1 November 2003
Lowered expectations

According to P. J. O'Rourke, it's a tenet of liberal faith that there are, in fact, people too poor to pick up their lawn.

Now I grew up reading P. J. in National Lampoon, so I have a tendency to assume that there's some undefined but discernible hyperbole in anything he says, but a comment from Bruce, affixed to this item, makes me wonder:

The temptation, one that appeals to our base desires is to believe that just because people are taking advantage of tax supported systems means that we, the taxpayers have some right to tell them how to live.

And right after I read that, up pops (courtesy of Kimberly Swygert) this:

Roughly 40,000 poor people have been dropped from the Oregon Health Plan this year because of their failure to make monthly premium payments, some as low as $6 a month.

The departure of more than one-third of the 88,000 poor people from the state-subsidized Oregon Health Plan Standard program has far exceeded the expectations of many state officials.

Advocates for the poor say the premiums are too expensive for some people and the government may have overestimated the ability of people to mail a check.

"It's an enormous barrier," said Ellen Pinney, director of the Oregon Health Action Committee. "Let alone the $6, there is the whole issue of writing a check or getting a money order, putting it in an envelope with a stamp and putting it in the mail to this place in Portland that must receive it by the due date."

An enormous barrier?

People who take so little responsibility for themselves that they can't follow directions this simple deserve to have someone telling them how to live.

And to clean up their damn yard while they're at it.

Accentuate the positive

Our man Rust, who has been blogging for some time now under the title Conservatives Suck, has slid a new nameplate into place: you can now reach him at Liberals Are Really Swell.

The URL is exactly the same as before, but hey, you can't have everything.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:35 AM to Blogorrhea )
Too full of Monty

Yahmdallah (30 October) has had it up to here, maybe a trifle farther, with The New Movie Eroticism:

I don't think I can make a believable assertion that I am not a prude, but I will state that I have found some scenes of sex in past movies wonderful, tasteful, and appropriate for the story, thus my suspension of disbelief expanded into other happy suspensions, if you will. But Kathleen Turner and William Hurt going at it in Body Heat, or Jack Nicholson and Jessica Lange in The Postman Always Rings Twice putting a cutting board to good use, were exciting and titillating, and most precisely because we don't see any genitalia during an erotic scene. Seeing someone's privates does something to our wetware (ultra-geek term for our brains, you perv), and suddenly we are slammed into another mode (whether we like it or not). I guess because that is something related to one of our most intimate acts that we can't feel anything but the emotions related to the same. It breaks the fourth wall in a way nothing else does, even a creepy 3-D Michael Jackson reaching out of the screen for your kids at Disney World.

One must go into realms H. P. Lovecraft might shun to exceed Michael Jackson's level of creepiness, I aver, but otherwise this seems fairly close to the mark. I imagine, though I haven't seen it and don't plan to, that the low point will probably be Vincent Gallo's The Brown Bunny, which climaxes, so to speak, with a scene involving Chloe Sevigny playing scales and trills on Gallo's piccolo.

It's not like this never happened before in a more-or-less mainstream film — by most accounts, Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie were not simulating their sex scene in Don't Look Now, thirty years ago — but it never occurred to director Nicolas Roeg to focus the camera on the actual organ-grinding, and I don't think I'd particularly have wanted to see it if he had.

Perhaps this is just a reflection of real life. If you or I walked in on a couple dancing horizontally, the most likely reaction would be "Uh, excuse me," followed by a hasty retreat.

And speaking as a person with a Y chromosome, who is entirely too capable of fleeting thoughts of "I wonder what she looks like naked" when in the presence of any adult female this side of Madeleine Albright, I'd just like to say that I'd prefer my fantasies to remain unsullied by any of that frightful reality stuff.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:18 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Taking a shellacking (follow-up)

A couple of months ago, I reported on the rarest phonograph record of them all, the 78-rpm issue (no 45-rpm version has been located) of the Five Sharps' "Stormy Weather" b/w "Sleepy Cowboy", on Jubilee 5104. One of the three copies known to exist, I noted, was supposed to be offered on eBay in October.

Well, it's there now, and and after just over two days — the auction is scheduled to run for ten — the current high bid is just shy of twenty thousand dollars.

This is not, incidentally, the uncracked copy owned by Collectors Universe; this disc is cracked, but the seller says the crack does not affect play, which is possible if the cracked surfaces are still relatively tightly held together. I've had discs like this, so I'm inclined to accept his explanation.

The auction ends 9 November at 7:30 pm Pacific. You'd better empty out your money-market accounts now.

And, oh yes, I've heard the recording. It's not among my favorites.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:28 PM to Tongue and Groove )
2 November 2003
Rules of the 'hood

The city has gotten around to posting the details of the restrictions imposed by the designation of my new neighborhood as an Urban Conservation District, and while most of them don't bother me a great deal from the standpoint of conformance, a few of them might strike some people as being just a tad anal.

An example:

Satellite, Television, Radio, and any other Transmission or Receiving Implements:
  1. This section shall only apply to satellite dishes in excess of two meters in width;

  2. If mounted on a pole or attached to the ground, shall not be forward of the front building line nor exceed the height of the main structure by more than 15 feet;

  3. If mounted to the main structure, shall not be forward of the front building line; in the event the structure has a hip type roof, shall not be forward of the main ridge line and/or mounted to the front slope; in the event of a gable type roof, shall not be forward of the main ridge line and/or mounted to the front slope; in the event the mounting is on the side of the structure and/or the side slope of a hip or flat type roof, shall be a minimum of ten feet from the front building line. This provision shall not prevent the item from protruding above the main ridge line and the height shall not exceed the height of the main structure by more than 15 feet.

  4. Pre-existing satellite, television, radio and any other transmission or receiving implements, prior to the enactment of this Urban Conservation District, shall be deemed to be legally non-conforming for a period of one year. After the one-year period, must be in compliance with these provisions.

Then there's this:

The storage or keeping of items forward of the front building line shall be prohibited, such as barbecues or other types of charcoal or gas type grills, appliances, buckets, tools, tires, toys, bicycles, wheel barrels, laundry, furniture not intended for outside use.

Which leads to a philosophical conundrum, of sorts. This ordinance was enacted because of requests by an association of the residents; presumably its provisions are close to what those residents desire, and indeed a brief sweep through a couple of streets suggests a willingness to conform to those provisions. I've got to wonder, though, whether it relegates me to the status of what Francis W. Porretto calls "an indentured serf, who must have the lord's permission to rethatch the roof of his hovel." Certainly the mortgage reeks of indenture. So far as I can tell, though, there are no specific rules for roofing in this neighborhood.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:54 AM to Surlywood )
A nutty diversion

The esteemed Greg Hlatky describes a prosthesis for pets, and in so doing answers that age-old question: "What do you do with a dog with three balls?"

Silly me. I always thought that you walked him and pitched to the muskrat.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:38 PM to Dyssynergy )
Getting there is half the fun

Maybe more than that, by Fred First's lights:

My family thinks when I say this (usually upon some large disappointment) that I am being a pessimist. I see it quite the opposite. The journey is certain. Find joy in each step, each mile, each word along the way with hope that the end may be the best part. The end is uncertain — that you will get there at all, that by the time you arrive the party will be over and all the lights turned off. If the end is not what you had anticipated, as often is the case in this age of quaking earth, you still own the thrill of the getting there.

My credentials as a pessimist are well-established, but this is precisely the spirit in which I undertook the three World Tours. If all that mattered was the destination, I could have subjected myself to the various indignities of air travel and gotten it over with much more quickly. And when I get to do it again, probably in 2005 (I see my '04 budget rapidly being consumed by Stuff For The House), I expect to feel exactly the same way.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:02 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Sirens at ten paces

Andy Crossett hedges only a little here:

It's been suggested that the Britney Spears pants-less pose on the cover of the November issue of Esquire is the best celebrity leg-art photo ever taken. That's a big statement to make, but it's certainly the best I've seen in a long, long while.

I'm not entirely persuaded, especially since the Spears pose is deliberately styled after one Angie Dickinson did for the same magazine in 1966 (which was reproduced for the cover in 1993).

What say you, loyal readers? Britney or Angie?

And in view of the burgeoning interest in Blogging Babes...no, I'd better not go there.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:08 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Now it can be told

The secret origin of the term "metrosexual," as filched from a mayonnaise jar on Funk and Wagnalls' porch:

"Jeebus, Myrtle, would you look at this. Brights. Every doofus who can bang two syllables together suddenly thinks he's a goddamn movement, fercrissake. I oughta think of something stupid like that just to watch people fall all over themselves to jump on the bandwagon. Now let's see...."

At this writing, Myrtle remains unavailable for comment.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:01 PM to Bogus History )
3 November 2003
Letting the whine breathe

I can't possibly say this any better than Andrea did, and what she said was this:

See troll post obnoxious comment on website he or she doesn't agree with. See troll get cyberkicked in the virtual nads. See troll tattle to site's webhost. See troll make fool of self when it is revealed that the author of the website he/she complained about is also one of the webhosts.

And, just to make it interesting — and to serve as a general warning to those who might transgress in the future — said webhost's extension of her official disclaimer:

I have the right to do whatever I want to with what you write [on my site], whether I agree with you or not. I can post your damn IP if I want to as well. It's not like I'm telling people that you live on 200 Oak Street Loserville, PA....second house on the right...yellow fence. Anyone with a little net sense knows that you there are a million sites out there where you can post an IP and find the location of it.

Nicely done, Gennie. And thank you, Andrea.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:52 AM to Blogorrhea )
You bet

Well, actually, you didn't, which is why Sallisaw's Blue Ribbon Downs, the state's first pari-mutuel racetrack, was scheduled to be auctioned off tomorrow, only to be rescued at the last minute by the Choctaw Nation, which also owns a casino in nearby Pocola.

Terms of the sale were not announced. Speculation continues that Remington Park in Oklahoma City, the state's largest racetrack, may be in deep trouble as well; the general feeling seems to be that the casinos are drawing many potential bettors away from the tracks. I stay away from the tracks, but this is mostly because I coughed up quite a bit of cash playing the ponies in my younger days and I have no reason to think I'm any better at it now than I was then.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:48 PM to Soonerland )
And no cover charge, either

It's called Naked Lunch, it's apparently the first clothing-optional restaurant not connected to an existing naturist resort, and it's not surprising that it's in Key West instead of, say, Duluth.

