1 February 2004
L'affaire Wonkette

First there was the original post (which this morning I can't seem to find for some reason), and then The Professor was all over it:

Wonkette has so infuriated the Rittenhouse Review that it's adopting a "choose me or choose her!" approach. ("If you link to 'Wonkette' through your blogroll you cannot and will not enjoy, for what that might be worth, a link from The Rittenhouse Review.") Is that wise?

Of course, in line with the Law of Unintended Consequences, this brought Wonkette cascades of additional linkage.

But what's most amusing about this is that Ana Marie Cox, who puts together all this stuff, is at least as far left as James Capozzola himself; in a radio interview for WAMU [requires RealAudio], she reveals that she actually voted for Nader in '00 — not that it matters a whole lot, since she lives in D.C. and all.

I note that Capozzola has switched his endorsement this year from Kucinich to Kerry; there's still time for most of you to order new bumper stickers.

(Update, 2 February, 4:15 pm: If you've come here from Jeff Jarvis' BuzzMachine, you can find the original of Capozzola's post, snatched from Google's cache, at this link.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:59 AM to Blogorrhea )
Recidivist par excellence

A 17-year-old car thief was booked into the Hotel Whetsel this past week. Officials said it was the kid's 69th arrest.

There are those who complain that the state of Oklahoma executes juveniles; I'm starting to think we're not executing enough of them.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:21 PM to Soonerland )
Cheesy movies, the worst we can find

Apparently we truly can't control where the movies begin or end; the SciFi channel has finally quit showing reruns of the last three seasons (the only ones to which they had the rights) of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

This isn't exactly surprising — when production ended in the late 90s, it should have been perfectly obvious that the reruns would end in the not-too-distant future — but it's still a shock to the system, since MST3k was arguably the last comedy show with any legitimate claim to innovation.

CT points out that there wasn't much chance of a revival anyway:

There had been rumors ever since the original episodes ended in 1999 that Sci-Fi would pull the plug at some point; I think it's amazing that it's maintained its life-after-death existence for this long. It had definitely become untenable, because the rights to many of the original movies they used had expired, and re-purchasing those rights just didn't make sense (thus the ever-decreasing number of reruns they could air). It was just a matter of time.

Which rights, I presume, have to be renegotiated for the video issues as well, which haven't exactly been pouring out of Rhino lately.

Oh, well. Push the button, Frank.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:07 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Thoroughly stratified

If you saw this at the Axis of Greeblie and wondered why I haven't done a similar list, wonder no more.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:49 PM to Blogorrhea )
2 February 2004
Now that it's over

Well, yes, I'm going to forbid my daughter to see Justin Timberlake, which is probably about as difficult as telling her to avoid gargling with bleach, but the most telling comment about yesterday's Bowl (they tell me that there was a football game, of all things, going on in the background) came from Linda Richman, by way of Robb Hibbard:

Kid Rock is neither a kid, nor does he rock. Discuss.

And that's the end of that.

Update, 9:05 am: Well, almost. Greg Hlatky points out that this was to be expected:

It was a cheap vulgar moment from a cheap vulgar company during a cheap vulgar show during a cheap vulgar sporting event. MTV's aim was right at its demographic: sullen pimply hormone-soaked adolescents of all ages. And they hit their target dead on.

And frankly, Janet — Miss Jackson if you're nasty — has generally been the least annoying member of the family; this may have been a setup, but I'd like to think they didn't warn her in advance.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:30 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Man in a hurry

Wesley Clark's campaign expenses in Oklahoma have gone up by $450.

Leaving McAlester for Oklahoma City this weekend after a campaign appearance, Clark's three-car entourage was busted by state troopers for doing 88 mph in a 75-mph zone [scroll to bottom]. Clark staffer Reid Cherlin, driving the lead car, says he had the cruise control set on 83 mph, presumably in the belief that ten percent over will not get you a ticket.

