1 March 2003
The devil in the dial

I've never been to Vancleve, Kentucky, but last year's somewhat-unintended slide through a series of small Kentucky towns persuades me that I'd probably like the place. Only two things do I actually know about Vancleve: it has a long-established gospel radio station (WMTC AM/FM, the call letters meaning "Win Men To Christ"), and it's the home of the Kentucky Mountain Bible College, which for some time now has been trying to rid itself of its telephone number, which, like other numbers in Breathitt County, starts with 666.

Telephone companies move slowly, when they move at all, and I don't know if this particular bout of slowness is at all related to the need to conserve phone numbers to keep from adding more and more area codes, but finally the school has won: if you're wanting to call them, you need to call 693-5000.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:50 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Proper inflation

Akron, Ohio may be the Rubber City, but the fact is, more tires are made in Oklahoma than in any other state. And Michelin North America, whose Uniroyal Goodrich unit has a huge plant in Ardmore, is about to spend $200 million to expand the facility, including $25 million kicked in by the state as incentive money.

Employment at Michelin will grow to about 1850, still smaller than Goodyear's Lawton operation, which started an expansion program of its own last year to will bring its workforce up to 2400. Bridgestone/Firestone operates a plant in Oklahoma City which employs about 1800.

Now get out there and drive. :)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:25 PM to Soonerland )
Physician, **** thyself

Meet Jeffrey Schimandle, MD, non-practicing orthopedic surgeon in Oklahoma City. He became non-practicing rather involuntarily in 1999 following reports that he was swiping pain medication intended for patients for his personal use. This year Dr Schimandle applied for reinstatement, and got it; and within seconds of getting it, he whispered what The Daily Oklahoman called "a two-word, gender-specific obscenity" to the licensure board's attorney.

Said attorney is Elizabeth A. Scott, who also serves as an assistant attorney general; charges were brought, and Friday Dr Schimandle's license to practice was pulled yet again — not because he called Scott whatever it was he called her, but because he denied having said it. He can apply for reinstatement next year, if he can keep his mouth shut.

As for that "two-word, gender-specific obscenity", well, I'm not quite sure what the good doctor actually said, but I'd be surprised if it's truly gender-specific. Even in Oklahoma.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:13 PM to Soonerland )
The left side of the dial

The reaction to the news that a Chicago venture-capitalist group will front the bucks for a liberal radio network has been mostly yawns, with occasional remarks along the lines of "So what's NPR, chopped liver?" Certainly nothing in recent radio history would suggest that this venture could possibly make enough money to stay out of the red, let alone raise Rush Limbaugh's blood pressure, but hey, it's diversity, right?

Mark W. Anderson, writing as The American Sentimentalist, has some thoughts on this from a present-day liberal point of view, and they go like this:

[T]rue political progressiveness, of the kind that addresses social inequality, the relationship between capital and labor, environmental activism (and the sacrifices needed to undertake it), the Rights of Man, and the practice of inclusion and community, can't find a hearing in America today not because the message hasn't been gussied up enough, but because simply no one is interested in hearing these messages. At least, not enough to make a dent in the kinds of messages Americans are interested in: mythological freedom, protected self-reliance, denigrating a dangerous Other, and endless self-indulgence passing as consumer choice and free market effectiveness. In order to break through this wall of illusion, the kind of programming needed would be the kind that would send advertisers scurrying faster than European intellectuals in a room with Donald Rumsfeld: programming that would speak the truth about what happens in the country behind the facades and televised images we've all grown so used to accepting as fact. Programming, in fact, that would explain what it was like for the Americans rifling through the dumpster behind the mall where the good life is purchased, where the message of what it was like to worry about the transmission on the ten year-old car needed to get to work and not about whether the SUV is the best off-road vehicle money can buy, about the trade-offs between employment and health care for single moms, between prescription drugs and food for the elderly, and job training and the minimum wage for the chronically unemployed. Or how to effectively campaign to overturn, for example, politically-charged court decisions, replace reactionary judges, elect candidates not beholden to big-money concerns, or how to undertake the kind of neighborhood, grass-roots activism needed to reverse the incarceration rate for African-Americans. Or how to make ensure developers respect the socio-economic make-up of urban neighborhoods slated for gentrification. Or a million other unsexy, nuts-and bolts kinds of stories people need to know in order to go to work every day to change the world they live in for the better.

