1 February 2005
Line 36, Schedule DD

The Libertarian Girl calls for a tax on breast implants:

Breast augmentation surgery is a negative sum game. The surgery increases the recipient's attractiveness (because men are so stupid), but only at the expense of other women whose natural breasts become less attractive in comparison to the increasing population of surgically augmented women.

If every woman got breast augmentation surgery, it would not change the overall female attractiveness of society (because men would quickly become desensitized to seeing bigger breasts), but would have negative health effects because large numbers of women would suffer from post-surgery complications.

How much of a tax are we talking here?

Four thousand dollars for a pair of implants seems like an arbitrarily acceptable amount. With about a quarter of a million surgeries performed every year, the breast implant tax would raise a billion dollars of revenue annually. (Of course, demand for the procedure would decline after the tax was implemented, so we would raise somewhat less than a billion — but the whole purpose of the tax is to discourage the procedure, so this would be the desired effect.)

Well, as the phrase goes, "If you want less of something, tax it; if you want more of something, subsidize it." I guess the boob-happy boyfriends can pick up the tab.

(Yeah, this is almost a month old, but then I'm really more of a leg man anyway, and besides she's continuing to write on the subject.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:30 AM to Almost Yogurt )
We write to a "service" provider

Someone trying to post links to online-poker.psextreme.com has been spamming my Web site all morning; I have had to remove approximately two dozen of these annoyances.

If this subdomain is not under your control, perhaps you should see to it that it becomes so; whoever is using it is an irresponsible parasite.

If this subdomain *is* under your control, I trust you to do the right thing and put an end to this sort of activity.

If not, well, there are laws....cgh

(Sent to: exmail@psextreme.com, Dimension Publishing, 1175 Chess Drive Suite EM, Foster City, CA 94404, US, Phone: 650-372-0942)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:05 AM to Outgoing Mail )
Heavy leakage

Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel has turned up the nefarious Spector Pro scumware on three computers in his office.

District 1 Commissioner Jim Roth says that the program was presumably installed by someone with administrative access to the county network or to someone actually using the machine; he does not believe it was acquired by simple Web browsing.

Whetsel is properly appalled:

Anything sensitive that we might have been working on, they could have taken a screen shot at any time and be looking at material that they have no business looking at. If someone was watching and taking screen shots, there is a good possibility that sensitive law enforcement information has been compromised.

Spyware detectors are being installed system-wide.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:13 AM to PEBKAC )
And whatever became of Hubert?

If you thought Howard Dean was some sort of weird 21st-century non-mainstream Democrat, you might have thought too soon: apparently Dr. Dean, anguished yelp aside, is very much in the Democratic tradition.

Last year Bigwig brought forth this bumper sticker, yoking Dean to George McGovern; I can testify that it got a laugh out of Dawn Eden, which more than justifies my purchase thereof.

Now Cutting to the Chase offers yet another traditional Democratic comparison:

The Association of State Democratic Chairs has endorsed Dr. Dean [for DNC chief] — presumably because Adlai Stevenson is dead and therefore ineligible.

Being the sort of person who can appreciate really finely-tuned smugness, I offer you this interchange from Stevenson's 1956 Presidential campaign:

Enthusiastic supporter: "Senator, you have the vote of every thinking person!"

Adlai: "That's not enough, madam, we need a majority!"

I tell you, Stevenson was born to run the DNC — just fifty years too soon. Dr. Dean just might work out after all. (Then again, speaking as a lifelong Democrat, I'd have to say that a tub of Shedd's Country Crock would probably be an improvement over that McAuliffe guy.)

It's a girl

Meet Ella Hope Holtsberry, born Friday afternoon.

Let there be cheers and celebration.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:38 PM to Next Generation )
Checking out Brad's package

Brad Henry's tax package, that is.

A few things perplex me about it — who knew there was a constitutional maximum on the Rainy Day Fund? — and "targeted" tax cuts usually mean I don't get squat, but this doesn't seem too awful. This year's $200-million surplus (thanks at least partially to petroleum prices out the wazoo) will be split down the middle, taxpayers to get one half as a rebate, the new EDGE Endowment to be seeded with the other.

Over and beyond this bit of spending, there are actual tax cuts: capital gains on Oklahoma property, eliminated last year for individuals, would be eliminated for corporations as well; the list of heirs qualifying for estate-tax exemption would be extended to include siblings; the personal exemption for retirees would be boosted from $7500 to $10,000; and there will be a sales-tax holiday counterprogrammed against one already scheduled in Texas.

House Republicans, I think, will probably insist on an income-tax rollback as well, but the Governor's proposal is a reasonable start. All else being equal, though, I'd rather have the brackets moved downward than get a one-time check.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:51 PM to Soonerland )
2 February 2005
In lieu of actual opiates

JunkYardBlog's Bryan Preston spotted this on a bumper sticker:

RELIGION:
It's what keeps the poor from murdering the rich.

The quote is attributed generally to Napoleon Bonaparte; this sticker is sold by Northern Sun, a long-standing vendor of left-wing posters, buttons and tchotchkes. I get their catalog occasionally, probably by dint of having an actual Mother Jones subscription.

I'm at a loss, though, to figure out what Napoleon meant by this. It seems fairly obvious what Northern Sun means by it: Wall Street and evangelical Christians are supposed to be locked into an unholy alliance to smite the poor and downtrodden. This doesn't jibe with my experience, but then I am not especially poor, nor have I been trodden upon on a regular basis. (The question of whether I'm smitten can wait for another time.) It is certainly useful, though, to have all your designated demons on the same side.

The JYB analysis:

It has a very Marxist flavor, a sort of "opium for the masses" drive, doesn't it? Which tells me that the couple inside the van were in all likelihood rabid lefties.

And idiots. I don't suppose it ever occurred to them that even if religion's sole purpose was to keep the underclass from murdering the rich, that that would be a good thing. I don't suppose it ever occurred to them to think that if the restraint of religion were removed, and the poor did indeed murder the rich, that all that would do would spark yet another round of bloodletting once some of the former poor had managed to amass enough of the riches left behind by the dead.

Same as the old boss, as Pete Townshend might have said. A cursory glance at some of our mean streets, though, would suggest that if the poor are inclined to murder anyone, it's each other.

No respect from the rodents

Ain't no sunshine for seven days, and now there's this:

Punxsutawney Phil's handlers said the groundhog has seen his shadow — which legend has it signals six more weeks of winter.

What I really want right now is one of Michele's "Kill Phil" greeting cards.

But for now:

You ain't nothin' but a groundhog
Sleepin' all the time
You ain't nothin' but a groundhog
Sleepin' all the time
Well, you ain't never seen your shadow
And you ain't no friend of mine

Farging weasel.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:51 AM to Dyssynergy )
124

A nice little car by Fiat, or the number of episodes of Carnival of the Vanities, this week hosted by Ken Sain, who's taking a trip down Abbey Road. Seven days of bloggy goodness awaits.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:45 AM to Blogorrhea )
That kinda empty feeling

So is anyone still in Connecticut?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:56 AM to Dyssynergy )
Both ends against the middle

My favorite Walt Whitman passage has always been this bit from Leaves of Grass:

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.

Justin Katz finds multitudes inside Andrew Sullivan:

The niche that he has claimed ... has made Sullivan an especially influential advocate for a cause with which many [conservatives] do not agree: same-sex marriage. In his various expositions of the case for same-sex marriage over the years, Sullivan has trapped himself in a series of opportunistic contradictions — which may tell us something about the contradiction at the heart of his cause.

The passage that caught my eye is a quote from Sullivan's book Love Undetectable:

"The truth is, homosexuals are not entirely normal; and to flatten their varied and complicated lives into a single, moralistic model is to miss what is essential and exhilarating about their otherness." The truth that Sullivan evades is that flattening to a model is precisely marriage's social purpose, and furthermore, his arguments for same-sex marriage are in conflict with the desire he expresses in this passage to preserve homosexuality's "otherness." After all, how can "otherness" be preserved if distinctions are effaced?

I don't have a particular problem with "otherness," even (especially?) if it's "essential and exhilarating," but it sounds to me like Sullivan is trying to have it both ways: he wants to be a wild and crazy guy and Ward Cleaver simultaneously. I had enough trouble with that when I was married, and I'm on the straight side of the aisle.

Is domestic bliss incompatible with, say, a Pride Parade? I don't know. I think that it probably isn't — but then there's this piece from Sullivan's Virtually Normal:

No homosexual child, surrounded overwhelmingly by heterosexuals, will feel at home in his sexual and emotional world, even in the most tolerant of cultures.... Anyone who believes political, social, or even cultural revolution will change this fundamentally is denying reality.

Maybe these contradictions can be resolved somewhere down the line. I hope Andrew Sullivan isn't holding his breath.

3 February 2005
How now, Dow Jones?

Oklahomans have something of a reputation for fatalism, perhaps even pessimism. (The Dust Bowl will do that to you.) Still, it's 2005 already, the Dow is over 10,000, but NewsOK.com's market graphic hasn't caught up with the times:

Market averages

I'm sure there's an explanation for this somewhere.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:15 AM to Soonerland )
The Big Boom

This morning, I made the bald assertion that the single most important day in blogdom was 12 September 2001, that people were so moved by what they saw in the media that they simply had to say something of their own.

I think there might be some support for this premise, but I doubt anyone has any real numbers to produce. What do you think?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:50 AM to Blogorrhea )
Overlooked again

Chickenhead.com presents:

The Absolute Bottom 50 Blogs.

Geez, you'd think I wasn't trying or something.

(Poached from Defamer.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:33 AM to Blogorrhea )
The Fuzzy Puppies and Bunnies Act

No, wait, it's the "Justice & Common Sense Act" of 2005.

Well, actually, House Bill 2047 is a tort-reform measure, which would cap damages, limit attorney fees, and require jury unanimity for punitive damages.

Okay, it's not as annoying as the USA Patriot Act, at least in terms of nomenclature, but it does suggest to me that House Speaker Todd Hiett (R-Kellyville) doesn't really think it would pass if it got a name that was actually, you know, relevant.

This is not a good sign for the beginning of the legislative session.

(Via Okiedoke, where it's viewed even less favorably.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:37 PM to Soonerland )
I'll have the king crab

This isn't on Automobile Magazine's Web site yet, and if they have any sense, they won't put it there.

Ezra Dyer and his pal Murph are doing the London-to-Rome circuit in a Lotus Elise. Budgetary limitations being what they are, their route runs from London, Texas to Rome, Georgia.

Somewhere west of Houston, the troopers appear, and Ezra muses:

The cop hands me my first speeding ticket in nine years. I console myself with the thought that my streak was broken with a worthy car, something like getting an STD from a supermodel.

I believe I speak for many of you when I say "Ewwwww...."

4 February 2005
Brother Bug's traveling infection show

Pack up the babies and grab the old ladies, because this sucker is contagious.

Just what I needed in the dead of winter, right?

A plane deal

Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher says the airframe giant is nearing a deal to sell its Wichita and Tulsa plants. Workers, said Stonecipher, should get the word in 10 to 20 days; he says there is no indication that there will be layoffs.

Tulsa's Boeing facility was originally owned by Douglas; during World War II, its products included the B-24 Liberator.

Toronto-based Onex Corp. is rumored to be the prospective buyer.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:18 AM to Soonerland )
Rampage by the Robinator

Patrick Goldstein tossed this throwaway into the Los Angeles Times:

The most money any studio put into one of the [Oscar] nominees was the $21 million that Miramax anted up for Finding Neverland. The other nominated films were orphans — ignored, unloved and turned down flat by most of the same studios that eagerly remake dozens of old TV series (aren't you looking forward to a bigger, dumber version of The Dukes of Hazzard?) or bankroll hundreds of sequels, including a follow-up to Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, a film that was sadly overlooked at Oscar time because apparently nobody had the foresight to invent a category for Best Running Penis Joke Delivered by a Third-Rate Comic.

Wounded, but undaunted, Rob Schneider strikes back in a full-page Variety ad:

My name is Rob Schneider and I am responding to your January 26th front page cover story in the LA Times, where you used my upcoming sequel to Deuce Bigalow as an example of why Hollywood Studios are lagging behind the Independents in Academy nominations. According to your logic, Hollywood Studios are too busy making sequels like Deuce Bigalow instead of making movies that you would like to see.

Well Mr. Goldstein, as far as your snide comments about me and my film not being nominated for an Academy Award, I decided to do some research to find what awards you have won.

I went online and found that you have won nothing. Absolutely nothing. No journalistic awards of any kind, Disappointed, I went to the Pulitzer Prize database of past winners and nominees. I though, surely, there must be an omission. I typed in the name Patrick Goldstein and again, zippo — nada. No Pulitzer Prizes or nominations for a "Mr. Patrick Goldstein." There was, however, a nomination for an Amy Goldstein. I contacted Ms. Goldstein in Rhode Island, she assured me she was not an alias of yours and in fact like most of the World had no idea of [your] existence.

And four paragraphs more. Obviously it is not wise to tweak the Schneidmeister.

(Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo opens 12 August.)

Update, 14 August: Roger Ebert comments:

Schneider is correct, and Patrick Goldstein has not yet won a Pulitzer Prize. Therefore, Goldstein is not qualified to complain that Columbia financed Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo while passing on the opportunity to participate in Million Dollar Baby, Ray, The Aviator, Sideways and Finding Neverland. As chance would have it, I have won the Pulitzer Prize, and so I am qualified. Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.

Remind me not to irritate Roger Ebert.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:02 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Persistence is futile

Good riddance to Enterprise, says TeeVee's Nathan Alderman:

Here's hoping that idea-bankrupt executive producer Rick Berman gets the hint and goes down with the ship. And that when the series re-emerges in a few years' time (and don't kid yourself that it won't), it's as something new, exciting and unpredictable. There are still plenty of brave new worlds to explore. But for now, it's probably for the best that Enterprise is boldly going away.

Especially if what's on the drawing-board is something along these lines.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:50 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The bottomless tip jar

The last, I promise, comment on Andrew Sullivan for at least a month.

This is from ninme:

Andrew Sullivan has made $200,000 in one year from his readers. I never read him, and it's too late now because apparently he's taken his cash and gone to Europe (Switzerland on this tour, I wonder?), but every time I heard about these pledge drives, through other blogs, I assumed they were for charity.

I have credit card debts. I figure if he's getting 54087 visits a day and Iím getting around 215, and he's getting $200,000, that means my slice of the pie should be $795.02.

I take checks and money orders.

Come to think of it, $2843.74 would just about pay off my car.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:17 PM to Blogorrhea )
Besides, it's shorter than "Stribulation"

Dawn Eden is victimized by an alleged journalist to whom "fact-checking" is an available-time option, not a requirement, and McGehee, perhaps with Nick Coleman in mind, dubs the practice "Stribbing."

I dunno if this term will become as widespread as fisking, but I figure the least I can do is help it along.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:01 PM to Blogorrhea )
Exercising the ol' franchise

No, I did not register to vote on my 18th birthday. And no, it's not because of any youthful apathy or anything like that; it's just that the offices were not open until the following Monday.

I was away from home the following year, when there was a Presidential election, and duly requested an absentee ballot. It didn't help George McGovern much, to be sure, but I wasn't about to miss out, and anyway, it was motivated more by the urge to replace Nixon than by a heartfelt belief in the McGovern agenda.

In the thirty-two years since then, I've missed, to my knowledge, maybe eight elections, only one of them big enough for a Presidential race. I show up for that tedious school-board stuff, for millages, for bond issues, for whatever. The polling place is within half a mile, which cuts down on the number of available excuses.

And to the surprise of some, I'm still a Democrat today: the bizarre behavior of (some of) the party faithful in recent years notwithstanding, I'm not ready to slam the door on them and start over. Still, I've never once voted a straight-party ticket, and while I understand why the option is there, I have no desire to use it.

I pulled the lever (well, we don't have levers, but you get the idea) for George W. Bush this past year, the first time I'd ever voted for a Republican for President. (It, um, came to me in a dream.) Next time, I'm hoping there are more than two choices, just because.

(Provoked by Dwayne.)

5 February 2005
Moving on up

Last year, says the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors, 19,284 homes were sold in the metro area, the highest number anyone can remember, and up about 10 percent from the previous year. The average price was $125,860, up 6.6 percent; the median price (half cost more, half cost less) was $106,383, up 6.8 percent.

Nationwide, sales of new homes set a record high.

I'm not sure how long this will last — sooner or later, rising interest rates will start to show up in mortgage rates — but for now, it's one heck of a ride, and homes in my neighborhood are approaching $75 a square foot, a figure which would have seemed utterly implausible two years ago.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:18 AM to City Scene )
A fistful of loonies

Canada's national identity is verging on a crisis, reports Debbye Stratigacos from Toronto:

Two main legs of Canadian identity are health care and hockey, and both are way past life-support systems.

Today the despised American-style health system is the only resort for Canadians suffering and even dying on the waiting lists the treasured health care system offers in place of actual medical care, and some treatments are even being offered to Canadians at a discount by some enterprising American doctors.

As for hockey, attention NHL owners, players, and assorted others: it's February, you morons, and yet you're pretending there might yet be a chance for a hockey season? This season is dead, defunct. It has passed on. Canada survived without NHL hockey and the CBC showed some pretty decent double-billed movies on Saturday nights. End of story.

