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.)