Some of these concerns make a certain amount of sense, and some of them bug me. The preservation of the "socio-economic make-up of urban neighborhoods", for one, strikes me as folly: if these neighborhoods were so wonderful, it seems to me that the property values would be sufficiently high that no one would be all that anxious to tear them down and start over in the name of gentrification. And the biggest improvement that could be made in the incarceration rate of African-Americans, I suggest, would be getting fewer of them to commit crimes in the first place.

Still, Anderson is right about the crux of the biscuit: things aren't hunky-dory for everyone, and if a bevy of AM-band leftists can actually contribute something to the debate, more power to them. They'll have to give up their Thou Shalt Not Offend Anyone posture, though; commercial talk radio is no place for mild-mannered Cory Flintoff types.

2 March 2003
Shadows wake me from my trance

About every three or four days, someone Googles up the phrase "damhnait doyle anal sex", which last I looked produced four results, three of which had something to do with me and none of which had a whole lot to do with Damhnait Doyle, a young singer from Newfoundland whose first two albums are often played in this household. Specifically, there was the one archive page which mentioned Ms Doyle, and the other two words were separated, not only from the reference to her, but from each other as well, but yes, all four words are on the page, so Google brings it up. I duly posted a report of the first incident to Disturbing Search Requests; my original post thereupon and an archive page containing it are the other two pertinent results.

The recurrence of this search has been something of an annoyance, but it did pay off this evening: it prompted me to see just what she's been up to, since it's been nearly three years since Hyperdramatic came out, and would you believe, she released a new album last week. Not in the US, of course; but this problem is easily remedied by a trip to HMV.com, which is happy to take my American dollars in exchange for Canadian content. So to my anonymous searcher(s): thank you. However, please be advised that I have no idea as to the young lady's sexual proclivities, and I would not be inclined to discuss them if I had.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:01 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Dehumidifying the sweatshop

Does this startle you?

According to a recent report by business futurists Roger and Joyce Herman of Greensboro, N.C, as many as 40 percent of workers already have "checked out" psychologically.

Feeling used and abused, these employees, they say, show up every day, but have lost passion for their work and are ready to jump on new opportunities.

I wonder if an entire company has ever up and quit....

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:29 AM to Dyssynergy )
You meet the nicest people on a Chonda

Two words: Jewish bikers.

You gotta love it.

(Muchas gracias: Max Power.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:05 PM to Driver's Seat )
Possible signs of spring

I've learned to be suspicious of these, but in view of last week, I need all the warmth I can get.

There was actual sunshine today after about 3 pm or so, and while the temperature is still on the low side (lower 40s), it beats the heck out of what we've been getting, and besides, we haven't seen the sun since Washington's birthday.

More to the point, perhaps, was the Austin-Healey Sprite (of course, a Bugeye) tootling along the boulevard, its driver apparently utterly unconcerned about being surrounded by vicious-looking vehicles like the Pontiac Aztek, an automotive boîte du merde that is as ugly as the Sprite is cute.

And while Bugeyes aren't very fast — apart from being about 43 years old, they have only about 43 horsepower — there's a certain thrill in driving the living whee out of something in an effort to stay just ahead of the traffic flow.

Besides, it was painted green, and British racing green at that. Just try to tell me that's not a sign of spring.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:42 PM to Driver's Seat )
3 March 2003
With a song in his heart

Two songs, actually.

Go see what McGehee hath wrought, or hath writ, or anyway hath posted.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:21 AM to Blogorrhea )
Bleary-eyed and then some

The good thing about the new kids upstairs (actually, judging from brief appearances, they're probably close to 40) is that they seem to be encumbered with neither loud offspring nor industrial-strength stereo.

The bad thing about the new kids upstairs is that while they seem to spend a fair amount of time in bed, not much of that time is devoted to, um, sleeping.

Which, of course, inevitably means that not much of my time is devoted to sleeping. (Noise reduction in the construction of multi-family units, as a priority, ranks somewhere between feng shui positioning and gemstone settings for bathroom fixtures.)

Eventually adjustments will be made, as they must, but for now I'm too tired to contemplate them.

Finger poppin' time

A moment of noise, if you please — silence wasn't his thing — for R&B legend Hank Ballard, who died yesterday in Los Angeles.