Is there nothing to assuage the pain of the anguished residents of the Great White North?

So what's left when health care and hockey are out for the count? The U.N., peacekeeping forces, and moral superiority.

Exposure of the debasement of the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program remains sparse and although a story [yesterday] speculates about possible Canadian connections to Hussein's oil, the conflict of interest of former PM Chretien due to his familial ties to Power Corp. and thus TotalFinaElf remains an unpublicized and unexplored factor in Canada's membership in the Axis of Weasels.

Remember when the argument would be made that Canadians had consciously reduced their military in order to nationalize a world-class health system?

Then he who was then Finance Minister and is now the Prime Minister, Paul Martin, decided to reduce the national debt by withholding money from the provinces which should have gone into the health care system. Now there's neither accessible health care nor military strength up here, but cruel history provided events in Liberia, Haiti (including the devastation of last summer's hurricanes) Sudan and a tsunami to accentuate the harsh reality that Canada can no longer respond to international crises nor provide peacekeeping to protect innocent people from genocide crimes against humanity.

Okay, scratch those. How about "moral superiority"?

Above all, Canadians are compassionate. If you don't believe me, just ask them. They will expound at length as to how much more compassionate and caring and enlightened they are than Americans. (They've even got some Americans believing it.) Why, they're close to achieving a plane of compassionate existence that's almost European! Unfortunately, they spend so much time and money proclaiming it that they never get around to actually doing much that is compassionate, caring or enlightened but a cynicism has set in that allows that it's the appearance that matters, not the deeds.

Or, as Dr. Laurence J. Peter once explained, "An ounce of image is worth a pound of performance."

Still, except for that hockey business, all this sounds an awful lot like our bluer states.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:28 AM to Dyssynergy )
You could call it product placement

This chap in Tulsa is willing to change his name if the price is right.

John Cox is hoping some corporation will kick in $75k or more for him to change his first name legally — although he'd rather it wasn't Fannie Mae.

And, well, you have to figure no private individual is likely to fork over that much money to stick him with a name like "Enormous" or "Turgid," either.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:47 PM to Soonerland )
Saturday spottings (redux)

Spottings took off the last two weekends so that I would have more time to fuss over, um, women younger than I; despite feeling like the plague warmed over in a low-powered microwave, I figured the least I could do was hit the streets once more.

Monday I wrote about a case before the Urban Design Commission about a builder who wanted to put a 1½-story home on a narrow lot in Midtown and was shot down because he wanted garage access from the front. The Commission told him it was out of character for the neighborhood; the builder contended that the lot was too narrow for a driveway to run all the way front to back. This is not a big lot — only 50 feet wide — and the alley in back, uneven and narrow, is surprisingly difficult to navigate, so I can see his point. (The larger question of why someone would want a 2500-square-foot home on a 7000-square-foot lot I leave for somebody with greater household demands than mine.)

High clouds and 60 degrees today, about ten warmer than spec for this date, so I reckoned there would be a good crowd at the new skate park, and indeed the place was crawling with sk8terbois and/or grrls. I watched just long enough to realize that were I in there and on wheels, I would kill myself in about ten seconds.

West of Capitol Hill and south of the Stockyards is a light-industrial area that's gone into seemingly terminal decline; it looked pretty dire 35 years ago, and it still does today. Still, I'm not prepared to write off any part of the city yet, and on SW 15th near I-44 I wondered if the massive Dell facility is going to make any meaningful difference on the near-southwest side, or if all its staff will come from way across town.

Finally, closer to home, an item of interest to one of those younger women (the one who is actually related to me): a house a few blocks over, it is reported by the Neighborhood Association, is getting the full HGTV treatment. There's no sign up, probably to deter gawking, but the location seems pretty obvious, and if it's on HGTV, it's a cinch my daughter will see it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:54 PM to City Scene )
These are my people, because I say so

Well, what do you know. Firebrand University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who has made noises about how all those nasty European types should go home and leave the American continent for the true natives like him, has the same amount of Native American ancestry as, say, William Jefferson Clinton: zilch.

The former chairman of the Keetoowah band of Cherokee Indians says University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill was given an honorary membership that required no proof of Cherokee heritage.

John Ross led the tribe for several years in the 1990s. He says the Keetoowah established an "associate member" program to recognize friends of the tribe. "If somebody helped out in a certain way, to honor them they'd give them an associate membership," Ross said Thursday. "There were 300 or 400 associate members."

Former President Clinton also was given an honorary membership in the tribe.

To be a full-fledged member of the Keetoowah, a person has to prove he or she is at least one-fourth Cherokee. Churchill has never had such a membership. Only full members are allowed to vote, hold office and receive tribal privileges.

Churchill has cited his associate membership in the tribe as proof of his Cherokee roots. He told The Denver Post on Wednesday he is three-sixteenths Cherokee. In the past, he has described himself as one-sixteenth Cherokee and also claimed to have Creek Indian blood.

I'd side with the pundits who argue that recent inflammatory statements by Churchill are insufficient grounds to sack him: you don't advance the cause of academic freedom by revoking tenure of those who rock the boat. On the other hand, playing fast and loose with the truth is good enough reason to toss anyone out on his tuchas, ethnicity be damned.

(With thanks to John Rosenberg.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 PM to Wastes of Oxygen )
6 February 2005
Blinded justice

It's kind of hard to argue with most of this:

H.R.418
Title: To establish and rapidly implement regulations for State driver's license and identification document security standards, to prevent terrorists from abusing the asylum laws of the United States, to unify terrorism-related grounds for inadmissibility and removal, and to ensure expeditious construction of the San Diego border fence.

Until you get down inside the guts of it and turn up this:

Section 102(c) of the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (8 U.S.C. 1103 note) is amended to read as follows:

(c) Waiver-

(1) IN GENERAL - Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Secretary of Homeland Security shall have the authority to waive, and shall waive, all laws such Secretary, in such Secretary's sole discretion, determines necessary to ensure expeditious construction of the barriers and roads under this section.

(2) NO JUDICIAL REVIEW- Notwithstanding any other provision of law (statutory or nonstatutory), no court shall have jurisdiction

(A) to hear any cause or claim arising from any action undertaken, or any decision made, by the Secretary of Homeland Security pursuant to paragraph (1); or

(B) to order compensatory, declaratory, injunctive, equitable, or any other relief for damage alleged to arise from any such action or decision.

(Emphasis added.)

Oh, yes. That pesky judicial-review business. Can't have any of that, can we? Why, there might be some of those activist judges out there.

Under certain extraordinary circumstances, I can see the need to suspend judicial oversight, but a mundane border-reinforcement bill hardly qualifies as extraordinary. Even beyond its backdoor attempt to turn the driver's license (which used to be a State function, remember?) into a de facto national ID card, this measure simply reeks. Yes, I'd like the borders tightened; no, I wouldn't like the government to get into the habit of thinking that the answer to any lingering legal questions is to cut the judiciary out of the loop.

(Via Matt Deatherage.)

Particle emissions

Okiedoke this morning gives a lot of space to the rantings of Bob Nichols, who points out, correctly, that depleted-uranium weapons are being produced in Oklahoma.

Had Bob left it at that, he might have gotten away with it. But no:

Oklahoma is the major shipping point for millions of pounds of genocidal and illegal weapons to Iraq. Up to 3.2 million pounds a day. That is up to 96 million pounds of radioactive uranium a month!

Of course, to have genocide, one must have a people that is being systematically destroyed. On that basis, there is as much genocide in, say, downtown Cincinnati as there is in Iraq.

But what spooks people is "radioactive," and really, Bob, what part of the word "depleted" don't you understand? DU's own emissions are so meager that it's actually used as a radiation shield; its sheer density makes it even more efficient than lead at blocking gamma rays and other radiational nasties, and its own alpha particles can be blocked by a coat of paint or a piece of wallboard. No one is claiming that DU is actually good for you, but the threat is severely overblown.

Much like Bob's little spiel, in fact.

Pax packs it up

Way back in the fall of 1997, I saw bright prospects for Lowell "Bud" Paxson's ragtag television network, which launched the following year.

This, apparently, is the year it dies: this past week about fifty executives were pink-slipped, including President Bill Scott, which means generally one more press release before the doors close entirely.

What will happen to the sixty TV stations Pax TV owns is not clear, though NBC Universal, which owns just under a third of the network and which has been providing support for Pax stations through NBC affiliates, is presumably the most likely scavenger, especially since NBC demanded in the fall of '03 that Pax redeem NBC's Class B preferred stock and Pax begged off, pleading poverty.

It's probably a safe bet that most of the Pax stations will get new calls, since they all seem to have the ill-fated "PX" letter combination somewhere.

(Scissored out of a much longer piece by Jeff Jarvis.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:38 PM to Almost Yogurt )
But ours is bigger!

Is it too difficult to come up with a standard 80 x 15 button? For some organizations, yes, says Don Danz, it is too difficult.

What's more, says Don, "I just couldn't sleep at night knowing I had non-standard buttons on my site." I don't sleep especially well myself, but a perfunctory glance at my front page will reveal that non-standard buttons aren't high on my list of insomnia producers. (The only one I made myself, the WordPad logo, is a fright-inducing 130 x 40.) Still, he's in good company; Dave spent a good part of this winter making buttons, or so it seems.

And really, if I ever get around to redoing this front page again — well, there will be some surprises, I'm sure.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:39 PM to Blogorrhea )
7 February 2005
Remake yourself comfortable

Prodded by a regular reader (hi, Jennifer!), I ventured over to Coverville this weekend, and it's a remarkable sort of place: every other day or so there's a new podcast with, they say, "the best and worst of cover songs," with "full legal licensing from ASCAP." (I guess you can ask them about BMI and/or SESAC.)

Most of the podcasts run a little over half an hour, and you know, it would be worth it just to hear Richard Cheese doing Weezer's "Buddy Holly" (in edition 49).

Jeeves goes shopping

Mary Hodder's Napsterization.org has learned that Ask Jeeves, Inc. is buying the aggregator service Bloglines for a sum as yet undisclosed. Ask Jeeves' own blog already incorporates Bloglines links.

This would seem to be a logical development, following Google's 2003 acquisition of Pyra Labs and Blogger. Still, Step 2, as it has been so often before, remains vague:

  1. Buy into blog stuff
  2. ???
  3. Profit

Not that I have any track record at predicting these things, mind you.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:30 AM to Blogorrhea )
The bin Laden clearance sale

The OKPartisan goes one step beyond Tom Friedman's New York Times op-ed calling for an end to the posted rewards for bin Laden and friends:

I would suggest that we drop it with a deadline. "You have 2 weeks to turn in Bin Laden and get $25 million. After that, you get nothing but our thanks."

I'm inclined to agree. So long as we keep a price on his head, he has a value equal to that price; I definitely like the idea of writing him off as a loss. (Besides, I rather suspect that his recent "appearances" have involved some fairly trivial special-effects techniques, and that were there any daisies in that part of the world, he'd be pushing them up.)

Losing my direction

Eleven o'clock, and I'm switching over to the classical station for Adventures in Good Music, and the announcer stalled the playback just long enough to let us know:

Karl Haas has died.

It's one of those things you never think about. I mean, Adventures has run five days a week since 1959, and while I'm no classical-music maven, most of what I know about it I learned from Karl Haas, day by day, piece by piece.

The show began on Detroit's WJR; WCLV in Cleveland picked up distribution in 1970, where it's been ever since. (One of the weirder thrills in my life was hearing the show on WCLV itself during my first visit to Cleveland, four years ago.)

Our local station will continue to air reruns throughout the month; after that, I guess I'm just totally lost.

Thank you, Karl. You'll be very much missed.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:17 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Broadway, though, is kind of wide

Fark had an item this morning about Tucson's Old Spanish Trail, which is apparently neither old nor Spanish. (There's also one in Houston, if I remember correctly; it should have similar credentials.)

Not that we can snicker here in Oklahoma City. In the 1970s a subdivision went in west of Ski Island called "Canyon North," and threading down the middle of it is something called Basswood Canyon Road. Quite apart from the fact that we're not exactly overrun (underrun?) with canyons in that part of town, basswood doesn't grow here: it tends to show up in the Midwest and points east, also places not known for canyons.

Then again, County Line Road does run more or less along the (Canadian/Oklahoma) county line. And I will entertain no complaints about the Rivendell area: that's supposed to be, um, fantastic.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:00 PM to City Scene )
Green? What green?

I'm on the Northwest Distressway this afternoon, getting ready to do the turn onto Pennsylvania and then a quick duck down NW 50th, the light goes green, and one car gets through before the yellow pops up again. I hadn't floored it or anything, being as how I was the fourth in line, but I uttered a deep and dark curse against whatever Fates were responsible for this.

And then I saw it: the fire engine, in the oncoming lane, everyone else in the vicinity having been evacuated by that seemingly-random hardware malfunction.

Which answered two questions for me: "What are those traffic-signal override devices really like?" and "You think they have any of those here?"

The fire truck cleared the intersection, the green was restored, and I made my turn.

I'm not thinking these are the answers to everyone's prayers, though. Half a mile down 50th, an ambulance was oncoming, and if it was heading for that same emergency, it was going to be late; on 50th eastbound at Pennsylvania, there is no option but to turn right, unless you're prepared to jump a barrier. Now if those can be moved by remote control, I promise to be duly impressed.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:10 PM to City Scene )
St Theresa's prayer

Note: This has made the email rounds several times; I wanted to see how well it works as a blog post.

In case anyone is interested, Saint Theresa is known as the Saint of the Little Ways. Meaning she believed in doing the little things in life well and with great love. She is also the patron Saint of flower growers and florists. She is represented by roses. May everyone be blessed who receives this message.

Theresa's Prayer cannot be deleted. REMEMBER to make a wish before you read the poem. That's all you have to do. There is nothing attached. Just send this to seven people and let me know what happens on the fourth day. Do not break this, please. Prayer is one of the best free gifts we receive.

There is no cost but a lot of reward. Suggestion: copy and paste rather than forward to protect email addresses and access to e-virus. (Did you make a wish?) If you don't make a wish, it won't come true. Last chance to make a wish!

St. Theresa's Prayer:

May today there be peace within. May you trust your highest power that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you....May you be content knowing you are a child of God.... Let this presence settle into our bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of you.

Now, send this to 7 people within the next 5 minutes and your wish will come true. And remember to send this back...you'll see why.

Can I get 84 visitors this hour? It could happen. It's not what I would wish for, though.

8 February 2005
Visions of sugarplums

First, the obligatory Mark Twain quote:

In the first place God made idiots. This was for practice. Then He made school boards.

I doubt if this was what drove Jennifer Puckett out of her District 2 seat after eight years, but she's history, and an election is being held today to replace her.

The local Republican Party is expressing unusual interest in this nonpartisan race. Then again, maybe it's not so unusual: one of the three other candidates is openly gay, and they hope to whip up some voter antagonism.

Which, in turn, makes my decision for me. I have no compelling urge to see a gay man on the school board, but I don't think it's the end of the world should one end up there, especially since he's just one voice out of eight. I do, however, take a dim view of the GOP's failure to comprehend the meaning of a "nonpartisan" ballot, so the least I can do is vote for the candidate they're targeting, a fellow named Jim Nimmo. Just as a reminder, you know. Nothing against the rest of you guys — I'm sure you're all sterling folks — but I have my rules.

Know thine enemy

You know, I thought I was pretty scornful in my own way:

That business with the "action figures" demonstrated for all time just how pathetic your average Islamowhack terrorist truly is: split them down the middle, and half of them are Beavis, the other half are Butt-head. Mocking people like that is the second-most-fun thing you can do with them.

But my lame snark can't hold a three-for-a-dollar votive to the wrath of Andrea Harris:

These are the sort of "men" who are down with the idea of stoning a woman to death in a soccer stadium for showing some ankle. These are the kind of men who want women penned up with less freedom than veal cows. These are the kind of men who would throw a woman off a cliff for being raped. These are the kind of men who use retarded kids as suicide bombers. And you want our soldiers to go after them wearing a hairshirt.

We should have fun killing this kind of "man." I can only imagine the look on the face of a terrorist womanraping babykilling voterattacking strutting rooster whose last sight is the barrel of a gun held by one of our soldiers, and I hope whatever expression it was made the soldier giggle with glee. If only it were possible to do I'd be mowing them down myself with brass band accompaniment. I'd do it in high heels and a designer dress. I'd film it and put it on the internet with sarcastic balloon comments added. I'd throw a party after every kill. I'd pass out cigars. Those corpses I left intact I'd have stuffed, dressed in clown suits complete with nose and big shoes, and displayed in a shop window on Rodeo Drive. I'd sell their teeth on eBay and their ears at a garage sale.

So there.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:39 AM to Dyssynergy )
No one will understand what I've gotta do

Fifteen years ago today, Del Shannon took his own life.

In retrospect, those who knew him — including Dawn Eden, who did the last in-depth interview with him — probably saw it coming. And those of us who didn't, but who knew his music, weren't very much surprised: anxiety and paranoia and sheer undiluted fear run through so many of his songs, and even his last chart item, a cover of Phil Phillips' "Sea of Love" (Network 47951, 1982), makes you wonder if maybe he wasn't contemplating a mutual drowning pact.

