1 September 2003
Scrambling for the post-Nickles era

A couple of days ago, I speculated as to what might happen should Senator Don Nickles choose not to run for another term in 2004. (If Nickles does run, of course, he'll win easily.) At the time, I suggested that there might be relatively little Democratic interest in the seat, given the paucity of Democrats with statewide recognition these days. OkieDoke.com's Mike pointed out in comments that I perhaps had overlooked Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who certainly qualified as having statewide recognition; I retorted that he might want to keep a lower profile, what with some heavy litigation going on.

Now comes this piece in The Daily Oklahoman, in which Edmondson says that open Senate seats don't come along too often and he'd simply have to look at the possibilities. Advantage: Mike. :)

Brad Carson, just barely in place as Second District Congressman, is also giving the matter some thought. And surprisingly (to me anyway), Oklahoma City Mayor Kirk Humphreys (a non-partisan post, but Humphreys is a Republican in real life) is making some serious noise himself, even going so far as to rule out a run for the House before trying to move up to the Senate. That sort of slow, steady progress, he says, "is for very young, very patient people. I am neither." At least he didn't say "That's the way we do it in the O.K.C., bitch."

And most telling of all, Nickles has apparently thrown cold water on Ernest Istook, telling him that the state would be better off if Istook kept his Fifth District House seat rather than jump into a Senate race. Istook, of course, disagrees. For myself, I have always felt that the distance between Istook and the nearest clue was variable but never came close to approaching zero, and if Don Nickles, who keeps a closer watch on him than I do, is similarly persuaded — and I haven't heard that Nickles gave any such advice to the other three GOP Congressmen in the state — well, I might actually miss ol' Don when he goes. Whenever that may be.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:14 AM to Soonerland )
No outlet

My thanks to the anonymous reader who decided that yesterday's weather rant was worthy of suburban blight's weekly Cul-de-Sac roundup. (Feel free to 'fess up, if you're so inclined.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:14 AM to Blogorrhea )
Nothing to see here, move along

For some reason, this weekend has brought an inordinately high number of dubious search requests, and while most of them aren't funny enough to submit to Disturbing Search Requests, they're still a few degrees off plumb, and far be it from me to refrain from mocking them.

The one that perplexed me most was olsen twins nude free pictures, for three reasons: (1) to my knowledge, there aren't any nude pictures of the Olsen twins, not even at blogoSFERICS; (2) if there were, it's highly unlikely this guy (it's gotta be a guy) would be able to get them for free, what with the legal angles and all; (3) I was the 187th hit for this string, which meant that he went through a hell of a lot of them. The vast majority of the higher placings, of course, went to porn sites, which will tell you they have any damn thing imaginable — Lithuanian choir girls, Thai farm animals, Dr. Laura's discarded sandals — if they can get you to click in just once. I honestly don't know how McGehee puts up with this.

Then there was pictures of guys with Peyronie's disease, which strikes me as seriously, um, twisted. Bent, even.

(Which reminds me: Danish pianist Bent Fabricius-Bjerre, his name mercifully truncated to "Bent Fabric", won a Grammy in 1962 for his not-exactly-rollicking piano recording of "Alley Cat"; it's about time we were favored with a decent Greatest Hits compilation for the fellow. They could call it Get Bent.)

Finally, there is hillary clinton thighs, presumably a weighty subject, but not one I wish to discuss around lunchtime, if you know what I mean.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:34 PM to Blogorrhea )
From Brussels to Yorkshire

Greg Hlatky raises Borzoi, an honorable breed from the Russian steppes, possessed of dazzling speed, singular beauty, and strength which belies its fragile appearance. Is it any wonder he's not especially fond of toy dogs?

Unlike the calm aloofness of the sighthound, the massive dignity of the working dog, the headstrong all-weather exuberance of the sporting dog ("Great day for hunting! Let's play two!"), or the intensity of the herding dog, the typical Toy is a smug little bundle of fur, teeth and attitude, yapping at the world through the undeserved prominence of his mistress's arms. Some, like the Pekingese, scarcely seem capable of locomotion at all.

I am minded of Robin Williams' description of the Pekingese: "Look! A dog! Let's hit it in the face with a shovel!"

I don't bear quite so much animus toward the animals, myself, but I have to admit, if you put a gun to my head and ordered "Today, you will go get a dog," and you further prohibited me from running down to the shelter and picking up a nice, sensible mutt, most of the toy breeds would be way down my list; it's all very nice that they've been bred to be companions to mankind and all, but the breeds that actually do things are companions just as worthy, and they have talents which extend beyond occupying lap space and defecating on the rug.

Some of my best friends have owned LFDs — I even briefly dated the owner of a Maltese, and the less said about that, the better — but most of my experiences with toys have struck me as really good arguments for cat ownership.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:06 PM to Almost Yogurt )
2 September 2003
It's all in his head

An editorial by Robert A. Martin in The Montgomery Independent hints that Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore might be removed from office, not for violating a direct order, but for being "mentally unable to perform his duties".

