1 May 2005
You were who again?
It's fun to introduce oneself as a blogger for Power Line at events like this. In the various "day jobs" I've held, the reaction when I introduce and identify myself is pretty uniform a reasonably respectful acknowledgment. As a blogger, by contrast, I almost invariably receive one of two reactions, glowing praise or a look of total incomprehension.
Myself, I'm working on somehow fusing the two.
We do it differently
The fall of Saigon propelled thousands of Vietnamese out of their homeland and into the States as refugees, and quite a few found themselves in and around Oklahoma City, sponsored by local citizens or by area charities. And once here, they went to work, partly because the sponsors gave them encouragement, but mostly because, well, that's what they do.
At least, that's what I've always believed. The Oklahoman has been running stories on the Vietnamese in Oklahoma for the past few days, and from this Friday article, something jumped out at me:
Refugees themselves bragged about their quick path to self-sufficiency. On the 10th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, the Vietnamese American Association of Oklahoma City reported that only 15.6 percent of Indochinese refugees in Oklahoma remained dependent on public assistance after 18 months here. The comparable rate in California at the time was about 80 percent.
Were the refugees in California somehow different from the refugees in Oklahoma? I don't have any reason to think so. Which means that the reason the Oklahoma refugees did so much better, most likely, was the relatively low level of benefits present-day progressives would presumably call it "stingy" provided at that time in Oklahoma.
Last summer I wrote about Oklahoma City's Asian District, and quoted local real-estate magnate Tom Waken, whose offices are in the District, as follows:
The Asian business people staked out Classen Blvd. in 1975.... they are responsible for bringing Classen from a dying area to a place where business is thriving and property owners and business owners are paying more taxes into the city's treasury than they were previously.
Which is the sort of thing that works, even in California.
Loud but never square
Still, my mind drew a blank upon encountering the phrase "ear threads", even though its meaning should be sort of obvious.
So much for my delusions of fashionista-hood.
Ten out of ten for style
With the singular exception of I Capture the Castle, no motion picture has ever caused me more apprehension than has The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and recent fanboy condemnation hadn't made me feel any better about it.
So I betook myself to Tinseltown this afternoon for the first showing of what I refuse to call H2G2, and I'm pleased to report that it stands up pretty well. I didn't want a straight transcription of the book, or of the radio series, which is where I learned all this stuff; what I wanted was about two hours of visuals that did justice to Douglas Adams' wordplay, and mostly that's what I got, though a few catchphrases I might have liked to have heard once more were conspicuous by their absence. The film departs from Adams' original premise in a couple of small ways and in one large one: the character of Trillian, relatively insignificant before, has been redeveloped into someone sufficiently real to provide some sort of motivation for the otherwise-phlegmatic Arthur Dent. By holy Zarquon's singing fish, he might actually be in love with her, and Zooey Deschanel makes it believable, even as she makes you wonder what, other than a source of entertainment, she ever saw in Zaphod Beeblebrox. Trufans, of course, are supposed to hate this sort of sentimental rubbish.
And there are a few disappointments: the clash between Arthur and the bulldozers isn't as frenetic as I might have hoped, and the Magratheans are given relatively short shrift. But I was quite thrilled with Slartibartfast's factory tour, and Vogon poetry is every bit as bad as I remembered it. If you can think of fifty things that you loved about any earlier version of Hitchhiker's, this new film will deliver on 42 of them.
2 May 2005
Does two make a trend?
Earlier this year, I wrote about the Green-walled Garden Club of Frederick, Maryland, which issued a cookbook as a fundraiser in which the recipe sections were set off by photographs of club members, 55 and up, in "varying degrees of undress." (It's still available here.)
Now a California group is doing likewise. Making It with the Canyon Ladies is a fundraiser for the Colman Museum in Centerville, outside Chico. Each of the Canyon Ladies, ranging from fortysomething to eightysomething, poses with an artifact from the Museum.
Did Calendar Girls really start all this? And, more important, do I need another cookbook?
It wasn't even in the catalog
Two buyout firms Texas Pacific Group and Warburg Pincus LLC will acquire the Dallas-based Neiman Marcus department-store chain for $100 a share, about $5.1 billion.
Neiman operates 37 full-line stores, 35 under its own name; the firm also owns two Bergdorf Goodman stores in New York (who knew Bergdorf's was still around?), the Last Call clearance outlets, and mail-order house The Horchow Collection.
The success of Neiman Marcus, say analysts, is due to its continued emphasis on high-end products: there is no push to expand to the "near-luxury" market. Neiman's average customer is a woman 45 to 65 with a median annual income of $285,000.
Neiman Marcus operates (of course) zero stores in Oklahoma.
Not that this helps me, particularly
According to this essay on craigslist, there are fifteen reasons why geeky and/or nerdish guys make great boyfriends. One of these, apparently, is fidelity of a sort:
You won't have to worry much about your geek guy getting his "groove" on with club hotties because, frankly, he'll be too busy rooting around under his computer wondering where that spare cable went. You won't have to worry about him flirting with other women because, 9 out of 10 times, he'll zip right by them in a perfect b-line towards the nearest electronics store.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go run Defrag.
