1 August 2005
Lest we forget
San Francisco journalist Rose Aguilar interviews Clara Luper.
You really should read the whole thing Luper is one of the three or four most important people in the American civil-rights movement, ever but I wanted to pass on a couple of bits.
Here, Aguilar asks, "What's the climate like today? I notice that when I go to churches, they're either all-white or all-black."
The climate today in Oklahoma has changed. The churches are still the most segregated part of Oklahoma. Our school system has changed, the employment picture has changed on the lower level, but we are still the last ones hired and the first ones fired. I think it's a climate of understanding and credit must not only be given to the NAACP. It must be given to the men that fought in World War II and the Korean War and Vietnam because these guys came back with a different attitude.
It's damned hard to hate someone who helped keep you alive.
And one more:
When I ran for the United States Senate and I was down in what is known as Little Dixie, one of the leaders of the community asked me how I felt about interracial marriage. I really hated that he asked me that because I know so many marriages have failed whether they're white and white or black and black. I told him, I have never seen an elephant having intercourse with an ant and therefore, I believe that anything that God did not want to mate, he made biologically impossible. He didn't like that, but nobody asked me about interracial marriage again. I think people are hung up on the wrong thing.
Wouldn't be the first time.
We've come a long way from the days when we set the miserable standard for Jim Crow, but there's still a way to go.
Thank you, Ms Aguilar, and thank you, Ms Luper.
The Central idea
Back in the days when entire pages of the daily newspaper were given over to Statements of Condition published as advertising by local banks, I used to see this particular proclamation (paraphrased slightly due to failing memory) in small print:
The preceding is the sum of 38,911 accounts. This large number of depositors makes for stability. We invite YOUR account.
This was the tagline at Central National Bank, which began as a Depression-era Morris Plan office, making small loans to individuals and businesses outside the usual banking channels, and eventually becoming big enough to seek a bank charter of its own.
And while Central never rivaled the downtown Big Two, First National and Liberty, in assets, it had more account-holders than either: its focus on smaller accounts attracted people and businesses who thought they would get the back of the corporate hand from the tower-dwellers.
The bank continued to grow, and eventually it spawned a corporate cousin (branches were illegal in those days, and never mind the reproductive process) with the unwieldy name "Friendly National Bank in Southwest Oklahoma City," on the new Southwest Expressway (I-240) at Pennsylvania. Eventually Central wearied of downtown and set up an ultra-modern (for its time) facility at 6th and Classen.
When the banking laws were loosened, Central and Friendly were takeover targets, and eventually they fell into the hands of then-Ohio-based Bank One before the acquisition of downtown giant Liberty. And once Bank One took over Liberty's tower space, offices deemed superfluous, including 6th and Classen, 37th and May, and the 23rd and Classen Gold Dome (which Liberty had acquired with the original Citizens National Bank) were shed.
Bank One itself, of course, eventually was taken over, by J. P. Morgan Chase. But I remember getting something of a twinge when I visited a one-time Friendly facility on the southside and shoving my Chase card into the same slot which used to accommodate Central's infamous mid-1980s That ("Twenty-four Hour Automatic Teller") Card.
The worst job on earth
Contrary to the impression you may have gotten here, it's not mine: I have greater autonomy than one might expect this low on the corporate ladder, and over the years I've gone from grievously underpaid to merely embarrassingly underpaid.
No, there are far worse jobs than mine, though I'd hesitate to speculate as to whether it's worse to practice proctology or to administer pedicures. (The doctor, at least, is presumably paid better.)
And then there were ten
Feel free to recommend a name in Comments. I am mentioning a few here in the hopes that I won't see them again:
Before the heat beats you
You're probably not planning a visit to Desert Hot Springs, California in August if you're anything like me, avoiding the heat is a higher priority than frolicking in the, um, whatever it is they have in the desert [that would be "sand"-ed.] but the Hacienda Hot Springs Inn will meet you halfway, at least five days a week.
The weekend rate at the end, per night, is whatever the temperature is, in degrees Fahrenheit, at 2 pm that day; if it's 110 degrees, your room is $110, plus the usual taxes and such. But to entice people to come in on weekdays, the inn takes that same temperature and slices it in half: fifty-five bucks on that 110-degree day.
On the downside, grumbles Gridskipper, "you'll need every extra penny to buy enough fluids to stay hydrated."
Oh, yeah? Use it in a sentence
I note your distress at my floccinaucinihilipilification of the CTBT.
For those who have wondered if I ever do a post just to bait someone, the answer is one of the following:
Sometimes I even link back to the someone in question.
By coincidence, I just filled up at Shell
The National Rifle Association has called for a national boycott of ConocoPhillips retailers, and will support it with a media campaign.
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre announced the boycott in Idabel, Oklahoma today, at a rally for a dozen Weyerhaeuser workers who were sacked last year for having firearms in their vehicles in the paper mill's parking lot. The Oklahoma Legislature quickly passed a measure to prevent employers from firing workers for this reason; major state employers, backed by the State Chamber of Commerce, sued to block implementation of the measure, prompting the Legislature to pass a second bill which would protect employers from civil liability should firearms be stolen from their owners on the premises. With Whirlpool Corporation having withdrawn from the lawsuit, the largest firm remaining in the litigation is ConocoPhillips.
Which leads to the most obvious question: Does an individual's Second Amendment right trump an individual or corporation's right to determine what can and cannot be brought onto private property? In view of the Supreme Court's decision that "private" property really isn't, I'm left with the Second Amendment, which remains in effect.
(Disclosure: Your humble scribe is an NRA member; the organization did not request that I comment on this issue.)
Addendum, 11:30 am, 4 August: The Mad Okie sees it differently:
I am a proud NRA member, but the minute the gov't starts telling a private property owner what they can and can't do with their own property (within reason, specifically concerning zoning), my feathers start to get a little ruffled.
2 August 2005
It could be voice
Does your podcast stink? According to Costa, it might be the way you sound:
[T]he worst thing about podcasting is the incomprehensibility of the average person's speech patterns. If they're serious about spewing their stuff in audio form, they should counteract the inherent laziness in the approach by ensuring that their voice is as clear and distinct as possible.
Not that he thinks he's some kind of role model for the rest of us:
I wouldn't mind getting a consultation from a vocal coach. I know I can improve my everyday speech usage, particularly for personal interaction. And I encounter people every day who certainly can use the tune-up.
It would take more than a "tune-up" to help some of us.
On the other hand, or ear, I could probably listen to Julie Neidlinger all day: her delivery is not the slickest in the world, but she doesn't grate, which is surely worth something.
The adventure of a lifetime
One fortunate man, and one extraordinary woman. Of such are legends made.
(No, I don't meet the qualifications, but thank you for asking.)
On the ostensible upswing
The perception that Oklahoma City is a value-oriented market is outdated. What we notice is that higher end opportunities are doing better than they ever have, whether it be higher end concerts at the Ford Center, upper-end restaurants or higher-end retail such as Balliet's. A lot of tourism and retailers are seeing we've got to reinvest in what we've got.
It's not that outdated, sir; the 250 large Balliet's is putting into its store is roughly equivalent to a slow week at Wal-Mart.
Still, if we're going to have this upscale stuff, and lots of folks (including myself, I admit it) are hoping that we are, we do have to make those investments.
When stores like Neiman Marcus or Nordstrom look here, they don't find strong enough demographics to support their stores. So we have a vacuum. We do, however, have very fashion-driven consumers, and we have enough customers to support such shopping on a smaller scale.
Patience, good fellow. And it would help if we could get some higher salaries around here so we could afford to shop at Neiman's. (Macy's, of course, will be here shortly, the result of the Federated/May merger; the existing Foley's stores will be rebranded.)
One could argue, I suppose, that high-end retail and services are the very definition of self-indulgence. But entire industries, including the one in which I toil, are built on self-indulgence: the ascetic may have his philosophical points, but he doesn't bring in any revenue.
Slouching toward extinction
When reliable sex-selection techniques for planned children become available, your Curmudgeon expects that would-be mothers will select heavily for girl babies over boys. After all, the decision will be left in their hands, won't it? Can't have those nasty old men exerting any control over a woman's precious "right to choose," now, can we? And twenty years later, economics will rear its head, and young women desirous of mates will discover that the demand greatly exceeds the supply.
I think his projected outcome is correct, but how he gets there is definitely arguable. For one thing, women, I suspect, are more likely to be found in the anti-abortion ranks. Dean Esmay reports:
[G]o to a pro-life rally some time, and you'll notice that women, many of them women who've had abortions, tend to dominate these events, and usually outnumber the men.
And men, of course, could be said to have a vested interest in preserving the availability of abortion, especially if they hope to sow mass quantities of wild oats. If anything, this would propel women to select for more boys.
What's going to decimate the ranks of males, more likely, will be the very factors FWP mentions elsewhere in his article:
(Incidentally, if there's a magnetic ribbon promoting prostate-cancer research, I don't want to see it.)
And already, in the county in which I live, there are 82 single men for every 100 single women. Similar figures prevail in FWP's neck of the suburban woods. (Methodology here.) I have no reason to think the ratio will approach 1:1 by 2025.
We'll decide if you need to defend yourself
Last summer, a judge in New Jersey authorized a sea captain to carry a concealed firearm, noting that large oceangoing vessels Salvatore Atanasio Jr. commands cruise ships off the Jersey shore might be targeted by terrorists, and the Coast Guard might be up to an hour away.
A state appeals panel has now withdrawn the captain's permit, asserting that concern about terrorism is insufficient justification for carrying a gun:
If such were the test, then conceivably every airline flight attendant, every bus driver, every truck driver transporting hazardous materials, every person employed by or with access to potable water reservoirs or fuel storage facilities, would be legally entitled to carry concealed firearms.
"Oh, the humanity!" is the cry from Ravenwood's Universe:
If New Jersey started issuing permits to anyone that wanted one (and wasn't specifically disqualified from having one), they'd be just like Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
It may simply be that Trenton can't figure out how to extort the requisite amount of graft for something so simple as a concealed-carry permit.
Near to the madding crowd
One of the Two-Headed at LOOK@OKC (neither one of them signed it, curiously) proposes an actual Oklahoma City flash mob.
Am I the only one who loves this idea? I think the sheer randomness of it is what appeals to me. It's somehow beautiful ... this mass of humanity that for one brief moment, is interconnected in some common task. And it's just funny as hell. It can make a point, or mean nothing at all. As far as I know, OKC has not yet experienced the wonder of a flash mob. Come on, people ... let's plan one.
If the sheer randomness of it, or something else, appeals to you, by all means tell them so.
(Off in the distance, I can almost hear Darryl Starbird: "BE THERE!")
Behold the power of cheese.
(Courtesy of Tinkerty Tonk.)
3 August 2005
One variable at a time
Linksys apparently has a new driver for my Wi-Fi adapter (dated 28 July, and you can't get much newer than that), so I'm downloading all 33 mb of that little jewel and will try once more to reinstall that card and get it to work.
If it fails this time, I think I'm going to seek out a competitor's card. (Don't wait up for the results; I'm not doing this right away, but I wanted to post a reminder so I don't forget about it somewhere down the road.)
From the Department of Incisive Comparisons
Next assignment: An op-ed in the Washington Post about the rise of anti-Muslim discrimination when she doesn't get the right change back at Krispy Kreme.
The record-holder in this realm, though, remains Cam Edwards, who once described a leading Democrat this way:
I look at Howard Dean and see a guy who's going to invade Mexico because Taco Bell got his order wrong.
Snark and product placement. What's not to love?
You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who calls it that, but a 2.5-mile stretch of Tulsa's Inner Dispersal Loop, despite a lack of signage to that effect, is technically Interstate 444.
I thought of this when I was running around the I-44/235 interchange, and noted that the 235 designation ends at this point: the Broadway Extension northward is signed simply as US 77. Could this be another "hidden" interstate? No; I-235 does not extend north of I-44.
But I found, while getting corroboration for this fact, that the city's entry in Wikipedia describes the Lake Hefner Parkway, otherwise Oklahoma 74, as "Interstate 644." This is plausible, I suppose, but I have no idea where this came from.
Everything's waiting for you
The big news downtown today is the release of a new Downtown Housing Study, which says that demand remains strong, but that the danger of saturation lurks in the wings.
What would get people to move downtown?
According to non-downtown residents, the most desired housing is larger rented units with 2-3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. Historical loft conversions are the most desired building type.
Only 34% would be willing to pay more than $950 per month. In terms of home ownership, this translates to about a $160,000 mortgage principal in the current lending market.
Secure parking is the most important consideration for potential downtown residents, followed by nearby restaurants.
Beginning with upscale housing should create an anchor for the neighborhood and create the image of a stable community. However, the survey indicates the broadest interest is for more affordable housing. A long-term mismatch of consumer preferences and residential product could lead to a reduced potential demand. Conversely, expanding the spectrum of housing to include additional moderately priced homes in future years should also increase absorption.
Who's downtown already?
82% of respondents who live downtown do not work there. For the majority, it is a lifestyle choice to live downtown, as opposed to the conventional wisdom that downtown residents want to live there because it is close to work or school or to avoid commuter traffic. In fact, OKC does not have the congestion problem that larger cities have and that facilitates living downtown and working elsewhere.
43% of respondents who live downtown have a post-graduate degree; 61% have at least an undergraduate degree.
Downtown residents are a varied group. Many are single or married with no children, or are over 50, retirees or divorced. Reflecting national urban patterns, not many families with school-age children live downtown.
This 43-percent post-graduate figure surprised me; it's about 4.5 times the national average. I attribute this to the fact that there really isn't any low-cost housing in our downtown core.
But what's really amazing is that only 18 percent of downtown residents actually work downtown. They're downtown because they want to be, not because it's convenient or because it might save them some commuting costs. This is a mindset I can understand, even embrace. On the other hand, I don't have a quarter-million I can drop on one of the new townhouses in the Triangle.
Can't forget the Motor City
Yesterday's primary election in Detroit weeded the City Council hopefuls to eighteen; nine will be elected this November. Finishing ninth in the primary: Martha Reeves.
Yes, that Martha Reeves. And she's ready to go to work:
People love me everywhere. On an unofficial level, I'm an ambassador and a civil servant for Detroit. Now I'm going for the official title.
Reeves owns a number of old buildings in the city which she'd like to restore: one of her priorities on the council, she says, will be improving police protection to the point that old buildings can be restored, instead of falling victim to vandals and scavengers.
And no doubt her much-maligned home town is ready for a brand new beat.
All your base are belong to you
Matt Deatherage was talking about Ohio's 2nd District, but this would seem to apply equally well elsewhere in American politics:
The 30% of voters at either end of the number line will not change their minds the campaigns are about convincing the middle 40%.
Not pandering to them, not "moving to the middle" to appease them, but convincing them.
It might be possible to quibble about the precise numbers, but the mechanics are exactly as described.
Which is technically inaccurate, since the Carnival of the Vanities is only 150 weeks old, not 150 years.
Still, Internet time seems accelerated to me, and probably to you, which means you ought to hurry to Riding Sun for that 150th edition and get your week's worth of superior bloggage at one fell swoop. Tell them a sesquipedalian sent you.
4 August 2005
Go worst, young man
Patti Ratliff writes to the Oklahoma Gazette:
I think it's great that you do a Best of OKC issue, but what I would really love to see is a "Worst of OKC." An opportunity for the consumer to express bad service stories in the day of diminishing customer service!
And you know, if the Gazette balks at this, it's a golden opportunity for LOOK@OKC, which definitely needs to build some buzz if they're going to be the alternative alternative paper.
Either way, I'd love to see the ballot.
Leave my kitten alone
Actually, kittens aren't in much danger these days, except in the purely Farkular sense, but inasmuch as the Department of Defense, under the No Child Left Behind Act, is granted access to student records for the purpose of military recruiting, parents with a distaste for all things military might worry about their children and, truth be told, even some hawkish types like myself get annoyed at this sort of governmental high-handedness.
Anyway, starting 7 September (two days after Labor Day), a group called Leave My Child Alone will push for greater awareness of this not-especially-well-publicized law, and will explain how, under the provisions of NCLB, you can opt out of the Pentagon's database and your individual school's recruitment lists. (Not simultaneously: these are two separate operations.) You can jump the gun, so to speak, by going here.
(By way of the Barista of Bloomfield Ave.)
From these mean streets
Fritz Kiersch took a few years off from directing to become professor of film and video at Oklahoma City Community College, but he's back on the set once again, and this time the set is downtown Oklahoma City.
Surveillance, starring Armand Assante, is the story of a security guard with a sackful of secrets. About half the film crew was drawn from OKCC's film/video students.
This is Kiersch's second film this year: The Hunt has just completed post-production and is scheduled for released in 2006. Gray Frederickson's Graymark Productions and distributor Image Entertainment produced both films.
How to deal with plagiarists
Dear Sir or Madam:
An extremely nice writeup on [fill in subject]. In fact, I thought it was nice when I wrote it on [fill in date].
[Link to original]
Thanks for reading....
(This has always worked for me. Your mileage may vary.)