Each of the offenses carries a $150 fine.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to Soonerland )
And they all look just the same

Fortunately, the food's good, and the service is measured in seconds, not in years — and that's what matters.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:46 AM to Worth a Fork )
Primary preparation

The Oklahoma primary is tomorrow, and it's time I checked to make sure everything is in order before I trot off to the polls:

  • Register at new address: Check. Did this back in November, in fact.
  • Find new polling place: Check. It's at the Presbyterian Church, a quarter-mile away, and no, I don't think this is an undue breach of separation of church and state.
  • Select a candidate: Uh, I'll get back to you tomorrow.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:28 AM to Soonerland )
Tempest in a C-cup

A regular reader complains about the coverage of the uncoverage of Janet Jackson's frontage:

This whole piece of absurdity is going to take on the same biblical proportions as Dean's Unholy Scream. Both events are hugely blown out of proportion; both events were staged; and both events deserve nothing but a glancing nod and toss to the garbage heap.

It is most unbelievable the airtime and press coverage both these events have garnered. In the grand scheme of things, our society is beyond pitiful that we will spend weeks concentrating on one man's scream and another woman's exposed breast.

But of course. They are the very definition of trivial. But trivial, as it happens, is what we do best; if we expended this much energy on dealing with, say, governmental and corporate corruption, or what's going to happen to the Federal budget when all these damn baby-boomers retire at once, we'd run the risk of actually accomplishing something that various groups of people manifestly don't want accomplished and will resist to the bitter end. What's more, it would stretch the national attention span well beyond what's considered to be its upper limit.

Give us something insignificant, however, and our species shines: oh, if we could only ask Robert Jenkins about his ear.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:49 PM to Almost Yogurt )
3 February 2004
If it's Tuesday, this must be primary

There may be as many as half a million voters today in the Oklahoma Presidential primary, and the vast majority of them will likely be Democrats; there are just about as many Republicans as Democrats in this state, and there is, technically, a GOP race, but I doubt there will be an enormous amount of turnout, since President Bush is headed for a coronation at the party convention this summer. Still, I'd like to see some votes for Bill Wyatt, if only to get Bush's attention.

Me? Well, as a registered Democrat in a closed primary, I don't have the option of supporting Wyatt. On the other hand, the candidates on my ballot strike me as something less than inspired. And while the differences among their domestic policies are largely trivial — will we spend too much, or way too much, on health care? — exactly one candidate seems to grasp the notion that there are more immediate threats to the Republic than a percentage point or two of taxation, which is why when I'm through with my dental appointment today, I will grit my semi-sparkling teeth and pull the lever for Joe Lieberman. Yes, he spends money like a 21st-century Republican; yes, he's a common scold, occasionally rising to the level of uncommon scold. But in 2004, the desired characteristic, in true Firesign Theatre tradition, is Not Insane, and rather than opt for the bumbler, the banshee or the Botoxed, I'm going with Joe.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:30 AM to Soonerland )
Flying back to Rio

The redoubtable Man from F.U.N.K.L.E. explains how it is that City of God director Fernando Meirelles came to be nominated for a 2003 Academy Award for a picture released in 2002:

[A]pparently, the Academy has now adopted the Byzantine eligibility rules favoured by the Grammys, by which songs from the same album are eligible in consecutive years, unless they're songs by U2 or Santana, in which case they're eligible in perpetuity, or until they win, whichever comes sooner.

On the other hand, nothing winning an Oscar® — not even Oliver! — can possibly rival the embarrassment level of the Grammy for Best New Artist bestowed upon Milli Vanilli.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:29 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Proxy serenade

Such a Valentine's day deal: For fifty bucks, one of the half-dozen barbershop quartets of the OK Chorale will bang on the door of your Significant Other, present a card and a long-stemmed rose, and sing two songs.

That is, if said S.O. lives within about a 14-mile radius of downtown, which pretty much eliminates anyone I'd consider for this gift.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:24 PM to Soonerland )
When no nukes is good nukes

Remember when leftists were the ones who worried about nuclear proliferation? Mark Steyn does:

When nuclear weapons were an elite club of five relatively sane world powers, the Left was convinced the planet was about to go ka-boom any minute, and the handful of us who survived would be walking in a nuclear winter wonderland. Now anyone with a few thousand bucks and an unlisted number in Islamabad in his Rolodex can get a nuke, and the Left couldn't care less.

I never did quite buy that "mutual assured destruction" business — it seems unlikely that both sides could inflict absolutely equal damage, and anyway Oceania/Eastasia/Eurasia/whoever would be accused of targeting the inner cities rather than the suburbs, thereby demonstrating hideous and unacceptable prejudice against the socioeconomically challenged — but armed societies, back then, were generally acknowledged to be polite. Some of them still are.