(Via the eminently-sane Chris Lawrence.)
Not the Web server
I truly love stuff like this:
[A] record written by a white Englishman imitating Native Americans as portrayed by white Americans and made famous by a Dane with a vaguely Hawaiian sound, arranged by a Canadian, became the biggest record in black New York.
Not to mention a British B-side that overtook its flip to sell a million, and the influence of this tune on American surf music.
And that's just the first half-century of Jerry Lordan's "Apache," recorded by everyone from the Ventures to Stan "Hot Butter" Free, lately a source of hip-hop beats. Even the third-worst musician in the world I have reference to me once recorded a version, circa 1976, with my stolid yet fumbling organ work overlaying Free's rhythm bed from four years earlier. (The tape box containing the stereo mixdown of the four-track original has been hermetically sealed and abandoned on Funk and Wagnalls' porch.)
The same article is up at soul sides, complete with sources. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some records to spin.
(Via Jesse Walker at Hit and Run.)
Am I down with G.O.P.?
Hmmm. Actually, no, I don't feel particularly special, but thank you for asking.
(Via She Who Will Be Obeyed!)
3 May 2005
It takes three hands to handle
A fifteen-pound hamburger? In Clearfield, Pennsylvania, you betcha:
Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, which lost its crown as the home of the world's biggest burger earlier this year, is now offering a new burger that weighs a whopping 15 pounds.
Dubbed the Beer Barrel Belly Buster, the burger comes with 10.5 pounds of ground beef, 25 slices of cheese, a head of lettuce, three tomatoes, two onions, a cup-and-a-half each of mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, mustard and banana peppers and a bun.
It costs $30.
Um, hold the mayo.
There may have been a time when I might have tried to polish off one of those. But there's never been a time when I would have succeeded; I might go through 10½ pounds of ground beef in a month, maybe.
(Via Vinny Ferrari, who also isn't buying.)
Brussels being Brussels, a 10-point directive on the proper use of the [European Commission office's] sauna was sent to the assorted Eurocrats, the Telegraph wrote: "Nudity is de rigueur, according to the commission's infrastructure office, but bravado is not. 'Reckless competition about who stands heat best is out of the question. Leave your clothes in the dressing room nakedness is natural,' the code tells its 18 male and seven female commissioners." The facility is mixed, but limited to commissioners, heads of cabinet and VVIPs.
I am, of course, a NVIPAA (Not Very Important Person At All), but I'm thinking that wardrobe considerations in a sauna are just about enough to peg the Futility Meter; it's rather disheartening to see allegedly-sophisticated Europeans (who, after all, aren't Americans and therefore are supposed to have cultural values that extend beyond McDonald's and the Hummer) having to be told to doff their duds at 180 degrees Fahrenheit.
And, as Ford Prefect reminds us, it's useful to know where your towel is.
Entrance, stage left
It's rather a long distance 22 miles between the west end of the Turner Turnpike at I-35 in north Oklahoma City and the next gate, in Wellston.
Construction will begin next year on a new gate that splits the distance, to be built on Hogback Road, which passes under the Turner east of the Indian Meridian south of NE 164th Street.
Still undetermined is the amount of toll to be charged; for passenger cars, the 22-mile stretch to Wellston costs a buck, minus a nickel if you use PikePass.
Pajamas in Walden
The Blog of Henry David Thoreau turns out to be fragments of Thoreau's actual journal, ordered by date if not necessarily by year.
Of course, I had to see this to see if it was running Movable Forts and Magazines v.1.0.
(Via Reflections in d minor, and I'm sure Thoreau didn't wear pajamas, but bear with me here.)
Springing forward to the fallback position
Heh. I'm beginning to think I need one of those "unoriginal response" jars.
4 May 2005
A handful of woolyboogers
Based on the events of the last week or so, I have to conclude that Lieutenant Governor Mary Fallin thinks the quickest road to the Governor's Mansion is to paint the Senate as a bunch of do-nothings.
Which, most of the time, they are. The Democrats' powder-taking, reminiscent of the way their Texas counterparts fled quorum calls during the redistricting dust-up in Austin, might be characterized as a tad juvenile. The spectacle of the Republicans doing the same was comparably silly. But the Democrats do have one thing on their side: they can point to Mary Fallin and say "Well, she started it." The state GOP is asking the state Supreme Court just what power Fallin actually has; they could have saved themselves a trip by asking Mike Morgan.
Oh, the pertinent Constitutional passage?
The Senate shall, at the beginning of each regular session and at such other times as may be necessary, elect one of its members President pro tempore, who shall preside over its deliberations in the absence or place of the Lieutenant Governor; and the Senate shall provide for all its standing committees and, by a majority vote, elect the members thereof.
Not the most precise wording, to be sure, but if the writers of the Constitution had intended that the Lieutenant Governor should always preside when present, it's reasonable to assume that they would have said so, rather than go through the trouble of requiring the Senate to elect a President pro tempore in the first place.
And frankly, I'm inclined to distrust anyone's bill when its proponents insist that it should pass without going through a conference committee, even though it didn't get out of committee in the house in which it was introduced.
Anyone for a nuclear option?