Valero comes to town
I'd seen a few Valero stations during this year's World Tour even filled up at one, in central Connecticut but I really wasn't expecting to find one at NE 63rd and Kelley today.
Valero will retire the approximately 30-year-old Diamond Shamrock brand, and when the conversion is complete, the Valero brand image will be featured on 2,900 U.S. retail (company-operated) and branded wholesale sites. Putting Valero signs up at its stations stretching from South Dakota to South Texas and from Arizona to Arkansas will give the company a national brand presence for the first time.
Valero had purchased Ultramar Diamond Shamrock Corporation back in 2001 for about $4 billion, but this is the first step I've seen toward rebranding. Their acquisition of Premcor this spring gave Valero the largest group of refineries in the nation, surpassing even ExxonMobil, so I rather expect they won't be running short of gasoline any time soon.
And yet more awards
Yonder cometh the 2005 Okie Blog Awards, put together by Mike at Okiedoke and intended to well, duh, it's an awards scheme, okay?
Here are the ground rules:
Only Okie bloggers with active Okie blogs at the start of nominations are eligible. "Active" is defined as having at least one blog post during the previous 60 days. An "Okie blog" is defined as having at least one active blog author residing within the state of Oklahoma. All Okie Blog Awards are to be decided only by Okie bloggers. Okiedoke is ineligible for any Okie Blog Awards.
I, of course, make no recommendations, since (1) I would like to create the illusion that I have no bias and (2) most of my readers seem to live in New Jersey. These, however, are the categories:
At least there's nothing there that sounds like me.
I'll just bet it's getting easier to smile every day.
(It has to be tremendously gratifying to see all her friends, even the ones she didn't know, putting their money where her mouth is.)
5 August 2005
Chaste across the yard
On the off-chance that some of you are curious, this is the shorter of the two chaste trees in my back yard, shot back in June when it was somewhere close to full bloom. (The enormous one, described in the original post, was substantially taller but quite a bit less colorful for some reason; I assume it's not because it's closer to the gas meter.) As you can see, I prune only under duress. (If you want a better look, here's a bigger picture.)
Take a hike
How many of you know someone who never goes down to Bricktown because "you have to park so far away"?
That's what I thought.
Show 'em this.
(Which was prompted by this.)
I hate the sound of breaking glass
Which puts me at odds with Nick Lowe, but so it goes.
Anyway, it appears that I'm going to be needing to replace the windshield on my car; there's a new crack at a right angle to the old crack, and I expect all manner of vectors to develop in the next few days. If you have any reason to recommend (or to castigate) any glass vendors, local or national, I'd be interested in hearing about it.
Speaking of things broken, water pressure was way low when I got home yesterday, though it was back to normal about an hour later. This morning's commute provided a hint: there had apparently been some water-main work in the 2600 block of NW 50th. And, well, summers being dry around these parts, mud represents a change of pace, if not exactly a welcome one.
Feed the children already
Mike at Okiedoke is alarmed by statistics which show that nearly 83 percent of students in the Oklahoma City school district qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. (The comparable figure for the larger Tulsa district is 78 percent.)
This might be less alarming in the context of where the Oklahoma City school district actually is: right in the middle of town, with an arm extending into relatively poor areas in the northeastern part of Oklahoma County. Much of the city proper is actually served by suburban districts: Putnam City, Edmond, Moore, Mid-Del, Western Heights, and 18 others.
We have schools such as Monroe Elementary with 57 percent of their students eligible for the free and reduced lunch program with an API score of 1291 out of a possible 1500. That puts this school among the top ranking 35 elementary schools in the metropolitan area. Other top ranking schools with a large percentage of students qualifying for the free and reduced lunch program include Westwood Elementary, Ridgeview Elementary, Wilson Elementary, Rancho Village Elementary, Van Buren Elementary, Linwood Elementary, Johnson Elementary and Hawthorne Elementary. All of these schools have an API score of 1200 or higher and a free and reduced lunch student population of 60 percent or more.
Monroe, incidentally, is right down the street (two blocks) from me. It's not a poor area by any means we're talking less than a mile west of 50 Penn Place but still 57 percent of the students qualify for the lunch program.
Mike thinks this is a sign that the economy isn't all it could be, and of course it isn't, but it's not a sign that we're on the edge of collapse.
Sorry, teacher, but zip your lip
Some of you may have noticed that we have declined to comment on President Bush's record-setting vacation-going. Partly this is because we believe critics are being disingenuous in portraying this as anything like the kind of vacation normal people take. He's the President and there's no off-the-clock hours; if something big happens, he can't exactly send people to voicemail. We can wish he wasn't our President full-time ("Hello, Manpower?"), but there ya go.
And apparently he puts in enough hours to qualify as "full-time."
I'm still trying to imagine the voicemail, though:
Everything else will just have to wait.
A bullet dodged
Or a river forded, depending on how you want to look at it.
I couldn't see it at all: the rain had suddenly increased from "rapid" to "very fast indeed" to "Did they evacuate the zoo?" I'm in the left lane of I-44, doing a ridiculously speedy 50 mph, which under the circumstances is hazardous in the extreme, but there's this dork in an Expedition who appparently wants to ride my back bumper in the worst way.
And then the Really Large Impromptu Lake appears, straddling a lane and a half, and the miracle of hydroplaning sends me veering off course 15 degrees or so not that I can tell, because visibility beyond the windshield (which now is clean, if still cracked) is down in the couple-of-centimeters range. It takes me about 1.5 seconds to regain control and discover I'm heading for nowhere good. Meanwhile, the aforementioned dork has actually sped up and is now within biting distance of the trunk lid.
Meanwhile, traffic is merging, and having had one prayer answered, I decide not to utter the curse that's going through the back of my mind. I wish, though, that people would get it through their heads that having a sport-utility vehicle does not confer any sort of invulnerability to the slings and arrows of outrageous traffic. If anything, the SUVs are worse off, being tall and tippy devices in the first place, and seven times out of ten they're driven by people who think the laws of physics are nothing more than a blanket excuse from Montgomery Scott.
I take solace in the likelihood that one shiny new Expedition will need ten grand worth of bodywork in the upcoming months as its owner reaches his level of incompetence.
Remembering a man with soul
About a year ago, I wrote about Bill Moss, in his capacity as a small-time record executive in Columbus, Ohio who had issued, on his own Capsoul label, some of the more transcendent (if largely unknown outside the Midwest) soul records of the early 1970s.
Moss went from the music business into politics. As I had noted, he had served on the Columbus school board; as I had not noted, his tenure was controversial and his demeanor was fierce. His dedication to the children of the city, though, was unquestioned.
Upon Moss' death earlier this week, Columbus writer Donna Marbury put together a set of Web articles about the man, including mine "so that he is not typecast just as a tyrannical hothead, but as a musician, journalist, activist, lover and a fighter."
As epitaphs go, that's a pretty good one.
6 August 2005
The logjam at 36th and I-235
Big neighborhood meeting Monday evening for residents of Crown Heights, Douglas Park, Edgemere Heights, Edgemere Park and Zachary Taylor neigborhoods, at First Christian Church, 36th and Walker.
The topic: the redesign of the 36th and Broadway Extension interchange. ODOT is pitching the idea that the widening of the Broadway Extension and the conversion of the offramps from one-lane loops to two-lane straight routes will cut down on surface traffic through the neighborhoods. The project will start this fall.
This year's Blogathon
(Brief thought: Do you think I could raise any money by promising not to post anything for a whole day?)
I'm signed on as sponsors for the following:
Tomorrow I write checks.
(Update, Sunday: Checks written.)
Your basic lose/lose scenario
I'm not even sure I can excerpt this, but let's see:
Because of various health issues, April Thompson said she had reason to believe she might never have a child.
When she got pregnant, the joy she wanted to share with her employer quickly turned sour when, she said, her boss demanded that she get an abortion or risk losing her job.
Thompson's attorney, Ed Buckley, said the woman eventually was fired by Piedmont Management Associates, a homeowners association management firm, for refusing to get the abortion.
Thompson recently filed a lawsuit in Fulton County [Georgia] Superior Court against the company and its president, Celia Ebert, on grounds of discrimination and emotional duress. "We believe that the conduct of forcing a woman to get an abortion falls into intentional infliction of emotional distress," Buckley said.
And that's just what it does to the woman.
It gets better, or worse:
Thompson was suffering from endometriosis, and a doctor recommended a hysterectomy to handle the condition, which can lead to severe pain and infertility.
Thompson, 30, sought a second opinion from a fertility doctor and decided on laparoscopy surgery. According to the lawsuit, when Ebert found out Thompson was seeing a fertility doctor, she told her she was "worried that she was trying to get pregnant."
"If you get pregnant, you will have to move because I am not putting up with any babies around here and you also won't have a job," the lawsuit says Ebert told Thompson. "The guys and I do not even hire single mothers because of the problems. I know you have some great delusion that you will be a great mother, but you won't you can't even take care of your dog."
In December 2004, Thompson's doctor told her laparoscopy surgery did not address her medical condition and recommended the hysterectomy. Thompson said Ebert agreed to give her medical and vacation time for the procedure. On Jan. 24, Thompson went in to schedule her hysterectomy and was told she was pregnant. According to the lawsuit, when Ebert found out, she demanded that Thompson get an abortion.
Let's focus on that line about "The guys and I do not even hire single mothers because of the problems." What was the official response by Ebert's attorney to the lawsuit? You guessed it:
"Piedmont Management is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate in its employment practices."
Except, of course, when there might be "problems."
Do you say what the Free Market Fundies say in situations like this? That an employer has a right to demand whatever they want from employees in an "at will" contract?
Or, do you say that business is the end-all, be-all of existence, the Guiding Hand of God, but that fetuses are more important than Adam Smith?
This balancing act would baffle Cirque de Soleil.
Putzing around the yard
Someone was kind enough to send word of World Naked Gardening Day, and I'm happy to pass it along, but I am compelled to point out that for all its presumed joys, there are distinct disadvantages to doing this sort of thing:
Trust me on most of these.
Indeed he made it
I was gearing up to do a memorial piece for Blues Hall of Fame member Little Milton, who died Thursday at the age of seventy, but Matt Rosenberg has already done a better one, so I'll point you to it instead.
In passing, I'll note that one of Milton's sidemen er, sidepersons in the late 1950s was pianist Fontella Bass; as the story goes, Milton was running late for a gig one night and bandleader Oliver Sain asked her to do a vocal to fill time. It went well enough to get Bass a featured-vocal spot each night, and eventually she and Sain struck out on their own, the result being the sublime "Rescue Me" in 1965.
And 1965 was also the year of Milton's biggest chart hit, "We're Gonna Make It", which was a little more pop than most of Milton's records indeed, a little more pop than most of what Chess was releasing those days but which always jumps out at you on those infrequent instances when you hear it on the radio.
Items from the mailbox
With this month's bill (which, owing to an overpayment last month, comes to something less than zero), Oklahoma Natural Gas sent out a letter explaining the new rate structure for residential customers or structures, inasmuch as there are now two residential rate schedules.
Some things aren't being refigured: the cost of the actual gas (now identified as "Customer Fuel Cost") and various fees and taxes remain as they were. The Customer Charge and Delivery Fee have been reworked, though: now "low-use" customers ("low-use" being defined as "less than 75 dekatherms," which is almost but not exactly 75,000 cubic feet of gas, per year) will pay a $9 monthly Service Charge and a Delivery Fee of $1.9967/Dth. This is Plan A. Everyone else gets Plan B, which has a $20 Service Charge but a lower Delivery Fee 23.67 cents/Dth.
Based on last year's usage here at Surlywood, which was a mere 56.6 Dth, ONG has assigned me to Plan A, and estimates that while Plan A tends to result in higher bills in the winter, what with the higher Delivery Fee and all, it's $34 less expensive for the entire year than Plan B. (My winter usage runs 8 to 10 Dth per month; in the summer, it's less than 1.) I have the option of switching to Plan B if I so desire, though customers are allowed only one switch per year, for reasons which should be obvious.
Also, my bank informs me that in the future, online payments will be limited to a maximum of $100,000 on any single business day. Somehow I don't envision this being a problem.
Seminoles v. dillholes
T. K. Wetherell, president of Florida State University, says he will sue the National Collegiate Athletic Association for its decision to ban Native American-related team indicia and mascots and whatnot at schools hosting NCAA postseason events.
This university will forever be associated with the "unconquered" spirit of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.
What's more, he says, he's contemplating painting the Seminole logo "three times as big" on the Doak Campbell Stadium field.
The actual Seminole tribe was not consulted by the NCAA, says Tribal Council member Max B. Osceola Jr.:
It's like history they left the natives out. They have non-natives telling natives what's good for them or how they should use their name. You have a committee made up of non-natives telling people that they can not use a native name when you have a native tribe a tribal government, duly elected and constituted that said they agree with Florida State.
The NCAA ruling apparently does not affect football, since there is no actual NCAA championship series. Meanwhile, I'm waiting for someone to complain about Michael Savage's last name.
Saturday spottings (updates and such)
It's still a bit bare down there, but things are taking shape along SE 29th Street where Atkinson Plaza used to be: Lowe's is ready, Target is almost done, and Kohl's is hiring. A Chili's is going up next door to the existing Santa Fe Cattle Co. steakhouse. The street itself has been widened to five lanes, and there's a turn-in with a light at Marshall Drive to reach the major stores from the east. (From the west, you come in at Boeing.)
At the far end, at Midwest Boulevard, the condemned Nissan dealership location is now being used by the Sheriff's office; the parking lot is full of squad cars. Fenton, which acquired Automax Nissan on NW 39th some months back, now has a Nissan store on the Tinker Diagonal, east of Automax's Hyundai lot.
Not a whole lot has changed at Heritage Park, though I noticed that someone had drawn some chalk lines around the more horrendous potholes, which perhaps means that they're actually going to be scheduled for repair.
A subdivision called Southern Exposure is going in at SW 89th and Walker, and lots are for sale, subject to the condition that any house you build be 2400 square feet or more. This is not unusual I've heard of covenants requiring 3000 and more in various northwest subdivisions but inasmuch as this is about twice the size of any place I've ever lived, and there were seven of us, I have to assume that people are willing to pay out the nose for the privilege of having more space to clean.
And Russell Stover, the candy firm with a retail store on Northwest Expressway east of May, is putting in an outlet store around the corner, on May near NW 56th, in a building last occupied by an independent auto dealer and which looks to me like it started out as a Kinney shoe store.
7 August 2005
Building the faith base
Usually, church advertising in local newspapers is simple: there's generally a weekly "Worship Services Directory" or something like that, and various congregations put up a few bucks for a business-card-sized block. Once in a while, a church will buy a page for something out of the ordinary a revival, say, or to take a stand for or against something but by and large, it tends to be a low-key sort of thing.
This morning's Oklahoman, though, contains an oddity: a sixth of a page about the same size as the bank ad below it bought by the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, and tagged "Ever Thought Of Becoming Catholic?"
This is the letter from Archbishop Eusebius J. Beltran:
For 2000 years Roman Catholics have gathered together to worship God and to serve their brothers and sisters through an abundance of ministries and services for the needy and poor.
Our parishes are anxious to welcome you into their communities. For information about joining us please contact the Church nearest your home.
There follows a list of six local parishes; there are many more than that in the city, which suggests either that this ad is customized by location (more likely, since all six are north of the river) or that these six are particularly anxious for new parishioners.
Times do change.
An embarrassment of riches
Life is good.
The Skyy's the limit
Maurice Kanbar has an impressive résumé. He owns three dozen patents on various consumer and medical products among other things, he invented the D-Fuzz-It comb for sweaters and a plastic shield for hypodermic needles and he is the founder of Skyy Spirits, which vends America's #2 brand of premium vodka.
And now he owns half of downtown Tulsa. Well, okay, not half; but he did buy six downtown buildings at one fell swoop, including the gorgeous 1929 PSO building at 6th and Main and the 1931 Pythian Building at 5th and Boulder. Tulsa is on the verge of a renaissance, thinks Kanbar, and he wants to be part of it.
Preservationists have had a tough time of it in Tulsa lately; with Kanbar apparently on their side, the balance of power could well tip in their favor. And about time, say I.
Failure to pay attention
"Wait a minute. This oven cleans itself?"
Inside the enclosed retail compounds
I hate to go to the mall, generally: part of this dislike is sheer laziness, and part of it is the nagging of the conscience, budget division, along the lines of "Do you really need this?" There's even some anxiety in the mix. But a growing factor is the increasing tendency of stores to throw gee-whiz stuff at you that does not in any way enhance the shopping experience, as Andrea Harris explains:
What ever happened to thinking of the comfort of the customer as well as enticing his attention and getting him to open his wallet? It's not been in evidence in any retail conglomeration for years now. From the endless aisles in "super" stores where the thing wanted is usually teetering on the top shelf and there is never an attendant in sight to the malls with their huge escalators going up into space, their atriums floored with tile slippery from the water from the fancy ten-foot fountain (but also sticky with the spills from the ice cream of thousands of tots whose mothers brought them to scream and run around in the "safe" indoors of the mall, so when you slip and fall in the water spill your ass sticks to the floor where you landed in the ice cream slick), their glass-walled elevators that offer sharp-edged metal railings that are one milimeter out from the wall as "handholds" that you can't grasp without cutting your fingers, and with those walkways on the upper floors across the lower atrium areas that are railed on either side by a couple of narrow, flimsy-looking brass rails and are of course floored by more slippery tile, shopping in America has become less and less of a pleasure and more of an obstacle course, as if to make shoppers pay in more than money for their purchases.