Still, politeness is a virtue mostly unknown to the mad medievalists of the Middle East, so I'm pleased to report that taking away their armaments, even the most insignificant Weapons of Half-Assed Destruction, pays dividends in two ways: it assists in assuring our survival, and it serves as an object lesson to our multiculturalists, who persist in believing that any society which doesn't have a McDonald's is superior to any society which does.

The old "balance of power" shtick is dead, and good riddance. How many times must the cannonballs fly before they're forever banned? So long as we're threatened by terrorists, the answer, my friend, is "Blow it out your ass."

Play me or trade me

This evening, this very site was the #1 Most Traded on BlogShares, with 20 transactions in the past 24 hours.

Didn't make a dime on the deal, of course.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:35 PM to Blogorrhea )
Watch party of one

First post, 8 pm: The polls closed about an hour ago; John Edwards has a very slight lead over Wesley Clark, hovering around the 30-percent mark, with John Kerry back in the lower 20s.

KOMA is reporting that in Oklahoma County, Howard Dean managed a reasonable second and Joe Lieberman actually made double digits, but out in the rural areas it's almost all Edwards and Clark.

Turnout seems pretty good; I was the 346th voter in my new precinct, two hours before closing. (In a strange twist of fate, the person right in front of me was the previous owner of my house; she's definitely gotten prettier since she moved out of here, and obviously she hasn't moved very far if she's still in the precinct.)

Update, 8:30 pm: Bill Wyatt has gotten almost 7 percent of the GOP vote with half the precincts counted.

Update, 9:05 pm: KTOK is reporting that with 75 percent of the numbers in, Edwards and Clark are still in a dead heat at 30 percent; Kerry has risen to 26 percent; Lieberman will apparently beat Dean for fourth.

Update, 9:25 pm: With 1942 of 2237 precincts in, the Clark-Edwards difference is 0.02 percent (71 votes); Wyatt is up to 9 percent for the GOP.

Update, 9:40 pm: KOMA has called it for Clark.

Update, 9:45 pm: Clark has opened up a 700-vote lead; Wyatt is over 10 percent.

Update, 9:55 pm: Clark's lead has grown to over 1000, which should be enough to nail it down. Edwards is a very close second, Kerry not quite so close a third; Al Sharpton outpolled Dennis Kucinich to pick up sixth place.

Deaniacs were lined up in the median on the Northwest Distressway this afternoon; I hope none of them threw themselves into ongoing traffic.

The numbers will be posted by the State Election Board here; the results will not be certified as official until next Tuesday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 PM to Soonerland )
4 February 2004
Wednesday-morning quarterbacking

Sign seen in the window at Flip's Wine Bar & Trattoria:


A few people took this warning seriously: turnout was pretty decent, even on the GOP side where there was less of a race, and state party officials beamed, noting that the largely-bipartisan decision to move the primary to early February had paid off in vastly greater interest by both voters and candidates.

The AP's exit poll attempts to explain the motivations of state voters.

No doubt about it: this is going to be one heck of a ride between now and November.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:45 AM to Soonerland )
And Mr Clean is sexist

Eric Scheie, perplexed by the flap over the Philadelphia restaurant Chink's, observes:

Increasingly, intent is completely irrelevant. All that matters is that someone felt offended. There doesn't even have to be specific use of offending words; even similar sounding words can lead to trouble. An example was the use of the word "niggardly" in the District of Columbia, which forced a mayoral aide to resign.

And, of course, no teacher dares assign Joseph Conrad's The Person of Color of the Narcissus these days.

Curious to see the extent of this sort of thing, Scheie went looking for a household product that is seldom seen these days: Spic and Span, which was spun off by Procter & Gamble in 2001 but which is still being manufactured.

Thus motivated, I investigated, and verified that the original surname of Manny, Moe and Jack, the Pep Boys, was not, as I had imagined, Pepstein.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:31 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Well, I like 72 myself

A perfectly cromulent Carnival of the Vanities is up for your reading pleasure at Pete's A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, and while I'm not in a position to judge cromulence levels, I can assure you that once again, the Carnival features the best of last week's bloggage in a single, link-ridden page.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:59 AM to Blogorrhea )
Blame the Baptists

It's a popular game here in Soonerland; if for some reason (and there's always some reason) the state gets some derisive coverage in the pop press, well, it's all the fault of those wacky fundamentalists.