So long, Tony
The war in Iraq is not appreciably more popular in the United Kingdom than it is in the United States, and it's proving to be a worrisome issue for Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Tony is getting savaged over there over the war. And guess who has turned up to help him out in his election, to help him be re-elected over the objections of those who thought they were lied to?
The very same team that was helping to get John Kerry elected, muttering the whole time that Bush lied to get the country into a war.
That's right. The whole bunch of them: Bob Shrum, Stan Greenberg et al. The Democrats' A-Team.
So here they were in the U.S. saying Bush lied, but now there they are in Britain saying Tony didn't lie.
Of course, no one expects anything different from political consultants. And we know what to expect from Bob Shrum:
Shrum, you may remember, is the political consultant who quit the Carter campaign in 1976 because it wasn't enough like the McGovern campaign, which he had helped lose in 1972. Shrum went on to help Ted Kennedy lose in 1980. Then Dukakis in 1988. Then Al Gore in 2000.
And, in case you'd forgotten, John Kerry in 2004.
Expect the moving vans at Number 10.
The Treasury vacancy is filled
Governor Henry has appointed State Finance Director Scott Meacham to the State Treasurer slot, replacing Robert Butkin, who is leaving at the end of this month to become dean of the University of Tulsa law school. Butkin's term would otherwise have ended in 2006, at which time Meacham says he'll run for the office.
Budget Division Director Claudia San Pedro will take over as Finance Director.
High in WTF Factor
Integration today does not mean assimilation. Rather, it means a recognition of the value of a pluralistic society in which ideals are shared at the same time that different identities are values. They involve a recognition of the fact that integration does not describe the static demographic mix but rather involves a dynamic process of dialogue. This is a powerful and, to my mind, vital contribution to our society's understanding of diversity and I want to endorse it wholeheartedly.
Never mind "our society's understanding of diversity"; what happened to our society's understanding of English? I've read this paragraph three times and the most I can get out of it is "I like the pretty colors." Nothing wrong with that, particularly, but this guy writes like he's being paid by the buzzword.
Criminy. I got accepted at this place, back in the Jurassic period. Maybe I should consider myself fortunate to have wound up elsewhere.
(Via John Rosenberg, who can't make heads or tails of it either.)
Which is, of course, the square of the charge of the electron divided by the speed of light times Planck's constant.
And also the number of weeks we've had the Carnival of the Vanities, the 137th version of which is hosted by Fresh Politics. A week's worth of superior bloggage, just in case you missed it the first time around.
Telephone numbers that ten years ago were rendered as something like 555-2368 are now occasionally appearing with a dot instead of the dash: 555.2368. (This is even weirder-looking when the area code is included: 405.555.2368.) It's not a problem, though, since you don't dial the punctuation anyway.
Now comes a new wrinkle. A local property-management company is rendering in-between addresses in decimal form: they have, for instance, a 1-bedroom apartment, not at 221½ NW 36th Street (not its real street), but at 221.5. This could be troublesome, especially since the Postal Service has what it calls a "standard format" for just about every address to which it delivers, and the standard for this isn't 221.5, or even 221½, but "221 1/2". (Most of your automation systems don't support the ½ character, and the Postal Service loves automation systems: they make
When I lived in Charleston, South Carolina, there was a dealer in antiques at the east end of St. Michael's Alley, on the other side of 2. They duly reported their address as 0. The USPS can handle that, at least.
5 May 2005
Striking fear into the Fourteenth Floor
Kirk Kerkorian, last seen in Detroit complaining about the Daimler-Benz/Chrysler merger and how it had cost him mucho dollars, is now seeking to buy up to 9 percent of GM.
What are the chances that Kerkorian will sit back and clip coupons? Next to nil. I mean, this is the man who bought Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1969, sold it in 1986 (to Ted Turner), bought it back before the year was out, sold it again in 1990, bought it back once more in 1996, and finally unloaded it on Sony this year. Obviously GM is far larger than MGM ever was, but Kerkorian is not at all cowed by the General's sheer size. Rick Wagoner, GM chairman, must be wondering what he did to deserve this.
That E Pluribus stuff really works
Eastern Kentucky, like everywhere else, has its lazy good-for-nothings. It has criminals and unsophisticated unskilled workers and people who've never been more than 30 miles from home. But I've lived in Florida and New Jersey and Tennessee and Alabama. I've spent quite a bit of time in Manhattan. I've visited friends in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Texas, California, Arizona and Indiana. I've been to pretty much every state east of the Mississippi and a lot west of it. Everywhere I've gone, there's the same array of folks. Manhattan is pretty different from Pine Lick, but someone who's never been outside of New York City can be just as parochial as someone who's never left their home county in Kentucky. It's not so much what your experience is, but the narrowness of it and the mindset that accompanies it that results in the Boss Hoggs of this world. And from what I've seen, there's more than a few Boss Hoggs in the Upper East Side.
Which reminds me: I have to start planning World Tour '05.
Leaders of the Oklahoma Senate have, for now, buried the hatchet: everyone showed up for a quorum call, Mary Fallin got one more chance with the gavel, and the stalled GOP workers'-comp bill was given one last reading, but wound up in the dustbin on a 26-22 vote against suspending the rules to give it further consideration. (By coincidence, the Democrat/Republican ratio in the Senate is 26:22.)