Not to mention the tendency in individual stores to stack unshelved items at the end of the aisle, thereby creating a blind spot the size of a grocery cart, and the now-firmly-established ratio of 2.4 checkout lanes for each actual checkout clerk.
If Amazon.com could deliver fresh vegetables but let's not get our hopes up.
8 August 2005
The things one finds in referrer logs
Late last year, Mr. Tereshchuk was sentenced to five years in prison after pleading guilty to a criminal extortion charge filed by the United States attorney's office in Alexandria. Earlier this year he pleaded guilty to criminal possession of explosives and biological weapons, charges that the United States attorney's office in Baltimore had filed against him. Possessing illegal toxins carries a maximum term of life in prison. Mr. Tereshchuk is expected to be sentenced this fall.
I suppose that somewhere in the back of my mind, I wondered whatever happened to him.
Green grow the Lileks
He's back, he's sort of rested, and he's ready to Explain It All:
In principium era verbum: in the beginning was the word. And the word was go. Or Bang. Doesn't matter; I have never found religion and cosmology to be in conflict, which is why the ID debate is boring. It's like a debate that seeks to prove whether cats or forklifts exist.
Uh how about both?
There are fewer stray forklifts, but otherwise I think it's settled.
Ghouls gone wild
There is a special place in hell reserved for those who are both self-righteous and opportunistic, who see the most solemn moments as excuses for pushing the product.
The death of ABC-TV news anchor Peter Jennings shows the tenacious nature of smoking, and its often terrible consequences to a man seemingly robust and with so much more to contribute, says Professor John Banzhaf, Executive Director of Action on Smoking and Health, a national antismoking organization.
"With all of his knowledge of the deadly and addictive nature of cigarettes, and virtually unlimited resources and access to the best medical help in both trying to quit smoking and then in treating the resulting lung cancer, Peter Jennings was helpless and became one of tobacco's best known victims," says Banzhaf.
Elapsed time between ABC's announcement of Jennings' death and Banzhaf's grab for the spotlight: less than fifteen minutes.
What a farging ghoul. Anybody got a Marlboro?
(Addendum, 8:45 am: NPR is reporting that ABC's first mention of Jennings' death was broadcast over the television network around 11:30 pm, half an hour before it hit abcnews.com, which could have given Banzhaf a whole forty-five minutes to pull this script out of the can.)
(Submitted to the Beltway Traffic Jam.)
Kerr-McGee is selling off its North Sea oil operations, suggesting that the Oklahoma City-based company is planning to restructure itself as purely a domestic producer.
Most of the KMG holdings will be sold to the A.P. Moller-Maersk group of Denmark, with the rest dealt to England's Centrica PLC. The total take is estimated at $3.5 billion; KMG will use the after-tax proceeds to pay down debt.
I'm forever blowing bubbles
(No, that's not a deposition by Michael Jackson.)
And I'd like to get in a plug for a personal, if hardly definitive, favorite: "May I Take a Giant Step (Into Your Heart)," the follow-up to "Simon Says" by the 1910 Fruitgum Company, which is more fun than its predecessor and faster, too!
Swelled with pride
It was a "controversial choice," said the Florida State Guardianship Association, but they wished to honor his commitment to his wife's reported (by him) request.
Still no word on a posthumous Nobel Peace Prize for Timothy McVeigh.
(From NRO's The Corner.)
Obviously, first of all it must be readable. I have a very strong preference for dark lettering on a light background. Serif or sans-serif? Either one is okay. Serif feels more formal or serious. Excessively large fonts, all bold text, bright colors and too many font colors on one page are very off-putting.
I'm pretty much in agreement on most of these, though obviously I don't put them into practice. Light lettering on a dark background can be done, but I think it requires bumping up the font size to avoid eyestrain. (Probably not this big, though.)
The original template I used when I shifted to Movable Type in the summer of 2003 called for serif fonts (justified, yet!) for text and sans-serif fonts for headings. My present-day style is not quite so consistent.
But is a serif font more "formal" or "serious"? In the context of actual print, I think it is, and I'd have my doubts about a textbook set in a sans-serif font. (My personal correspondence yes, I occasionally write, or at least type, letters uses a serif font for the body and for the block with my name; the address information is in a smaller sans-serif font.) I'm not so sure it matters so much on screen, though.
And this is sort of interesting: Car and Driver magazine these days uses a serif font for road tests, but previews are done in sans-serif. Do you think people were having trouble telling them apart?
And no virgin jokes, either
Top Ten signs that terrorists have infiltrated the blogosphere:
10. SixApart provides MT 4 for free to all users.
9. Dave Winer starts prophesizing that Allah is the one true god, as opposed to himself.
8. Slashdot reports that the latest virus hidden in Blogger blogs actually causes computers to explode.
7. Andrew Sullivan outs himself as being straight.
6. Osamafanclub.blogspot.com tops the Top 100 at Technorati.
5. The BlogHer crowd start claiming that women should get out of the blogosphere and back to the kitchen.
4. Podcasts are hacked and substituted with morning prayers.
3. Jeff Jarvis reports that the latest London bombings are the work of "God's Children against the oppressors of the West."
2. BloggerCon becomes Allah Akhbar Con.
And the Number One sign terrorists have infiltrated the blogosphere:
1. Arabic comment spam.
Typecasting and then some
James Woods, interviewed by Brantley Bardin in the September issue of Premiere:
[A] cultural problem within our industry is that if you're a white, heterosexual, middle-aged man, there's only one part for you: the asshole villain. You know, I'd really like to think that those of us who also wrote Hamlet and put men on the moon might have something else to contribute in this postfeminist world.
Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy. Listen to yourself. Why, Hamlet is nothing more than an apologia for domestic violence. (Poor Ophelia is driven to suicide, and it's all Hamlet's fault for being such an asshole. Villain, even.) And don't even mention the Apollo program. Do you realize how much that cost? Imagine all the school lunches we could have bought, all the endangered species we could have saved.
[Geez, this is easy.]
9 August 2005
A Type O personality
In this month's Neighborhood Association newsletter, the address of the meeting location was printed incorrectly.
Turnout was about 50 percent higher than usual.
Next month, I'm going to suggest they put in the wrong date.
Fishing off the company pier
[H]aving worked in an office environment of one sort or another for over twenty years, I can say that though men do like and are even thrilled when pretty women at the office flirt with them, most men also think women like that are bimbos and won't have much respect for them, ergo, they won't have much respect for their work.
I have seen places where it happens, so I know that the situation exists. But I don't have this particular issue myself, except perhaps in vestigial form: how I view someone's work is separate, to the greatest extent possible, from how I view someone's personal behavior. (I can't claim to be, say, one of Heinlein's Fair Witnesses, but I try to keep personal feelings out of it.)
Then again, the number of "pretty women at the office" who flirt with me has been stuck right around zero for many years now, which may affect my judgment in these matters in one way or another.
Curing glass pains
This morning I betook myself to Glass Masters and threw myself on their mercy.
In approximately 60 minutes they had removed the old, cracked windshield, installed a new one, and imparted the usual advice about early care (keep a window slightly open when you close the doors, and stay out of the car wash for 48 hours).
For a mere $140.
Time will tell how long this holds up, but for now, I'm quite pleased. (And, if nothing else, this proves that I listen to my commenters once in a while.)
The story goes at least, Lewis Black tells it that way that the world will end when there's a Starbucks built across the street from another Starbucks.
I've been working with a number of local organizations to address the serious problem of hyperdevelopment here; not only are the people being removed, but the physical character of the neighborhood is being destroyed. Just Saturday night, I wandered over to my former place of employment for a show to discover that one of the last holdouts against a new development had finally been demolished. Erased. Cease to exist. We've been working on campaigns and joining forces with other struggles against hyperdevelopment to address zoning, the City Council selling out the residents, etc. So far, load of energy has poured in I never thought I'd see the day where radicals from the Tompkins Square riots would be hosting zoning forums, but it's important and it's actually happening. L.O.C.O. has been battling the violations on Orchard and Ludlow. P.S. 64 is being saved, and folks are fighting for St. Brigid's Church. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is stepping into the fray. It's mind-blowing!
Starbucks is the urban Wal-Mart, and is a powerfully nasty symbol and metaphor for the homogenization of America. To have it arrive at the home of counterculture is just plain unacceptable. I can't stand the thought of losing Guss' Pickles, or the Santo Domingo Bakery, or having to pay for wifi access because the Lotus Lounge closed up shop.
I still think, though, that the ultimate in Starbucks density and perhaps the end of the world will come when they open a Starbucks inside another Starbucks.
Stretching the definition
And apparently Bricktown, as a trademark, is far more extensible than previously imagined; there's an inn called "Bricktown Guest Suites" going in on SE Grand Blvd. at I-35, a good four miles from the downtown district whose name it borrows.
City Beach and Old Smokey's Cajun Bar-B-Que Grill have opened at 3701 E. Reno, just east of Bricktown.
Bricktown extends to maybe Reno and Lincoln; we're talking the 600 block at the absolute outside. And 3701 isn't even in the city limits, fercrissake; it's in Del City.
At least they didn't hang a Bricktown name on it.
(Spotted by The Downtown Guy.)
At least it isn't karaoke
Or, in Farkese, here comes the science.
Griffiths' work will be overseen by Sheila Whiteley, Salford's Professor of Popular Music.
I must admit to a certain fondness for one of her subtitles: "Celebrating the fakeness of the inauthentic," which could almost be a motto for this Web site.
(Courtesy of Erin O'Connor.)
10 August 2005
A degree of surprise
One of the things that "everybody knows" is that we have a horribly uneducated workforce in this town and therefore we don't earn much and our per capita income numbers look bad and therefore we get no outside investment and so on and so on and scooby-dooby-doo. (Bless you, Sly.)
Business Facilities magazine begs to disagree. Here's what they did:
[W]e took a look at the percentage of workers (25 years and older) in cities across the U.S. that have completed high school and a four-year college. A better rank in these percentages increases your chance of getting more attractive resumes on your desk rather than fewer.
We also looked at the momentum that cities have in increasing their degree holders, to give credit to cities that are making strides in increasing the value of their workforce through education.
Numero Uno, to no one's surprise, is Minneapolis. (One has to go to school to learn Minnesota Nice, after all.) But here's Oklahoma City tied for 18th in the nation. Who'da thunk it?
If you're an institutional buyer of prescription drugs and you'd like some serious discounts, be prepared to keep your trap shut:
The Wall Street Journal reports that drug companies have started putting language in their contracts with medical institutions to shape what doctors can and cannot tell patients about specific drugs.
Case in point: Eli Lilly offers a discount to major purchasers of antidepressant Cymbalta as long as those purchasers refrain from "negative D.U.R. [drug utilization review] correspondence to physicians" or "negative educational counter-detailing".
"Is this hospital prescribing too much of this drug?" or "Could we find a lower-priced substitute?" is apparently enough to constitute negative D.U.R.
I'll keep this in mind the next time I see some drug-industry ad on Lifetime explaining how health is the only thing that matters to them.
(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)
Mrs Malaprop's high-heeled sister
Diane Rehm seems to be having a rough time today. In the same burst of words, she managed to misidentify the transportation bill the President is signing today as an "energy" bill and referred to that woman who is hanging around outside the President's fence as "Cindy Crawford."
Given the location of said fence, I can sort of understand the confusion; I'd rather believe that Diane has the occasional brainfart than that she was overwhelmed by the blistering rhetoric and smoldering sexuality of guest Rick Santorum.
More rum than I know what to do with.
Generic Confusion hosts Carnival of the Vanities #151, which is more great bloggage than I know what to do with.
Go ye, and read.
Eight hundred thousand
Hmmm. This IP looks familiar.... yep, visitor #800,000 is yours truly, come to check on who visitor #800,000 might be.
One million by the 10th anniversary (9 April 2006) now looks not only attainable but inevitable.
With Andy Dick as Loki
The spawn of a marriage of inconvenience, you may be sure: What if Richard Wagner and Britney Spears had a baby?
Me, I want to hear Kevin Federline try to pronounce Götterdämmerung.
Somehow this just seems wrong
Putting clothes on a dog is bad enough, but this is a bit much.
(By way of Aldahlia.)
11 August 2005
With this post, I thee wed
And, of course, they're registered at Six Apart.
I'm not quite sure what to think of this, except to marvel at its ingenuity, and maybe to ponder the legalities, which go like this:
The state of Texas has a little known law governing "informal marriage". For a marriage to be legal, we must publicly declare that we consider each other as spouses and this fact be known to other residents of the state of Texas. We got our certificate this afternoon and have now fulfilled the requirements as there's bound to be a Texas resident or two amongst our joint readership. Feel free to witness our marriage here.
Full faith and credit, and all that good stuff.
(Via incurable romantic Jacqueline Passey.)
But we're no better than they are
You are wrong, moral-equivalence breath. Lileks explains:
We're often told that Islamic terrorism has an exact mirror in Christian-inspired extremism. Sure, there are thousands of jihadis killing and maiming people of all creeds and colors, but look at Timothy McVeigh! Can't; he's compost now. But when he was alive he wasn't shouldering aside old ladies to make morning Mass; McVeigh was one of those pathetic Aryan pagans who would have beat up Jesus for his dusky hue. What about that abortion bomber guy, Eric Rudolph? Sorry; he calls himself a disciple of Nietzsche. Well, what about the Crusades? And Dresden? Fine. Drop us a line when someone drives a 737 into the Sears Tower on behalf of a bygone Pope and General Eisenhower.
Doesn't leave a lot of homegrown terrorists, though there will presumably always be wannabes.
Go away, boy, you bother me
Lynn's son goes looking for CNG-powered vehicles and comes away empty-handed:
He asked one salesman about natural gas powered cars and, after acting as if he had asked for a car that runs on fairy dust, the salesmen went to talk to his manager. My son surreptitiously followed him and evesdropped on the conversation. The manager told the salesman, "We could get him one but it would be a big hassle. Just tell him there's a long waiting list."
We don't have a lot of vehicles that run on natural gas in this country, but a couple of popular models have CNG variants, and I've got to believe that if there were much of a waiting list, there'd be a lot more such on the drawing boards.
And at least CNG refueling stations are relatively easy to find, which is more than you can say for fairy dust.
Deriving a benefit from serious sickos
Aldahlia and I were yakking it up last night, and one topic we covered was the incredibly wide variety of search-engine requests that show up in our logs, some of which qualify as unspeakable. (The sheer ingenuity of the world's perverts is something to behold.)
What to do with these things? I send my worst ones to Disturbing Search Requests, where blogdom assembled can mock them at their leisure. Traffic there has diminished of late, probably due to a change of hosts, and I'd be much obliged if you'd give them a look if you can stand that sort of thing. Rather a large proportion of the entries are, as the phrase goes, Not Safe For Work.
It's death, Jim, but not as we know it
Ann Coulter has made quite a career of outraging people, which is all very well and good, but has she gone too far this time?
[E]very time Americans get a gander at these lunatics ranting about the "Great Satan" and the "Zionist entity," we can't believe we're at war with such a comical enemy. No wonder they dream of an afterlife with 72 hot teenage girls. These guys are klutzes. Nerds. Dweebs. In the Las Vegas of life they're at the convention center with the other "Star Trek" fans.
Offending liberals is one thing, but insulting Trekkies? The world their world, anyway will judder on its axis.
Wonder what she thinks of the Ferengi?
Nobody said it was going to be easy for the Democrats in 2008, what with population shifts and gerrymandering and all manner of other obstacles standing athwart their Path to Power.
Yup, that's right. Determine how many folks you need to keep on the coasts & in Illinois to maintain a majority. Hold a lottery or something, and the winners get to invade the Heartland and swing the balance of power. Now some states would be easy to overthrow, due to their small population, Wyoming & Montana come to mind. Others, that voted more heavily for Bush, Utah & Oklahoma, would require a larger concentration of the coastal experts to move in, register, vote & move out.
There are some residency laws, but I'm sure that Alec Baldwin would rather live in Nichols Hills than Canada, [Janeane Garofalo] could move in next door to me & I'd even mow her yard. I would even dress up like an illegal if it made her feel better & overcharge her so she wouldn't feel guilty about taking advantage of a poor redneck wetback Christian Anglo Hispanic white-trash right-winger. (did I mention that I'm part Indian too?) All of these rich coastal types could afford to move here, spend a wad of cash bringing their lifestyle to our state, swing the vote & then move on, without even making a dent in their HUGE pocketbooks.
I think it's a great idea, there are several houses for sale in my neighborhood right now, operators are standing by. Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Julia Roberts, you're all invited over to my house for some Boca Burgers.
Besides, we're a lot warmer than Canada.
(Update, 9:30 am, 12 August: Dwayne has numbers and a name! for the proposal.)