And then there's his production of Brian Hyland's 1970 remake of Curtis Mayfield's "Gypsy Woman" (Uni 55240). While the Impressions' original is full of castanets and campfires and soft kisses on the wind, Del, through Brian, goes straight for the hopelessness angle: the tempo is stolid and unyielding, the middle-eight is a veritable death march, and Brian, a better singer than most of us polka-dot bikini fans gave him credit for, sounds actually scared on "how she enchanted me".

Historians, of course, will note that Del was the first to cover a Beatles song stateside ("From Me to You," issued on Big Top 3152 in June 1963, charted at #77, thirty-nine points higher than the Fab Four's own version on Vee Jay 522 the next month with full-fledged Beatlemania still half a year away), that he made an early foray into country music (recording a version of Roger Miller's "Fair Swiss Maiden," retitled "The Swiss Maid," which did so-so in the States but became an enormous British hit), and that he gave "I Go to Pieces" to Peter and Gordon (though the Searchers, to whom it was originally pitched, gave it a pass).

But when I think of Del Shannon, I think of my not-quite-eight-year-old self, a kid in the projects who had only just gotten his very first radio (it came with a long cord, one end of which you could stick into your ear, and the other end you couldn't stick anywhere because it was bent), who, after the end of CSC Concert Hall one night, pushed the dial a few kilocycles to the left and heard:

I'm walking in the rain
Tears are falling and I feel a pain
Wishing you were here by me
To end this misery
And I wonder
I wa-wa-wa-wa-wonder...

It took me twenty years to unravel that second line, but that didn't matter. (Who knows the actual lyrics to "Louie, Louie," anyway?) That odd chord progression, that wailing voice, and that weird proto-synthesizer thing in the middle were literally my introduction to pop-rock, my ticket out of my parents' little corner of Mitch Miller-land that day in 1961. And if my musical tastes developed at odd angles after that, well, how surprised should you be?

Del Shannon's last LP during his lifetime was called Drop Down and Get Me. In any reasonable world, we'd have had to reach up.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:46 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Oh, shut up, Tom

Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) comes up with another zinger:

I thought I would just share with you what science says today about silicone breast implants. If you have them, you're healthier than if you don't. That is what the ultimate science shows.... In fact, there's no science that shows that silicone breast implants are detrimental and, in fact, they make you healthier.

Geez, you think he's looking for a new revenue source or something?

Tell you what, Tommy boy: you get the implants, and we'll watch. At a safe distance.

(Via Choire Sicha, filling in for Wonkette.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:14 PM to Soonerland )
9 February 2005
The Scottish post

It's the 1000th anniversary of the birth of Macbeth, and Scotsmen of an historical bent have persuaded Edinburgh to try to rehabilitate the onetime Scottish king's reputation, now torn and tattered no thanks to that nasty Englishman Shakespeare.

Well, yes, he did kill Duncan, but it was a semi-honorable defeat on the field of battle, not an assassination in the, um, dead of night, and anyway, this was how the throne of Scotland changed hands in those days.

I haven't seen Raphael Holinshead's Chronicles, which appeared in 1577 and which Shakespeare routinely mined for historical bits, but apparently one of Holinshead's personages, good old Macduff, from his mother's womb untimely ripp'd, was a purely fictional character, and Macbeth was in fact dispatched by Malcolm himself in 1057 after seventeen not-especially-sleepless years on the throne.

(Via Foxhound News: we reporteth, thou decideth The Glittering Eye.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:34 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Some of that spring runoff

No winner in the Oklahoma City School Board District 2 race, as nobody got a majority. If there was any concerted effort to get out the social-conservative vote, it fizzled: only 1159 ballots were cast, the usual dismal numbers for a school-board election.

Gail Vines, the front-runner, and Gary Walker, the putative Great Republican Hope, will meet in a runoff in April.

The 125th

An eighth of the way to a thousand — and who could have foreseen it?

Surely not Bigwig, who invented the Carnival of the Vanities 125 weeks ago. But here it is just the same, hosted by Coyote Blog, your weekly compendium of blogaliciousness in a handy single-page format.

(Bigwig probably would have frowned on a nonce word like "blogaliciousness," too, but everyone's children go somewhere astray at some point.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:27 AM to Blogorrhea )
Unmitigated Galt

My first encounter with Ayn Rand and friends was when I was a high-school kid in South Carolina. The oddest aspect of it, now that I think about it, was that the Randians would make their semi-extensive outreach facilities open to us kids in parochial schools; it's like Henry Ford stocking Chrysler parts, just in case.

Still, enough of it stuck with me to elicit a few laughs at The 25 Most Inappropriate Things An Objectivist Can Say During Sex.

(Via Hit & Run, and probably not safe for work.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:56 PM to Dyssynergy )
Mistakes were made

R. Alex Whitlock lists ten mistakes made by bloggers. Let's see how many of them we can find right here at dustbury.com:

  1.  Only link to what we've already read and only say what we've already heard. I wouldn't say I never do this, but I try not to bring up a topic unless I actually have something to say about it. On the other hand, if I tell you to go somewhere now and read, it's probably something of Bill Whittle's, in which case you already have and good for you, or you haven't yet and what's taking you so long?

  2.  False modesty. But I have so much to be modest about!

  3.  Clearing the archives. I think I've deleted half a dozen pages in nine years, none of which were part of the daily bloggage. (I did once have a message board, now defunct, but it got little-enough use that I'd say nothing in it has been missed.)

  4.  Become overly concern[ed] with blogging "rules." There are really only three rules: TrackBacks should not be sent unless there's an actual link involved, Glenn Reynolds doesn't need the linkage, and Oliver Willis hasn't earned the linkage.

  5.  Fail to follow basic punctuation rules. Not an issue. On this. Site.

  6.  Substitute slang for ideas. Not an issue. If I substitute anything for ideas, it's bombast.

  7.  Fail to take advantage of 95% of the blogosphere. Yeah, but which 95 percent?

  8.  Become a one-note charlie. I don't think that's a problem around here. By the way, ballot access in this state blows, and I haven't linked to anything of Susanna's in days.

  9.  Decline to put up an "about the author" link. Not that anyone needs to click on this.

10.  Decline to participate in their own comments section. I haven't run an exact count, but I suspect that of the 7800 comments posted so far, at least a quarter (this would be 1950) were from me, and it could be as much as a third.

Based on these criteria, I believe this site rates "Could Be Suckier."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:26 PM to Blogorrhea )
10 February 2005
Bling it on

Hip-hop is a business, in case you hadn't noticed. In the Oklahoma Gazette this week, Preston Jones talks to Terry Monday, program director and host of Friday's "Unsigned Hype" on KVSP-FM, and, says Monday, a lot of the wannabes haven't noticed either:

[They] see the glamorous side on television and the platinum chains, big cars and women and all that stuff and they want it now.

Not so easy as that, though:

I would say that the key ingredient to be a successful hip-hop artist is to understand that this is a business, to do your research... You live and die by marketing.

This is no doubt true of other musical genres as well, but rappers, at least in stereotype, have the most, um, conspicuous consumption.

Putting this crap to work

The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has reported that three biomass-processing firms are contemplating facilities in Soonerland.

The companies were not named. One is apparently is targeting slaughterhouse wastes; another is interested in more general livestock waste; a third seeks to recover natural gas from landfill.

Inasmuch as we're not likely to run out of any of this stuff any time soon, I've got to assume that these biomass firms are coming in for a long stay, and, well, we're talking alternative energy here, which is generally considered to be a Good Thing.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:10 AM to Family Joules )
Skating over the poverty line

The discussion was about a proposed new notebook computer aimed at the $100 price point, but Ravenwood found this notion lurking in the back somewhere:

Far be it for me to stand in the way of someone trying to build a cheaper computer. But it occurs to me that the standard of "poor" has changed radically over the years. Especially when someone can still own a house, have cable TV, give their kids $200 sneakers, and now purchase a laptop, and still be called "poor".

All in how you define your priorities. I mean, God forbid someone should have to cancel HBO because of dental work or something, right?

Actually, I am disinclined to blame the actual "poor" persons, except in blatant instances of malfeasance; the fault, in general, lies with those individuals who have built their careers on the notion that if everyone doesn't get to spend each and every Sunday in status-symbol land, it's a symptom of deep, dark inequities in the system, which only government action can ameliorate.

(Disclosure: I once paid $105 for a pair of sneakers.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:32 PM to Dyssynergy )
Previous experience discouraged

Found at Gawker:

From the Mediabistro job listings:

FOX News Channel, a fast-paced 24-hour television news operation in New York City, is seeking a Fact Writer for its information center.

Sometimes the jokes just write themselves.

I'm guessing that what they're looking for is someone to hack together the "FOX Facts" that crawl under the usual panoply of talking heads, in which case the most salient qualification would be the ability to say damned near nothing in very few words.

Which, alas, lets me out. ("Very few words" is not my most effective mode.) Not that I have any compelling reason to go to New York.

Besides that, I mean.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:36 PM to Dyssynergy )
A fairly Gurley approach

This makes two Gawker references in a single day. I expect Nick Denton, Lord of Darkness, will eventually demand tribute.

In the meantime, there's this:

In this week's New York Observer, George Gurley jilts longtime love Ann Coulter for his new dream girl, our old pal Dawn Eden. Reporting on the brouhaha over Eden's firing from The New York Post, Gurley positively swoons.

I thought this was amusing enough to work up a response, left it up for about ninety seconds, then decided that maybe it wasn't. I reformatted it and stuck it up in a Test directory, then passed the link to Dawn herself to gauge her response.

To my amazement, she linked to it.

Now, of course, it's an Official Item, and I can't very well take it down. On the other hand, it doesn't really belong in the Test directory. So I've copied it to the Writings area, where it can be found here; eventually, I'll roll the first one over to the second and no one (save SiteMeter) need be the wiser.

And George? Would it make any difference if I said I saw her first? (I didn't think so.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:03 PM to Blogorrhea )
11 February 2005
Low finance

Mergers in the credit-card industry have left the top ten issuers with 84 percent of the market.

I don't know whether this necessarily spells a deterioration in service: I currently have accounts with three of the top ten, and have no particular problems. One characteristic I value highly is the willingness to listen to whatever bee I may have in my bonnet that day and yet not blow me off; each of my favored issuers has been tested by me and found to be at least somewhat amenable to persuasion.

Unlike number three on the list, with whom I have no experience, and who, says Erica, deserves a hearty round of Number Two.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:34 AM to Common Cents )
General disorganization

Mike at Okiedoke has a thoughtful piece on the decline in union membership in Oklahoma, now down to 86,000 or so. Losses in manufacturing jobs and the state's right-to-work law are the usual suspects, though the state government does its part: the recent appointment of the ever-surly Patrick B. McGuigan, former editorial-page editor of The Oklahoman, to a deputy Labor Commissioner position, would seem to bespeak hostility toward working folks. (McGuigan, quips Mike, is to worker rights what Michael Jackson is to children, a comparison I hope is purely superficial.)

I've carried a union card; I've carried a picket sign or two in my day. There's a lot of that old labor vs. management distrust still out there today. But I can't help wonder if maybe the union as we know it is the wrong vessel for change, especially when they keep coming up with stuff like this:

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) national secretary Doug Cameron said production line jobs were tough on some women during their monthly cycle and their problems should be recognized with a day's menstrual leave every month.

Which, were I running a production line, would strongly suggest that I run it with men just to gain that 3-percent added efficiency.

(With thanks to Ravenwood's Universe.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to Soonerland )
Democrats pitch an ethics fit

House Democratic leaders want Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK 4) off the Ethics Committee, apparently because Cole kicked in five grand to Tom DeLay's legal-defense fund.

In a letter to House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer asked that Cole and Lamar Smith (R-TX), also a contributor to DeLay's fund, not be appointed to the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct.

From the Pelosi-Hoyer letter:

Further inquiries into Mr. DeLay's conduct can be expected; having given money to help defend Mr. DeLay against these precise allegations, Mr. Smith and Mr. Cole should not now sit in judgment of him. While Mr. Smith and Mr. Cole may argue that their contributions will not prejudice their decisions — and we have no reason to doubt their intent to act properly — the perception of many of their colleagues and of the public will be otherwise.

Cole has claimed that Hastert knew about the donation before he started handing out committee assignments.

This would ordinarily be a "Aw, blow it out yer knickers, Nancy" sort of deal, but the ongoing ties to DeLay, who very likely will face more questioning of his ethics, suggest that it might be useful for House Republicans to shuffle the committee assignments once more, if only to sidetrack Democratic sniping.

Infect the dots

"I keep seeing these spots before my eyes."

"Have you seen a doctor?"

"So far, no. Just spots."

I remember very little about my one bout with the measles, back in the early 1960s, except that, as attacks on one's person go, it couldn't really be characterized as "measly": this was full on, flat out, balls to the wall.

Fortunately, I turned up no photos of my measled self, which, as I recall, resembled an overripe persimmon, a remarkable observation coming from someone who at that point in his life had never so much as seen a persimmon. Pomegranates, maybe. On the other hand, the pomegranate is the wrong shade of off-red, and then there are those yecchy seeds, consumption of which will land you in the underworld.

This condition passed, although the facial lesions seemed to linger a few days longer than the other symptoms. Just as well, I reasoned, since I couldn't see them from my side of the face. (I avoided mirrors even then.)

Now one should not make light of childhood diseases, as they can manifest themselves later as far nastier adult ailments. On the other hand, it was either this or write about my dunk in the cesspool, which I figure no one wants to hear about.

(Per assignment.)

Low-tech hacking

Our esteemed health-insurance provider, CFI Care (not its real initials), has been pestering me for weeks to sign up for some third-party "disease-management program," and their HQ in deepest [location redacted] calls about three times every two weeks. When I don't respond, CFI sends a letter to scold me, then the cycle repeats.

I was expecting the regular scolding in this week's mail, but instead got a security advisory. It seems that the aforementioned third party had had a security breach which may have jeopardized my personal information, had I bothered to send them any. The nature of this breach?

[A]n unauthorized person accessed secured office space in [firm name redacted] headquarters and stole a computer from an employee's desktop.

No Trojans, no keystroke recorders, no secret mirrors in Estonia: some guy just went in and hoisted a PC off someone's desk.

Yeah, I want these people to have all my medical records at their disposal, don't I?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:56 PM to PEBKAC )
12 February 2005
That all may be protected

Remember this?

If it saves just one life, it's worth it.

The Second Amendment Foundation carries this to its logical conclusion:

The Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) today called upon the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to "take an important step for public safety" and close the Golden Gate Bridge, which has been a popular suicide platform for more than 65 years.

"Several city supervisors want to ban handguns in San Francisco on the mere presumption that such a law would prevent crimes, accidents and suicides," said SAF Founder Alan M. Gottlieb. "Well, it is an absolute certainty that closing the bridge would prevent suicides, and perhaps many accidents, as well. And just for the sake of argument, one seriously might question whether any of the more than 1,300 fatal falls from the bridge since 1937 were cleverly-concealed homicides."

And it gets better:

"Social do-gooders have gone on the warpath repeatedly against firearms for the most tenuous of reasons," Gottlieb stated. "The Golden Gate Bridge is a proven killer, and media fascination with jumpers is sickening. It has inspired hundreds of people to end their lives. Anyone can simply walk out there and jump, or be pushed. There are no barriers, no waiting in line, and there is nobody assigned to the bridge who can check the mental and emotional history of bridge visitors. It's far easier to walk out on the bridge and jump to your death than it is to purchase a firearm in California. At least when a person buys a gun, he or she must complete a background check and endure a waiting period. But nobody screens possible Golden Gate jumpers. Unlike a gun, you can't even use the bridge to defend yourself against a criminal.

"The only way to prevent future tragedies,'' Gottlieb said, "is to close the bridge. We need to stop the growing body count. It's up to the Board of Supervisors to act, and they should do it immediately. If it saves just one life, closing the Golden Gate Bridge is the right thing to do."

As Geoffrey notes, "Guns don't kill people. Bridges do."

More of the costs of Warr

The city council of Warr Acres, as predicted here last month, will consider calling an election for a 1-cent sales-tax increase at its meeting next Tuesday.

The council is considering basically the same package recommended to them by a city commission: 0.5 percent as a permanent increase, and 0.5 to expire after five years, to be routed to a trust fund for future improvements and/or emergencies. (I had predicted 0.75 percent total, two-thirds to the trust fund.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:42 AM to City Scene )
Somewhere between Us and Them

Let's say Bob and Tom, about the same age, work together at the same place, making the same amount of money. Personal accounts for Social Security are introduced; Bob takes one particular basket of options, and Tom takes another.

Jump forward X number of years (but let's keep the dollar constant for the sake of argument), and Bob is retiring on, let's say, $3200 a month, Tom on $2150. If a right-winger is moved to say anything here, he'll probably congratulate Bob on his astute investments; a leftist might point out how these personal accounts were a bad idea in the first place — why, look at the inequality of the system! — and might even think about suggesting Tom sue the government.

This is obviously not the only disconnect between the two sides, but it's one I find particularly disturbing.