With this out of the way, perhaps the remaining bills on the subject can be turned into something resembling legislation. As for that hatchet, it may be buried, but you know they remember where they buried it.
They're no angels, either
Xrlq (rhymes with "strlq") notes that an Assemblyman from Orange County has introduced a bill to require a disclaimer by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim to the effect that, well, they're not actually in Los Angeles, which is exactly the sort of consequence that logically follows from the adoption of the second-dumbest team name in recent history.
I am reasonably certain that 42nd and Treadmill will not be participating and will not be at all happy if I'm participating in No Pants Day tomorrow.
I don't think it will help if I send them this OU Daily editorial, either.
6 May 2005
Anyway, the day in question was Wednesday, on which I had (gasp!) fried chicken as the main course at dinnertime. And while I thought I was properly respectful I have learned, for instance, that it is advisable to at least wear something during the frying process I suspect that the proponents would have objected to this entrée no matter what steps I took.
Oh, well. I said all that to say all this: Matt Rosenberg wants your chicken recipes. He's already gotten one from me. Keep them simple and, if at all possible, respectful. If there are enough entries, there might even be a prize.
Meanwhile, this being the Friday before Mother's Day, I think I'll work up my mom's stock Friday offering: fish sticks, French fries, and Brussels sprouts.
At least there's only ten
Pass it on, as they say.
Is this even legal?
Somebody with more than $21,000 to spare is going to buy a Dream Date with Carmen Electra on eBay.
Well, someone 15 to 20 years old, anyway. (The lovely Ms Electra is thirty-three.) And, of course, 17-and-unders can't bid on eBay, but that's another issue entirely.
Meanwhile, I continue to fixate upon [fill in name of female blogger], whose price is far above rubies, let alone Carmen's.
Meanwhile, we get the Lincoln Zephyr
I don't know which of these is the most upsetting:
A chap on one of the message boards I read describes himself as a "card-carrying nudist."
Nothing wrong with that, but I really don't want to know where he carries the card.
7 May 2005
Because it sort of fits
Today being May 7th, it seems like a good time to exhume "126.96.36.199." by City Boy, a #27 hit in the late summer of '78 that sounds a little like ELO, a little like Queen, and more than a little like Mutt Lange had his hands on it, which he did.
(As always, MP3s evaporate before you know it.)
Down on the farm
One of the more reasonable objections to power production by wind turbine is "What if you get enough wind to blow down a turbine?"
Well, there wasn't that much wind yesterday 12 mph or so but a tower at an FPL Energy wind farm near Weatherford snapped: two-thirds of the structure came crashing to the ground. The turbine had been operating for only a week when it broke; officials are at a loss to explain how it happened. Power delivery was unaffected.
It's only a number
A friend of mine, a Ph.D. with specialties in psychology and statistics, once sat on a plane next to an older woman who had achieved a great deal and spoke proudly of her five grown children, who were all achievers on their own, holding advanced degrees and honored positions in their professions. The woman credited their success to home schooling.
My friend challenged her on that, saying that heredity must also have something to do with their success. "Yes," the woman replied. "It would if they hadn't all been adopted."
We expect so much from "intelligence," despite the fact that our very definitions of it are inconsistent, and even though the tools we have to "measure" it are questionable at best.
[M]ost people are born smart and ... we use the likes of IQ tests to pound populations of uniquely gifted individuals into bell curves.
IQ is a head trip. There's something misleading, even delusional, about it.
No doubt those who score well are smart. But average or low IQ scores are often meaningless, except to the degree that they fortify our belief that intelligence is a fixed value, like height or weight, and as easy to measure. The whole culture we've built around IQ tests serves to legitimize a creepy form of elitism. Worse, it substantiates our need to treat individuals always as members of populations. As typicalities. Nowhere is this more apparent, and obsolete, than in corporate org charts. Yes, hierachies are useful. But so are human beings that like working, and advancing, in companies that value their unique gifts.
And, of course, fitting people into those corporate org charts was the primary motivation for this sort of number-crunching in the first place: find suitably-elevated positions for the ostensibly "gifted," and provide subtle discouragement for those who didn't test well and whose dreams would inevitably be crushed.
This is not any kind of an argument for the abandonment of testing: in an era where no child is supposed to be left behind, there exists a perfectly-legitimate need for the evaluation of students. What we don't need: the compulsion to express those evaluations on a single scale, and the blithe assumption that the scale itself is anything more than a statistical abstraction.
The crankiest guy in movies
Giamatti shows up answering 20 Questions in Playboy this month the same issue in which I am proven, once again, to have predicted the Playmate of the Year wrongly and he sounds a little bit like me on some of these:
When I got that part [in Sideways] I thought, Who's going to believe Virginia Madsen would fall for me? But it was great that my looks weren't used as a gag, gimmick or joke. Hey, I could probably lose some weight and get my teeth fixed, but I don't want to.
Whom would you switch bodies and faces with?
What's your biggest concession to vanity?
Growing up, were you an irritable, misanthropic little kid?