12 August 2005
Night. Dark. Stormy.
I dearly love the Bulwer-Lytton contest, but the entries too often have one glaring flaw besides mere suckiness: they're incredibly freaking long for a single sentence.
If terseness is more your bag, there is now a Lyttle Lytton contest, with basically the same rules plus a 25-word limit.
And something like this deserves some kind of recognition:
John, surfing, said to his mother, surfing beside him, "How do you like surfing?"
(Courtesy of Teresa Nielsen Hayden.)
That nitwit in Norman
Charlie Dreyling is out on $10,000 bail after being caught at Will Rogers World Airport with a crude detonation device in his bags. The chances of this being usable for anything beyond blowing crap up in one's back yard, a popular Oklahoma pastime, are next to nil, but people who ought to know better are arguing that we're talking terrorism here.
The wealthy children of privilege in Oklahoma are always screwing up in spectacularly sociopathic ways. They're almost as entertaining (cough) as the children of evangelists.
What I can't fathom is the apparent hope that Dreyling is some sort of terrorist and therefore we can forget about all that horrible "profiling" business as though one white guy trumps a whole sea of Muslims. How racist of them.
Maybe it's just inertia
Or someone's sleeping in the Department of Titles and Screen Displays at ABC. Whatever the explanation, Matt Deatherage noticed this:
As of tonight, at least, their nightly newscast is still called ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings.
"Tonight" being last night, when he posted it.
Since ABC hasn't named a permanent replacement yet, maybe they're holding off in anticipation of the actual appointment. But it's going to sound awkward, maybe worse, until then.
When doody calls
Posting will be infrequent for the next week or so, as we are dealing with the nascent stages of toilet training.
Which triggers a question, which Caren Lissner has already asked:
What are you training your toilet to do?
Presumably it's not the Can-Can.
Quote of the week
Lots of contenders this week, but this one raises the eyebrows to peak level. From Francis W. Porretto:
Customer-assembled furniture has destroyed more domestic evenings than toddler soccer, medical insurance options, and menstruation combined.
Bomb blasts of the inexplicable
I'd like to thank those of you who added a few seconds to my 15 minutes of net.fame. (And I'd also like to know: what were you thinking?)
One of the defining characteristics of an Oklahoma thunderstorm is that it packs its biggest wallop into a compact size. When the Weather Guys say "locally heavy rainfall," they mean it; today's thunderboomers dropped a mere 0.04 inch of rain on parched Will Rogers Airport, while the cup at Wiley Post, across town and markedly closer to me, filled up with almost two-thirds of an inch.
With neither hail nor funnels, the major threat was industrial-strength winds, and as I rounded the corner to my street, I found the top of a tree a little triangular section about a foot and a half across parked in the right lane. Not a good sign, I thought. And beyond my driveway, on the corner lot belonging to an apartment complex, a formerly eight-foot-tall mutant shrub was bent over to a height of five feet, its trunk split to within a foot of the ground, its top actually scraping the grass.
A quick survey of my place revealed a few broken branches, none thicker than 1/8 inch. Maybe there's some actual advantage (other than flood resistance) to being on top of a slight rise.
13 August 2005
The lights are on
The Metropolitan Library System is installing Wi-Fi hotspots at 12 of its locations in the county. The expense, they reason, will be largely offset by not having to buy so many actual computers in the future. The network will be open to library visitors whether they have a current library card or not, which will simplify matters for travelers.
The same filtration used on MLS' hard-wired machines will be used on the Wi-Fi network. MLS says the service will be rolled out at all twelve locations on Monday at 9 am.
A saint in the city
"Sure, he used to be great and all that, but he became all rock star-ish and washed up, so why bother with him at all?"
Cliff defends Bruce Springsteen against charges like this.
(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)
Richard Mize, Real Estate Editor (now there's a title) at The Oklahoman, has taken note of the growing tendency of firms nowhere near Bricktown to make use of the name, a tendency you may have read about here or even here.
Part of the problem, if problem it be, is that the definition of "Bricktown" is sort of murky. In the strictest sense, Bricktown is that area covered by the Bricktown Urban Design District zoning. But the city is redefining its zoning districts downtown, and I-40 is probably a more reasonable southern boundary anyway until, of course, they move I-40 half a mile away.
And Mize wonders if "Bricktown" will become shorthand for the entire city, in the manner of "Motown" or "Tinseltown" or "Beantown." In a word: no.
Rinse, then spin
Why are so many young adult men still living with the parental units? Forget economic pressures, overpriced rentals, and all the other obvious factors. What keeps the boys at home is laundry:
I think it's safe to say that most men have next to no idea how the pile of filthy, sweaty, stinking, and otherwise noisome clothing they leave on the bathroom floor in the morning, or in a hamper if they've had enough training, finds itself cleaned, dried, folded, and deposited in one’s dresser drawers. It is an inspiring tale, filled with drama and human interest, and most men know as little about it as they do about photosynthesis, or possibly even less, since a lot of guys think that photosynthesis involves using their personal computer to digitally paste a female celebrity's face onto the nude body of a centerfold. There are honorable exceptions to this general ignorance; the men of the United States armed forces know how to do their own laundry and how to do it well, and I think that rates a big salute from the rest of us; and the many single men who've bucked the stay at home syndrome and moved away from hearth and home, kith and kin, and all the other alliterative aliases for their mothers. This skill, unfortunately, deteriorates at an exponential rate after marriage, which may explain why laundry is one of the leading causes of divorce in the United States and why court battles over who gets custody of the fabric softener tend to get vicious.
Actually, I did a fair amount of the wash when I was wed, although I suspect I was motivated at least in part by the desire to avoid doing some other unpleasant task.
And it is indeed true that, single again, I have taken some steps to reduce the amount of wash that needs to be done around here, but that's another story.
[T]heories abound as to why this aversion to detergent exists, the most popular (and the oldest) coming from the psychoanalytic school founded by Sigmund Freud, which holds that men subconsciously regard washing clothes as a sign of latent homosexuality, something on the order of putting ketchup on a hot dog, and therefore an unendurable threat to their masculinity. This school of thought has many critics, who say that the half-cooked food in the Freudian school's cafeteria is having an obvious deleterious effect on the practice of psychology. The leading critic of this school of psychological thought was my late grandmother, who held that the reason why men did not do their own laundry was that the vast majority of men are just bone-lazy.
Count this as a vote for explanation B.
They're trying to tell me something
Two things in the mailbox this morning: a copy of Mad magazine and a class schedule for Metro Tech.
There's a message here somewhere.
A fitting solution
Questions of aesthetics aside, it's probably easier for men than women when it comes to buying clothing: we specify a bunch of numbers and we get something that might actually fit, while they call off one number from a specified range and take their chances.
Not that I have any particular expertise in this realm, but I was able to comprehend Kathleen's proposal for changes in sizing for women:
While small busted women may fail to appreciate the difference, there’s an enormous body sizing difference between a woman who wears a 32DD and whose full bust measure is 38 than that of a woman who wears a 36B bra and also measures a full 38". The difference being minimally 40 if not 50 lbs of total body weight. In other words, not all inches are created equally; the blouse sized to fit a 38" chest has a much larger back than the woman wearing the DD cup needs; she needs extra inches up front, not in the back. Similarly, she doesn’t need the larger shoulders, upper arm girth or increased waist typically needed by the woman wearing a 36B bra. I realize that sizing blouses and dresses according to bra size won't solve the issues of height incorporation but further differentiations between short, average and tall could be made by those companies who have the infrastructure in their product development departments to manage these size ranges.
Considering that the "average" woman wears a 36C bra, weighs 144 lbs and is just under 5'4", I think sizing of this structure would make a dramatic difference in the fit of women's apparel.
(Aside: I think I know exactly one "average" woman.)
I seldom get into discussions of women's clothing with actual women, but once upon a time there was a young lady in the next office over who used to grumble about precisely this sort of issue. It didn't help that her particular dimensions were, um, inconsistent with the scale; I asked her once if there existed a Theory of Conservation of Sizes, and if it took someone shopping for swimsuits who wore a 6 top and an 8 bottom to cancel her out. (She gave me the "Are you out of your polyester-picking mind?" look I've seen so often before, but she was still smiling. I think.)
And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want to try to pick a garment for myself based on a single number. My proportions, not surprisingly, are a tad askew: very few men six feet tall have a 28-inch inseam, and I have a spare tire, and not a compact spare at that.
14 August 2005
Vagina Monologues? Not even, says Aldahlia:
I get that they're for a good cause and all, and that's awesome. And, if I were simply uncomfortable with the word vagina, I wouldn’t be writing this at all. But, I am uncomfortable with Vaginas Telling their Own Stories. Kind of like I dislike the phrase, "Holiest of Holys." Anything that reduces women to flashbags meant for carting around their own reproductive organs gets on my nerves.
And, that includes the Monologues.
I'll let you all in on a secret
My vagina doesn't have a brain. And, despite any possible Freudian nightmares some males may have had out there, it's got no mouth, either. It's not talking anytime soon, and if it could its story surely isn't anywhere near as interesting as the one my head could tell.
(Note: I read this and came up with two different responses. Unable to pick between them, I'm tossing both of them up here.)
 The Monologues, of course, are yet another manifestation of that peculiar contemporary notion that how you feel is every bit as important as how you think, a notion I find somewhere between incomprehensible and indefensible.
 There is less restraint on this side of the gender divide: look at all the pricks who have their own blogs.
Beyond mere binary
Okiedoke has good stuff this morning on "fusion philosophy," the idea that third parties of whatever persuasions will find it in their best interests to pool their resources, with the hope of unseating the intractable R and/or D types who control the government an especially-useful idea in Oklahoma, where said R and/or D types are, by legislative fiat, the only ones likely to appear on state ballots.
Here's Mike's take on how it could work:
I like the concept of using a Fusion Party simply to endorse candidates through a primary election decided by Independent voters and members of third parties not recognized by the state.
This method would allow candidates nominated by their party with the choice of remaining true to their party ideals, or offer a personal platform that appeals to a broad political spectrum. It would also provide an opportunity for Independent candidates to gain some political muscle from winning a competitive political primary. In any case, the pseudo "Fusion Party" label could simply be used to gain access to the ballot.
I have to say I'm intrigued by the concept of what is, in effect, a Party of None of the Above, and if it can be used to foil the major parties' stranglehold on Oklahoma politics, by all means it should be.
Gotta have pop
My daughter's "alternative" credentials are just this side of impeccable she once managed a death-metal band, fercryingoutloud but there are tell-tale cracks in the façade.
Last night she told me about her new favorite track, which turns out to be "Tired of Being Sorry" by Ringside. I gave it a listen, and it's indeed compulsively listenable, but it's also about as "alternative" as, God help me, "Reach Out of the Darkness".
Seduced by pop, and by the light side of pop at that. It could happen to you.
Your 15 percent is up
Customers believe in tipping because they think it makes economic sense. "Waiters know that they won't get paid if they don't do a good job," is how most advocates of the system (meaning most everybody in America) would put it. To be sure, this is a seductive, apparently rational statement about economic theory, but it appears to have little applicability to the real world of restaurants.
Michael Lynn, an associate professor of consumer behavior and marketing at Cornell's School of Hotel Administration, has conducted dozens of studies of tipping and has concluded that consumers' assessments of the quality of service correlate weakly to the amount they tip.
Rather, customers are likely to tip more in response to servers touching them lightly and crouching next to the table to make conversation than to how often their water glass is refilled in other words, customers tip more when they like the server, not when the service is good. (Mr. Lynn's studies also indicate that male customers increase their tips for female servers while female customers increase their tips for male servers.)
Isn't it just possible that we'll like the server if the service is, by our reckoning, "good"?
A response from a server, posted at waiterrant.net:
While it might be true the patron's tip is based on how much they personally like their server, Shaw's position would remove the customer's monetary feedback entirely. Plus, water always seeks its own level and greed is rampant among restaurant owners. Sensing profit, restaurateurs will establish a service charge but start paying servers a flat hourly rate, thereby pocketing the difference. This obviates the consumer's ability to reward the server. You'll understand what I mean if you've ever shelled it out for a wedding reception. The establishment charges an 18% service charge on top of the bill but only pays its waiter between $10-$15 dollars an hour. Where does the rest of that money go? Right into the owner's pocket! Now you might say that's the way it works but hold on! There's a restaurant in NYC that adds a "service charge" of 18% for parties of six or more. The waiters pocket that money. However, when the Christmas season arrives and the restaurant starts booking multi-thousand dollar office parties they switch the servers to a flat hourly rate and keep the difference. That's cynical and greedy. And that's exactly what will happen if every restaurant in America adopts a service charge.
Far from improving a customer's dining experience the service charge will ruin it. Why? Because if waiters are making an hourly wage they won't care what kind of service they give. And, since waiters will definitely be undercompensated they won't be happy and what will that do to the "emotional connection" patrons have with their server? It will destroy it making customers miserable and causing experienced servers to leave the business in droves. The best way for a restaurant to make a waiter loyal and happy is to pay him or her well through tipping. In this age of corporate layoffs and CEO overcompensation do you think any young person (the usual age cohort for waiters) buys that nonsense about long term compensation after they saw their parents' loyalty to companies like Enron and Tyco so richly rewarded? They don't and they want their money now. Why? Because a lot of us can take care of ourselves.
I'm not sure I believe that service will go straight to hell if the wait staff is put on a straight wage, or on salary, but I'm more inclined to accept this version of the story. And as an experienced eBay buyer (over 300 auctions, nearly 200 won), I'm a firm believer in immediate feedback.
(For those who care: My standard tip is between 20 and 25 percent, rounded to the nearest 50 cents. Substandard service earns the canonical 15 percent. Service beyond the call of duty opens up the wallet considerably.)
He fears/she fears
Rather a lot of advertising boils down to "Use our product/service and you will get laid more often." However, you apparently can't use the same approach for men and for women, as Lindsay Beyerstein explains:
I've recently gotten paid to write posters suggesting to men that Viagra may help them lead a more fulfilling life but we wouldn't dare suggest that anyone actually needs Viagra. Oh, no! Marketing to men's sexual insecurities is all about "you're wonderful, but you could be extra-personally-fulfilled." When marketing to women's sexual insecurities the message seems to be "You are vile, but you could be acceptable."
I don't have any particular sexual insecurities one of the most secure bets on earth is that my dance card will continue to remain blank but she's quite right: you let a guy think, even for a moment, that John Thomas won't be up to the task, and you've got the very definition of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I admit, though, that I don't understand why women would respond to a pitch that tells them that basically they're undesirable and unappealing and generally worthless. Columnist Cynthia Heimel once claimed, "We have no faith in ourselves," and proposed this test:
Walk up to any woman on the street and say, "You know something, sweetheart? You'd look an awful lot better if you lost fifteen pounds. And do you really think that hair style is becoming? Don't you know anything about bone structure? Anyway, with ankles like yours, I wouldn't bother to leave the house."
Instead of the proper response, which would be to deck you, nine out of ten women will apologize, burst into tears, and run away.
I hasten to point out that I have not tried this experiment, and don't plan to do so.
15 August 2005
Spearheading the resistance
Not long ago I wrote about Florida State University's response to the NCAA's current obsession with "offensive" team names and mascots.
Charles E. Kupchella, president of the University of North Dakota, has now weighed in with an open letter to the NCAA:
Is it the use of Indian names, images, and/or mascots to which you are opposed? If it is all of the above, which logos, images, and mascots do you indict by your announcement? Is it only certain ones? [A] very respected Indian artist designed and created a logo for the University. The logo is not unlike those found on United States coins and North Dakota highway patrol cars and highway signs. So we can't imagine that the use of this image is "abusive" or "hostile" in any sense of these words.
Is it the use of the names of tribes that you find hostile and abusive? Not long ago I took a trip to make a proposal to establish an epidemiological program to support American Indian health throughout the Upper Great Plains. On this trip I left a state called North Dakota. (Dakota is one of the names the indigenous people of this region actually call themselves.) I flew over South Dakota, crossing the Sioux River several times, and finally landed in Sioux City, Iowa, just south of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The airplane in which I traveled that day was called a Cheyenne.
I think you should find my confusion here understandable, since obviously if we were to call our teams "The Dakotans," we would actually be in more direct violation of what apparently you are trying to establish as a rule, even though this is the name of our state. This situation, of course, is not unlike that faced by our sister institution in Illinois.
And there's one other issue, by the way:
Is it only about applying names to sports teams? If so, would this be extended to the use of the names of all people, or is it just American Indians? Why would you exempt the "Fighting Irish" from your consideration, for example? Or "Vikings," which are really fighting Scandinavians, or "Warriors," which I suppose could be described as fighting anybodies? Wouldn't it be "discrimination on account of race" to have a policy that applies to Indians but not to Scandinavians or the Irish, or anybody else for that matter? This seems especially profound in light of a letter to me from [NCAA] President [Myles] Brand (8/9/05) in which he, in very broad-brush fashion and inconsistent with the NCAA's recent much narrower pronouncement, said, "we believe that mascots, nicknames or images deemed hostile or abusive in terms of race, ethnicity or national origin should not be visible at our events."
