1 June 2003
Most of the British Invasion

Record producer Mickie Most, behind the board for many great English records of the 60s and 70s, has died at his home in the north of London.

Most, born Michael Peter Hayes in 1938, started out as a recording artist, as a member of the British group The Most Brothers. When the group broke up, he kept the surname, and eventually moved into production. Most's greatest hits include the original Animals recordings for EMI, the Herman's Hermits catalog, Lulu's biggest hits (including "To Sir with Love", a US #1 which did not chart in Britain), Donovan's CBS sides (starting with "Sunshine Superman"), and a wild one-shot for an American artist, Brenda Lee's "Is It True". He continued to work through the 70s, often associated with the Chinnichap (Nicky Chinn/Mike Chapman) production combine, and into the 80s. And if you're my age, you probably have something produced by Most in your collection, too.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:04 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Doctors 1, Activists 0

This Newsweek/MSNBC piece buries its hook in the middle, but it's a serious hook indeed:

No matter what legislators, activists, judges or even individual Americans decide about fetal rights, medicine has already granted unborn babies a unique form of personhood — as patients.

Which perhaps suggests that legal definitions of "viability" are, or at least are on the way to becoming, obsolete. And if "viability" goes, what becomes of Roe v. Wade, which specifies the point of viability as the point at which states may ban abortion outright?

For the first thirty years after Roe, it was assumed by both proponents and opponents that the issue would ultimately be settled in the judicial arena: Roe would either be strengthened or scrapped. Now I'm not so sure. If the medical technology advances, the legal definitions will likely change as well; before long, Roe may actually bar more abortions than it permits. I don't expect the hardcore activists on either side to be satisfied with this predicament, which is reason enough to look forward to it.

2 June 2003
We shall not be moved

Yesterday afternoon was fairly nice, with temperatures hovering in the quite-reasonable middle-80s range, and I spent some of it looking over a semi-rural neighborhood that had been affected by the May storms. It's definitely odd to see a two-lane road lined with neatly-stacked dead trees. (This area is in the city limits, so I assume that a city crew will be down this week to pick up the detritus.)

One neat sign, at a small Baptist church: "Bruised but Not Broken". I'll bet no one was scared out of house and home by the twisters; people here tend to stay put.

An example at the other end of town: my father, who is 76 today and has lived in the same house for thirty-four years. You'd have to pound that house into small Lego-sized pieces for him to even think about moving.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:36 AM to Soonerland )
No reasonable offer expected

Andrea Harris looks over the political landscape and wonders: "Would you buy a used car from these men?"

Well, not just men, and technically, not just cars either. As the phrase goes, read the whole thing; it will give you something to remember this time next year when the candidates open up fresh bottles of snake oil.

Those new FCC rules

The Federal Communications Commission, on the expected 3-2 party-line vote, approved some changes to the ownership caps on Big Media, though some restrictions were retained.

Under previous rules, a single entity could own TV stations reaching 35 percent of the national audience. The cap is now 45 percent.

A single entity may own two TV stations in a market with five to seventeen stations; however, only one of them may be among the four top-rated stations in that market. If a market has 18 stations or more, the limit is raised to three. The station total includes both commercial and noncommercial stations, but does not include LPTV facilities. Under the old rule, the FCC permitted an entity to own two television stations in a market if one of the stations was not one of the top four in the ratings and there were at least eight independently owned and operated commercial or noncommercial stations remaining in the market. (Oklahoma City has 12 TV stations; Sinclair Broadcast Group owns KOKH-TV, a Fox affiliate, which is usually among the top four, and KOCB-TV, an affiliate of The WB, which isn't. No one else owns more than a single station in the area.)

Newspaper crossownership continues to be banned in markets with three or fewer TV stations, but is permitted in markets with nine or more. (OPUBCO may now bid to acquire KWTV from the Griffin family.) In markets with four to eight stations, it depends on how many broadcast stations are already owned by the entity.

Radio limits were not changed, though the FCC will now use Arbitron's market research to determine the number of stations in a market. In markets with 45 or more stations, the limit for a single owner is eight, of which no more than five can be on the same band (3 AM and 5 FM would pass muster; 2 AM and 6 FM would not). In markets with from 30 to 44 stations, the limit is seven, four per band; in markets with 15 to 29 stations, it's six, four per band. In smaller markets, the limit is five, three per band. Again, the station total includes commercial and noncommercial stations, but not low-power stations or translators. Oklahoma City fits the 30-to-44 category; Clear Channel and Citadel each own four FMs (and two AMs), and Citadel programs another FM station via a local marketing agreement, but the LMA doesn't count toward Citadel's total. No other broadcast owner is close to being maxed out.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:41 PM to Overmodulation )
3 June 2003
Drippity drop

It's the third of June. Another sleepy, dusty Delta day? Maybe down by some other river. We're getting rained upon — half an inch since sunrise, after which it started coming down faster — and a particularly wet pattern is setting up for the rest of the week. It's as though someone looked at the statistics and yelled, "Cripes, Marv, we're down forty-nine percent on rainfall for the year!" Which we are. Or were, anyway. There are no flood warnings up yet, but a couple more hours like this and you won't have to throw things off the bridge: the water will take it right out of your hands.

Still, better in June than in January, when the combination of flakes on the road and flakes on the road is deadly, or at least annoying.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:10 AM to Weather or Not )
Sneed's Feed and Seed

Formerly Chuck's.

"The filthiest joke ever broadcast on network TV," says Lileks, and of course it's true — I remember watching the episode of The Simpsons in which it appeared, staring in disbelief, rewinding the tape just a smidgen, and staring in disbelief again, followed by "Oh. My. GOD." It was another ten minutes before I could resume viewing.

Lileks is also talking about refurbished gas stations this morning, which reminds me of a former Oklahoma City quasi-landmark that started out as a Texaco or something and was transmogrified in the Seventies into "Pumps Bar and Grill", a tony (to the extent possible) restaurant with the remarkable slogan "Premium Food at Regular Prices." And I don't remember ever having to tell the wait staff to get the lead out, either.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:32 AM to Blogorrhea )
Damned old road

I remember the last time I was on US Highway 666. It was at least fairly hellish, partially due to the fact that I was just outside Gallup, New Mexico, one of the few American towns anticipated by Dante.

And "the last time" is now the literal truth, for US 666 is no more, the three states through which it runs these days (the southern spur into Arizona was snubbed years ago) having whined sufficiently to the authorities; the old Devil's Highway is now the innocuous-sounding US 491.

There's some vague sense to this — three-digit US routes are generally considered tributaries of the corresponding two-digit highways, and US 66 faded into history years ago — but I definitely don't envy the state highway guys who had to petition the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, who presumably had to come up with arguments meatier than "My invisible friend is upset."

There is at present no Interstate 666, though I think the number could be put to use most appropriately, by affixing it to the New Jersey Turnpike. And no, it doesn't fit into the national grid there, but if Bud Shuster can have his damnable I-99 in the middle of Pennsylvania when by rights it should be in the middle of the Bay of Fundy, there's more than enough excuse to give the Garden State its own ticket to hell — and a toll ticket at that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:44 PM to Driver's Seat )
Sue me, sue you blues

Two survivors of the 1921 Tulsa race riots are suing The Tulsa Tribune, the Tulsa World, and the Ku Klux Klan; the lawsuit, filed in Missouri (!), claims that the Tribune "published highly inflammatory articles designed to whip up the Ku Klux Klan and the general white population."

What's interesting here, of course, is that the Tribune no longer exists; it folded in 1992 when the joint operating agreement with the World was terminated. The World is also named in the suit, but the JOA didn't exist in 1921, which means it's highly unlikely the World profited from anything the Tribune was doing. As for the Klan, well, I suppose they can subpoena Congressman Byrd from West Virginia. Me, I'm waiting for Coyote v. Acme, which to me makes much more sense.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:03 PM to Soonerland )
Mark your calendars

In just over a year — specifically, on 13 June 2004 — Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen will be eighteen, or, to use the technical term, "legal".

And McGehee still won't have any nude pictures of them.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:50 PM to Blogorrhea )
4 June 2003
Sartorial elegance

Andrea Harris, on music-video wardrobe concerns:

[A]ll the people in videos look like they were either attacked by a crowd of mad tattooists or were caught in a multicolored spandex tornado.

Of course, if you put everyone in Armani suits, everyone assumes you're making a statement likely to be even more fatuous than the one you're actually making.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:59 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Memos during wartime

Few people avoid the telephone as much as I do, but apparently Boathouse Group is just crammed full of kindred spirits, prompting this corporate nastygram:

If you think this doesn't apply to you, don't make any large cash purchases any time soon. For creative people, wearing headphones doesn't free you from this responsibility. If you think I'm kidding, try me.

We sent out a nice e-mail about this. Apparently it didn't work. This ain't no disco, this ain't no party, this ain't no fooling around.

I think we can safely assume that someone got Byrned.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:37 AM to Dyssynergy )
We got your Carnival right here

Well, actually, Drumwaster has it right here (at 7:33 am 4 June, if Blogspot permalinks perform to their usual standard). As always, the Carnival of the Vanities, now at 37 weeks and indisputably viable, is the Best of Blogdom from the past seven days, made more so this week by the fact that none of it was written by me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:16 AM to Blogorrhea )
Marked for death by Information Services (4)

Offense: Checking out a corporate notebook and bringing it back in Standby mode. I don't much care what you were doing at the time; I do care that the battery was down to 8 percent. Fortunately, I checked it over the day before it was scheduled to go out again, so it will have the benefit of an overnight charge, but dayum, people.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:55 PM to PEBKAC )
Hey, it could happen

Tionne "T-Boz" Watkins and Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas, the two surviving members of hip-hop/R&B group TLC, have filed suit in a Georgia court charging Discovery Communications, Inc., owner of The Learning Channel, with trademark infringement. The cable channel's logo consists of the three letters T L C in a serif font, under which is placed the motto "Life Unscripted".

"It is obvious," said Watkins, "that Discovery is taking advantage of, and intends to further take advantage of, our collective name and persona without seeking our consent. Our dear friend Left Eye [Lisa Lopes, who was killed in an automobile accident in Honduras in 2002] would never forgive us if we let this matter slide."

"Besides," added Thomas, "we're a lot better looking than Spike Lee."

A spokesman for Discovery Communications said he had not seen the suit, but pointed out that Discovery's rebranding of The Learning Channel took place in 1991, one year before Watkins, Lopes and Thomas formed their group in Atlanta.

(Inspired by this Cam Edwards post)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:20 PM to Bogus History )
5 June 2003
Skirvin update

The shuttered Skirvin Hotel, once the showplace of downtown Oklahoma City, is one step closer to becoming a working inn again. After soliciting proposals for redevelopment of the Skirvin this spring, the city, which owns the facility, has selected three finalists.

The apparent favorite, receiving the largest number of votes from the city's evaluation committee, was a proposal by former Hilton development officer John Weeman to reopen the Skirvin as a Hilton-branded hotel and conference center with 238 rooms. Weeman's track record includes the renovation of the Hilton Milwaukee City Center.

Wichita developer Jack DeBoer's proposal for an independent full-service hotel similar to his Hotel at Old Town in downtown Wichita also won support from the committee, as did the Historic Restoration Inc. offer to convert the hotel into upscale apartments.

Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys says he expects the final decision to be made within six months, and that the Skirvin, in whatever form, will be open by the time his term ends in 2006.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:19 AM to City Scene )
Announcing World Tour '03

It's only just now starting to take shape, but it begins on 13 July and will continue through the rest of the month and into the beginning of August.

Already things are not happening according to plan, but given the vague, inchoate nature of those plans anyway, I don't consider this a particular disadvantage.