Susanna Cornett is annoyed with this notion:

[I]t appears that Moore's wrong here is believing something is right that others think is a clear violation of law. It seems to me that if all judges who did that were removed from the bench for mental incapacity as a result, courtrooms all over the country would suddenly be emptied and at least the 9th Circuit would be completely deserted.

Nice shot. If she'd left it at that, it would have rated Zinger status. Then she played the anti-religion card:

Yes, I realize that there are issues of following judicial rulings here, but I don't see Martin making that argument. Quite frankly, it seems to me that Martin is shading toward anti-religion here — implying that at least part of Moore's "insanity" is belief in God.

I read the passage in question, and I didn't see that at all. I concede that she is more practiced than I at the art of ferreting out these things, but I think the average reader of the Montgomery paper, or of most papers, can distinguish between someone on some sort of quixotic crusade (such as Mr. Justice Moore) and someone who has actually gone off the deep end thinking he was doing the will of God. Mr Martin can be faulted here, I think, for relying too much on the opinions of "some court officials," but I'm not convinced he's equating (or even conflating) religion and insanity. If anything, I think he's managed to persuade himself that Roy Moore is an otherwise-okay sort of guy who happens to need treatment, an argument you'd hear more often in a courtroom where one of those fellows who has gone off the deep end is being tried — which indicates that Susanna Cornett's Insanity defense? title, at least, is precisely correct.

Quiet desperation

Dr. Frank perhaps suspects the presence of Englishmen somewhere in my family tree:

I'm not sure if you'd use "emotion" for the heavy, gloomy, resigned "we're all doomed and there's no point" manner that most Brits seem to affect around 80% of the time: within every man, woman, child, banker, Queen, beggar, glamour girl, or bus conductor, there seems to lurk an inner Morrissey that doesn't have much trouble taking hold of the host organism in most circumstances. Other than that, though, the Brits have the unique ability to be embarrassed by just about everything.

"Inner Morrissey"? Now I am scared.

I suppose, though, I should find solace in the idea of an entire people with the same limited capacity for joy as I.

We push, but we don't budget

In an effort to save a few bucks, the Oklahoma Tax Commission announced that they would no longer send renewal notices for vehicle license plates (or, as state parlance calls them, "tags").

Today the Commission backpedaled, saying that they weren't saving any real money by not sending the notices. State law provides for a thirty-day grace period after the expiration of the current tag; the Commission had hoped that people, knowing they would get no reminder in the mail, might actually renew on time or even early. It didn't happen.

(I myself used to procrastinate, though I never seem to find the time anymore.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:31 PM to Soonerland )
Forbes 400, it ain't

According to something called the Global Rich List, yours truly is the 57,547,924th richest person in the world, just barely within the top 1 percent.

I question their methodology — I'm sure there are people below me on the list who have a greater (or at least less negative) net worth — but it does serve as a reminder that there are a rather large number of people (although probably not exactly 5,942,452,076) worse off than I.

And it also reminds me of Arlo Guthrie's rambling "The Pause of Mr Claus", which has about the same instructional value:

During these hard days and hard weeks, everybody always has it bad once in a while. You know, you have a bad time of it, and you always have a friend who says "Hey man, you ain't got it that bad. Look at that guy." And you look at that guy, and he's got it worse than you. And it makes you feel better that there's somebody that's got it worse than you.

But think of the last guy. For one minute, think of the last guy. Nobody's got it worse than that guy. Nobody in the whole world. That guy...he's so alone in the world that he doesn't even have a street to lay in for a truck to run him over.

And he probably didn't need to hit a Web site to tell him he was the last guy, either.

(Via Plum Crazy, which reminds you to subtract expenses before making any calculations.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:08 PM to Common Cents )
3 September 2003
Whose SQL is it anyway?

A sad tale, told by RoninCyberpunk:

Visiting my site recently would show you a default Apache page. Not something of my choice. And as it appears I might have lost my entire blog let this be a lesson to you all.

Go back up your blog.
Do it for the children.

I'm serious folks, I'm facing possibly losing 4 months of my blog's contents. Don't put yourself through that sort of stress.

Very good advice, and — wait a minute, there are children reading this thing?

I mean, it's a safe bet I'll never be missed if this site goes down, but I can't believe I have underage readers. (Some days, I can't believe I have readers.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:27 AM to Blogorrhea )
Weekday at Bernie's

Embattled WorldCom boss Bernard J. Ebbers will appear in Oklahoma County District Court today to answer the charges filed against him by Attorney General Drew Edmondson last week. For some reason, Edmondson himself will not appear.

Reid Weingarten, counsel for Ebbers, has already indicated which way he plans to go with this matter:

It is not apparent from the charging document, which contains no specific allegations of wrongdoing by Bernard Ebbers, what the local Oklahoma authorities think they have uncovered that the federal authorities have overlooked.