I demur only on the "hottie glamour women": while I can imagine being Cameron Diaz for a day, a weekend, or whatever, I'm not so sure about Jessica Simpson (the loss of 60 IQ points), Paris Hilton (the possibility of spending long afternoons at the clinic) or Britney Spears (the thought of having to spend time with Kevin Federline).
Still, while obviously I don't have Giamatti's charm, his not-entirely-inexplicable appeal to the babes, or any discernible talent, we seem to be walking in similar shoes. And I definitely liked this bit:
I've done plenty of crud. I'm fine doing crud, but it's nice to be in some noncrud now.
Although noncrud, they tell me, is much, much preferable.
Let me roll it
I have no idea how long my blogroll is, and I'm not going to count all the entries thereupon to check. (BlogShares lists 181 under "All Outgoing Links," but this includes items that were linked in entries on the front page the last time they spidered the place.) I have no idea how many other blogs have me on their rolls, though I would guess somewhere around, oh, 181 or so.
And no, I don't use Blogrolling or any of those other
Which is by way of saying that I run this roll, not to score Brownie points with Technorati or to suck up to N. Z. Bear, but simply as a convenience to me. It contains some A-list names, yes, but it also contains a lot of blogs that don't have A-level audiences yet.
Aldahlia notes that some people find the very concept of blogrolls hurtful, and gives this notion the sort of scorn I think it deserves:
[I]f you honestly think that perma-linking other blogs "hurts" the blog-o-sphere, I can only assume that you are the Athena of the blogging Universe. That you popped out of some server's head, fully-formed, with a worshipping audience ready to comment on your brilliance. Aren't you just special?
The rest of us, however, have to build an audience. And, links are how you do that. And, when I find something new and promising, or someone that I can't believe I missed all this time, or just something cool in general, I'm gonna link them. Because they deserve it.
And, I don't think this call for the withdrawal of blogrolls has anything to do with preventing psychic pain in the world-o-bloggers.
It sounds a whole lot more like, "Well, if I can't play the Pirate Captain, then I'm gonna take my toys and go home. The rest of y'all can just walk the plank."
Why in the world would anyone think something like that?
The general theory is that "I'm not being taken seriously."
"I only have 500, 1000, 2500, etc, hits a day, and that guy gets 50,000 a day for posting material that isn't even any good or fresh or anything, and it's not fair."
God forbid there should be a Committee for Fairness to Bloggers. (Why, someone would put up a Blogspot blog just to fisk its findings.)
I never made the January issue of TIME
And just before I run out of words that rhyme
I really should tell you that deep in my heart
I don't give a damn where I stand on the charts
Not as long as the sun sinks into the west
And that's going to be a pretty serious test.....of time
And yes, my audience has grown, from 6400 over the first three years to about 6400 a week today, but it's not because I've been embraced by the A-list (I haven't) or because I've worked diligently to promote the site (I haven't): it's simply that I turn out rather a lot of words, and sooner or later somebody reads them and finds them somewhat worthy. In other words, there's some truth to that possibly-apocryphal Woody Allen quote about how half/80 percent/90 percent (choose one) of life is just showing up. It's not like I'm anything special, but dammit, I'm here.
8 May 2005
First past the post
What do South Belfast and northeast Tulsa have in common? Michael Bates explains:
In Thursday's [UK] vote, unionist parties received 51.1% of the vote, while nationalist parties received 41.3% the rest of the votes went to three minor parties which are neither unionist nor nationalist. Even though a majority of voters supported unionists, the winning candidate was a nationalist. Most of the nationalist votes went to the SDLP [Social Democratic and Labour Party] candidate, who took 32.3% of the vote, while the DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] and UUP [Ulster Unionist Party] candidates split the unionist vote almost down the middle 28.4% and 22.7% respectively. If there were a runoff, the DUP candidate would almost certainly have won, but there isn't going to be a runoff just a "winner" who had two-thirds of the voters against him.
And this relates to Tulsa how?
Tulsa's upcoming City Council special election no primary, no runoff, no majority required has the same flaw, only to a greater degree.
And in Bates' worst-case scenario, the two reform-minded candidates will wind up in a virtual tie for second place while a representative of Business As Usual waltzes into District 5 with a minority of the votes but enough to finish first.
In Oklahoma City, this is the sort of situation that produces a runoff, but not in Tulsa. I have to wonder if this isn't the sort of divide-and-conquer business that's kept the Tulsa power structure in power all along.
The unexciting life
If bloggers are ever to replace the role of big media institutions as responsible purveyors of information, they're going to have to cover some truly boring stuff, like drainage boards and ethics commissions.
I dunno. I don't seem to have any problems writing about truly boring stuff.
What the traffic will bear
And some days, the bear eats you. From OKCBusiness:
Despite being one of the three cities considered for the nation's seventh largest convention the American Legion National Convention Oklahoma City lost the bid this week to host the event because of the room charges of its downtown hotels.
David Kellerman, the director of the American Legion's operations in Oklahoma, and Christine Wise, the marketing director of the Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, confirmed the city was told it lost the  convention for one reason only.
So the Legionnaires will go to Milwaukee, because:
Kellerman said Milwaukee's average hotel rate was $99.