Over the years, I've demonstrated that I'm not above this sort of thing myself, which illustrates a truism: hardly anyone in the middle, and absolutely nobody on the left, ever has a kind word for Christian conservatives.

Like most truisms, this contains a fair amount of falsity. I commend to you the following example, from the March 2004 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, which isn't up on their Web site yet. According to Colonel Tom Wilhelm, defense attaché at the American embassy in Mongolia, a chap somewhat in Wesley Clark's political neighborhood who admits to voting for Al Gore in 2000, the "flowering of the middle ranks," as correspondent Robert D. Kaplan describes it, and the marked improvement in overall discipline since the days of Vietnam, are in no small part due to an influx of Christian evangelicals into the Armed Forces over the past decade or so. Says the colonel:

[Their] zeal reformed behavior, empowered junior leaders, and demanded better recruits. For one thing, drinking stopped, and that killed off the officers' clubs, which, in turn, broke down more barriers between officers and noncoms, giving the noncoms the confidence to do what majors and colonels in other armies do. The Christian fundamentalism was the hidden hand that changed the military for the better. Though you try to get someone to admit it! We never could have pulled off Macedonia or Bosnia with the old Vietnam Army.

Inasmuch as Wilhelm was there, in Macedonia anyway, I'm inclined to take his word for it.

5 February 2004
Don't blame anybody

Violence, we are told, is caused by many things: venal media, wrenching poverty, societal pressures, and, lest we forget, easy access to guns.

In fact, the connection between any of these and any single violent act is tenuous at best. We make these assumptions because we can't handle the idea that some people, indifferent to the tenets of a civilized society and irrespective of circumstances, are going to do Bad Things; surely there's some way we can reach them, make them see the error of their ways.

Andrea Harris knows better:

[T]here is a point where we say human beings should be considered knowledgeable of right and wrong, and at the very least we could stop pretending that adults who choose criminal violence are doing so due to pressures beyond their control instead of consciously choosing the path of evil.

The thing the appeasers donít want to accept (because it threatens their own sense of power and their view of how the world works) is the fact that violent people are not so because we treat them inhumanly, but because they have already decided that we are not human — at best we are obstacles to their desires. Confronting them and calling them on their behavior — calling it what it is — shocks them into at least realizing that they are dealing with another human being like themselves; and paradoxically gives them the respect they supposedly crave. For example, for decades we in the West — or at least, the intellectual elite — treated Muslim fanatics like little children stamping their feet whenever they spouted threats. Far from allaying the hatred that they felt for us, this attitude merely fed the flames, and the results we saw on September 11th, 2001 (among other dates).

I don't believe anyone is entirely beyond redemption, at least in the Scriptural sense, but until Ludovico arrives with his technique, we're going to have to deal with sociopaths in the time-honored fashion: isolate them, put them where they can't do any further damage. Obviously there are degrees of depravity — the Palestinian suicide bomber is more of a menace to society than the suburban shoplifter — but neither is entitled to a free pass, and I don't much care which theory about extenuating circumstances gets trotted out.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:02 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Equal time

Tuesday I plugged the OK Chorale's Singing Valentine offer.

It occurs to me that you might conceivably want to have female voices in four-part harmony, in which case be advised that the OKCity Chorus is offering a Singing Valentine package of their own.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:31 AM to Soonerland )
Permanent overclass

A little reminder from Bruce:

This election cycle we will hear Democrats attacking corporate lobbyists. What's wrong with the country is that these corporate lobbyists have climbed into bed with Bush and are sucking the treasury dry and robbing ordinary people of their livelihoods. This is what they'll say, and they'll be right. But we should not be so presumptuous to assume that once The D's regain the mantle of power they will kick the lobbyists out to the curb with righteous indignation. I can make a pretty clear prediction that even if a Democrat wins, we will not see the general nature of Washington change. No matter how nice it sounds when Kerry uses his line about "don't let the door hit you on the way out!" we should not expect to see televised images of lobbyists dressed in their suits standing on street corners holding "Will pimp for government money" signs. Not gonna happen.

Or, in Pete Townshend's phrase, "Meet the new boss — same as the old boss."