(Emphasis in Dr Kupchella's original.)
I went to a high school where the teams were known as the Battling Bishops. Somehow I don't think anyone came away with the notion that Catholic clergy were unusually belligerent. Then again, as a high school, we obviously weren't members of the NCAA.
Some schmuck actually dropped this on Andrea Harris:
Remember this: Your words are actions, and you Will pay dearly for them. The web is a public record. Your posts are published. Your ip is public. And you're going to go to far with the wrong person who does a whois search and finds that they just so happen to be very close to where you live ... and that paying you a visit starts to sound like a satisfying idea. I personally wouldn't (no matter how appropriatly ironic I would find the justice) and would advocate against such reactionary vigilantism but someone will. It's only a matter of time.
Now if you boil this down to the crucial stuff, this is what's left (and I do mean "left"):
"Mommy! This girl is picking on me!"
Because that's all it is. "You're gonna get yours, you big meanie! Not that I would ever stoop to such a thing myself, of course."
It is to laugh.
Cutting in line
I am told this is satire:
Bill Clinton, desperate to regain the White House, and tiring of his wife's waffling on an '08 run for the job herself, has decided to undergo surgery in order to become a woman in preparation for an unprecedented campaign to become the first three-term President since Roosevelt AND the first female (well sort of) President in the Nation's history.
"I'd have never left if term limits hadn't forced me out," declared Mr. Clinton, who will legally change his name to Belinda Clint once the gender modification is complete. "The constitution, or one of those musty documents, says Bill Clinton, the man, can't be President again but it doesn't say anything about Belinda Clint, the woman, becoming President."
One-time White House staffer Mike Lewinsky was unavailable for comment.
Ask for the Number One
A battery that runs on urine? Absolutely:
Dr Ki Bang Lee, who heads the research team at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology in Singapore, said: "We are striving to develop cheap, disposable, credit-card-sized biochips for disease detection. Our battery can be integrated into such devices, supplying electricity upon contact with biofluids, such as urine."
No, this isn't for your iPod:
The paper-thin device is designed to run cheap, disposable test kits for diseases such as diabetes. Many such tests use the chemical composition of urine to reveal signs of disease.
The new battery will allow the urine being analysed to provide the electricity needed to run the test kit, without having to rely on lithium batteries or external power sources.
Downright ingenious. My congratulations to the whiz kids who thought this up.
In the wanton summer air
Don't they get any points for monogamy? The Boston Parks and Recreation Department discovered last year that Romeo and Juliet, the swans in the Public Garden, are actually both female, but kept the news under wraps lest visitors be disillusioned, or something.
I suppose you could write your own joke here. Me, I'm disinclined to mock a happy couple.
(Via Steph Mineart.)
Gravel for Sisyphus
According to the old schoolyard (remember the days of the old schoolyard?) joke, the only thing harder than Wheeling, West Virginia was Flushing, New York.
But back then, we'd never tried canceling EarthLink.
Burning in your mind
You probably don't know Okkie Huysdens or Bas Muys or Hans Vermeulen, but the three of them and some equally-anonymous associates were responsible for one of my greatest guilty pleasures of the early 1980s: these guys were doing impressions of, respectively, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison in the sixteen-minute Beatles medley released under the name "Stars on 45," which in the US charted as two separate singles, one of which made Number One in Billboard.
It was a downright audacious act, and it was a response to an act of dubious legality: someone in the Netherlands was circulating a dance mix of various pop hits that had been altered just enough to match their tempos together. It was staggeringly popular, and one of the aggrieved copyright owners came up with the idea of fighting the bootleg with a legitimately-recorded medley. The task fell to producer Jaap Eggermont, who initially recorded half an hour's worth of snippets and glued them together. Ingeniously, the "Stars on 45" albums issued in the US were titled Stars on Long Play; weirdly, the individual medleys differed substantially from the European releases, presumably for copyright-clearance reasons.
There was, of course, a Greatest Hits CD. And if you still insist that disco sucks, well, the concept was worked well by the Circle Jerks with a thrash medley of "adult-contemporary" tunes under the title "Golden Shower of Hits (Jerks on 45)", issued first on the L.A. label (if my 45 is to be believed) and then picked up for national distribution by Rhino.
16 August 2005
The motorcycle diuretics
I don't know where you are from, but if you say what you say about Che, probably you don't see the real world, and probably you would never understand why he thought what he thought, and why he lived the way he did. There's a lot to say about him, but what we cannot say is that he was just a murderer. Napoleon was a murderer too, if you think about it, but History knows him because of his intelligence and because he was very smart. Che Guevara must be seen as a man with ideals, who fought for making them real, and as a person who never corrupted himself. I just dare you to think about a person who has or had ideals and is/was peaceful (besides Gandhi and M.L. King).
He gives this the response it deserves:
Oh, there are millions of peaceful persons with ideals who actually make the world a better place: nameless entrepreneurs, capitalists, workers in private companies, or people in charities and even NGOs, but you don't wear them on t-shirts, or read their biographies, for the simple reason, that they don’t kill anyone. They may not be on first name terms with "History" (why the Capital letter "H", I wonder. Have we read too much Hegel, hmm?), but they sure did more good.
Ah, but we see measurable progress. We are ready to admit that Che Guevara was a murderer. But he wasn't just that! Oh yes, he did kill people, but he did so with wit, idealism, a dash of daring-do, and what's more, he did kill with charm! Can you beat that, Napoleon, Stalin, Hitler!?
But surely Che's minor excursion into the field of mass murder he was decidedly small-time next to Hitler or Stalin is excused by the way he cared for his people, is it not?
Well, actually, no, it is not:
He was put in charge of the Cuban bank, Cuban industrialization, and Cuban land reform. They were all colossal failures, of course, because they all were true to the utopian daydreams of communism, which is to say they didn't work. Indeed, he destroyed the Cuban economy and impoverished the Cuban people.
Oh, and yes, there were concentration camps, just in case you thought this was something introduced to Cuba by those horrid old Americans.
Leftists like to point out how they're opposed to all forms of discrimination, and I suppose it's true: some of them, at least, are amazingly undiscriminating.
I know Lileks is kidding, but this still sounds sort of scary:
At some point North Dakota will empty out entirely; the fields will go fallow, the towns dissolve, the railroad ties rot into wormy mush, and there will be nothing but Fargo, some military bases and large herds of angry bison looking for PAYBACK. That's when we will hire a company to scoop out the entire state to a depth of 39 feet and start filling it with trash. It will be a landfill we can see from the Moon. Sixteen percent of the trash will be coffee grounds.
Suddenly I feel better about reusing that tea bag.
Selling the Bixby bridge
The Oklahoman reports this morning that a study commissioned by Infrastructure Ventures, Inc. indicates that IVI's proposed private toll bridge over the Arkansas River between Bixby and Tulsa will produce $970 million in economic development for south Tulsa in its first ten years.
I haven't seen the study, so I don't know if this figure includes the $658 million that IVI itself will pocket from the bridge.
They used to be "reporters"
"If you are going to be a journalist," says Orville Schell, Dean of the School of Journalism at the University of California, "repayment must come in some other currency than dollars. One of those alternative currencies journalism trades in is 'able to make a difference'."
That "alternative currency" and $4.99, I suspect, will get you Combo Meal #2 at participating locations for a limited time only, tax not included.
Saying that journalism is just a job is not to demean journalism. It is as honorable a way to make a living as tallying wodgets or repairing cars or writing computer code. And just as there are great code jocks who do have an impact beyond their own job, and mechanics who are true artists, there are journalists who do manage to have an effect, however transitory, on the larger culture. But that is not a function of journalism, per se. It's a function of individual talent, which, if great enough, will usually surmount all restraints.
Journalists go to work and do their jobs to earn a paycheck and provide the necessities for themselves and their families. The notion that their job is something intrinsically greater than that is, well, silly. If you don't think so, ask all the journalists in the US to work for nothing more than the chance to "make a difference," and see how many you have showing up in the newsroom the next day.
I have no illusions that anything I do at 42nd and Treadmill, a job only dimly related to anything journalistic, has the slightest effect on the Grand Scheme of Things; I put in my hours, deposit almost enough money to pay the bills, and the cycle repeats. The only "difference" I need to make is in the lives of my immediate family.
And if I inadvertently impart some wisdom through this Web site well, that's just a chance I'll have to take.
Gall beyond mitigation
Remember those lucky folks who are being displaced as a result of Kelo v. New London?
The city of New London does. And the city of New London has decided that not only will they be turned out of their homes, but they owe rent to the city for the period between initial condemnation and actual eviction.
The actual buyout of the homes, per Connecticut law, will be at the market value at the time of condemnation, five years ago. Will the residents be billed at 2000-level rent rates? Of course not.
This entire city deserves the New Rome treatment.
(Via Hit & Run.)
An opinion with teeth
The pertinent 1991 statute (4 O.S. 46, section B):
Potentially dangerous or dangerous dogs may be regulated through local, municipal and county authorities, provided the regulations are not breed specific. Nothing in this act shall prohibit such local governments from enforcing penalties for violation of such local laws.
Attorney General Drew Edmondson read this off to Rep. Paul Wesselhoft (R-Moore), who is pushing for a state ban on pit bulls.
The fact the attorney general has ruled in this manner makes it more imperative that my bill become the new law.
One of my readers asks: "I used to have a child that bit all the time. Can we ban children too?"
Just say the word
Is this a great vanity plate or what?
17 August 2005
I got rhythms
Biorhythms, anyway, and while I remain somewhat dubious about their ultimate utility anyone who knows me knows I go through emotional upheaval a lot more often than every 28 days I have to smile at something that gives me 98-percent compatibility with Marg Helgenberger.
Okay, maybe I don't. But it's either her or Jessica Lange.
(Purloined from Craig Ceely, who even now is contemplating the wonders of Catherine Bach.)
It's only an acronym
And a German acronym, at that.
But it's absolutely perfect for this business.
(Found at ad-rag.com.)
Look on my shoes, ye mighty, and puke
The Manolo, he normally has the most exquisite of tastes, but this is more than anyone should have to look at.
I can't help but think that this shoe would be massively improved by losing that cluster of petrified jelly beans around the vamp, and it might save a couple bucks off the $765 price. Lindsay Beyerstein suggests that Katherine Harris might own three pair of these, which strikes me as unlikely: nobody with vision correctable to the minimum acceptable for a driver's license would buy even two pair of these. (To make this look even bearable, you have to have legs that go on for days, presumably drawing the eyes away from the shoes. )
The people have spoken
B2 or not B2
Remind me, next time I decide to change platforms, to outsource the process.
Of course, some things are better done in-house.
ICE isn't so cool
Put an "In Case of Emergency" entry on your cell-phone? Don't bother. D. Bunny explains why:
Um, I don't have any last names in my cell's phone book.
Otherwise, this seems eminently sensible to me.
AP reports that Vigils for Cindy Sheehan will be taking place this evening in Oklahoma City, one of which will be at the Capitol.
Democracy for America, MoveOn and True Majority are the major organizations behind the vigils. The Capitol event begins at 7:30.
Meanwhile on Triple X Road
McGehee is not impressed with the Bush Administration's unwillingness to embrace the concept of a .xxx domain for smut 'n stuff:
What the .xxx TLD will do is create an easily filtered "ghetto" of porn sites. Want to keep your kids from surfing for cyberporn, just block any website with a .xxx URL, and voila!
Perhaps it's just that the White House doesn't want to look like it's actually approving of the sort of thing that would belong in an .xxx site, but considering how much of the stuff is distributed through just about every other top-level domain, you'd think they'd appreciate this gesture toward ghettoization.
Not that smut peddlers will appreciate it, necessarily:
[I]f I were a purveyor of cybersmut, I’d avoid .xxx domain names like the plague.
I'm starting to think there should be a top-level domain just for blogs, in which case I'm going to have to produce an alternate version of the top graphic reading dustbury.bfd.
(Note: There really is a Triple X Road sometimes rendered "Triple XXX Road," which seems slightly redundant in Oklahoma City; it's a section-line road located at the 17000 block East.)
There's not a lot to say about a number like 152, though you'd encounter it if Professor Harold Hill (no relation) decided to double the complement of trombones, and Oklahoma State Highway 152 is the major east/west thoroughfare through Mustang.
But this is just killing time before the main event, which is the 152nd Carnival of the Vanities, presented, with numerical ratings yet, at WILLisms. If it's good blogging from last week and you missed it, here's a second chance.
18 August 2005
Oklahoma City vs. Tampa
A comparison, posted on craigslist by someone who's moved to Florida:
Call-center wages: OKC, $10/hr; Tampa, $8/hr
Amusement parks: "I could go to Frontier City twice a week for a year compared what one trip to Disneyworld, Epcot Center, Universal City and Busch Gardens would cost."
Sushi: "... have been to 4 different sushi restaurants in Tampa... none compare with Sushi Neko. How does a restaurant 500 miles from the ocean have better raw seafood than one that is almost within walking distance of the damn ocean?"
Bars and nightclubs: "... nothing beats a beachfront bar, where the waitresses and bartenders wear bikinis.... oh wait those arent in Tampa... they are across the bay in St. Pete and Clearwater... 25 miles away or an hour and a half on a busy day."
Traffic: "... been on I-44 and I-35 over by Mathis Brothers during rush hour? That is every major street in Tampa everyday during rush hour.... and rush hour last 3 hours in the morning and 3 hours in the evening...."
Real estate: "... you buy a $125,000 house in Oklahoma City you get 3 bedrooms, two baths and two car garage....in Tampa you get 2 bedrooms, 1 bath and a carport... NO CENTRAL AC...."
A couple of notes:
Mathis Brothers is actually near the I-44/I-40 interchange.
Frontier City, which hasn't been updated since the Spanish-American War, isn't that much fun these days. (Which may or may not have something to do with Daniel Snyder's tender offer for Six Flags, Inc. shares in the hopes of replacing the top company officials.)
And anyway, this Tampa transplant isn't too unhappy these days, because of the following:
fresh Seafood (except Sushi)
Art Galleries and Museums
concerts .... major concert almost every weekend
and Key West is only a day away.
Come mid-January when it is 20 degrees in Oklahoma, I am going to be sitting out on the beach in my shorts with a cold drink in my hands saying to the bikini clad waitress who is bring[ing] me a re-fill..."Gee it is kinda cold today... what is it only 75 degrees?"
Now that we can't top.
And it comes out here
I have never been particularly fond of the "spinner"-style wheels that show up on automobiles now and then; some states have attempted to ban them based on safety considerations, but as a practical matter, their only real disadvantage, apart from wallet-lightening effects, is the addition of unsprung weight in an area where you don't need it. (The whole idea of alloy wheels, as opposed to steel wheels with covers, is to reduce the amount of mass down there.)
On the other hand, wheel covers with spinners have a distinct advantage: when one comes flying off the wheel at 70 mph, as happened to a Toyota pickup this morning on I-44, it has enough torque to get it across three lanes of traffic at incredibly high speed before it finally lands on the shoulder. An ordinary, stationary Pep Boys special would have been pounded to death by oncoming trucks before it ever got past the second lane.
More victimized than thou
La Shawn Barber posed this question to the pertinent segments of the population:
If a significant number of women begin choosing to abort their babies because doctors discovered a "gay gene," would your stance on the "right to choose" change or shift in any way? Would the number of women killing these "defective" babies make a difference? Is one potentially gay dead baby one too many?
Not being a fan of abortion anyway, I wouldn't have to budge on my own stance. (Killing someone for being gay is heinous; killing someone for potentially being gay is more so.) But I can see how balancing this particular equation could be difficult for some people.
One version of the mathematics of it, according to ShrinkWrapped:
I would suggest that this is not as much of an issue as La Shawn might expect.
In the world of PC, all groups are valued in relation to their degree of victimhood. Homosexuals are ranked very high as victims. Pro-choice women are also victims but the moment a pro-choice woman decided to abort a pregnancy because of a "gay" gene, she would lose her status as a victim, becoming a homophobe and therefore an oppressor. Her rights to an abortion could then be abrogated without much concern.
And that would seem to be that, though I'd like to get hold of the Official Victims List and the methodology by which it is prepared. Presumably there is a unit of victimization, and each entry on the list is valued at some number of units. (Bonus points if you can come up with a name for the unit.)
No child left to breathe
Jay Mathews, writing in The Washington Post, thinks it would be a really cool idea to stretch the school day out to nine hours or so.
My objection to a nine-hour school day is not just about money, resources or raising teacher's salaries so they can provide babysitting for three hours a day; it's about what we are doing to our children. We are forcing them to grow out of childhood too fast. It's all about work, work, work and how much learning and regiment you can squeeze into one child's brain in the course of a few hours a day. Kids need some freedom. They need to gather in front of their houses and play kickball with their friends. They need to ride their bikes and play hopscotch or just sit around with a few buddies playing video games or watching movies. Why force the rituals and time constraints of the adult world onto a ten year old? Do you think this will prepare them for "real" life or toughen them up? No, it will only make them weary and humorless. Nine-hour school days, plus time to do homework, projects and study leaves them no time to be children. They'll just be mini-adults. That's not fair.