Ballard's Midnighters (originally the Royals, but confusion with the "5" Royales dictated a name change) scored many R&B hits, starting with the salacious "Work With Me Annie" in 1954. But he's perhaps best remembered for a throwaway B side, the flip of 1959's "Teardrops on Your Letter", a bouncy little number called "The Twist", which in a soundalike version by Chubby Checker — Ballard once said when he first heard Checker's record on the radio in 1960, he thought it was his own — became the only record to hit #1, drop off the charts completely, and then hit #1 again the next year, in the midst of dozens of Twist records.

Depending on whom you believe, Ballard was 66, or maybe he was 75. All together now:

There's a thrill
Up on the hill
Let's go, let's go, let's go

None dare call it English

The Timekeeper is back in the States and up to full fearsome strength. Not that it takes a whole lot of strength to fisk a high-school senior, but in four years or so the recipient will be a college senior and produce even higher cranial durometer readings, so the time to strike is now.

The student in question offers this startling revelation:

I recall sophomore English, where I stayed after class one day to inquire about the rest of the year's planned reading material. Of the 10 or 20 books required since I entered high school, only one had been written by a woman. Precious few of the others dealt with or even included issues pertaining to women.

Rebuffed by a teacher who pointed out that, hey, this is English class, not a women's studies course, she exploded:

"Doesn't it strike you as somewhat ridiculous that to get the slightest mention of a woman beyond her position as wife to a prominent male figure, I have to go hunt for it on my own, outside of school?! Does it not strike you as odd that half of the world's population is systematically rendered invisible through curriculums such as your own?"

To which the Timekeeper responds:

Does it not strike you as thoroughly ridiculous that the teacher is expected to change the curriculum from a study of literature to a politically correct sociology class to raise the self-esteem of a grievance group, rather than on the merits of the literature involved?

As she gets bitter, he gets better. Read the whole thing. (Good to have you home, Keep.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:47 PM to Almost Yogurt )
4 March 2003
No further comment required

Somebody got here last night via a Google search for "mister rogers" illuminati.

Fnord.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:06 AM to Blogorrhea )
It'll cost a few bucks

According to David Pearce, a state representative from Warrensburg, Missouri, the Show-Me State is not doing enough to limit the size of the state's deer herd, and he has introduced a bill (HB 386) to make the Department of Conservation liable for the first $250 of damage caused by deer/motor vehicle collisions.

Pearce himself has run into this situation; last year he hit a deer on Missouri 13 not far from home. Total damages came to $2400, of which Pearce's out-of-pocket expense was, um, $250. The Missouri Highway Patrol reported 5482 collisions with animals during 2001.

Conservation objects to the bill, saying that it would distract them from their primary function, to manage the herd; Pearce counters that if they'd managed the herd better, there'd be no need for the bill.

Tomorrow, HB 386 gets its first committee hearing.

Pointing skyward

If I'm reading Spiced Sass correctly, the problem with these proposed World Trade Center replacements is a lack of, well, divinity, something that's manifest elsewhere in society as well:

My theory, in a nutshell, is since we eliminated God, liberals have been trying desperately to fill the vacuum. You simply can not legislate into the human heart or genes all the moralistic altruistic utopian crap they try to sell.

Not that a return to things churchly is necessarily the answer either:

I still am never going to buy into man's rendering of God, but I sure like mankind better when they are seeking God rather than attempting to be God.

The precise mechanism which determines the sense of transcendence in architecture (and elsewhere) is assuredly beyond my comprehension, but, to borrow a phrase, I know it when I see it.

Watts new

Former Congressman J. C. Watts is not lacking for titles these days. In addition to his gig as a columnist for The Sporting News, he's now on the board of directors of Dillard's, the Arkansas-based department-store chain.

In his new capacity, perhaps Watts can figure out how come Dillard's keeps getting into racial hot water. In 1996, the chain was sued after an African-American customer claimed that she was denied a routine cologne sample; the case wound up before the US Supreme Court, which declined to review the verdict or the $1.2-million penalty against Dillard's. And this was only the most visible of a number of cases in which the store was charged with some blatant form of discrimination.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:39 AM to Soonerland )
Just in time for Ash Wednesday

It's Carnival of the Vanities #24, brought to you by the one and only Acidman. This week's edition features nearly three dozen articles by bloggers near and far, annotated and collected in fine style with just a hint (okay, maybe more than a hint) of that patented Gut Rumbles reflux. As always, miss this at your peril.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:43 PM to Blogorrhea )
5 March 2003
The return of Jennifer Hawkings

When last we heard from the pseudonymous Ms Hawkings, she was trying to promote a Web site that sold T-shirts by persuading the unwary that somehow they'd been mentioned by CNN. I disposed of that notion quickly enough, but she's had almost three months to recuperate, and now she's back with a new, um, deal.