Edmondson has come under fire from federal prosecutors and financial analysts for taking this action, a matter to which he is utterly indifferent:

As long as they don't try to interfere, I don't really care a whole lot what they think.

Given his track record, he probably doesn't have to.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:43 AM to Soonerland )
Carnival Five-O

The fiftieth edition of Carnival of the Vanities is hosted by Rhetorica, which has chosen to take that first word in the title literally, much to the amusement of sinister dwarves like, well, me.

As always, the Carnival features the best bloggage of the preceding seven days, the vast majority of which is written by someone other than me. There's lots of great stuff; the best advice I can give is "Read 'em, Dano."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:05 AM to Blogorrhea )
And half a million of the other

Back in the Pleistocene era, when there was still fresh lint in Rebecca's pocket, there was a very distinct line between the online diarist and the blogger. Over the years, at least partly due to sloppy people like me, the line has been blurred somewhat. But there are still some distinctions, as Wendy at Pound observes:

Online diarists are the drama club at your high school. They feel that what they're doing is either art or therapy.

Whereas:

Webloggers, on the other hand, are the yearbook staff. They feel that what they're doing is really important and also might get them into a better college.

No wonder I have so much trouble finding a definition for myself: I couldn't get into either of those groups.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:48 PM to Blogorrhea )
Stretch a point, there's nothing to it

What the world needs now is love, sweet love; it's the only thing that there's just too little of.

While you're waiting: Madonna™ condoms, which cast a whole new light on the phrase "Material Girl".

I'll be sure to ask for these while I'm at the store picking up my Donner Party Trays.

(Muchas gracias: Anna at Primal Purge.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:17 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Bernie makes bail

Defrocked WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers won't be fitted for an orange jumpsuit just yet; he entered a Not Guilty plea to the state's fifteen charges, posted $50,000 bond, and got out of town.

Should Ebbers be convicted on any one count, he faces up to ten years in Big Mac and a $10,000 fine. He is due back in the Okay City for a preliminary hearing on 30 October.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:30 PM to Soonerland )
4 September 2003
Shut up, Wesley

Up at Better Living Through Blogging, Dave presents the Top One reason why he wouldn't vote for General Clark.

Interestingly — and not all that surprisingly — it's the same reason cited by Bill Quick.

Fuhrman finds a bloody test tube

I don't know if you'd call it a personal epiphany, but Mark Fuhrman, the detective who turned up the bloody glove in the O. J. Simpson case, has apparently turned his back on the death penalty; in Death and Justice: An Exposé of Oklahoma's Death Row Machine, Fuhrman, writing with Stephen Weeks, rakes various Oklahoma prosecutorial types, including retired Oklahoma County DA Bob Macy and disgraced forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist, over the coals.

"Catastrophic errors," says Fuhrman, "occur in many death penalty cases because of the pressure to make a strong case and get a capital conviction." And I suppose if anyone knows about catastrophic errors, it would be Fuhrman. But to err is human; to design the evidence to fit the suspect is monstrous. And some of what went on in Oklahoma County during the Macy years is truly the work of monsters. This book goes on my Must-Read list.

(Update, 12:20 pm: The Bubba World archive of "Junk Justice" may well be of interest here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:54 AM to Soonerland )
Checked and balanced

Bruce thinks we're being taken for fools:

You know how every week or two you get a set of checks from your credit card companies reminding you that you have money that needs to be borrowed? Occasionally they even send you a check with your name on the "Pay to the order to:" line and an amount filled out in the amount box. Now, you know that that check is not free money, that once you cash that check you will be liable for the money you borrowed.

So how is it that tax payers can get a tax rebate while we accrue debt? Aren't the latest tax cuts the federal government's lame attempt to buy us off with our own borrowed money?

Well, yes, I suppose they are. On the other hand, I'd rather I had it than they had it; I am (ever so slightly) less irresponsible with my money than they are. And I need hardly point out that if they didn't take so much in the first place, they wouldn't feel compelled to issue a rebate.

Besides, MasterCard will balk if I try to write too many of those convenience checks; Congress merely votes for an increase in the debt ceiling.

Volare

Septembers in Oklahoma have been known to be heinously hot, but this one is starting out beautifully, if you can overlook the morning fog, which of late has been almost tactile; you want to reach out of the window, grab a handful, and shove it out of your way. But it burns off by nine, and this evening, with twilight shading itself into the background, Domenico Modugno crooning from the center console (ah, mono), and still air just warm enough to justify the reach to the A/C button, it was a lovely drive down good old 62.

Unfortunately, the reason I was on good old 62 at a quarter past eight was because I'd just gotten off work; the elements which normally cooperate perfunctorily at best didn't bother to go through the motions today, and my 13-hour-plus day, horrid as it was, was still shorter than the sentences served by a couple of other poor souls.