The last clause of the First Amendment keeps Congress from infringing upon the right of the people "to petition the government for a redress of grievances," and inasmuch as corporate structures are considered the functional equivalent of persons (see Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific, 1886), you're pretty much always going to have corporations with grievances (such as, say, insufficient profits) which they would like Congress to redress.

Of course, your non-profit organizations tend to be just as corporate, and therefore just as legally corporeal; the Sierra Club — theoretically, at least — has the same Constitutionally-mandated access to Congress as does ExxonMobil.

Lobbyists, like the poor, are always with us; they just wear more expensive suits.

Crude manipulation

What do British MP George Galloway, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, and the Minister of Forestry of Myanmar have in common?

Answer: While Saddam Hussein was handing out bribes to the likes of Jacques Chirac, he was apparently awarding millions of barrels of oil to those three and many others for, um, services possibly to be rendered, a serious perversion of the oil-for-food program. Mr Galloway, President Megawati, and the unnamed Myanmar minister are listed as having received vouchers for one million barrels of oil (call it $30 million or so), and they're hardly the largest recipients of Saddam's largesse.

Alan Sullivan, who has reproduced the complete list as released, sees a slogan just waiting to be turned into a meme: No oil for blood! And I suppose there's some comfort in knowing that Saddam, ruthless killer that he was, also dabbled in more mundane offenses.

6 February 2004
Don't go there

What's the worst possible vacation spot for children? An abandoned steel mill? The Michigan caucuses? The back seat of Michael Jackson's car?

Why, it's the Big Rock Candy Mountain!

I mean, lemonade springs might be nice if you don't mind total immersion in something yellow and spewing, and I'd love to see a bulldog with rubber teeth just once, but cigarette trees? Why, John Banzhaf would have a myocardial infarction.

Yeah, I know. Haywire Mac wrote this as an ode to the road, to the hobos who hopped freights and such; he wasn't thinking about the kids at all. But eighty years later, "Big Rock Candy Mountain" has somehow become a song for children, and the youngsters don't seem to be any worse off for it — though I suspect today's vendors of tunes for tots don't bother to do the last couple of stanzas, sparing your grandchildren and mine the scary image of a lake of whiskey. Or worse, of stew.

(Inspired by Dawn Eden, which is getting to be a fairly common occurrence these days.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:36 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Gimme that old-time precision

As a person who owns a brace of Betamaxes, I appreciated this DragonAttack dialogue greatly:

Second Shift Jerk: Is that an MP3 player?
DA: No. It's a cassette player. I reject technology.
2SJ: You have technology on you right now.
DA: I reject selective technology. I don't have an MP3 player. Or a CD player.
2SJ: So, do you have an 8-track player?
DA: I have two.

Exeunt omnes.

I suppose I should go look for an 8-track player, just to fill the void — well, a void — in my life. And yes, this explains much about why I passed up version 5.2 of some horrible godawful spawn-of-Satan piece of "financial" software today in favor of my existing installation of the merely-sucky version 2.24: if you can't prove to me it's actually better, I don't want it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:50 AM to Dyssynergy )
Speaking of Betamaxes

Which I do, on occasion.

Today Wonkette has dubbed Howard Dean "the Betamax of political contenders," which fits just perfectly: the picture might appear better to some people, but playing time is definitely short.

Stamping out Stipe

One aspect of Gene Stipe's guilty plea hadn't occurred to me: Stipe controlled five radio stations in southeast Oklahoma, and the Federal Communications Commission could theoretically deny license renewals to those stations because of Stipe's sentence.

Perhaps fittingly, Richard Lerblance, who was elected to fill Stipe's old Senate seat, has applied to the FCC to purchase the two Stipe companies which own the stations. (Little Dixie Radio owns KNED-AM and KMCO-FM McAlester and KESC-FM Wilburton; Bottom Line Broadcasting owns KTMC-AM-FM McAlester.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:41 PM to Overmodulation )
7 February 2004
The land of chad

Two nightmares (for the price of one!) last night, and while the one where I'm trapped on a game show hosted by the evil twin of Don Francisco might have been marginally more entertaining, the one that spawned the afterthought — and therefore the blog post — is the one about the old IBM punch-card system. I spent some time at a Model 029 punch, and to this day the sight of one of those cards makes my eyes glaze over.