But Mathews thinks the teachers will go for this:
One topic that comes up repeatedly in education articles and debates is the need for higher salaries and more job satisfaction to lure and keep the best teachers. Creating a longer school day can solve both of those problems. More hours can mean more money for the teacher, and more achievement for that teacher's students, which is just about all a good teacher needs to be happy.
Quiz time, boys and girls. Jay Mathews has just been hired as a substitute teacher in Yourtown, USA. How long before he runs screaming from the room, never to return?
Hand in your papers to the front of the room and exit normally.
Down a quart or two
Dayna Shields reports that the current oil crunch is due to our failure to check our oil levels:
The problem is purely geographical. The oil is in Alaska, California and Texas, while our dipsticks are located in Washington.
(Found in The Oklahoma Observer, 10 August, which for some reason just got here today.)
Never mind what's in the sack
"Honey? Who's this little fart at the door?"
(Via Angi Lovejoy.)
19 August 2005
Bottom of the bag
According to the usual Reliable Sources, Orville Redenbacher died in 1995, having suffered a heart attack in his hot tub.
Fungus among us
Recent rains across Oklahoma have quickly produced an unsettling and possibly dangerous crop of mushrooms on fields and yards, prompting telephone calls to the Oklahoma Poison Control Center from concerned parents.
"All wild mushrooms must be considered unsafe to eat, and prevention is the best defense against mushroom poisoning," said Lee McGoodwin, managing director of the Oklahoma Poison Control Center in Oklahoma City.
"Parents should teach their children never to eat a mushroom unless it has been purchased at the grocery store. Parents should destroy any wild mushroom around the house or garden," she said.
Well, okay, fine. I have a string of the suckers on the east side where the sun scarcely shines, the inevitable result of a six-foot fence less than six feet from the house, but it never once occurred to me to pop them into a saucepan.
More worrisome, though, is the idea that there might be children who think, "Ooo, something on the ground! Let's eat it!" At the very least, mushrooms in the yard are a screaming violation of the five-second rule.
How true this is:
[W]e all love the internet for its ability to misdirect us to accidental discoveries that end up being more interesting than the stuff we were originally trying to find, don't we?
It probably doesn't make your research more efficient, but it surely makes your research more fun.
In today's case, it's this mini-essay on those great double-album "Loss Leader" compilation albums Warner Brothers put out in the late sixties and early seventies.
Which essay, I mention in passing, was written by, um, me.
Apparently three of the Fantastic Four are signed for the sequel the exception being Jessica Alba.
I think I'm going to cry.
Damned old democracy
The bill well, it's a California measure to monitor convicted sex offenders. Governor Schwarzenegger has suggested that if it doesn't pass, he'll support a voter initiative to enact it. But that's not what perturbs me.
State Sen. Carole Migden, D-San Francisco and a member of the Senate's public safety committee, called the new bill "a brutal, cookie-cutter approach" to criminal justice. It's the job of the Legislature, she said, not the voters, to deal with complex, emotional issues like this.
"If the people should vote 'yes' or 'no' on every bill, the next (initiative) measure should be to eliminate the Legislature,'' she said.
Translation: "We're the government and you're not, so shut up."
(Via Miller's Time.)
20 August 2005
A regular Captain Quirk
Michele is asking for personal idiosyncrasies, and I'm sure I could fill up a few hundred lines in no time at all listing some of the weirder things I do but then I'd have to weed out things that don't really qualify as "idiosyncrasies". (My temper is legendarily mercurial, but this is part and parcel of my being, rather than an odd quirk; my disdain for clothing doesn't count because it's far too common, as most weeks I spend more hours undressed than dressed.) Still, after the first pass, there's plenty to pick from:
That should do for openers.
You came here for an argument
I had to shake my head in disbelief at this bit of tape from our Fox affiliate in Phoenix. The cameraman was sent out to talk to anti-war protesters gathered to show solidarity with Cindy Sheehan. And he ran into one fellow who had issues about talking to anyone from Fox News.
"I'm not talking to anybody from Fox. (WHY?) If you don't know by now, then there's nothing I can say that will help you. And I work for the news agency, as a matter of fact.”
He works for a news agency and he's participating in an anti-war protest. And he thinks that is fair and balanced.
Well, is he working for the news agency at that moment, or is he protesting in his spare time? The brief clip doesn't make that clear, and I certainly don't think it's reasonable to expect that reporters should not have opinions or that they should not act on the opinions they have; I ask only that they keep them out of their actual reports.
Still, I wonder which news agency keeping in mind, one man's news agency is another man's fetid swamp he works for.
(Caught by McGehee.)
One week from today
Tony Newcomb, legendary dealer in fine sportswear (last time I heard the name, I immediately thought, "Tony Newcomb shirts?" and yes, it was), is holding his 25th annual Chili and Moonlight Party next Saturday at the Elks Lodge, 4711 North Tulsa Avenue. And he's serious about the chili; there will be a full-fledged chili cookoff according to CASI rules. Add live music from the Fifties through the Seventies, and you've got one heck of a bash. (Bring blankets and chairs and coolers no glass for the concert.)
For more information, call 405 760-9263 or 405 232-0022.
Saturday spottings (vacancies)
It's still a bit unnerving to round the curve westbound on 63rd at Classen and see the empty space where Wendy's and Laredo's used to be. I'm sure the additions to the Chesapeake campus will be quite lovely, but one does get used to things. (And speaking of "quite lovely," my arrival at this intersection coincided with the arrival of a member of Pearl's wait staff; I nearly missed the changing of the light.) There are still lots of Wendy's around; Laredo's will return once their new place (5111 Classen, in between the Belle Isle IHOP and Horn Seed Company) is finished, which may take a while, since it's scarcely even started.
Speaking of open spaces, there's rather a lot of them on NE 3rd downtown: apart from the deliberately (I'm guessing) anonymous-looking Untitled (ArtSpace), it's a stretch of parking lots all the way to the Deep Deuce Apartments. Which reminds me: There's a little storefront smack in the middle of the Apartments, between 2nd and 3rd on Central, which has gotten a couple of coats of paint but is otherwise unrestored. I don't know what you could put in a space that small, but I'd like to see that building put back to work, since it's one of the few structures remaining from the original Deep Deuce.
Signs are now up for Russell M. Perry Avenue, which is the new name for Stiles just south of NE 4th until some point where it mutates into Joe Carter Drive and travels through east Bricktown.
The former Trust House building at May and Wilshire is being gutted and redone for its new occupants: Mitchener & Farrand Jewelers, aka "The Jewelry Guys on May," who are moving two blocks north. I expect the new facility will be almost unrecognizable as the old Trust House, and I suspect this is exactly what the Guys want.
Finally, both a dart and a laurel, as Frosty Troy would say, to Galileo on the Paseo: the dart for failing to keep their Web site current, not good for a live-music venue, and a laurel for their new advertising tagline: "Independently owned, irresponsibly operated, since 1998."
I have never placed a personal ad. (Okay, I filled in a profile at OkCupid, but this was so I could get a look at some of their funkier personality tests.) The major reason, surpassing even "What if I got a response?" (which is scary enough), is "What in the world would I say?"
Whatever it would be, I hope it wouldn't come off like this:
The next president of the United States is looking for a female running mate for life. I am a Christian & when I choose a running mate it will be for life. She must be in an excellent physical condition as I am. I love Asians and I love kissing Asian woman & large lips. My mate must send me to heaven with her kisses. Our lips don't have to connect to kiss sometimes your imagination is better than reality. I want to be cocooned by her. I need an alien Asian woman as a running man. Any beautiful woman will do. I'm 49yrs old in top physical condition, & bench press 245lbs & the reason I don't do more is because the Nona less machines I work on only go to 254lbs. I have a perfect smile as I paid for it. I have porcelain veneers. I have women stopping me in the street who don't know me saying "Do you know you have the perfect smile?" I should I paid $40,000 for it! All I needed the day I went to the dentist was a night guard. My dentist told me that I had ground my teeth right down to the bottom under stress. I could wait and do nothing or get porcelain veneers. If I waited and did nothing, next year I would need 28 root canals and $1000 more than the porcelains per tooth. I had a decision to make & I won't tell you what I decided, but the perfect smile. I am 6"4, Blond Hair, Blue Eyes, extremely articulate. I have a bachelor's degree, and I know the cure to cancer and the common cold. They are food supplements I take now. I will treat my woman like a princess and make her a queen if she wants to be! Ladies with accents will take priority. Seeking ages 17-35. Serious candidates only. All interested candidates call John on [number redacted].
(As seen in the Dallas Observer, and referred to yours truly by Aldahlia. I have no idea if she has an accent.)
21 August 2005
This glass is excruciating
This east Nichols Hills home could be yours, if you can put up with a minor issue. From the ad in the Gazette:
Completely remodeled 3br, 2ba, hd wd flrs, ceramic tile, fp. New thermo pain windows, 2car garage, fenced yd. $144,900.
I assume the "pain" comes alongside the electric bill.
Subscribe or else
For the past two weekends, there has been a circulation representative from The Oklahoman posted at the entrance to my supermarket of choice, which was a problem only in that he was too close to the bank branch in the front of the store and tended to exacerbate bottlenecks in that particular aisle.
Until yesterday, when the store's newspaper rack contained, for the first time I can remember on a Saturday, no copies of the paper's "Early Bird" edition, which is essentially the Sunday paper minus the front page and some of the sports section.
It seems unlikely that OPUBCO would phase out the Early Bird. Historically, the paper has always been willing to hype newsstand sales, from the days when The Oklahoma Journal was new and OPUBCO was willing to cut its copy price by 60 percent to squash them, to a more recent scheme to increase circulation in rural areas by offering single copies outside the metro at half price.
But with circulation at most papers in decline well, we'll see what happens next week.
Assault with battery
The War? Yup, you guessed it a rightwing plot. But it's not a plot to raise oil revenues it's a plot to sell more hybrid cars.
See, the Bush Family made a deal with the Grays: in return for letting the Slender Ones Of Infinite Power mutilate all the cows they can handle, Republicans get alien weapons technology in return. But before they can use this alien technology for its intended purpose to vaporize small brown children they naturally have to test it, to see if it works. Hence, they're teaming up with Big Business in order to put this technology into hybrid vehicles, where one day soon all the environmental liberals driving them will be instantly vaporized, killing two birds with one stone: finally proving the weapons work, and incinerating Ed Begley, Jr.
And who among us hasn't wanted to see Ed Begley, Jr. incinerated? Be honest now.
Considering that the back half of a hybrid is in essence a self-contained toxic waste dump, a fact which has largely escaped their clean-and-green cheerleaders in the media well, after a while you start to wonder.
(Courtesy of Rita.)
He's just not that into ... something
So this guy I have a thing for, but who lives on the other side of the country, is coming to visit and will stay with me for one night. I've had the hots for him since the moment I met him a few years ago. A friend who has seen us together said she definitely detected two-way sparks. Here's the problem: he never makes any sort of move and neither do I, being very insecure. (I'm cute but 30 pounds overweight.) The last time I saw him, he walked me home after dinner and I invited him up (which is as forward as I get and really, can that be taken any other way?) but he declined. Obviously, the likely answer is that he isn't attracted to me. But I can't understand why such a smart, funny and hot straight 40-year-old guy is single in the first place. Could he just be hopeless around women? Here's my shot to find out for good and all. What do I do? The idea is he will sleep in the living room but I want him in my bed. Yet, I don't want to throw myself at him and be rejected and make the rest of the night painfully embarrassing for both of us. I was thinking of asking him flat out over drinks why such an attractive man is single. Is that a direct enough message? How can I make it plain that I'm hot to trot while protecting both of us from embarrassment if the feeling isn't mutual?
(No, this has nothing to do with me. I'm way over 40 and decidedly unappealing, and the odds that anyone would have the hots for me are essentially nil. I will, however, cop to "hopeless around women.")
You probably should read the entire thread. (And if you do, you'll learn how it turned out, or more precisely didn't, turn out.) I'm bringing it up here, though, for the same reason I introduce a lot of stuff here: just to see what kind of responses it brings.
For the third weekend in a row, I strode into the comic shop, and it occurred to me that for the third weekend in a row I was striding into the comic shop, of all things.
On the off-chance that you might be curious, here's what I got:
And as I was inquiring as to why 4 #21 wasn't in yet, I realized that I'd pulled off a plot complication of my own, turned back time forty years: the comic-buying geek I was is now apparently the comic-buying geek I am. "Adjusted for inflation," I observed, "it works out to about the same." Which, I calculated later, it actually doesn't, but what the hell.
The machine that doesn't go "Ping"
The last entry I posted got back this reply on a ping:
Ping 'http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2' failed: Ping error: Thanks for the ping, however we can only accept one ping every half-hour.
Which makes me wonder, since the entry previous to it had been posted three and a half hours earlier.
Addendum, immediately after posting: It worked this time.
Way down the list
[B]e a celebrity academic or journalist and start your blog in 2000 or before. Be outrageous. Attract attention. Throw red meat.
I'm good for two out of four, maybe. But then there's this:
Or, better yet, pick another goal. I don't have any ambitions to break into the Top 100 blogs (or even the Top 500). So I won't be disappointed if I don’t make it to the top of the Ecosystem. I write in my blog to garner a bigger audience for my ideas, to express and, consequently, improve my ideas, to improve my writing, to sharpen my mental acuity (I can tell you with confidence that blogging has improved my attention span and sharpness), and for the social aspects of blogging the fellowship.
I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing here. As for the Top 500, I'm pretty sure I can forget about it; I finally fell out of Blogrolling.com's Hot 500 after a brief and dizzying stint at #486 or thereabouts.
Meanwhile, as of this writing, I fit into the Eye's graph about this way:
Subject to change, of course. (And yes, this site goes all the way back to 1996, but I am loath to describe its early days as bloglike.)
22 August 2005
Sweetwater flowing once more
If you weren't able to snag the limited edition Cycles: The Reprise Collection, the one and only anthology by Sixties eclecticists Sweetwater, you're in luck, sort of. Collectors' Choice Music has reissued all three LPs (Sweetwater, Just for You and Melon) on CD. There are no bonus tracks that I can see, typically for CCM, but the price is a mere $12.95 each.
You don't tug on Delaware's cape
Me, from World Tour '03, at Lewes, Delaware:
[W]hat I know about beach towns can be written on the inside of a conch shell.
Fortunately, there was instruction available for those of us who have no clue about such things, for which I am of course grateful, Fritz.
I have never driven any Aston Martins (Astons Martin?); in fact, my exposure to upper-crust Britmobiles is limited to a few minutes in various Jaguars and having once leaned up against a Bentley. This is not to say that I've never actually coveted one of them, of course, but somehow an Aston doesn't seem to fit into the streetscape around here: it's impossible to imagine James Bond on the Lake Hefner Parkway.
They probably don't blend into Midland very well, either, but this won't stop Eric Siegmund's blatant Aston lust any more than it would mine. On the other hand, for the price of the Aston, I could buy two of these and still have enough left to fill up the tank a couple of times.
And, well, there's this: Grace Slick of Jefferson Airplane once walked into an Aston boutique in California and peeled off enough cash to drive away in a DB6. Unhappy, or bored, with the blue paint job from Newport Pagnell, she eventually got Salvador Dali (!) to repaint it.
And don't lick the cone, either
Readers who follow my World Tour antics may recall an instance where I sampled Cake Batter ice cream, which is every bit as sweet and sticky as the name implies.
And now, apparently, temporarily off the market, at least at one chain:
Cold Stone Creamery together with the FDA are notifying the public that products containing "cake batter" ice cream sold at Cold Stone Creamery stores may be associated with outbreaks of Salmonella Typhimurium infection in four states.
I wasn't at a Cold Stone Creamery location when I tried the stuff, but this isn't the sort of thing that makes you feel good about your comfort foods, you know?
You, too, can save gas
If you buy this, let me know how well it works out for you.
In memory of Robert Moog, a couple of comments from the field that is, the field as it existed in the late 1960s.
Wendy Carlos, in her notes for her album The Well-Tempered Synthesizer, the sequel to her justly-famed Switched-On Bach:
Synthesizers are musical instruments. They are performing devices that require that the musician be, at the same time, performer and arranger. But the flexibility of the synthesizer is like a two-edged sword: For every detail you can control, you must control.
The synthesizer used on these recordings is noteworthy in itself. It was built for us by Robert A. Moog and has grown to its present size and complexity over a period of several years. It is a unique, custom instrument, about twice the size of the largest standard Moog synthesizer (The Moog Mark III), and it incorporates several features that Bob and I designed that are not available in the Mark III or elsewhere. Its keyboards are the first to employ velocity and depth touch sensitivity, which we developed a couple of years ago. There is a self-contained "polyphonic generator," a collection of 49 little synthesizers, on which chords and clusters are available (although it was used less than 5% of the time). Several pedal- and keyboard-triggered switches and controls are incorporated and, although experimental, have proven to be essential to certain types of musical phrasing and shaping.