Still, with just that faintest hint of the day that was, accompanied by a song both down-to-earth and otherworldly (I know very little Italian that isn't in some way pasta-related), it was a sweet end to a day that otherwise went on too long.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:39 PM to Driver's Seat )
And such lovely colors, too

The ever-generous Michele has made it possible for you to set free your inner Tom Ridge.

Without surgery, yet.

5 September 2003
Breathe deep, the gathering gloom

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has issued its list of Allergy Capitals, the places among the top-50 metropolitan areas where persons with "seasonal allergies" are likely to suffer the worst, and the Oklahoma City metro ranks seventh for fall sneezing and wheezing: we're up to here in ragweed and various pollens, and will be until the first fall freeze.

It's slightly better in the spring, when we check in at number 21. The worst of all? Louisville, Kentucky, which is #1 in the spring and #3 in the fall.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:45 AM to City Scene )
You're censoring me!

A reminder from Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau:

Technically, the exclusion of my strip from a newspaper is not censorship. It's called editing. Newspaper editors have a right and responsibility to control the content of their papers. They're public stewards and have to make dozens of calls every day on what meets the standards of their particular community. I don't always admire the rationale for dropping a strip...but I see no reason why I should expect to be in every one of 700 papers every day.

You'd be surprised how many people haven't figured this out yet. Or maybe you wouldn't.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:15 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Tonal, schmonal

One good thing about our local classical station: while they're conservative to a fault during most of the broadcast schedule, the 9-10 am block, known as the Birthday Hour, occasionally tosses that caution to the wind.

John Cage was born on this date in 1912. A number of composers share this birthday, but not only did the station find room for Cage, they played his Atlas Eclipticalis, a string of uncompromising galactic emissions that doesn't even approach the usual definition of "accessible." It is, of course, endlessly fascinating, but with classical stations pitching themselves as upscale background music these days — well, how do you shove John Cage into the background?

Yeah, I know: they could have spared the delicate sensibilities of some listeners by playing 4' 33", or filling the space with a second piece by Mrs. H. H. A. Beach. But the fact that they didn't strikes me as a welcome sign of life in a format too often just barely this side of moribund.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:21 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Depart, O cursed clue!

I'm not sure if I'm being trolled, or if I've simply been visited by someone who shouldn't be allowed into cyberspace for safety reasons.

Here's the comment in question, unedited for content or anything else:

dear sir, i am not able to find anything specific information which i alway's try to get to no about indian school's and soem other kind of information by using google..it's a nice surf but it alway's has information which relates mainly on american and other developed countries and nothing specific about ther underdeveloped countries.....so i would like to conclude if you can include the specicfic information i tihnk it's your job as you run this net ..well waiting to her from you sir.... honesty is the best policy.

This comment was attached to an April article on credit cards, which is obviously a topic far removed from this individual's interests.

The visitor's IP address traces back to Jaipur, which perhaps explains the "indian school's" bit.

Still: "you run this net"? I run this net? I may run this domain, but my influence over the rest of the Internet is somewhere between infinitesimal and nil and declining all the time.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:31 PM to Blogorrhea )
An expansion joint on Voucher Road

Max Jacobs (he's either Common Sense or Wonder) generally applauds the House vote to approve a school-voucher plan for the District of Columbia, but one thing is bothering him:

My worry is simple, a government funded voucher program will eventually be followed by government regulation. It will start very reasonably by requiring teachers to have a certain level of education (though one wonders why parents would ever send their kids to a school with subpar teachers if given a choice, making the regulation unneccesary). So there is a chance that this voucher system will, in fact, end up hurting private schools as they will have to eventually deal with burdensome regulations.

A regulation that is unnecessary is a regulation still. Not being in the Ed Biz, I'm enough of a naïf to think that the imprimatur of the regional accreditation organization would be sufficient, but then I'm not sitting at a big desk in Washington trying to think up a way to expand the reach of my department either.

Private schools could opt out, though, couldn't they?

But what happens when they end up having a large number of their students being part of the voucher program and therefore would take a large hit if they withdraw from the program? What is likely to happen is that they will feel forced to accept the new regulations bit by bit until there is little difference between them and public schools. I mean is it really that unfathomable that the teachers unions pressure Congress to push private schools to unionize making the teaching quality in the public schools and private schools more or less the same?

A new slant on the slippery slope. I don't like the sound of this, but dammit, he might just be right.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:08 PM to Almost Yogurt )
6 September 2003
Not going back to Denver

The Federal trials of Oklahoma City bombers Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were held, not in Oklahoma City, but in Denver. Nichols, now facing state charges, has asked that the state trial be moved out of Oklahoma; Judge Steven Taylor has rejected that request, though he said that if the court cannot find enough impartial jurors, the case will be dismissed.

The trial location is expected to be announced Monday; the trial itself begins on the first of March.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:52 AM to Soonerland )
Badge-engineering

So I'm listening to Car Talk this morning, and the young woman from the East Village is describing the no-start issues with her car, and either Click or Clack asks: "Is this a Honda?"