While it's not true that I'll doff my duds at the drop of someone else's hat, I do spend rather a lot of time unclad; still, I can't see myself joining in the frivolities. For one thing, there's no way to drive to Key West on the way to somewhere else, because Key West simply isn't on the way to anywhere else, with the possible exception of Uranus, and I don't really envision it as a final destination, especially since I'd have to go through Miami twice in the process, which is twice more than I'd like.

More to the point, Naked Lunch doesn't strike me as a really great place to take a date, and, well, I hate dining alone in public, no matter what I'm wearing.

(Via Fark)

The Anglican rift

Christopher Johnson has been covering the Episcopalian schism in the making almost from day one, and in reviewing his most recent posts, I really can't blame him for wanting to cut his ties to the American church.

Generally I don't gnash my teeth over the elevation of gay folk into positions of power, but for the life of me, I can't understand why it was so important to make Gene Robinson a bishop when, as Greg Hlatky puts it:

[H]e left his wife and children, not to follow Christ as James and John did, but to follow his own carnal desires. It would have been enough to sink a heterosexual minister; why should Bishop Robinson have been treated differently?

Why, indeed? Scriptural justification for homosexuality is nebulous at best, but Scriptural justification for adultery is nonexistent.

4 November 2003
The mythical Average Home

If it's in the ZIP code to which I'm moving, it's 1509 square feet, was built in 1957, and sells for $92,392, or so says Homestore.com.

My particular neighborhood skews a tad smaller, somewhat older — development began in 1946 and was mostly completed by 1950 — and similarly pricey: five other homes in the district were on sale when I bought, and their average asking price was $97,740.

New construction, out towards the edges of town, will of course cost Much, Much More.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:35 AM to Surlywood )
A break for the Memorial

It may seem crass to say so, but there it is: attendance at the Oklahoma City National Memorial, where the bombed-out Murrah Federal Building used to be, is down 22 percent since the 11th of September 2001.

The state's Congressional delegation, notably outgoing Senator Don Nickles, has responded by tucking $1.6 million in funding for the Memorial into the federal Interior Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2004. Nickles has stated that one goal for his final year in office will be to stabilize the Memorial's financial structure so it can stand on its own.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:44 AM to City Scene )
Think locally

I've mentioned before that I'm moving into one of Oklahoma City's Urban Conservation Districts, and that while some of the zoning restrictions therein might seem daunting, they were enacted at the request of a majority of the property owners therein, and, well, if I found them particularly onerous, perhaps I should have bought somewhere else.

Do districts of this sort, which in effect empower individual neighborhoods, threaten the status quo? Michael Bates certainly thinks so:

[M]y support for neighborhood empowerment (through the use of urban conservation districts) was why [the Tulsa World] wouldn't endorse me [for Tulsa City Council in 2002]. Averill [David Averill, of the World's editorial board] said that neighborhoods had opposed every good thing that had happened to Midtown, and they shouldn't be given any more clout to oppose progress. I cited several counter-examples to his assertion, but he was not interested in discussing the matter further.

The bottom line for the Whirled was this: If elected to the Council, I would be an obstacle to their vision for the redevelopment of Midtown, because I would work to protect the rights of homeowners and other property owners and make them a part of the decision-making process. I believe that we can accommodate growth and new development without endangering the character of our older neighborhoods, and with a minimum of red tape and regulation.

There are, of course, numerous examples where individual property owners have been given the back of the municipal hand, often to expedite the plans of politically-connected developers; the right of "eminent domain" is often abused. I don't know how well our little strip of the city will serve as any sort of bulwark, but it's a good thing that Oklahoma City is, at least for now, on our side — and it's not so good that Tulsa's movers and shakers think so little of their residents.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:13 AM to City Scene , Soonerland )
Lock your knob on Bob

Surely Citadel could have come up with a better slogan for their newest attempt to do something with the 96.9 frequency. (Their previous effort, The Bull, is chipped beef on toast.)

"Bob" plays Classic Hits, whatever that may be. I shall, um, grant them a button for a while and see if I can work up a definition; so far, it sounds nothing like the Canadian stations advertised as Bob. (What I really want in the way of Classic Hits is something like Chicago's The Drive.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:24 PM to Overmodulation )
Well, it had to be somewhere

According to Weird NJ, the central point of weirdness in Hudson County is, yes, Jersey City.

No comment so far from Susanna Cornett, who understandably is fleeing to Alabama.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:25 PM to Dyssynergy )
This side of closure

Following up a couple of items from the past few days:

That hyperexpensive copy of Jubilee 5104 has disappeared from eBay without explanation; the seller's Web site says nothing either.

And to finish off this item: it appears Atrios will not be sued after all.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:39 PM to Blogorrhea )
5 November 2003
Kicking Bass

Reprinted from Usenet's ok.general newsgroup:

Mark your calendar for THURSDAY, NOV. 20TH.

A rally to protest the Grand Opening of Bass Pro Shops in Bricktown will be held at 9AM on the north side of Reno Ave. between Byers and Stiles.

Confirmed speakers at this time:

Moshe Tal
— Oklahoma City businessman

Chris Powell
— Chairman, Oklahoma Libertarian Party

Charlie Meadows
— President, Oklahoma Conservative Political Action Committee

No matter your political viewpoint, if you oppose corporate welfare, government favoritism, and abuse of our tax dollars, please come stand up for your beliefs on Nov. 20th.

Background: The city of Oklahoma City spent around $17 million to build the Bass Pro Shops facility on the fringe of Bricktown, for which Bass will be paying an annual rent of $600,000. There was some rumbling in the community when the deal was planned, but consultants to the city contented that sales at Bass would reach upward of $30 million per year, which would generate enough sales-tax revenue to cover the cost of the building and then some. A group called Citizens Against Taxpayer Abuse, in which rival Academy Sports was a participant, led the opposition; with Mayor Kirk Humphreys pushing hard, City Council eventually approved the package.

Moshe Tal, first-listed in the speakers list, is the Oklahoma City businessman who sued the city in May 2003 to quash the Bass deal; a hearing is scheduled for Thursday.

Bad Eagle.com discusses this matter in greater depth.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:49 AM to City Scene )
Carnival. Because it's time.

And with that sound bite, we direct you to Carnival of the Vanities #59, presented with the usual explosive flair by your friends at Wizbang!

Read it. I'm in there somewhere, but read it anyway.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:00 AM to Blogorrhea )
Will greed undo geeks?

Microsoft apparently thinks so; they're offering $250,000 US for information leading to the capture and conviction of the individuals who inflicted the MSBlast worm and Sobig virus upon the computing world, part of an overall $5 million war chest.

Which is probably still cheaper than writing security patches.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:25 PM to PEBKAC )
No word yet from Mike Hunt

Most of the spam that gets past my filters has for a sender's name either a meaningless jumble of crapola, which is immediately deleted, or a randomly-chosen real-sounding name, which is immediately deleted once I recognize it as being no one I know.

One of the dunderheads trying to sell me Microsoft OEM software of dubious provenance signed himself as "Spoilage G. Prone," which strikes me as a decent pseudonym for some future blogger (cf. Mindles H. Dreck). I figure sooner or later they'll hit on the name used by the British satire magazine Private Eye back in the Sixties for a Fleet Street malingerer of the Jayson Blair stripe (and by me, briefly, as a BBS nom de modem): Lunchtime O'Booze.

And then, of course, I'll have to read the damn thing.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:30 PM to Scams and Spams )
6 November 2003
And even more on that 78

The Jubilee 5104 story rolls on. A contributor to Usenet's rec.music.rock-pop-r+b.1950s group emailed the seller, and got this back:

We are sorry to report that on Tuesday afternoon, eBay canceled our auction of Jubilee 5104 due to the fact that we included a direct link to our website, and that I stated that we would consider a trade for the record if it didn't meet reserve....we are now in the process of straightening things out.

We do not often sell items on eBay, preferring instead to offer records through our auction catalogs. I am reviewing eBay's listing policies and will shortly have a new listing posted. Given the fact that the item was at $19,990 when eBay stopped it, I will open the new auction with a $19,000 minimum and no reserve.

As explanations go, this is probably better than most; certainly I've heard worse, and eBay policies are just about that strict.

I'll continue to monitor this situation, if only because it's got to be more interesting than waiting for Paul Wolfowitz to crack a smile.

(Update, 6:45 pm: It's back.)

Go ahead and cry

The world is only half as Righteous today; Bobby Hatfield, the shorter, blonder Righteous Brother, died in a Kalamazoo hotel last night at sixty-three.

Hatfield and Bill Medley had been a team for most of the last forty years, cutting their first single ("Little Latin Lupe Lu," written by Medley) in 1963. They scored their biggest hits under the direction of Phil Spector: "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'," their first waxing for Spector, won a BMI award in 1997 for Most-Performed Song on Radio. (Personal note: The one and only time I attempted this song at karaoke, my voice was shot; though my range is normally closer to Medley's, I sang the higher Hatfield parts instead.)

The famed Righteous version of "Unchained Melody" is sung almost entirely by Hatfield, and rumors persist that Medley actually produced it, inasmuch as it was originally a B-side (the A-side was "Hung on You"), which tended to be throwaways on Phil Spector sessions; certainly it sounds like the recordings Medley produced after the Brothers left Spector for bigger bucks from MGM/Verve.

I will, of course, spin lots of these records tonight.

Welcome to January

The cold front got here yesterday morning, and it was one of those really big, really obvious cold fronts: if you were paying attention, you could actually watch the trees transitioning from shaking in a warm south wind to quivering in a cold north wind.

What we got as a gift from the Canadians was a classic late-January pattern, complete with cloud cover thick as chowder and temperatures struggling to stay above freezing. There's not a whole lot of precipitation in this mix, but what does fall can assume almost any configuration that isn't associated with warmth. The Sun, you ask? It's a newspaper in Edmond.

Still, the chills of November have their uses: you can finally put away the lawn mower, and all those children conceived in fitful passion on Valentine's Day can make a grand entrance.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:58 PM to Weather or Not )
Unloading zone

During one of the sporadic periods today when I could actually get onto BlogShares, I discovered that this goofy little site of mine briefly ranked #8 on the Most Traded list (I have never been above #600 on the Top Whatever), which I attribute to having executed a leveraged buyout after watching the price per share drop from $350 to $60.