He said he advised Oklahoma City officials that the city's proposal needed to ensure the downtown hotels specifically the Sheraton, the Courtyard by Marriott and the Renaissance didn't include room rates above $107. However, the hotels refused to budge from rates ranging between $124 to $154 a night, he said and Wise confirmed.
Hotels in the Reno/Meridian area were more competitive, but they're five to seven miles from the convention center.
We can argue that okay, we're new at competing for top-tier events, we haven't figured out the fine points yet. But we can only play that card once.
(Via The Downtown Guy.)
A Busch-league proposition
As far back as I can remember, which is farther than I'd care to remember sometimes, the St Louis Cardinals were on KMOX radio (1120); I used to pick up the games in Charleston back in the 1960s.
Apparently a blowtorch station that reaches about half the states in the Union isn't good enough for the Birds anymore, though:
The Cardinals' contract with KMOX (1120 AM) expires after this season, and team officials have talked with KTRS (550 AM) owners about buying that station and moving the broadcasts there.
KTRS, once KSD (I think), is a 5,000 watt regional station that has fairly decent reach but nowhere near the coverage of KMOX, especially at night when the directional pattern kicks in.
I understand the team's wanting to control the product, and the radio market has changed radically in recent years, but this still seems wrong, and Brian J. Noggle knows why:
Building the brand through a consolidated marketing plan by putting the broadcasts on a small radio station that most Cardinals fans cannot hear? The MBAs love it!
And when the fans in Iowa, Kansas, Tennessee, and Indiana can't get the broadcast on KMOX, don't spend money for satellite radio [XM carries MLB games], and eventually stop making the pilgrimage to Busch stadium, the MBAs won't understand how the loss of tradition in a longstanding sport franchise ultimately hurts more than it makes hip.
I expect to have no trouble getting Cards games here in Oklahoma City, but it won't be the same without KMOX.
9 May 2005
Over the weekend I mentioned the failure of the city to land the American Legion convention in 2010 at least partially because some people specifically, the downtown hotel operators refused to yield on their room rates.
If this Capital of the New Century stuff is going to catch on, the powers that be are going to have to realize that they're still babes in the woods at this level of competition. Mistakes will be made. There's one hard lesson to learn, and everyone who's in the business of promoting this city is going to have to learn it: you can't have everything your way.
A professional street-skating exhibition planned for the Mat Hoffman Action Sports Park down on the river may be moving to Edmond instead because Oklahoma City insists on enforcing a helmet rule on the pros, despite the markedly-lower risk presented by the style of skating involved.
Repeat after me, Parks Commission: you can't have everything your way. Nobody is going to believe that this town has anything to offer if everything that is offered comes with strings attached.
What will we miss out on next?
One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small.
And sometimes I get the feeling that the pharmaceutical industry is counting on me to take both of them. Constant drug advertising, coupled with the tagline "Ask your doctor if Suchandsuchium is right for you." Instant demand, whether it's "right for you" or not.
There's no denying that some really good, useful drugs have been developed to deal with some really horrible illnesses. But we are playing with fire when we allow pharmaceutical companies to do direct marketing of their products. A few years ago when we (who?) decided that it might be ok for drug companies to start advertising on TV you just had to know it would come down to what we have now, with wall to wall ads for erectile dysfunction drugs and smiley happy little clouds bouncing along in a cheery haze from a chemical concoction.
Got some sniffles? Ask your doctor for this pill.
Feeling kinda sore? Ask your doctor for this pill.
Feeling a little blue and sad? Ask your doctor for this pill.
And of course, the cost of all this puffery is rolled into the cost of the drug.
Perhaps I was better off with the ones Mother gave me. They didn't do anything at all, but they didn't cost me (or her) a thousand dollars a year either.
Google: the great equalizer
According to the old small-p proverb, "The words you speak today should be soft and tender...for tomorrow you may have to eat them."
With the rise of the Net, you may not even have to wait for tomorrow, and someone will be more than happy to shove them back down your throat.
Scenario: North Dakota high-school senior bashes the yearbook faculty advisor on some Xanga site. Said advisor's daughter discovers the post and reproduces it on her blog, with, um, recommendations to the student.
Just one brief passage:
I'm still so impressed by your assertiveness and your take-charge take-this-spoon-and-shove-it attitude. You'll enjoy your career of supersizing meals for customers.
In a different world, this kid would be painting "Romani ite domum" on the walls of the city. For now, he's just going to be screaming for a sitz bath.
Moving the pickpocket to the front
Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-IN) sent this out [link is to a Microsoft Word document] last month in an effort to line up sponsors for an unusual piece of legislation:
I ask you to join me in opening our constituents' eyes by repealing the federal government's ability to withhold taxes from the paychecks of our hard-working constituents. The Federal Tax Withholding Repeal Act of 2005 would repeal the 62-year-old law allowing the federal government to withhold federal income taxes and social security taxes. Instead, this bill would implement a system in which employees would make quarterly payments to the federal government.
When this blindfold is lifted from the eyes of the taxpayer and they realize the staggering amount of money the federal government takes from their paycheck, taxpayers will demand a smaller and more efficient government. This is an important act to help taxpayers understand the magnitude the federal government plays in their financial lives.