Then I turned up this at The Shape of Days:

I do find it pretty interesting... to compare the way the blogosphere responded to Eason Jordan with the way it responded to Jeff Gannon. The blogs, mostly conservative, that attacked Eason Jordan did so based on what he said in Davos. The blogs, mostly liberal, that attacked Jeff Gannon went dumpster-diving until they found a tenuous connection between Gannon and some filthy Internet domain names. Not sites, mind you, just names. They then pimped (if you'll pardon the expression) that angle of the story until they got the attention they wanted, as Markos "Screw Them" Zuniga gleefully admitted to Howard Kurtz.

While I'm not exactly proud of my blogging brothers and sisters for making a mountain out of what I still think was essentially a molehill, I am immensely proud of them for being professional about it. The contrast between the right and the left is rarely as stark as it is in this case.

And Ace adds:

What I'm making fun of is the grossly disproportionate glee of the left finally getting a "scalp" — a scalp belonging to, no offense, a rather obscure and newish reporter working for a virtually-unknown on-line media company.

And then dancing around with that scalp as if they've pretty much tied the scoreboard, cancelling out Rather and Jordan.

Don't be mean, Ace. The left hasn't had a lot to cheer about this century.

On second thought, go ahead. It's not like you're ever going to be lacking for material.

Say hello to Craig

It's not even listed yet on any of the other local versions, but yes, craigslist is now open in Oklahoma City.

Matt Deatherage noticed it before I did.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:08 AM to City Scene )
Saturday spottings (reconstruction)

It's not every day a McDonald's is torn down, and it's a shock to see the vacant lot at NW 67th and May. A bigger and badder Mickey D's is promised for this space, but it's not so big a space to begin with, so something, either facilities or parking, is going to take a hit.

Speaking of shocks, they're taking a hit if you drive anywhere on May these days: the late-winter pothole season has produced some impressive blossoms, ready to take a chunk out of those overpriced rims you bought last year.

And still on May, doing the grocery-shopping thing this afternoon, I watched a puzzled woman scanning shelf after shelf for some arcane item or other. "They always hide the one you really want," I said.

"I know. And this has to be special. Valentine's Day, you know."

"I hope he appreciates all this," I said.

"He'd better," she replied. "Because he's getting dumped right after."

Nothing like, um, softening up the blow, so to speak.

Meanwhile, something unexpected (at least by me) is planned for the new Oklahoma History Center going in near the Capitol: a reconstruction of the lunch counter at the downtown Katz Drug Store, the site of Clara Luper's sit-in back in 1958, the first blow struck against segregated eateries in Oklahoma City. (The store itself is long gone, courtesy of urban renewal.) This is an important chapter in the national civil-rights story, and it's good to see it getting the attention it deserves.

Sign on a marquee near May and Grand: "SUNDAY SERVICES START AT 9." A church? Nope: a tire store.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:56 PM to City Scene )
Thou shalt not talk back

Greg Hlatky gets an actual piece of hate mail, and it's about, of all things, his lack of comments:

Why is it that almost every rt. wing blog I visit has no comments areas? Is it because none of you can stand anyone questioning your statements or is it because all of you are self-centered ego trippers that don't give a flying fuck about anyone else's opinions? Or maybe it's because all of you are modeling yourselves like your tin GOD GW Bu$h who also doesn't seem to like anyone questioning his statements or judgment? Or maybe it's because your all so fucking smart you think there's no way you could have it wrong? In any case I find it marginally interesting that you all live in your own little intellectual ghettos. Do the rest of us a favor stay in them.

Signed by one "U. R. Pathetic," who presumably comes from a long Pathetic line himself.

Though this is not technically a "rt. wing" blog, I tend to lean toward the "self-centered ego-tripper" archetype myself. I figure anyone who hasn't figured this out by now is too dumb to read this site, and has gone on to pastures more regularly fertilized.

God help this little troll should he run into someone with less patience than I.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:19 PM to Blogorrhea )
13 February 2005
The return of Aldahlia

See? Sometimes they do come back from "hiatus."

I did like these paragraphs in her opening statement:

I believe in truth and fairness. I believe that if a corporation is going to be considered a "person" under the law, then it should damn well show some "personal responsibility."

I belive in virtue. Not values. Value indicate numeric worth — it's quantitative language — it's perfect for the kind of person that praises Jesus and votes Caesar. We are not numbers. Despite all efforts by the government, the corporate world, and the television to turn us into just that. And, despite the efforts of those Americans among us that seek to hand over all power to those entities.

Historically, she's always had something interesting to say, and I'm happy to see her back at her soapbox.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:35 AM to Blogorrhea )
Party all the time

Me, on the recent school-board election:

I do, however, take a dim view of the GOP's failure to comprehend the meaning of a "nonpartisan" ballot.

The Oklahoman, in an editorial last month, characterized this sort of thing as "improper etiquette," thereby condemning the practice while suggesting that its infringement is among the more minor of peccadillos.

This morning in an op-ed, five former Oklahoma City mayors expand on this premise:

All of us are proud of our city's great progress. We believe it is because the people of Oklahoma City — Democrats, Republicans and independents — have been willing to work together. Certainly, there is a place for partisan politics, but it is not at City Hall.

Partisan politics and city government don't mix. The city provides basic services. Police and fire protection, water and sewer service and streets know no political affiliation. As longtime New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia famously said, "There is no partisan — Democratic or Republican — way to fill a pothole."

The philosophical differences that separate Republicans and Democrats rarely affect the decisions made to provide the fundamental services of the city.

And the bottom line, as they see it:

We are very proud to have been a part of all this progress and we are deeply concerned about a disturbing trend that threatens to stop it.

The men and women who settled our city had the wisdom to understand party affiliation has nothing to do with city government. That's why our city charter prohibits candidates from using a party label.

We encourage candidates for city office and leaders of political parties at every level to refrain from interjecting partisan politics into city elections, as any such attempt will be nothing but destructive.

Signing off on the piece were Jim and Ron Norick, Patience Latting, Andy Coats and Kirk Humphreys. I think it would have carried more weight had current Mayor Mick Cornett added his name to the list; then again, Cornett, having been the beneficiary of exactly such actions to support his election, might not be in the best position to disavow them.

My opinion is as it was: if these are to be made partisan elections, it's fine with me, but if they're supposed to be nonpartisan, then the parties need to keep their noses out of the proceedings. Period.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:13 AM to City Scene )
We will bury you, if we can borrow a shovel

"Hey, everybody, we've got nukes!" sings the Dear Leader, or someone under his Glorious Thumb.

Phelps isn't buying:

I'll tell you why — they haven't tested it.

An untested weapon is suicide to deploy against the enemy. If they haven't tested it, it is because they don't have it. What is the downside of testing? Once you have tested, you are in the club. There isn't any doubt about whether or not you are a nuclear power, and once you are, the rules change. If you are just talking about having nukes and not testing them, then you are wasting your time.

Anyone that can make one bomb can make two. The value of the second bomb goes up by several magnitudes as soon as the first one blows up. Until the design is proven, all they are is expensive radioactive hunks of metal.

This suggests a dialogue of sorts:

DPRK: You can no longer ignore us, for we have nukes.

GWB: Did you hear something?

DPRK: I said, "You can no longer ignore us, for we have nukes."

GWB: No, you don't.

DPRK: Yes, we do.

GWB: No, you don't. You don't even have lawn mowers, fercrissake. You think we're gonna believe you have nucular weapons? Not a chance, Kimbo.

DPRK: We will not be treated in this manner!

GWB: Just watch.

Diplomatic considerations might preclude this actual interchange, but at the moment, I'd bet on Dubya's poker-playing ability.

(Procured through the Fire Ant Gazette.)

Your basic high-interest product

In Britain, they're called "doorstep lenders," but we have them here too: loan offices which specialize in lending to persons of questionable or nonexistent credit. More mainstream lenders tend to look down their noses at these competitors, and there is constant negative attention from opponents of such schemes.

Up to now, most such lenders have handed over cash through storefronts: there have been subprime credit cards, but so far issuers of plastic haven't approached the astonishing annual percentage rates typical of a cash-advance place. This is apparently about to change, at least in Britain, where Provident Financial, a large doorstep lender, has opened up a subsidiary called Vanquis Bank, whose purpose is to issue Visa cards at 49.9 percent or even higher rates. Few American card issuers venture beyond 30 percent.

With limits starting around the £150 range, the Vanquis Visa could be considered a comparatively-inexpensive alternative to the storefront lenders, but Her Majesty's Government is of course incensed that anyone could even think of such a thing.

Provident is already offering a Visa-branded card that allows access to payday-loan proceeds via ATM.

(Via The World Wide Rant.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:11 PM to Common Cents )
14 February 2005
Total number of Valentines received

Zero One, maybe.

Not that I'm surprised or anything.

(And while we're on the subject, allow me to point to my Sixties-obsessed Valentine's Day Mix Tape, 25 songs guaranteed to — well, nothing, actually.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:45 AM to Table for One )
Love and pain and the whole damned thing

Dawn Eden, recently a topic in the New York Post's infamous Page Six, strikes back on behalf of rather a lot of us:

It's things like that which make one realize there are really two universes: The Mainstream Media and Everyone Else.

The mainstream media forces Valentine's Day down our throats, stating quite clearly that unless a single woman has a hot date on this very day of the calendar, she is a pathetic, unattractive git.

In truth, anyone who knows anything about love knows that there is no guarantee that one will meet the right person at any given point in one's life. One may wish to just fool around in the meantime, but Page Six itself shows on a daily basis the toll of such hedonism, spelled out in bitchiness, superficiality, and backbiting, not to mention abortion and sexually transmitted disease.

Thankfully, there is another way, and — unless your name is Richard Johnson — chances are I don't have to tell you what it is. There are men and women reading this who are dateless today not because they're undesirable, but because they are too wise, deep, and principled to settle for something superficial. Here's to you this Valentine's Day. My heart goes out to you.

Richard Johnson, a name so fraught with phallacy that you'd think it almost has to be a pseudonym, is the editor of Page Six.

(Oh, and if the Post link breaks, as I have a feeling it might, let me know. I have a screenshot.)

(Update, 1:30 pm: Would you believe the Post ran the same piece again, with no substantive changes?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:25 AM to Table for One )
Tomorrow's out of sight

Sammi Smith, who rode Kris Kristofferson's "Help Me Make It Through The Night" to high on the country and pop charts in 1971, has died in Oklahoma City.

Jewel Fay Smith was born in Orange County, California in 1943; she dropped out of school early and began singing professionally. Her first record of note was "So Long, Charlie Brown, Don't Look For Me Around" for Columbia in 1968. Occasional collaborator Waylon Jennings dubbed her "Girl Hero"; she continued to appear on the country charts through 1986.

(Courtesy of Phillip Coons.)

The herd thins further

In yet another telecommunications merger, Verizon is buying MCI for $6.7 million, beating out a bid by rival Baby Bell Qwest Communications.

From the Department of Plus ça change:

"Together with the acquisition of AT&T by SBC, the U.S. fixed market has now been completely reshaped," says Julian Hewett, chief analyst of analyst firm Ovum. "With the wonderful perspective of hindsight, the competitive industry structure imposed by the enforced break-up of AT&T in 1984 can be seen as a failure. This break-up split off of the regional telephone companies. . . from the long-distance operator [AT&T]. Everything has changed: in those days, all the profit was in long-distance; today, the profit is in local access. The power has moved back to the Baby Bells, and the separation of local access and long-distance has disappeared."

Dinosaurs don't have wagons. If they did, they'd be arranging them in a circle right about now.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:59 AM to Dyssynergy )
It's just a videogame

Um, well, no, really it isn't.

JSC Speed has introduced something called the TurboXS DTEC, which takes one ordinary Nintendo Game Boy Advance (not included) and turns it into an actual automotive-diagnostic device. The various modules allow you to read turbo boost, exhaust temperature, intake air temperature, and RPMs; future modules will include detonation sensors and skidpad readings in g.

It won't read OBD II diagnostics, at least not yet, which means that there are still going to be the usual too-cheap-to-buy-a-manual knobs knocking on my mailbox asking how to pull the codes on their freaking '96 Mazdas, but you can't have everything.

(Via Kotaku.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:17 PM to Driver's Seat )
File under Faux Femmes

You know, this used to be done a lot better in the Good Old Days.

And I should know.

(Tip o' the hair-net to McGehee.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:29 PM to Blogorrhea )
15 February 2005
With an eye toward the future

Fond as I am of Movable Type 2.64, it's not really a viable blog platform anymore: its spam repellents are inadequate without a phalanx of plug-ins, and as this database gets larger — it's over 10 mb now — it takes longer to accomplish anything that requires a rebuild (which is almost anything).

MT 3.15 permits dynamic pages with PHP, which would presumably require me to learn a smattering of PHP, but nothing I'd consider particularly heinous. This is probably the simplest upgrade path: I've done three MT upgrades before, so it's not something that scares me.

Still, I'm wondering about the competition. If you use something else, please tell me why you think it's better than MT. My major considerations are ease of importation, since I have almost 4000 entries to move, and spam resistance. (Price is really not a consideration; I'm willing to spend what I need to, though the cheapest is likely WordPress, which my host already offers as a freebie.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:04 AM to Blogorrhea )
A World of their own

It was always thus: you read The Tulsa Tribune for news, and the Tulsa World for, um, well, no one really knows why anyone read the Tulsa World. But there were two papers, operating under one of those Joint Operating Agreements, and all was well with the world — or with the World, anyway, which shut down the JOA in 1992 and acquired monopoly status.

Editorially, the Tribune was farther right than the World, but the problem, from the World's point of view, wasn't the Tribune's politics: it was the fact that the Tribune was in a position to keep an eye on the Lorton family's wheelings and dealings, not all of which made it into their paper.

And the Lortons still don't like attention being drawn to their back-door deals, in any way, shape, size or form. When their slate of Tulsa City Council candidates didn't do well enough to secure a pro-Lorton majority, the World began attacks on two of their opponents, and World associates put together a recall petition against them, which alleges no wrongdoing, only that they vote the "wrong way."

The World's latest scheme is to fume at bloggers. Both Chris Medlock, a Councilman who opposes the World's agenda, and Michael Bates, a community activist who has been covering the opposition, have received nasty letters from a World vice-president threatening them with copyright-infringement suits for quoting World articles and linking to the World's Web site. This sort of thing would be laughed out of any courtroom in the country, which undoubtedly is why the threats came from a World officer and not from its legal team. (What'll you bet that the World board actually called in the lawyers, and were told flatly that they had no case?)

If it weren't so pathetic, it would almost be tragic. There are many cities like Tulsa, where a favored few seek to maximize their profits at the expense of everyone else; what makes Tulsa different is the World, which evidently would rather be a conspirator than a crusader. The people of Tulsa are the poorer for it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:41 AM to Soonerland )
Light, meet bushel

I was kind of hoping no one noticed, but no such luck.

Anyway, the MSM came calling at Surlywood, and shot about an hour and a half of video (on a good ol' Betacam) of yours truly acting in a bloggish manner; some small fraction of the footage wound up on the KWTV Morning Show today. Mercifully, they haven't made the video stream available on their Web site.

I have been warned that further snippets may show up in Part 3 of this series, which airs Thursday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:09 AM to Blogorrhea )
The field narrows

Not that I ever had a shot at her or anything, but Jacqueline Passey is swearing off guys until she finishes school. Inasmuch as study requires concentration, and dating borders on being the antithesis of concentration, I don't blame her in the least.

Meanwhile, closer to home, one of the hotties in the adjacent office showed up today sporting a strip of gold alloy with a large crystalline mineral mounted thereupon, excusing her from further participation in the dating game. And really, it's about time: it's always seemed implausible to me that someone hadn't snapped her up by now. Not that I ever had a shot at her or anything.

Fortunately for the likes of me, Valentine's Day is a good 364 days away.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:46 PM to Table for One )
It's so crowded, nobody goes there anymore

Those who follow my World Tour reports will note that I do a fairly respectable job of avoiding the usual tourist destinations. (I mean, three days in South Dakota without either Rushmore or Sturgis? Heresy!) Matt Rosenberg would probably applaud:

I hate it, just hate it, when folks come to a new city, and waste their time schlepping around to all the predictable tourist traps. You see well-heeled yokels doing this all the time in Seattle. At Pike Place Market (gawking at the fish flingers, having dumb conversations with fish merchants about shipping one crab and a piece of salmon 2,500 miles in a chilled box, and generally getting in my way as I try to shop); at the Space Needle; and finally, falling for the downtown hotel concierge's ultimate and utterly predictable "local flavor" gambit — riding the ferry to quaint little downtown Winslow on Bainbridge Island. Paint-by-the-numbers, all the way. And so a whole class of visitors manage to have "been" to Seattle without having actually BEEN here.

Okay, I did schlep Dawn Eden through Bricktown that one time. But it was on the way, and it's not like the place was full of locals or anything.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:08 PM to City Scene )
Nor is it Guthrie, these days

Dear Howard Kurtz:

Tulsa is not the capital of Oklahoma.

Sincerely,

C. G. Hill
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (which is)

(prompted by Michael Bates)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:18 PM to Outgoing Mail )
16 February 2005
And it's not even open yet

Rose Union Elementary School will be the name of the new grade school in the Deer Creek district in far northwest Oklahoma County, and the board has already announced that it's going to be overcrowded the moment it's built.