Of course, after the LBO, the price dropped into the teens, and has barely recovered into the twenties, but hey, it's only money, and funny money at that; I suppose I would be substantially more annoyed had I dropped an actual four million simolea on the deal.

I just hope I'm this placid after I blow three or four grand to furnish two rooms of the house.

7 November 2003
Rx Depot to be padlocked

The government has prevailed in its efforts to shut down Rx Depot; Judge Claire Egan granted the request by the Department of Justice to close the Tulsa firm that imports lower-priced Canadian drugs for American consumers.

From Egan's ruling:

This court is not unsympathetic to the predicament faced by individuals who cannot afford their prescription drugs at US prices. However, the defendants are able to offer lower prices only because they facilitate illegal activity determined by Congress to harm the public interest.

The pharmaceutical industry's business model — lose money in countries like Canada with artificial price controls, make it up in the US where the market is freer — makes a certain amount of sense. This ruling is going to be perceived, however, as yet another instance of Sticking It to the Little Guy, and as a result we're going to move one step closer to nationalized health care, which will likely stick it to everyone.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:23 AM to Soonerland )
Neo liberalism?

Lileks has now seen all three films in the Matrix trilogy, and he detects the vacuum at its center:

It is a product of deeply confused people. They want it all. They want individualism and community; they want secularism and transcendence; they want the purity of committed love and the licentious fun of an S&M club; they want peace and the thrill of violence; they want God, but they want to design him on their own screens with their own programs by their own terms for their own needs, and having defined the divine on their own terms, they bristle when anyone suggests they have simply built a room with a mirror and flattering lighting. All three Matrix movies, seen in total, ache for a God. But they can't quite go all the way. They're like three movies about circular flat meat patties that can never quite bring themselves to say the word "hamburger."

If this Bleat had had a working permalink, it would have been just about perfect.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:38 AM to Almost Yogurt )
As long as it's gray

Toyota's youth-oriented Scion division is contemplating offering cars without factory paint jobs.

At the Specialty Equipment Marketing Association show in Las Vegas, Scion showed an unpainted xA hatchback; its sheetmetal was covered with standard gray primer only. Hardcore tuners — right in the middle of Scion's target market — apparently have been buying cars and sanding off the factory paint, then applying their own custom paint.

As yet, Scion is sold only on the West Coast; I have no idea how well this will go over when, a year or so for now, Toyota starts selling these vehicles here on the Lone Prairie.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:11 PM to Driver's Seat )
Your friendly neighborhood Snarko agent

Back in the day, Nike (I think) was quite insistent about Bo. Bo knows football; Bo knows track; Bo knows sportswear.

Kate knows snark. And she's a hell of a lot better looking than Bo.

You know what to do next.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:27 PM to Blogorrhea )
Where the cheapskates are

The Catalogue for Philanthopy has issued its annual Generosity Index — tax years being the indeterminate things they are, the 2003 Index is based on complete 2001 tax figures — and it's chock full of numbers.

The Index is determined by comparing the Having Rank of a state (how much money its taxpayers have) to the Giving Rank (what percentage they actually contribute to charity). A state that has little money but which manages to make bigger donations will therefore rank higher on the Index than a wealthier state with a greater proportion of skinflints. And indeed, Mississippians, seemingly always near the bottom of the per-capita charts, have the lowest income but the sixth-highest donation ratio, enough of a divergence to put them at the top of the Index. Oklahoma, 43rd in income and 10th in giving, ranks fourth.

Here's where it gets interesting. OpinionJournal's Taste section looks at the figures and notes the following:

[T]he top 20 states all went for George W. Bush in the 2000 election — while 15 of the 20 least generous went for Al Gore.

How did this happen?

Maybe...the difference is that those in red states are more generous with their own money while those in blue states are more likely to be generous with other people's money.

File this under "Things that make you go Hmmmm...."

(Muchas gracias: Wylie in Norman.)

8 November 2003
So we tanned her hide when she died, Clyde

A couple of months ago, Automobile's Eddie Alterman said something or other about the leather upholstery in the new Lamborghini Gallardo and tacked on a quip about an alarm going off in PETA headquarters.

Which, apparently, it did. The December '03 issue contains a letter from PETA president Ingrid Newkirk which makes the following claim:

We're currently in talks with car companies over the leather issue. More and more top-line car buyers want a non-leather interior. The smell of leather, the thought of where it comes from, and the growing number of vegetarians and nonviolence advocates post-September 11, 2001, are making the pleather-over-leather buyer demand options.

The next time I'm at the dealership — in addition to mere Mazdas, they sell Cadillacs, Audis, Porsches, Land-Rovers and Infinitis — I'll ask them if anyone at all has requested a leather-delete option.

And if someone wants to explain to me why the events of 9/11 would have turned someone into a vegetarian, I'd love to hear it.

Meanwhile, I'll be sitting on the modest cloth upholstery in my car as I drive to the furniture store in search of a leather sofa. Just because.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:52 AM to Driver's Seat )
Hawkeyed vision

My children tend to be scornful of Iowa, which, they patiently explained to me, is an acronym: "Idiots Out Walking Around." I don't know why. Maybe it's a Missouri thing, something like the way Oklahomans are expected to sneer at Texas and vice versa.

And I have to admit that my particular experience in Iowa is limited to a couple of days over a couple of summertimes, and suburban Des Moines strikes me as just as dull as it sounds, but as Dawn points out, I've missed the good stuff:

What it feels like to stand in the middle of a field with nothing around for miles but the sound of your footsteps and the birds. What it feels like to be in the middle of dense woods and see where a buck has scraped his antlers on a tree. Or where a doe has lain for the night. To have a pheasant fly out of bush and scare the shit out of you. To watch where you step because there might be a snake or even better an Indian arrowhead. To walk along a stream and see how busy a beaver was all summer. To sit quietly in the woods and wait to hear those footsteps of a deer.

Mental note: Next time I'm in Iowa, get farther away from I-35 and/or I-80.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:35 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Notes from around town

A not-entirely-random collection of observations from behind the wheel, nothing more.

  • There's a narrow strip of park along the east side of the avenue as you head north toward my new digs, and piles of pipes are arranged parallel to the pavement. Looks like the city's planning to update the water and/or sewer lines, which is probably a good thing once the traffic headaches (I'm guessing my street will be closed at this end) subside. Oddly enough, new utility work is making it tricky to negotiate the way to my old digs.

  • When I was a teenager back in the Jurassic period, I bicycled to work, and that work was on a southside street that at the time was a major thoroughfare for an area largely populated by working-class whites. Thirtysomething years later, it's still a major thoroughfare, and some of the businesses (not the one for which I worked) are still there, but the area is now largely populated by working-class Latinos. Memory, especially my memory, is incredibly fallible, but apart from the occasional sign in Spanish and a paint job here and there, to me things look just about the same now as they did then. Frozen in time? Not really; it's more likely that nobody has ever had the bucks to give any of the buildings more than a perfunctory facelift. This is not one of those "gentrified" areas by any means, and it probably won't be one anytime soon.

  • The local United Way is running billboards with stark black-and-white photography of the presumably needy. One such ad shows an elderly gentleman with his brow permanently furrowed, saying "My phone never rings." For some reason, this bothered me, perhaps because there's a very real fear of being old and forgotten lurking in the back of my head. Probably why I keep blogging: my phone may not ring, but I get 3500 visitors a week, a handful of which actually say something now and then.

  • The chap in the checkout line ahead of me explained: "We're having house guests, and they will not drink tap water under any conditions." Which is why he had purchased every last bottle of Fiji Water in the store, a cart and a half, about two hundred dollars' worth. Either these guests are going to be in town for an extended stay, or they sure are thirsty. (Oh, and he bought a 12-pack of Barq's Root Beer for himself.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:23 PM to City Scene )
Ransack a mung fig

Once again, the blogosphere has seized on a meme which I've already beaten to death, but what the hell. I mean, what's a few extra strokes to the deceased equine, anyway?

I was in a semi-jaunty mood, remarkably so considering it's cold and damp and dreary outside and the inside of my head is awash in histamine, so I went ahead and plugged the name of the Resonant Tuscan's blog into the generator, and was rewarded with A NICE HOT BUST, not to mention STOIC BANE HUT and USE BATH TONIC and THE COUSIN TAB and SNUB TO THE CIA and ESTONIA BUTCH and AUTHENTIC SOB.

I do hope she's still speaking to me. (And that goes for Shari Rae Darn at Taut Chrome Doom, too.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:04 PM to Screaming Memes )
9 November 2003
When both paths blow

Okay, it's not a choice as horrific as Sophie's, but it's still disturbing.

A medical study in Israel claims that mild hypertension is actually good for one's cognitive ability after the age of 70. Said Dr Michael A Weber of the American Journal of Hypertension, which published the study:

The results of this Israeli study could present a dilemma for physicians to choose between cardiovascular health and cognitive health in treating elderly people with high blood pressure.

Further study is required to weight the proven longevity benefits of blood pressure control with the new finding of cognitive protection. Until further evidence comes along, it would be most prudent for clinicians to achieve currently recommended treatment goals in their patients.

Meanwhile, I'm paying fiftysomething dollars a month for some zoomy antihypertensive, and I have to wonder: Is this going to make me dumb somewhere down the line? I mean, if I wanted to pay fiftysomething dollars a month to make myself dumb, I'd simply upgrade my cable.

(Via Fark)

What a load

This site's index page, not including the graphics scattered hither and yon, averages about 115 kilobytes, a figure which a few years ago would have invited scorn and derision and whatnot from your Web Experts because it made for such long load times that people would just give up and go look at something else.

Blogdom is, of course, heavy on the verbiage, and broadband is now affordable by (some) mere mortals, but I've been doing this for a long time now and old habits are hard to break; I've thrown out two or three semi-nifty templates for excessive size. What I want to know, I suppose, is this: Does it really matter anymore? Are there blogs you won't read because they take too damn long to load? You don't have to name names, unless you really, really want to.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:18 AM to Blogorrhea )
Such a percentile

Lenore Skenazy isn't advising "Lower your expectations," exactly. Or is she?

Perfectly fine-looking women pick geeky-looking guys all the time — and I wish my single friends would realize this! Anyone holding out for a hunk should understand that no matter whom you marry, the next 10 years will be a time of steady decline. So if you can just put up with a few years of subpar attractiveness, you can have everything — the kids, house, happy home life — that the cheerleader who snagged the football player has, without the disappointment of watching your guy go downhill. He's already downhill!