Actually, I know how much Washington takes from me, and cutting them a check for a couple thousand dollars every three months is far more reminder than I need, but "staggering" is still the right word.
Withholding, you'll remember, was originally implemented as an emergency wartime measure during World War II. And this isn't the first attempt to get rid of it: Rep. Ron Paul proposed switching to monthly tax payments in 2001.
I doubt that Hostettler's bill will be any more successful than Paul's was, but I'd like to propose an alternative in its absence: require the Feds to pay interest on the tax money withheld. After all, they're preventing the owners of the money from getting any return on it.
(Via Kim du Toit.)
Welcome to the last level
It's called the Unified Theory of Career Nervousness, and Sgt. Mom explains it thusly:
Given that complete and total dickheads ought to be pretty evenly distributed throughout the ranks, I tried to account for the disproportionate accumulation of them at the rank of Technical Sergeant [E-6] or Major with eighteen to nineteen years of service. I believe that Sgt. Mom's Unified Theory of Career Nervousness accounts for this phenomenon.
My theory is predicated upon the fact that a career military member can retire with a somewhat adequate pension at twenty years, but that most enlisted members want very much to retire as an E-7, and that officers want very much to retire as a Colonel. At those ranks, you can stay on past the twenty year mark, but if you have not … oh well. As they say in Moscow, "Tuff shitski, comrade." An E-6, or a major with just a year to two to go before that twenty-year cut off, and facing the prospect that making it to the next rank is problematical to impossible … well, that person is very often either sour and embittered or afraid that the least little mark against will screw up the chance they do have of making it to that next magical promotion. The sour and embittered, or the terribly ambitious are not nice people to work for. Three guesses as to whom they will take it out on, and the first two guesses do not count.
I've never been terribly ambitious, though I'll admit to "sour and embittered." As it happens, though, I never made E-6. (Then again, I was only on the rolls for six years, not eighteen or nineteen, and one doesn't pile up stripes as an inactive reservist, which I was at the end.)
And a commenter to the original post said that insufferability, in his experience, peaked at the E-7 level: "Having received that coveted promotion, they concluded that they were perfect and proceeded to act accordingly."
Blame it on Rio
Apparently this is Orgasm Day in Esperantina, a town in northeastern Brazil.
I assume it comes only once a year.
(Via Cutting to the Chase.)
10 May 2005
Fresh angles in the public square
After the kerfuffle over last December's Lakehoma School musical in Mustang, it was clear something was going to be done, and the something begins this way:
Public schools may neither instill nor inhibit religion. They must be places where religion and religious conviction are treated with fairness and respect. Mustang Public Schools uphold the First Amendment by protecting the religious liberty rights of students of all faiths or no faith.
It remains to be seen whether this new policy, adopted by the Mustang school board last night, will be enough to keep everybody happy, but the opening words, at least, seem scrupulously fair. (The full document hasn't been posted yet.)
Put another nickel in
You don't remember Carlton Cole Magee, but you almost certainly have seen his invention (U.S. Patent #2,118,318, granted in May 1938).
Some years earlier, Carl Magee had wound up on the traffic committee of the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, and one of the problems on his plate was the tendency of people who worked downtown to use up the available parking spaces, leaving few or none for retail customers.
Magee's solution was both elegantly simple and incredibly annoying, at least at first: the city would install meters of his design alongside the streets, which would collect a small fee in exchange for a short period of time. The very first parking meter went into service on 16 July 1935; Park-O-Meter, a firm partly owned by Magee, started up shortly thereafter.
There's no doubt that Magee understood the revenue potential of his little box on a pole: his patent application specifies that the device is for "measuring the ... use of parking or other space, for the use of which it is desirous an incidental charge be made upon a time basis."
Oklahoma City is currently upgrading its downtown parking meters, which gives The Downtown Guy an idea:
[W]hy not re-install either the original parking meter or a duplicate of it where the world's first parking meter stood at Park and Robinson. Install it, charge the original rates for this meter and this one only, and put up a sign next to it explaining that the world's first parking meter was invented and installed here. I know, we're not supposed to like these gadgets, but they're a fact of life and why not give tourists and visitors a whimsical chuckle and picture spot while they are here?
Works for me. I suspect that people's irritation with meters will subside, at least temporarily, when they see that very first meter in action.
Incidentally, POM Incorporated, descended from the original Park-O-Meter company, still makes parking meters in Russellville, Arkansas.
(Ronald B. Luttrell II, who died in 2000, was working on a book about the history of the parking meter; I have borrowed liberally from his notes, some of which are collected at The Parking Meter Page. A few minor changes have been made since the original post.)
How can people be so heartless?
And after reading this post last night from Andrea Harris, perhaps three of them.
[insert "seven separate fools" joke here]
I am generally distrustful of things that are pitched as "bipartisan," largely because they're so, well, binary: you got your Democrats, you got your Republicans, and what's left isn't worth a bucket of John Nance Garner's bodily fluids.
The parties in question don't even agree on what "bipartisan" means, as R. Alex explains:
A Republican believes that something is bi-partisan so long as it has the vote of a couple of Democrats, even if 95% of the Democrats voted against it. Democrats, on the other hand, believe that bi-partisanship is Republicans coming around in their thinking and agreeing with the eminently reasonable and thoughtful Democrat policies and when Republicans don't (because they are Republicans for a reason), Democrats get into a huff and complain about how partisan the Republicans are.
