually have voted for Thurmond, inasmuch as he was seven years old at the time, but no matter.

As a useful reminder of just what the Dixiecrats stood for, beyond the vague generalities of "states' rights", Atrios has posted a shot of the 1948 sample ballot for Mississippi's breakaway Democrats, which, you should pardon the expression, calls a spade a spade.

And Thurmond's Dixiecrats gradually returned to the Democratic Party in the early Fifties; the Southern transition to Republican stronghold would not begin for another decade or so. (Thurmond joined the GOP in 1964.) The horrendous racism of the Dixiecrat days is mostly behind us — Strom Thurmond himself seems to have outgrown it — but I have to wonder just what's going through Trent Lott's head when he defends it.

That don't oppress me much

Andrea Harris slaps down the tragically hip:

It is hysterically funny to read statements from young persons who are pierced with the equivalent of an anvil's worth of steel, have the entire Sistine Chapel tattooed on their bodies, and are living off their parents' credit cards complaining about "conformist, fascist, Amerikkka" when the worst thing that might happen to them in this country is that they might get pulled over for playing their Rage Against the Machine cds too loud in their Mitsubishi Eclipses.

Yeah, all those nonconformists look alike.

(Aside to Ravenwood: Yeah, it's a strange title. Blame Shania.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:47 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Without honor in our own home

George Lang churned out a five-page piece about blogs for the Oklahoma Gazette this week, with quotes from Joshua Micah Marshall, Andrew Sullivan and Joe Conason, screen shots from all of the above plus one from Glenn Reynolds, and the obligatory interview with a journalism professor — in this case, Mark Hanebutt of the University of Central Oklahoma, who opined:

If I were an editor again at a paper, I would be assigning somebody to pay attention to these. If you look at some of these Web logs, it's people who are talking about the aftereffects, the aftershocks, the fallout of an event and how it might affect them or how it might push over other dominoes.

Reasonable enough. But George, couldn't you have found it in your heart to talk to so much as one blogger actually in Oklahoma?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:39 PM to Blogorrhea , Soonerland )
Fresh spammage

Today's spam is claimed to come from one Jennifer Hawkings, at the dubious address of <sandrasaga@mail.com>. The ostensible Ms. Hawkings says:

Browsing through the CNN website I came across this CNN article which seems to be about you:

http://www.cnn.com:USArticle1840@www.liquidshirts.com/

Believe me, there isn't a chance in hell that anything ever covered by CNN has the slightest thing to do with me; I am completely unknown even at home. And, of course, the trick is in the proffered URL: anything before that @ is parsed as a password/user-ID combination (for use, for instance, with Web-based FTP), and the browser actually travels to liquidshirts.com, a domain belonging to Carlberg Grafix, Inc. of Springfield, Illinois, an institution which is not known to be a provider of information to CNN, but which is known to be a provider of printed novelty items such as T-shirts and, um, toilet paper.

At least it's not a porn operation. And "Jennifer", dear, while I appreciate the clever touch of designating Sun's iPlanet Messenger Express, a Web-based product, as the mailer, you really didn't have to go to the trouble of routing this little bit of spam through Russia, the Netherlands and Japan.

Then again, given the general resentment of spam by US-based ISPs, maybe you did.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:12 PM to Scams and Spams )
Life's less-rich pageant

If anyone still cares, Azra Akin, Miss Turkey, has become the new Miss World.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:18 PM to Almost Yogurt )
8 December 2002
Porn in the U.S.A.

I had some thoughts on Oliver Willis' piece on the porn industry, and on Susanna Cornett's comments thereto, and by the time I'd turned them into something vaguely resembling readable text, I had a couple of screens full of screed, which after not enough polishing is now available as The Vent #320.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:59 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Involuntary deaccession

The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam is missing two paintings today; thieves gained access from the roof, dropped into the building, and made off with two of Van Gogh's early works, valued at somewhere between millions and priceless.

Swiped were View of the Sea at Scheveningen (1882) and Congregation Leaving the Reformed Church in Nuenen (1884).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:51 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Worst. Wheels. Ever.

Mark, the self-proclaimed Heavy Metal Redneck, takes issue with that Forbes.com poll to determine the Crappiest American Cars:

I'm horrified to find the "Chevrolet Caprice" and "Dud" on the same page. Holy cow, people. Put the crack down, and back away slowly. The Caprice was one of the most comfortable, most durable, and most widely used by the police from 1977 until the end of their production in 1996. Any clapped out and rusting Caprice stands a very good chance of scattering YOUR brand new shiny car all over the highway. Some of them also stand a good chance of outrunning YOUR brand new shiny 4 banger. Which is why they were used for police cars.