This time at <jhawkings@martsgroup.com>, which seems to be based in Moscow, she's pitching a list. And not just any list, either:

Our company possesses several business email lists which allow to contact commercial websites and companies offering their products and services on the Internet. These B2B email lists could be a perfect source for gaining many new clients for your company. Please take a moment to review the lists we have. The segregation is performed by the source where the websites/companies are listed:

1. 258,000 Companies from Yahoo's business directory:
http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Shopping_and_Services/
http://dir.yahoo.com/Business_and_Economy/Business_to_Business/

2. 208,000 Companies from Google's business directory:
http://directory.google.com/Top/Shopping/
http://directory.google.com/Top/Business/

I don't do B2B, being neither B nor B, but regardless, I fail to see the value of this service; I can click on those links just as easily as "Jennifer Hawkings" can.

And in fact, I tend to think that this is not the same person as before; this seems like part of an effort to create a fictional spokesperson for spamdom, the email equivalent of Betty Crocker or Aunt Jemima or Alfred E. Neuman. And hey, who knows? Maybe someday, instead of being spammed, you'll be jennifered. Who — excepting perhaps Simon Lamont — could possibly object?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:49 AM to Scams and Spams )
The last of Lady Bird's radio empire

LBJS Broadcasting, the six-station group in Austin controlled by the family of Lady Bird Johnson, is selling out. Emmis Communications, owner of 21 radio stations and Texas Monthly magazine, is buying the Johnson family's 50.1% interest for $105 million. (The S in LBJS, David and Bob Sinclair, retain their 49.9% equity, but Emmis has an option to buy them out after five years.)

Originally, there was just the one station: KTBC, a low-powered AM daytimer acquired by Lady Bird for $17,500 in 1943. Being married to a Congressman paid off, though; the FCC soon approved an upgrade to full-time operation and 5000 watts. KTBC-TV soon followed, and by some strange coincidence it was the only commercial VHF TV allocation for Austin; competitors were forced to the struggling UHF band. (KTBC-TV is now owned by Fox Television Stations; the allocations haven't changed, though a UPN affiliate parked itself on channel 2 out in Fredericksburg, hoping to get audience from both Austin and San Antonio.)

The sale is subject to FCC approval, though no objections are expected. Flagship stations KLBJ-AM (formerly KTBC) and KLBJ-FM will retain their call letters.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:02 AM to Overmodulation )
Forecast, schmorecast

The winds shifted around to the southwest yesterday, and the temperature climbed to a balmy 71 degrees.

Then the sun set, and the winds resumed their northerly angle of attack, and this morning it's snowing and the wind-chill factor is around 8.

It's enough to make you want to go buy a couple of SUVs and drive around town all day in second gear.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:49 AM to Weather or Not )
At best, a sort of greylist

TeeVee's Ben Boychuk disposes of this New Blacklist horsepuckey with due dispatch:

If anything, the more outspoken of the anti-war Hollywood Left stand to gain from the publicity. Janeane Garofalo has never been more famous. Marty Sheen will continue to work long after the creatively moribund West Wing retires to the Elysian Fields of syndication. One might argue that Sean Penn's career suffered because of his trip to Baghdad. But one could also point to the fact that his last couple of films were seen by all of two dozen people. Three dozen, tops.

Boychuk titled this piece Joe McCarthy is Back, And This Time, He's Pissed. Trademark infringment, I'd bet.

Stipe-ulations

It probably wasn't any big surprise that failed Congressional candidate Walt Roberts entered a guilty plea to various counts of conspiracy; many of us have been wondering just where this good ol' boy was finding all this campaign financing.

Now the finger has been pointed, and it's pointed toward Senator Gene Stipe, a McAlester Democrat, whose own fingers have been found in all sorts of Oklahoma pies over many years. Chris at Fly Over Country says there's a 90-percent chance they're gonna nail him this time; I think that's a tad high, but I won't shed any tears if Chris is right.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:59 PM to Soonerland )
Don't you give me no dirty looks

Way back in 1980, Vince Vance and the Valiants put out a single that resonated with a lot of us: they reworked Fred Fassert's doo-wop ditty "Barbara Ann", previously a hit for the Regents and later for the Beach Boys (with Hal and his famous ashtray), into the impossible-to-misinterpret "Bomb Iran". I still have the 45, on Paid Records #109.