The new school, to be located on NW 220th east of MacArthur, is well away from the two other grade schools in Deer Creek, but student population is growing at more than 10 percent a year. (Current student counts are here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:36 AM to City Scene )
Riding that train

As reported by KOKC radio, transcribed by The Downtown Guy:

Oklahoma City's Amtrak service is in jeopardy of ending by September.

Ward 7 Councilwoman Willa Johnson applauds an agreement to provide security at the Bricktown train station. But Mayor Mick Cornett says the federal government doesn't appear to be interested in keeping the train service to Fort Worth going so the state legislature needs to financially help keep the affordable transportation. Mayor Cornett estimates the cost of keeping Amtrak alive to be about 3 million dollars for the fiscal year.

The Heartland Flyer is the state's only railroad passenger service. And it's been getting more riders lately; during the fourth quarter of 2004, 14,062 riders took the train, up 27 percent from the fourth quarter of 2003. The track itself is getting some much-needed upgrades this spring.

Even with the additional riders, this route, like most Amtrak routes outside the BosWash corridor, is losing money, and there's always the question of whether the government should subsidize this sort of thing at all. Right now, though, I'm not going to gripe much if the state does kick in $3 million to support the train, which is admittedly a triumph of "Wow, cool" over cold sober reflection. Some days I do that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to City Scene )
126

Has it been a week already? Of course it has. The 126th edition of Carnival of the Vanities is available for your perusal at Soccer Dad.

And remember: no hands!

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:37 AM to Blogorrhea )
The banned wagon

At 50 Books, Doppelganger describes the motivation behind book-banning:

I like secrets. I like to have secrets. I like to think that other people have secrets. Many of the most interesting secrets — mine and other people's — are dark. They're unpleasant. They're ugly. Even if these secrets have never played out into action, and will never play out into action, the fact that they exist as mere thoughts frightens some people. But sometimes these secret thoughts do play out... in novels. And these novels — and the secret thoughts they represent — terrify some people. And these people think that by eliminating the outlets for these dark, secret thoughts, they're elimating the thoughts themselves.

Given all that, this is what offends me about banning books: it's my soul-chilling belief that, if these people had their way, they wouldn't stop at just outlawing and destroying books. If they had the means, and if they thought they could get away with it, they would bore into my head and take my secrets away from me.

Emphasis in the original.

And don't forget: it's for your own good. It always is. If you don't believe it, just ask them.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:56 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Lorton hears a Huh

The Tulsa World apparently still has nastygrams to dispatch: they sent one to the Tulsa Now bulletin board.

Discussion of same is here.

(Via Tulsa Topics.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:32 PM to Soonerland )
From the Department of Serendipity

A question I asked last fall about this corner of town:

[W]hat happened to the original settlers? A 1907 township map shows everything owned, if not necessarily platted, as far north as Wilshire Boulevard. (Townships were six miles square; the boundaries were Wilshire and Reno on the north and south, and May and Bryant on the west and east.) This quarter-section was owned, says the map, by one Halvor Steanson, for whom Steanson Drive (2800 block West, through this neighborhood only) is presumably named; in 1925, Steanson was still listed in the city directory as a farmer, located around NW 45th and May.

One of my resolutions for the new year, so to speak, was to answer that question. Fortunately for me, someone else spotted it first. A Steanson, yet.

Steanson B. Parks reports from Dallas:

Halvor Steanson was my great grandfather. He and his wife came with their family from Norway, entered the USA at Ellis Island, some stayed in Brooklyn, and their group came onto Kansas and ultimately on down to OKC in the late 1880's. They originally settled in a "mud hut one room home" up around the WKY radio/tv antennas (I believe above 63rd and May). However, they did not have any water there and had to fetch water via walking or horseback. I'm told by my grandmother (my father's mother) that they then traded their land for about 40 acres down around 48th and May (one block east of May) where the current Steanson street is located, and runs about four or five blocks. At the base of the street was a pond/creek and that is where they moved the prairie porch-style house that they had built to replace the original mud hut home up north. They lived a good life, and eventually built a new brick home (I think in about 1948 or so). My great aunts Julie and Kate lived for many years in that home. Their older sister Chris, lived to be 103 years of age. They were all three school teachers, and Chris, the oldest taught at Capitol [Hill] High, south of OKC, and the two younger sisters taught at Edgemere (spelling?) down around 15th Street as I recall. My grandmother, Jennie Harriet Steanson, married M.B. Parks, settled in Muskogee, Oklahoma and raised her family there. My father Elmer B. Parks was named after my grandmother's younger brother, Elmer Steanson, who lived/worked in OKC for many years and was with Southwestern Bell Telephone. The old original wooden, two story prairie porch style home was later on cut into pieces and moved over to the Lincoln Ext. area somewhere, where I understand a landman in the oil and gas business currently lives.

You gotta love this Internet stuff. And 1948, you'll remember, was right at the beginning of this neighborhood.

Thank you, SBP. We can always use a little more history.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:28 PM to City Scene , Surlywood )
17 February 2005
A Capitol Hill story

John Hendrickson writes in with a tale from the southside:

My name is John D. Hendrickson and grew up as did my Mother in Capitol Hill. I spent ten years in Norman and then returned after my divorce. The Hendricksons, Guytons, Householders and Winkleman families have been in the Hill since the '20's and maybe even before. We are proud people who have been citizens of Capitol Hill first and foremost rather than Oklahoma City citizens. How the "Reno" split came about we will probably never know for sure. But it is still there for many of us. When I was growing up and even into my thirties we never went North of Reno, excluding downtown OKC unless it was a 'have to thing' and if you went at night it was to cause trouble and mayhem for the north side kids. A turf war it would be called now. Of course it was more of pranks and such and not the violence and harm as kids do to today.

Good old southside pride. Reno, of course, was the section-line road nearest the township boundary, and Capitol Hill, after all, had been a separate city for a few years before being absorbed into OKC.

I'm thinking maybe these bits of oral history are going to be of considerable value one of these years.

Spring entrollment

Geez, now even Donna is getting hate mail:

Although you think you are providing people with something to seriously read daily, you are just typing nonsense that you think is "hip and fresh for the modern woman". I think it is hysterical, and something to laugh at you about, so please, type on... "enlighten" us all.

Look, lady, if you want "hip and fresh," you can go download all the Tampax commercials you can stand, and then congratulate yourself on your good taste. I'm aware that you may not have time, what with the pressures and time constraints that come from being the center of the known universe, but hey, it's just a suggestion.

And a kinder one than most people are likely to offer, at that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:44 AM to Blogorrhea )
Stink globally, act locally

So we're about 36 hours into the Kyoto Protocol, it's not all that cold outside, and I'm coughing.

Heck of a deal, huh?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:42 PM to Dyssynergy )
No charge for giving it away

Freshman Rep. Dale DePue (R-Edmond) has gotten his Sexually Explicit Business and Escort Service Tax Act through the House Revenue and Taxation Committee.

House Bill 1532 seeks to impose a 10-percent tax on strip clubs, dealers of smut, and traffickers in related vices, proceeds to go to DHS to support domestic-violence and sexual-abuse programs.

This presumably was a difficult issue for DePue: he's a Traditional Values kind of guy, but he also thinks the state imposes too many taxes.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:24 PM to Soonerland )
The secret life of John Bair

John R. Bair, as BatesLine readers know, has been the official Tulsa World hatchet man: the nastygrams to bloggers and such have come out over his signature.

The Interested-Participant has checked out Bair's background, and reports:

Curiously, a quick look at Google suggests that VP John Bair has moved through the ranks in the TulsaWorld organization, recently holding the position of Circulation Director. As such, it would seem that his experience is better suited for plotting truck routes and delivery schedules rather than confronting the complexities of copyright law.

Not that they'll bust him back to Circulation, of course; it would violate the Peter Principle.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:55 PM to Soonerland )
18 February 2005
Surrounding Goliath

The Fat Guy points to the Center for Public Integrity's MediaTracker gizmo, which lists all the broadcast stations within a designated radius (default is 40 miles) and who owns them.

It's not absolutely perfect, since it doesn't seem to pick up Local Marketing Agreements — for instance, KQOB (otherwise known as BOB FM) retains its Enid-based ownership, yet the Citadel chain actually programs it — but it's a useful tool, and TFG wants to emphasize this point:

Clear Channel, the unstoppable monolith, hold 6 of 57 radio licenses. Big. Dang. Whoop. I'm supposed to be frightened about that? Why?

In markets the size of Dallas-Fort Worth, nobody holds all the cards. Clear Channel is a major player in Oklahoma City, but they hardly dominate. When I start to worry is when I contemplate places like Minot, North Dakota, where Clear Channel owns six of nine radio stations. (Note: This link has been corrected.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:34 AM to Overmodulation )
Return fire

The man of the hour is Ronald D. Coleman, general counsel of the Media Bloggers Association, who has agreed to represent Michael Bates during his dispute with the Tulsa World. A segment of Coleman's letter to World VP John Bair, as quoted on BatesLine:

Why a newspaper with a website would want to prevent Internet users from gaining access to that website, regardless of the referral source, is a question best left to the World Publishing Company's board of directors. But while Mr. Bates's links may be "inappropriate" in the view of your newspaper, Mr. Bair, there is no legal basis whatsoever on which the World may prevent it.

As I told KWTV's Catherine Pegram the other day, we don't seek to replace the mainstream media — only to keep them honest.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:48 AM to Blogorrhea )
Wall Street woodshedding

What we have here is a letter on behalf of aggrieved shareholders to an apparently indifferent CEO. It starts out like this:

Third Point LLC ("Third Point") advises certain entities that hold 1,945,500 common units in Star Gas Partners L.P. ("Star Gas" or the "Company") [SGU]. Our 6% interest in the common units of the Company makes us your largest unitholder. Unlike the poor, hapless retail investors "stuffed" with purchases at the $24 level (many of whom are party to class action lawsuits against you personally and against the Company), we purchased our stake around these levels and took profits on about 500,000 shares near the $7.00 per unit level.

Since your various acquisition and operating blunders have cost unit holders approximately $570 million in value destruction, I cannot understand your craven stance with respect to shareholder communications.

It just gets better after that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:36 AM to Dyssynergy )
Crosstown rivals

If you're twenty-five or younger, you've never known a time when the Oklahoma Publishing Company wasn't the only newspaper game in town: The Daily Oklahoman ruled the morning, the Oklahoma City Times had the afternoon to itself. (Now, of course, there's only The Oklahoman.) But for one brief shining moment — okay, it wasn't all that brief, and it didn't shine all that much either — there was actual newspaper competition in the Big Town.

W. P. Bill Atkinson was a bright fellow with one special gift: somehow he was a step ahead of the rest of the movers and shakers and developers. It was Atkinson in 1941 who snapped up the property north of what is now Tinker Air Force Base, before the power structure was even aware that the facility was going to be built. In the 1950s, while the rest of the Big Boys worked on acquiring land along SW 59th Street in anticipation of a new Southwest Expressway, Atkinson bought up plots along SW 74th — and guess where the road was built?

This sort of thing got under E. K. Gaylord's hide, and it festered. In 1958, Atkinson decided to run for governor on the Democratic ticket. Gaylord, incensed, refused to accept any advertising from the Atkinson campaign. With the state's largest paper officially ignoring his candidacy, Atkinson bought lots of TV time, but viewers found him less appealing than the telegenic J. Howard Edmondson, who swept to victory.

Atkinson was not in a forgiving mood five years later when he decided, once and for all, to get his revenge on Gaylord. The prevailing belief at the time was that the Oklahoman and Times were aimed at the plutocrats on the northwest side of town, and Atkinson's power base, the areas he had developed, were to the south and east. He had some background in journalism — he'd taught it, briefly, at Oklahoma City University — and he figured that ought to be enough to qualify him as a publisher.

In 1964, the first issue of The Oklahoma Journal rolled off Atkinson's shiny new offset press at SE 15th and Key in Midwest City, bearing the slogan "The Paper That Tells Both Sides." (Note to Fox News Channel: "Fair & Balanced" is nothing new.) The editor was Forrest J. "Frosty" Troy, lured away from The Tulsa Tribune's Capitol bureau with the promise of at least equal bucks and a substantial stock position. Troy was enthusiastic at first, but a chill set in when Atkinson suggested that local stories be vetted by a county commissioner (who happened to be his partner in various local businesses), and that stock position eventually proved to come with a stiff price tag. Troy departed, to be replaced by John Clabes.

The nascent Journal, technically competing with two papers, ran into difficulties rather quickly: top-drawer syndicated offerings were snapped up by OPUBCO, and rather a lot of its news was recycled UPI wire stuff. Still, there was enough local resentment of the Gaylord machine to keep the Journal subscriber lists from going dry, and while the front-page design was generally hideous — even the smallest stories had monstrously huge headlines — the paper's state-of-the-art press was producing high-quality ad inserts, good enough that even businesses who weren't advertising in the Journal would still have them print their material, which they would then truck over to the Oklahoman. E. K. Gaylord, once he got wind of this, refused to accept any ad inserts printed at the Journal; Atkinson sued and won.

Eventually, the Journal settled down into the same sort of comfortable mediocrity as the Oklahoman, albeit with a smaller subscriber base. E. K. Gaylord died in 1974; his son Edward L. proved to be just as intractable a foe, and the younger Gaylord's wheeling and dealing under the auspices of the Oklahoma Industries Authority, which you'd never see covered in the OPUBCO papers, would have been perfect fodder for the Journal — except that in the late Seventies, Atkinson wearied of the constant negative cash flow, and persuaded a faraway publisher of community shoppers and weekly papers to take the Journal off his hands.

The last issue of The Journal, having truncated its name and its slogan (now "Both sides of the news"), appeared in 1980. The Oklahoman reported its demise on the back page of the business section, with the single-column headline "Midwest City Paper Folds." In retrospect, the Journal might have done better had it tried to be a Midwest City paper rather than trying to take on the Oklahoman. Still, the Journal's 40,000 or so circulation had cost the Gaylords dearly — in an effort to swat the pesky competitor, OPUBCO had slashed some of its ad rates, and at one point cut its newsstand price from a quarter to a dime — and in 1981, a year after the Journal called it quits, the circulation at the Oklahoman had hardly budged at all, suggesting that there were forty thousand people in town who would rather read nothing than read the Oklahoman.

Newspaper competition was over in Oklahoma City; it continued in Tulsa until 1992, when the Tulsa World announced it would not renew its Joint Operating Agreement with the Tribune. The Tribune, perhaps remembering the untidy death of the Journal, opted to fade quietly away.

(Per assignment; my thanks to Frosty Troy, some of whose reminiscences are incorporated herein.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:15 PM to City Scene )
19 February 2005
A less-universal franchise

I dropped into Selma, Alabama in the summer of 2001 and paid a visit to the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute. One of the exhibits I was allowed to take with me was a copy of Alabama's onerous voter-application form, authorized by the state's 1901 constitution and administered in such a way as to minimize black participation in elections.

I thought about this while I was reading Francis W. Porretto's article The Vote, in which he proposes, as a condition of voting in the Republic, a test of Constitutional knowledge that seems at first glance uncomfortably close to the "literacy test" from mid-1960s Alabama.

There are, of course, differences. The most obvious: FWP is no racist. He thinks that every prospective voter should be required to demonstrate better than passing familiarity with the Constitution:

The Constitution covers nine sheets of parchment and is written in very plain English. He who can't comprehend it is obviously unfit to elevate executives, legislators, or judges who will be bound by its provisions.

But this is the really interesting provision:

In exchange for the privilege of voting in a specified election, [the voter] must agree to forgo and forswear until after the next general election:
  • any position of profit or trust under the Constitution, in any federal, state, or local office, whether elective, appointive, or Civil Service;
  • any and all payments from any organ of government, regardless of the reason for them;
  • any and all personal or categorical privileges, exemptions, or subventions that may be awarded by any organ of government.

Apart from temporarily disenfranchising candidates for office, which probably isn't a bad idea at all, the kicker here is in the middle, which presumably would bar anyone drawing Social Security or welfare. I understand his point, I think — one thing that perpetuates the welfare state is support from people who benefit from it directly — but I'm not sure I'd want to implement this particular plank in his platform until such time as we've made some substantial cuts in entitlement programs generally, and in a vestige of bleeding-heart liberalism, I am not at all keen on cutting persons out of the franchise who may be drawing legitimate disability payments.

FWP's larger point, though, is that in our post-1965 rush to extend the franchise to seemingly anything that moves under its own power, we have wound up with an electorate that isn't well-informed, that doesn't understand the government it's supposed to control, and that won't turn down opportunities to seek largesse from the Treasury. Or, as he puts it:

It might reduce the enfranchised element of the populace to ten or twenty million persons, at least at the outset. But if it were to cleanse our Republic of the enemies of the Constitution numerous at every level of government, the flagrant self-seeking of millions of persons who continually vote for bigger subsidies for themselves, their favored groups, or their favored causes, and the ignorance of those who think President Bush somehow traduces the Constitution when he quotes Isaiah, it would be worth it and more.

About 122 million voted in the 2004 Presidential election.