The afterthought went something like this:

Each 80-column card (there were 12 possible punches in each column, but no more than three could be used) represented 80 characters, which today we would describe as 80 bytes.

As of this morning, this Web site was using 57.125 megabytes of disk space, which is awfully close to 60 million bytes. Which means that to reproduce this site on punch cards would require, oh, 750,000 of them.

I guess it's time to do another backup.

Cold equations

Brian J. Noggle made this observation as a comment to a post by his beautiful wife:

[W]e're paying off a coupla cars and a mortgage.

Fifty thou/year will buy a lot of beer, or a little less beer and a house.

I make rather less than fifty thou a year, so I buy even less beer.

The old grey whistle-pig test

Groundhog: The other other white meat.

Don't take my word for it. Ask Fred.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:04 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Ahead of the curve

"Entering Oklahoma — set your watch back 90 years."

Actually, despite the old joke, sometimes we manage to be contemporary. Our semi-electronic voting system is speedy, far more reliable than anything they've come up with in benighted states like Florida, and dirt-cheap to operate.

Sometimes we're even ahead of our time. Who else in 1937, eleven years before the birth of Al Gore, would have thought of taxing the Internet?

No, really. From the instructions from Form 511, the Oklahoma income-tax form, page 10:

If you have purchased items for use in Oklahoma from retailers who do not collect Oklahoma sales tax, you owe Oklahoma use tax on those items. Use tax is paid by the buyer when the Oklahoma sales tax has not been collected by the seller. Individuals in Oklahoma are responsible for paying use tax on their out-of-state purchases.

Which, of course, includes all that stuff you ordered from nevermindwhereweare.com.

Conveniently, the use-tax rate is usually equal to the sales-tax rate: 4.5 percent state, plus county and city levies if any. (Here in the Big Town, it's a startling 8.375 percent.)

Businesses, who have had to keep books on this matter all along, have been paying this tax on a regular basis — last year, the tax brought in $92 million or so — but this is the first year that the Tax Commission has attempted to collect it from individuals through the income-tax return; they hope to increase the take fivefold.

And if you haven't saved all your receipts from online purchases ("if", he says), the state suggests an estimate of 0.056 percent of your adjusted gross income: if you made around $30,000 in 2003, your presumed use tax is $17. I don't expect anyone to go to jail over this, but a lot of people are going to be caught off guard.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:36 AM to Soonerland )
More than a mouthful

The Amateur Gourmet attempts to make, if not mountains out of molehills, cupcakes out of Janet Jackson.

Google was unable to turn up any Milton Berle kielbasa recipes.

(Muchas gracias: JaxVenus, Days Gone By.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:19 PM to Almost Yogurt )
I know I'll never lose affection

Fifteen-year-old Emma Zevin lives in San Francisco, and she is not thrilled with the present-day pop scene. Entertainment Weekly (#751) quotes her as follows:

I think most pop music today is sort of stupid, geared to people who just want to be cool for listening to it rather than who actually like it.

Emma is currently completing her collection of Beatles CDs.

I wouldn't have thought, forty years after the fact, that the Four would still be considered Fab, but in some small way I feel that my musical tastes, such as they are, have been vindicated.

And you know, that can't be bad.

8 February 2004
Tales of the unexpected

A very busy Saturday, with two stories to recount.

Last month we were introduced to FergNet, our most recent facsimile of a health-insurance plan, and in said introduction I reckoned that the name-brand drugs prescribed for me would be a couple of bucks cheaper.

This notion, of course, violates the First Rule of Health Care: "If you can afford it, the price is too low." And indeed, when I presented a prescription, the pharmacist looked at his terminal screen, raised an eyebrow, looked at the screen again, and pronounced solemnly: "Since this calls for a sixty-day supply, they expect you to pay two copayments, one for each thirty-day quantity."

Sneaky little devils. So instead of $2 ahead, I come out $28 poorer. Six iterations of this, and — well, it won't matter, because someone else will be taking over the company plan by then and will have a different bag of tricks altogether.

Later on, I had wandered into Borders for something or other, and was greeted by a chorus of Camp Fire Girls vending their usual array of chocolate-covered carbs. I gave them my standard putoff — "Let's see if I have any money left after I go through the store" — and continued into the heart of the stacks, emerging with a couple of periodicals and a hardback or two. I did, in fact, have enough for a box of goodies, and the Official Adult Supervision, while fumbling for my change, gave me the "Don't I know you from somewhere?" look.