Four venues are on the Must list this year:

Bloomington, Minnesota: The Mall of America, just because. (I will be accompanied for this segment by my two children, both of whom are hoping I will buy them stuff.)

Flat Rock, Michigan: My car would like to meet its parents, so to speak; more important, this gives me a chance to watch Dean Esmay get older.

Jamesburg, New Jersey: Annual pilgrimage to the spiritual home of tollbooths, and a two-day party.

Floyd County, Virginia: Just once I'd like to fact-check Fred on something.

As usual, I will be schlepping a notebook and will post daily updates from the road (well, actually from the hotel room); there will be a Movable Type category set up to keep the pertinent posts together.

Previous World Tours have averaged 4,500 miles or so; I suspect this one will be about the same. This very journey, needless to say, is a slap in the face of the Extremely Green, who envision a world where "Is this trip really necessary?" is exhumed from World War II rationing days and thrown up at motorists at every opportunity, and who can't imagine why someone might want to burn up a couple hundred gallons of gas for fun, fercrissake. In some ways I envy them — I've never quite been able to strike the perfect balance between anxiety and smugness, something they manage almost effortlessly — but they'll never understand the call of the open road, the delight of a perfectly-executed 50-mph apex on a 30-mph curve, the wonder of so many places separated by so much space. Maybe they can think about it while they wait for the bus.

Howell at the moon

Howell Raines, executive editor of The New York Times, and Gerald Boyd, managing editor, have resigned.

Does this herald actual improvements coming to the Times, or just another dye job for the Gray Lady? We shall see.

Meanwhile, Wizbang wonders if the Blogosphere? will get any credit for it:

I'm sure there will be much back slapping amongst the blogs who were all over the controversy, but much as in the case of Trent Lott, the blogosphere may get credit for building a groundswell but "old" media will take the head(s) for their trophy case.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:16 AM to Blogorrhea )
Desparkled

John at Collinization comes up with another reason to, in his words, "get the hell out of New York":

When I was a little kid, there were fireworks all over the neighborhoods on the fourth of July. All day, and all night, mortars going off, roman candles in the neighbor's yard, one year my dad even got one of those pinwheels and set it off; the whole block came down to watch it with the oos and ahhs.

Last year, me and a few friends were shooting off bottle rockets in an open field behind an elementary school, at night, and the school had been closed for a month. 3 separate people called the police on us. On the fourth of July. For lighting fireworks.

It's probably a good thing Mardi Gras isn't held in New York; they'd probably ban the parade because of the hazards of secondhand beads.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:43 AM to Dyssynergy )
Ecru jumpsuits rather than orange

Okay, maybe not. Not yet, anyway.

In the meantime, if you want Martha Stewart's side of the story, she's posted her official denial on the Web, along with a letter from her legal team.

I need hardly point out that the design is simple, tasteful and elegant, though the color scheme rubs me the wrong way.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:50 PM to Dyssynergy )
6 June 2003
Where the listeners are

In the early-June numbers, news/talk KTOK still occupies the top slot. Not a whole lot is happening below that; Renda's three FMs are still in the top five, and the KATT continues to slump. At least we can assume Cam Edwards still has a job.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:23 AM to Overmodulation )
Sheets to the wind

David "Clubbeaux" Sims describes his encounter with the Klan, and while he's not what you'd call enthusiastic about the group, he understands why it's still around, and why it's not just a collection of ignorant, bigoted Klux:

It goes along with my overall theory that low-level racial tension is quietly encouraged and abetted by the rich and powerful to keep the poor divided and distracted. Maybe it's never occurred to the framers of social engineering in as blunt terms as that, but it's uncanny how frequently policies trumpeted as helping blacks are at the expense not of the well-to-do or the connected, but the lumpen, the low-middle class or outright poor white rednecks. In every state in America. And of course when poor whites complain they're kicked down as "racists."

Now social engineering is to engineering what social disease is to disease — toxic and virulent, yet passed on with the best of intentions. And it would be well to remember this:

Poor whites aren't any more racist than anyone else, they're just victimized by racial politics more than anyone else, so they squawk about it more than anyone.

And if you squawk about it — well, you just might be a redneck. Rednecks, however, are not among the Protected Classes embraced by the occupants of the seats of power.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:22 AM to Almost Yogurt )
He's just a man

The Country Music Television list of 100 Greatest Songs didn't contain too many surprises, though the presence of Tammy Wynette's "Stand By Your Man" at the top will undoubtedly reinforce the notion that this 1968 Billy Sherrill production is the ultimate antifeminist anthem.

Which, if you ask me, it isn't. The words are submissive, maybe, but there's always been a streak of quiet acceptance running through country music — Nashville, despite friends in low places, is a very conservative place and boats are not rocked unnecessarily — and while the words (by Sherrill and Wynette) never question, never complain, Tammy's voice, to me anyway, sounds more sorrowful than resolute: she'll never leave him because, well, that's something you just don't do.

And yes, I know "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" came out the same year. But there's a reason they spell it out in front of the kid.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:11 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Void where prohibited

Kim du Toit will not give you a sample:

P[ersonnel] A[sshole]: You'll need to visit the Company Nurse for a drug test.

Me: Why? I don't take drugs.

PA: It's policy. (Starting to sound familiar?)

Me: I don't see why I have to prove to you that I don't take drugs — I've already told you I don't. Do you not trust your employees to tell the truth?

PA: It has nothing to do with trust. It's just policy.

Me: But that policy is based upon not believing someone, like me, when they tell you that they don't take drugs.

PA: I'm sorry, but it's just policy.

Me: Want to know my policy?

PA: What's that?

Me: I don't work for companies who don't trust their employees; who don't give them the benefit of the doubt; and who insist on this gross invasion of privacy.

PA: If you want to work for this company, you have to take a drug test.

Me: I think you misunderstood me — I just told you I don't want to work for this company.

42nd and Treadmill routinely inflicts these things on all new hires, on the dubious basis that some of us may at some point be asked to drive a truck, but I suspect that anyone who's been here longer than a few weeks is getting a lot of prescriptions filled.

And sometimes without a prescription, even.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:08 PM to Dyssynergy )
In the sweet buy and buy

The OkiePundit has announced (4 June, 11:32 pm) that in the wake of new FCC deregulation, he will seek to sell his blog to Clear Channel.

Little does he know that once he does, the new BlogTracking™ software developed by Clear Channel will make it possible for "his" posts to be actually entered by some guy in San Antonio.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:55 PM to Blogorrhea )
No carrier detected

As an old-line IT guy, I don't even bother to look up when someone mentions, say, flashing a BIOS.

Then I saw what Michele was going through with her modem:

Please, I admonished it. Please work.

It just winked and winked. I think it laughed. In fact, I know it laughed.

Until finally:

Maybe you could just flash me or something?

Excuse me?

Hey, modems have needs, too. Come on, show me your tits.

No wonder I never have any luck with comm devices.

But one question remains: would this technique have worked for Susanna?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:20 PM to Blogorrhea )
7 June 2003
Thighs matter

I am normally unconcerned about how much an actor resembles the person being portrayed — both Alanis Morissette and Morgan Freeman can do God convincingly, I think — but no way am I going to believe that Hillary Rodham Clinton has legs like Sharon Stone's.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:30 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Lo, these fuelish things

The state of Oregon isn't pulling in enough money from its 24-cent gasoline tax to cover its road-maintenance budget. What to do? Why, spend millions on a GPS-based system to tax motorists by road usage, of course.

To me, the only good reason to have a GPS in your car is to tell you that you're about to drive into the middle of Lake Itasca, a dubious functionality in my view, and there's always the concern about giving Big Brother access to my dashboard. And where will all these black boxes come from? The auto industry is going to be loath to install Oregon-specific equipment in one percent of its vehicles.

What's most annoying about this, I think, is that the state is going through all this folderol because the electorate won't put up with an increase in the gas tax, fully in keeping with today's modern "We want this service but we want someone else to pay for it" attitude. For the amount they'll spend on this, they could buy every driver in the state an early-Seventies Ford LTD or comparable beater that struggles to get 8 mpg when it's in tune, which would increase the take from the gas tax considerably and simultaneously cheese off the Greener Than Thou crowd.

(Muchas gracias: Alexander Craghead.)

Trees kill themselves in shame

The Roman Catholic bishops of Illinois have declared that the Left Behind novels by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins are seriously anti-Catholic, suggesting their flocks should spurn these big-selling Tales of the Last Days.

Peppermint Patty offers a more compelling reason for avoiding these books: they suck.

My 7th Grade son can write better fiction than this. It's painful to read this stuff, it reads like the crap I used to write when I was 12: awkward, unnatural, pretentious, lacking any true ring of authentic speech or thought.

Don't hold back, Patty. How do you really feel?

What shocks me profoundly is the obscene amount of money [LaHaye and Jenkins] are making off of the worst written books in the history of literature, and this includes The Bridges of Madison County, which runs a close second.

Having survived L. Ron Hubbard's Mission Earth series — ten volumes of steadily-increasing horribleness — I'm inclined to drop Madison County to third, or twelfth, or something, but clearly Left Behind is in august company. Fortunately, August comes but once a year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:09 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Really sensible specification

The always-inventive Kevin Aylward has a suggestion for the next generation of RSS distribution:

What I'm looking for in a next generation news reader is an advanced level of filters, view, and rules. One analogy that comes to mind is the Outlook rules engine. I would like to be able to have multiple views of my RSS space: one view with all the subscribed feeds; another view that shows all posts that meet certain key word matches; another view that is a combination of rules, etc. For rules I'm thinking things like:

Show all post from InstaPundit.com from today + any post from these 4 blogs about the Times scandal + the Asshated Celebrities category from Rachel Lucas.

I could go for that. In fact, I think I could go for that very rule, so long as the Times scandal still smolders.

And of course, once more of us use RSS daily, as we likely would if we had tools like that, more of us would clean up our generic RSS templates. :)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:37 PM to Blogorrhea )
8 June 2003
Deal on the table

Two of the largest furniture retailers in Oklahoma City will be brought together under a single corporate roof.

Mathis Brothers (3434 West Reno), which already owns four stores (with four different names) in the area, is acquiring majority control of Evans (SW 3 and Portland, three blocks away) for an undisclosed sum.

No substantive changes are planned at Evans, which will retain its separate identity; for the TV viewer, this means that every ten minutes or so, if you're not seeing a commercial for one, you're seeing a commercial for the other.

The Mathises, even with this acquisition, are a long way from controlling the local furniture market, however, and the merger will not have any problems sailing through the FCC (Federal Chair Commission).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:16 AM to City Scene )
So unsporting of us

Condi Rice was on Face the Nation this morning, and Bob Schieffer, almost apologetically it seemed, brought up the question of "So where are Saddam's weapons of mass destruction?" Dr Rice was calm and collected as always, and she recited basically the same answer she'd given on Meet the Press an hour before, but you could read it in her face: "Oh, Christ, not this again."

Mark Steyn has an answer in the Telegraph:

Insofar as this is a serious argument, let's rebut it in terms the armchair accusers can understand: Liberty. Not the liberty George W Bush has brought to Iraq, which Eurosophisticates are so sniffy about, but the Liberty on Regent Street. I once ordered a sofa from Liberty and, as is the way, I had to wait till they made it. They didn't have the sofa itself, but they had sofa capability. That's what counts: capability, not inventory. It would obviously be easier to wait and pick the evidence of WMD out of the rubble of Birmingham, but for the Americans it is capability that's the determining criterion.

Which explains much about the objections to the war: why, we didn't give them the chance to build up their arsenals! It wasn't a level playing field at all! We didn't play fair!

Sheesh. Put a cork in it, fercryingoutloud. And not one of Sammy Sosa's, either.