And of course it's not: "It's an Acura Integra."

Either an unprecedented level of restraint or the miracle of post-production editing prevented them from responding "It's still a Honda."

I wonder how many Lexus owners realize they're driving Toyotas.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:11 AM to Driver's Seat )
Rare and well-done

Rod Dreher at NRO's The Corner picked up on this letter to the editors of Crisis magazine by George W. Rutler, a clergyman from New York City. It's a gem from start to finish, and it provides, um, food for thought:

Taste is one thing; it is another thing to condemn meat eating as "evil" and permissible only "in rare and unfortunate circumstances." [Danel] Paden disagrees with no less an authority than God, Who forbids us to call any edible unworthy (Mark 7: 18-19), and Who enjoins St Peter to eat pork chops and lobster in one of my favorite revelations (Acts 10: 9-16). Does the Catholic Vegetarian Society [of which Paden is the director] think that our Lord was wrong to have served up fish to the 5,000, or should He have refrained from eating the Passover Lamb? When He rose from the dead and appeared in the Upper Room, He did not ask for a bowl of Cheerios, nor did He whip up a meatless omelette on the shore of Galilee.

Man was made to eat flesh (Genesis 1:26-31; 9:1-6), with the exception of human flesh. I stand on record against cannibalism, whether it be inflicted upon the Mbuti Pygmies by the Congolese Army or on larger people by a maniac in Milwaukee. But I am also grateful that the benevolent father in the parable did not welcome his prodigal son home with a bowl of radishes.

For the moment, I am enjoying a visual of PETA's sainted Ingrid Newkirk slow-roasting at 300 degrees for eternity, her own sanctimony for marinade — with just a dash of Lea & Perrins.

(Muchas gracias: The American Way!?)

Breezing through work

I have lived nearly thirty years in central Oklahoma. During that time, I have delivered newspapers, and I have driven a car while unclothed.

It never occurred to me, however, to do both at once.

Mr Henry goes to Jerusalem

If there's anything to that "governing best = governing least" stuff, Governor Henry may already be on his way into the history books. Cam Edwards has already twitted the Guv for his extensive vacation schedule, and now the OkiePundit has uncovered yet another bowlful of junket:

According to sources in the Jewish Federation of Oklahoma Governor Henry will be slipping out of the state on Sunday for an all-expenses paid (by Israel and the Federation) 8-day trip to Israel. They do this for every governor. It's a perfect opportunity for Israel to sell their story to American political leaders like Henry. You can bet Governor Henry won't be hearing the "Palestinian viewpoint" while in Israel.

Actually, one can hear the Palestinian viewpoint pretty well while in Oklahoma City. Basically, if you've seen one suicide bomber (and if you've watched the news for more than twenty minutes this year, you have), you've seen them all, and with them you've seen the Palestinian viewpoint in its entirety: anything else they may say is just window-dressing, and not good window-dressing at that.

Not that you should expect any other reaction from someone who was physically rattled by the Oklahoma City bombing, and who was utterly disgusted by the spectacle of Palestinians cheering in the streets after 9/11.

7 September 2003
The return of American iron

Peter M. DeLorenzo, the original Autoextremist, has his hopes up:

After the domestic manufacturers succeeded in brainwashing the American public over the last 25 years that front-wheel-drive offered superior traction and handling and that we'd all die without it (even though it was simply a convenient engineering packaging decision for getting larger interiors into "downsized" cars), the mavericks at DaimlerChrysler have basically decided to "Go Big or Go Home" and build substantial, roomy cars, with Hemi V8 power and rear-wheel drive — offering the kind of balanced handling and overall performance that Europeans have been selling here in BMWs and Mercedes-Benzes for years. A lot of people in the business view the move as being a huge risk, because it may alienate drivers in the Northeast part of the U.S. and in other snowbelt states. But I happen to believe that people will be clamoring for something different, and a lot of people — even in the snowbelt states — will embrace these new cars for what they are: Big, bold, American statement cars with power, performance and style (even though they share some underpinnings with the previous generation E Class Mercedes). Sometimes in this business, you have to just go for it, and the Chrysler Group, by going in directions that the other car companies can't — or won't — will have a couple of big-time hits on their hands by next spring.

I don't have a problem with the Benz bits; Chrysler didn't have any suitable (which is to say, "non-truck") RWD platform of its own, and really, if you're going to dip into someone's parts bin, the Mercedes parts bin is generally a pretty nice place to rummage around.