You can't keep 'em down

After The Ville closed its doors, I wondered if we'd seen the last of Brent.

We haven't.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:21 AM to Blogorrhea )
A little traveling music

As you may remember, Dawn Eden was here last month, and we spent a large part of the morning combing through 45s at a local vinyl emporium. I posted a list of the singles I bought, but it occurs to me that at least part of the day was spent in transit, and there's an off-chance you might want to know what we were listening to while we Zoom-Zoomed around Oklahoma City. And as it happens, in anticipation of her arrival, I'd burned a CD of Possible Musical Enjoyments; I mean, if you're trying to impress Dawn Eden, whose knowledge of pop music is somewhere beyond encyclopedic, you don't just pull any old disc off the shelf.

The contents:

  1. The Bitter End, The Ken Thorne Orchestra (Ken Thorne)
    Variations on a theme by John and Paul, from the soundtrack of Help!
  2. I Couldn't Spell !!*@!, Sam the Sham (Wayne Carson Thompson)
    Discussed here.
  3. For Eternity, Vickie Diaz (V. Diaz)
    Discussed here.
  4. I Write the Songs, Big Daddy (Bruce Johnston)
    You'll need to read the whole Big Daddy saga to understand.
  5. Be My Baby, The Ronettes (Spector-Greenwich-Barry)
    Off the three-track master tape, running out to 3:03 and including a remark to Sonny Bono.
  6. Keep On Dancing, The Avantis (Jones-Love-Shann)
    The 1963 original; the version you remember was by the Gentrys two years later.
  7. The Björk Song, The Brunching Shuttlecocks (L. Fitzgerald Sjöberg)
    Off the fabled comedy Web site, it's a quantum-physics love song. I think.
  8. Variations on a Theme Called "Hanky Panky", The Definitive Rock Chorale (Barry-Greenwich)
    Exactly like it sounds, except of course that it isn't.
  9. 9,999,999 Tears, Dickey Lee (Dickey Lee Lipscomb)
    In case you thought 96 wasn't enough.
  10. Take Me for a Little While, Evie Sands (Trade Martin)
    A long-established Eden fave.
  11. Metal Guru, T. Rex (Marc Bolan)
    An unearthly combination of T-Rexstacy with Flo and Eddie background vocals.
  12. Girl on the Northern Line, Michael Lynch (Dawn Eden)
    A lovely little tune, and you should have seen the look on her face when it popped out of the speakers. Discussed here.
  13. Every Day of the Week, The Students (Prez Tyus)
    B-side of "I'm So Young," and the godfather of the Bristol Stomp.
  14. Supergirl, American Boyfriends (Goad-York)
    Oklahoma City's premier power-pop band at its finest.
  15. The Bass Walks, Bert Kaempfert and His Orchestra (Bert Kaempfert)
    Downright funky for this guy.
  16. Cast Your Fate to the Wind, Shelby Flint (Vince Guaraldi)
    Shelby, best known for "Angel on My Shoulder," has one of those breathy sexy-but-innocent voices that never gets out of your head, something like Dawn's.
  17. Two Buffalos, Rolf Harris (Rolf Harris)
    The miracle of exponents, and the attendant dangers to one's yard.
  18. Un Mal pour un Bien, Petula Clark (Clark-Hatch)
    Pet's original French version of "You're the One."
  19. Zing Went the Strings of My Heart, The Move (James Hanley)
    A rare lead by Bev Bevan, a mock-Coasters style, and there's a lead bass part in the break.
  20. Super Freak, Big Daddy (James-Miller)
    Imagine the Everly Brothers singing Rick James. Go ahead, try.
  21. This Diamond Ring, Jimmy Radcliffe (Kooper-Levine-Brass)
    The demo version, before Gary Lewis or even Sammy Ambrose, showing that Al Kooper clearly envisioned this as an R&B ballad.
  22. You Can't Blame Me, Johnson, Hawkins, Tatum & Durr (Middleton-Smith)
    The crown jewel of the Capsoul catalog, discussed here.
  23. Snowman, Snowman, Sweet Potato Nose, The Jaynetts (Sanders-Stevens)
    Their third single, this is sung over the instrumental backing from "Sally Go 'Round The Roses," thereby presumably saving Artie Butler a lot of work.
  24. Too Much on My Mind, Gates of Eden (Ray Davies)
    A cover of the Kinks original with a garage/psych feel.
  25. Stillsane, Carolyne Mas (Carolyne Mas)
    The one chart hit by New Jersey's finest. Discussed here.
  26. So Mean to Me, Vic Diaz (Diaz-Belland)
    Any similarity in sound to the Vickie Diaz track above is not even slightly coincidental.
  27. Paul's Midnight Ride, The Delights Orchestra (Stiles-Martin-Virtue)
    Discussed here.
  28. Here Comes the Boy, Tracey Dey (Rambeau-Rehak)
    A lost girl-group classic from the old Amy label.
  29. Try Too Hard, The Dave Clark Five (Clark-Smith)
    Another thumping DC5 hit, and a great way to close out a set.

I don't think I bored her too much during the 79:01 this was playing.

And should they be called "dying" wills?

The ongoing case of Terri Schiavo has inevitably brought up the case of "living wills," something up to now I haven't bothered to file, and I'm beginning to think that, contrary to the advice of various medical and legal types, I may not want one.

I mean, I can say right now that I'd want a DNR order should the circumstances seem to call for one, but how do I know I'd feel the same way once they do?

A couple of pertinent quotes today by way of The Dawn Patrol, both as comments to this post. First, from Dawn's mother:

The problem with "living" wills is that they rely on healthy people to project how they will feel is they later have a catastrophic illness. The will to live is so profound that we cannot possibly know that we will not want to live under even the most appalling conditions. In many many cases, it looks worse to you than to your dear family member who is laying there.

And following up, McGehee:

Frankly, I would think the presumption should be that in the absence of a living will you assume the injured person would want to live. The judges who have ruled otherwise ought to be tarred and feathered.

Under their irresponsible juris"prudence" it is now necessary to have a living will to ensure that you don't get killed by the state if you're unable to say after the fact that you want to live.

At the very least, should they find me comatose, they should afford me the opportunity to kvetch about it.

An approaching frontal zone

Robert Prather, on why he can't stand Ann Coulter:

Even when she's right on the larger point about President Bush's appointment of minorities, she's so intolerable in the way she states it that it physically hurts me to agree on the larger point. If she didn't have a nice rack there would be a bounty on her head.

Which of course leads to the most immediate question:

Ann Coulter has a nice rack?

She's real sore, my 404

Once and for all, we're going to fix Dan Lovejoy's TrackBacks.

Maybe.

Well, it could happen.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:42 PM to Blogorrhea )
20 February 2005
New rules for new developments

Oklahoma City has new regulations for subdivisions, effective last Friday, and while some of the 110-page document [link requires Adobe Reader] is taken up with housekeeping and minor language changes, there are some new rules worth noting:

1.7.2 Conflict With Public and Private Provisions.
A. Public Provisions. The regulations are not intended to interfere with, abrogate or annul any other ordinance, rule, regulation, statute or other provision of law. Where any provision of these regulations imposes restrictions different from those imposed by any other provision of these regulations or any other ordinance, rule, regulation, statute or other provision of law, the provision that is more restrictive or imposes higher standards shall control.

B. Private Provisions. These regulations are not intended to abrogate any easement, covenant, or any other private agreement or restriction, provided that where the provisions of these regulations are more restrictive or impose higher standards or regulations than such easement, covenant, or other private agreement or restriction, the requirements of these regulations shall govern.

The city, in other words, is setting the baseline standards: you may exceed them, but don't even think about coming up with something more lax, no matter how many property owners you can get to sign the papers.

5.1.8. Street Names.
A. Street Name Approval. The Planning Commission shall approve the names of all streets as part of the subdivision approval process. The subdivider shall initially propose street names on the face of the preliminary plat for major subdivisions and the final plat for minor subdivisions. Names shall be sufficiently different in sound and in spelling from other street names in the City so duplication is avoided. A continuance of an existing street shall, wherever possible, bear the same name. East-west streets shall be numbered in accordance with the established pattern throughout the City.

This is actually pretty much the current practice. I'm interpreting "continuance" in the most literal sense, that the new street actually connects to the existing one: it seems unreasonable to me that a street must be called, say, Brookline Avenue just because it's a block west of May. On the other hand, the city, perhaps with an eye towards making life easier for the fire department, has been insisting that east-west streets follow the number grid for years now, which is why down in Rivendell one gets from Lorien Way to Endor Drive by either (and equally prosaic) SW 121st Street or SW 123rd Street.

5.1.10 Property Owners Association (POA). For any subdivision utilizing or incorporating private streets, shared parking, common drives, islands or medians within street rights-of-way, and/or any other common areas, a Property Owners Association (POA) shall be established and be responsible for maintenance of said easements and common areas.

Translation: "You wanted this to be private, make sure you take care of it."

As a practical matter, I don't expect the new rules to have much of a negative effect on development: the demand for new homes in outlying areas of the city continues, and local businesses are already positioning themselves. (Who knew there was a Sonic way out at 18031 North Portland? I just saw it for the first time yesterday, and there's even a strip mall adjacent to it.) I do wonder if there's going to be an eventual ZIP code realignment up north, as more and more people discover that they live in Oklahoma City and their mail goes to Edmond. (This has happened to some extent on the west side: 73127 now extends all the way to Sara Road, though anything in Canadian County north of 36th Street still goes to Yukon, or Piedmont if you go far enough north.)

Were I a New Urbanist, I suppose I would be appalled that folks are moving way out to the fringes of the city. But I take comfort in the fact that they're still in the city, no matter what their return address may say: we're all in this together, whether we live on 9th Street, 99th Street, or 199th Street.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:19 AM to City Scene )
The least of these my brethren

We are not wealthy, generally, in the flyover zone, but we do our part for those less privileged.

And sometimes we go beyond the call of duty. The OKPartisan has traveled to Peru on missionary work for her church in Edmond, and has come up with the notion of an International Mall, which would work something like this:

Artisans from Peru and other countries create wonderful and unique goods that they sell in their own countries for very little money, but often a little money goes a long way. The groups from here who work with them could bring their goods here, mark up the price, and send the artists the profits, perhaps with a portion going to support other charitable activities. We could help musicians travel here to perform and record their music. We could have a food court with interesting foods from around the world. All of this could be presented along with educational displays about the countries, communities, and organizations represented.

This does seem to go beyond the boundaries of what we think of as traditional missionary work, but for what it is — a classic hands-across-the-water operation — it's a heck of a good idea, if it could be gotten to work with a minimum of fuss and overhead.

And speaking of across the water, Julie Neidlinger is back home in North Dakota from Nicaragua, and is posting her journals from the eleven-day trip.

Vice precedent

I've written before on the general decline of convention business, but some places seem to have it worse than others: while nationally the drop is around 16 percent, it's off 52 percent in Dallas.

What in the world is going on down there? The Fat Guy suspects it's a Laura Miller problem:

Call me a fool, but I suspect it might have to do with a frustrated Mommy in the Mayor's Office, who has banned late-night dancing, public smoking, and lap dances at strip clubs and who, if the grapevine is right (and it usually is), is now coming after "vice", for which you can read whores and poker, for her strong-mayor push in the next city election. Once upon a time, this used to be a really fun, wide-open town where adults (particularly out-of-town adults) could have a rocking good time. Now it's an uptight bunch of pricks who think another Italian purse store or French dress store or Noo Yawk god-knows-what store will keep bringing the dentists and insurance guys to town. Face it, Laura — you've made the town safe for your hausfrau friends from Oak Cliff and Uptown and HP at the expense of the wahoo out-of-towners.

I'd say that TFG is no fool. One reason everyone (well, except me) wants to go to Las Vegas is that almost anything can happen in Vegas, and if it does, no big deal. Cities which hope to boost their convention traffic in an era when the whole idea of conventions is being seriously rethought will either have to find some way to emulate the Vegas model or come up with something comparably (and probably uniquely) compelling of their own. This leaves New Orleans, maybe, and — who? Not New York, which has nanny issues of its own. And none of your second-tier convention cities are going to rise just because Dallas is in free fall.

Still, nobody's Convention and Visitors Bureau — not even the one in Las Vegas — is likely to make a "Whores and Poker!" pitch. There are going to be a lot of shiny new convention centers with a lot of empty rooms in the next few years. And semi-squeaky-clean Oklahoma City has had a lot of Laura Millers in its past: local historian Roy Stewart once quipped that "Recurrent pleas of reform and cleanup of vice... in Oklahoma City have been more easy to plot than cycles in the economy."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:15 PM to Dyssynergy )
The stick stops here

At least this week, since it has devolved upon me to issue the assignment to the Oklahoma Blogger Bash Consortium and One-Hour Photo for the coming six-day period.

A number of different cities are represented by the O.B.B.C./O.H.P., including the three largest in the state (Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Lawton) plus a 'burb or two. For the sake of argument, let's assume that you, the Consortium member, are prepared to address your Mayor and City Council or equivalent municipal governmental body.

What, in your opinion, is the one thing within the existing powers of the Mayor and Council that your city most desperately needs to do?

Papers are due in by 11:59 PM on Friday, 25 February.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:33 PM to Blogorrhea )
21 February 2005
Vanity 3

The March issue of Vanity Fair is designated the "Hollywood Issue," which by rights should mean that it's even more content-free than usual, what with the usual New York tragic hipness supplemented by shoot-outs from the fantasy factory, plus way more than usual Annie Leibovitz photographs of the already-overexposed. At 454 pages this year, it's about a penny a page; I'd generally be better served if they just let me buy the ads, which would save me $2 or so.

But the usual Condé Nasties apparently weren't paying attention this month, because some worthy stuff accidentally crept into the magazine, and no, it's not that two-page shot of Hilary Swank doing the world's highest split. Judy Bachrach's "The Provocateur" profile of Michael Moore, while not exactly short of Moore's own brand of bombast, isn't the hagiography you'd expect from V.F. either. A paragraph therefrom:

New York conservative Lucianne Goldberg, the protector of Linda Tripp in a long campaign to bring down Bill Clinton, tells me that Moore, an Upper West Side neighbor, "put up a live movie camera" — Moore called it a Lucycam — "trained it on our apartment, and put it up in a Web site called seelucianne.com or something like that." The idea being, Goldberg explains, that since Moore felt she had invaded Clinton's and Monica Lewinsky's privacy, he was going to invade hers. Goldberg asked the National Enquirer if it wanted to paste an ad on her window, and made $1,000 a week on the deal. Part of her understands Moore perfectly. "I think we recognize each other in our souls," Goldberg says. "He's up to mischief. I am, too. The difference is, he takes himself seriously, and I don't give a shit."

The cam was in fact located at iseelucy.com; Moore's dormant theawfultruth.com remembers it slightly differently, but only slightly.

Farther along, Peter Biskind quotes the late John Schlesinger, circa 1994:

You couldn't make Midnight Cowboy today. I was recently at dinner with a top studio executive, and I said, "If I brought you a story about this dishwasher from Texas who goes to New York dressed as a cowboy to fulfill his fantasy of living off rich women, doesn't, is desperate, meets a crippled consumptive who later pisses his pants and dies on a bus, would you —" and he said, "I'd show you the door."

And best of all, George Wayne, interviewing the host of Inside the Actors Studio:

Well, there's one thing to be said for James Lipton: he's mastered the art of celebrity anilingus!

Lipton called BS, and I called V.F. to renew. It's the little things that make a magazine worth reading.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:28 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Fear and loathing in excelsis

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson idolized Ernest Hemingway, but I had no idea he'd want to shuffle off this mortal coil in the same dramatic fashion.

Yet there he was, at his Woody Creek, Colorado home, dead from a gunshot wound that was almost certainly self-inflicted. And ultimately, it fits into the pattern of the man's life: no matter how bizarre the story you heard about him, it was very likely true.

Thompson's brand of intensely-personal "gonzo" journalism really didn't catch on, which is also a good thing: while I'd argue that we certainly need our eccentrics, even if they're just this side of dangerous, I'd also argue that hardly anyone could possibly come up (down?) to the standard set by Thompson. (The late Lester Bangs, maybe; but Bangs has long since been relegated to the category of "music reviewer," even though his writings ranged nearly as widely — wildly? — as Thompson's.)

And if we do not see his like again, well, that just adds to the legend. "I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence or insanity to anyone," Thompson said, "but they've always worked for me." Indeed they did.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:21 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Looking into the sunrise

I live in Oklahoma City's Ward 2, represented by Sam Bowman, who isn't up for reelection this year, so I admittedly haven't paid that much attention to the new crop of City Council candidates. The Oklahoman had a piece this morning on candidates for Ward 7, including incumbent Willa Johnson, but what caught my eye was some chatter by Mayor Cornett that addresses some issues I've mentioned before. There are plans, said Cornett, to "spruce up" the NE 23rd Street corridor, about which I grumbled last year.

And in a June piece about residential development close to downtown, I said this:

The major disadvantage for downtown living has been the lack of grocers: the nearest supermarket to downtown is the Homeland adjacent to Mesta Park, at 18th and Classen.