Which he did. Back in the 80s, he had run one of the larger Apple-based BBS systems around town, named for a Robert Asprin series, and I was one of the users thereupon. Of course, back then, I was still in fictional-female mode, so I was duly introduced under the pseudonym, which I acknowledged, noting that "That was years ago."

But by then three pairs of nine-year-old eyes had grown to saucer size. "You used to be a girl?"

I explained the story as best I could, and they seemed content with the explanation. Passersby, who heard only bits and pieces of the tale, tended to look at me funny.

Oh, well. My Warhol-approved 15 minutes stretches another couple of nanoseconds.

(And I'm going back to the "CFI Care" term for our health-care provider, because it's funnier.)

Straining at GNATs*

*Garish Name Application Techniques, which have acquired staggering popularity in today's Congress, and have achieved prodigious levels of banality in so doing. Prime example: The USA PATRIOT Act, an acronym of such mind-numbing idiocy that if Ashcroft and company don't disown the whole package over Constitutional concerns, which they won't, they ought to can it for having a stupid, maudlin, wretched name.

And God forbid someone should concoct some legislation whose purpose is, say, Keeping Internal Terrorism Threats Everywhere Neatly Suppressed.

Whoa! Babes!

This year, Lyric Theatre, the mainstay of local musical theatre, decided that there might be some audience for off-Broadway, non-mainstream stuff, and established something called Second Stage to mount productions that you might not think would go over in sanitary central Oklahoma.

Judging by the crowd at the Civic Center's Little Theatre today, they needn't worry. Pageant: The Musical Comedy Beauty Contest, Second Stage's debut offering, satirizes that American institution nine ways from Sunday, mocking insipid talent competitions, brainless "spokesmodels" and vapid production numbers, and throwing in just a hint of backstage backstabbing. It's screamingly (I almost said "hysterically," but that wouldn't do, would it?) funny, and the ending might be different every night, since members of the audience actually pick the winner. (Earning the tiara today was Miss Great Plains, who in her talent spot performed a bit of wayward oratory called "I Am the Land.")

All in all, it was a wonderful two hours of silliness, complete with an actual wardrobe malfunction, made more ironic by the fact that the victim also serves as Lyric's costume designer. (Of course, as a Southern belle, she never lost her sense and sensibility for so much as a second.) I have no idea what the second offering from Second Stage will be, but I'm there, Jack.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:06 PM to Almost Yogurt )
9 February 2004
One brief shining moment

Or at least, an awfully damned hot one, and one which proves the old saying "Garbage in, garbage out."

I wake up to the droning automated voice of the National Weather Service's VHF radio station (162.40 MHz), and this morning it was duly recapping yesterday's statistics: low 25, high 109.

One hundred and nine?

Trust me, it didn't feel like that when I was walking from the Civic Center to the Sheridan-Walker parking garage. But somehow this bogus number (the high was more like forty-nine) got into the database. (Here's a screen shot of the local NWS data page, before they get around to fixing it.)

Normal high for this date is 52 degrees.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:32 AM to Weather or Not )
Where the bois are

Try as I may to be, um, heteroflexible, I have a great deal of trouble keeping up with the new taxonomy of gayness; there are so many groups and subgroups (and subsubgroups, and no domme jokes, please) that it's well-nigh impossible for someone outside the community to get the hang of it, so to speak.

And just when I'd figured out LGBT, too.

(Bubba, of course, considers them all a mass of undifferentiated preverts, but then he'd include peace activists, environmentalists, and about two-thirds of the Democratic party under that label too, so it's not as precise as he'd like to believe.)

(Via Tongue Tied)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:30 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Trippingly on the tongue

Is George W. Bush inarticulate? Jane Galt responds, "What if he is?"

I watched the Bush performance [on Meet the Press] and I thought it was okay. Not inspiring, but I didn't expect it — and I'm not convinced that the measure of a president is how well he looks on television. Especially now that I've done some TV work. Verbal fluency is a good measure of how verbally fluent you are, not how smart or competent, or how well you make decisions. It is the conceit of academics and journalists that the one talent they all have in spades is the one that is absolutely necessary for any important job. And how would we feel if the NCAA started telling us you couldn't be a sports journalist unless you can run a 4-minute mile?

