1 May 2003
Bumper crop at the antenna farm
Well, the Big News/Talk War lasted barely longer than the war in Iraq: not only did KOMA, the new kid on the news block, fail to dislodge the dominant KTOK, but KTOK actually picked up almost two share points, finishing at the top of the ratings for the first time in ages. (KOMA doesn't even have two share points yet.)
It wasn't all sweetness and light for KTOK owner Clear Channel, though: their country stations are floundering and their CHR outlet isn't doing well enough to be floundering. Still, you take your points where you can, and CC's sort-of-alternative station is doing surprisingly well.
Over at rival Citadel, there's little to cheer about, what with the KATT still in the doldrums and the hotly-hyped Bull coming across like underdone veal. I give it a month before the plug is pulled and another format is slapped on the frequency. And speaking of slap, someone ought to slap Citadel's audio people, if they have any; their stations don't even sound good on crappy radios, let alone on the high-fidelity stuff. I can forgive this on The Spy, which broadcasts with 3 watts from somewhere out in Utah or something, but there's no excuse for the big boys.
Meanwhile, Renda, whose FMs are all doing decently classic-rock KRXO dropped a notch but is still #2 must be wondering about what it's done to KOMA, and what it's going to take to make some headway in the AM talk circus against a seemingly-revitalized KTOK and whatever the hell Citadel is doing with WKY. At the very least, it's going to take a fair amount of time: news/talk listeners, as a group, tend to be fairly loyal to their chosen stations, and KTOK has a huge head start. Add to this the fact that Clear Channel controls many of the top syndicated talk shows and is loath to give them up to a crosstown rival I suspect the reason CC bumped the daytime Spanish-language programming on tiny KEBC and replaced it with talk was to reduce the number of programs available to KOMA and I see a long, hard road ahead.
Meanwhile, Tyler, the only sort-of-local cluster, still hasn't announced plans for that move-in from Tishomingo, but waiting for the other shoe to drop is second nature in Oklahoma City radio.
This morning's nightmare took place in a universe very much like this one, except that American Motors wound up merging with Subaru rather than with Chrysler.
Everyone I know has swum across the river to The Island, where the national anthem, were they jingoistic enough to have a national anthem, would be "Don't Worry, Be Happy". And I'm not a particularly good swimmer, but I figure I can make it, and the few possessions I have (clothing, identification, MasterCard) I've sealed into a waterproof bag which I will schlep along with me.
I wash up on the shore, and I'm informed that I have violated the Social Contract by carrying all this stuff. It is duly impounded, and I will remain in the reception center for a minimum of twenty-four hours or until I sign a confession, whichever is longer. In the meantime, I will be put on display as a Bad Example, a warning to others who might be guilty of this particularly-heinous form of ungoodthink.
I don't know what brought this on; I'm guessing it must have something to do with May Day.
Freedom of speech 90210
The William Morris Agency, which represents a broad spectrum of entertainment-industry types, also employs a battery of lawyers, and they turned those lawyers loose on the Boycott Hollywood site, demanding it be shut down and the domain terminated. The registrar (Dotster's NamesDirect, may they rot in purgatory) capitulated; for the last day or two, the letter from WMA will be posted on the site.
The Professor calls this one exactly what it is:
[I]f you even criticize these guys they scream "censorship" but Hollywood is censoring more speech in America than John Ashcroft has.
I moved to Los Angeles in 1988, hoping to work for some of these people. This is, I think, the first time I'm glad I failed.
2 May 2003
As of last night (two deleted, one added), I have twenty-three spam filters working on my incoming mail; their success ratio is somewhere between not much and zilch, but any spam I don't have to look at counts as a very minor moral victory.
The email provider for this domain recently installed a server-level despamming system called Vipul's Razor, which is supposed to catch the varmints before they reach my POP3 box. I set it up last night for my primary mailbox, and it caught fifteen of twenty-seven before I was able to provide it any feedback. Not too bad. Better, there were no false positives: nothing I actually wanted was misidentified as spam.
I'll leave this in place for a while and see if it's sufficient, or if I need to go to a more activist, locally-based system like MailFrontier's Matador.
Four songs per second
No, it's not the sequel to Moby's 1000-beats-per-minute "Thousand"; it's the approximate sales volume at Apple's Music Store, which moved some 275,000 tracks in its first 18 hours of operation.
The Register notes that two labels have signed up for the eventual Windows version of the Apple store, and wonders about it:
We'd have thought Apple would have built such a licence into its agreement with the labels from the word go, but maybe that's not the case.
As would I. Is there some reason other than sheer volume why the music industry should fear Windows users more than they fear Macintosh users?
Even fuller disclosure
I am, and always have been, partial to anonymous donations, but in view of the fact that recipient (and Major Babe) Susanna Cornett has openly declared me "ever generous in word and deed", let the following be stipulated:
This contribution was hard money. Plastic, yes, but still hard. As such, it's subject to disclosure, though the remaining provisions of McCain-Feingold don't seem to apply.
Not a puff piece
Baseball Crank associate The Mad Hibernian has, shall we say, mixed emotions regarding Nurse Bloomberg's antismoking decree. On the plus side:
[T]here is something nice about coming home from a bar without feeling like you have to delouse.
There are, however, consequences:
I was down at the aptly-named Village Idiot in Manhattan last Friday and, before long, a few of us found ourselves commenting on the mysterious, godawful smell inside. It took us awhile to realize that, lo and behold, that's how the bar actually smells and probably how it had always smelled, but we had never noticed before due to the ever-present haze and smoke which had always hovered inside the place.
Advantage: smokers. Which is worse: a bar that smells like Camels, or a bar that smells like camels?
3 May 2003
Never mind the termites
If you're selling a house in Oklahoma, you have to fill out a fairly-detailed disclosure form [link requires Adobe Acrobat Reader] which is supposed to reveal everything from non-functional appliances to radon gas.
One of the environmental questions seems uniquely Oklahoman: "Are you aware of existence of hazardous or regulated materials and other conditions having an environmental impact, including, but not limited to, residue from drug manufacturing?"
Not specific enough? Under a new bill, passed without opposition by the Legislature and allowed to become law without the Governor's signature, the next version of the disclosure form will be required to state whether the property has been used as a meth lab.
Next year, I expect a measure which, when I trade in my car, will require me to attest to the highest speed at which at it has been driven (101 mph) and the number of people shot by the driver or by passengers therein (none).
We're not dead yet
With the wrath of the mighty Entertainment Industry arrayed against it, you'd think that Boycott Hollywood might have quietly disappeared into the night by now.
It hasn't happened. As Lisa S. notes:
[A]bout 8pm [Thursday] night, I was, all of the sudden, able to download my boycott-hollywood.us email and the site started loading for me - with no slow load issues that I had experienced earlier in the day. I was also able to update my information at Dotster - - whereas earlier in the day, yesterday, my ability to update information there was 'suspended'.
Contact from Dotster with an explanation of what the hell is going on would be a nice thing. But, no word as of yet. I'm not sure what this means - - if the site stays up? Or if it's still scheduled to be taken down? I wish I knew - - however, for now, it seems, we are still here so I just wanted to fire off a note of thank you to everyone who has been supporting this site over this whole William Morris fiasco (oh, I haven't heard from them either).
Meanwhile, back at the agency, it might have gone something like this:
"You sicced the lawyers on them?"
"Absolutely. It's what we pay them for."
"You freaking feeb! Don't you realize that every goddamn blog from here to Latvia is gonna rake our asses over the coals for this? And if the blogs are doing it, sooner or later the real media are gonna jump us."
"We can take it."
"Like hell we can. It's gonna read like this: 'The William Morris Agency, which represents entertainment giants like ' and that's it, because everyone they list as a client is gonna fire us and go sign with someone else who isn't in the newspaper."
"Get over it. We're toast. Jim Wiatt is gonna come downstairs, and he's gonna say, 'The William Morris Agency has a solid, unblemished reputation going back over a hundred years. And we're going to keep it that way.' And next week you and I will be working at goddamn Fatburger."
Hollywood: home of the happy ending. We hope.
Still looking for Jenny
Someone wandered in here last night searching for the area code for 867-5309, proving that even putative one-hit wonders like Tommy Tutone (who actually charted three records) last forever.
In fact, I think 867-5309 may ultimately supplant those "555" numbers in TV and movies that don't fool anyone. Check out this T-Mobile Roaming FAQ item (scroll to the bottom of item #8), or Call Forwarding on this GSM Features page.
Are we having funnels yet?
Four years ago on this date well, then we had some serious stormage. It passed fairly close to me, but the only damage I suffered was from high-speed hail.
This being before I started the daily blog, I reported thusly in a subsequent Vent:
You can't watch destruction at this level, even at a "safe" distance, without something happening to you. The deeply religious, and we have lots of them, saw this as a severe test of their faith; the vast majority of them, I believe, held on. For those of an environmentalist bent and perhaps also for those who scoff at such things the storm was a none-too-gentle reminder that Nature always gets the last word.
All my life I've always felt that I could laugh in the face of danger. This is the first time I can remember that it laughed back.
DavidMSC, who used to live here, seems to be almost nostalgic about it. Well, of course; he wasn't here when it happened. Still, storms, especially really big storms, have their devotees, and I can't deny the fascination; as the pundits say, there's a high level of shock and awe.
4 May 2003
Running beyond the roses
As everyone now knows, Funny Cide is the first gelding to win the Kentucky Derby in over seventy years.
You can't tell me that at least some of the two or three dozen Democrats running for President in 2004 don't find this auspicious, even heartening; the Democrats haven't sent a gelding to the White House since [insert date here].
Mourning the Old Man
The great stone face of the Old Man on the Mountain has always been the defining symbol of New Hampshire; his not-quite-smile, not-quite-scowl has always seemed to be the ultimate expression of "Been there, seen that."
And yes, the experts say that the collapse of the Old Man was inevitable, that wind and weather and time and trouble would bring down that great stone face any time you've got this much rock exposed, you've massively increased the risk factors but still it seems impossible; you no more expect this than you expect Lady Liberty to shorten her skirts and do the Hokey Pokey.
This has not been a great year for New Hampshire, with the fire on Mount Washington back in February and now the Old Man crumbled into dust, but you don't spend four hundred years in New England without acquiring some sort of resilience. And I hope they don't decide to redesign the state highway signs, small reminders of the Old Man at his finest and craggiest.
Smart people, dumb ideas
"Intellectuals," says Cinderella Bloggerfeller, "are simply human beings who should be judged by the same standards as ordinary people." Certainly they're no less capable of blithering idiocy than the rest of us, a point made in La connaissance inutile (English title: The Flight from Truth) by Jean-François Revel (translation by Mr Bloggerfeller):
[T]he intellectual's intervention in public affairs takes place under the strong influence of considerations, pressures, interests, passions, acts of cowardice, snobberies, bids at social climbing, prejudices and hypocrisies which are identical in every way to those which motivate other men. The three virtues necessary to resist them, namely clearsightedness, courage and honesty, are neither more nor less widespread among intellectuals than among any other socio-professional category. This is why the quota they have supplied to the great aberrations of humanity is, proportionately, equivalent to the quota furnished by the rest of their contemporaries.
Which is why I'm not too perturbed that, for instance, national scold William Bennett plays the slots; it may seem inconsistent with Bennett's incessant grousing about the lack of virtue displayed by some of us, but for most of the human race, achieving a level of perfect consistency usually occurs at the moment of death, at which point it really doesn't matter anymore.
After the fact
I found this at a friend's LiveJournal; LJ eschews such things as permalinks, so if you want to read the whole thing, you need to scroll to 27 April, 7:26 pm. Before you ask: no, it's not about me.
I went to your blog today. I know I said I wouldn't but I did. I know you have your web stats to tell you that it was me. So sue me. I still wonder about you after all this time. I suppose if I had handled things differently we could have remained friends. Funny thing that, though. I have yet to discover the method that lets me remain a friend when I was once a loved one.
There's a noble (as distinguished from Nobel) prize for the person who does make this discovery.
5 May 2003
Right-sizing for today
I'm inclined to believe I'm not the only person on earth who maintains a direct correlation: one box of checks, one check register. And this isn't as easy as it used to be, either. While the number of bills hasn't decreased (ha!), I'm paying a lot of the recurring bills via my bank's online facility, which means that I might write maybe six, seven checks a month instead of 20 or 25, which in turn means that with all those online transactions, ATM withdrawals, Visa Check Card purchases and whatnot to log in, the old-style register, designed for a box of 200 checks, just isn't sufficient anymore.