It was of course inevitable that with the return of unrest to the Middle East (what, was there ever actually rest there?), Vince Vance too would return, and Sparkey's heard the new single, which is of course called "Bomb Iraq". And what's more, he's provided a link to download it in MP3 format if you want it. Which you do.

6 March 2003
Sizzled, not stirred

Two words: bacon martini.

Bless you, Weetabix. ("Pretty hot, but in a Ned Flanders kind of way?" Now that's descriptive.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:04 AM to Blogorrhea )
Scratched off

According to at least one poll, Oklahomans favor the establishment of a state lottery by a three-to-one margin. I find this surprising, since the issue has been up for a state vote before and did not come close to passage.

A few minutes before the poll results were announced, the State House had an announcement of its own: House Bill 1278, which would put the establishment of a lottery on the ballot, had failed, 52-49. Most Democrats voted Yes, most Republicans voted No, but there were defectors from both sides.

I expect Governor Henry will be back with a similar proposal next year, but for this session, it's dead.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:02 AM to Soonerland )
Cutting to the chase

Jeff Lawson is persuaded that it's time to get down to business:

While I've supported the cause from early on — actually, I've been advocating the forceful removal of Saddam Hussein for a long time, dating back to my days as a relatively liberal political science student — I do look forward to the good that will ultimately come from it once the shooting stops. War sucks, no doubt about that. And I likely don't have much credibility when it comes to saying that, my generation not knowing war all too well, but I think it's an undeniable truth that war sucks. People die. But sometimes, despite one's best attempts to avoid war, it still has to happen. This war has been a long, long time coming...over a decade. Barring any sort of unforeseen event that can head things off in the final hour, this war is inevitable. The time is right, so better to get on with it.

Let me amplify: "War sucks."

This does not now, did not ever, equate to "War must be avoided at any cost."

And the forcible removal of Saddam Hussein will not magically result in Iraqi democracy. As Mark W. Anderson points out:

"[D]emocracy does not come to oppressed peoples in the way that God enabled Adam and Eve to discover that they were naked — it comes from the long struggle to build free and fair civic institutions that support such a political system, ensuring that a minimum level of economic fairness exists throughout the society in question, and enabling citizens and those in power to see their own heretofore-hidden self-interests in cooperating on a political level."

Still, if the blinding flash alone likely can't do the job, the lack of the blinding flash certainly won't — at least in this case.

I don't think of myself as being a particularly enthusiastic warmonger. On the other hand, I don't believe in procrastination either — though I probably should have posted this yesterday.

Torture: not just fun, but effective

Fritz Schranck has come up with a plan for getting Khalid Shaikh Mohammed to talk, a plan which involves, among other things, essence of spirit duplicator, algebra, and Ben-Gay®.

Of course, I would just as soon not know where Fritz picked up this particular area of expertise, but if his recommendations are half as mind-warping as they appear to be, the problem won't be getting our captive to talk — it will be getting him to shut up.

7 March 2003
Yes, it's another facelift

I figure, if I'm going to drone on in my usual monotone, I ought to have a backdrop that is closer to monochrome.

Besides, in tests on a 33.6k dialup, it loads 0.4 second faster.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:54 AM to Blogorrhea )
Lotto update

The estimable Goof Beyou, who has been keeping tabs on the state-lottery measure (and keeping track of my fumbles on the story), has yet to weigh in on the prospects for getting the bill passed during its reconsideration phase, though I'm sure we'll hear from Beyou shortly.

In the meantime, House Republican leader Todd Hiett seems miffed at the prospect of seeing this bill again: "At this point," he said, "we should move on and do the people's business." Apparently Hiett's concept of "the people's business" does not include the possibility of voting on a controversial measure. All by itself, this ought to be enough to get him onto Frosty Troy's 10 Worst Legislators list this summer.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:13 AM to Soonerland )
Lynn breaks free once more

Once upon a time, there was Poet and Peasant, hosted at Blogspot, and it was good.

Then there was Reflections in D minor, running Movable Type, and it was better.

Now there is the new and improved Reflections in D minor, and it's a pMachine.

One thing about Lynn: she's determined.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:18 PM to Blogorrhea )
Putting the chill on Mugabe

American assets owned by President Robert Mugabe and about seventy other officials of the government of Zimbabwe have been frozen by the Bush administration.