I would dearly love to endorse this viewpoint, except that (1) improving my appearance to "subpar" level is something that CFI Care deems "not medically necessary" and (2) I've never even seen the hill these guys putatively descend.

(Muchas gracias: Kimberly Swygert, who probably looks better than this.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:11 PM to Table for One )
Or it could be cheese, I guess

The respected Aaron Tatum Custom Homes is building in the ultraswank Rivendell community on the south side, and one of Tatum's offerings, on 128th west of Doriath Way, is described in an ad piece this way:

French Cottage with 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths, study, game/media room upstairs.

All very nice, and yours for only $359,900, though one thing gives me pause: when I hear the word "cottage," I somehow don't think of a structure enclosing 3700 (more or less) square feet.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:07 PM to City Scene )
10 November 2003
Boomlet Sooner

According to Assessor Mike Means, home values rose 17.6 percent in Oklahoma County last year, the sort of number one associates with health-care costs or the late, lamented Oil Boom.

Mercifully, state law provides that property taxes cannot rise more than 5 percent in a single year.

And this provides more justification for buying in now before things get really out of hand. I don't see things reaching the heady heights of, say, Austin, where fairly ordinary boxes just north of the University are now going for more than a quarter of a million, but I'll happily take whatever equity I can get.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:33 AM to Soonerland )
Get a rope

The increase in beef prices does more than just make your burgers more costly: it also brings an increase in cattle rustling.

With prices now topping $120 per hundredweight, it's becoming more cost-effective to steal a steer. And it doesn't necessarily require the thief to jump the fence, either; even cattle rustling has gone sort of high-tech.

Of course, we still have cottonwood trees and ropes to stretch, should the circumstances warrant.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:30 AM to Soonerland )
Not just a guy on a horse

He was called Don Juan de Oñate, and he was the first of the conquistadors who decided to stay.

In 1993, sculptor John Houser was commissioned to create a statue of Don Juan, three stories tall, for the center of El Paso, Texas. "Without Oñate," says Mary Davis of the El Paso Mission Trail Association, "we would have no missions, no El Paso or Juárez, no beautiful Hispanic culture, no New Mexico."

Just the same, the El Paso City Council has decided that Oñate doesn't deserve a memorial after all; Houser's sculpture, when it's finished, will carry no references to Don Juan, and will be stuck out at the airport.

What happened? In 1599, at Acoma Pueblo near present-day Gallup, New Mexico, seventy Spaniards under Oñate, having picked up a story that the native Acoma planned to wipe out the Spanish colony, stormed the Acoma fortress. They were outnumbered roughly twenty to one, but Oñate's men prevailed, inflicting heavy casualties and, say some historians, visiting cruelty upon the survivors.

John Kessell, professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico, finds the controversy curious:

There are probably still Confederate sympathizers who would applaud if we renamed the tall man seated in the Lincoln Memorial simply 'The President'. And if we eliminated from the National Statuary Hall of the U.S. Capitol (in which each state is allowed two representatives) every one who had offended, killed or maimed someone else's ancestors, there would be hardly anyone left. New Mexico's recent choice, Popé, a Pueblo Indian responsible for the massacre of hundreds of Hispanic men, women and children, would surely have to go.

But "sensitivity" carried the day, and Don Juan de Oñate, now just "The Equestrian", will be exiled to some point out of sight and out of mind.

(Via Tongue Tied)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:14 AM to Dyssynergy )
Brad goes to the ER

Rep. Brad Carson (D-OK) came down with a severe case of abdominal pain last night and has checked into St. Francis Hospital in Tulsa, where they're planning to remove his gall bladder tonight.

Of course, Congress never runs short of gall, so this should be considered relatively minor in the grand scheme of things.

I'm waiting for someone (maybe Bruce) to ask how much of a copay Carson had to fork over.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:48 PM to Soonerland )
For those keeping score

Nicholas Cole Havlik, first of two grandchildren — let there be no more, at least for a while — reaches the ripe old age of four today.

My daughter is hoping that this doesn't mean he'll be twice the pill he was at two. :)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:19 PM to Next Generation )
11 November 2003
Blow, you old blue norther

Just don't do what you did on this date in 1911.

It was 83 degrees that afternoon, a record high for the date; before midnight, it had fallen to 17, a record low for the date. (Next morning it had dropped to 14.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:26 AM to Weather or Not )
Breathing free

The Oklahoman has a number of Veterans' Day-related pieces today, but this is the one to read.

In the military, we are reminded, the living always remember the dead.

And on this day, I hope, everyone remembers both.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:35 AM to Almost Yogurt )
More money for you and me

Dean Esmay makes the case for privatizing Social Security, a case you've heard before and are likely to hear again and again, at least until the Washington scaremongers catch on.

Just for the sake of argument, here are the points likely to be raised by opponents, as described by me five and a half years ago in Vent #94:

Opponents of privatization point out that bull markets don't last forever, which is true; that not everyone understands how markets work, which is likewise true; and that moving all these funds into conventional investments will make billions of dollars for Wall Street bigwigs, which is pretty much inevitable.

It's possible to make money when the market is down, although it does require some knowledge of how markets work. Still, it's nothing you can't figure out by reading the financial pages in the Daily Doorstop. And if you want to complain that people shouldn't have to know anything to have a retirement income, well, fine, but if you insist on a right to be uninformed, you also must accept the consequences that come from exercising that right.

(Disclosure: We've had two years of a down market; I've lost essentially nothing, and I'm a semi-talented amateur at best.)

The objection that Wall Street might profit is also bogus, unless you have the time to monitor your investments yourself 24/7 and swap them around as needed — in which case you probably don't have time for an actual job in the first place.

And one more thing I'd like to mention while I'm at it: should I drop dead at work, I will get basically zip from everything I've put into the Social Security system. That's zero. Nada. Bupkes. If I owned these funds, at least the kids would get something for my trouble.

Everything you always wanted to know about Dean

The ABC News political column The Note lists 18 essential truths about Howard Dean, and some of them are choice:

14. Howard Dean doesn't have cable TV.

  8. People actually listen to Dean talk at his events.

  7. Dean's core supporters don't care about Sunday show gaffes and pratfalls, New York Times editorials, or what Terry McAuliffe or the Dingells think.

Hmmm. There may be hope for the guy yet. On the other hand, Bush will carry Oklahoma even if the Democrats nominate Monica Bellucci.

(Muchas gracias: Ara Rubyan.)

Hey Norton!

Art Carney, Jackie Gleason's best bud and comedic foil on The Honeymooners, died Sunday at his home in Connecticut; the family did not make any announcement until today, after private services.

Carney, who went on to win an Oscar as the first half of Harry and Tonto, was 85.

Do not confuse Ed Norton with Peter Norton, who used to make useful products for your PC.

Then again:


Ed Norton Utilities


(With thanks to Steve Kremer.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:57 PM to Almost Yogurt )
12 November 2003
The wisdom of the aged

Roger sang what Pete wrote: "Hope I die before I get old." Of course, that was a Sixties sentiment; I have no reason to think subsequent generations embraced it. (For that matter, I have no reason to think Keith embraced it.)

To illustrate, I offer the notes of S. Y. Affolee on the occasion of birthday number twenty-three. They go something like this:

I do feel as if I'm getting myself further entrenched in that convoluted grown-up land where anyone over eighteen to a six-year-old is, well, really, really old. Not that there's anything wrong about being really, really old — in fact, being really, really old probably has some perks. Like people assuming that you actually know something because you're really, really old. Like people letting you get away with outrageous stuff because you're really, really old. Like saying your mind and not giving a crap what other people think because you're really, really old and figure it's counterproductive to dwell on personal criticism.

From my vantage point of twenty-three times two and then some, I can report the following:

People do credit me with more knowledge than I possess, but this has been going on for many years, and I believe it's due, not to advanced age, but to the fact that I do have a vague grasp of many things and can emit convincing verbiage about them for periods not to exceed a couple of minutes, which somehow persuades people that I can do so on any subject whatsoever.

I don't really do any outrageous stuff, though I anticipate, should I decide to do so, that friends and neighbors will shrug and say, "What did you expect?"

And while I do give a crap what (some) other people think, I do it out of respect, not out of obligation; as family members can attest, though, I take everything personally.

Going like sixty

The 60th edition of Carnival of the Vanities comes to you from the general vicinity of Georgetown. (Yeah, yeah, I know; where's George?) Your host this week is Dead Ends, and if you live near the District, you'll get more of the in-jokes than I did. :)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:44 PM to Blogorrhea )
Burglar, well done, no onions

Four Oklahoma City policemen are on administrative leave after catching a burglary suspect more or less in the act and giving him a case of taser burn.

The perp died shortly thereafter, prompting his ex-wife to observe that while he wasn't the most, um, upright of individuals, "he didn't deserve to die."

Some of us, on the other hand, are persuaded that the only good burglar is a dead burglar.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:16 PM to City Scene )
And you can dance to it

What Moira Breen wants, among other things, is this:

I was wishing for a ruthlessly efficient way to grade political/cultural blogs, such that no link to a no-'count writer would be followed, and the discovery of worthwhile new poli/culti blogs would be facilitated. As Fleck put it, a way to sort out the adults from the feces-flingers, site unseen.

And the criteria for the grading?

I have noted that good blogs, no matter which way they swing, share a "tone" that contrasts with the distinct tones of both stupid-left and stupid-right blogs. It is not at all a matter of the worthwhile blogs being always moderate, calm, all sweetness and light, and lacking in strongly expressed opinion. Rather, it strikes me this way: the less worthwhile a lefty blog is, the more it takes on a recognizable tone of foot-stamping shrill petulance; the vapid righty blog will tend more and more to blustering thuggishness. (My hat is off to those geniuses who contrive to be shrilly thuggish and blusteringly petulant all at once.)

I must be living up to my rep as both centrist and genius; I've never seen anyone else quite so facile at melding petulance and thuggery.

Or something like that. I'm not sure the tone she wants is easily quantifiable; the general ineptitude of the more-specialized Gender Genie makes me wonder whether we can expect any kind of accuracy from a mere algorithm (not to be confused with "Al Gore rhythm," a form of syncopation that demands Dramamine). Still, it would be nice to be able to dial into the index page — or the RSS feed! — and get a quick readout between 35 and 98 as to whether it's safe to proceed.