It didn't occur to me then that there wasn't even one supermarket in the 100-square-mile expanse of Ward 7, which stretches from east of downtown to the edge of Luther. The Mayor says he's looking into the possibility of working with a "major grocer," perhaps in the Deep Deuce area, which could serve both downtown and the near-northeast side, although he cautioned, "It will happen when the market conditions are ready for it to happen," and not before. I'm thinking a block or two farther north, in the Flatirons district, which would make for easier access from I-235.

From the standpoint of geography, Ward 7 is perhaps the nicest part of Oklahoma City: it's more forest than grassland, and it generally lacks the city's trademark flatness. If we could bring its infrastructure and streetscapes up to spec, it would be, I suspect, a far more desirable place to live.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:55 AM to City Scene )
Look at me, indeed

Someone asked for a Sandra Dee memory, and the one that jumps into my head most immediately is a scene from the otherwise-ghastly Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding, in the beginning of which she is not only not lousy with virginity but is actually about to give birth, while three suitors beg for her hand in marriage. (In real life, this would exceed the expected number by about, um, three.)

The rest of the film is told in flashback, and at one point our heroine, putting her singing career on hold to the despair of her mother, has taken a secretarial job for a George Hamilton type, played conveniently by George Hamilton. While she takes dictation, we look over at George's desk, and we discover that the scuzzball has installed a mirror thereupon, and has trained it on Sandra's Certified Grade A legs. I need hardly point out that this was a traumatic experience for my thirteen-year-old Catholic-school self; between that and Goodbye Charlie, three years earlier, in which Debbie Reynolds plays a dead guy, it's a wonder I ever got through adolescence at all — though, in my defense, I never actually sent letters to Brigitte Bardot or anything like that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:07 PM to Almost Yogurt )
A new angle or three

A consortium of developers has decided to brand an area near downtown and try to turn it into something different: "a vibrant mixed-use environment where people can 'live, work and play' in an upscale, fashionable urban community."

We've heard this before, but I no longer question the miraculous in this city; I've seen too many things that couldn't possibly work that somehow did. The Triangle district, which overlays part of Automobile Alley and includes the Flatirons area, is patterned after a rejuvenated warehouse district in Charlotte, North Carolina. The residential area is planned for near NE 3rd Street and Oklahoma Avenue, a block east of Broadway; there will be retail and entertainment facilities at its periphery.

The developers' next move is to descend upon the Oklahoma City Planning Commission, probably in April, with a sheaf full of plans. I note in passing that most of The Triangle lies within Ward 7. (Mr. Mayor, you knew about this, didn't you?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:52 PM to City Scene )
22 February 2005
Stumbling toward spring

The warmest it's ever been in February in this town was on this date in 1996, where the temperature topped out at an unreal 92 degrees. We won't see anywhere near that today — in fact, if the fog doesn't lift, we won't see much of anything at all — but usually Washington's Birthday suggests the beginning of the transition to spring. The average daily low is now above freezing, something it hasn't been for two months or so. In fact, all we really need to make it a true spring day is an outcropping of thunderstorms — which is promised for this evening.

I'm not putting away my ice-scraper yet, but Old Man Winter has likely done his worst for this year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:02 AM to Weather or Not )
Stone cold sober, as a matter of fact

Not that I'd ever make up such a list myself — or maybe it's just that I wouldn't dare make up such a list myself — but Chase McInerney has elevated ten contemporary women to the pinnacle of byotchity.

I wish to state for the record that I have had no relationships with any of the individuals named therein.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:26 AM to Dyssynergy )
You can't get there from here

This week, the Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority is beginning something called the Oklahoma Fixed Guideway Study, including seven public meetings, which will focus on trying to anticipate traffic problems twenty-five or thirty years down the road and suggesting solutions.

Among the ideas being bounced around are HOV or bus lanes and commuter or light rail; the only options that have definitely been ruled out are a subway system (too expensive) and a monorail system (too expensive, and we couldn't get Lyle Lanley to sell it to us).

The current state of traffic in this town can be fairly described as "not as sucky as it could be," though obviously the level of suckage can be expected to rise as population and development increase. It's probably a good thing that they're trying to get the jump on these issues, but I hope they don't get the notion that there is some sort of magic bullet that will punch through all the potential problems at once.

(More thoughts along these lines in this week's Vent.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:10 AM to City Scene )
One more day

Pinellas Circuit Court Judge George Greer has issued an emergency stay blocking removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube until Wednesday afternoon, and has scheduled a hearing in the case for that morning.

Yes, I've heard all the arguments on both sides. And maybe it's just me, knowing that I failed in my own marriage, but I have a real problem with someone who once said "until death us do part" subsequently trying to accelerate that death.

Not that what I think counts for anything here.

A letter to a state legislator

To: treborworthen-at-okhouse.gov
From: chaz-at-dustbury.com
Subject: A plea for some action

There's not much chance of Democrats acting on a bill like HR 1429, but since the GOP was wise enough to bring up the topic in the first place — Marion Cooksey introduced the bill into the House, and Randy Brogdon is sponsoring it in the Senate — I hope you and your fellow Republicans on the Rules Committee will see fit to push it along and give the full House a chance to consider it. The 1974 ballot-access laws in this state are unworthy of a Third World hellhole; it's time to give the people of Oklahoma a chance at some serious democracy. With a small d.

(Sent 6:20 pm, 22 February 2005)

23 February 2005
Minimal rotation

Bobby Darin had forty Billboard chart hits, which doesn't mean a thing to your average radio station, says Jeff Brokaw:

Even oldies stations seem to only play "Mack the Knife," and in that radio-hack, obligatory back-handed compliment sort of way: "here's a great record, but he's so great we donít want to wear him out, so we only play this one song". Thanks, asswipes. Which reminds me; why is it that supposedly eclectic and super-fantastic rock radio stations like WXRT-FM can't get a B.B. King record on once in a while? Besides "The Thrill is Gone", I mean. Yes, B.B. King recorded like hundreds and hundreds of songs before that one, and believe it or not, hundreds and hundreds of them were great. Imagine the odds.

Or how about Al Green? Sly Stone? Isley Brothers? Taken a listen to "Who's That Lady" lately? The album cut, with the Ernie Isley guitar all over it? Don't even start to TELL me that a rock radio station that pretends to worship all things rock, and all things guitar, has no place on its playlist for a classic like "Who's That Lady."

Memo to rock radio: put a little soul into your lineup. It wonít hurt, I promise.

Ernie was still working through his Hendrix fixation when the Isleys recut "That Lady" in 1973 — the original version, full of soul boilerplate, dates back to 1964 and didn't chart — but there's at least as much in the way of guitar heroics here as there is in your average Skynyrd track, and it's a hell of a lot less annoying than "Free Bird."

The whole "classic-rock" format, though, is based upon the presumed forklift-operator notion (doesn't sound like any forklift operators I know, but then I'm not in the radio biz) that anything worth doing musically in the last four decades was done by white guys, the Wilson sisters, or Stevie Nicks. (The newer "classic hits" format is similar, but with even more playlist restrictions.) And God forbid you should point out that, say, a revered power ballad like Boston's "More Than a Feeling" is basically just a rewrite of "Louie, Louie."

Bobby Darin is less neglected these days, thanks largely to Kevin Spacey's biopic, but still: forty chart records. And around here, you're more likely to catch "Laugh, Laugh," a Beau Brummels single Sly Stone produced, than anything Sly put out himself.

We got crazy freakin' bikers!

Um, make that Crazy Freakin' Bikers™.

Mat Hoffman's CFB Series will descend upon Oklahoma City's Riverfront Skate Park in mid-May, bringing about 500 competitors, thousands of fans, and the cameras of FoxSportsNet.

Hoffman, a BMX legend who lives in Edmond, will oversee the presentation himself; a vertical ramp and a series of dirt jumps will be temporarily added to the park facilities. This CFB event is a qualifier for the 2005 X Games.

As the phrase goes, this oughta be good.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:38 AM to City Scene )
127

To me, 127 is a size of film, introduced by Kodak way back in 1912 for the Vest Pocket Kodak, not discontinued until 1995.

It's unclear whether the Carnival of the Vanities will last that long, but it's made it through 127 weeks; PunditGuy hosts the original seven-day blog compendium this time around.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:17 AM to Blogorrhea )
Insert Guckert joke here

From our Taste Takes a Holiday files, "Gannon's Song (Who Did He Do?)", in which the motivations of Jeff Gannon are, um, well, surely there's a better word than "analyzed."

(Via Wonkette, but then it would almost have to be.)

One more day, and one more day

Judge George Greer has extended his stay of a court order blocking Michael Schiavo from pulling his wife's feeding tube for another two days.

So a one-day stay is followed by a two-day stay. If only this could be arranged exponentially: the next stay would be four days, then eight, and so forth, until Terri outlives all of us.

Says La Shawn Barber of this development: "I hope my life never hinges on a judge's whim."

Locational meme

It's called, simply, where you've been.

bold the states you've been to, underline the states you've lived in and italicize the state you're in now...

Alabama / Alaska / Arizona / Arkansas / California / Colorado / Connecticut / Delaware / Florida / Georgia / Hawaii / Idaho / Illinois / Indiana / Iowa / Kansas / Kentucky / Louisiana / Maine / Maryland / Massachusetts / Michigan / Minnesota / Mississippi / Missouri / Montana / Nebraska / Nevada / New Hampshire / New Jersey / New Mexico / New York / North Carolina / North Dakota / Ohio / Oklahoma / Oregon / Pennsylvania / Rhode Island / South Carolina / South Dakota / Tennessee / Texas / Utah / Vermont / Virginia / Washington / West Virginia / Wisconsin / Wyoming / Washington D.C. /

For some reason, this made me think of an old Jack Benny radio show. There was a contest in which you were to complete the following in 25 words or less: I can't stand Jack Benny because...

WWII was going full-tilt at the time, so prizes of Victory Bonds were awarded. And one day on the show, Rochester is opening one of the bazillions of envelopes received, and announces, "Here's one from Fred Allen."

"Fred Allen?" says Jack. "He can't enter. He's a judge."

"Just the same," insists Rochester. "He says, 'I can't stand Jack Benny because...' and then he lists the reasons, alphabetically, chronologically, and geographically."

"Geographically?"

"Yeah. He can't stand you any place."

Given the amount of moving around I've done, I'm wondering if they (whoever "they" are) can't stand me any place.

Go HERE to have a form generate the HTML for you.

(Snatched from Accidental Verbosity.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:56 PM to Screaming Memes )
24 February 2005
While we're at it, let's sue Jefferson Davis

An op-ed in the Oklahoma Gazette by Felix Paul Linden, Jr., on the subject of reparations:

When inequality is present, it automatically limits your opportunities. One thing some white men in America tend to forget is that, for them, it never has been unequal. For more than 200 years, from 1776 to present, white men have had the opportunity to increase their lot. Black people haven't had a full 40. The length of time in itself is reason enough to justify leveling the scales for black people. Not where it teeters out of balance but to the point where we as a people can step onto the playing field and see sideline to sideline.

In his inaugural address, President Bush talked about an ownership society. Black people in America have thirsted for this opportunity. America now should take the lead and own up to its responsibility to this group of citizens and stop deferring the problem to future generations. Reparations equals justice, and justice is the American way.

When he says "40," he's referencing the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. And he does have a point about white guys, a group in which I hold a half-membership.

Still, I think he's going to have trouble getting this one to fly. The statute of limitations put a stop to a lawsuit demanding reparations for the Tulsa race riots, and if 1921 is out of play, certainly anything prior to 1863 is going to be.

And then there's this observation from La Shawn Barber:

Sold a bill of goods by black "leaders" and white liberals, some blacks have bought the idea that they will never get ahead in America because of white people. And even if they manage to get ahead... it's their responsibility to make white America pay.

Coming down NE 36th yesterday, I saw a couple of banners for a Home Ownership seminar this weekend, sponsored by a group of black churches. A similar event last year drew 800 people. I can't help but think that in the long run programs such as this will accomplish far more than even the most eloquent evocations of guilt.

The need for speed

The city has concluded that people drive too fast on the Broadway Extension and will crack down on such antisocial behavior. In a survey conducted earlier this month, hardly anyone was hugging the 60-mph speed limit, and two or three percent of drivers were doing better than 90.

Of course, going 90 mph isn't necessarily a hazard in itself; it's the people around you crawling along at 67 for whom it becomes an issue. Still, 90 mph isn't a viable speed limit for a short stretch of road, although obviously drivers are convinced that 60 is too low. The Lake Hefner Parkway is 65 for most of its length; the Broadway Extension — north of 63rd, anyway — ought to be at least as high.

Zip-a-dee-doo-dah

Jim Hill (no relation) says that the Mouse House has actually had a change of heart and will release a DVD edition of Song of the South next year.

The cynic in me, of course, notes that 2006 will be the film's 60th anniversary, a perfect opportunity for marketing, and it's a cinch that Disney, were this happening, would see fit to surround the film with enough carefully-selected "extras" to banish, or at least mask, the alleged stench of racism. People who thought Huck Finn was racist because he used the N word will of course not be mollified, but they're still doing a slow burn about Stepin Fetchit, fercryingoutloud, and their complaints will be given the disdain they deserve. It will be good to have this film back in circulation.

(Via Reflections in d minor.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:02 AM to Almost Yogurt )
A rack of options

An Italian sex researcher says that the shape of a woman's breasts determine her personality.

No, really, he said that.

(Courtesy of Lawren, who thinks it's "hysterical.")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:27 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Deleting the archives, sort of

Jack William Pacheco of Chowchilla, California does not want you to know that the Madera Narcotic Enforcement Team paid him a visit and charged him with possession of meth. (He says it belongs to a friend of a relative who was visiting; said friend was also busted.)

How much does he not want you to know this? He bought every issue he could find, in racks or at convenience stores, of that week's issue of The Chowchilla News, which mentioned the bust on Page One. Pacheco bought somewhere upward of 500 copies of the paper at half a buck apiece. Normal single-copy press run of the News is about 700 copies; 550 copies are delivered to subscribers. (No home-delivered copies were reported pilfered.)

The News went back to press and issued 500 more copies of the paper. Editor Patty Mandrell says that Pacheco wasn't being singled out, that front-page coverage of drug busts is the usual practice at the News. She didn't say whether being cleared of drug charges, as Pacheco insists he will be, qualifies for Page One.

(Snatched from Fark)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:35 PM to Dyssynergy )
25 February 2005
Money pit, right lane, exit only

There's an old wives' tale, presumably passed on by old wives, that cars start to develop problems once they're paid off.

I don't think there's any causal relationship between making the last payment and heading for the garage; more likely, it's just that auto loans go on for so long these days.

After almost four and a half years (on a five-year note; don't ask), my car is now paid for. The warranty — three years/50,000 miles — ran out for chronological reasons 16 months ago, so if anything horrible was going to happen, I figure it would have happened then. It didn't. Then again, except for the midsummer World Tours, I don't drive all that much: at the 52-month mark, I've got 41,100 miles on the clock.

While I expect I will need tires and brake pads within the next year or so, maintenance on this little darb has so far been fairly cheap; everything I've had to have fixed has been windshield-related (two cracks, one bent wiper blade). There are some definite signs of wear here and there, but nothing compelling enough to make me look at it in despair and go sign away my life for another five or six years.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:32 AM to Driver's Seat )
Yeah, format this, pal

Apple's iPod has no support for the open-source Ogg Vorbis file format, which bothers Lileks hardly at all:

Let me speak for millions here who just want to listen to music: I don't care about Ogg Vorbis. If Ogg Vorbis came to my house and waved tentacles at me demanding in a slobbery moan that I kneel and submit, I would shoot it. I don't know what it is and I don't care.

Yeah, we know: Ogg Vorbis is open-source and doesn't contain that evil Digital Rights Management bugaboo. Inasmuch as circumventing DRM is a fair-sized cottage industry already, I don't think this is much of a selling point.

Meanwhile, in the unlikely event that someone should send me a VQF file, I'm prepared.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:23 AM to PEBKAC )
Finding a spot for Jack and Jill

It's called "The Hill," and it's part of the area known as Deep Deuce; this week the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority heard three competing proposals for residential districts on The Hill.

All the proposals come from that mysterious land called Upscale; the big difference is whether the focus will be on individual ownership or on rentals. I'm thinking that since Deep Deuce already has a row of apartments, the city will prefer homes for sale. The real story, though, is that people are willing to spend some money on building in an area which for years and years was considered blighted or worse. It's technically not a case of gentrification: the dilapidated buildings were removed years ago, so no one is currently being displaced.

Those who worry about urban sprawl must be utterly mystified by Oklahoma City. There is serious development way out on the fringes, but there is just about as much serious development in the very center of town. In between, not much is happening. (My own neighborhood, closer to the center than the fringe, is stable in its sixth decade.) And I figure anything that perplexes the experts is probably a good thing in the long run.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:37 AM to City Scene )
Thanks, Bob

Robert Butkin will leave his job as Treasurer of the State of Oklahoma on Tuesday, 31 May; the next morning, he will become Dean of the College of Law at the University of Tulsa.