How is the world's largest check printer dealing with this? They've added a few pages to the register and started packing 150 checks to the box.
"Did the price go down?" What are you, nuts?
Lisa S. revs up Cam
Lisa was happy to announce that traffic has picked up considerably since the legal action to shut her down 2.6 million visitors since Thursday morning and that their move to a new registrar (and a new host) will open up multiple domains which presumably will point to the main site.
Further developments as they happen.
The Terry and Timmy show resumes
But without Timothy McVeigh, who was executed for his part in the Oklahoma City bombing.
Terry Nichols, whose part was judged to be less substantial, was convicted, not on murder charges, but on federal conspiracy and manslaughter charges, and is serving a prison term. The state has chosen to try him on murder charges, naming 160 victims who were not listed in the federal indictment, lest he manage to appeal his federal convictions successfully.
A preliminary hearing for Nichols was convened today to see if there is sufficient evidence to hold this trial; how long it will continue is anybody's guess.
The Robbins report
The Man from F.U.N.K.L.E. has an idea what's going through Tim Robbins' head right about now:
Well, I hope you're all happy. You've made me go and do it. I've hired a PR firm to combat all the negative press I've been getting for my anti-war stance. I didn't realize that being outspoken and controversial meant that people might not like me anymore. What's the point of taking a stand if it means people will criticize you? Screw that. I mean, I'll still come out against violence and fatal diseases, unless of course there are people out there in favour of fatal diseases. I'm sure they have a good point to make. But from now on it's ixnay on the ontroversykay. No more peace signs at the Oscars for this hombre. Peace what's it done for us lately anyway? Starting today, I'd like to introduce you to the brand new Tim Robbins now with 50% fewer opinions!
Anyone up to marching for SARS? (No, Sars, not you.)
Tri-weekly in months ending in R
The magazine formerly known as Movieline, which is now passing itself off as Movieline's Hollywood Life, has gone to a larger-sized page format and has restarted its internal counter at Volume I, Number 1, but the really weird change is in the publishing schedule, which now reads like this:
published monthly except bi-monthly March/April, May/June, July/August, December/January
By comparison, here is the same sort of passage from Mad, Volume I, Number 334 founder William M. Gaines once said, "We'll never have a Volume 2," and he meant it March/April 1995:
published monthly except bi-monthly for January/February, March/April, July/August and October/November
Before Gaines' death, they made no claim to "bi-monthly" anything; Number 105, September 1966, says this:
published monthly except February, May, August and November
All this neatly obscures the fact that Mad actually came out on a regular schedule: every forty-five days. And the dates were chosen, reported Frank Jacobs in his biography of Gaines, to insure that no issue was ever actually on sale at newsstands during the month printed on its cover.
Of course, Gaines is gone, Mad is now taking ads and is coming out on a regular monthly cycle, but I've gotta wonder: Has Anne Volokh of MHL been influenced by The Usual Gang of Idiots?
6 May 2003
Diane L. reports on yet another effort to insulate our innocent youth:
The other day, there was a letter to the editor of the Alameda Journal, signed by several local teachers and a minister, regarding a jet plane that has always been displayed outside of Encinal High School. The name of one of the school's teams is the Encinal Jets. Well, these teachers want the jet removed, because it's a symbol of violence, and it might give stress to immigrant students, because it would remind them of war.
Jet? I thought she was a little lady suffragette.
Get that Stuff outta here
Wal-Mart, in one of its periodic spates of piety, has barred the lad mags Stuff, Maxim and FHM from its magazine racks.
The only real surprise here, for me anyway, was "Wal-Mart carried FHM?" I mean, it's not like the place is overrun with copies of The Weekly Standard.
Share and share alike
Kevin Aylward explains the popularity of P2P file sharing in terms even a record executive can understand:
The P2P services flourish because there is no good way to get a legal compilation of songs you want from the record industry!
Still, sharing of copyrighted files is illegal, and the music industry has been making noises about hacking into people's computers, a maneuver worthy of the Mafia except, of course, that the Mob would never telegraph its blows in this manner. Aylward approaches this from another angle: what if we allow them to check our computers for illicit files, in exchange for a piece of the action?
Seriously. Here's his example:
Say, for example, that I "steal" 50 albums a year at a loss to the record industry of $750 per year. Keeping my PC copyright infringement free would lead me to spend some portion of that $750 dollar loss on actual recorded music. For this example let's say that by participating in the "program" I buy $250 worth of CD's that I would not have otherwise bought. At this point the record industry has made incremental revenue gains of $250 with the added benefit that I cannot share the music with millions of my closest friends. Forrester estimates the record companies [lose] $3.1 billion dollars a year to 1 million or so users of P2P systems. In that case I would be costing them about $250 a month as an average user (sound a little high to me). So if the net benefit of my departure from the P2P field would be $3250 dollars a year, what would I really like from the record companies in return? How about a cut of the profits, by way of some free songs? The exact number and frequency are really not the point, market conditions and rational self interest will determine at what point I agree to "buy" the monitoring program. Is it one song a week, month, year? There are any number of levels that will satisfy various percentages of the P2P community.
I'm not entirely sure this would work, but I have to admit I like the idea of the RIAA paying, um, protection money.
I give it a 62
I just can't take any more of Oliver Beene.
I mean, I'm sure there's a place for a TV series that combines the worst of Malcolm in the Middle and The Wonder Years, and most assuredly that place is Fox, but geez, this thing is strained, and not just because half the stars are named Grant.
The last straw was this week, when one scene called for worse disarray than usual on the floor, what with Oliver being dragged across it and all, and just above the center of the shot was a lovely Atlantic 45-rpm record.
With a farging bar code on the right side of the label.
Yes, I know period pieces are prone to anachronism I could swear I saw Paul Pfeiffer in Wonder Years doing the infamous Marv Albert Yes! but dammit, there are some things even I won't forgive. Not even the presence of implausible hottie Wendy Makkena, last seen (by me, anyway) in Sister Act as the wimpiest nun ever to wear the wimple, can save this show.
(Dear Vickie: Is this obscure enough for you?)
Greg Hlatky relates an only-in-New Jersey sort of event:
When we tried leaving our motel on Friday morning, we discovered we couldn't go out the way we came. Nor could we turn right. Another exit from the parking lot wouldn't let us go the direction we wanted. So we drove to the next traffic light. Where we couldn't make a U-turn. In order to go where we wanted, we had to drive into a shopping center parking lot, turning around and leaving through an intersection with a traffic light.
Migod, I think I've actually stayed at that inn.
I've had fairly kind words for the Garden State during the week or so I've actually been there. Then again, I live in Oklahoma, which sometimes seems to run neck and neck with New Jersey as Official National Laughingstock, and I suppose this could affect my judgment in some way. But even allowing for this factor, I don't think I could come up with something quite like this (Hlatky again):
The typical native of New Jersey (State Motto: "Ya Wanna @#$% Motto? I Got Yer @#$% Motto Right Here!") combines the loudmouthed boorishness of the New Yorker with the mediocrity of the Philadelphian. New Jersey is a state without history and without accomplishment, except perhaps for accumulating the greatest number of toxic waste sites in the country.
I live three miles from a former EPA Superfund site, so this impresses me perhaps less than it could.
Still, New Jersey was where I met Susanna Cornett, and New Jersey was the site of my first face-to-face meeting with the ineffable She Who Is Not To Be Named. ("Eff that," she said.) And no, neither one of them is actually from New Jersey, but what else can I do? Try to say something nice about Frank Lautenberg?
7 May 2003
Hug a teacher today
And if you're still in a good mood, go read this denunciation of the Ed Biz by Cam Edwards.
The money quote:
The NEA...supports things like abortion rights, homosexual / bisexual / transgendered rights, gun control, socialized medicine, and reparations to Native Americans. Now I don't care if you're for or against these things. The question I have is why do teachers unions need to take a public stand on things like this? Do my kids get an education or an indoctrination at school?
Is the NEA technically a union? Teachers in the Oklahoma City district are represented by AFT for collective bargaining. The NEA, as I understand it, fancies itself more of a "professional association," along the lines of the AMA. Still, its influence is considerable, and not always salutary.
Update, 11:45 am: See Comments. The NEA may not be the union around here, but it's clearly somebody's union. (Thanks, Cam.)
More truth than poetry
From the weekly newsletter Reason Express:
The Recording Industry Association of America has settled copyright infringement lawsuits it brought against four college students last month. The defendants will pay tens of thousands of dollars apiece. The money will be used to sign more bands that suck.
Who knew there were more?
Democracy, octane, wildflowers
Dr. Bud E. Bryan, Road Kill columnist for autoextremist.com, offers this reminder:
Leave the "fly-over" mentality at home where it belongs and savor this country from the road. It's an incredibly diverse and vast stretch of land with characteristics you don't get to see from sitting in your living room watching The Travel Channel. Stop at the historical markers, the monuments and the sights. Read about what happened before you got there. Get off the interstate and see what's happening in the rest of America. And just drive. After a while, it will dawn on you that we're all pretty fortunate to have ended up here in this land. Free to move about. Free to drink it all in. Free to roam around on our own. Free to just be. And you'll be thankful that somehow, someway, we've managed to keep it together here as a nation for over 225 years. Do it when you're young. And then do it again later. It never gets old.
I can hardly wait.
Thirty-three and a turn
This week's Carnival of the Vanities is hosted by Common Sense & Wonder, and it's brought to you with an image map that demonstrates far more of the latter than the former.
But what the hell. It's something new, and it's something creative, and it deserves somewhere between 2.2 and 2.7 cheers for breathing some new life into an old (33 weeks, by blog standards, is almost antediluvian) format. And they did provide a text link, for the benefit of old farts, the mouseover-challenged, and Lynx users.
8 May 2003
Big Elm Tree update
A couple of months ago, I reported on the Big Elm Tree out front, which seemed to be in dire condition:
A winter ice storm broke away one of the three major limbs, and while everything else is gradually going green well, except the cottonwood trees along 42nd, which are already sprouting Q-tips this tree is still barren, its branches grey, almost black in the March rain.
There has been very little rain since then we're running at about 50 percent of normal so far this year but the tree seems to be flourishing. About ten, maybe fifteen percent of its branches are still bare and will probably remain so, but for the most part, it's green and growing, however weirdly-shaped and asymmetrical it's become.
Living out here on the Lone Prairie evidently builds up one's stamina.
The secret of W.
Andrea Harris sees the Great Political Divide, not between the left and the right, or between the liberal and the conservative, but between the ideological and the practical.
I think. This is what she said:
[T]he ordinary folk that all the liberals are so busy trying to "help" and all the conservatives are eyeing with suspicion are actually doing the stuff that needs to be done. Neither ideological group likes the ordinary people very much, because they aren't really interested in the Important Things, like politics and ideology and arguing over same. (I think this is why many conservatives, and most liberals, hate George W. Bush. He's one of the ordinary, not-interested-in-your-philosophy, do-stuff people who somehow made good and got put in charge. That's not supposed to happen.)
W. really isn't what you'd call non-ideological, but he's clearly more interested in ends than in means, and if that means that ideology has to take a back seat for the time being, so be it. No wonder there's so much background rumbling amid the Republican base. And the left continues to be upset with W.'s general unwillingness to take its advice. Given the quality of that advice in recent years, it's hard to blame him for blowing them off.
Boycott Hollywood is moving
The new URL is boycott-hollywood.net, and is expected to go live some time next week. (Allow the usual delays for DNS propagation.)
In case you're just coming up to speed on this matter, here's the last paragraph of the site's mission statement:
For all the Celebrity Pundits out there who use and abuse their status and wealth in order to get their point across in this country we are here to tell you that you do not speak for us. You are not OUR voice. And while we may not have the bankrolls that it requires to, for example, take out an advertisement in the Washington Post for $56K in order to make sure our beliefs, values and opinions are heard we do have heart, conviction and dedication to this cause, to our President and to our country.
I might add that the opinions of said Celebrity Pundits might carry more weight if there was something to back them up besides "Well, I just feel that way." Too often, there isn't.
A hard day's nitrogen
Today at Terry Nichols' preliminary hearing, his wife Marife testified that Nichols had sold fertilizer at gun shows under the name "Ground Zero Impact."
How long before, say, The New York Times demands background checks for fertilizer buyers?
Everyone knows it's windy
I've been to the west side of Moore, and there's nothing there that screams to the heavens "Yo! Tornado! Over here!" For some reason, though, it's the preferred point of touchdown for the nastiest storms on record.