Nailing spammers

Eric Scheie at Classical Values proposes this modest solution to the problem of email spam:

Spammers could simply be crucified along the highways, just the way the Romans did it. As in the good old days of public crucifixions along the Via Appia, here the modern Al Gore Information Superhighway could be seamlessly linked to live crucifixions via strategic web cams, viewable at anti-spam websites, where we could watch the spammers die (and other spammers could witness the fates of their comrades). What a deterrent!

A real "Pilate Program!"

Needless to say, no libertarian would seriously propose that the government get involved in such cruel punishments (which obviously violate the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution), and I am not doing that. Let's keep it in the private sector where it belongs. Spammers flooded the world with shoddy advertisements during their lives, and it is only fair that their deaths be advertising spectacles — the tackier the better! "Your corporate message and logo HERE! on THIS CROSS!" (Buy as many crosses as you can afford!) "Another spammer nailed courtesy of SnuffNet.com!" Securely fastened with "Palm Pilate" brand "finishing nails" — as seen on the Internet!

Serves 'em right for promising to grow all that wood for us.

(Muchas gracias: Craig Ceely.)

Hot-air production

A chap identified as "billder" at Indymedia warns us about the evils of weather control:

HAARP Antennae, which are arrayed across America in every city, as we speak, are powered up in a given region, transmitting directed energies. This is measurable. These antennae are also used for cellular communications, as well as surveillance. There are cams on most if not all of them — there is a high probability surv cams are standard equipment on all the broadcast towers. Why not? Thats just a minor infraction when compared to the crimes committed daily against America with the invisible but highly effective RADIANT ARSENAL.

The HAARP Antennae are powered up, and are used to heat a portion of the atmosphere above the antennae farm, in particular the ionosphere. Research Bernard Eastlunds patents for more on that. That portion of the ionosphere then becomes refractive, and/or reflective, allowing Virtual Mirrors and Virtual Lenses to be used for steering and focusing of secondary and tertiary energies. The weather modification seems to take place by heating up a portion of the atmosphere, causing it to rise at a predictable rate.

The government, of course, asserts that HAARP is perfectly harmless. And what happens when these segments of the atmosphere are moved out of position, anyway? Here's what "billder" says:

The biggest problem with moving segments of the atmosphere upward is that huge doses of radiation are allowed to bathe the earth at chosen "Sites of concentration": relatively unscreened sunlight is allowed greater access to the earths surface, and that radiation can be very harmful to living tissue, as is evidenced in many places now. Also high heat can be made to happen this way, like over a lake, thereby dessicating an area as a means to further subject a population or cause hunger, the greatest coercion of all time, even powerful enough to usurp the second amendment, which has been the main goal of Americas Conquerors since day one.

Well, lakes can and do dry up, but we're talking a long-term process here; it's not like we're moving the earth a couple million miles closer to the sun. Although I suppose that's next on the agenda of the Evil Empire.

Oh, well. I only mentioned this for the Second Amendment reference, which is, shall we say, not exactly representative of the present-day left. Anyway, if you assemble enough local towers and tune them properly, you supposedly get a Broadcast Canopy, and what are they for?

Broadcast Canopys...are used to perpetuate things like through-wall radar, very long distance sound bugging of premises, computer monitoring from afar, and general invasions of privacy whenever the military CIA take-over shills-for-Israel decide it is necessary.

My advice: buy aluminum stocks. Foil for hat linings is apparently in greater demand than I imagined.

(Via Fark, which tabs this story UNLIKELY.)

9 June 2003
Going, going, (almost) gone

In the spring, I wrote about Atkinson Plaza, the shopping center along Southeast 29th Street in Midwest City that used to dominate commerce in this part of the county until newer and spiffier facilities started showing up.

At the time, I said this:

Atkinson Plaza, once decorated, now declassé, is probably doomed, unless someone decides that World War II-era architecture is worth saving and can be sold to someone else.

Well, it's doomed. The city of Midwest City will demolish Atkinson Plaza and replace it with, of course, a newer and spiffier facility. The last of the tenants has cleared out, so it's just a matter of scheduling the dozers; the proposed 800,000-square-foot complex should be completed by the beginning of 2005.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:07 AM to City Scene )
Know thine audience

The Elder at Fraters Libertas tries to assuage the frustration in the ranks of their readers:

Next I must apologize to Scott from Oklahoma City and all the other lonely, sexually deprived, thirty something men out there surfing the net in their underwear at 2:20am in the morning (recent market surveys indicate this segment compromises approximately 93% of our readership) who found the link promising Linda Carter's breasts broken last Friday.

I wish to state for the record that (1) it has been ten years since I could legitimately call myself "thirty-something" and (2) it is very difficult to imagine any circumstances under which I would be wearing underwear at 2:20 am.

Oh, and he did fix the link.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:56 AM to Blogorrhea )
Same ox, same Gore, as before

The Lone Dissenter, a high-school student within shrieking distance of the San Francisco Bay, steps through the SAT II Writing exams and finds something stuck to her shoes:

There was a passage — a first draft of an essay, and we were meant to answer the questions about what should be changed. Realize — this is an English exam, not history. The first essay was about the electoral college. The first paragraph just wrote about the origins of the e.c.. The second paragraph, however, argued that since America had now become a "national village" (phrase theirs, complete with quotes), where the relationship of the individual to the national government was far more important than the relationship of the individual to the state, it was ridiculous and unbelievable that a candidate could carry a state while getting less than half of the vote. Why, it is even possible for someone to win a national election while getting less than 50% of the national vote! "The only way that we can truly serve our democracy," the last sentence read, "is to eliminate the electoral college".

What should be changed? Why, the person who wrote that part of the test should be replaced, and for the most obvious of reasons:

We aren't being tested on our belief in the idea of the essay, we just have to correct the grammar. But if that isn't subtle brainwashing, I don't know what is.

To the College Board: Boilerplate. Look into it.

The $80,000 question

Michele wonders about Andrew Sullivan's semiannual "pledge weeks":

I could entertain you as much as Sullivan can and for a far lot less in the wallet department. I have boobs, Andrew doesn't. I have personal stories about love, lust and drugs. Andrew doesn't. Andrew gets linked all the time by major media, so his blog is nice and professional. I never get linked by major media so I can be dirty and nasty and downright rude, making for much more fun content-wise.

I think Mr Sullivan is capable of rudeness, but he seems to resist it most of the time.

Still, if AndrewSullivan.com is worth 80 large twice a year, surely Michele deserves some huge sum in her own right, and she shouldn't have to bare her body to get it. (Not that I'll complain in the slightest should she decide to do so.)

Regular readers will note that I do not have a tip jar and do not plan to install one. There are three factors involved here:

  1. I have comparatively little traffic and generate no excess-bandwidth bills;
  2. Other bloggers have far greater needs than I;
  3. I'd be almost as embarrassed by receiving a gift as I would be by not receiving one.

And no, I don't have $80,000 in my PayPal account; at the moment, it's somewhere south of $80.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:08 PM to Blogorrhea )
10 June 2003
Nichols: penny-pincher?

"The time has finally come to put an end," said Terry Nichols' defense attorneys in their letter requesting that the state Supreme Court dismiss state charges against the Oklahoma City bombing conspirator, "to a prosecution that this financially strapped state cannot afford."

The Supremes declined: "This court has no power to order that a criminal prosecution be dismissed." The defense had argued that the court could assume jurisdiction, on the basis that spiraling defense costs would unfairly impact other state cases.

Justice Ralph Hodges, in his concurring opinion, smacked down this notion: "Counsel should return to the process of defending Nichols rather than focusing too narrowly on whether the defense team will be sufficiently compensated."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:17 AM to Soonerland )
Return of the Invisible Man

Well, somebody must be posting those no-name entries at Silflay Hraka.

(I think Bigwig accidentally zapped himself into a different visual reality after repeated immersion in Apache documentation, but I can't prove it.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:35 AM to Blogorrhea )
Doing a perfect 360

Dear Lynn:

Do you need 5¼-inch diskettes? Let me know. I have boxes of the darn things.

And a drive, should it be necessary.

Love and segment registers,

Chaz

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:20 AM to Outgoing Mail , PEBKAC )
Marked for death by Information Services (5)

Offense: Generating a six-hour print job and then one hour later sending an underling to ask if it's ready yet because "we need something to do."

I suggested something, but it requires an extremely detailed knowledge of anatomy, topology and non-Euclidean geometry, so I rather expect that it went undone.

(Update, 11 June, 7:05 am: They haven't picked it up yet.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:48 PM to PEBKAC )
11 June 2003
Of coarse, of coarse

You don't need me to tell you to go read Lileks, but this bit is so good it demands to be repeated:

If "not buying something" is "in effect, censoring" then I have spent my entire life silencing the right of Adam Sandler to speak his mind. And would someone please explain to me why "civil liberties" groups are spending their time worrying about the homogenization of popular culture? I'd offer that American society provides so many opportunities for expression that "civil liberties" groups are reduced to complaining that the failure of Wal-Mart greeters to hand out free copies of Phuq U's latest CD is the equivalent of the National Guard arresting Molly Ivins and confiscating her typewriters.

It's that "diversity" thing, y'know; and since we Ward Cleaver types don't rush to embrace it — "What if it sucks?" — the nation must rise as one to shove it down our collective throats and into Wal-Mart's inventory system. I persist in the weird notion that "Wal-Mart doesn't carry something you want? Fine. Go somewhere else."

My subscription copy of Vanity Fair arrived yesterday, its cover liberally festooned with implausibly hot yet relentlessly underage babes. (Yes, Kevin, including both Olsens.) I gawked at this thing for entirely too much time, then started wondering if maybe the squarer retailers (which around here means most of them) were going to put one of those rectangular shields over the rack to prevent in-store gawking. I have nothing in the world against teenage girls — once upon a time I was in love with a teenage girl — but I get queasy when they're presented as Hotties On The Verge, and I don't think it's just because I'm fifty and the, um, commodities in question are younger than my children. God knows what Lileks would make of this.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:10 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Replacing Stipe

State Representative Richard Lerblance will take over Gene Stipe's former Senate seat; he won 55 percent of the vote in Stipe's heavily-Democratic district over Republican Jess Davis in yesterday's special election.

Of course, this means there will be another special election, to fill Lerblance's House seat.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:48 AM to Soonerland )
Our chief weapon is vanity

This week's edition of Carnival of the Vanities is hosted by Overtaken by Events; amongst its diverse elements you will find more than sixty examples of blogdom at its best. (No, I'm not in it this week.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:55 AM to Blogorrhea )
Transient, it seems

I have raved before about pianist/composer Catherine Marie Charlton, and when I'm not champing at the bit for a new CD (she's released three), I'm wondering what a CMC live performance might be like.

So I'm plotting a route for the World Tour, and it occurs to me: Charlton lives in Delaware. I'm going through eastern Pennsylvania and into New Jersey. Is there any chance she's playing while I'm there?

Well, yes and no. She's performing with The Brandywiners in a production of Me and My Girl at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, a place I wouldn't at all mind seeing — but she's not playing.

She's dancing.

On one level, I feel rather strangely let down. On another, I marvel at how amazingly talented she must be.

Folding the "road map"

Wylie is not entirely happy with the way the Bush administration is handling That Other Middle East Issue:

Certainly his determination to stand up to Islamic terrorists is a sea change from the previous administration, and that can only be good for Israel. But allowing the State Department and others in his administration to constantly snipe at Israeli counter-terrorist measures is hardly salutary. His inconsistency is manifest in insisting that America must resist terrorism, with force where necessary, but that Israel is "undermining the peace process" when they retaliate against terrorist acts.