I've seen photos of these cars, and while the Dodge Magnum, which will be issued first as a wagon, looks too much like an armored vehicle for Middle East arms dealers, the Chrysler 300C comes off as a solid, traditional American sedan, with all of that legendary genre's virtues (incredible amounts of room, the ability to consume vast numbers of highway miles in short periods) and vices (gawd, but that's a lot of brightwork in its mouth). Considering what we've been getting in the way of American sedans — have you looked at Ford lately? — the prospects for these Mopars look good, and I've tentatively added the 300C to my short list of Vehicles To Consider next time around. For me, this is a sea change, since normally I shop for a modicum of performance within the context of minimum visibility, but as the man says, sometimes you have to go big or go home.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:35 AM to Driver's Seat )
Passing vandals

A group known as PsychoPhobia has apparently hacked into Cam Edwards' Web site and replaced his index page with the usual modest braggadocio. His archives are apparently still intact — I was able to reach this page which I had previously linked, and all the items within a day or so of its posting — but they've snagged the top of the directory.

(Update, 7:15 pm: He's back up and running.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:08 PM to Blogorrhea )
And here's to you, Mrs Such-and-such

With the laundry done, I settled back in my chair to perform two concurrent tasks, one sort of painful, one more like hopeful: I grabbed this week's accumulated bills and logged onto the bank site to pay them, and I popped open this week's newest musical acquisitions to play them.

Tucked inside the envelope with the phone bill was a pitch for the telco's own online-payment service, illustrated with an overhead shot of a woman at a notebook presumably using said service. Now Net-based services are no less likely to fall back on Sex Sells than any other commercial endeavor, but the telco's bill-paying model isn't the usual barely-legal refugee from a Skechers ad; you can't see her face, but her slightly-streaked, vaguely-unkempt coif, the slight thickness around her upper arms, the prominent striations on the backs of her hands as she types — all these things indicate that we're looking at, not some twentysomething babe, but her fortyish (fiftyish?) mother. And that's a good thing: not all of us are youngsters anymore, and when we were, we didn't particularly want to be reminded of things like phone bills. Besides, I was pleased to note, Mom had a nice pair of gams.

And precisely at that moment, Fountains of Wayne launched into "Stacy's Mom", a song about a guy who doesn't mind hanging with a classmate, but:

Stacy, can't you see, you're just not the girl for me
I know it might be wrong but I'm in love with Stacy's mom

I pulled the booklet from the CD case to verify that yep, that's what I heard.

This probably isn't the sort of synchronicity that would have impressed Carl Jung, or even Sting, but it shook me up for a couple of minutes.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:00 PM to Almost Yogurt )
The law is an asshat

The Recording Industry Association of America has had mixed results in its efforts to clamp down on file-sharing, and Congress hasn't been asking "How high?" when the RIAA insists that they jump, so the industry's latest attempt to kill off peer-to-peer networking is disguised as an antiporn measure, which naturally attracts dimbulbs like Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK).

The amusing aspect of this bill, of course, is that it mandates the use of a software flag that's supposed to prevent a P2P client from being installed without "verification of majority" or "verifiable parental consent." Where is this flag? According to the bill, the FTC is supposed to manufacture a specification for it over the next year, at which time software developers are supposed to fall all over themselves to adopt it.

Says Bigwig:

Nothing like using something that doesn't even exist to enforce the law of the land. Might as well give the job to the underpants gnomes.

The last thing we need is Congress in proximity to anyone's underpants — unless, of course, they and their "friends" plan to dine upon same.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:24 PM to Fileophile )
8 September 2003
Something you'd just love to burn

One of these days I'm going to put together a mix CD called Songs in the Key of No Life, and when I do, I'm going to be inspired by Lindsay's selections.

(Depending on where you work, link may be somewhat less than safe.)

Sac time

The suburban blight Cul-de-Sac is up for another Monday round, and once again, something from this particular dead-end was deemed worthy of inclusion. (Thank you, Kelley.) All sorts of neat stuff turned up this week, a lot of which I (and presumably you) really need to read.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:34 AM to Blogorrhea )
Mr Bad Example

The announcement came last year, and the last album followed, but while I believed the album, I didn't believe the announcement: somehow, some way, Warren Zevon would pull through.

He didn't, of course — I'd like to think that he was actually beating the Reaper when suddenly that son of a bitch Van Owen, angry over Zevon's narrative, burst in and gave him the Roland treatment — but everyone from Flo and Eddie to Ken Layne owes him big time, and they know it.

Now he sleeps. I'll drink a piña colada in his memory; his songs were perfect.

Regrets? I'll have a few

Following the lead of the extraordinarily gutsy Susanna Cornett, I'm throwing the comments on this topic open to whatever questions you may have — about me, the site, whether I trade nude photos of the Olsen twins with McGehee (by the way, the answer to this one is "No"), or anything else that strikes your fancy.

But be reasonable. Some things should not be discussed in polite society; some things shouldn't even be discussed in bloggage. And if it's a question that's answered elsewhere on the site, be prepared to be pointed in that direction.

The cutoff time is 8 pm Central (9 pm Eastern).

(Update: The word is "gutsy". No way am I going to tell you what the typo was.)

Questions? Answers!

For a moment there, I thought no one was going to weigh in with a question, and I was going to go into a prolonged sulk. And then, of course, it occurred to me that this very site meets the definition of a prolonged sulk, so obviously I had nowhere to go.