Anything with more than ten bytes of StUdLy CaPs, of course, is automatically relegated to the bottom of any conceivable ranking.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:25 PM to Blogorrhea )
13 November 2003
No water landings anticipated

United Air Lines, still slogging through financial turbulence, has christened its new low-fare subsidiary "Ted", which by some strange coincidence is the last half of "United".

This looks like a good excuse to bring back Braniff and chop off all but the first letters; depending on where you set the blade, you can target Metamucil-slurping oldsters or chase after Hooters Air customers.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:35 AM to Dyssynergy )
Running up the score

Where have we heard this?

One squad was clearly the superior team, the other gave up the fight before the battle had barely begun. Instead of praise for its prowess, the victor received derision. Its detractors railed about how unfair the contest was and how the winner rubbed it in. They openly wished for its defeat the next time it took the field.

Oklahoma 77, Texas A&M zip? Well, yes, but that's not the subject of today's Oklahoman editorial:

As the nation's only football superpower right now, OU has engendered hostility. Solid victories this year — most by lopsided margins — are seen as being over the top and somehow preventable. Even when they do take a knee, the Sooners are accused of piling on.

The U.S. is still in a fight half a world away. Its military's performance this spring was awesome, moving through a foreign country in a few weeks and taking its capital. Resistance was sporadic and generally light. President Bush handily won the war and is now trying to win the peace.

Some would have us leave the game at halftime because we already won a war that they didn't want to wage in the first place. The detractors have more sympathy for a deposed dictator than praise for a triumphant president. Bush will win no Nobel Peace Prize for his decision to invade Iraq, but Nobel winners rarely rid the world of tyrants. They generally make nice to them instead.

America has decided to play in the second half of a war against terror, despite cries of protest from media observers who watch battles from a safe distance and wannabe coaches in the party out of power. The other team in Iraq has changed from one wearing easily identifiable team colors to one that fights by stealth.

Yet this is a game that must be finished. We cannot take a knee.

Okay, the football metaphor is strained and then some, even by Oklahoma standards. But it fits the situation neatly enough, and besides, we beat the spread.

Songs of appraise

No later than day two of Econ 101, they tell you: "The value of something is equal to what someone is willing to pay for it." The arcane art of real-estate appraisal is devoted to disproving this statement.

I have been reading over the appraisal for the new digs, and it's a complicated piece of work: there's a whole lot of WTF-level math and enough disclaimers to keep a passel of lawyers in Evian for a month. Still, I remind myself, this isn't for me; this is for the lender who is actually advancing the bucks for the purchase in exchange for three decades of servitude, and said lender isn't at all keen on forking over, say, two hundred grand for some place they can't sell for half that if I go off the deep end.

Interesting bits of verbiage:

Race and the racial composition of the neighborhood are not appraisal factors. (Freddie Mac Form 70)

Not legally, anyway. I suspect it plays a small role in some other characteristics, but is probably impossible to isolate.

Definition of market value: The most probable price which a property should bring in a competitive and open market under all conditions requisite to a fair sale, the buyer and seller, each acting prudently, knowledgeably and assuming the price is not affected by undue stimulus. (Freddie Mac Form 439)

A further paragraph adds more adverbs to the mix.

Even though the printed output is obviously from a PC software package, the guy who had to put all this together certainly earned his fee; there seems to be a tremendous amount of work involved just to make sure all the disclaimers are properly stated, and there's a fair amount of statistical analysis lurking behind the numbers. And, what the hell, he priced the place at 2.7 percent over what I'm paying for it, which is close enough for non-governmental work.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:31 PM to Surlywood )
How about "pre-sleet"?

Never have I quite understood how this works, but November rain seems to be so much more, well, rainy than the stuff that falls the other ninety-three percent of the year.

At first, I thought it might be somehow imbued with attitude. We know that were the weather conditions only slightly altered, we'd be breaking out the snow shovels; perhaps we're being laughed at. "You fools! Did you think it would remain warm forever?"

And November rain takes its own sweet time. It's been falling all day — most of the month, it seems — and yet a quick glance toward the lair of the Weather Guys reveals that all of today's rainfall wouldn't fill their cup to a sixth of an inch.

On second thought, that's the most rain we've had in five weeks. No wonder the grass is squeaky.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:40 PM to Weather or Not )
14 November 2003
Strength through joyless repetition

A desideratum for the campaign trail, courtesy of Lileks:

I was tempted to write about George Soros comparing Bush and America to the rise of the Nazis, but I've just had it with these people. I'm more interested in those who ride the coattails of their rhetoric. I want someone to ask Dean this question in the Presidential debate: "Governor Dean, one of your wealthiest backers has compared America in 2000s with Germany in the 1930s. Do you agree with this analogy?" The only acceptable answer to my ears is "No, I don't." Period. Any elaboration, any "no, buts," any "nevertheless there are worrisome trends" will mark Howard Dean as a truly dangerous man, for he will show himself willing to use the most debased and paranoid argument in modern politics to put his butt in the big chair. Extreme? Okay: imagine a big Bush backer who explicitly made ties between Clinton and Stalin; imagine Bush saying "I don't agree, but I do worry about the Democratic Party's desire to socialize the economy; they had that in Soviet Russia, and we all know how that led to the gulag." Inexcusable.

Where's Mike Godwin when you need him?

And please note that in most American media, George Soros is described as a "philanthropist," a term you'll seldom see attached to, say, Richard Mellon Scaife.

On being photogenic, or not

Dear Lynn:

There is nothing at all wrong with the way you look. Most people's self-portraits are something less than flattering.

Of course, they say the camera adds ten pounds; on this basis, it would take thirteen people to photograph me.

(Do digital cameras add ten megabytes?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:55 AM to Outgoing Mail )
Uplifting news

Well, whaddya know: You do have the right to open your own damn garage door after all.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:49 PM to PEBKAC )
Immovable type

Eloise at Spitbull is predicting that Microsoft will integrate blogging tools into some future version of Internet Explorer.

Into some version of Windows, maybe; Microsoft has already said that they will no longer be developing standalone versions of IE. And I'm sort of hoping she's wrong.

What would Windows blogging tools be like? Probably something like this:

  • All posts must be composed in Word.

  • You'd have to ping microsoft.com with a registration code before the program would send pings to blo.gs or to weblogs.com.

  • Any build error would generate a Blue Screen of Death and require a reboot.

  • The comment-spam filter would randomly block Safari and Opera users.

  • Windows Media Player would automatically delink any linked mp3 files.

  • Microsoft.com would wind up on the TTLB Ecosystem as the Highest Being, Dammit.

  • The built-in spellchecker will have issues with the word "Unix".

  • There will be a new security "upgrade" every other Tuesday.

  • Each member of a group blog would have to pay for a separate license.

  • A rogue email will be able to infect your templates.

On the upside, complaints about Blogger and Blogspot should diminish markedly.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:09 PM to Blogorrhea )
15 November 2003
Another one bites

So, Mr. Insurance Commissioner, this year you've been caught accepting high-lux gifts from someone within your regulatory purview, you've been busted for DWI, and you've used your influence to dig up dirt on an opponent. What are you going to do now?

You're running for the Senate, you say?

Sheesh.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:29 AM to Soonerland )
Incredible savings

Lindsay's dad has been wanting a Translinear Greek New Testament, which is how she came to be contemplating the Oklahoma phenomenon that is Mardel:

For those of you who don't know, Mardel's is like a Jesus Depot SuperCenter. The Holy Hobby Lobby. Bulk-Baptist Warehouse. Aisle after fluorescently-glowing aisle of Bibles for every demographic, communion wafers in bulk, Left Behind series, Sunday School craft kits, Veggie Tales paraphernalia... Stopping by the tiny little Episcopalian bookstore in Trinity, or maybe that Catholic bookstore on 31st, sure, I can at least do that without breaking a sweat. But the very thought of going into Mardel's... my skin starts to crawl, I wonder if maybe I'll catch fire, or turn the pages of the Greek Translinear Bibles to ash with my touch, or vice versa. I'm an erstwhile-Episcopalian semi-Deist pseudo-Agnost, on the rare occasions I care to think about religion at all, but me and the Charismatics, we're like water and oil, baby, Holy water and crude oil churned from the very bowels of Hell itself. Perhaps I should go incognito? Like — jeans and a t-shirt, mess my hair up a little bit?

I've never felt too out of place at Mardel — they were the last place in town who stocked label tape for my ancient Dymo, which was reason enough to go there — but I look like basically the same shambling small-h hulk all the time, so it's not like I can do much of anything to disguise myself when approaching those sanitary surroundings. Besides, not having to cater to more secular souls makes their Christmas-card selection vastly more interesting than what you'll find at Wal-Mart, a place that gives me far more heebie-jeebies than Mardel ever did.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:07 AM to Soonerland )
Distorting our troops

The Left is constantly badmouthing the military, says Baldilocks:

Since the abolition of the Draft a generation ago, American military personnel have volunteered to fight America?s wars. It's called free will. But the Left thinks the military is populated by people too stupid to choose how to live their own lives.

I guess many members of the Left think the military is made up of barely literate yokels from Middle and Southern America or barely literate thugs/thugettes from America's inner cities. Us dumb "rednecks" and "darkies" couldn't possibly have a handle on the intricacies of Fascism, Imperialism, and Nazism, since all we read are comic books.

We couldn't possibly have joined up or stayed in the military as a result of informed, principled decision making, made after a detailed evaluation of history and/or present day world events. We couldn't possibly have been well-informed and come to a conclusion that is different from that of the Left. We all must be dumb and/or ignorant.

And she offers one word of advice to these naysayers:

Well here's a dumb/ignorant suggestion I have for those on the Left who keep attempting to play military personnel for suckers: BITE ME! And after you do that, you can go back to your regularly scheduled spewing of new Big Lies, whatever they may be. It's your right to do so.

Well, okay, two words.

I would add only that one reason the American left objects to the military is that the military is by nature authoritarian — you do what you're told to do — which conflicts with the freewheeling, spree-like existence to which they aspire. Of course, to be admitted to their Society of Sybarites, you must subscribe to the scripture, sell your SUV, support subversion, and otherwise suck up to the subculture. It's exactly as authoritarian as the military, except you're allowed to display unearned awards.

Lowlife bottom-feeders

Xrlq (pronounced "Xrlq") is serious. I know this because his first post about Infotel Publications was in his Consumer Issues category — and for his second post, he'd invented a whole new category: Scum.