The President is trying, I suppose, to avoid the appearance of taking sides, and while this is the sort of thing that buys Brownie points at the UN, it's not the most useful approach to this particular situation. Things are a lot more cut and dried than that:

[I]t is obvious that there will never be peace in the area of the former Palestinian protectorate until (1) the state of Israel is destroyed and the entire area is controlled by Muslims, or (2) Israel says "to hell with it" and drives all the 'Palestinians' out of the West Bank and Gaza area and makes it clear to the rest of the Arab world that they will either play nice or suffer the consequences. That's all they understand, and that's all that will ever be effective in dealing with them — force, not conciliation. The sooner Bush or some subsequent President recognizes that, and reshapes his or her policy to deal more realistically with the situation, the sooner this situation will actually be on the road to permanent improvement.

Evidently it's not obvious enough, if it still has to be explained in stark terms like this, but does anyone seriously believe the Israelis and the Palestinians can live side by side in semiperfect harmony? I'd give better odds to the Arsonist Arms apartments opening up next door to the refinery.

12 June 2003
Dream house

In this morning's nightmare (somewhere between 3 and 5 am), friends and family have dragged me onto a suburban street to show me exactly the home of my dreams: spacious, precisely the layout I'd want, and best of all, for sale.

"I can't possibly afford this," I complained.

"Will you at least talk to them?"

They were anxious to deal — they'd shaved more than a few dollars off the six-figure price — but it would still cost me three times what I'm spending to keep a roof over my head now, and I'm not at all inclined to pour 70 percent of my income into housing.

What was really odd, though, was the whispering among the neighbors on that side of the street, and how it suddenly stopped whenever I approached. And further, no one seemed to know anything about the previous resident, why he was selling, what he was like, even his name.

So no sale, but I'm wondering just what put this scenario into my head, and I'm further wondering if there is any significance to the address: I don't recall the street name, but the five digits 22071, in gold over the dark-brown trim, stick in my mind for some reason.

The General rushes to rebuild

The General Motors assembly plant in Oklahoma City, severely damaged by May tornadoes, will reopen on the last day of June. GM's in a hurry, since this plant builds some high-markup vehicles: the GMC Envoy and Chevrolet TrailBlazer twins and their Isuzu Ascender cousin.

GM predicts repair costs and lost time at the plant will knock down quarterly profits by 25 to 35 cents per share, around $150 million. A crew has already come in to finish the trucks that were being built when the storms hit, and the usual two-week summer shutdown will be canceled.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:10 AM to City Scene )
What a bringdown

Most of the people in the next lane playing ghastly horrible crap in lieu of actual music are blasting the current variety of degraded R&B/hip-hop.

I said "most". DragonAttack cites an instance when it wasn't:

As I strolled up the sidewalk, shopping center traffic was passing me on my left, at the shopping center speed limit of five miles per hour. And then I heard it. Music coming from a car. But not just any music. I heard the never-ending, piano-heavy, extremely painful outro of Layla, and I was blinded with a flash of very hot, very intense rage. I decided that the right thing to do would be jump on the hood of the car and pound on the windshield, all the while hollering, "If you are old enough to drive you are old enough to have heard Layla one billion times! Change the station! Change the station now!"

She didn't, and things actually got worse:

I knew that any minute, either a commercial or a classic rock deejay would come blasting out of his speakers. Oh, how I wish I had been right. Instead, what started up but the useless syrupy claptrap that people mistake for a soulful riff that begins the most horrible of all songs, Wonderful Tonight.

No argument from me.

Good night, David

Veteran newsman David Brinkley has died at his Houston home.

Brinkley, 82, cohosted NBC's Huntley-Brinkley Report from 1956 to 1971; in 1981, he moved to ABC, where he became the host of This Week, a position he held for sixteen seasons.

A personal note: While I mourn Mr Brinkley's passing, it scores me 18 points and $20 in the Amish Tech Support Dead Pool.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:30 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Great truth from the Great White North

SurlyPundit offers an insight into why Canada seems so darn, um, Canadian:

We believe in "peace, order, and good government", and we usually have two of the three.

And this .667 average, she says, contributes to the stability of the nation:

The current attitude towards politics in Canada is, "Yeah, whatever." If we actually cared about whatever fool thing Ottawa's doing now, we would all have apoplexies and coronaries and other ailments caused by fatal awareness of our own government's impotence, incompetence, and corruption. And what would that do to healthcare?

Well, it makes sense to me.

13 June 2003
Scraping the sky

Given Oklahoma's eternal winds and all, not too many really tall buildings are built in this state, and most of the taller ones are in Tulsa, where there used to be money.

Still, 500 feet is nothing to sneer at on the prairie, and the 32-year-old Bank One Tower, all 36 stories of it, is for sale. The building is 97 percent occupied and offers 512,000 square feet of space; the selling price is expected to exceed $25 million. If I've counted correctly, the B1T is the fifth-tallest building in the state; Tulsa's Williams Tower, at 667 feet, tops out over the others.

The Daily Oklahoman describes the Tower as "the first major downtown office property to be formerly listed since a slew of office buildings sold in 1998-2000." Actually, of course, the Tower is currently listed; it won't be formerly listed until it isn't listed any more. (I suspect they meant to say "formally".)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:13 AM to Soonerland )
Trying Times

Jane Galt puzzles over the question of why Howell Raines left The New York Times in such a big hurry despite perfoming precisely according to Pinch Sulzberger's desires, and reaches a conclusion:

[T]he consumer doesn't care. The market isn't reacting. Yet Raines was fired anyway. As far as I can see, his only real firing offense was embarrassing Pinch in front of other journalists, most of whom don't buy papers. And maybe making affirmative action look bad.

Of course, embarassing the boss has long been a sacking offense. But as any consultant will tell you, when episodes like that happen, the organization would usually do better to sack the boss.

Not that this is likely to happen at the Times — or at any place I've ever worked, for that matter.

And whether you believe that blogs killed Howell Raines (a nice thought, but more than a trifle overblown, I think) or that he was brought down by simple hubris, it seems clear to me that the Times, at least for the short haul, is better off without him.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:47 AM to Dyssynergy )
Just slightly Spiked

The planned unveiling of Viacom's Spike TV, the replacement for The Network Formerly Known As Nashville, has been put on hold; a New York judge has issued an injunction against Viacom at the request of Spike Lee, who believes that the name is an infringement upon his persona.

No word from director Spike Jonze, the late bandleader Spike Jones, or Buffy's erstwhile boyfriend.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:13 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Workin' for MCA

It's not exactly the result of seven years of hard luck, as Skynyrd used to say, but MCA Records is about to do The Amazing El Foldo, with its pop acts absorbed into the Geffen (or possibly Interscope) labels as a result of restructuring by parent Universal Music Group.

The existence of an MCA record label is pretty remarkable in itself. MCA began as a talent agency, founded by Jules Stein in 1924; eventually MCA merged with the American branch of Decca Records and subsequently acquired Universal Pictures. In the early Seventies, MCA phased out the Decca name, perhaps because of confusion with British Decca (which sold records Stateside on the London label), and began issuing recordings on the MCA Records label. Ownership of the MCA labels changed hands a number of times, and eventually they were restructured to form the Universal Music Group. The Big Six companies at the turn of the century were reduced to Five when Universal acquired the Polygram group, including (yes!) British Decca.

Geffen being a pop/rock label, it seems unlikely that Universal will move the artists from the MCA Nashville roster to Geffen, so the Music City outpost may be the last gasp for the MCA name, a fitting union of pencil-pushers and honky-tonk queens.

A New York state of mind

If you would know the greatest rock song ever, David "Clubbeaux" Sims says, "Take a walk."

In his best Lester Bangs voice, yet.

14 June 2003
More cryptic than TripTik

Despite my best efforts, an itinerary for World Tour '03 is beginning to take shape. I have added to the list of Major Stops:

Brighton, Delaware: Nonexistent for now, but wait.

Herndon, Virginia: I am informed that it came to me in a dream.

Draw a giant clock-face on the contiguous 48 states. If you have a recommendation between noon and three, let me know.

Flying fickle finger of fame

Jim Treacher wants to know:

Why does everybody on the Internet think they're famous?

I mean, even Glenn [Reynolds], who's one of the most popular bloggers and the first guy they contact for every newspaper article and TV news story about blogs, isn't as well-known as a guest star in the second 15 minutes of a WB sitcom. Not a slam on Glenn; that's just the way it is.

Note to everybody in the sphere o' blogs: You are not famous. Do not assume anybody knows who you are.

Not to worry. Hardly anyone knows who I am, either within the blogeoisie or without. Probably safer that way in the long run.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:03 AM to Blogorrhea )
"Land Cruiser" was taken

As mentioned here earlier, Avanti Motors is reviving the Studebaker name for a humongous sport-utility vehicle dubbed XUV, the X denoting, um, "Xtreme". It's certainly xtremely large, at 216 inches long and 80 inches wide — and 80 inches tall, yet. The new Stude is based on Ford's F-250 SuperDuty chassis and comes with Dearborn's 6.8-liter V10 or 6.0-liter turbodiesel V8. Contrary to a General Motors lawsuit filed earlier this year, the überStude resembles the Hummer H2 not in the least.

Do I want one of these things? Not particularly. Unless, of course, Big Brother decides to tell me that I can't have one.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:14 PM to Driver's Seat )
Resources? What resources?

Iraqi oil reserves, the Administration has always insisted, belong to the people of Iraq, and it appears that they meant it.

Ron Bailey approves:

I kind of like the idea of using a nation's natural abundance to help alleviate the pain and suffering of the general population.

If it works in Iraq, maybe we could try something similar here in the United States.

Never happen. Too many people in this country are persuaded that pain and suffering are actually good for you. (Not good for them, of course.)

And they didn't need a road map

After 125 years, apparently it's over.

Today in Pikeville, Kentucky, descendants of the Hatfield and McCoy families signed a truce, ending the feud that is believed to have started in 1878 when Randolph McCoy accused Floyd Hatfield of stealing a pig.

Actual warfare between the families has been sparse in recent years; in fact, in 2000, the Reunion Festival was established as a means of drawing the feuding families together (and, not incidentally, to draw some tourism dollars to the Tug Valley). Still, there had never been a formal end to hostilities until today.

So far, no response from Korea, where the war between North and South now moves into first place on the Formally Unresolved Conflict charts.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:49 PM to Almost Yogurt )
15 June 2003
No slab jokes, please

Tony Roma, whose little BBQ place in North Miami grew to over 250 upscale rib joints across the country, has died in California at the age of 78.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:12 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The Naked WMD

It's time, they say, to find those Weapons of Mass Destruction® once and for all.

And surely this is the man for the job.

(Muchas gracias: Patrick Nielsen Hayden.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:33 AM to Blogorrhea )
A man for all streets

Max Power: the Greg Packer of his generation.

No, really.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:10 PM to Dyssynergy )
Classical 101

No, that doesn't refer to WRR (101.1) in Dallas, which, according to 100000watts.com, is apparently not going to be sold after all.

At Reflections in D Minor, Lynn is putting together a series called Classical Music for the Absolute Beginner. Part I, which appeared a week ago, offers a list of useful Web sites, but the really neat stuff is in Part II, which lists pieces you probably already know.

Ultimately, what I'd really like to see, and it will undoubtedly take someone with a bigger budget for bandwidth, is a Web-based variation on a theme proposed about two decades ago by CBS Masterworks (now morphed into Sony Classical). The so-called Theme Finder (issued as M2X 36929) drew together 222 fragments from the Basic Repertoire on two LPs, complete with origin and (of course) catalog number of the album on which the entire work could be purchased. With a wide range of selections, from the Grand March from Aida to the Zampa Overture, this was a wonderful tool for browsing or for playing some mediumfalutin' version of "Name That Tune".

Where are the Hank Snows of yesteryear?