Butkin, a Democrat who has run unopposed in his last two elections, came on board in 1994 to clean up an ongoing mess at the Treasurer's office. Quite a lot of Democrats, myself included, were hoping he might see fit to run for some higher office some day — his track record over the past ten years has been impeccable — but it was not to be, and I wish him well as he goes back home to Tulsa.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:00 PM to Soonerland )
With the Beetles

Writer Paul Schilperoord, in the Dutch magazine The Engineer, is claiming that Dr. Ferdinand Porsche's contribution to the development of the Volkswagen is greatly exaggerated, or so states this thread at AutoWeek's message board.

As early as 1928, Josef Ganz was showing off a fixed-chassis prototype with rear-wheel drive and a rear-mounted engine, which by 1931 he was calling Maikäfer — "May beetle". Adolf Hitler caught a glimpse of Ganz' bug a couple of years later, decided that some sort of "people's car" would be worth doing, and assigned the development to Dr. Porsche, who then basically swiped the Ganz designs. Ganz, a Jew, had fled to Switzerland and presumably was in no position to complain.

A few KdF-Wagens dribbled out under the auspices of the Third Reich, but it wasn't until after WWII that Vee Dubs, and Porsche's own "ass-engined Nazi slot cars," in P. J. O'Rourke's immortal phrase, began to appear in quantity.

Then again, Porsche's biggest seller these days is a farging SUV, which is plenty revisionist enough for me already.

(Via Jalopnik.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:01 PM to Driver's Seat )
26 February 2005
On putting away childish things

Francis W. Porretto on why the damn Baby Boomers should grow up already:

The older we get, the more easily we tire, and the less change we can withstand without needing a good long nap. But the Universe is inflexible about its rules, and persists in not caring a whit about any man's preferences. The refreshment of body, mind, and spirit requires effort, and the effort must include a willingness to embrace change, at least in moderate degree.

Not all changes are good ones; nothing is more fatuous than a commitment to generic, unspecified "change." One must be able to tell good changes from bad. But that capacity is seldom lacking in the man who's lived well.

How many of us Baby Boomers have lived well — well enough to know that the things of youth must eventually be surrendered in favor of other pursuits? How many of us have learned that two is not always better than one, and three not always better than two? And how many will embarrass themselves by pretending to be wrinkled teenagers, forever partying down as if their bodies and brains could still take the punishment and reap the full rewards, rather than admit that the time has come to seek a newer world... a world the young man, lacking the perspectives bestowed by time and chance, could never reach?

What popped into my head when I read this was a lyric by Tom T. Hall:

It's faster horses,
Younger women,
Older whiskey,
And more money.

I haven't played the ponies since the 1970s; it only seems as long since I've dabbled in drinking or pursued the fairer sex. And I have come to grips with the fact that The Donald's Visa limit will forever be higher than mine. But I'm not entirely sure I'm ready to complete the transformation from Average Insufferable Dude to Putative Elder Statesman; the latter position implies a level of wisdom I don't think I can legitimately claim to have gotten.

Maybe I need a nap.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:55 AM to Dyssynergy )
Odd news popping up

The 9/11 attacks, you'll remember, were implemented by the hijacking of aircraft. For some inscrutable reason, the Department of Homeland Security thinks that this can be countered by people with experience in the hijacking of computers.

A new addition to the DHS privacy board is an executive from Claria, previously known as Gator, one of the more notorious vendors of spyware.

In itself, this is annoying enough, but in view of the fact that the DHS Chief Privacy Officer is a refugee from data-miner DoubleClick, it's probably unavoidable. And it's in character for DHS, if you think about it: annoying large numbers of people in the hopes of snagging some small reward is exactly the modus operandi of the Transportation Security Administration.

Tech guy Dan Lovejoy is all over these developments.

(Submitted to the Wizbang Saturday linkfest.)

As the countdown begins

I haven't been running at 100 percent lately, the result of various minor illnesses combined with the inability to get the leg muscles synchronized with the newer, trimmer knee, and, says Andrea Harris, that makes me more expendable:

It's starting already: the killers are circling this blameless woman, whose only crime is, apparently, being unable to feed herself. We've already decided unborn babies are nothing but viruses, and old people are nothing but parasites, so why not treat a middle-aged woman with brain damage like a bra with a broken underwire? Though her killer-wannabes mouth platitudes about wishing to end her "suffering" the real reason they want her gone is because she reminds them of their own ultimate helplessness.

Woody Allen: "I'm not afraid of dying. I just don't want to be there when it happens."

When I was younger, I saw that some day it would be my duty to get the hell out of the way and make room for the generations to come. Nowhere, though, does it say that I have to go quietly, or that I should time my departure for the convenience of others.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:07 AM to Almost Yogurt )
A gentleman's C, maybe

I have always maintained that this little site belongs on the D-list. High on the D-list, perhaps, but certainly no closer to the Pantheon than that. (Yeah, there's that Ecosystem thing, but I try not to take it too seriously.)

Dave Pollard, on the other hand, sets me right below the B-list; his criterion for inclusion therein specifies 1000 hits per day, and the occasionally-reliable SiteMeter says I have been hanging around the 750-800 mark of late — 1100 or so page views — not including RSS feeds, which up to now I have not been bothering to count.

This development is of course alarming, since if traffic continues to increase, it may portend the necessity of having to act like a B-list blogger, a prospect I find daunting, and would likely find even more so if I actually knew what a B-list blogger acts like.

(Tipped off by the entirely-too-appealing Jacqueline Passey, newly arrived at C level by these same standards.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:58 PM to Blogorrhea )
Saturday spottings (ex-boondocks)

The tone for the day was set at the Sears parts/repair depot, where I arrived at the counter right behind a woman with a broken chainsaw. Fortunately, I had the presence of mind not to try to find out how it was broken.

From there, I dropped into the area which last week was first described as The Triangle, and now there's a sign or two to indicate such. What's over there now, at least east of Oklahoma Avenue, is not much; it's hard to imagine this as a vibrant urban community, but then fifteen years ago it was hard to imagine the decrepit warehouse zone east of downtown as an entertainment district, either.

Southward, to visit Dear Old Dad, where I filled him in on some of what's going on downtown, since he hasn't been downtown in fifteen years. He did seem impressed, though he wondered just how much money the city was blowing on eye candy, and pointed toward "some damn lake at the Community College."

Well, it's not technically a lake: it's a retention pond, to address some of the drainage issues in that relatively low-lying area of town. They did put a fountain in one corner of it, though, so I guess that qualifies as eye candy.

And I slid across I-44 to take a look at South Lakes Park, a 160-acre tract being developed in the semi-far southwest corner of town, an area which is largely unpopulated for now but which very likely won't stay that way for long. For the past twenty or thirty years, parkland has been an afterthought; the landscape is scraped away, the roads are put in, the foundations are laid, and maybe someone thinks to save some green area at the last minute. It's probably a good thing that Oklahoma City is actually ahead of the game this time around.

And there will be development out there, apart from the extant town of Mustang. Count on it. I followed the new (and not quite complete) alignment of Oklahoma 152, which used to start at I-44 and SW 29th Street, then veered off down Newcastle Road parallel to a rail line, threaded through the hamlet of Wheatland, until it hit 74th and turned west. The new 152 follows Airport Road west of I-44, which eventually will be extended beyond its current terminus on SW 44th between MacArthur and Rockwell. And to my amazement, someone is clearing space for high-buck homes where the new 152 crosses 59th. This made more sense when I drove back north of Mustang on Morgan Road, which used to be just one more country road and is now starting to accumulate housing developments. (Incidentally, the junction of Morgan at I-40, which used to be barely adequate, is now arguably the worst intersection in Canadian County, and competitive with urban nail-biters like Pennsylvania at Memorial.)

Vast Right-Wing Conspirators may be interested to hear that this stretch of SW 44th goes past one of Halliburton's two city facilities, and that I came within half a mile of the other one (near Reno and Morgan).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 PM to City Scene )
27 February 2005
It's a bikini world

Time was when February, for sports fans, was a desolate, empty time. After football, before baseball — and long before college hoops became an industry unto itself — there wasn't much to talk about at the water cooler. (Well, yes, there used to be hockey, before its keepers decided that the take would be better if they expanded it to places where ice was something you dropped into your glass of tea, but that's another story entirely.) It was into this brief period of protracted boredom that Sports Illustrated introduced its first Swimsuit Issue. And it wasn't that big a deal, really: a pretty girl on the cover, and six pages of girls in relatively modest beachwear. But then, this was 1964.

Cut to this year's edition bounding across the newsstands, and there's a shark looking up at it. Eight years ago SI spun the swimsuits into a separate edition instead of having them share space with the basketball scores. Since then, the innovations have come fast and furious: suits painted on the models, 3-D photography (with glasses!), and, this year, actual die-cut trading cards. But on almost every page, including the smirking advertising pages, there's a definite air of "been there, done that."

This year's body-painting is actually better than last year's, with team jerseys brushed onto the young ladies, and I never grow tired of either trompe l'oeil or women without clothing, but it's time they integrated it into the rest of the (un)coverage, rather than give it its own section — the desired "Great Caesar's ghost, that woman is naked!" effect doesn't work so well if everyone in the next ten pages is likewise. And if we're going to have them skyclad, the prototype is in the same issue that introduced that body-paint section, which would be 1999; a later page shows Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (she's since had a Stamosectomy) with two suits, which are hanging, not on Rebecca, but on a makeshift clothesline.

Something else they tried this year was actual underwater photography. (Well, these are swimsuits, right?) This didn't come off well; the page with Michelle Lombardo with her beach ball looks like it was shot in a wind tunnel and then supplemented with Photoshopped "water highlights." The online photos seem to look better, perhaps for reasons of lower resolution.

No, I don't think I wasted my six bucks, but really, I'm thinking March Madness might be more entertaining. And frankly, I wonder when Swimsuit Illustrated is going to come out with an annual Sports issue.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:09 AM to Rag Trade )
If it screeds, it leads

If you're really anxious for bad news from the Middle East, Big Media are more than happy to deliver it to you. As Jim the Unix Dude points out:

Let's look specifically at news from Iraq. To believe ABC, CBS, or NBC is to believe that the whole country is in ruins, Iraqis nationwide fear for their lives minute by minute, and the entire situation is a hopeless mess. You can believe that if you wish. Of course, you'd be wrong.

And yes, he's prepared to tell you why. Do read the whole thing.

Mirror image

Well, not exactly, but I decided that since all the archives have the content on the left, the main page probably ought to have the content on the left, so I switched the two columns. I can't imagine this being a problem for anyone, but then I am told I am lacking in imagination.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:52 AM to Blogorrhea )
The food is terrible, and such small portions, too

According to Newsweek, a "bipartisan panel of state lawmakers" said that President Bush's "No Child Left Behind" Act is "unconstitutional, deeply flawed and lacks sufficient funding," the sort of statement which arouses the wrath of Quincy:

Either the law is unconstitutional and therefore must be eliminated, which I believe is the case under the 10th Amendment, or it needs to be fixed and funded better. Sorry, panel, you can't have it both ways.

Which they can't, or at least shouldn't. So I dialed over to the National Conference of State Legislators, the panel in question, and the final draft of their task-force report is now available. And they're not saying "unconstitutional," exactly. From the Executive Summary:

[NCLB] has questionable constitutional underpinnings. It pits the 10th Amendment, which reserves powers to the states, against the spending clause of Article I, which allows the federal government to attach conditions to grants it provides to the states. Although the spending clause often has trumped the 10th Amendment, the Supreme Court, in South Dakota vs. Dole and other decisions, has placed constraints on how Congress may exercise its powers under the spending clause. The Task Force is concerned that NCLB fails to meet two of the South Dakota vs. Dole tests: its grant conditions are not unambiguous and it uses coercion and not financial inducement to attain state participation.

But then they point to two NCLB provisions which theoretically could compensate for the "federalism imbalances" therein:

Section 9401 of Title IX gives the Secretary of Education broad discretion to waive requirements of the law. The Task Force views this as an important tool that could turn state and federal government efforts from their current focus on process and strict adherence to the letter of the law to outcomes and compliance with the spirit and goals of the law. The other tool, Section 9527(a) of Title IX, notes that state and local governments should not have to incur expenses for implementing NCLB that are not funded by the federal government nor should the law force states or schools to change their curriculum or instruction. The Task Force believes this language should give state officials leverage in their efforts to ensure that the law is not an unfunded or underfunded mandate.

That's the gist of Chapter 1. The remaining five chapters deal with "deeply flawed."

Quincy, I'm thinking, gives the "unconstitutional" angle more credence, as suggested in this earlier post:

Note that the above opinions are from the point of view of a libertarian temporarily resigned to the fact that eliminating the Federal DoE wholesale isn't an option. I figure, as long as it's there, it might as well do some good.

To the extent that it actually can do some good, I guess. I'm not entirely persuaded that it can.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:50 PM to Dyssynergy )
28 February 2005
Inside, looking out

A few days ago, I came up with this:

Those who worry about urban sprawl must be utterly mystified by Oklahoma City. There is serious development way out on the fringes, but there is just about as much serious development in the very center of town. In between, not much is happening. (My own neighborhood, closer to the center than the fringe, is stable in its sixth decade.)

The Downtown Guy follows up:

If you can have both, if you can have a strong core with thriving suburban areas, and maintain both with existing revenues, it could be the ultimate hat trick.

Of course, that sprawl will cost more money. New roads, sewers and utilities must be built. And those new areas will require more fire stations, more police posts, more police patrols. And traditional sprawl opponents have long argued that growth can only be covered by dropping services in older areas. And as the core gets worse, what was once sprawl itself becomes part of the rotten core.

But is that happening here in Oklahoma City? It certainly was through the early 1990s. I remember Hefner and Western when it was a good neighborhood, a newer neighborhood. Now it's a war zone. It's been that way since the mid-1980s. Southwest 59th and Pennsylvania is another area that's taken a turn for the worse.

And that may be the challenge ahead. It's the architecture of the old neighborhoods, ultimately, that helps make them attractive for revival with a bit of help from the city. But these neighborhoods built up in the 1960s and 1970s aren't so quaint. To be blunt, it's disposable construction both residentially and commercially. And that makes me wonder about what's being built today. Will we be so enamored with Dallas-style houses 30 years from now? And what will we do with all those big box stores once they're deemed obsolete?

I think it takes way more than thirty years for any particular architectural style to come back into vogue; no one these days is building, say, Tudor Revival houses of the sort that you see in areas like Gatewood, and I suspect the demand for simulated French châteaux will vanish shortly and not return until well beyond 2050. (Dallas-style homes are now being built in Ireland, of all places. Go figure.) The prevailing style in the 1960s and 1970s was a seeming lack of style, which can't be good for neighborhoods built during those decades, at least right away, but it should be remembered that Oklahoma City's historic districts sport lots of Craftsman-style homes, and that's "Craftsman" as in Sears; even if Sears, Roebuck and Co. didn't actually sell the kit, a lot of houses were built to look like Sears (or Montgomery Ward) designs. And even Levittown, the archetype for little boxes made of ticky-tacky, has evolved over the succeeding years.

The question of extending city services is more serious. The Fire Department has established stations in fringe areas — the farthest out include 11630 SW 15th, west of Mustang Road, and 17700 SE 104th, east of Triple XXX Road — but water and sewer lines take longer, and the police are still rather far away. Some argue for deannexation, noting that the urbanized part of the city is less than half of its total area; I'd point out that most of the cities in serious decline are those which have no place to expand. (St. Louis, which once was the fourth largest city in the nation, and had 800,000 people as late as 1940, is now down below 350,000, barely making it into the top 50; it's been stuck within its 61 square miles since about 1880.)

It's hard to argue, though, with this observation:

For now, it looks like we can have our cake and eat it too. But at some point, we may suffer a pretty nasty case of indigestion.

Well, it won't be because we bit off more than we could chew.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:27 AM to City Scene )
This morning in Wichita

Dennis Rader, say sources, has admitted to at least six of the BTK murders in southern Kansas. Rader, who is being held on $10 million bond, could appear in court today.

One new wrinkle: The BTK killings generally took place during a period when Kansas had no death penalty, but it's been suggested that one later murder, not previously linked to the BTK series, may also be charged to Rader, in which case, if convicted, he could be executed.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:27 AM to Dyssynergy )
The semi-final frontier

Had I $150k to spare (maybe I should put up a tip jar, huh?), I'd definitely want to take a spin in this contraption, and I'd only have to drive out to Burns Flat to get to it.

(Courtesy of Gridskipper, minus a couple of points for their chronic inability to spell "Oklahoma.")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:18 AM to Soonerland )
Waiting for the recall notices

I have stayed away from the Creationist 2.0 Intelligent Design debate, largely because both sides of the argument have been pretty much beaten to death.

Well, except for this angle: Maybe the design isn't all that damn intelligent, you know?

(Via the very bright Chris Lawrence.)

Welcome to Macy's

The merger of Federated Department Stores and May Department Stores Co. will affect Oklahoma City in one major way: the Foley's stores owned by May, once the deal goes through, will eventually be rebranded as Macy's, Federated's major regional brand.

Ironically, Federated used to own Foley's, based in Houston, and Dallas-based Sanger Harris; the two chains were merged in 1987 under the Foley's name and sold to May in 1988.

Federated will also acquire David's Bridal stores from May, but I expect no name changes at David's.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:21 PM to City Scene )
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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