This wasn't an F5 or anything, but F2 was definitely within the realm of plausibility; this particular funnel danced east-by-northeast across the south side of the Oklahoma City metro, taking out much of a bank building on I-240 and smashing roof and window panels at General Motors' assembly plant.
No damage chez Chaz, and this time I had enough sense to stay inside.
(Update, 9 May, 8:30 am: The Weather Guys have started classifying this storm as an F3.)
9 May 2003
Last night, KWTV worked up a creepy-looking map of the storm path, and superimposed upon it the path of the 1999 F5 storm. And what's most telling is that those paths were almost perfectly parallel for a good six, seven miles before crossing, the Storm of the Century veering northward (towards me) while last night's funnels kept to a more easterly route.
I suspect at least some of the people who rebuilt after 1999 are thinking now that they've had just about enough of this.
Weapons of UMass destruction
First they were the Redmen, and that was fine for a while, but by 1972 the forces of political correctness had grown sufficiently strong, or at least loud, to demand a change.
So they became the Minutemen, a name with even more history behind it, and one that wasn't likely to incur the wrath of the Defenders of Ethnicity. (Did you ever notice that actual members of these allegedly-aggrieved ethnic groups complain a lot less than their self-appointed spokespersons?)
Now the University of Massachusetts is changing the name of its athletic teams again, this time to the Gray Wolves. There didn't seem to be any organized objection to the Minuteman UMass women's teams, competing as "Minutewomen" (!), didn't raise any particular fuss but the poor old colonial fellow was, after all, a representative of only a single gender, and what's worse, he toted a musket. God forbid anyone should be seen with a gun these days.
Are gray wolves indigenous to Massachusetts? Springfield Republican outdoor writer Frank Sousa has the numbers:
[T]he last gray wolf sighting around here was in the late 1890s, in a barrel outside Thompson's Clothing Store in Amherst after being shot in Northampton. And those were skinned.
And you just know those weasels from PETA are going to jump all over this.
(Update, 10:30 am: Cam Edwards offers an alternative: "I suggest replacing the name Minutemen with Nancyboys. That's mixed-gender, and it certainly reflects the moral fortitude of the current student population when compared with the original Minutemen." Ow!)
Making chad out of nothing at all
The touch-screen voting machine is coolly high-tech, but it invites suspicion how do you double-check a bunch of electrons?
Well, okay. I still like Oklahoma's paper-ballot/electronic-reader system, which strikes me as both pretty efficient and highly verifiable, but I'd like to see this new contraption up close.
The city of Dallas owns a prime piece of FM broadcast spectrum in north Texas: WRR-FM 101.1, currently broadcasting classical music at 100,000 watts.
How prime is it? Other broadcasters would like to get their hands on it. The city isn't considering selling WRR outright, but the possibility of a move down the dial has presented itself.
A number of proposals have been entertained, but apparently the one most likely to get past the city council is one by Susquehanna Radio, which wants to move its KDBN-FM, currently at 93.3, to 101.1, and fill 93.3 with KRNB-FM from 105.7. The city would receive the 105.7 facility, which runs 93,000 watts from a stick in Wise County, and $60 million.
Downside? Wise County is a long way away the tower is almost 50 miles northwest of Fort Worth and even 93 kw will barely reach into the south side of Dallas, to say nothing of the southern suburbs. Since the station is owned by the city, opponents contend, at the very least it should be able to reach the entire city without noise or interference.
The historical record shows many instances where a classical station relocated to an inferior facility in exchange for lots of money; the best-known, perhaps, was the move of Cleveland's WCLV to a 6-kw channel in exurban Lorain. It was argued at the time that the move would help secure the station's then-uncertain future, and maybe it did, but I'd hate to have to try to tune them in from the parking lot at Severance Hall.
Art imitates life
I just hate it when it imitates mine.
10 May 2003
Yes, yes, of course there are more tornado reports, but this time there was a tinge of irony to the story: the storm tracked across the northeast-side area where the major television stations are located, and managed briefly to knock two of them off the air. National Weather Service radio booted its automated voice off the air in favor of live coverage; it was no less useful than the TV reports, and frankly, how much murky, indistinct video can one person be expected to watch?
The good thing, of course, is that despite two nights of this (and a slight chance of a third), no one was killed, and relatively few were injured, by the effects of the storms.
From the desk of Hilbert Sushi
Kevin McGehee has been pondering that left-wing mantra, "Bush Is Hitler", and its inexplicable appeal to people who really should know better.
In an effort to find hidden nuance, I shifted into Heavy Anagram Mode, and came up with the following:
RUSH IS BLITHE well, we knew that.
HUSH I BRISTLE Rumsfeld's job, or maybe Frank J.'s.
THRUSH IS BILE presumably a reference to Maureen Dowd.
HIS LUSH TRIBE of course, the twins.
HIS BLUE SHIRT for use in Blue states, I assume.
THE BLUISH IRS well, they certainly make me blue.
LET HIS HUBRIS a long way away, I think.
SHRUB IS LITHE he's practically a gymnast, compared to some of the pols.
IS SLITHER HUB paid for by Venomous Kate.
RELISH HIS BTU Iraqi oil production must be making a comeback.
All kinds of possibilities here. It's a shame most of them will be overlooked.
A trip to Deepest Ephemera, courtesy of Lynn Sislo:
[T]his guy on NPR starts talking about emotional response to music. He goes on and on for over a minute merely re-phrasing the same question over and over again, basically: "Why do we have an emotional response to music?" Okay, I have to hear this one, so when I got home I rushed in and turned on the radio and tuned it to the same station. By that time they had finally gotten through the introduction. They had some guy from Harvard on there talking about music and brain research. They did some kind of experiment using a short piece of music composed just for the purpose, which goes through all 24 keys. They played a little bit of it; it was boring. No emotional response here.
Actually, that bit was designed to elicit a different response altogether: to hook together the following three thoughts:
"They must have gone to a lot of trouble to find this story."
"I must go renew my membership at once."
If it seems that there's a disproportionate number of reports like this during the semiannual fundraisers, well, now you know why.
I'm not saying I've never set foot in a sports bar, but were I to make a list of my Favorite Places in All the World, sports bars would probably not rank highly. Apart from the atmosphere, which is usually no more breathable than vichyssoise, there is this built-in cognitive-dissonance generator, as explained on Play One on TV:
Sports bars seem to have a decorating budget that rivals most major league baseball clubs, but it doesn't hide the fact that a "sports bar" is one of the most un-athletic places on the planet. You can have all the accoutrements that money can buy big screen televisions, subscriptions to ESPN Sport Paks, sports memorabilia and equipment signed by successful athletes, and a wall festooned with baseball caps and football helmets. But this won't change the fact that if the average sports bar put its clientele onto a soccer field, 90% of them would be dead of heart attacks within the first ten minutes. The other 10% would be on the bench breaking into the beer keg.
I won't even speculate as to which of those groups would be more likely to include me.
Urine for it now
According to Entertainment Weekly (issue #710, 16 May), Rebecca "Mystique" Romijn-Stamos says that if she really could shape-shift, she'd like to become a guy "just to see what it's like to pee standing up."
Yeah, that'll get my ten bucks for X3.
11 May 2003
Baath time is over
General Tommy Franks has announced flatly: "The Iraqi Baath Socialist Party is dissolved." It's more a formality than anything else most Baath leaders have fled or are in, um, "stable condition" but it opened the door for Franks' next statement, which calls for the surrender of Baath Party or other Iraqi goverment documents to the coalition government.
One step at a time, as they say.
The ever-electric Joni, with the Scorn-O-Meter turned up past Withering:
Every idiot with a copy (bootlegged or otherwise) of Microsnot's Front Page has fancied himself a web master, with horrifying consequences.
If it's any consolation, I got to this level of idiocy with mere text editors.
Birds/Bees 101 (revisited)
Pretty much the entire dating cycle is beyond my comprehension, so I am always interested in other people's methods, especially when they're less unsuccessful than mine.
On the other hand, this technique of Dawn Olsen's seems awfully familiar somehow:
My idea of dating has always been to zero in on my subject and then confuse them with a befuddling mix of flattery and abuse.
I will try Speed Dating again next month. And I will really try not to be so verbally combatant with the fellows. Analyzing it, I think I may purposely alienate potential matches, so they don't get the chance to reject me later.
When even the Major Babes feel like they're getting nowhere, those of us on the fringes of date-ability must surely be doomed.
It's a game of give and take
The Democratic National Committee has actually put up something they call a Supreme Court Countdown, with the ominous warning: "Act Now! America's Values at Risk With Supreme Court Vacancy"!
Um, last I looked, there wasn't a Supreme Court vacancy. Did David Souter get run over by a truck last night or something?
John Rosenberg explains this phenomenon:
Why wait till the last minute? Besides, they also know the only thing they need to know about any Bush nominee, which is that he or she will be nominated by Bush.
The nerve of that guy Bush, actually following the procedures in the Constitution. Sheesh.
Demi, or not Demi?
The erstwhile Mrs Willis isn't entirely devoid of appeal, I suppose, but I tend to fall on the "not" side of this question, inasmuch as I have a near-allergic reaction to some plastics.
The former manager of her Idaho ranch wasn't interested, either, and he claims she fired him for his lack of interest.
(Muchas gracias: Phillip Coons, who so far has kept discreetly silent.)
Actually, I don't know anybody by that name, but it gives me an opportunity to plug a T-shirt that is, shall we say, somewhat critical of the Mayor of the City of New York, and which incidentally can be had at The Store at NewYorkish.com.
12 May 2003
Roll away the stone
Two Romanian astronomers have announced that by reviewing astronomical data and Scriptural reportage, they have determined the dates and times of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Liviu Mircea and Tiberiu Oproiu, from the Astronomic Observatory Institute in Cluj, Romania, say Christ died at 3:00 pm (presumably local time) on Friday, 3 April, 33 AD, and rose again at 4:00 am on Sunday, 5 April. I'm guessing this was under the Julian calendar, proclaimed seventy-odd years earlier and still more or less in sync with the seasons.
The Gospels specify the resurrection to have taken place on the first day of the week and shortly after Passover, which is the first full moon after the vernal equinox. And in the spring of 33, there was a solar eclipse visible from the Middle East, which would account for the incredible darkness of that weekend.
(Muchas gracias: Jesus Gil.)
It was a dark and stormy review
I don't know if Robert Burrows' The Great American Parade is truly, as WaPo critic Gene Weingarten says, "the worst novel ever published in the English language," but having grown up on both Bulwer-Lytton and Jackie Collins, I simply have to check this out for myself.
Personally, I'd rather have a real live dead-tree book I am, after all, a creature of habit but the online publisher Lulu now has TGAP in e-book and printed-on-demand formats, so it appears I'll get my chance. The hard part, of course, will be finding the time to read the darn thing.
Stephen Joseph, identified in this piece as a public interest lawyer not even a hint of scare quotes has filed suit in Marin County Superior Court against Kraft Foods' Nabisco unit, claiming that its use of trans fats in Oreo makes them dangerous. The suit asks that Nabisco be barred from selling Oreos to California children.
Suggestion for tort reform: Should Mr Joseph lose this suit, he should be force-fed Crisco. Intravenously.
(Via Tongue Tied)
I (GRR) NY
Mike, ultimately it's you. You come across as a stiff, uncaring little wanker. And when the city starts losing business and residents because of your tax and fee hikes, no one's going to be looking around saying that someone made the right decision. Unfortunately, I won't be here not to vote for you in the next election. I'm moving to New Jersey.
Migod, I do believe the woman is serious. No one moves to New Jersey without a damned good reason.
Getting out of Dodge
I have complained before about the mixed signals in current Chrysler advertising, and, well, I'm about to do it again.
To plug stuff like the Pacifica (don't call it a wagon, and for gosh sakes, don't call it a minivan) "sports touring vehicle", the Auburn Hills boys have adopted one of those artsy black-and-white campaigns, which is fine with me, and for one page, which is captioned simply STYLE, they've photographed an utterly lovely right foot in a strappy sandal, which is even finer with me.
Until you look past her perfect pedicure and notice that she's got her foot on the brake.
And another pleasant daydream goes sixty to zero in seconds, um, flat.
13 May 2003
Because they can
The Recording Industry Association of America sends out little bots to crawl around Web space and look for copyrighted music files, and should any be found, the lawyers grind out the boilerplate.