That Ain't Country dot Com, billed as "Latest Outrages to Grand Ole Country", is one of those sites that bemoan the vapidity of present-day Nashville, and while I suspect its writers would have been just as unhappy forty-odd years ago when Music Row started dubbing in strings behind Patsy Cline, they're delightfully snarky when they find a target — and these days, there's no shortage of targets.

I particularly liked this April denunciation of a Rascal Flatts disc:

Rascal Flatts sings spritely songs with good harmony and toe-tapping rhythms, but you can say exactly the same thing about the Backstreet Boys' albums, and for exactly the same reasons. Worse, both groups smell of Stridex and Zima, instead of whiskey and heartache.

You don't even want to imagine what they had to say about the Dixie Chicks.

16 June 2003
Sex.com, lies, and VeriSign

Gary Kremen owned the presumably lucrative domain sex.com, and all was well, as the phrase goes.

Then in 1995, one Stephen Michael Cohen forged a letter from Kremen's company asking domain registrar VeriSign to transfer the domain to, um, Stephen Michael Cohen. And VeriSign promptly did so.

Six years of litigation followed. Cohen admitted to the forgery, but has thus far managed to avoid the $65 million in penalties and restitution ordered by the court. He appealed the size of the judgment to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which refused any relief, and last week the Supreme Court upheld the judgment. Cohen himself wasn't present; he is hiding out in Mexico.

Gary Kremen, however, has bigger fish to fry: VeriSign has refused to accept any responsibility for turning over the domain to Cohen, arguing that a domain name cannot be considered "property" in any legal sense and therefore they cannot be held liable; further, says VeriSign, if it is found liable, the entire registry system could crumble, heralding the end of the Internet as we know it.

VeriSign's Network Solutions unit has been working to clean up its act in recent years — and, not incidentally, to further limit its liability in domain disputes — but should the courts find for Kremen, it will cost NSI $100 million and what's left of its credibility.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:43 AM to PEBKAC )
What's out of your wallet?

A brief word of praise for Capital One, so far the only credit-card issuer I've seen who actually sends a follow-up letter to confirm the cancellation of an account.

Of course, if they had offered a better interest rate, I probably wouldn't have canceled the card in the first place, but at least they answer their mail.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:12 PM to Common Cents )
Europe demands equal time

The Council of Europe, one of those pesky non-governmental organizations that the UN and its friends so cherish, has come up with a notion that demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that if someone were to propose something like the First Amendment in the European Union, it would be laughed off the agenda in record time.

Declan McCullagh at CNET's News.com reports that the Council is about to adopt a measure which would demand that should a person or an organization be criticized on the Net, at a news site, on a listserv, even in a blog, the Webmaster or list-owner must make space available for a response to that criticism, what they call the "right of reply."

This is nothing particularly new for Europe. Many European countries have provisions similar to this for Old Media, and the U.S. used to have something like it — Section 315, the infamous "fairness doctrine" — before it was abolished in 1987. At the time, naysayers (myself included) warned that an end to the regulation would inevitably mean an end to controversial topics on television; a decade and a half later, even the most perfunctory slide through the dial shows it hasn't done any such thing.

And if this abomination is passed by the Council and enacted into law in a number of countries, it will be a sure sign that those countries are more interested in keeping feathers from being ruffled than in any recognizable form of free speech — and yet another indication that we are wise to seek our allies elsewhere.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:43 PM to Dyssynergy )
17 June 2003
They never give up

One part scam, one part spam — how can I resist mentioning it here?

Dear Customer,

Fleet Bank team is happy to introduce a new level of security. Follow the link to
the information update and login page:
http://www.fleet-security.com

Kind regards, Fleet Bank team.

Just incidentally, fleet-security.com has nothing to do with Fleet Bank or any Fleet Boston Financial operation: it's owned by Michigander Kelley Shlentz and exists, so far as I can tell, specifically to steal personal information. (I say "so far as I can tell" because I couldn't reach the site this morning: perhaps someone else has already lowered the boom upon this schmuck.) It's people like that who make the death penalty understandable.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 AM to Scams and Spams )
Take the pledge

It appears Kevin McGehee has already reached his fund-raising goal, all $8.00 of it.

I had previously dropped some odd sum in his tip jar, but since he's now over the top, I figure the least I can do is to give him a good start toward his next eight bucks. And if there's anything I'm good at doing, it's the least.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:50 AM to Blogorrhea )
Positive accounting

Most of this Sandy McLendon piece at FlatRateTech deals with perceived weakness in Ford's customer service, but the penultimate paragraph extends way beyond Detroit:

There's a funny thing going on in Corporate America these days — companies speak of "profits", instead of what they used to, "earnings". Well, I have to admit there's a certain amount of weird honesty in that. Many companies are profiting from poor product and poor treatment of consumers — but they haven't earned anything.

(Via BlueOvalNews)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:14 AM to Dyssynergy )
The Democratic dilemma

The Baseball Crank is pretty certain about it:

[T]here's really nothing the Democrats can do to defeat George W. Bush in 2004. Which is not to say he can't be beaten, just that what can do him in is mostly a combination of external circumstances (the economy, setbacks in the war) and missteps by the Administration.

No one can beat Bush but Bush himself. At this point in time, it seems a fair assessment. Is anyone out there on the Democratic horizon?

[I]f you wanted to design a perfect candidate to challenge Bush, you'd want someone who could pose as a moderate; who had impeccable national-security credentials; who's got a long record as a spending hawk; and who is personally identified with opposing the cozy relationship of big money to power in Washington.

Then again, we've seen that perfect candidate already, and he lost to Bush in the primaries in 2000.

Which leads to the next question: since some consider said candidate a Republican "in name only", is it conceivable that he might switch parties between now and the beginning of the primary season? And if so, would he be embraced — or shunned — by the Democrats?

Yeah, yeah, I know: are the Democrats in a position to shun anyone at this point?

18 June 2003
Geographically acceptable

I reprint this NCBuy item (via Fark) without comment:

NEW YORK (Wireless Flash) — The Beach Boys may have wished they all could be "California Girls," but most American men prefer Southern belles.

According to a new survey by Harlequin romance, 30 percent of American men have the hots for girls from the south and 23 percent prefer east coast gals.

By comparison, west coast women only garner 14 percent, while the Midwest farmers' daughters attract 19 percent of guys.

Finally, only 6 percent of American men think women from the mountain states are sexy.



Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:26 AM to Table for One )
Tracking the elusive Expert

Susanna Cornett examines the process by which Those Other Media locate experts to consult, a process which lately is beginning to include the browsing of blogs. And at some point she said this:

I think newspapers shortchange themselves by not knowing more about their own journalists, who are natural resources for a media outlet. For example, with my educational emphasis on criminal justice, I'd be a natural to cover crime, law enforcement and other such topics. But I'm also a quilter, a cross-stitcher, an avid reader of romances, mysteries, sci fi, fantasy and cooking magazines, and a pretty decent Southern cook. I have a pretty good working knowledge of the Bible, I know something about what it's like to move from a rural area to a dense urban setting, I negotiated by myself for my first new car, and I love Bluegrass music. None of those things are evident from my professional qualifications. But all of those areas might be covered in the pages of the local newspaper, and while I wouldn't necessarily want or be asked to cover any of them I would be a very good resource for a journalist writing on any of them.

And after reading that for the second time, it dawned on me that this same list could make for a fairly compelling personal ad as well.

Not to suggest anything; I'm just saying.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:06 AM to Blogorrhea )
If it's Wednesday, this must be Carnival

And of course it is. This week's edition of the Carnival of the Vanities is presented by Real Women Online under the direction of Shanti. If you haven't caught on yet, this is the compendium of the Best of the Blogs for the past seven days, and it's always worth reading.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:35 AM to Blogorrhea )
45 and holding

Sahar Aktar has a piece in Salon that grouses about Apple's iTunes and any successors it may spawn. This is the tag for the article:

As songs are increasingly sold one by one online, the musical creativity and risk-taking associated with the album format will decline.

This makes the startling assumption that musical creativity and risk-taking are actually associated with the album format, a proposition impossible to defend, especially with statements like this:

In the 1950s and early '60s, the 45 was the medium of choice for popular music. The problem, at least for innovation, was that the 45 only allowed up to three minutes of recording on each side. This limitation on space sent the marginal cost of selling music soaring and forced record labels to view the B side as another vehicle for mass-appeal music, and not as a stage on which to experiment. Since there were only two pieces released at a time, B sides were targeted for radio play and for popular consumption in the same way that A sides were.

This is demonstrably false, and can be refuted in two words: Phil Spector. America's favorite insane record producer was so intent upon getting you to listen to the A side that he would toss throwaway instrumental noodlings (with "titles" based on the names of the sidemen, such as "Tedesco and Pitman") on the back. And away from the Wall of Sound, yes, occasionally a B side would overshadow the A, but it usually took a fairly horrid A side (say, the Tokens' "Tina", which ultimately gave way to "The Lion Sleeps Tonight") for it to happen.

More to the point, albums, as writer Dave Marsh pointed out in the late 80s, remain essentially "singles separated by filler"; regardless of intent, very few albums can be viewed as a coherent whole, and even then, there's going to be something of a hierarchy among the tracks, the stronger ones suggesting themselves as, well, singles. And with 80 minutes available on a CD, too many acts feel compelled to fill up as much of the space as possible, further reinforcing this process.

And then there's this:

There's more than just anecdotal evidence that the B side is where creativity lurks. A sides are faithfully more standardized than their counterparts. Out of a sample of 200 popular singles released in the fall of 2000, B sides, sometimes as short as 30 seconds and as long as 22 minutes, were much more varied in length than the A's. Out of another sample of more than 20,000 singles, the number of professional songwriters employed for the A's was higher than 1,200, whereas for B's, fewer than 300 pieces were the work of professionals.

Oh, yes. God forbid anyone should record anything that isn't self-written. To hell with all those Tin Pan Alley hacks like Rodgers and Hammerstein.

Creativity lurks all over the damned place. The problem with folks like Sahar Akhtar is that they believe it lurks only in the places they prefer to look; those plebeians who download hits from iTunes obviously have no taste — "How can this be any good? It's played on a Clear Channel station!" Scratch a critic, find an elitist.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:00 PM to Tongue and Groove )
No pockets?

Inspiration, they say, is where you find it, and I have no doubt that it's true; but please be advised that while I have some experience with the concept — don't even ask — I will not be emulating this guy on the World Tour.

(Via Fark)

19 June 2003
The parade begins

Joe Lieberman showed up in town yesterday, partly to announce the opening of his state campaign office, but mostly to get a jump on the 6,312 other Democratic Presidential candidates. (And with the move of the state primary to the third of February, time is presumably of the essence.)

And, oh yes, he had things to say, but they boiled down to a Juan Gato-esque "Zeeble bop fickle fackle bush Bush BUSH!" At this point in the campaign, you really can't expect much else.

Second gear: lean right

Bruce at This Is Class Warfare has made the rounds of the Oklahoma bloggers, and he seems to be somewhat disturbed by what he's found:

As I expected they tended to lean right. So much so in fact that many can't hear out of that side of their heads. This confuses me to no end. While traveling around Tulsa today I got the general feeling that people here like independence more than anything. They don't want anybody to interfere with their lives. I'm sure that extends to other parts of oklahoma as well. My confusion arises out of the blank check support for government right now. It does't seem consistent to me. If you're going to be skeptical of government (a position I wholeheartedly support) then you should be so all the time, not just when a Democrat is in office. You should stand up anytime the government says anything and say "prove it!". That after all is what I consider our job as citizens to be, to hold the politicians accountable for their actions and their words. But whenever I stand up and criticize our president for his actions I get shouted down and accused of being a Democrat (which I am not).