The "polyphonic generator" was devised because the original Moog synths could not actually do chords, as noted by Norman Dolph, who produced a pop album called Switched-On Rock about the same time:
The amazing thing about all the sounds is not that they are done one voice at a time, but rather one finger at a time. The silly machine only plays one note at a time and the temptation to play a chord must be overcome ... you only get the lowest note if you press more than one key.
[But] compared with the old cut-and-splice way of making electronic music, the Moog is a tune boon. As great as we feel the Moog is for making music, in the light of what is possible and what Mr Moog is no doubt cooking up, the Moogs are today are like the Kon-Tiki.
Moog himself is quite a guy, too. Most cooperative, and now has a weekly emissary to New York to touch up any fixits and keep everyone up on the new discoveries. Moog really made quite an invention and how appropriately space-age his name is! How bland would be the "Jones" or the "Irving Spidorsha" as a nickname for the gadget. If he ever comes to town for a lecture, go listen.
Robert Moog died yesterday at his home in Asheville, North Carolina, a victim of brain cancer. He was seventy-one years old.
23 August 2005
Shuffled into the Snopes in-box
This is one of those things that ought to be true, even if (if?) it's not:
Panera Bread, parent company of the St. Louis Bread Company and the name by which it conducts business elsewhere, was formed by an Egyptian cult, the Pane of Ra movement. This group believes that the consumption of bread prepares one for the afterlife, and that if one has bagels with hummus or some other concoction of cibatta and cream cheese, one can survive the journey.
This would certainly explain the ongoing effort to roll out more Wi-Fi hotspots at Panera. (Do the dead have RSS Really Stiff Syndication feeds?)
Do not mock the emperor's jumpsuit
Well, this is fun:
Oklahoma prosecutors will soon weigh whether to take up criminal charges against a former mayoral candidate accused of libeling a longtime state politician on his Web forum.
In a police report filed Aug. 16, former state senator and convicted felon Gene Stipe charged that Harold King had published false information about Stipe and his family on his Web forum, the McAlester Watercooler, said Capt. Darrell Miller of the McAlester, Okla., police force. The nature of the information was not disclosed.
Okiedoke emphasizes this part of the article:
Oklahoma is among a minority of states that still have criminal libel laws in place. In the last 50 years, such laws have been widely viewed as violating the First Amendment, and most states have repealed them or seen them struck down because of conflicts with the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion in New York Times v. Sullivan, which set a higher bar for their constitutionality.
Instead, most states handle libel cases exclusively as civil matters, awarding monetary damages after weighing factors such as harm caused by the defamation. Those convicted under Oklahoma's criminal libel laws can face up to a year in a county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both, and they can also be sued in civil court.
There is a part of me that wants to comment on the impending battle between our former State Senator and Harold King, but all that I will say is this: Public figures must learn to deal with certain levels of "celebrity", if I can be afforded to use that term very loosely, and the ridicule that goes with it.
Especially if they've read the actual decision in New York Times v. Sullivan. Quoting the concurring opinion by Justice Arthur J. Goldberg:
If liability can attach to political criticism because it damages the reputation of a public official as a public official, then no critical citizen can safely utter anything but faint praise about the government or its officials. The vigorous criticism by press and citizen of the conduct of the government of the day by the officials of the day will soon yield to silence if officials in control of government agencies, instead of answering criticisms, can resort to friendly juries to forestall criticism of their official conduct.
Mr Stipe, of course, is no longer a public official; however, he wields enough clout in southeastern Oklahoma to be considered part of the power structure despite being stripped of his office, and it's hard to characterize his reaction as anything but "How dare they say anything about me?"
Not this time
Former Congressman J. C. Watts announced this morning that he will not run for governor in 2006.
In a radio interview, Watts said that he wouldn't ask his family to endure the rigors of a statewide campaign; he also declined to endorse any of the declared candidates.
And then along comes Harry
Fûz wonders if there's a technical term for "gender-changing the lyrics of a love song so the other sex can sing it without suggesting same-sex love."
If there is, I'm not aware of it. On the other hand, not all love songs lend themselves to such treatment. "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," for instance, despite a lyric written by a man (Gerry Goffin), is for cultural reasons almost exclusively a feminine point of view:
[A] woman who is not sexually active is pitied, while a man who is not sexually active is mocked and ridiculed. (Which may be one reason why very few men Frankie Valli is one who did ever recorded this song.) "Tell me now, and I won't ask again" turns out to be a variation on a theme by Scarlett O'Hara: "I'll think about that tomorrow."
I suppose a guy could pull this off if he were your basic 40-year-old virgin, but there aren't a lot of those around.
On the other hand, some folks don't seem to care about potential homoerotic subtext. Bryan Ferry (on These Foolish Things) cut a perfectly straight, so to speak, reading of "It's My Party" without any gender changes, though with Ferry it's impossible to tell if he was serious or just going for a dollop of postmodern sexual confusion. And towering above all these examples is "House of the Rising Sun," historically a place that had been the ruin of many a poor girl, which didn't stop Dave Van Ronk (and later, Dylan, and later yet, Eric Burdon) from putting his male self into the protagonist's role. (Van Ronk, according to his memoirs, eventually found out that the house originally described in the song was not a brothel at all, but the women's lockup in Orleans Parish, which detracts not a whit from the impact of the song as sung.)
Maybe there is a descriptive term that applies here. All I know is this: if I'm singing along with a favorite record, I'm not going to edit it on the fly just because my hardware doesn't happen to match that of the singer.
Doppled and drowsy and ready for sleet
The Weather Wars heat up in the Big Apple:
Doppler 4 was replaced by Doppler 4000, a preventive unilateral escalation presumably designed to keep any meteorological rivals from achieving Doppler supremacy.
Now it has happened. Say hello to we kid you not Channel 2's new Doppler 2 Million.
Five hundred times as good? I don't think so. (Here in the middle of Tornado Alley, the big Doppler news is KFOR's 350-kw facility, compared to those feeble 250-kw operations run by Those Other Guys.)
But things could get worse:
What scares us most about this crazy Doppler arms race is the possibility of loose Dopplers. Because one day advanced Doppler technology will fall into the hands of Fox 5.
And then it's all over.
Gary England, you better watch your back.
Tastes great, same filling
My humble thanks to the anonymous benefactor who had a box of unfrosted blueberry Pop-Tarts dropped off at my desk at 42nd and Treadmill.
Hmmm. Maybe I should put up a PayPal button after all.
There is always Hope
This clip [requires Windows Media Player] is why.
(Snagged from Kim du Toit.)
24 August 2005
The wrong argument for SQ 723
[I]t is the height of hypocrisy to drive gasoline-guzzling vehicles but balk at raising enough money to build roads on which to drive them.
My car gets 25 mpg around town. Is it okay for me to balk?
The causality here is exactly bass-ackwards: the drivers of the guzzlers are putting more money into road-building than the rest of us already, simply because they use more fuel and therefore pay more in fuel taxes.
The road problems in Oklahoma are simple. The state has never taxed its citizens enough to build them.
Has the World ever met a tax it didn't like?
One of the big advantages of SQ 723, says Neal McCaleb of Oklahomans for Safe Bridges and Roads, the proponent of the new tax, is that "a constitutionally protected lock box feature ensures future transportation funding can never be diverted by the Legislature to the General Fund." It didn't seem to bother McCaleb that the Legislature was dipping into the fuel-tax revenues when he was the Secretary of Transportation; you have to wonder just
The elephant in the room has company
Annoying registration here, so here's the paragraph that matters:
Riverside [California] Community College, recently cited for poorly handling student-discrimination complaints, was named in a federal lawsuit Friday by a woman who says her civil rights were violated when a teacher asked whether she had a green card. The suit on behalf of Marisol Henriquez, 43, of Riverside, says the incident took place in front of 14 other students in December 2004. It alleges that speech instructor Dan Tuckerman asked the woman whether she was using a fake name, was in the country legally and had a green card, the document issued to foreigners who are legal U.S. residents. College spokesman Jim Parsons said the school is doing all it can to address Henriquez's complaints. The lawsuit says Henriquez, a native of Santiago, Chile, has a permanent resident alien card.
Let's see if I have this straight. We're no longer permitted to use the term "illegal aliens"; they are "undocumented workers." And, by the way, we're no longer to mention any, you know, documents.
I can't think of any particular reason why a teacher should have to ask someone if she has a green card that would seem to be the business of Admissions, and the teacher in question sounds like he was being boorish for the sheer delight of it but an actual violation of civil rights? Can I file suit if I get carded at the liquor store?
And, while we're on the subject, would it still be a violation of her civil rights if she didn't have a green card?
Addendum: Matt Deatherage identifies a behavioral pattern on the part of the college's faculty, which in part overrides my point. See Comments.
We can dream, can't we?
A bit of fantasy from The Downtown Guy:
Me and Maurice Kanbar met over a few drinks mostly some intoxicating substance called Skyy Vodka and completed a deal for him to buy the First National Tower, old Braniff Building and Century Center Plaza. He's turning the first two buildings into condos, and will be converting the plaza into an indoor skating rink surrounded by shops and restaurants.
Of course, things could change once he sobers up.
Don't they always?
Seriously, somebody ought to do something with the First National Center. And while Century Center is scheduled for a facelift, there's still a lot to be done on the side of downtown that doesn't serve drinks.
Dare we be optimistic?
We don't know what's going to happen to with or because of this constitution, which is still being hammered out. I am concerned with the Islamic-standard statement, but it also says that no law may contradict democratic standards. In any case, it is up to the people of Iraq, who will vote on the document in October. And they may well vote it down. We don't know what will happen in either contingency.
We do know, however, that this is the first time in their lives that Iraqis have been given a say in how their government will look. Indeed, it's the first time the citizens of any Arab nation have been given such an opportunity.
And I don't expect this document, once complete, to be the eighth wonder of the world; nobody gets everything right the first time. Our own constitution, which might legitimately be considered a model of how to do it right, has gone through more than a score of amendments, and there will undoubtedly be more as the years go by. We made it work, though; there's no reason to think that the Iraqi people, however divided they may seem, can't come up with something that will work for them.
Those new fuel-economy standards
Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta says that the Bush administration's proposed new fuel-economy standards will ultimately save 10 billion gallons of gasoline. You'll forgive me if I, with an eye toward Mineta's other billion-dollar baby, the Transportation Security Agency, break into guffaws.
Trucks outsell cars these days, so the new standards focus on trucks. Over the next six years, the smallest SUVs, your RAV4 and your CR-V and your PT Cruiser, which isn't an SUV at all, but since the rear seats come out, it's legally a truck, unless it's a convertible, in which the rear seats don't come out, and therefore it's a car but you get the idea. Multiplying the number of light-truck categories by six means thirty-six times the amount of finagling that will be going on to meet the letter of the law while snickering at its spirit.
The environmental crowd is already complaining that the new standards won't actually save that much fuel, and I'm inclined to believe them. Unless I buy a new ride and believe me, after five months of not having a car payment, I'm not anxious to get one again they won't affect me in the slightest. Mineta points to the 28.4-mpg goal for the smallest truck-like vehicles and notes that it's way beyond the 19-mpg standard for current trucks; I suggest that if you're getting a mere 19 mpg from, say, a RAV4, you're probably pounding on the dealership's door demanding that they buy back this citrus-scented little so-and-so. And the current government estimate on a RAV4 with 4WD is 22 city, 27 highway; pushing this to 28.4 combined would cut fuel consumption by about 15 percent. That's not inconsiderable, but it may not be enough to get someone to buy a new RAV4 come 2011, and it's certainly not enough to thrill the Sierra Club in the interim.
On the other hand, this is a good argument for Oklahoma State Question 723 (I've already made a bad one); pushing the price even higher is, I reckon, a pretty good motivator when it comes to saving fuel.
If you add up the first 17 positive integers, you end up with 153. (This makes it a "triangular" number; you can arrange 153 widgets in an equilateral triangle, and each side will be 17 widgets long.)
Just as straightforward is Carnival of the Vanities #153, hosted this week by Vik Rubenfeld's The Big Picture, an array of the week's best bloggage that awaits your perusal.
25 August 2005
Not a duck, but just as lame
Now here's a scary premise, courtesy of New World Man:
By some bizarre set of circumstances, you are the president as of now. Name the first 5 things you'd do.
Apart from putting Condi's home phone on speed-dial? Let's see:
And after all this strenuous work, I'll need a vacation.
Right past me, as always
I was running a little earlier than usual this morning, so I decided to run by the Gazette offices and pick up a copy; I got one yesterday at the store, but it was missing about 16 pages, including the cover story.
(Speaking of the Gazette, I do suggest you read Kurt Hochenauer's op-ed about how the state's progressive/socialist [take your pick] beginnings will likely be totally overlooked by the folks planning the Centennial.)
It was half an hour before sunrise when I turned south on Shartel from 39th, and there were at least a dozen women out for a morning run along the west side of the street. (More had appeared by the time I reached the Gazette office on at 36th.) This is, of course, sensible: once the sun comes up, things get hot in a hurry, and the 70-plus dew points we've had for the last week or two make it worse. Me, I pulled into the far lane and slid into Yearn Mode, and not even the exhortations of Solomon Burke on the stereo ("Got to Get You Off My Mind," of course) could jolt me out of it.
Tomorrow I'm going back down I-44.
Sorry, we're out of that grade
Hawaii, where gas starts at expensive and goes up from there, is imposing price controls at the wholesale level. A new state law enables the Public Utilities Commission in Honolulu to set a maximum wholesale price, which initially will be a shade under $2.16 a gallon. Add taxes (which are huge) and retail markup (which isn't), and islanders will presumably be looking at $2.86 at the pump.
Whether they'll actually get to pump anything at $2.86 remains to be seen. When it comes to killing the supply of a commodity, there are few actions quite as efficient as the imposition of price controls, as the Governor is about to learn:
Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle said she's poised to repeal the gas cap if it somehow ends up costing motorists more. The governor said she would be checking gas price points to see if there are any gas shortages before she makes up her mind about repealing it.
I give it six weeks.
You must be this rich to buy this ride
Six Flags, Inc. is for sale: the Oklahoma City-based theme-park operator, which has been in a financial hole for years and is facing a hostile takeover by Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, says it will take the highest bid, even if it's Snyder's. At current stock prices, the company is worth around $650 million; Snyder's Red Zone LLC is currently the largest single shareholder in Six Flags, with a stake of approximately 11.7 percent.
Two things can be expected from the eventual sale:
Six Flags did actually turn a profit last quarter and likely will do so again this quarter; attendance at Six Flags parks rose more than 8 percent during the first half of 2005.
It's what's for dinner, I suppose
I don't expect the Omaha Steaks items to appear on the Emporium's Web site after all, Omaha Steaks itself has a Web storefront but it will be nice to be able to wander into the store and pick up a box or three.
Pat Robertson's greatest hits
Available now from Aldahlia. Operators are standing by.
Tom Coburn's greatest hits
Available now from Chase McInerney. Operators are standing by.
26 August 2005
Not available at the Spaghetti Warehouse
Dr. Weevil looks into his bowl and sees the future:
For twenty-five years I have thought that an enterprising individual with access to noodle-making technology could make money selling Alphanumeric Soup at computer conventions. The slogan writes itself: "full ASCII character set". If any of my readers actually try this, I want a 10% cut of the gross.
I want to see the DEL character (127).
But more than that, I want to see this:
There's at least one hypothetical pasta shape that would sell even better than Alphanumeric Soup to nerds, geeks, dweebs, and poindexters: a tiny Möbius strip. The 'casereccia' at [this] link looks close, but not quite right, and the same machine could no doubt make both. Whether tiny Klein bottles could be made of pasta I do not know: it might be difficult, but the inside-that's-really-an-outside would help soak up the sauce.
If they can pull this off, I'm ordering a case of bouillon tesseracts.
Where's the nozzle?
It is generally accepted that today women drive the consumer-products marketplace, though obviously this wasn't always the case.
And you will never, ever hear in a men's locker room, "Cruex? Bah! Where's the Pine-Sol?"
Maybe he's just trying to help
Sometimes the stories write themselves:
A judge allowed corrections officials to forcibly feed convicted sniper John Allen Muhammad while he awaits trial in the county for six October 2002 killings.
Muhammad had not eaten anything since being transferred to the Montgomery County, Md., jail on Monday, corrections officials said in court documents filed Thursday. He was apparently upset with the food he was being served and the handling of his legal material.
Doctors had concluded that Muhammad, 44, was at risk of serious injury or death if he continued his hunger strike, corrections officials said. Judge James L. Ryan issued an order allowing officials at the county jail to forcibly feed and hydrate him.
I mean, it's a good thing he was a sniper, or they might have let him starve to death.
Muhammad has already been sentenced to die following a 2003 conviction for a sniper shooting in Manassas, Va.
My mistake. You can't let someone on Death Row just, you know, die.
(Via Joe Kelley.)
I think so
Here's what Dan wants:
Give us ten of your quirky, opinionated, perhaps socially-unacceptable or politically incorrect opinions. They can be esoteric, generic, unpopular, or obvious. Just write down ten of them.
As Otis once said, "Your turn."