They ground out some of it to the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Pennsylvania State University, which puzzled department officials, inasmuch as there weren't any such files on their servers. Eventually they found what the bot had: a filkish tune about a gamma-ray satellite, written by Dr Peter Usher, which the bot had misidentified as a song by R&B yawner Usher.
The RIAA noted in its apology to Penn State that it does not require its enforcers to audition files called into question. Similarly, you'd hardly expect Stalin to keep track of every single kulak.
If I knew then what I know now
Bleeding Brain (if permalinks are Blogspotty, go to 12 May) has a thoughtful essay on a question that has occasionally occurred to me as well:
I sometimes wonder if I am really the kind of person who would have resisted communism at the very onset.
At present, there is no doubt that I would resist it. I know its history and its body count. I know how it strips societies down to bareness and then flogs them till the blood runs in the gutters. I know communism well. She is a cold reptile who leaves a trail of death wherever she emerges from the sewers.
The question I ask myself is this: If I were a young man circa 1906 in Russia, would I have had the astuteness to recognize the evil that was coming to nest on the country when the Bolsheviks were stirring?
Given the general unpleasantness that prevailed under the Tsars, it's probably no wonder that this new movement seemed appealing, or at least no worse. And BB admits that the official abolition of classes (never mind how well it worked in actual practice, which is not at all) might have scored points with him. But then there's this:
"What?...you mean the state would own everything?" I would have asked myself. "You mean my father's farm would belong to the government?"
How could one NOT ask this question?
People who didn't have anything probably didn't see anything wrong with this; if anything, they might have seen it as a leveling of the playing field. But for property owners, and children of property owners, this could have been perhaps should have been a red flag.
It's a good piece, and even if we fear that our 1906 selves might have been complicit in this revolution, at least our 2003 selves know better.
No experience required
I thought I was picky, but get a whiff of this:
Age-wise, my lady should be between 27 and 35. She has to be located in West Los Angeles, even Manhattan Beach is fine. I'm sure the maple sugar farms in Vermont are very beautiful, but I'm staying right here, thank you. My lady absolutely, positively does not want kids, and needless to say she doesn't have any. She has to like cats, she doesn't have allergies, and she has to be naturally healthy.
These days, someone who doesn't have allergies might well be described as unnaturally healthy.
(West L.A. or Manhattan Beach? Marina del Rey is out?)
[S]he's 6 foot 3, and I'm a sucker for brown-eyed blondes with long hair. But red hair, brunets, and blue eyes are OK too. Here's where it gets interesting... my ideal lady has a nice sleek, flat little chest and a nicely rounded little poochy tummy! She is not skinny, she has long legs, and she likes to wear shoes that let her feet stand nice and flat on the ground the way nature intended. She doesn't wear jewelry or makeup, and she doesn't vandalize her body with tattoos.
Six foot three? In flats?
Then again, that would almost certainly guarantee long legs.
Last and most important, my ideal lady MUST be left handed, left handed, left handed!!! (This is the special request all the matchmakers refused to handle.) I'm not sure if this is a birds-of-a-feather thing or out-and-out fetish, but I just don't have any chemistry with right handed women because they don't know what it's like.
I'd say this guy has narrowed the field more than he can possibly imagine and I've quoted less than half his laundry list. (Besides, if I brought this up, all of you would bust out laughing.)
I have this intense urge for chocolate that I cannot even begin to describe. Itís all about the chocolate. Chocolate chocolate chocolate. Suddenly, the Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs bird doesn't seem so over the top. He was merely motivated and thinking outside the box. You've got to admire that, really. He wasn't channeling Bing Crosby like Honey Bear. He wasn't on speed like Dig Em Smacks. He wasn't epaulet-wearing alternative lifestyle poster boys like Snap, Crackle and Pop. He wasn't a freak like Count Chocula or Frankenberry. He wasn't all sly and full of artifice, like the Trix rabbit. He was just jonesing on some chocolate. You've gotta give a brotha his chocolate, baby. To hold out ain't righteous. Or something.
(Mental note: What possessed me to buy these damned inside-out Oreos?)
Once more into the courts
Terry Nichols, convicted in federal court of conspiracy and eight counts of manslaughter in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, will now face a minimum of 160 first-degree murder charges in a state court.
No date has been set; Nichols has been serving a life term in Club Fed.
The future of copy protection
The major reason for redesigning American paper currency, we are assured, is to make counterfeiting more difficult.
14 May 2003
Small shocks to the system
So far, this morning has been notable mostly for a string of minor surprises.
I turned in early last night, so I had no idea how badly the 0.4-cent county sales tax proposal was being beaten. On the way outside, I noted that however much rain fell amid the endless rumblings last night, it still wasn't enough to get the dirt off my car. And the bottom half of my doorknob was covered with some dark, gunky substance, like a partially-chewed Tar-Bar (money back if you get a stone).
Oh, and more rain is on the way some time in the next half hour. Let's see how it rearranges the dirt.
But are the Amish complaining?
Ho-hum. Another day, another blogger bashing Laurence Simon. Not that Mr Simon gives a flying fish, particularly, but I am constantly amazed at the amount of vitriolic vapor farted in his general direction. I mean, it's not like he's hiding out in Oklahoma to duck a quorum call or anything.
(Disclosure: I receive no traffic from ATS and expect no changes as a result of this posting.)
Steven Chapman reports that it is now against the law to insult the French national anthem; uttering an audible "boo" during the Marseillaise will now cost you 7500 euros and/or six months in le pokey.
In France, anyway. If you do it in Oklahoma, the half-dozen people who actually recognize the tune will probably break into a cheer.
You've got Carnival
For the thirty-fourth consecutive week without a reported fatality, the Carnival of the Vanities continues apace, this time hosted by The Inscrutable American. If you're new to blogging and want to see a sampling of the best, or if you've done this for ages and want to see where all your traffic went, this is your first stop.
Singular, but no sensation
After the dispiriting experience described in "No experience required", I was ready for some good news, and needless to say, I didn't get it.
There exists something called the Soulmate Calculator, which will "calculate the number of American singles you must meet to find your soulmate." This being a Microsoft Active Server Page, I figured it probably would fail on dividing by transfinites, but I went ahead and plugged in some data anyway. Since I have a marked tendency to fall for women who are geographically unacceptable, I chose to limit the pickings to this general area; otherwise, I tried to be as unpicky as I could without making a mockery of it all, specifying a height range of four foot nine to six foot one (this would eliminate the lovely and talented Jane Galt, but she doesn't live around here anyway), ages 33 to 55, no preference on ethnicity or relationship status, and indicating a preference for some form of Christianity, on the dubious basis that leaving it blank would not expand the local field substantially.
There are fourteen characteristics which may be specified in percentile terms; on only three (emotional intelligence, compassion and humor) did I request higher than the median.
And after the server digested all this, it tossed out the following statistics:
Fortunately, I'm quite accustomed to desperation, or I might be tempted by something like this.
15 May 2003
Now playing, somewhere else
Twice within fifteen minutes this morning, the NOAA weather radio regaled us with an explanation of tonight's lunar eclipse, why it happens, and when to see it.
The rest of that quarter-hour was devoted to the forecast, which made it quite clear that skies will be overcast for the next two days, with increasing chances of thunderstorms, and that our chances of actually seeing the eclipse were on par with those of a mascot at Satan's School for Snowballs.
I hate when they do that.
Stephen Joseph, last seen suing Kraft Foods over the hazards of Nabisco's Oreo cookies, has announced that he's dropping the suit: "At the time the lawsuit was filed nobody knew about trans fat," he said. "Now everybody knows about trans fat."
Were I a legal beagle at Kraft, I think I'd like to make sure that everybody knows about frivolous lawsuits, too.
(Muchas gracias: Cam Edwards.)
The yellow Donks of Texas
Boycotts, as the phrase goes, are as American as apple pie, though it strains the term to stretch it far enough to the fifty-odd Texas Democratic legislators playing hooky on Lake Texoma so as to stall a redistricting vote pushed by state Republicans.
Yes, I'm enough of a child of the Sixties to appreciate a conscientious refusal to take part in something big and institutional and possibly damaging.
But dammit, these guys are getting paid to take part in something big and institutional and possibly damaging. At the very least, they ought to be docked for their absences, and if Texas House rules permit, they should be disciplined. I have no problem with following one's conscience, but sometimes there's a price tag attached.
And don't start sentences with conjunctions
John Rosenberg was canny enough to end a posting with this sentence:
Besides, as every good grammarian knows, you should never end a sentence with a proposition.
A commenter astutely riposted, "That, sir, is the sort of errant pedantry up with which I will not put."
Now I said all that to say all this: Once upon a time, Games magazine, taking note of the "prepositions are inappropriate words to end sentences with" rule, held a competition to see if anyone could stack two, even three of the pesky little words at the end of a sentence.
Certain liberties were taken with the definition of "preposition", I think some of these look suspiciously adverbial to me but the winner managed a string of five. It requires some setup, of course.
Child sleeps upstairs; family library is downstairs. Parental unit brings up a storybook; child rejects it, complaining, "What did you bring that book I didn't want to be read to out of up for?"
This is, I believe, up there with the old saw about how two negatives make a positive, but two positives will never make a negative.
So why would eBay, which knows me perfectly well, from my user ID to my 123 positive feedback points not too shabby for someone who's never sold anything need to know my password?
Which is by way of introducing you to today's spam, which was a lame attempt to steal said password, titled "Security Check." (yes, with the period), and swiping eBay graphics in an attempt to look legit. Had I filled in the blanks as requested, this information would have been posted to a page at a domain called memenutza.com, ostensibly owned by one Michael Rafter of Denver.
I have, of course, notified eBay; I'm passing this on to the rest of you in case the culprit has a fistful of blogger names.
16 May 2003
The other side of the cookie
In previous episodes, I've made fun of a California lawyer's war on Oreos. I still think he's a twit, and I still think legal action is ill-advised if not actually insane, but I'm not about to argue that trans fats are actually good for you.
Diane L. goes a little farther. She characterizes them as a "health menace", and expounds:
The problem is not so much that these unhealthy fats are legal and shouldn't be (wrong and impractical liberal point of view) but that there are so few alternatives, unless one is a totally dedicated foodie/health nut. Why do I have to work so hard to keep this crap out of my body? Sometimes I want to pop some prepared food into the oven instead of cooking everything from scratch. But I can't, because most processed food has that poison in it.
And why is that, you ask?
Because it's cheap and doesn't go bad. So, people are getting diabetes, heart disease and getting seriously overweight, because food processors want to save money.
Well, not just because. I'd scorn the Oreo (although frankly, I prefer the late, lamented Hydrox, but that's another religious battle entirely) if it tasted like the hockey pucks it vaguely resembles; if I really wanted a mouthful of such, I'd stock up on rice cakes, which in civilized societies are used to hold up the wobbly fourth leg of the coffee table.
Diane does have a solution of sorts:
Business people must be increasingly aware that there is money to be made from offering an alternative. Even McDonald's is trying to change the formula for the toxic oil it fries its "food" in. As the effects of trans fats become more known to the public, there will be more of a market for healthy fast food and processed food.
Sounds reasonable enough to me. (If, as usual, Blogspot archives are harder to trace than Iraqi artifacts, dial up 12 May and take the 12:01 am posting.)
Torn between two storm cells
Actually, today's tornadoes seem to have missed me (again!), but apparently this crap is going to keep going for most of the night, so output from this outpost may be annoyingly sporadic for a while.
(Who was that who said it wasn't sporadic enough? Fie upon thee, and thy doggy little mange, too.)
The Free Cam-paign
The next voice you hear belongs to Lisa S. of Boycott Hollywood:
Boycott Hollywood is running a small little grassroots campaign for Cam Edwards.
He's this conservative radio talk show guy from Oklahoma City. If you're local to OKC you can tune in and turn your ear to 1000 KTOK Oklahoma's 1st News.
I, personally, am not local to OKC so I've only heard Cam on the radio once.
Was I driving through Oklahoma and just happened to tune in? No. Does Cam secretly tape his daily radio show then convert them to MP3 format and email them to me everyday so I can listen in? No. Am I a super hero with super sonic hearing? No.
Cam was one of the first radio personalities to pick up on our William Morris debacle. Since this website opened [its] doors in February 2003, I have been contacted by Inside Edition, the Wall Street Journal and various other press organizations to do an interview. As a rule, in protection of my personal privacy I had been turning down the interviews. Until this William Morris thing blew up I was contacted by more news agencies than ever before! I gave two phone interviews at that time and turned the rest down.