Whether this has anything to do with the GOP's transformation into the Party of Big Government (the Democrats, of course, are the Party of Enormously Huge Frickin' Government), I leave to the pundits. But when donkey and elephant agree these days, I tend to look around for snakes.
Correcting the oversupply
One of the graffiti at the Old Economists' Home says: "If you want less of something, tax it."
[L]et's tax checkered flannel shirts, polyester suits, car alarms that make 20 obnoxious sounds and never turn off, Dr. Phil, mullets, Britney Spears CDs, bare-midriff tops over size 6, Speedos in any size, magnetic ribbons on the backs of cars in any color, Starbucks orders of more than four words, pop-up ads, tofu, PowerPoint, and gum.
A few of those, I contend, are at least somewhat arguable.
(A blog tax, you say? Bosh.)
11 May 2005
It stays with you
Saw this on the woefully-underused Oklahoma City craigslist:
I miss snow cones, Robertsons' beef jerky, REAL barbecue, thunderstorms, crickets, 23rd street piercing studio, Gary England's tornado alerts, Garfield's perfect margaritas, Sonic (oh my god! to have a blue coconut slush and some onion rings right now!!!), sweet tea, skinny dipping in shawnee lake, the okc zoo, funnel cakes, Henry Hudson's...
And all my friends and family!!!!
I am somewhat surprised to hear that Sonic hasn't made it to Portland, Oregon yet. And no doubt some people are surprised that it's possible to miss a place like this, especially if you're twenty-four years old; their reaction is closer to this.
On the other hand, I expect some people to be surprised that Oklahoma City has a craigslist, even though I told you back in February, and I was hardly the first to notice it.
Fighting poverty one house at a time
Not too long after LBJ declared War on Poverty, bumper stickers began to appear: I FIGHT POVERTY. I WORK.
Too simple a solution for the policy wonks of the day, and certainly too simple a solution for today, when everything is somebody else's fault.
Avoiding long-term poverty is not rocket science. First, graduate from high school. Second, get married before you have children, and stay married. Third, work at any kind of job, even one that starts out paying the minimum wage. And, finally, avoid engaging in criminal behavior.
None of these four provisions, you'll note, contains any racial references whatsoever. And if you were thinking of finding some between the lines, La Shawn Barber advises otherwise:
"Racism" is so inconsequential to black people's lives in 2005 as to be laughably negligible. Given the extent of social pathology in certain "black" communities, I can’t tell you how embarrassing it is to hear black men in expensive suits blaming immoral behavior on "racism." It's archaic, tired, shameful and unimaginative. It bores me to tears as they prattle on about "racism," as if white people have that kind of power over blacks. We're teaching our children that if they fail, blame the white man.
I don't know if I'd characterize its negligibility as "laughable" where it does exist, it's not all that damn funny but for the most part, Jim Crow has flown the coop, and nobody this side of Trent Lott misses the miserable bird. There are entirely too many people who resent the idea that life requires effort, and the ethnicity of that group, whatever it may be, is stunningly insignificant in comparison to its self-destructive mindset.
Postponed until Boys' Night Out
Defamer reports that the soon-to-be-DVDed Director's Cut of Alexander is eight minutes shorter than the theatrical release.
Why would they do such a thing? To, um, straighten it up, perhaps?
Is Warner Bros. trying to de-gay Alexander for the home video market? We'd really hate to lose some of the interesting moments which explored the young conqueror’s fluid sexuality. Without Anthony Hopkins' revealing voiceover that, "It is said that Alexander was never defeated except by Hephaiston's thighs, and occasionally by the huge, glistening cock that dangled between them," or the scene where the two fast friends are chased out of the Academy by rock-wielding bullies taunting them as "toga-biters," all [Oliver] Stone really has left is Jared Leto in eyeliner, a couple of elephants, and Rosario Dawson's unexpectedly huge rack. Maybe they think that'll play better in Oklahoma.
Gee, thanks for the cultural stereotype, Bunsen.
Actually, you had us at Rosario Dawson's rack.
Which is twice sixty-nine, not that there's anything wrong with that.
Meanwhile, the 138th Carnival of the Vanities can be seen and enjoyed at Cynical Nation.
Hold your tongues, knaves
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that members of the public who address the Board of Supervisors are expected to adhere to the highest standards of political correctness. Declared Board President Aaron Deskin:
[D]iscrimination and harassment on the basis of race, religion, color, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, weight, height or place of birth will not be tolerated in San Francisco city government.
(Via Tongue Tied.)
12 May 2005
Brad on a roll
SurveyUSA ranks the nation's governors by approval/disapproval ratings, and Brad Henry should probably be smiling: he's doing better than 40 of them.
As of Tuesday, based on data gathered over the previous weekend, 59 percent of the Oklahomans surveyed think the Guv is doing just fine; 30 percent think quite the opposite.
The average is 48/41; bringing up the rear are some people with serious problems, Ohio's Bob Taft being the worst off by a considerable margin. There doesn't seem to b