President Bush took the action, according to the official order, because of ongoing political violence and a breakdown in the rule of law, for which Mugabe must take responsibility. The freeze follows a similar order imposed by the European Union in February. For the crumbling Zimbabwean government, this could be the last straw.

Making noise out of nothing at all

"Bad Love Songs For Corporate Drudgery Volume VI".

That's what Fraters Libertas' the Elder must endure out there in Cubicle City, and in between periods of mind-numbing boredom he roused himself just enough to deconstruct Air Supply's "Even the Nights Are Better", which apparently makes even less sense when analyzed.

Advantage: 42nd and Treadmill, since they haven't yet complained about my semi-burly JBL Harmony at deskside, pouring out Carl Kasell and Karl Haas and the Kinks.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:29 PM to Tongue and Groove )
8 March 2003
A piece of the action

Opposition to the proposed Oklahoma lottery comes from many quarters, but much of it emanates from the state's churches, dominated by conservative Christian denominations who have no qualms about calling 'em the way they see 'em.

Leaders of five of those denominations have signed a letter to Governor Henry asking him to give up the idea of a lottery, and urging him to set up a "task force made up of business, government, church and education leaders to seek long-term solutions for education funding."

The Guv, himself a Southern Baptist, says he appreciates the input but still would like the lottery put to a state vote. Personally, I think the task force idea might fly even without direct government involvement, though there's always the question of whether the state will give a reasonable hearing to the ideas of non-politicians.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:19 AM to Soonerland )
Mind games for fun and prophet

Now if someone asked me this:

Why the hell has a secret faction built a SUPERSHIP on a man-made plateau in a mountain range high above sea level?

I'd respond something like "Because if it weren't secret, the place would be crawling with angry environmentalists."

But the question is not for me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:07 AM to Dyssynergy )
Into the face of evil

What would you say to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the man behind September 11th?

Jeff Jarvis has thought it over. (He's also vlogged it, for which you'll need broadband.)

Strip mine

Ever been to Farwell, Texas?

Neither have I. And I can't think of any particular reason to go there, unless I were driving to, say, Clovis, New Mexico, where Norman Petty and Buddy Holly created a unique rock-and-roll sound, in which case Farwell is the last town in Texas before crossing the border.

And that's actually an issue. According to the 1859 survey defining the border between Texas and New Mexico, the dividing line is supposed to be right on top of the 103rd meridian. The New Mexico/Oklahoma line is along the 103rd. But the Texas border, as drawn, was about three miles west of it, which makes for a weird-looking jog in the state map, and towns like Farwell, Texas are supposed to be in New Mexico.

At least, that's the argument being made in Santa Fe, where a bill has been introduced into the legislature to seek return to New Mexico of this narrow strip of land. Three miles doesn't sound like a lot, but we're talking Texas here, and the strip, which covers the western edges of ten Texas counties, includes 603,000 acres of land, more than 900 square miles. New Mexico's draft constitution in 1910 claimed the border should be on the 103rd meridian as intended; a Congressional investigation was convened, to which New Mexico, not yet a state, was not invited, and Congress opted to leave the border in place. Apparently dark hints from Austin suggested that if New Mexico really wanted to become a state, they would shut up about the border; they did, and they did.

That was 1912. Ninety-one years later, why pursue this? A clue might be found in the wording of the bill:

One hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) is appropriated from the general fund to the office of the attorney general for expenditure in fiscal years 2003 and 2004 to sue the state of Texas for the return of six hundred three thousand four hundred eighty-five acres of land taken from New Mexico due to an error in drawing the north-south boundary between New Mexico and Texas. The attorney general is further instructed to seek compensation for subsurface mineral rights, oil and gas royalties and income, property taxes and grazing privileges that New Mexico has not realized due to the boundary error.

I suspect the Texans are chuckling, but if I know Texans like I think I do, they won't take this lying down. Especially in Farwell.

Pontiffications

John Paul II is still alive and kicking, but speculation as to his successor at the Holy See is rampant. One Spanish site has already winnowed down the 185 members of the College of Cardinals to an even dozen. (Who was that in the corner muttering about "March madness"?)

Meanwhile, Jesus Gil analyzes the results. What is perhaps most surprising is that five of the top seeds — um, perceived front-runners — come from Latin America. The Italians, of course, have four, but the balance of power has been shifting away from Italy ever since, well, the election of John Paul II.