Now of course, search-engine queries being so often sloppily worded, someone searching for the combination of "scum" and, say, "lowlife bottom-feeders" may well come up with a page about Infotel Publications. This does not necessarily imply that the person writing the page actually thinks that Infotel Publications is scum and/or lowlife bottom-feeders, unless the page contains a line to this effect:

"Infotel Publications is scum and/or lowlife bottom-feeders."

Moral: Always choose your search terms carefully.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:46 PM to Blogorrhea )
16 November 2003
Skinny legs and all

You know, I'm looking at the page as I type, and I still don't quite believe it.

But what the hell. If I'm going to have Unusual Action Figures around the house, I suppose I'd rather have Ann Coulter than, say, the Judge from Pink Floyd The Wall.

(With thanks to the iconic Debbye Stratigacos for the former link, and the laconic Fark.com for the latter.)

And in other news, ice is cold

NewsOK.com reports with a straight face:

Working longer can help retirees' income

(Sound of "Duh" heard offscreen)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:06 AM to Say What? )
Simple twists of fate

Anyone who uses Site Meter knows that its referral reports can sometimes (read: usually) be quirky, and once in a while something evolves into a near-fledged mystery.

I have a reader in (I think) Iowa, a subscriber to Mediacom; I'm not going to give out the IP address on general principle. (Oddly, feeding it to a NetGeo server turns up a location in New Jersey, where Mediacom has no subscribers; I attribute this to NetGeo's reading an entire Class A network as being in one location.) This reader runs a Linux box with the KDE Konqueror browser, which handles the Site Meter script in an unexpected manner: it feeds me the last page read before mine, whether that page links to me or not. Often as not, it doesn't, which is what tipped me off in the first place — how come I'm getting referrals from people who don't have links to me?

So the Mystery Reader runs down his list of bookmarks, or whatever they are called in Konqueror, and whatever he read before he read me that day, I end up reading, just out of curiosity. A strange circle on the surface of the Blogosphere™, to be sure.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:40 AM to Blogorrhea )
Machiavellian princesses

Someone wandered onto the site today with the perhaps-anguished search string why are women so devious; apparently he (I'm guessing) was serious enough to go through four pages of previous results before landing at Vent #300.

This is what I actually said on the subject:

Women are often portrayed (especially by men or by female rivals) as being calculating and devious, and the portrayers go out of the way to suggest that this is a bad thing. I'm not so sure. Without getting into that arcane left-brain/right-brain stuff, it seems at least plausible to me that women are certainly capable of working out the complex mathematics of human relationships, but most cultures familiar to us expect women to accept passively the results of those computations. Is she calculating and devious? More likely, I say, she's conducting a recount.

Which, from the vantage point of a year and a half later, seems to make even less sense than when I wrote it.

What say you?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:04 PM to Table for One )
17 November 2003
Marked for death by Information Services (6)

Whoever had the bright idea of designing an EPROM that can't survive being powered off — and somehow managed to sell it to a major printer manufacturer.

(Said printer manufacturer should also be dispatched, for buying such an asinine idea.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:26 AM to PEBKAC )
Because everyone needs a little Sac time

Kelley's Cul-de-Sac at suburban blight gives you this week a listing of Slightly Lesser-Known Blogs You Oughta Be Reading, from A to Z. And, this being Kelley after all, you get, not a mere twenty-six links, but twenty-nine. Would that everyone were so generous.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:20 PM to Blogorrhea )
Dear Mr. Bezos

A couple of years ago, I bought a gift certificate from Amazon.com which somehow disappeared into the bit bucket; it took about a dozen emails to get the matter straightened out. This is, I am assured, not a common occurrence, but if it happens at all, it's too common to suit me.

So I'm wondering: Is it just me? Does anyone else ever have problems with these things? I've had no difficulties with third-party addresses or with Wish List items.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:29 PM to Outgoing Mail )
Do you like good music?

That sweet soul music?

Said Otis Redding in the liner notes of Arthur Conley's first album (Atco 33-215, 1967):

Arthur Conley is an original. Some people say he has a sound like Sam Cooke. That's partly true — but Arthur doesn't try to imitate anyone, he's his own man. He's dynamic and he's an incredible showman.

Of course, Otis wanted Arthur to succeed; Redding produced that album, including its big hit "Sweet Soul Music". And that "sound like Sam Cooke" may be an oblique reference to the fact that "Sweet Soul Music" is basically an update of Sam's "Yeah Man" — except that Sam keeps it sweet, while Arthur kicks out the jams.

Arthur Conley picked up eight more pop and R&B chart singles over the next three years, and eventually moved to Europe, where interest in American soul has never quite waned.

It was intestinal cancer that finally felled Arthur today. He was 57.

One used to be the Shotgun
Two used to be the bad Boogaloo....


Down on Funky Street, where the grooviest people meet, there's always a place reserved for Arthur Conley.

18 November 2003
Je ne blog pas

You have to figure that a consonant-riddled monosyllable like "blog" — especially an English consonant-riddled monosyllable like "blog" — wouldn't sit well with the French.

I don't know whether there's any official commentary on the subject, but I did spend some time poking around the French counterpart to Blogger, which is called Joueb.com, and it turns out that the derivation of "joueb" is not a whole lot different from that of "blog":

Un joueb (contraction de journal web) est un site web ou des informations sont publiees frequemment. Elles sont le plus souvent presentees par ordre chronologique et par categories.

Note: joueb est notre traduction du mot anglais blog (contraction de weblog).

At least "web" figures into both of them. And it's "our translation"; they didn't wait for a decree from l'Académie Française, presumably sent by courriel.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:34 AM to Blogorrhea )
Ich bin ein Cassette

Not only did John Fitzgerald Kennedy die, but he died awfully close to Thanksgiving, which will make it difficult for people who revere his memory to move for a national holiday to commemorate that day in Dallas.

Which is not to say that American retailers can't rise to the occasion. Michele tells of working in a New York record store in November 1983, when a co-worker hit upon the deeply offensive and incredibly funny idea of putting up a display rack of Dead Kennedys material to, um, capitalize on twentieth-anniversary JFK nostalgia.

This went over about as well as you'd think — Jello Biafra himself could scarcely come up with a more blatant lightning rod for public outrage — but the idea that it actually happened brings me some strange mutant form of glee.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:44 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Rx Depot won't go away quietly

Tulsa's Rx Depot, shuttered by a district judge's ruling, has asked the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals for a stay of that ruling.

On 6 November, Judge Claire Egan ordered the company to close at the request of the Department of Justice for importing drugs from Canada and elsewhere. Counsel for Rx Depot argued that the firm is not in fact an importer of Canadian drugs, but merely facilitates the process for its customers.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:07 PM to Soonerland )
Hell up in Harlem

I couldn't tell you who started that silly business about William Jefferson Clinton being the "first black President" — might have been the Big He himself, for all I know — but Baldilocks is more than happy to finish it off, once and for all.

Pertinent quote:

This man knew all the right words to say to black Americans. Knew all the fronts to put on. Knew all the frauds to perpetrate. And we bought the game, hook, line and sinker. But when push came to shove, he abandoned all Americans, black ones, white ones and all the other ones. He folded like the empty suit that he is.

And a damned expensive empty suit at that.

Quote of the week

Kevin McGehee, on the motivations of Senate Democrats:

Senate Republicans could offer up a bill nationalizing every single industry in America, but if it includes a provision that would put Ronald Reagan's name on the sewage treatment plant in East Endoscopy, Indiana, the Dems would still filibuster it.

East Endoscopy? Must be near Eerie.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:42 PM to QOTW )
19 November 2003
We got your baseball right here

The Oklahoma RedHawks, Triple A farm club of the Texas Rangers, have been sold.

The Oklahoma Baseball Club LLC acquired the team from Gaylord Entertainment, the Oklahoma Publishing Company spinoff that operates the Opryland complex in Nashville. Majority owner is Bob Funk, who also owns the Oklahoma City Blazers of the Central Hockey League; the managing partner is E. Scott Pruitt, who represents District 54 in the Oklahoma House.

Gaylord has owned the team for ten years, during which time it changed names (from the Oklahoma City 89ers), league (from the American Association, since disbanded, to the Pacific Coast League), and home park (from All Sports Stadium at State Fair Park to the downtown SBC Bricktown Ballpark). Former owner Jeffrey Loria went on to buy the Montreal Expos of the National League and presently owns the Florida Marlins.

Last year the 'Hawks were 70-72, finishing third in the PCL East, 10½ games behind Nashville.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:35 AM to Base Paths , City Scene )
Carnival (revisited)

God says to Abraham, Go read the blogs
Abe says Man, you must be in a fog
God says So? Abe say What?
God says, You gotta see what they got
And some is serious, some is downright fun
Abe says, Where is all this done?
Says God, it's at Carnival 61.

(Your host this week is Peaktalk; my apologies this week to Mr. Zimmerman.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:43 AM to Blogorrhea )
Sweet dreams

Don Gibson, who once described himself as "a songwriter who sings rather than a singer who writes songs," has died in Nashville at the age of 75.

Two of Gibson's most famous songs — "I Can't Stop Loving You" and "Oh Lonesome Me" — were issued on opposite sides of the same single (on 45, RCA Victor 47-7133) in 1958; he had written them in a single afternoon in a Knoxville trailer park. In four and a half decades, Gibson charted over 80 country hits, sixteen of which also made the pop charts. And many acts, from the Searchers (who cut his "Sea of Heartbreak") to Patsy Cline ("Sweet Dreams") to Ray Charles (whose version of "I Can't Stop Loving You" was the biggest hit of 1962), found success with Don Gibson songs.

Slowly but surely, the Nashville I knew is being replaced by something else.

Perhaps not for Cubs fans

New York's NoRelevance is sort of Lileks East: while you won't find the level of volubility that you love about Lord High Master James, you will find a similarly deranged obsession with cultural ephemera.

The newest exhibit is called Cult of the Goat: Bock Beer Labels and a Homonym Gone Awry, and if ever you've wondered if there was truly a connection between brewskis and Beelzebub — but I'm getting ahead of myself.

Go and enjoy.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:00 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Where would Jesus drive?

Scripture isn't entirely clear on that question, though I think we can safely eliminate Cinemark's Tinseltown moviehouse in Oklahoma City.