Anyway, here's what I got, and here's what you get:

Venomous Kate:
[D]o you put on the left- or the right-leg of your pants first?

   Embarrassingly enough, I didn't know, and had to de-pants and then re-pants myself to ascertain the answer, which is: both functions begin on the right side.

Boxers or briefs?

   I've wavered over the years, but I've settled fairly firmly into the boxers column over the last decade or so. (There are times, sometimes having to do with being unable to face a mountain of laundry, when I do without, but this is probably fewer than 120 days a year.)

Crunchy or smooth?

   My palate prefers crunchy; my teeth, alas, prefer smooth.

Do you get me, sweetheart?

   Not as often as I'd like, but I suspect no one else does, either.

Goof Beyou:
Which came first — the chicken or the egg?

   Eggs can come? Damn. I learn something every day out here.

Mike:
How have you and/or the blogging community evolved over the years, and what is the average life span of a blog?

   I'm not even sure how many blogs there are. BlogStreet reported 145,330 this evening; Technorati claims to be tracking 922,327. I suspect, though, that the single biggest week for blog startups, at least in this country, was the week right after 11 September 2001, for fairly obvious reasons, and about a third of the blogs I read during that period were subsequently abandoned.

   There are many reasons why a blogger might give up: frustration with the tools, lack of time, or simply running out of things to say. Still, I've seen more than a few blogs that were left to lie fallow for a few months and then brought back to life.

   One factor contributing to longevity, I think, is specialization: a blog that covers a relatively narrow range of topics may draw fewer readers, but those readers tend to be very loyal. All-over-the-place stuff like I do is in general decline, though truly exceptional blogs will always have an audience regardless of focus or lack thereof.

MarcL:
Since you seem to enjoy being a traveling man...If you were to move away from OK to a location of your choice, would you go north, south, east or west? Beach, Mountains or something more exotic?

   I lived by the beach for about ten years and hardly ever went — some people should not be allowed in a swimsuit, and I'm one of them — so that's not a major draw. On the other hand, if I lived in the mountains, I probably wouldn't be quite so fond of them.

   The more I think about it, the more I like the area a few klicks either side of the Mason-Dixon line: southern Pennsylvania, northern Maryland, and a few snippets of Delaware. It's close enough to anything (as distinguished from anybody) I might want to see on the spur of the moment, and it's not smack-dab in the middle of a Major Metropolitan Area (though the eastern end of it is highly Philadelphia-oriented). I won't consider this, though, unless I've gotten to the point where I don't have to work and I can just bang the drum all day. (The chances of this, alas, are fairly slim.)

(If you missed out on this little exercise, it will be repeated at some point, probably when I'm desperately scratching around for a topic.)

9 September 2003
Tulsa thinks big

For years and years, Tulsa has thought of itself as Oklahoma's Dallas, and that other city down 66 was Fort Worth, nothing more. Tulsa has had better convention facilities, a spiffier downtown, more hotel rooms — and today none of it matters, as a refurbished Oklahoma City shoots for the big time and Tulsa descends into tedious Lubbockhood.

Today, voters will pass judgment on a package of expensive civic improvements and industrial incentives intended to restore Tulsa's edge. The operative word here is "expensive": Vision 2025, as it's called, will cost nearly a billion dollars and will be financed by an extra penny of sales tax over a 13-year period.

There are some objections to the package — a downtown stadium? — but I think it will pass, if only because Oklahoma's number two city hates to be, well, number two. Still, it's not as visionary, if that's the word, as the MAPS projects in Oklahoma City, and there are legitimate reasons to question whether Tulsans will get any kind of return on their investment.

Right now, though, the one question is "What will the voters say?" That, at least, will be answered today.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:43 AM to Soonerland )
A view from a fan

This was up on the front page at RockSnobs, and it's good enough to warrant repeating:

While I still don't have the fire in the belly to give Warren Zevon the proper tribute he deserves, I cannot let his death go unmentioned. The fact that he was given three months and stayed for a year makes me smile. That Warren Zevon, always doing his own thing. Of course it is bothering me that he never really got much press until he was dying. I mean, I just saw Kurt Loder on the freaking MTV talking about him. And I know from record store experience that people are rushing out and buying his music, just like when John Entwistle died. But maybe, just maybe, thanks to all the coverage, some kids will discover a great and underrated artist, and that is never a bad thing.

Indeed.

A clarification of sorts

In today's Letter of the Day, Venomous Kate implies that I "got naked" for her, a phrase which presumes that I removed all my clothing at her request.

I did, I must point out, retain my Nike sport sandals.

Copywronged again

You might think you had the right to open your own damn garage door.

Not necessarily.

(Muchas gracias: Hanah at Quare.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:06 PM to PEBKAC )
No drugs for you

The Justice Department has ordered Tulsa's Rx Depot, which operates 85 pharmacies in six states, to shut down by Thursday or face the Wrath of Ashcroft. The chain does a thriving business on the side importing prescription drugs from Canada, and following a warning from DOJ this past spring, actually expanded its activities. Further, the Food and Drug Administration says it bought an antidepressant from Rx Depot at Canadian prices which proved to be a counterfeit.