The best mile I've ever run is 5:53; obviously I have no business covering sports — especially now, when walking a mile will probably destroy what's left of my knee joints. (Which is probably not true, but I'm in no mood to test things, and I just popped another Bextra.)

If academics and journalists were the only ones who got to vote — a situation, I suspect, they would find most desirable — the President's halting speech might be a drawback. Personally, I like the idea that he has to think it over before he comes out with something. To me, it helps to dispel the notion that Bush is nothing more than Karl Rove's carefully-coached sock puppet; I mean, if he'd memorized all these lines, he'd have a smoother delivery, right?

Besides, however effective I may be at getting words onto the page or the screen, I fumble and hem and haw and choke whenever I'm called upon to address X+1 individuals, where X is equal to or greater than 0, so I have a certain amount of sympathy for W. I just wish he'd figure out "nuclear", if only because "nucular" reminds me of Jimmy Carter.

10 February 2004
HREFed up like a deuce

Have you ever sent someone an email asking for a link back to your site?

Lynn's thinking runs something like this:

Asking for a link seems rather bold, though certainly not totally unacceptable, so if you're going to ask for a link it seems to me that you should show that you actually know something about the blog you're requesting a link from and express some interest.

It's never occurred to me to ask for linkage; usually I insinuate myself into someone's consciousness by loading up his comment section. (I once emailed a blogger about something or other, and she wrote back wanting to know how come I didn't plug my own site in said email; apparently she thought it was standard operating procedure, and maybe it is.)

Once in a while, I'll get a request of this sort; I do try to look at any URL that's sent to me, and if I find something worthwhile, I'll usually give it a plug, though getting on my blogroll is seldom (never say "never") instantaneous and rarely likely to result in increased traffic unless you're pulling something like five hits a week and three of them are yours.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:38 AM to Blogorrhea )
No Cokes for you

A measure to ban soft drinks and sweets from grade-school vending machines failed to get past the Senate Education Committee; the final vote was an 8-8 tie, which doesn't necessarily mean the bill is dead, but it's certainly coughing up blood.

It wasn't quite a party-line vote, either. Six Democrats and two Republicans voted for the bill; six Republicans and two Democrats voted against it. Generally, the proponents agreed that too many kids eat too much junk; opponents argued that these matters should be settled at the local, rather than the state, level.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:32 AM to Soonerland )
Before the Tragical History Tour

In 1966 the Rutles faced the biggest threat to their careers. [Ron] Nasty in a widely quoted interview had apparently claimed that the Rutles were bigger than God, and was reported to have gone on to say that God had never had a hit record.

The story spread like wildfire in America. Many fans burnt their albums, many more burnt their fingers attempting to burn their albums. Album sales skyrocketed. People were buying them just to burn them.

But in fact it was all a ghastly mistake. Nasty, talking to a slightly deaf journalist, had claimed only that the Rutles were bigger than Rod. Rod Stewart would not be big for another eight years, and certainly at this stage hadn't had a hit. At a press conference, Nasty apologized to God, Rod and the press, and the tour went ahead as planned. It would be the Rutles' last.

(Dear Dawn: Yes, I do pay attention.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:23 PM to Tongue and Groove )
So much at steak

Poor old Dr Atkins. Poor old fat, dead Dr Atkins.

This is the crux of the high-carb biscuit:

Dr Atkins weighed more than 18st when he died after a fall on an icy footpath in New York last April.

The post-mortem report was revealed in the Wall Street Journal, which received it from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, which opposes the Atkins Diet.

Eighteen stone equals 252 pounds.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, apparently, is a front group for PETA, which certainly explains why they'd oppose the Atkins Diet.

Remind me to grill a rib-eye this evening.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:22 PM to Dyssynergy )
The needle and the damage done

Tattoo parlors, for some inscrutable reason, remain illegal in this state.

JMBranum points out that the state's Green Party, in its official platform, has called for the lifting of the ban. Fine with me. This is the Greens' rationale:

By driving tattooing underground, our state's current laws create a potential public health crisis. Tattoo artists should be licensed, as they are in neighboring states.

Besides, having to drive to Gainesville burns up a whole lot of fossil fuel.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:14 PM to