I'm fairly skeptical of government, I think, and I don't believe I've become any less so in recent months. I do have a tendency to back off from complaining in times of war, which I attribute to proper indoctrination during my Army days. :)

Still, I don't believe anyone's definition of consistency demands that if you oppose the Administration on this, you must also oppose the Administration on that; with Bush, as with Clinton, as with Bush the Elder, there have been actions I've applauded and actions I've deplored. And in my experience, the President isn't getting a free pass from conservative bloggers; they will quite willingly bash Bush if he does something that sufficiently annoys them.

I've staked out my own position pretty close to the middle. (That Political Compass thing considers me slightly left of center and distinctly anti-authoritarian.) It's not the most comfortable spot on the spectrum, but it fits. And so far, no one seems compelled to accuse me of being a Democrat.

Which I am.

Retiring the Colonel

As predicted in this space last month, the University of Mississippi will sideline its mascot this fall. Officials at Ole Miss apparently want something "more intimidating" than the old Southern gentleman known as Colonel Reb.

At least, that's the story. I'd hate to think they bought into this mythology:

Ole Miss's reluctance to embrace integration in the '60s and its resistance to dump a minstrel song and jettison Confederocentricity in the '70s, '80s and '90s has hobbled this school's athletic progress for the last four decades. To understand the damage done, we need to look no further than three athletic programs that were equals on the football field in the early 1960s.

When both the Universities of Georgia and Alabama dumped "Dixie" and other vestiges of the Old Confederacy in the 1970s, the University of Mississippi's "Pride of The South" kept right on playing that inflammatory song. Ole Miss kept waving those rebel flags.

Georgia and Bama actively embraced change, as well as black students and athletes, and mostly furled their Rebel flags. Ole Miss mostly didn't. Guess what? Georgia won the SEC last year, and Bama has won several national titles since they banned the rebel flag and stopped playing "Dixie."

"Confederocentricity"? I have to admire any eight-syllable word that takes up only twenty letters, but otherwise, I ain't buying. As they say in the Big East, "I got your post hoc right here, pal."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:38 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The perils of small business

Your basic Scary Introduction: "Hi, I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

Or, if you're six-year-old Avigayil Wardein of Naples, Florida, "We're the cops and we've come to close down your lemonade stand."

Something about a permit. And the city says that they don't do this sort of thing "unless someone complains," so I have to assume someone was whining about it. Does Bill O'Reilly sell sodas on the sidewalk?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:17 AM to Dyssynergy )
Why we spurn mass transit

And a damned good reason, too. (Requires QuickTime)

(Muchas gracias: Accidental Julie.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:50 PM to Driver's Seat )
20 June 2003
Rolling back the FCC rules

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has approved a measure to tighten up the Federal Communications Commission's recent loosening of media-ownership rules, though it's doubtful that the measure will make it through the full Senate, let alone the House.

The bill, sponsored by Fritz Hollings (D-SC) and Ted Stevens (R-AK), would bar newspaper/broadcast crossownership in the same market, drop the 45-percent audience-reach cap back to 35 percent, and require the largest radio station owners to divest some properties. How Hollings, generally regarded as a tool of the entertainment industry, was roped into co-sponsoring this thing is utterly beyond me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:10 AM to Overmodulation )
Post-adolescent children

Eric Scheie looks at this Philadelphia Inquirer story about the horror of children being shot to death, and discovers that most of them aren't children at all. He quotes this statement by the group Philadelphia Safe and Sound:

Guns and youth homicide in Philadelphia are closely linked. Between 1995 and 1999, more than 85 percent of all homicide victims ages 7 to 24 were killed by guns. Within the broader community efforts to combat crime and violence, intervention must be targeted and focused on youth-related crime. For example, increased efforts to reduce the number of guns available to youth would cut the number of juvenile homicides.

Note the use of the term "youth", and the age range quoted: 7 to 24. You'd think that people on the high end of that scale wouldn't qualify as children. And a graph published by the group, helpfully reproduced by Scheie, reveals that the 18-to-24 crowd — legally adults — makes up 75 to 90 percent of those "youth" deaths. If you read the Inquirer story in a hurry over morning coffee, you might think that hundreds of Philadelphia grade-schoolers are being mowed down in a hail of gunfire on a routine basis, and it simply isn't true.

All this number-juggling, as you might surmise, is being done to justify tighter gun controls. What they really want, of course, is a button on the Mayor's desk which, once pushed, will make every firearm in southeastern Pennsylvania disappear into thin air. Needless to say, if this actually worked, it would incapacitate gangsters and thugs only long enough to head across the river and pick up fresh heat in Jersey, while leaving J. Upstanding Citizen royally screwed.

For the purpose of argument, let's not mention anything about the Second Amendment here. Let's just assume that the city of Philadelphia is actually able to ban guns, and every law-abiding citizen from the Main Line inward turns in his/her weapons. Are all the guns gone? Of course not. The criminals aren't giving up their guns. What happens to the crime rate? Nothing good. And you know what? I bet Philadelphia grade-schoolers can probably understand this better than the hysterical adults screaming about gun control.

No do-over for Jane Roe

Norma McCorvey, the Roe in Roe v. Wade, will not be granted a reconsideration of the Supreme Court's 1973 verdict which legalized abortion; a federal district court has dismissed her request.

"Whether or not the Supreme Court was infallible, its Roe decision was certainly final in this litigation," Judge David Godbey wrote in the ruling.

A reasonable case can be made that the Supreme Court was quite fallible indeed, I think, but "it is simply too late now, thirty years after the fact," said Judge Godbey, "for McCorvey to revisit that judgment."

The Texas Justice Foundation, which represented McCorvey, issued no immediate statement.

What's on your envelope?

I can't believe I'm doing another post about Capital One already, but this merits some attention.

The Postal Rate Commission has cut a deal with Capital One; the so-called "Negotiated Service Agreement" will save the card issuer 3 to 6 cents per piece mailed, beyond standard presort and other discounts, for the next three years, up to a maximum of $40.6 million.

Somehow I doubt any of that forty million will go to keeping your interest rate down, but such is life.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:02 PM to Common Cents )
21 June 2003
A Muggle at heart

No, I didn't go stand in line at Barnyard and Ignoble to enjoy the dubious privilege of buying Yet Another Harry Potter Book on its first day of release. In fact, I can think of a number of books by bloggers that would be of far greater interest to me. A sampling:

And no doubt there are many, many more.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:31 AM to Blogorrhea )
The left side of the dial

From his perch Outside the Beltway, James Joyner offers a rundown of the major conservative talk-show hosts, and counters with a list of liberals who might be able to keep up.

Joyner's top pick on the left: Bill Clinton. "His presidency was an eight year audition, right?" The man does love the spotlight, and he has a knack for patter at least on par with Limbaugh's.

The rest of the list includes, among others, syndicated black DJ Tom Joyner, misidentified as "Ken" because, well, heck, how do you keep track of all those Joyners? And there are enough names on there to make the notion of a liberal network (as distinguished from, say, PBS or NPR) at least plausible, if not necessarily financially feasible.

(Update, 8:00 am, 22 June: Tom has his name back.)

Lessons from life (one in a series)

If you have a three-week window of opportunity to reserve a hotel room at 40 percent or so off the going rate, it is seldom wise to wait until the last week.

(In the meantime, I have a room with two double beds off Exit 8A. A sidecar on a Segway makes more sense. I refuse to believe that this is some sort of omen.)

Weapons of audience attraction

I don't get Showtime, unless the cable company screws up, but I admit to a certain amount of curiosity about their upcoming feature D.C. 9/11, a dramatization of the first few hours after the planes came crashing into the world as we knew it.

"It's a straightforward docudrama," says producer-scripter Lionel Chetwynd. "I would hope what's presented is a fully colored and nuanced picture of a human being in a difficult situation." It probably won't change any minds among members of the I Hate Bush Club, but then again, what on earth possibly could?

Me, I'm fixated on Penny Johnson Jerald, whom I remember as Kasidy Yates from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and who looks like she could be Condi Rice's kid sister, a useful commodity considering she's playing Condi Rice.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:35 PM to Almost Yogurt )
22 June 2003
Bent before Beckham

Kim du Toit sets the Wayback machine to the premiere of Spice World.

Old news, yes, certainly. But (1) it's a quality du Toit rant from the archives and (2) it's supplemented by some high-grade eye candy, two factors which I think eminently justify calling attention to it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:44 AM to Almost Yogurt )
And a fine day it was

How did Ravenwood spend the first day of summer?

He started up his "gas-guzzling, econobox-crushing SUV," kept the pedal to the metal lest precious fuelstuffs be burned too slowly, and slogged 60 miles to a gun show, where he bought a Romanian-built SAR-1, the sort of artifact that strikes fear into the hearts of the sort of people who worry about gas-guzzling, econobox-crushing SUVs and gun shows.

Then, of course, he slogged the 60 miles back home. Sounds like he had a whale of a good time, and said whale will presumably be rendered for oil at a later date. An auspicious beginning to the official Season of Fun, for sure.

Grit your teeth and grab the stick

What is the spiritual thread that connects the Sonicare to Sonic the Hedgehog? The Palace of Reason's Francis W. Porretto finds the link:

[I]n the Sixties the electric toothbrush, a relatively new item, was demonized by the environmentalists as the emblem of human rapacity. Many of the same denunciations we hear today were heaped upon it, in particular those about our "out of control consumerist culture."

The electric toothbrush wasn't important of itself. As Ayn Rand pointed out at the time, it consumed almost no power or resources, and contributed greatly to the maintenance of oral health. Therefore, it could not fairly be considered pointless or wasteful. It was a symbol, a totem object, by whose execration the green radicals of that time sought to reify their hatreds. Today, the video game console is taking its place.

The fruits of a consumerist society, of course, have proven to be a bumper crop of totem objects for present-day green radicals; I suspect most of them have a list of a dozen or more Truly Hated Things, and I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that they actually own a couple of them just the same. And this further supports Mr Porretto's point that green, today, is not so much a political movement as a religion. For further illustration, see, for instance, the Horologium examination of the US Green Party platform, a collection of policies from wacky to woeful, about one-fourth policy-wonk jargon and three-fourths exhortations to the faithful. Their scriptures are already generally available; once they figure out how to insure the damnation of infidels, the transition will be complete.

It's only words

And words are all I have to take your heart away, or some such absurd romantic nonsense that happens to be absolutely correct.

Brothers Gibb aside, Bryan's Lyric-a-Day Melee™ at Arguing with signposts... resumes tomorrow with its eleventh installment, an item contributed by yours truly.

(Update, 5 pm: I had posted a little contest here, but having received no entries with five hours to go, I decided to pull it. Oh, well.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:10 PM to Blogorrhea )
Remedial renting

The Minneapolis/St Paul area is apparently awash in tenants who haven't the faintest idea about how to live up to the responsibilities detailed in their leases. Are Twin Cities landlords cracking down on the clueless? Fat chance.

However, in lieu of actual cultural changes, there's an operation called the Housing Lifeskills Centre, developed by a property manager, which is a six-week course to teach these characters how to behave in a manner which won't get their sorry keisters evicted. "A lot of the things we teach," says instructor Linda McNew, "are things that you or I take for granted."

Saint Paul (the blogger, not the city) is incredulous:

There are full grown adults that don't have a natural sense of right and wrong when it comes to disorderliness, property damage, and nonpayment of bills? There are people who still don't get it, even after numerous visits by the police and angry confrontations with their neighbors and landlords?

There are. And if you don't rent to them, you'll probably be accused of the worst sort of discriminatory tactics.

What set of circumstances and/or life decisions lead one to this profoundly retarded worldview? How does one develop this sense of egoistic entitlement, where there's no connection made between your actions and, say, your income or housing status? What causes one to assume someone else is going take care of all your problems for you, no matter how much destruction you visit on yourself and your neighbors?