It takes a two-thirds majority of the College to elect a Pope. Fortunately, they don't have to deal with things like butterfly ballots.

9 March 2003
And the feathers continue to fly

Tuesday, Senator Frank Shurden (D-Henryetta) expects a vote on Senate Bill 835, which proposes yet another cockfighting election, though this one will be limited to settling the penalties. Under State Question 687, passed last fall, taking part in a cockfight is a felony; Shurden wants this reduced to a misdemeanor, and he apparently thinks that while most people in Oklahoma do support the ban, which passed with 56 percent of the vote, they don't necessarily want people hauled into the pen for a year or more for it.

The House has already passed a similar measure, which suggests that Shurden might actually have a chance of getting this through. The anti-cockfighting forces are, unsurprisingly, highly incensed at all this. Meanwhile, there are legal challenges to SQ 687 in more than two dozen counties. We haven't heard the last of this issue by any means.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:03 AM to Soonerland )
Aren't you glad you use dial?

I still have an actual rotary phone. You know, the kind that dials with a dial; you stick your finger in and move it around in circles and...uh, never mind.

This sort of thing would never do for the Oval Office, as The Third Kind's Phil illustrates.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:11 AM to Dyssynergy )
I learned the truth from seventeen

Some people keep "delightful" and "silly" far apart in little mental boxes, lest the two meet and contaminate one another like chocolate and peanut butter.

Not being one of those people, I direct your attention to the Periodic Table of Haiku, a perfectly legitimate scientific tool with a three-line verse attached for each chemical element. (Scansion isn't always perfect, but what the hell; you try writing something about molybdenum in 17 syllables.)

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:15 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Erdogan has his day

Justice and Development (AK) Party leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, barred from running for office last fall, easily won a seat in the Turkish Parliament in Sunday's elections, which assures him the position of Prime Minister and puts the question of support for the US war on Iraq back on the table. One newspaper reports that Erdogan plans to dismiss four Cabinet members opposed to the US plan to attack Iraq from across the Turkish border.

Wednesday, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul is expected to resign in favor of Erdogan. While polls indicate Turks generally oppose the US deployment, Erdogan has supported it, and has already hinted that he'll call for a new parliamentary vote to try to get it approved — and as Prime Minister, he'll be in a far better position to push for it.

10 March 2003
Conspiracy theory behind the dash

Americans have lots of thoughts about things automotive. (This is, in case you've forgotten or you've been living in Berkeley for the last ten years, because we actually have lots of cars and we get to drive them all over the place.) Inevitably, some of those thoughts prove to be erroneous, egregious, or downright excruciating (cf. an otherwise perfectly innocuous Honda Civic with two-thirds of its bodywork covered in bubbly decalcomania and its exhaust terminating in a Folger's can).

There is one thought which borders on the universal, though: the thought that the so-called Check Engine Light is a conspiracy against the laity, that the evil little glow means only that your local wrenchman has a boat payment due. At least once a week, I get an anguished letter from some poor soul asking how to shut the thing off, and I'm running out of variations on ways to say "Take it to the shop and have the farging codes pulled."

The truth of the matter is simply this: modern engines run with extremely tight calibrations to meet extremely tight (and becoming more so) emissions specifications, and if any one component of the twenty bazillion or so under the hood isn't pulling its weight, the Malfunction Indicator Light (to give it its correct name) snaps on and the engine computer records the appropriate error code. Unless you know what that error code is and what it means — and I, buried in email, certainly can't read it from here — you're out of luck. And present-day OBD II-equipped vehicles don't give up their codes to just anyone: you need the appropriate scan tool.

Which, of course, is part of the conspiracy. If you don't want to pay the dealer $75 to pull the codes, you probably also don't want to pay hundreds of dollars for your very own scanning device. But the unpleasant fact is this: the shadetree mechanic is well on his way to dropping off the Endangered Species list and into extinction. The techniques that used to work to squeeze a couple more months out of a worn set of points don't mean a thing to a mass airflow meter. And given the fact that most people think they're more mechanically inclined than they really are — myself included — twelve or thirteen times out of ten they're going to make matters worse by trying to fix these things themselves.

Please. Take it to the shop and have the farging codes pulled.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:44 AM to Driver's Seat )
An outpost of non-corporate radio

If the phrase "Clear Channel" makes you break out in hives, this is for you.