Cam was persistent (almost stalkish) in getting my attention for a radio interview. So I went over to his website, reviewed his writings corresponded a bit via email and decided to give in, just this once and acquiesced to an interview.
Cam was my first. Since a girl always fondly remembers her first I'm taking a plea to the public here. Cam's show is a locally broadcast show on a Clear Channel radio station in OKC. Since I, personally, really want to be able to hear Cam's show and am, mostly, used to getting my way I'd like to send some emails of support to his boss. If we nicely ask for national syndication of his show and are as persistent with them as Cam was with me perhaps we can make a difference?
I mean why should OKC be the only ones who benefit from a nice, conservative talk show radio host whose thoughts, ideas and opinions fall in line (mostly) with the rest of us GOPers out here? What is so special about OKC? At the very least can we please get a web cast?
So here's some contact information for Cam's boss at KTOK and for Clear Channel. Tell them we are respectfully requesting that they FREE CAM from the confines of Oklahoma City and allow the rest of the nation to enjoy his show too! It's only fair!
Their office and studios are located at
And, inasmuch as I happen to have a small soapbox to scream from:
(Limit one Free Cam with regular purchase at participating locations. Tax not included.)
Derailing the Fourth of July
Nearly two dozen containers of imported fireworks for pyrotechnic displays are sitting at West Coast ports for lack of inland transportation; the Washington Times reports that new security rules for hauling explosives, enacted this past February, have made the nation's railroads unwilling to mess with the stuff without some assurances from DOT that they won't be held liable if, for instance, they miss one background check somewhere along the way.
Photon Courier (16 May) points out that eventually, these containers will likely be moved by truck, which will enhance neither the national economy nor national security:
[W]hen a container of explosives goes by road rather than by rail, what are the consequences? It will cost significantly more (as much as $8,000 per container more, in some cases), and will consume more fuel. And it will involve more security risks. It seems far more likely that a shipment of explosives will be hijacked from a truck than from the tightly-disciplined environment of a railroad.
We'll still be able to buy sparklers and bottle rockets, I presume, but the big displays on the Glorious Fourth could be jeopardized.
17 May 2003
Oklahoma to get the finger
Starting the first of July, anyone applying for a driver's license in Oklahoma will be required to submit a finger scan (not as messy as a set of prints) to the Department of Public Safety. Governor Henry signed the enabling legislation yesterday, which specifies that a court order is required for anyone outside the DPS to get access to the scanned data.
The July start date means that I'll be one of the first to get this treatment (unless I get a sudden burst of anticrastination and get my license renewed before then); what I really want to know is if the independent tag agencies (an Oklahoma curiosity in which routine licensing tasks are privatized) will be provided with the scanning tools right off the bat, or if I'll have to stand in line at a DPS office.
Epater les blogeois!
Of course, my handful of regular readers will have seen it here way back in April.
April 2002, that is.
* * * * * * * * * *
Update, 10:30 pm: Reynolds has updated his original item with the following:
The Beeb appears to be behind the curve here: the term turns out to be over a year old. On the other hand, I don't remember seeing it before.
He's never been here; of course he doesn't remember seeing it.
And isn't it a kick in the patoot? When I finally get an Instalanche of sorts, it's to something that isn't even in the blog. When I switched over to MT last year, I entertained (briefly) the idea of incorporating the Vent items as a category within MT. Maybe I should have.
So I looked at that number, blinked, and figured it must have been a punchline at some point or another:
BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY Business organization with strong ethnic ties seeks ambitious, loyal, profit-minded workers for mostly-permanent positions. Now hiring in New York, NY; Las Vegas, NV; almost anywhere in NJ. For information call 1-800-CRIMINAL.
But apparently it's for real, and belongs to this guy; it's not mentioned on his Web site, but it does appear in his ad on the back cover of one of our multitudinous local phone books.
It could be worse, I suppose. God forbid there should be, for instance, an anorexia support group at 1-877-2 GO BARF.
Success story in the making
Bitter Hag, who's been mentioned in these pages before, is going to undertake something next month that would probably kill the likes of me: she's taking part in AIDS/Life Cycle 2, which is a seven-day bicycle ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles.
You heard me. San Francisco to Los Angeles. Five hundred eighty-five miles. Even when I was a mad cycling fool in my younger days, I never did 80-plus miles a day for a whole week. My tailbone hurts just thinking about it.
This being a charity event, she's lined up over $2500 in sponsorship money from readers of her journal. And barring complete and utter catastrophe say, San Andreas widening by a couple of miles, plunging Highway 1 into the Pacific there's not a chance in hell she'll let us down, either.
Good luck, BH. Enjoy that hot tub at the end of Day 7.
18 May 2003
Quotes for our time (part of a series)
A couple of gems I came across during routine surfing, which I'm happy to pass on to you.
First, Balloon Juice's John Cole, on the call (by Limbaugh and others) to end affirmative action, citing the Jayson Blair scandal as justification:
[T]here may be a number of plausible and well-founded reasons to get rid of affirmative action. This is not one of them. This is a reason to get rid of lazy editors, disinterested middle management, and lazy fact-checkers at the NY Times. Period.
Has anyone yet set up a Howell Raines Countdown Clock?
And SurlyPundit has this to say about exposing college students to Serious Literature:
[I]f you read and examine what you find in the stacks with something resembling a critical eye, you will discover two things. First, reading Coleridge will not make you eloquent unless you have talent to start with, just as a sharpening steel has little effect on a carrot. Second, 90% of everything is crap, but the remainder is worth dying for.
I read a lot of Coleridge in my younger days, and I think I've proven her point. Pass the slaw.
Don't touch me there
Canada's National Post reports that as many as three percent of Canadians feel some sexual attraction toward children, a figure obtained from the psychiatrists who treat sex offenders in the Great White North. This seems a bit high to me, and indeed the phrasing in the article "up to 3%" suggests that the bigger number is there just for bigger impact.
The Post story quotes Dr John Bradford, clinical director of forensic psychiatry and the sexual behaviours clinic at the Royal Ottawa Hospital, as saying that statistically, a child is more likely to be killed by a parent than by a pedophile, a statement which set off Susanna Cornett's BS detector:
There you go. A child isn't "seriously harmed" until the pedophile tries or succeeds in killing him.
I don't know if the article was intended to whitewash pedophilia, but there's a definite air of "Why are we picking on these people? They're not violent or anything." Neither are embezzlers, generally, but we have no problem picking on them.
Pedophiles, in fact, have one thing in common with embezzlers: they've violated a trust, spat on a relationship that is fundamental to society. Whether or not they actually draw blood is irrelevant.
A reprieve for the Minuteman
He's probably going to get some sort of retrograde facelift, and I fear they'll take his musket away, but the UMass Minuteman is staying, at least for now. An outpouring of support from Massachusetts residents and, perhaps more persuasively, an upsurge in orders for Minuteman schwag has led the school to reconsider its decision to replace the fellow with a gray wolf.
(Muchas gracias: Joanne Jacobs.)
A Sunday drive
As American traditions go, the Sunday drive is definitely on the wane, shunted aside by our longer workweeks gotta husband that leisure time carefully, doncha know and sporadic haranguing by green types in blue states (or is that blue types in green states?) who object to any use of fuel that isn't on their Approved List. All the more reason, I figure, to take one when the schedule permits, and having gotten today's chores done early for once (clean up the bathrooms, do two loads of wash, defrag four drive partitions), I packed up some suitable tunes and hit the road. (Fred will be happy to hear that today's selections were chosen from the 1963 archives.)
Central Oklahoma, laid out mostly like a waffle iron, doesn't have anything quite like L.A.'s Mullholland Drive, but getting off the beaten path doesn't require an hour down the Interstate, either. I set the northern boundary at Wilshire, which in the city proper is noted for being halfway between 63rd and Britton Road, but which offers a quirk throughout its entire discontinuous thirty-mile length: it is at Wilshire where the section lines, and therefore the major roads which follow them, are supposedly adjusted slightly to allow for the curvature of the earth. Intersections at Wilshire are therefore decidedly non-standard, though seldom as perverse as, say, New Jersey jughandles.
I picked up Wilshire on the east side at the 9000 block, on the far side of one of those discontinuities, mainly because Douglas, which was a perfectly respectable suburban boulevard a few miles ago, shrinks as it goes; at this point, it's down to 1.4 lanes and won't go any further. It wasn't entirely clear whether I was within the city limits or not, since the intersection isn't marked. Heading eastward, I set a 40-mph pace, subject to road conditions, and observed.
Oklahoma City, for reasons having to do with ancient history "ancient" in this part of the world meaning "before 1907" is centered, not in the middle of the county, but towards its southwest corner. So this area, which starts maybe four miles from the county center, is almost entirely rural. The roads range from not bad to fairly grungy to downright awful, and they seem to change from one category to another just about every mile. Actual farming still goes on here, though it's sort of offputting to see a farm with a street address (911 insists); I saw three tractors in use, and two of them were apparently being operated by women. There were big houses and small houses, presumably designed for form rather than function; the overdesigned monstrosities in the newer developments simply don't exist out here. Someone who lives out this way who isn't farming, I have to assume, is here to get away from the rest of the world; it's hard to happen upon this neck of the woods by accident.
Somewhere around the 19300 block, there's a four-way intersection with three dead ends. Rather than back up, I chose the right turn, and found myself on a winding (well, sort of) two-lane that, surprisingly, had two houses for sale, one of which was open for inspection. And apparently I'd misjudged my location somewhat, because the open house was on a lakefront which explains the multiple dead ends, anyway. I wheeled around in a hurry and got out of there, lest I be smitten by the place.
Rethreading myself, I headed south on Luther Road and noticed that all of a sudden I was getting seriously strong cell signals. A couple miles later, I spied the tower, which happened to be a few yards from an electrical power plant. Probably the same one that supplies my juice, even. I've lived in the eastern half of the county for most of the last twenty years, and I had no idea it was even there. "I really must get out more," I decided.
And eventually I turned back westward, following Reno Avenue, the main drag through the east end, wondering what Serious Urban Planners would think of it, what with little crapbox country houses cheek by jowl with overwrought suburban McMansions, and, this being Oklahoma, a church every mile. I suspect they'd be appalled at the lack of stylistic unity, the mailboxes that haven't seen a coat of paint since the Korean War, the little gas stations where you can get your fishing and hunting licenses, and the mere fact that people are living way the hell out here a good fifteen miles from downtown and twenty miles from major shopping areas, thereby wasting precious fuelstuffs on the way. Why, I must have wasted a good two bucks' worth just looking at these things. (Which was still cheaper than dinner: $5.77 at Braum's.)
And, yes, I enjoyed every minute of it.
19 May 2003
World's smallest Instalanche
Evidently this cause isn't as célèbre as I might have thought.
Does anybody really know what time it is?
I bought a new phone for my desk at home: a black, decidedly unsleek box with a speaker at the top and a Caller ID screen just below. I should have known that something was askew when I found no directions for setting the machine's clock.
No, really. You're supposed to let the Caller ID information set the initial time, once you get an actual phone call. Well, okay, it's usually fairly accurate, considering it's from the phone company and all, so I punched up the number on my cell phone and noted that yes, this does work.
And it keeps pretty good time so long as I don't use the cordless on the same line. I don't know what this phenomenon is some sort of cosmic drain on ringer equivalence, maybe but if I spend an hour on the cordless, the desk phone will lose ten minutes.
I should hook this up to my fax machine, which gains ten minutes a day, and see if they annihilate one another in a massive explosion of isochronic particles.
The future of Fleischer
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer has never been one of my favorite people, but surely he deserves a kinder fate than this.
Nobody's business but the seals'
I spend way too much time wondering what life would be like if I could drag myself away from the 9-to-5 routine (which, in practice, is more like 6:45 to 5) and go do something incredible. Or even something credible, fercryingoutloud.
David "Clubbeaux" Sims wastes no time wondering. He's packing up the clan and moving to historic (and gorgeous) Antalya, in the Turkish Republic.
Normally I mutter things under my breath like "Lucky bastard," but this isn't at all a matter of luck; it's simply something he wants to do, and do it he will.
He'll still be blogging for a while, until the logistics get complicated, and he may resume once the family gets settled. In the meantime, I wish him well, and wish I could conceal my envy just a little bit better.