And even if the Son of Man were to grace us with an appearance, I doubt seriously that driving right into the box office would be part of the agenda.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:54 PM to City Scene )
20 November 2003
He's out of my life

I've been staying away from the Michael Jackson story — I mean, the man's sheer weirdness has overwhelmed what little merit could be found in his most recent music — but I do have to pass on this line from Michele which details his ultimate legacy:

[H]e will be but a faded memory, a legend of another time, a man who only comes to mind when an oldies station plays Weird Al's cover of "Beat It."

Were it not for the occasional headline, I'd believe he was already there.

If you can't beat 'em

SBC is the first of the Baby Bells to see what may be the writing on the wall: today they will begin offering a Voice-over-Internet Protocol telephone service to its business customers that bypasses the usual wire. The SBC package includes the servers and gateways needed for VoIP; customers need only come up with VoIP-ready handsets or adapters for standard phones.

VoIP has been available from some vendors for a year or more, but this is the first venture by an actual wired telephone company into sending telephone signals over the Internet. Others are expected to follow.

Pathetically uptight and inscrutable

The first time I visited New Jersey, one of the high points of World Tour '01, I demonstrated a rather risible lack of beach sense by strolling down the Seaside Heights boardwalk — in black wing-tips.

At least I wasn't wearing a suit.

Meanwhile in Miami

Laredd at Today's Shoes is not impressed with the general run of demonstrators in town today:

They claim to be anarchists, and yet they rely on the electronic media to advertise their protests and demands. Here's a little something to chew on: true anarchy would destroy the electric grid, bring down all media, stop running water and sewers, and leave us little better than cave dwellers (not that there's anything wrong with that).

True anarchy would allow the police you taunt to shoot you and damn the consequences, of which there would be none. Well, you may argue, they wouldn't be policemen. And you'd be right. They'd just be pissed off people with automatic weapons and riot gear. Sort of like the knights of old, in their armor, smacking the crap out of the little people wearing rags.

Nor do they get any Brownie points for their politics:

Here's another something to chew on, other than your grainy tofu from your community kitchens: if the average household income in a third-world nation is about five bucks a year, and a 10-year old, who has no chance of going to a non-existent school anyway, is making about 50 cents a week sewing Nike sneakers rather than being a child sex worker, what's the problem? You don't want to support sweat shops in Asia? Fine. Don't buy the products.

I have always been somewhat perplexed by the insistence that "Globalization is bad," that people in Third World hellholes are somehow better off starving to death than toiling long hours for not much money for some Evil Capitalist. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't try to improve conditions for these folks, but as a practical matter, we're not going to turn Indonesia into Indianapolis.

All hits, all the time

The mantra of "If it's popular, it sucks" is heard, perhaps a bit less bluntly but likely no less often, on the classical side of the musical aisle, a situation which Lynn Sislo describes thusly:

Real classical music aficionados are supposed to despise Pachelbel's Canon, Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker and the 1812 Overture, Vivaldi's Four Seasons, Mozart's Eine Kleine Nachtmusik and probably that cute little C major piano sonata (K545) too — in short, anything that someone who never listens to classical music is likely to have heard. About the only well-known piece that isn't frequently trashed is Beethoven's 5th Symphony as not even the most uppity music elitists dare to deny the genius of Beethoven. But then, Beethoven does have his Wellington's Victory, for which he is still supposed to be rolling over in his grave for the shame of having written.

As a musical elitist, I'm pretty low on the Scowl Scale. There are warhorses I suppose I ride too often — I never get tired of "Clair de lune", Mozart's 40th, and yes, it is true, "Boléro" — and the cognoscenti no doubt are still vexed with Henryk Górecki for quite inadvertently getting a pop hit out of his Symphony of Sorrowful Songs, a piece I still find moving. Then again, some of the stuff I like is a long way from the beaten path: I dearly love George Rochberg's 3rd String Quartet, something there isn't a chance in hell of hearing on the local classical station's request show. (Which reminds me: I need to find this on CD if at all possible. My cassette dub, mixed to stereo from a quadraphonic tape — I no longer have my old open-reel gear — is starting to squeak.)

Besides, I still like the Moody Blues, fergoshsakes.

21 November 2003
You can't catch me

One of the Major Utilities around here found themselves with a service order and insufficient information to fill it, or so they thought, so they tried to call me on the old land line. I know this because their phone number turned up on Caller ID.

What's interesting here is that you can't call them back; you dial the number given, you get the standard tripartite tone and then the canned voice of the intercept operator telling you that this number has been disconnected or is no longer in service. Then, of course, the same number shows up the next day as having called again.

This sort of screwing around with the general public really ought to be barred — or, alternatively, made available to the rest of us.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:32 AM to Dyssynergy )
4Q2

A number of property owners in Park County, Wyoming are asking that the county commissioners do something about the name of the road that runs past their land.

Park County has adopted an alphanumeric system for roads that previously bore no name, and the one that's causing all the stir is County Road 6FU. Residents are embarrassed; vandals steal the road signs as a matter of course.

The commissioners have asked for suggestions for a new name.

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:10 AM to Dyssynergy )
Schadenfreudian slip

Today's spam comes from one "Oncoming S. Irony", undoubtedly a kindred spirit to Spoilage G. Prone, from whom I heard earlier this month. Mr Irony, who gives the possibly-bogus address <lemberg@guadalupano.com> — an http request redirects to something called Webmasters.com, which looks like a fairly ordinary Web host, and Whois reports the very Spanish-sounding domain name belongs to something called "Latin American Telecom Inc.", with a Pittsburgh address and a Mexican phone number — has adopted the very trendy scheme of concealing a bunch of text that doesn't display, in the hopes of sneaking past Bayesian filters, while rendering the text you're supposed to read in a tedious one-character-at-a-time mode that doesn't get killed by your existing Instant Discard test.

Still, the miracle of non-HTML email (the only way email should be sent, now and forever) enables one to decipher the following from Mr Irony's spam:

The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC®) is the central facility for the collection and dissemination of scientific and technical information for the Department of Defense (DoD). Much of this information is made available by DTIC in the form of technical reports about completed research, and research summaries of ongoing research.

CLICK HERE TO GET LAID NOW

Now that's irony.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:42 PM to Scams and Spams )
Ribit!

Laney, fall '03Yes, it's time for another Gratuitous Granddaughter Picture, as Laney creeps (or maybe hops) up towards eight months. (This undoubtedly serves as a harbinger of my eventual descent from Large Mammal to Crawly Amphibian or Frosted Toaster Pastry or whatever in the TTLB Ecosystem.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:32 PM to Next Generation )
22 November 2003
The appointed hour approacheth

At 11 am Wednesday, I hand over fistfuls of cash, and they present me with the deed to the New Digs and a thirty-year note.

This is, therefore, the last weekend out here on Shabby Road. (Although I'll be on the premises a week from today, doing a perfunctory cleanup.)

So far, everything has gone comparatively smoothly, considering that one of the participants is moi.

During this period, you can probably expect something of a reduction in the volume of prose generated here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:28 AM to Surlywood )
Radio playing that forgotten song

Paul over at Sanity's Edge is a long way (I presume) from Bob FM, but he can identify the target audience just the same:

Show me a guy driving down the road blasting "Radar Love" and I'll show you a guy in a short sleeve terry cloth shirt. With his high school graduation thingy hanging from his rear-view mirror. Class of 79, with a haircut to match. It's the same guy who proudly displays his Kansas and Styx concert ticket stubs.

I used to call this "music for forklift operators," until my daughter started driving a forklift. (Which she doesn't do anymore.)

And, now that I think about it, there probably isn't a radio station in the nation which would actually follow "Radar Love" with the "forgotten song" mentioned in the lyrics.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:58 AM to Overmodulation )
Straight from the Georgia woods

Some thoughts while I wait for the assault of the next cold front:

What constitutes a beautiful day in Georgia?

Well, it starts by stepping out onto your front porch and sinking ankle-deep into a pile of multi-colored leaves. Next, you breathe in a breath of crisp air and detect not a trace of the odor usually emanating from the chickenhouses less than a mile away. Having fully enjoyed the jaunt to the driveway, you then proceed to your vehicle, and enjoy the ten or so miles to town with the sunroof open and the music of choice blaring. And, ya know, you don't even mind that it takes THIRTY MINUTES to get there because you got stuck behind a should-be-antique pick-up with a max speed of 30 mph. That's because it's just too darn difficult to get pissy once you see just HOW MUCH that mutt in the back of that pick-up is enjoying himself. Ears perked, tongue hangin' out, wind in his coat — happiness should be so simple.

It might be at that. Of course, once up to 30 mph, you should be able to negotiate the ten miles into town in twenty minutes, but what the hell — sometimes it doesn't pay to be in a rush.

(Muchas gracias: Key Monroe.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:06 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Bringing up the rear

The Oklahoma Observer ran this in the 25 November issue, credited to the ever-ubiquitous Anon.; I don't know where it originated, but a test Googling brought up two copies from different states. Make of it what you will.

Reacting to Federal Guidelines, the state of Oklahoma, which has been highlighted as a role model for student testing by the Bush Administration's Dept. of Education, has redesigned and just released a new comprehensive test to be given to ALL of our nation's students beginning in the spring of 2004. In response to President Bush's Federal No Child Left Behind Act, students will have to pass this new test in order to be promoted to the next grade level. In the hopes that it will be uniformly adopted by all the states, thus illuminating Oklahoma to a glorious front runner position in education, it will be called: the Federal Arithmetic and Reading Test (FART).

All students who cannot pass a FART in the second grade will be re-tested in grades 3-5 until such a time as they are capable of achieving a FART score of 80%. If a student does not successfully FART by grade 5, that student shall be placed in a separate English program, the Special Mastery Elective for Learning Language, SMELL.

If with this increased SMELL program the student cannot pass the required FART, he or she can graduate to middle school by taking a one-semester course in Comprehensive Reading and Arithmetic Preparation, CRAP.

If by age fourteen the student cannot FART, SMELL or CRAP, he will earn his promotion in an intensive one-week seminar. This is the Preparatory Reading for Unprepared Nationally Exempted Students, PRUNES.

It is the opinion of the Oklahoma Dept. of Public Instruction that an intensive week of PRUNES will enable any student to FART, SMELL or CRAP.

This revised provision of the student-testing component of House Bill 110 should help clear the air.