Rx Depot's Carl Moore continues to insist that he will not yield to government pressure, and that he will not sign the DOJ's consent decree.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:43 PM to Soonerland )
O most wretched anniversary

I wasn't there on the morning of the 11th; I was doing the same old workaday stuff that I always do. But the radio was on, I was half-listening, and suddenly the voices got higher and more agitated and eventually it sunk in that the world had changed right then and there.

There are many stories from that day. Some of the best of them are collected at Voices: Stories From 9/11 And Beyond, which surely you've read by now. And as of this afternoon, I'd thought it over, and decided I had nothing to add to the discussion, nothing to say I was willing to call my own.

And then the floodgates opened and the words followed in rapid succession.

It was written on the night of the 9th, but it's dated September 11th, and it's up now as Vent #356. I'm not sure if it's the best thing I've ever written, or the worst. Probably it's somewhere in between. One thing for sure: it's an object lesson in what happens when you try to retain too much composure for too long a time.

(I owe this one to Michele; the strength she's shown in collecting and compiling the stories — and in putting the fools in their proper place — has been truly inspirational.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:54 PM to Dyssynergy )
10 September 2003
Tulsa thinks even bigger

In the end, it wasn't even close: all four of Tulsa's Vision 2025 proposals passed, drawing 60 percent approval from the 40 percent of registered voters who turned out for Tuesday's election.

"It is the beginning of Tulsa's future," exulted Mayor Bill LaFortune.

Well, maybe. I'm not convinced waving $350 million at Boeing will encourage them to build the 7E7 in Tulsa; on the other hand, $22 million to help shore up sagging American Airlines, which wants to close one of its three maintenance facilities, one of which is in Tulsa, might do some good.

And there's the question of whether some Tulsans felt they were being railroaded into supporting Vision 2025. Michael Bates, a leader of the opposition forces, reports:

I have spoken to and received e-mail from hundreds of Tulsa County residents who deliver the same basic message: "I'm against this tax, and I appreciate what the opposition is doing, but because of my job, I cannot come out publicly against it." People are afraid to display yard signs, to sign petitions. Employees, public and private, are afraid of losing their jobs. Politicians are afraid of angering donors and being targeted for defeat (with good reason). Businessmen are afraid of regulatory harassment from city or county agencies, afraid of losing business from the big companies backing this package, afraid of being turned down for loans. I heard that workers at one downtown company were told by an angry CEO that they'd lose their jobs if they opposed the package. American Airlines mechanics were taken off the line to assemble "YES" signs.

A lot of this goes on in most elections of this sort, I suspect.

Now comes the hard part: trying to get the maximum bang for Tulsa County's extra cent per buck.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:44 AM to Soonerland )
A remembrance

Today I went to the Fence.

The Fence defines a boundary of the Oklahoma City National Memorial; if you're eastbound on Northwest 5th Street going downtown, you head right toward it. Which I was, and which I did.

The Fence was installed as a routine security item. But its appearance is anything but routine: threaded through its metal links, you'll find the stuff of memories, items left by mourners, something personal to offset the starkness of the empty chairs.

The Fence is familiar to us all; we've seen it a thousand times, reduced to the size of our living rooms. But that familiarity still doesn't prepare us for the sight of the real thing.

Tomorrow there will be an observance at Ground Zero. I'm afraid that were I there, I would find the experience completely overwhelming; even now, after eight years, I find I am still affected by the Fence.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:32 PM to City Scene )
Moral twerpitude

Justin Katz found this letter in the Providence Journal:

Which is worse: zealots who fly passenger planes into symbols of wealth and power, or wealth and power using this prostitute Republican administration to declare war on the biosphere — on all life on earth?

Says Katz:

While I can understand the idea of letting the letters section lapse into lunacy occasionally to give the semblance of an open forum, I'm astonished that the Providence Journal would run this letter on September 10.

Moonbat Central in California has opened a branch office, maybe?

11 September 2003
In your dreams, pal

The first blast came at 5:14, and I sleepily did the math: yes, it's the 11th of September, and yes, I'm within five miles of Tinker Air Force Base, and yes, if they take out Tinker, there's a good chance I'm going with it.

A second eruption, the lights flickered, and finally it dawned on me that this was not any kind of military operation at all; it was nothing more than a very loud but otherwise unremarkable Oklahoma thunderstorm.

A bit of paranoia, I think, is probably hard-coded into the genome as a survival enhancement.

Incidentally, this site was hit with a Denial of Service attack last evening. (Well, not just this site — everything on the host was being hit — but there are relatively few blogs on this host, so you might not have noticed it elsewhere.) The attack was brought under control after about twenty-five minutes, but it's yet another reminder that we all have our little vulnerabilities.