It's the same sort of devalued value system which says that no matter what your problem, it's always somebody else's fault, be it The System, The Government, or simply The Man.

There was a nice young couple (both military) who used to live upstairs from me; he dropped by the other day to visit some friends. "Nostalgic for the old homestead?" I teased. "A bit too much gunfire for us," he said.

Yeah, I'll get out of here one of these days — and not in an ambulance, if I can help it. But the problems that exist here, like their counterparts in Minnesota, aren't going away any time soon, no matter how many cute little programs are instituted.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:27 PM to Dyssynergy )
23 June 2003
Trying out that lyric wax

As mentioned yesterday, it's my day in the Lyric-a-Day Melee™ at Arguing with signposts. So far (I'm the 11th in the box), it's been a wildly-eclectic bunch, and I did my part to make it more so.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:10 AM to Blogorrhea )
Europe nonresurgent

No screen is perfect, which may explain why the estimable Robert Prather has been busily swatting some Eurofly. The bug in question, modestly identified as nobody, is evidently persuaded that the European Union will displace the United States in the Undisputed Superpower class, but so far his arguments have been unpersuasive.

Were I faced with this creature, I'd snap off a couple of one-liners and be done with him. Prather prefers to eviscerate his arguments, statistic by dubious statistic, until there's nothing left but bluster and whining — which, you have to admit, is just about all there is to the EU these days.

The preeminence of the US isn't something that's been handed to us on a silver platter by the deity of the moment, nor is it an accident of history. It exists because we've done a decent job (not a perfect job, but not too shabby either) of sticking to the high-flown notions we adopted in the 18th century, and in the process demonstrating that those notions actually do work. If the Europeans want to play in this league, they're going to have to shed an incredible amount of political and cultural baggage that does nothing but weigh them down. I'm not holding my breath.

It's summertime, summertime...

Sum, sum, summertime.

The first official workday of the season, and the heat index is flirting with triple digits. (I should be so flirtatious. Then again, maybe I shouldn't.)

Then again, it's not like this is a surprise to anyone. I just hope the sodden masses of the East are able to enjoy something similar to this — especially since I have to drive out there before too awfully long.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:48 PM to Weather or Not )
Come on, let's Michigan

My first reaction was "Well, we're not going to get a color-blind society this year."

And while Dr Coleman in Ann Arbor is apparently satisfied with the Supreme Court's rulings today, and poor John Rosenberg, house-sitting in Baghdad by the Bay, is probably fuming, I'm going to try to find something positive in all this.

There is still going to be the occasional student who is turned away despite having higher test scores. But this is inevitable unless test scores are the only criterion used for selection, and I know of no university that follows this practice. Should a school want a student body that, as the cliché goes, "looks like America," they ought to be able to tailor their admissions policies accordingly. On the other hand, the ethnicity-equals-so-many-points formula used at Michigan was clearly arbitrary, and its banning is long overdue; as the Court pointed out, the point schedule, so heavily weighted by race, was the decisive factor for many otherwise minimally-qualified candidates.

No, we're not substantially nearer the color-blind society I think of as ideal. But at least we're taking a baby step away from race as a basis for entitlements — maybe. It's a start.

24 June 2003
Affirming the action

Rust at Conservatives Suck has some thoughts on the Supreme Court's affirmative-action rulings, based on his days at a small Midwestern college:

An important part of learning how to think is to be able to interpret a wide range opinions, digest them, compare them to each other, and then make a decision as to which one you agree with (or mostly agree with). Now, certainly, there was still a wide variety of opinions despite the lack of ethnic or racial diversity in the student body, as I had the pleasure of going to college with students from all over the nation. I had a good friend from Idaho, a place where I was previously unaware any humans existed. Since I grew up in Boston, people were dumbfounded with my strange culture and strangah accent. However, coming from the same socio-economic-religious background, these students (I did not come from a wealthy background) all had pretty similar views on politics, culture, economics, and philosophy. The lack of diversity of students led to the lack of diversity of ideas.

Emphasis in the original. This seems plausible enough, I think, though one possible subtext here — you don't get real diversity without variations in skin color — would be pretty close to indefensible.

He's right on this point, though:

Disgruntled whites may feel this will cause them to miss the cut at their favorite university. But if being educated by a homogeneous crowd is what they want, they are selling themselves short.

Still, there's one nagging problem with the whole affirmative-action scheme, and John Rosenberg nails it:

Since it is now not discriminatory to take race (and presumably other such matters) into account, isn't it discriminatory not to, at least at institutions who are on record (as virtually all are) worshiping at the altar of "diversity"?

Zymurgy's Law of Evolving System Dynamics, which can't be appealed to the Supreme Court, now kicks in:

Once you open a can of worms, the only way to recan them is to use a larger can.

Is there a can big enough for all of this?

Caution: graphic content

I thought about it, shrugged, then thought about it some more, and finally: "Well, why the hell not?"

I mean, I may be older than God, or at least older than God's kid brother, but I make no secret of the fact that I wander into the comic shop on a semi-regular basis, and I always end up buying something.

So why not a blog about comics?

[Insert Reynolds-like "Indeed" here]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:46 AM to Blogorrhea )
Bang the drum all day

"There are," says DragonAttack, "only four jobs worse than mine. Being Carmine Appice isn't one of them."

Then again, she never had to drum on a Rod Stewart disco single. And there's something terribly wrong with that phrase: "Rod Stewart disco single" simply grates on the ears, even if you're not actually hearing a Rod Stewart disco single at the time. (My condolences if you are.)

Classical 102

Once again, Lynn at Reflections in D Minor favors us with another chapter in her excellent series Classical Music for the Absolute Beginner, which manages the neat trick of sounding both encouraging and authoritative. I'm about 35 years beyond absolute beginnership myself, but I'm finding all sorts of useful information in this series. And so will you, unless of course you're one of those benighted souls who is inclined to dismiss the entirety of classical music as dead white men's music, in which case Beethoven's fate — deafness, followed by death — is too good for you.

25 June 2003
The Carnival turns 40

And admits to it, which is remarkable in itself.

Adam, your friendly Single Guy in the South, has undertaken to bring you this latest edition of the Carnival of the Vanities, cruising the back roads of blogdom in search of the finest postings of the week.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:59 AM to Blogorrhea )
To sleep in Detroit City

From Autoextremist.com, a summary of why the Big 2.5 (or whatever) American automakers are a long way from the comeback trail:

GM, the most profitable of what's left of the Big Three, earned $701 per vehicle in North America. Chrysler earned just $226, and Ford made no money at all. In contrast, Nissan made $2069 per vehicle, Toyota $1,214 and Honda $880. Labor costs for the Detroit-based car companies are anywhere between $300 and $400 more than costs for their Asian rivals, and when health care and pension costs are factored in, the gap widens dramatically. The domestic car companies are paying through the nose chasing non-product issues, while their Asian rivals are pouring profits back into research & development and meaningful product improvements. Detroit's share of the North American market dropped from 65.2% in 2000, to 61.6% in 2002.

That's $300-400 per vehicle, mind you. And these numbers (from the Harbour Report) appeared just in time for negotiations with the United Auto Workers, too. How will the UAW address these issues? Autoextremist.com quotes union president Ron Gettelfinger:

"Make no mistake about this: We are not going to shift health care costs in negotiations with the Big Three. We're not going to pick up premiums, we're not going to pick up co-pays, we're not going to pick up deductibles."

The UAW, judging by the numbers I've seen, is starting to get a handle on the quality-control issue; maybe they can deal with only one problem at a time?

None of this implies that Ford or GM is doomed, necessarily, or that the Daimler-Benz guys are rethinking their ownership of the Chrysler Group. But clearly they can't go on with such meager margins, and there seems to be a real fear that if the flood of rebates is shut off, market share will dwindle even faster.

Which is why, more than ever, what Detroit needs is superior product, cars and trucks and whatever the hell falls between, vehicles so good that Joe and Susan Sixpack, whom they lost to Toyota years ago, will rush back into the showrooms and sign the check and not expect $2000 cash back. I have no doubt that they can do it: but will the planners and the bean counters and the union actually let them do it?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 AM to Driver's Seat )
Prejudicial conduct

Terry Nichols has asked that his pretrial hearings be moved to the county courthouse from their present location, a courtroom built in the basement of the county jail.

Holding the hearings at the jail, says counsel for Nichols, "stigmatizes Mr. Nichols and reinforces the public perception that he is a dangerous guilty offender who cannot be treated like other defendants."

Yeah. You certainly don't want anyone to reach any conclusions about a person who has already been convicted on eight counts of manslaughter.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:45 PM to Soonerland )
Greedy old farts

Robert Prather blames it all — well, okay, not all, but surely a lot of it — on AARP:

The people who are my age (34) are rightly concerned that they'll pay into [Social Security and Medicare] for decades and receive nothing for it. If the AARP has its way, that's exactly what will happen. Either that or taxes will become so oppressively high that economic growth is crushed. Either way, there will be no free lunch.

Mark my words: when I become eligible to join the AARP in 16 years they'll send me an application and I'll piss on it. I hate that organization, the shortsightedness it embodies, the fiscal wreckage it will create and the crippling economic burden it will leave for me and everyone that follows. Why should they care: they'll be dead when the bill comes due. If they're not dead their answer will be more government benefits, not less. No consideration for those that follow at all.

If it's any consolation, I came out in favor of privatization of the Social Security system five years ago, when I was a mere child of, um, forty-five.

Now if the government wants to buy me drugs — well, does it have to be limited to the stuff for which I have prescriptions?

26 June 2003
Encounter at 6 am

I rather suspect he was waiting for me.

I had just shifted into reverse, took a perfunctory look around — this time of day there's nothing going on, generally — and started backing up, when he appeared at the driver's-side window.

I dropped the window, and before it was halfway open, he launched into the standard story: unfamiliar part of town, out of gas, could I give him a ride to — "I'm not going in that direction," I pointed out.

Undaunted, he shifted to Plan B. I'm still not letting this character into my car. I did, however, flip him a Sacajawea dollar (which he probably thought was a quarter) for amusement value.

The ancient art of panhandling, I fear, has fallen on hard times.

Maybe this guy should start wearing a PayPal button.

Tuition pinch

Most states, it seems, are running in the red these days, and Oklahoma, which by law must balance its budget each year, is having the sort of problems you'd expect.

There being essentially no support for tax hikes — and how surprising is that? — the state is doing what it can. Funds for higher education were cut this year by about 9 percent, with the expected result: state tuition will be rising sharply. Smaller state schools may see increases of 15 to 20 percent; the University of Oklahoma will charge returning students 27 percent more, and incoming freshmen will be hit with a 39-percent bounce.

It could be argued, I suppose, that state tuition was underpriced to begin with, and certainly I don't have a problem with users of a service paying the costs of that service. Still, this seems like an awfully large compensation for a relatively small subsidy cut.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:30 AM to Soonerland )
RIAA as quadruped

Most of us who imagine we're on the leading edge of technological and cultural change think of the Recording Industry Association of America as something of a dinosaur. Steve at Begging to Differ sees the organization as a different sort of beast altogether:

I pity the RIAA like I pity the limping gazelle on the Discovery Channel — the one being chased by lions in super slo-mo. The one that ends up lion lunch every... single... time. It's a pity which, if pity could talk, would say, "Terrible shame, Mr. Gazelle, but that's nature. Sometimes you're signing uneducated, drug-addicted musicians to restrictive multi-album deals... other times vultures pick your bleaching bones in the shimmering heat of the Serengeti. Dems da breaks."