Anything that can't outrun my four-banger (zero to sixty in 11.2 on a good day) is in need of repair, is being driven by a narcoleptic, or is a Segway.

AMC was a company that didn't make it. Why didn't they make it? Because they didn't make cars that blended in. See a Pacer, anywhere, and you will remember seeing it. Remember the last time you saw a Camry? Huh?

The problem is, I can remember the last time I saw a Camry. In fact, just about every damn time I pull into a parking lot, I see a Camry.

The sheep buy cars that are power everything and loaded with features...and never stop to think what to do if the car doesn't work like it's supposed to. They buy front wheel drive cars, because they think they're better on the snow. That is, until it snows, and then they and their FWD jap jobs are stuck, while the driver of the 1976 Caprice 2 door (400 V8, 300 horsepower, lots of legroom, had many women in the back seat can't do that with a Galant) is having no trouble at all.

Uh, Mark, does your mom know you've had women in the back seat? (And why the hell didn't I ever do this?)

Actually, my FWD "jap job" (made in Flat Rock, Michigan) does pretty well in the snow; I haven't had a serious slide in the slush in years.

All too soon, the Crown Victoria will be phased out... then the Mustang will become a front wheel drive Acura wannabe. The De-Balling of America will be complete. No wonder Saddam Hussien is still alive.

If you're not doing anything this weekend, why don't you run him over with a Caprice? You'd be doing us all a favor, and Chevrolet could use the publicity. I won't even make any jokes about Iraq-and-pinion steering.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:45 PM to Driver's Seat )
Discontinued Lott

So just what is the Republican Party supposed to do with Trent "Out to Lynch" Lott?

Christopher Johnson has come up with a solution:

Suppose [Lott's] position were offered to Zell Miller as an inducement to switch parties? The media and the Democrats would howl but the Republican position in Georgia would be strengthened immeasurably which is all the more reason to go ahead.

It has a certain visceral appeal to it, and it retains the Southern connection so vital to the GOP these days. And if Miller won't budge? Mr. Johnson has a Plan B:

Next term, the face of congressional Democrats will be that of House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, presumably exploiting a Democratic advantage with female voters. But would that advantage still be there if the face of congressional Republicans was that of Senate majority leader Kay Bailey Hutchinson?

Oh, how I would love to hear the shrieks in Terry McAuliffe's office if that comes off.

To Hellmann's and back

"What is it about Southerners and mayonnaise?" asks Kevin McGehee, and he's not kidding:

[W]hen you put mayonnaise on a hamburger, you are offending the spirit of the noble cow that kindly gave its life for your sustenance.

I estimate that over the past four decades, I have uttered some variation on the theme of "Hold The Mayo, Dammit" literally a thousand times, so I can relate.

And remember: revenge is a dish best served with tangy Miracle Whip®.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 PM to Almost Yogurt )
9 December 2002
Available space

The Oklahoma City Public Schools have been pondering moving John Marshall High School about two miles northwest of its current location. Under the current MAPS for Kids initiative, money is available for renovation and improvements, but the present school sits on a 24-acre site, about half what the state specifies for a high school. Rather than buy up nearby properties, the district proposed to move the school to a larger tract, but residents near those tracts took exception.

Later this week, a feasibility study will point the district towards its next move. The negative response to moving the school, it is believed, will make the prospect of staying put and buying adjoining property more likely. A similar study earlier this year made basically the same recommendation for U. S. Grant High School, on the other side of town. If the Marshall plan follows the Grant example, the new school will occupy the far end of the school property; once it's built, the old school will be torn down.

This sounds excessively complicated, but both the Marshall and Grant facilities are really old and fairly decrepit and bringing the existing buildings up to spec will likely cost even more.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:11 AM to City Scene )
Heartstrings: Tug here

Once again, Lileks captures the human condition in a paragraph or three:

There's only so much room in a human heart, Tramp says. A baby moves in, the dog moves out.

Later that night, sitting at the kitchen table, hearing the dog sigh for no reason you can think of, you know Tramp was wrong. There's endless room in a human heart. Build three rooms or three million, and they'll have the same tenants: Love. Fear. And Hope.

And isn't it odd how two of those tenants always end up sharing a room.

No wonder hearts are so damnably breakable.

The very appearance of gratitude

To commemorate this site's 200,000th visitor, a minor facelift.

In the whirling world of blogdom, picking up two hundred thousand visitors in a few months isn't so unusual. It took me eighty months. No matter. I'm grateful to each and every one of you.

And to the nonexistent Jennifer Hawkings, who infested enough mailboxes over the weekend to send scores of people scurrying to Google to find out what was going on, I thank you as well: this day will likely be the busiest in the site's history.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:37 AM to Blogorrhea )
The last notification system you'll ever need

I think everyone's seen a blog that would benefit from this.