In its last couple of years before it packs up and moves to Dallas to play with the big boys, AM daytimer KJON, just about the last station in Anadarko (KRPT-FM is moving northward toward the Oklahoma City market), has decided to stick to what it likes, and screw the consultants and their Armani-suited ilk.

So KJON's country format eschews the Shanias and the Faiths and the Dixie Chicks and plays stuff from the age of 78s, when you could still have a first name like "Red", when people heard the Wabash Cannonball and knew it was a train. The station manager says he's playing for guys on tractors, and you gotta believe it's true.

The Daily Oklahoman has a piece about KJON today, and it's worth your time even if Webb Pierce and Ernest Tubb don't mean a thing to you, simply because it illustrates the point that "non-corporate" radio does not necessarily mean stuff like NPR, which is waiting on a check from Archer Daniels Midland even as we speak, nor does it inevitably imply a staff with a whiter-shade-of-pale complexion from sitting in their bedrooms for ten years playing Nick Drake records.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:58 AM to Overmodulation )
Always honoring the protocols

My boss is seeking an answer to this:

"What wine goes best with watching the destruction of France?"

I'm inclined to think "anything bubbly," but I am no expert on such matters.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:14 PM to Worth a Fork )
And you thought Lene Lovich was stateless

The Palestinian Authority, the government (except it isn't) of a nation (except it isn't) in the Middle East (well, it is that), has decided that it needs a prime minister.

Their next move, logically, should be the naming of an ambassador to the Sovereign Apartment Nation of Travistan.

11 March 2003
Beyond viral marketing

There was yet another ad on the radio this morning for Botox, and after the usual revulsion ("People are injecting a known toxin into their faces? Ewwww....") passed, I started wondering: Can other Nasty Substances be pressed into useful work? Can salmonella help your lawn? Does smallpox have a future as an industrial lubricant? Will anthrax kill termites?

Okay, it's too early in the morning for such things, and anyway it's been more than thirty years since I set foot in the lab. But who back then would have predicted that botulinum would have a commercial application?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:56 AM to Dyssynergy )
Brand management writ large

In light (if "light" makes sense in this context, an arguable premise) of recent world developments, The Skeptician offers an updated United Nations logo, approved 14-0 by the Security Council. (France, of course, abstained.)

(Muchas gracias: Emperor Misha I, who notes, "We hope to see it proudly displayed at the new UN headquarters in Harare.")

Sharia stops here

The ever-erudite David "Clubbeaux" Sims notes that the Netherlands, Europe's ostensible Party Capital, is likely to become the first European nation to adopt Islamic law, and explains exactly why:

[D]octrinaire Islam believes in something. Contemporary Dutch society does not believe in anything. Therefore it's falling to an entity which believes in something.

A moral vacuum being filled. And just in case you missed the point:

Islam spits on the amoral valueless Western Europeans the way Japanese soldiers spit on opponents who surrendered during battle. This is why militant Islam doesn't bother terrorizing their friends France, Germany or Russia. They've already defanged them so why bother? They're not going to give Islam any trouble. They're toothless. America, though, that's a different story. Militant Islam hates and fears America because America is still, underneath it all, a nation of belief. And that is the only thing strong belief fears: Stronger belief. And right now America is the only counterweight to Islam in the world.

Now you know how we got to be the Great Satan. "It's no wonder," says Sims, "Europe wants to sit this one out." Of course. They don't want to piss off their new masters.

Huevos to go

West Hartford, Connecticut has spoken, and restaurant co-owner Bob Potter will comply: his new Mexican eatery there will not bear the name "C. O. Jones".

Customers of Potter's restaurant in New Haven don't seem to object to the name, or to the ballsy Mexican cuisine served, and so far there has been no uproar about a third location, to open in Storrs this spring, but West Hartford is evidently more testy than tickled.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:14 PM to Worth a Fork )
Welcome to the Post-Stipe Era

Senator Gene Stipe (D-McAlester), who has served in the state legislature since the French and Indian War, has abruptly resigned his seat, as projected by Chris at Fly Over Country a week ago.

Stipe's departure may or may not have something to do with the fallout from the failed Walt Roberts for Congress campaign of 1998, the investigation from which has so far resulted in charges against three individuals, one of whom is Stipe's assistant at his law firm. Stipe himself has not been named as a defendant.

As noted by Chris:

I am wildly speculating here, but his resignation seems to me the prelude to a plea agreement. The Feds got their pound of flesh by making him quit and he will probably get probation and a fine.

In defense of Stipe, he had better hair than Jim T