20 May 2003
What a day for a day trade
After six weeks or so of Blogshares, I'm starting to understand the day-trader mindset. I don't really have sufficient greed to make it work to maximum efficiency, but constantly tweaking the portfolio does seem to produce worthwhile returns; I'm averaging about eight or nine transactions a day (yes, Virginia, I'm a paying customer), and I make funny money on almost every one of them.
Now if I just could figure out some way to make my 401(k) work this well....
The primary consideration
The late Justice William Brennan reportedly said that the most important word in the Supreme Court is not "justice" or "equality" or "law" but "five."
Brennan a pragmatist? Who knew?
(And with this, OTB goes onto the blogroll, using my standard criterion, which is "I can't believe you haven't linked this guy yet, considering how many times you've read his blog.")
Open season on mascots
The Minuteman may be safe, for now; but what UMass giveth, Ole Miss taketh away.
Colonel Reb, the old Southern (make that Suthun) gentleman who represents the University of Mississippi, may be headed for a makeover; Ole Miss AD Pete Boone says the Colonel is "an 18th-century person," and obviously we can't have such people hanging around in the twenty-first.
Then again, it's not like the Colonel is waving a Confederate flag or anything.
(Via Tongue Tied)
Fears on trial
Daniel Fears, the Sallisaw teenager accused of a shooting spree last fall that killed two and injured eight others, has been ruled competent to stand trial. A preliminary hearing has been set for the 2nd of September; in the meantime, Fears remains in the Sequoyah County jail.
During the competency hearing, it was disclosed that Fears identifies with Dr Hannibal Lecter (please tell me he didn't do this to impress Clarice), and believes he is influenced by extraterrestrials (something I doubt Dr Lecter would endorse).
Can it be thirty-six weeks since Bigwig brought forth upon this earth the very first Carnival of the Vanities?
(Well, actually, no, it can't; see Ravenwood's first comment below. In the absence of a good excuse, I'm going to claim that I had Susanna on my mind when I thought up the title.)
This week's roundup of the Best of the Blogs is brought to you by cut on the bias, and I'd recommend it highly even if there were something of mine in it.
(Oh, wait: there is.)
21 May 2003
Two young kids
Last night's nightmare is noteworthy for (1) not being particularly awful and (2) borrowing part of a plot line from George Roy Hill's A Little Romance.
She's twelve or thirteen; I'm a few months older. And while Iowa isn't all that bad, or so it seems to me, she's hungry for adventure, which explains how we're on a flight to Frankfurt acting like, well, a couple of kids. (Who would have thought Lufthansa served up decent meals?)
Actually, there are a couple of deviations from the plot line, because we're not going to the Bridge of Sighs or indeed anywhere specific; we're just in a whirl of our own. And really, the object of my affections here is a bit closer to Fairuza Balk than to Diane Lane although this presumes that Fairuza Balk hadn't quite learned how to be scary at that age: think Return to Oz.
Sexual content? Nada. There's a bubble-bath scene that wouldn't have raised an eyebrow on the Disney Channel. And in an incident in Iowa, the spectre of yard work has raised its grubby head, and while I'm wielding the garden hose, her Roseannesque mother says "Keep that thing handy, in case I have to hose you two down."
Not to worry. We're too busy being giddy to get into that sort of thing. Yet.
There were, of course, a couple of nuances that bugged me. At some point during dinner on the plane (steak au poivre, I think it was), I lapsed into an inventory of our combined finances, such as they were, in an effort to see how long we could hold out. And while we were testing our Secret Private Subchannel on our cell phones in case we're separated, doncha know it's instructive to note that she was bubbling through the lyric to some silly love song (you'd think the people would have had enough of those), while I was reciting the old EBS drill: "This is a test. For the next sixty seconds...."
This is not to say that I'm too sensible for such things, but I do have a way of dragging dreams down to earth. And anyway, it had occurred to me long before last night that the trappings of a relationship are a lot easier to handle than the relationship itself.
Return of the Chicks
Almost a full house and no protests greeted the Dixie Chicks last night at the Ford Center.
Pertinent Natalie Maines quotes:
"I contemplated not wearing a short skirt, since I knew I'd be sitting on stairs, but then I remembered you've all seen me naked."
"Something recently happened to us. We call it 'the incident.' I'd like to say there won't be any more incidents."
This could be just playing to the crowd I mean, "the incident" itself involved playing to the crowd but I'd like to think she means it.
Marked for death by Information Services (3)
Offense: Checking out a corporate notebook and bringing it back defiled with some sixty-four pieces of assorted spyware and associated crap.
A vaguely familiar triptych
Filling the tank every day during World Tour '03: $390
Total cost of World Tours '01 and '02: $3760
Spending twenty minutes on the phone grousing to the issuer of your highest-rate MasterCard, and then getting your rate cut to 3.99 percent: priceless
22 May 2003
Senator Cal Hobson, who presides over the upper house in the Oklahoma legislature, has come under fire for an item in his regular column in the Purcell Register, in which he comes off as embarrassingly star-struck. The star in question is Danny Glover, who has been coming up with some really preposterous statements of his own of late.
The state GOP has called on Hobson to apologize for sucking up to Glover, a notion flogged by Cam Edwards on his morning show today, further evidence that the smaller the teapot, the bigger the tempest.
Does Cal Hobson owe me an explanation? Yes. He owes me an explanation of why the state's been on this spending spree for the past few years, and how we got into this half-billion dollar hole, and why the legislature was even thinking about adjourning a week early this year. As for what he thinks about Danny Glover geez, aren't we getting too old for this shit?
"Beeyotch" somehow seems inadequate
There's one great thing about working as a steward (ring attendant, more or less) at a dog show, says Greg Hlatky (21 May, 8:20 pm), who's done it:
[Y]ou get to say "bitch" as loudly as you want to and no one human or canine blinks an eye.
Which reminds me: I heard a story that some woman in California, circa 1990, presumably new at this, took serious umbrage when both the steward and the judge referred to her sweet, innocent, inoffensive little pet as a bitch. How dare they? (I'd love to get some corroboration of this, should any exist.)
And I suppose I can see her point. I was once introduced to someone with a Bichon Frisé, and immediately asked, "Is that, like, French for frizzy bitch?" Maybe she'll speak to me again, but I doubt it.
It's up to you, you dork, you dork
If this Daily News item is to be believed, the Mayor of the City of New York has a major thang for Jennifer Lopez.
Of course, there's always room for J-Lo, but isn't Bloomberg already more or less spoken for? And what happens if, God forbid, Jenny lights up a Pall Mall while she's on the block?
The vinyl insult
David "Clubbeaux" Sims is collecting nominations for, as he puts it, "the Worst Song of the post-Beatles (inclusive) and pre-rap pop music era".
The number of truly wretched records from that period is seemingly just this side of infinite I had no trouble coming up with nineteen myself but surely there must be a consensus.
And no, it's not Terry Jacks' "Seasons in the Sun", if only because Rod McKuen's version (it's McKuen's English lyric, grafted onto a Jacques Brel melody) is about a hundred thousand times worse than Terry's.
Ode to acquisitiveness
Sotheby's recently auctioned off Beethoven's working manuscript of his Symphony No. 9, bringing in £2.1 million (about $3.2 million US).
Lynn is not impressed in the slightest:
I do not deny that this manuscript, which contains the actual handwriting of Beethoven himself, is worth over $3 million. Its actual worth is beyond any amount of money. However the people who pay huge sums of money for such artifacts do not love music as much as they love the idea of owning something rare and unique.
Which is true as far as it goes. But it's not like the Ninth is being locked up forevermore, just because someone with a hefty Visa limit is stashing the manuscript in his vault. What's really precious is not the paper with the notes on it, but the sounds that play in our heads, and no one's ever come close to putting a price tag on those.
(Note to RIAA surfers: Don't get any ideas. And if you do, send the check first.)
23 May 2003
California vs. spam
The antispam bill passed by the California Senate yesterday allows recipients to sue spammers for $500 per incident.
Like anyone is going to collect anything from the likes of firstname.lastname@example.org, an address pulled at random from my dizzying array of Hotmail spam.
Getting on the Line
The OkiePundit (23 May) gives his endorsement to the County Line, fabled barbecue joint half a mile west of the National Cowboy Museum, which reminds me that it's been too long since I've been up there. (And if you've driven past the back of it on Interstate 44, you realize that "up there" is exactly the correct description.)
Occasionally, someone in state government issues a whine about how life expectancy out here is lower than it is in, say, central Norway. Maybe it is, and maybe it isn't, but dammit, we do know how to eat.
Small, strange and beautiful
Just arrived: Dr. Frank's eight little songs, twenty-four minutes of really nifty mostly-acoustic stuff that may well be the second-best thing ever done in Dr. Frank's bedroom. And yes, it includes the anthemic "Democracy, Whisky, Sexy". Get yours now before it becomes a collector's item and the last copy gets auctioned off at Sotheby's.
I left Charleston in 1969 and managed to stay gone for thirty-two years, which means that I've never actually seen the Spoleto Festival USA, which was founded in the Holy City by composer Gian-Carlo Menotti in 1977. And that's a shame, since by all accounts this is one of the top arts festivals in the country. (I've never seen its Italian counterpart either, but then about three-quarters of the time I spent in Italy, in the spring of 1974, I was waiting for a Pan Am jet to be checked out after a bomb threat. At least, that's the story they were handing out at the time.)
Spoleto USA begins today. One of these years, I know not when, it will begin with me on the scene.
Where bin Laden shops
Venomous Kate reports that not only is al-Qaeda's interest in biological and chemical weapons continuing, but the demand is being met by supply, and according to the Pentagon, the major suppliers are the Russians and the Chinese. Meanwhile, despite Code Orange Crush and increased "chatter", Americans seem no more concerned than usual. (Then again, didn't we invent "Out of sight, out of mind"?)
There is, of course, a national holiday coming up, and it's certainly not above your standard garden-variety terrorist to want to screw with it. On the other hand, a Memorial Day attack on a day when we honor our war dead, fercrissake might even piss off our pacifists.
Cynthia McKinney, where are you?
Last we heard from her, she was giving the commencement speech at the Department of African Studies at the University of California, in which, among other things, she:
(Muchas gracias: Erin O'Connor.)
24 May 2003
Senate Bill 565 is going back to a conference committee, after its original language, which required anyone repairing a PC to report anything that looks like kiddie pr0n, was deemed to have too much potential for abuse. (Gee, ya think?)
Worst-case scenario: The legislature, seeking ways to invade people's PCs, consults with the recording industry.
Not a brief commentary
Do you dare to wear...the Underwear of Love?
(Note: Typically for a Saturday morning, I am typing this while, um, unclad. Having read the above piece, I am now almost afraid to get dressed.)
In thrall to King Gillette
Over at Visionary Darkness, a fellow identified as "RoG" says that the razor industry is sticking it to us guys:
We've all seen the commercials for these high tech shavers like the "Mach 3 Turbo" where the guy shaves...perfectly with one swipe of the blade. It's so obvious that he doesn't have ANY whiskers to begin with (either he hasn't gone through puberty or he had a laser hair removal treatment), all they do is cover-up his face with shaving cream so that when he runs the razor through it, it looks as though he's getting an amazingly close shave.
And that ain't the half of it:
$17.00 for a pack of eight measly replacement razor cartridges? At that insane price, are you really gonna listen to the "indicator strip" and throw out your razor when THEY tell you to? Or are you going to REALLY get your money's worth out of each razor? I've been using the same razor for 6 months and the "indicator strip" fell off a long time ago.
For the record, the Schick Slim Twin, or whatever the hell it's called, lasts me about a month, and it costs less than a dollar apiece. But there is, of course, a far more effective solution, albeit one that would have never occurred to us because we are, after all, guys:
[S]tart using women's razors. Why? Because these cheap things are way sharper than the best men's razor. Think about it... these razors aren't made to shave a small area like a face, they're for shaving an entire LEG. Hell, TWO LEGS! Yeah, yeah, I know the whole "pink" thing isn't that appealing to most men, but if I can get a good shave for a decent price, I don't care if child labor slaves made 'em. And these things are very cheap in comparison: Pink "Daisy" Razors cost 5 bux a pack or less for TEN RAZORS!
This would seem to be the answer the price is right, and if someone thinks I'm a wuss or if someone thinks I actually have a girlfriend, it's immaterial to me but we're coming back to the original issue here: why should we believe any of the ad hype? Women in razor ads come off like Barbie with bendable knees; peach fuzz is a jungle by comparison. (She Who Is Not To Be Named once complained to the effect that substantial regrowth took place in the time it took to exit the bathroom, which strikes me as something of an exaggeration, although I would dearly love to research this matter further.)