(May Kimberly Swygert forgive me.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:38 PM to Dyssynergy )
23 November 2003
Public enema number one

This particular anal drip is named Alan Ralsky, and he is now believed to be the World's Leading Spammer.

If they ever bust this guy, I hope he gets pantsed on television, if only to see if he's used any of that penis-enlargement crap.

The big switcheroo

Tomorrow is set by the Federal Communications Commission as the beginning of number portability for wireless telephones; in the 100 largest metropolitan areas, it will be possible to switch wireless carriers yet keep the same phone number.

I'm not going to be switching, for the following reasons:

  1. I've wangled what I consider to be an extremely good rate from my current carrier, and am loath to go through the negotiation process again.

  2. I like my phone (a Nokia 3390); it is simple, uncluttered, and performs well enough. If it has a drawback, it's a relatively heavy appetite for battery juice. It's about two or three years behind the current trends, which also suits me fine: I feel no compulsion to surf the Web or to send photographs with a phone.

  3. What's more, this phone is a GSM phone, which is not usable on the CDMA or TDMA systems which are used by most other wireless carriers.

  4. And while right now there's a definite dead spot in coverage right over my head — on the standard Nokia four-bar scale, I seldom can manage even two in my old Shabby Road flat — this will improve markedly once I'm settled into the new digs. (Yes, I checked this while I was house-shopping; did you really have to ask?)

And did I keep my old landline number for use after the move? I did not. Too many people know it, and too many more people continue to confuse it with the number of a local dentist.

Cleanup on aisle nine

Kevin Drum's Calpundit is running a statement from Barbara Maynard, who represents the two UFCW locals striking Los Angeles-area grocery stores, and she's got a question that deserves an answer:

Would you rather that these 70,000 middle class jobs become poverty level jobs filled by workers who have to turn to the taxpayer for healthcare and food stamps? That's what the [three supermarket chains] are proposing because that's what Wal-Mart has.

I've been to one Wal-Mart Supercenter, and while it was fairly sanitary — people are always telling me how grubby Wal-Mart stores are, for some reason — it had the general ambiance of a bus station, and I didn't feel compelled to go back again; well, yeah, I might save a couple of bucks on a basket, but do I really want to put myself through that again?

Maybe this is another case of "maybe it's just me." I've been on Poverty Row before, and it's a genuinely lousy place to live, but the experience did not instill in me a desire to squeeze every last dime until FDR screams in pain; it may be important for some people's sense of self — and, for that matter, for the Wal-Mart business model — to believe that they've paid the absolute lowest possible price for something, but it doesn't do a thing for me. I bought my last car from one of those "no-haggle" dealerships, and while I might have been able to save a couple hundred bucks somewhere else in the state — Oklahoma is not exactly overrun with Mazda stores — what's the point on a $20,000 car? It's like driving 30 miles to save two cents a gallon on gas.

And sometimes there are intangibles involved. For the new house, I'm buying a truckload of appliances, and there was never any question where I was going to get them: I haven't had that many dealings with Sears in recent years, but they've always treated me well, and as a former Reservist, I appreciate what they're doing for present Reservists.

There is little doubt that the arrival of that first Wal-Mart strikes fear into the hearts of local retailers, and not everyone welcomes them with open arms. I rather think the trend will last a while: Wal-Mart will continue to grow, and a substantial number of people, whatever their reasons, will continue to refuse to set foot in the place. Whether that number is substantial enough to keep UFCW grocery personnel from taking what they see as a giant step backwards, I can't say, but I'm rather hoping it is, if only because, well, I'm not the sort of person who roots for Godzilla and Goliath, even if that is the way to bet.

Rock and awe

Plymouth, 1620.

Baghdad, 2003.

What could they possibly have in common?

Mark Pierce at Earthly Passions explains it all, and just in time, too.

And in other news

Ted Rall has endorsed Howard Dean.

Oh, yeah, that'll help him a whole lot.

(Via Little Green Footballs)

(Update, 4:30 pm, 24 November: LGF [same link] reports that the Deanites have backed away considerably from their wholehearted embrace of Rall, perhaps because they're aware that blogdom considers Ted Rall to be the moral equivalent of a flaring hemorrhoid.)

24 November 2003
Quoth the server: "404"

I'm usually careful enough of a typist to avoid making blatantly stupid errors, but "usually" is a long way from "always," so once in a while I get dope-slapped by someone's 404 page.

And if it's a good 404 page, I don't mind.

Much.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:53 AM to Blogorrhea )
Bronfman II: The return of the player

Edgar Bronfman Jr., who once transformed Canada's Seagram beverage operation into an entertainment giant by buying MCA/Universal, subsequently selling out to the French conglomerate Vivendi, is back in the business again, outbidding Britain's EMI to acquire Time Warner's Warner Music Group, the fourth largest music company.

Bronfman's group of investors will pay approximately $2.6 billion (US) for the Warner Bros., Atlantic, Elektra, and associated labels, plus Warner's music-publishing operation.

The Big Five will shrink to Four next year, when Sony Music and Bertlesmann Music Group merge to form Sony BMG.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:02 AM to Dyssynergy )
Lactose implausible

"Two in the non-breast-feeding section, please."

Burger King says that, um, exposing one's whoppers is permissible.

Although you can't, I presume, use two hands to handle them.

(Muchas gracias: hln.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:01 AM to Dyssynergy )
Beware the truly righteous man

For he hath been dipping his wick in places he ought not.

(I never have had much faith in antiporn activists, personally.)

(Via Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:15 PM to Dyssynergy )
Staff evaluation

Helen the Everyday Stranger has some, um, pointers for measuring one's love-tackle.

And that goes for the 51 percent of you who are concave rather than convex, too.

(Before you ask: I think the technical term is "ill-hung", not to be confused with Kim Ill-Hung, last seen as the Dear Leader from Pyongyang.)

(Aside to Geoffrey: Dayum. Um, you're excused. Yeah. That's the word.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:03 PM to Table for One )
Imagine the interest

So what kind of real estate market did I enter? As of the 16th, one local expert (not The Expert) was saying this:

November trends have shown that NW Oklahoma City sales are steady and predictable. The low interest rates, first time bond money loans, and 100% down conventional financing are keeping the lower prices ranges strong in sales, especially homes that are updated.

It seems to me that if you put down 100%, you don't need much in the way of financing at all, conventional or otherwise.

Not that this is an option for poor shlubs like yours truly, unless we want to live in a tool shed.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:46 PM to Surlywood )
25 November 2003
Downhill racer

"Today," says the slogan, "is the first day of the rest of your life."

I don't know how long that is, but I do know how long it took me to get this far.

Some thoughts on turning fifty are in this week's Vent. In the meantime, talk amongst yourselves. I'll be back sometime tomorrow.

26 November 2003
So move it already

In an effort to discourage people from leaving the car running at curbside, Will Rogers World Airport charges zero for the first hour in the Hourly Parking Lot. Which is fine unless you arrive early and the person you're supposed to pick up is late, late, LATE.

Actually, I slid by at the 60-minute mark. Sometimes the Fates (Bob and Wendy Fate of Great Neck, New York) are almost kind.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:36 AM to City Scene )
You can't make me eat that

From the journal Eurotrash:

[T]here seems something puritanically joyless about only eating vegetables. I'm picturing people wearing smocks and maybe bonnets and lots of scourging and self-mutilation after orgasm.

We pause to imagine (if it's not too close to dinnertime) PETA boss Ingrid Newkirk in full tingle.

Now that you've, um, enjoyed that visual, try this Gedanken experiment: Should vegans swallow?

Why, no, I didn't get anything for my birthday. Why do you ask?

(And, while we're on the subject, is it kosher?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:40 AM to Dyssynergy )
Where were you for 62?

Actually, I was on a buying binge, but I still managed to find time to stop in at Carnival of the Vanities #62, hosted this week by the always-outspoken Setting the World to Rights.

Lots of stuff, and lots of commentary to accompany it. As always, you don't want to miss it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:58 PM to Blogorrhea )
It's official

At approximately 11:40 am on the shores of historic Lake Hefner, I signed a few thousand sheets of paper and became the owner of hysterical Shangri-Chaz.

My thanks to Carol Schick of Churchill Brown and Associates, described hitherto as The Expert, and justifiably so; Holli Smith of Keller Williams Realty, who served as Expert to the seller; and to Brenda Newberry of Oklahoma City Abstract and Title Company, who made all the legalese look almost sensible.

There will be further acknowledgments as this little drama plays out. A lot of people are contributing in substantial ways to making all this possible, and I'm grateful for their assistance; I could never have pulled this off alone.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:23 PM to Surlywood )
27 November 2003
Haul of fame

Things do change between vision and execution, and sometimes it's a matter of necessity.

I must have plopped onto three dozen pieces of furniture yesterday before settling, so to speak, on a chair/ottoman and loveseat combination. (The tale of the tape was inexorable: 84 inches was about all this room would accommodate, and sofas seem to have grown into the 87-96 inch range.) PETAnians will note with glee that I wound up with something of vegetable origin for the upholstery — leather was within the budget, to the extent that a budget can be said to exist, but I didn't find something suitable during this search, and I am not one of those people who will go look for days, weeks, years until The Right One comes along. I thought about ordering a side of beef to compensate, but there's not enough room in the new fridge.

Mental note: Do not assemble your own bar stools unless you have access to Bob Vila's tool shed.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:57 AM to Surlywood )
28 November 2003
Moving day

And Silly Billing Corporation hasn't cranked up my phone service at the new digs yet, so it may be a while before the next update.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:38 AM to Surlywood )
29 November 2003
Semi-settled

This post comes to you from the Belle Isle Library of the Metropolitan Library System, inasmuch as a telephone company which shall remain nameless (though its initials are S.B.C.) has thus far failed to provide me with anything resembling a working telephone line.

Which is a considerable letdown, since everyone else involved in this move put forth truly heroic levels of effort. On the backbreaking-labor end of it, I must thank Steffanie and Bill, her son JP, Leslie, and the ineffable (no one dares eff him) Terkish Payne. I owe them lots (and lots of food also).

And the real driving force here is my daughter Rebecca, who flew down from Kansas City to see the old man finally clean up his act. I am indeed blessed to have the children I have.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled blog, assuming the phone drones get off dead center.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:40 PM to Surlywood )
30 November 2003
Rage, and not ATi

I feel a Vent coming on, and it won't be pretty.

The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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