A nearly-perfect picture: all it needs is a shot of skier Vinko Bogataj going Tango Uniform as the voiceover intones "...and the agony of defeat."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:54 AM to Tongue and Groove )
A tapestry of delight

So we got the workhorse printer serviced, and it was good, and a day and a half later the main circuit board failed. The tech managed to get us a new board in a day, which isn't at all bad, but once it was installed, we were still a long way away from getting any work done: not only did the EPROM have to be reflashed — for some reason, it loses what brain it has when it's moved to another socket — and there are eleventy-one absurd little settings that have to be tweaked for our graphics stuff to work, which said EPROM doesn't trouble itself to save at all.

Which wouldn't have been so bad in and of itself, inasmuch as it was 4:05 or so and the clock was running down, until Chatty Cathy decided to unleash a couple hours' worth of print (on some other printer, at least). Of course, she's not going to stay late and wait for it, but if it's not done when she comes by in the morning, she'll emit the sort of whine you usually associate with misaligned disc brakes.

For the record, it took an hour to reconfigure the wounded beast, during which I uttered a number of things which would upset, if not longshoremen in Long Beach, certainly convent girls in Philadelphia.

Tomorrow, it appears, will be worse.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:30 PM to PEBKAC )
27 June 2003
Neologism watch

Tiger proposes the replacement of the pejorative-sounding "idiotarian" with the perhaps less-accusative "inanitarian".

Personally, I think it lacks punch. On the other hand, it's a hell of a lot better than that "bright" crap.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:41 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Temporizing

One thing I've learned in over a decade at 42nd and Treadmill:

It's a waste of time to do things exceedingly well.

Often, in fact, it's a waste of time to do things at all.

Affirm this

Found at Bleeding Brain, courtesy of Wild:

The white lad and the black lad were both born as naked as j-birds. Neither was born with the title deed to a plantation stapled to his ass.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:06 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Strom

In the Sixties, when I lived in South Carolina, he was still cited in the papers as "J. Strom Thurmond," rather like J. Random User or J. Skulking Bushwhack, but in popular parlance he was always just Strom; like Cher or Madonna or Sting, he was easily identifiable without resorting to a surname.

And in the first half of that decade, he was still a Democrat — he jumped the aisle and joined the GOP in 1964 — and still young enough (50s) to make you think he was capable of another 24-hour filibuster to match the one he'd done in '57. I wasn't sure what to make of Strom. The headmistress at the Academy for the Smug, when she wasn't swinging the pickaxe she'd borrowed from Lester Maddox, was quick to assure us that Strom was a man of conviction and strength, standing tall against the sea of darkies that threatened to inundate us all. Perhaps it was that very assurance that made me doubtful: even then I was given to question authority, and I didn't see any evidence that we were about to be overrun by anyone or anything, with the possible exception of Beatlemania.

Then came desegregation, and it came hard. I'd moved to a Catholic school, which officially took no position on the matter but which quietly closed its "separate-but-equal" facilities during one long, hot summer, and which contributed, again unofficially, staffers to the occasional civil-rights march. The world was changing, and people called out to Strom to make it stop.

He didn't.

It's said by some that Strom's eventual retreat from racism was purely opportunistic, motivated by nothing more than a glimpse at the handwriting on the wall. And maybe it was at first, but I don't think so. I left the South for the prairie after high school, and the lines were drawn no less starkly in Oklahoma than in Orangeburg; desegregation came hard everywhere. It was at about this point that I figured out that while the South's "peculiar institution" had been indeed truly evil and it was a Good Thing that a war was fought to rid the nation of it, the South had done a better job over the next century of getting over it. Maybe there were guys like Trent Lott who still yearned for those days of separation, but I didn't remember any guys like that.

So Strom was flawed, as are we all. His awakening, if that's what it was, came rather late, long after the damage was done. Others in a similar position could have done a blatantly public one-eighty, could have sought the approbation of media settled into somnolence, could have tried to hook up with Beyoncé. Strom shrugged. "You know where I stand," he'd say, and well, we knew where he stood, way back when, but we also knew he didn't have to stay there. In the South, you learn, and you go on. And Strom, first and foremost, was a man of the South.

28 June 2003
Another glitch in right-to-work

For the next few hours, anyway, the right-to-work law passed by referendum in Oklahoma in 2001 is unconstitutional.

What happened was this: a construction union sued an electric contractor whose workers it was expected to represent, and filed a subsequent suit requesting that the law be overturned. The latter suit got to the docket, and when the judge noted that the contractor had not responded to the suit against it, he issued an order barring enforcement of the law. The order is widely seen as temporary, and as soon as both sides have their ducks in a row, the cases will be heard and decided.

This is the small game. In the bigger game, the state Supreme Court will hear a more serious constitutional challenge to the law; a labor attempt to overturn the law got as high as the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, which dropped it back on the state. I'm not taking any bets on that one either. Philosophically, it's hard to object to right-to-work, but it's equally hard to reconcile it with laws which require that the union represent workers which aren't its members. And the proponents of State Question 695, the referendum that started it all, so preposterously oversold its benefits — one constant assertion was that a number of industrial concerns had been considering Oklahoma for plant locations but decided against it because of the lack of right-to-work, though none of the people making that assertion was ever able to name even one such firm — that it's tempting, at least to me, to hope that the law is overturned, just to see their reaction.

(Disclosure: While I am not currently in such a position, I have worked in union shops before, and have paid dues for the ostensible privilege.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:31 AM to Soonerland )
It's not for lack of bread

Like the, um, Grateful Dead.

But my driver's license runs out next month while I'll be gallivanting across the country, so it dawned on me today that it might be a good idea to get the thing renewed. The downside, of course, is that it requires a photograph, and I don't photograph well on the best days, and this isn't one of the best days.

At the very least, I needed to do something about my hair, which is sparse in some spots and unruly in others, so I betook myself to the usual joint in the mall, where the woman who had done my hair for the preceding seven years had relocated after selling her shop.

She wasn't in yet, wouldn't be there until one, and the tag agent (a peculiarity of Oklahoma: a private firm that resells the state's licensing services) closed at noon, so I opted to work with the one stylist on hand: a statuesque young woman who underneath her trapezoidal 'do looked like she could have been Barbara Lynn's kid sister.

In between fits of screaming — why is it that automobile dealers believe you won't buy unless you've been deafened by their sales pitch? — the radio was playing a remake of Dobie Gray's 1973 hit "Drift Away", and the young lady was humming along just as happily as could be. I didn't have the heart to tell her this tune was probably older than she was, and besides, I hate to distract people while they're working on a difficult task like trying to make my head presentable.

I caught sight of her name only briefly, a jumble of random letters that looked like it could have been the generic name for some new wonder drug, but I'm reasonably certain I'll remember her next time through. And there's at least a slight chance she'll remember the dumpy old gnome who tipped her eight bucks on a $12 cut.

Vindicating Van Halen

Was I sleeping all those years? I don't remember anything quite like Philly's Hottest Teachers.

Obligatory Up the Down Staircase reference: I am sure that were I to write a love letter to an English teacher (see text for contestant #21), it would be returned graded.

(Via Vincent Ferrari's Insignificant Thoughts: he doesn't remember teachers like this either.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:39 PM to Table for One )
Awash in punditry

It would be even more inevitable were it true: Internet Pundit Fantasy Camp.

(Muchas gracias: Doc Searls.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:55 PM to Blogorrhea )
29 June 2003
Missionary positioning

It's called the Abstinence Clearinghouse, an umbrella organization for the various groups which cajole/harangue/persuade (pick one) young folks to eschew the wonders of sex until they're properly licensed by the state, and they're holding their convention in Las Vegas. Of course.

It goes without saying that there are very good reasons why teenagers should not have sex — ask any 35-year-old grandparent — and I'm as likely as anyone to buy into the mythology of Waiting For The Right One, but something about this enterprise leaves me cold, and it's not just the tendency of some of the promoters to disseminate misconceptions about condoms, either.

I wrote this back in 1996:

Some people still value [virginity], perhaps in the way one values that new-car smell, but it goes away after a while, and good riddance.

I got married at twenty-four. It didn't last. Maybe it might have if either of us had known what the hell we were doing. Those zealous guardians of home plate wouldn't have helped us in the slightest.

Update, 9:15 pm: Arthur Silber scoffs at their slogan:

"True Love Waits." If you know it's "true love," it shouldn't wait. Not for a second.

Now he tells me.

Update, 7 am, 30 June: On his radio show, Cam Edwards points out that "True Love Waits", as a slogan, belongs to some other group.

Now he tells me.

(I'm starting to see a pattern here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:26 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Somehow I'm not surprised

At the suggestion of DavidMSC, I betook myself to BlogMatcher, a Googlesque-looking page that purports to find "other blogs that appear to discuss similar topics." Okay, fair enough. They found 1081 (!) blogs that met their criteria, so the least I could do is look at the Top Ten, and wouldn't you know it, my Top Ten includes nine blogs:

[fanfare]

10. VodkaPundit
  9. Quit That!
  8. DailyPundit
  7. Quidnunc
  6. cut on the bias
  5. cut on the bias (again!)
  4. How Appealing
  3. On the Third Hand
  2. No Watermelons Allowed
  1. Silflay Hraka

The duplication, of course, occurs because of minor differences in the URL. And who would have thought I'd draw two blogs starting with Q?

Two obvious observations:

  • I seem to be in pretty good company here;
  • I really should try to be nicer to Susanna Cornett.

(Dave? You were #13.)

March of the wooden intellects

Steven Chapman: pundit or psychologist? You make the call:

Possibly, in the wake of 9/11, the [Naomi] Kleins, the Vidals, the Pinters and the Chomskys sensed their time had come as fully-fledged dissidents, just like their heroes in eastern Europe. Surely now, in Ashcroft's America and Blair's Britain, they could stand tall with the likes of Havel, Michnik, Walesa and Sakharov. Alas, now it all seems to be slipping away, and this paranoid squeal of student political drama queenery is about as good as it gets these days. For shame.

I think he's called this one spot-on; it would certainly explain why Janeane Garofalo seems to be positioning herself somewhere between Betsy Ross and Ida Tarbell.

30 June 2003
The lady Katharine

About the late Katharine Hepburn, I will say only this:

Never did a woman go so far out of her way to avoid looking "girly", nor did one ever look so beautiful while so doing.

Oh, to have been Spencer Tracy, just for a few hours....

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:59 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Barn to be wild

According to a radio report this morning, Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson is persuaded that most of the state's sodomy law is well and truly thrown out as a result of the Supreme Court's ruling in Lawrence v. Texas.

I said "most". The statute is vague, presumably to be as inclusive as possible; in 1935, the state's Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in Roberts v. State that the "offense consists in a carnal knowledge, committed against the order of nature, with mankind or with a beast." Lawrence says nothing about beasts, so presumably that part of the law remains intact.

And I think I'd probably better stop here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:21 AM to Soonerland )
Give me smut and nothing but

Imagine Philip Michaels' surprise when TiVo's program listings helpfully pointed out a soft-core T&A-fest. On his local PBS channel, yet.

Now imagine his annoyance when it failed to materialize.

(And if Charlie Rose does any skinnydipping next season, I'm sending in a pledge, just so I can cancel it.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:13 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Digital photography

The last line of the chorus of Deteriorata, the classic de-inspirational recording from the National Lampoon, is this:

Whether you believe it or not, The universe is laughing behind your back.

More than just laughing, it appears.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:49 PM to Dyssynergy )
Save it for me

The very word "conservative" implies that something is to be conserved, to be kept "in a safe or sound state" (Webster's New Collegiate, 8th edition, 1981). Which begs the question: what, precisely, do conservatives conserve?

Craig Ceely doesn't know for sure, but he knows this much: it sure as hell isn't the Bill of Rights.

The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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