I have just checked inventory, and I have seven Schick Slim Twins left. Remind me to take up this issue again around Christmas.
Okay, stop, you've got enough
According to a team of former financial advisers, Michael Jackson is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy.
Union Finance and Investment Corporation, a South Korean firm with Los Angeles offices, has filed suit against the erstwhile King of Pop, claiming unpaid bills of over $12 million. According to the suit, Jackson had engaged Union to help him untangle his messy finances; Union subsequently discovered that Jackson was down to about two months' worth of available funds.
(Keep in mind that two months' worth on the Jackson scale would probably get most of us regular folk who might wear tennis shoes or an occasional python boot through a couple of years.)
A Jackson family attorney said he doubted that Michael Jackson's situation was all that dire, though he did add the caveat that "I cannot say it for 100 percent sure because nobody knows his financial statements."
Trial date is set for the 18th of June.
(Update, 11:10 pm: Tiger wants to know why, if MJ were truly bankrupt, this action couldn't be handled in bankruptcy court.)
25 May 2003
No Whoppers please, we're British
Julie Burchill, in this Guardian piece, reports that Britain's warring factions can agree on one thing, and it's not Tony Blair:
Rightwing tabloids and leftwing broadsheets alike are forever scaremongering, and not just about genetic modification and pesticide residues, which may be proven to be unreservedly Bad Things; they also display anti-modernist, illogical hysteria to each new survey that shows shock, horror! that British people are eating what they like, when they want! rather than being forced around a table three times a day by some stand-in for Mr Barrett of Wimpole Street, eager for a regular opportunity to impose his anal retentive bossiness on his long-suffering family.
Not to mention having to feed that pesky Mr Browning who keeps popping in at all hours, no doubt.
[R]ightwing worrywarts hate fast/convenience food because it frees women from the kitchen and deprives the sort of man who thinks his home is his castle of another opportunity to flex his control-freak tendencies. Liberals hate it for two reasons: they don't like America, the spiritual home of fast food (tell that to the Earl of Sandwich and German Mr Hamburger), and, being self-loathing, they don't like England. In bemoaning our soulless grazing, they get a chance to compare us for the worse once more with France and Italy where, myth has it, family mealtimes and "good" food add to the quality of life. In some unexplained way, this is supposed to breed better people and a healthier society, mentally and physically which makes me wonder why so many citizens of oh-so-civilised France and Italy have such a weakness for voting fascist.
"Cooking fresh food for a husband's just a drag," observed Mick Jagger many years ago, but you'd think by now instant cake and frozen steak would be staples, especially in a land given to foodstuffs called "stodge" and "spotted dick".
On this side of the pond, at least, the right wing doesn't seem particularly upset about convenience foods. Our leftists, of course, fume at the very existence of KFC and Mickey D and that sexist, plutocratic Burger King. Then there's Taco Bell, which has been criticized for worker exploitation, and I'm sure there's some anthropological critic somewhere who objects to the place because of its failure to reflect true Mexican culture or some comparable codswallop.
One bill to distract them
Fusilier Pundit (17:09, 21 May) has taken a look at the so-called Justice Enhancement and Domestic Security Act of 2003 (link requires Adobe Acrobat Reader), and he is impressed with its bulk (486 pages), if nothing else:
[I]t's got a bit of everything: identity theft, telemarketing fraud, Nationalizing the Amber alert, protecting senior citizens from whatever distracts them from their oatmeal, and shielding whistleblowers. In addition, of course, to the usual suspects, ballistic fingerprinting and The Gun Show Loophole, whatever that is held to be.
It's a wholesale bid to overhaul Federal criminal law, including the laws of evidence and sentencing.
Another Department of Justice wish list? Maybe. Almost all such bills, historically, expand the list of Federal crimes, about which Fuze reminds us:
To your humble narrator, "Federal crime" is supposed to be an oxymoron anyway, with the exception of those few Constitutionally enumerated offenses such as treason and counterfeiting.
And somehow I doubt that had the Founding Fathers somehow been faced with telemarketers, they would have worked them into Article III.
I just want you to know that I had nothing to do with this.
Attempted thievery, Part Deux
I reported earlier this month about a lame email attempt to steal my eBay user ID and password. Now comes word from The Register that a similar scam has arisen with the intent of swiping personal information from users of eBay subsidiary PayPal. The email apparently originated in Lithuania.
I caught one minor glitch with The Register's report: they state that "one fake PayPal message spotted in the wild last month misspelled the word 'address' and included a disclaimer from the credit card company Providian, which has no link to PayPal or eBay." Actually, Providian is the issuer of a PayPal-branded Visa card, promoted heavily at the PayPal site; I cut up one of them this very afternoon.
26 May 2003
She was a sailor.
She married twice, she bore five children, she lived a life neither all that happy nor all that long; but if you visit the spot of earth where she was laid to rest, the one thing you will know for certain, the one thing perhaps she most wanted you to know, was that she was a sailor.
The uniform changes people. It always has. It's not an instantaneous change, like the flicking of a light switch; it's a slow and gradual change, like sunrise coming over the horizon. And like that sunrise, once it starts, it's impossible to stop.
It has been many years since a major mobilization, many years since the whole nation was called to arms. Fewer of us wear the uniform. And that's a good thing: fewer of us will be placed in harm's way. But it's not such a good thing in another way: fewer of us remember what it means to wear the uniform, to put one's country ahead of oneself. Today there are those who fear the uniform, who distrust those who wear it. Sometimes we say that they have no regard for their country, but that's not really true; they still live and love and work here, just like the rest of us. They simply believe that the world is supposed to be like the Hundred-Acre Wood, and they cannot accept that parts of it are more like Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. For some of them, a wake-up call came with the toppling of the Towers; others dream on.
And I don't begrudge them their dream; I, too, wish the world were quieter, more peaceful, more like a children's book. But I also know that it won't happen on its own, and that some of the world's self-proclaimed "peacemakers" desire anything but peace. It takes more than the mere absence of war to produce peace; it takes the combined efforts of people dedicated to the proposition that freedom is worth the price.
You'll recognize those people at once. They wear the uniform.
As did I. As did my brother. As did my sister's husband. As did my father.
And as did my mother; she was a sailor.
A Memorial Day tribute
Michele has a stirring story to tell, as a reminder of what this day is all about.
Some goddamn Swedish twit
Jan O. Karlsson, Sweden's Minister for Migration, may have jeopardized his position in Prime Minister Göran Persson's government by referring to George W. Bush as "that fucking Texas geezer."
"Geezer"? Dubya is only 56. I suppose that means...uh, never mind. It will probably be a year or two before I get used to having a "5" as the first digit of my age.
(Muchas gracias: Jesus Gil.)
Who's in charge here?
Most of the Blogosphere conforms to the standard of "My blog, my rules," and most people don't have a problem with that.
For those who do, Katherine the Venomous has compiled a list of Twenty Warnings About Reading Her Blog. (Actually, it looks like eleven to me, but hey, it's her blog.) The bottom line:
This is my blog. I will blog about whatever I feel like blogging about. If it offends you, find a different blog.
Words to live (or at least type) by.
Now he tells us
This frightening little gem turned up at Tony Talks Tech:
Monday morning is the most likely time for a [corporate] website to crash. It's not because hackers like to get up early and start the workweek off with a few extra machines to take down, but because in-house IT staff come into the office with their groggy brains chock full of ideas they had over the weekend. They have a "weekend inspiration" and come in Monday morning and tinker...and the website goes down. The researchers say the best uptime days are during holidays like Christmas and New Years when the IT staff stays home. But then, "as soon as you see the developers logging on again, the trouble starts."
Hmmm. Monday is on a Tuesday this week, so let's see what happens.
A few choice bits of text found this evening, for your dancing and dining pleasure.
The Baseball Crank has figured out things in Paris and Berlin:
If you think about it, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder are the Al D'Amato and Gray Davis of Europe. Chirac, like D'Amato, is a machine politician who's gotten away with being a little bit cheesy and a little bit sleazy by dint of boatloads of chutzpah and a talent for finding opponents who self-destruct in divisive battles with extremists and third-party candidates.
Schroeder, like Davis, is a hack with no redeeming virtues, neither liked nor respected even by his supporters; like Davis, his main skills are demonizing foreign opponents (Bush, Enron) and lying about the budget.
Jay Solo (26 May, 10:24 am) has some thoughts on the word "universal":
This is fine as a movie studio name. This is fine for suffrage and literacy.
When they start whipping out "universal" and pairing it with "healthcare," that gets scary.
Finally, Kevin Holtsberry says that Annika Sorenstam, despite not making the second-round cut, still scores on the positive side of the balance sheet:
[T]he Colonial got what it wanted: the sports world's attention for a few days. And they even did it without Tiger Woods, not a bad deal.
27 May 2003
Coming up on 60 days
I figure it's just a matter of time before someone asks "Didn't you have a granddaughter a couple of months ago?" Nice to know the archives still work. In the meantime, here's a more current shot of the young lady with stars in her eyes. I should have such a facial expression; it borders on beatific. Unfortunately, I do have the hairline.
California's Proposition 209, passed by popular vote in 1996, is a relatively simple measure as such things go. What it says is this:
The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.
Mere approval by the electorate, of course, means little to the University of California, as explained by Dustin Frelich (27 May):
Admission into UC schools can be thought of as based on the breaking of a point barrier which earns a student a spot in the limited ranks of UC admits. Pushing minority students through the barrier, numerous points are awarded to minority students by default by default because points are cleverly bestowed upon students who tend to come from backgrounds highly valued by UC admissions, such as being from a poor family.
Does this actually work?
Whites outnumber all ethnic groups at 37.3 percent of the total Fall admits, but stand at 46.7 percent of Californians. With a discrepancy that large second only to Latinos by a few points one would think they would join ranks with other "underrepresented minorities." They don't, but why not? Well, according to the UC Race-Conscious Policies report, "underrepresented" is said to apply only to "students from groups that collectively achieved eligibility for the University at a rate below 12.5 percent," and is interchangeably used with the term "underrepresented minority."
Apparently quacking like a duck in California is no indication of birdhood.
Shattered, more or less
Oh, damn, damn, damn.
It's not going to happen. She took a spill, she opened up a wound over her eye, and most critical, she broke her wrist. She can't ride for at least twelve weeks.
Of course, on day one of week 13, she'll be back behind the handlebars that's just the way she is but in the meantime:
Equal distribution of miseries
James Joyner notes that regional variations mean nothing to the tax code:
$50,000 a year is big money in Podunk, Mississippi; it is near-poverty in Manhattan. But the two earners are treated identically for the purposes of federal income taxes. Which isn't particularly "progressive."
Of course, "progressive" isn't all that wonderful anyway, no matter how forward-looking and optimistic it sounds. And besides, Podunk is (or should be) in Iowa.
28 May 2003
It's called Sticky Fingers: A Tale of Saks, Lies and Videotape, and it's a musical based on Winona Ryder's 2002 shoplifting trial.
The production is being staged at Point Loma High School near San Diego; Ryder has reportedly been invited to attend.
It's Carnival time once more
At some point in the last two weeks, I lost count, and I have no idea which weekly edition of the Carnival of the Vanities is current*, but it doesn't matter so much, because the Carnival is in the capable hands of Dean Esmay, whose entire life has been leading up to this moment. As always, the Carnival features the best bloggage of the last seven days, as selected by the bloggers themselves, and their track record is pretty darn good.
*It's 36, you yutz.
Dues as a function of word count
Weetabix has grasped another High Truth:
The truth of the matter is simply that there are a finite number of words that must be written before something brilliant comes from your pen. And for someone like Margaret Atwood, that number is something like 132, whereas for someone like Wally Lamb, the number is probably in the six-digit range (go ahead and kvetch in the comments section but I really really HATED She's Come Undone and I read it when it came out, pre-Oprah, pre-Renee Zellweger film, pre-everything. It was schlock. It could have been good and instead, he beat the reader over the head with every bit of schmalz he had stored in his noggin. And he had the focal character commune with whales. With WHALES. I'm getting mad again just thinking about the bad plot devices in that thing. So, seriously, I'm glad that the book changed your life and made you cry or commune with your inner fat girl, but it just didn't work for me.)
My inner fat girl reminds you that Weet is talking about her comments section.
Where my own brilliance threshold kicks in, I don't know; I haven't reached it yet. And my word count is way into six figures, too.
Dawn Olsen says you may as well turn off the radio:
It's a sham, and they are in bed with the record labels and that is why much of the music you hear on these pre-programmed stations are so crappy. It's not about quality, it's about what the labels have paid for and now want you to pay for. If they play enough, you will think it's good and oddly enough you will find yourself buying it.
Sounds like an argument for news/talk or classical (which, if I kept an Arbitron diary, would be almost the only things on the page).
I do take issue with one thing she says, though: Clear Channel has been in this market for almost its entire existence, and I doubt seriously they've beaten more than a handful of baby seals.
29 May 2003
From both sides now
The road not taken, you say? If it's a spiritual path, SurlyPundit has either taken it or mapped it out:
[B]y pretty much any definition, I'm not a person of faith. I have been Christian, fanatically Christian, indifferently Christian, agnostic, atheist, Wiccan, and pagan. I've read about Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, Satanism, Santeria, and Hinduism. I've thought about it all from different angles. I know Anglican and Catholic theology inside and out. In other words, I may not believe, but it's not because I don't know the arguments or haven't tried to, in various ways. No, the reason for my chronic fence-sitting is just that I don't (can't?) feel comfortable in any of it.
Sterner sects would insist that you adapt to them: they're certainly not going to adapt to you. Probably why I subscribe to none of them. There's a lot to be said for the straight and narrow, so to speak, but if every time you turn around you're going to get busted, eventually you'll stop moving altogether.
Interestingly (familiarity? leftover childhood indoctrination? random selection?), she feels "more at ease" with the Judeo-Christian deity:
I've tried various strains of paganism and Wicca, but I always feel like I'm disappointing the Big Guy. I don't call this a logical belief and it certainly shouldn't convince you, but it lets me sleep at night and does no harm.
And one doesn't have to have the Dies irae ringing in one's ears to want to avoid disappointing the Big Guy, I think; if you're persuaded that there's something beyond merely a vague Something Beyond, it seems reasonable, or at least human, to want to personify that something, and it's a fairly small jump from there to wanting to stay on his/her/its good side. (Paybacks, be they purely karmic or incarnated as plagues, are a bitch.)
I don't sleep that well at night myself, but that's another issue entirely.
This has not been a great month for Sheriff John Whetsel. First his requested sales-tax increase is voted down by three-quarters of the county electorate, and now the Justice Department is investigating his jail.
Four issues are under investigation: alleged violations of inmate civil rights, jail staffing and operations, staff safety, and inmate medical attention. The investigation should take no more than four weeks, and a report is expected before the end of the year.
The sheriff has yet to say "I told you we needed more money," but give him time.
Tweedledum, Tweedledee settle
Last year, AOL Time Warner, corporate parent of What's Left of Netscape, filed a nuisance suit against Microsoft, complaining about the usual antitrust bushwa. Today, Bill Gates pulled $750 million out of Redmond's petty cash to shut them the hell up.
Oh, there are the usual pleasantries, including an extension of AOL's license to use Microsoft Internet Explorer in its online service, and an agreement to make MSN's and AOL's IM clients slightly less incompatible, but there's no sign of what I'd really like to see: a joint effort to crush RealPlayer once and for all.
Tomb, vacant, nothing down
Marc at Quit That! is getting spam from Christ, or at least that's what the FROM: field says. The usual "get hundreds of lenders to compete for your mortgage loan" stuff.
Now if he gets one of those damnable penis-enlargement ads from this same source around the Feast of the Circumcision, then I'm going to worry.
Meanwhile, I try to act so chalant
The old D:\TEXT directory is, well, old; if you sort its contents by date, ascending, the first item you encounter is dated 2 January 1985. This means, among other things, that I had this file on a Commodore 64 diskette originally, and when I retired my trusty C-128 in 1991 in favor of some ridiculous XT box with Hercules graphics, I ran it through something called Big Blue Reader, which enabled the C-128's floppy drive to read and write IBM-formatted (360k) floppies, then transferred it to the XT, and it's been handed down through generations of backups to the ridiculous Duron box I run today.
The following isn't that file. However, I have been schlepping it around since October 1991. It's a poem, credited (it says here) to one Leonard Rosenthal, and it's called "A Song of Crepancies".
Give me a lady, one that's couth,
Who putes the things I say;
Who's gainly in the eyes of man,
Who's imical to the things I plan,
Who parages me whenever she can,
Who's gruntled all the day.
Give me a girl whose hair is kempt,
Whose talk is always ane;
Who's ept at ridding home of dirt,
Who's iquitous and not a flirt,
Who's dignant, and whose mind is ert,
And I'll look on her with dain.
30 May 2003
This definitely belongs in the Write Your Own Joke archives. All I can do is quote the opening paragraph:
An 18-year-old who reportedly was paralyzed from the neck down after being shot June 2 has been arrested on burglary complaints after police caught him breaking into parked cars while in a wheelchair.
Okay, gang, have at it.
Lenin called to borrow a bungee cord
Now this is choice. From The New York Times:
Opponents of media deregulation are running advertisements depicting the media mogul Rupert Murdoch as the scowling face of industry consolidation, including commercials being shown today on his company's Fox News Channel in New York.
The advocacy groups behind the ads, MoveOn.org, Common Cause, and Free Press, said they were focusing attention on the well-known face of Mr. Murdoch in an effort to stir public opposition to deregulation. At a meeting next Monday, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to relax ownership restrictions, including limits on local television stations and newspapers.
Deb the Insomnomaniac finds this utterly risible:
Ads accusing Rupert Murdoch of engaging in a sinister plot to ruthlessly control (and by definition I suppose, twist) what you read, see and hear in the news are being run on a network owned by Mr. Murdoch.
Well folks, either the man has multiple personality disorder, or he's into S&M, because allowing your supposed "secret" to get out on your own network seems a bit counter-productive, don't you think?
The sudden flurry of press attention to next Monday's Federal Communications Commission announcement mystifies me; I mean, it's not like FCC chair Michael Powell has been keeping things under wraps for the benefit of Big Media all this time. I tend to look askance at the expected changes, but I'm not about to claim that it's all a plot by the Axis of Greedy either.
Cue the other shoe
When will Oklahoma City bombing co-conspirator Terry Nichols be tried on state murder charges? The prosecution wanted to start this coming November; defense counsel for Nichols proposed January 2005.
Now District Judge Steven M. Taylor has ruled that the trial will begin 1 March 2004, which should give the legal teams "sufficient time to prepare for trial after having worked on this case for over three years."
I have a feeling this case is going to outlive all of us.
How hot is it?
The MS/AOL connection
Tristan Louis analyzes the Microsoft/AOL agreement, and what is most interesting about his analysis, I think, is his take on the internal politics of the two companies:
In the mid-90s, Microsoft was starting to move more into the general media space. With this agreement, Microsoft signals the completion of a shift back to its software roots. It is probably a realization that there is still a lot of growth in that arena and that it doesn't make sense from their standpoint to try to get into the media world by acquiring and/or building media assets.
On the AOL/Time-Warner front, this annoucement shows a clear power shift in who controls the company. The power is now in Time-Warner hands, with any concept of competing with Microsoft on the software end now a distant memory. Time-Warner understands media and figures that it is better to rely on an outside party to deal with the software side of the business than to try to develop things themselves.
How this fits with the rumors that AOL will be spun off from the rest of Time Warner remains to be seen, but fractiousness has been part of the corporate program ever since Warner Communications merged with/was absorbed by/ransacked Time Inc., and peace in the valley will not be bought by selling off those damnable Internet interlopers.
As for Redmond, well, they're never happier than when they're dominant.
31 May 2003
More than faintly musty
Here's another text file from the catacombs deep beneath drive D:, dated 30 August 1990. I have no idea where it came from (and if you know proper attribution, please advise). If you write humor, here are ten questions you should be asking yourself:
1. Will my writing make people laugh?
2. Will my writing make people see life differently?
3. Will my writing make the world a safer place for sheep?
4. In case my writing doesn't sell, have I used paper that will double as a coffee filter?
5. If people don't get my jokes, are people stupid or do they simply have no sense of humor?
6. When a 1" melon ball appears anonymously in my mailbox with a note that says "THUMB INDEX," does it mean I've somehow offended the spirit of Dan Blocker?
7. If I'm religious and I swat thirty mosquitoes on a white wall and connect the dots, should I move to the state that the drawing most resembles?
8. If many people's problems are the result of faulty toilet training, shouldn't someone get out there and fix all those faulty toilets?
9. If ladies lead when couples dance backwards, then who wears the pants in a nudist family?
10. If David Letterman were a nice guy, would he be selling shoes at Sears?
11. Oops, I said 10 things. Oh well. Writers always ask themselves more questions than normal people, because they have more answers.
Quiet under the new dome
After a couple months' worth of budget bickering crammed into two or three hours, the Oklahoma legislature has gone home for the year.
One interesting quote, from Todd Hiett (R-Kellyville), the House minority leader: "We think at this point we have had a very successful session, partly for what we accomplished and partly for what we diverted." Sometimes, what you don't do is as important as what you do.
Inoculating against E. spicoli
Did you really expect that within a month of the war, Iraq would be some sort of carbon copy of the United States, filled with open markets and democratic elections and prospering people? Are you so naive to believe that freedom can come in a week, a month, even a year?
"Open markets?" they cry. "Why, 48 percent of Americans own no stocks at all! And 'democratic elections' have we forgotten Florida in 2000?"
Thus speaks the celebrity pundit, in solidarity with the mythical Average American. Of course, he's not really an Average American; he just plays one on TV. (Apologies to Joe Goodwin.)
This is not about Iraq for Penn and his kind. It is about their selfish hatred for George Bush. It is about the craving they have to be able to say I told you so, about their need to be right, always right and to prove everyone else in the free world wrong. They care about nothing but themselves and their self-centered ideology.
It's a tricky balance. They must distance themselves from American culture, to which they feel unutterably superior but not too much distance, or the checks will stop rolling in.
I said this back in February of '02:
The left routinely grumbles about this Last Remaining Superpower stuff, and it's true that we've done some things in our capacity as a superpower that qualify as more or less heinous, but if our track record were as horrible as all that, we wouldn't still have a waiting list at the immigration office; you don't see people standing in line to get into Zimbabwe. Still, there are people in places like Berkeley and Boulder who apparently can defend the likes of Robert Mugabe out of one side of their mouths while they condemn George W. Bush with the other.
And not a few in Hollywood, it appears.
Cut thin to win
John Hudock at Common Sense and Wonder looks at the 2004 Federal budget, and sees places to economize (30 May, 8:48 am). A sampling:
Department of Energy: "useless, gone."
Department of Agriculture: "except for inspection services and some of the research programs, gone."
Department of Housing and Urban Development: "scandal ridden, useless, close it."
Department of Education: "worse than useless, I think it has actually worsened education, get rid of it."
Department of Commerce: "except for small business assistance which is probably an earner because of backend tax revenue from job creation and some regulatory administrative functions the rest is useless."
Department of Transportation: "completely useless, except for normal road maintenance programs which are mostly handled by the states anyway and FAA safety administration."
Department of Justice: "get rid of DEA, also BATF which can be merged with FBI."
Even HHS and Defense, which occasionally do useful things, could use some trimming.
Of course, hardly anyone believes the Republicans in power will shrink government by this much. (And no one believes the Democrats would shrink government under any circumstances.) Still, it's a good set of talking points, and those Congresspersons suffering from Deficit Inattention Disorder would do well to take them under advisement.
Where have all the weapons gone?
"So what about those Weapons of Mass Destruction, huh?" Kathleen Parker at Town Hall ponders the question, and thinks perhaps our expectations were too high:
[W]e might have been wiser never to entertain hopes of a smoking gun. We entered Iraq with Oz-like expectations, wide-eyed in search of a yellow-brick road lined with happy Iraqis pointing to the brightly colored arrows: "Weapons of Mass Destruction Here!" The WMD weren't likely to be neatly stacked and labeled in warehouses along Frontage Road.
Still, that's what it would have taken to persuade some of the more agitated antiwar crowd:
President Bush's opponents, it seems, won't be satisfied until Geraldo is standing astride 5,000 drums of liquid anthrax in front of a nuclear silo. Wouldn't that be lovely?
Change "astride" to "inside" and "5,000 drums" to "a drum", and I'll happily vouch for its loveliness.
(Via The Baseball Crank, who observes: "The conservative/pro-war side of the commentariat and the blogosphere has been disappointingly silent in dealing with the absence of findings of weapons of mass destruction.")
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