Read vs. feed
Statistics from my Web host indicate that my XML and RSS feeds are being pulled somewhere upwards of 500 times a day. (Yesterday there were 676; the day before, 615; for the first 25 days of this month, a total of 20,796, which averages out to about 832 a day.) These are readers (maybe; I suspect many are robots of some sort) that aren't being counted by my usual counter: Site Meter doesn't easily lend itself to incorporation into a feed, and I don't want to clutter up the feeds with a lot of counter code anyway.
I guess what I'm asking is "Does this matter?" It's not like I'm hurting for traffic these days, but I'd definitely like a better handle on these numbers beyond mere raw cumulative data.
Sometimes it's easy
Someone once asked me what it would take to get me to vote for Brad Henry for governor in 2006.
Well, something like this:
U.S. Rep. Ernest Istook may throw his hat into the race for Oklahoma's next governor.
Oklahoma County Assessor Leonard Sullivan, one of about 90 people who attended Istook's town hall meeting at the Francis Tuttle Technology Center's Rockwell campus on Thursday, asked Istook (R-OK) whether he would run now that Lt. Gov. Mary Fallin and former Rep. J.C. Watts have announced they won't seek the office.
"I've had a lot of people ask me to consider it, and I'm listening to them," Istook said.
I can imagine a lot of Congressmen asking him to consider it.
Hungary for formality
I can't imagine this catching on anywhere I'm likely to be:
The mayor of one Budapest district wants female City Hall staff to wear miniskirts only if they have "completely perfect legs" and the skirts are no shorter than 2-3 centimeters (about 1 inch) above the knee.
Gabor Mitynan, a conservative who runs the wealthy 12th district, also wants male employees to wear blazers in summer, and told the Website www.index.hu the dress code was needed because he had seen staff dressed like beggars or vacationers.
Mitynan also dislikes crop tops popular in Budapest saying "few women have well-trained bellies worth showing to people" and wants the city to legislate on stocking thickness, proposing 5-10 denier for summer, 15 for spring and autumn and 20 for winter.
Mitynan is a rarity in Budapest's 23 mostly liberal and socialist districts, so his proposals stand almost no chance of being passed by the city assembly. Liberal Budapest Mayor Gabor Demszky described the proposals as "crass," according to the state news agency MTI.
The women I know with "completely perfect legs" (not an enormous sample, but I'm thankful there are any at all) would definitely not appreciate any rule which even hints at making stockings mandatory, regardless of fabric weight.
And which is worse, aesthetically speaking: beggars or vacationers?
27 August 2005
Meanwhile, unleaded is down 5 cents
It seems like whenever there's increased buzz about high oil prices, it's followed with a surge of anti-war posts which don't mention oil or gas prices. That's important, so I'm going to say it again high oil price posts lead anti-war rhetoric post[s] that don't mention oil or gas prices. This is not a huge surprise I guess but this might indicate that we aren't terribly honest about our anti-war sentiments maybe not even with ourselves. This seems to suggest that we were all okay with sending our young overseas to die as long as we didn't feel it in our wallet at the pumps. But once that happened, we suddenly develop issues with the war of course, they are completely unrelated to oil or gas prices.
This may be true of some folks, but there was substantial opposition to the war long before the spike in gas prices.
And I'm thinking there's one more factor involved: the cry of "It's all about the oil!" has proven to be a non-starter in the discussion, odious attempts like this notwithstanding. (Besides, were it just oil, we'd have taken out Hugo Chavez instead of Saddam Hussein; Venezuela is a lot closer, and the food is better.) The price at the pump being an economic issue, it makes more sense to blame the Bush who's nominally in charge of the economy than the Bush who's Commander-in-Chief keeping in mind, of course, that one must always blame Bush.
But back to Matt's graph:
Now look at the purple line. It represents mentions of Bush, Iraq and oil or gas. I think this line represents the level to which the American people (or at least those posting to blogs) associate Bush's action in Iraq with oil and gas prices. When this line trends up, it's really bad for the Bush administration. Once this line begin its upward trend, people are no longer separating the concepts, they are no longer thinking rationally. I think Matthew's right we've reached the tipping point on gas prices, but it might also be the tipping point for the Bush administration and American support for the war effort.
This might suggest that rising oil prices are the catalyst for American people turning against Bush's war effort but we're going to use something else as an excuse.
Think we can get Cindy Sheehan a meeting with the chairman of ExxonMobil?
Forecast: chili today
(Repeating this item:)
Tony Newcomb, legendary dealer in fine sportswear (last time I heard the name, I immediately thought, "Tony Newcomb shirts?" and yes, it was), is holding his 25th annual Chili and Moonlight Party [today] at the Elks Lodge, 4711 North Tulsa Avenue. And he's serious about the chili; there will be a full-fledged chili cookoff according to CASI rules. Add live music from the Fifties through the Seventies, and you've got one heck of a bash. (Bring blankets and chairs and coolers no glass for the concert.)
For more information, call 405 760-9263 or 405 232-0022.
Careful with that hatchet, Griffin
Thursday night KWTV in Oklahoma City ran a piece about homeschooled children in Oklahoma, which Sean Gleeson compares unfavorably to Orwell's "Two-Minute Hate".
After looking at the transcript, I suspect Mr Gleeson may be too kind. It's a self-contradictory tissue of organic fertilizer, predicated on the dubious notion that if you assemble enough half-truths you'll eventually construct the Full Truth. Unfortunately, nothing in the report comes close to being even a half-truth. A second-week blogger still wrestling with template issues would never allow something this sloppy to go out with his name over it, which makes you wonder why KWTV would, especially since their video turns up on NewsOK.com, the state's largest news site.
Personal note: KWTV did a very good job of turning 90 minutes of my incessant ranting into a watchable, if decidedly unexciting, three-minute story. Then again, bloggers don't have a bunch of lobbyists at the Capitol, nor were any Ogles involved.
(Submitted to Outside the Beltway's Sunday Drive.)
How conservative are we?
Johnny Carson could tell this one. "Well, let me tell you: Oklahoma is so conservative that their most prominent member of the Federalist Society is a Democrat."
As Mr Carson would say, I did not know that; Frosty Troy mentions it in a piece on the Society in the current Oklahoma Observer, alongside the expected references to John G. Roberts and the apparently-required-by-law mention of right-wing paymaster Richard Mellon Scaife.
Said member is Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who is a Democrat from a whole family of Democrats.
Tropic of calculus
In the middle 1960s, Tom Lehrer put New Math in its place. Unfortunately, it didn't stay there. Jeff Quinton traces the evolution of a standard math problem, starting in 1965; after thirty years it was almost unrecognizable.
1965 A logger sells a load of wood for $100. His cost of production is $80. What is his profit?
1970 A logger sells a load of wood for $100. His cost of production is $80. What is his profit?
1975 A logger sells a load of wood for 100 units (make a set of 100 dots to represent this income.) His production is 80 units. The units of sell and cost interchangeable. Draw a subset with 80 dots respresenting cost. The difference between the set and subset is the profit.
1985 A logger sells a load of wood for $100. His cost of production is $80. His profit is $20. Underline $20.
1995 A logger makes his living cutting down beautiful trees. Discuss how the little birdies, animals and trees feel. Points given for discussion participation.
As Jeff notes, it's time for a 2005 version. This one came to me after a minute or so:
2005 A logger under contract to the Department of Defense sells a load of wood for $100,000. His cost of production is $600 for labor and equipment, $800 for taxes, and $7100 for environmental permits and certificates. How much profit will he have after Halliburton takes its cut?
Feel free to improve on this in Comments.
Rules: Pick seven songs that you're into right now, list them. Pick seven friends who have to repeat this process, list them.
So saith Phoebe. Hmmm. What have I been playing a lot of lately?
On the other hand, these things spread rapidly enough without my having to specify someone to take them off my hands.
28 August 2005
Hey, Four Ears!
One of the basic principles of bloggage is that for every factoid you're looking for, you'll happen upon a minimum of three that you aren't. Being basically lazy, I wasn't going to go into the next room and fish Switched-On Bach out of the shelf just to get the release date, which Columbia wasn't good about supplying in the late 1960s anyway, so I went to Wendy Carlos' Web site, where I was promptly sidetracked by a number of items, including this (it's about halfway down the page):
As a joke gift to a CBS Records producer who was championing a pseudo quad system at the time, CBS's "SQ" (we wanted a true discrete system instead, a topic for another time), Rachel Elkind and I put together this absurd contraption. It's a four-eared quad headphone set, which we called the "Tempi Quadnaural Earphones" (Two channel phones = Bi-naural, so four channels = Quad-naural...)
Actually, the Carlos/Elkind contraption didn't look that much different from the real four-channel headphones that appeared from Koss shortly thereafter, and which I actually bought. (They lasted about three years before it became impossible to repair the horridly-complicated cabling, which wanted to come loose from the control box every chance it got.) I couldn't find a picture of the actual phones out there, but I did catch a photo of the Koss sampler album Perspectives, offered to anyone who bought the Phase/2+2 Quadrafone (yes, that was the name) and sent in the certificate from the manual.
For your amusement, I present, from the liner notes of Perspectives, just what the controls on the box um, the Programmer were alleged to do:
In other words, each of the Ambience Expander switches throws that channel 180 degrees out of phase; if you hit them all, they'll all be in phase with each other, but not with the source material. There is some doubt, at least in my mind, whether one can tell absolute phase without a whole lot of practice; I'm sure I can't.
The Quadrafone has two standard full-size phone plugs, which plug into the Front and Rear headphone jacks of a quadraphonic amplifier or receiver. (I still have my quad receiver, though it's driving only two speakers these days and I play an awful lot of mono records.) And interestingly, in the straight-quad mode Quad Comparator switched to "4ch" the rear-channel information was fed to the front drivers of the phones, which were angled in such a way as to create the illusion that their output was behind you. It was endlessly fascinating for about the first couple of weeks, after which playing with the little switches became more trouble than it was worth. I had about twenty actual quad albums; everything else got faked into surround inside the phones. (The receiver had its own circuitry to do this for the speakers.)
Well, it was fun while it lasted, anyway.
Statue of limitations
There's a scene in Woody Allen's Annie Hall where Alvy Singer (Allen) has come to Los Angeles, and just about the very first thing he says is "What's with all these awards? They're always giving out awards. Best Fascist Dictator: Adolf Hitler."
It's not that I have anything against awards per se in fact, I hand out a few every year myself but I've never seen myself as a trophy collector, which is why my enthusiasm for blog awards runs rather tepid at best.
In the past, I would explain it this way: "If I win, I feel undeserving and creeped-out. If I lose, I feel undeserving and creeped-out. What's the upside?"
That said, I have turned in my ballot for the 2005 Okie Blog Awards, and I wish good luck to those for whom I voted, none of whom, per the rules, were me.
World changes, film at 11
Anthony Hopkins is set to star in Bobby, Emilio Estevez's passion project about the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Demi Moore is in negotiations to join the cast.
Part fact and part fiction, the ensemble film chronicles the intertwining lives of a grand cast of characters, all of whom are present at Los Angeles' Ambassador Hotel in the hours leading up to Kennedy's assassination. Hopkins will be the hotel's doorman, and Moore will portray a lounge singer.
The movie hopes to touch upon racial stereotypes, class differences and sexual inequality in its story lines.
"My intention with Bobby is not to make a political picture, although the 1968 California primary figures prominently in the story," Estevez said. "The film is about being at critical mass critical mass in relationships or between race, and the hotel and the characters under its roof serve as a microcosm for what was happening in the country during that time. The entire country was experiencing critical mass. Culturally, we all unraveled after that tragic night on June 5. And now, 37 years later, our country has reached critical mass once again."
Christ on a crutch! The. Kennedys. Are. Dead. Get over it.
Yes, I know Ted's still there, looking and sounding more like Jabba the Hutt every day, still with his "My Other Car Is Underwater" bumper sticker, way past self-parody and long since descended into blithering irrelevance. Doesn't change a thing: The. Kennedys. Are. Dead. Estevez would have you believe that the killing of RFK was a watershed event in world history; it wasn't even the most important thing that happened in the summer of 1968. (Among other things, James Earl Ray, assassin of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was taken into custody, the French were trying to recover from general strikes that had turned violent, eventually returning Charles de Gaulle to power, and Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae.) "Culturally, we all unraveled after that tragic night on June 5." Yeah, right. Exactly one cultural phenomenon can be attributed to this event: it gave Eric Boucher one hell of a name for a band.
And that isn't the worst of it, says Ian Hamet:
[T]his will be yet another paean to (cue hushed, reverent music) The Sixties, before which civilization can barely be said to have existed (except, possibly, for the Beatniks or just maybe Thoreau). And, inevitably, the baby boom generation will be greatly lauded as well (is there anything about them that isn't fascinating, important, and altogether unprecedented in the entire history of Man on Earth nay, of the universe itself?).
Is it too late to start lying about my age?
We hold these truths at a great distance
Last year, to commemorate the tenth anniversary of The Bell Curve, John Derbyshire explained why it got such bad press from largely-liberal media:
Much of the negative reaction on the left was a result of the book's explicit repudiation of blank-slate egalitarian principles. The Left's position on human nature is, and always has been, that it is infinitely malleable that the superstitious peasant can be turned into New Soviet Man; that, as Mao Tse-tung said, the masses are a blank sheet of paper on which beautiful characters can be drawn. The notion that this might not be so that human beings, either individually or collectively, might be unimprovable by any known arts, or possibly by any arts at all is intolerable to the left mindset. This way of thinking therefore regards psychometry with loathing, and argues either that we cannot measure the attributes of the human mind, or that, even supposing we can, we ought not.
Charles Murray co-author Richard Herrnstein died in 1994 has some present-day thoughts on the matter:
Suppose that a pill exists that, if all women took it, would give them exactly the same mean and variance on every dimension of human functioning as men including all the ways in which women now surpass men. How many women would want all women to take it? Or suppose that the pill, taken by all blacks, would give them exactly the same mean and variance on every dimension of human functioning as whites including all the ways in which blacks now surpass whites. How many blacks would want all blacks to take it? To ask such questions is to answer them: hardly anybody. Few want to trade off the unique virtues of their own group for the advantages that another group may enjoy.
Sometimes these preferences for one's own group are rational, sometimes not. I am proud of being Scots-Irish, for example, even though the Scots-Irish group means for violence, drunkenness, and general disagreeableness seem to have been far above those of other immigrant groups. But the Scots-Irish made great pioneers that's the part of my heritage that I choose to value. A Thai friend gave me an insight into this human characteristic many years ago when I remarked that Thais were completely undefensive about Westerners despite the economic backwardness of Thailand in those days. My friend explained why. America has wealth and technology that Thailand does not have, he acknowledged, just as the elephant is stronger than a human. "But," he said with a shrug, "who wants to be an elephant?" None of us wants to be an elephant and, from the perspective of our own group, every other group has something of the elephant about it. All of us are right, too.
We do no one a service by assuming that everyone is exactly identical. "Equality," wrote Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate, "is not the empirical claim that all groups of humans are interchangeable; it is the moral principle that individuals should not be judged or constrained by the average properties of their group." The tabula rasa crowd on the Left, wishing not to be an elephant, has instead made of itself a dinosaur.
(Disclosure: Yours truly has Scots-Irish which, being Scots-Irish of the American South, might well include African influences Mexican and Syrian/Lebanese ancestry. Make of that what you will; what I've made of it is me.)
A less-ambiguously gay duo
Lawyers for DC Comics have objected to an art gallery exhibit displaying Batman and Robin as more than just a man and his youthful ward, although their complaint seems to be more about simple copyright infringement unauthorized use of DC characters than about the, um, rewriting of the Batman mythos.
I should point out that it's not like DC never hinted at this sort of thing before, and they apparently never complained about this.
Personally, I blame Catwoman.
Do I look like freaking Jeeves?
Today's log is even more full of questions than usual, and being the generous soul I am, I figured the least I could do is tackle some of them head-on. Every last one of these was a search-engine request that, reports SiteMeter, led to a page at this very domain.
A. Call the number on the sticker. Surely you've seen it; it covers roughly one-third of the card's surface.
A. It's a relatively minor criterion, since one does not get into the National Honor Society without meeting a specific grade standard, and they've presumably already looked at your grades.
Q. If you get a [sic] eviction notice and then you pay all your rent what happens [in] Indiana?
A. The landlord must file, concurrent with the notice, a complaint, usually with small-claims court; normally it will be dismissed if the rent due plus court costs and such are paid before the hearing date. (Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer and have never practiced anything other than self-denial in Indiana and if you take this as legal advice you are a bonehead.)
A. What's today?
A. First, check your dipstick.
A. First, check your dipstick.
All this in less than 24 hours. (And people say they want more Web traffic.)
Love is thicker than razors
Separated at birth: Chewbacca and Andy Gibb?
Meanwhile on the coast
The National Weather Service Web site for New Orleans, as of this writing, is still being updated as needed.
I was struck by how well spoken, calm, and intelligent he seemed. When pressed to describe what the probable aftermath, you could see that he was very carefully describing what he really thought possible, with no "politician puffery." Darn. Why can't we have that guy for president?
The bit that sticks in my mind was an estimate of 6 weeks of no electricity in New Orleans.
He also frankly acknowleged the difficulties of getting the pumps running again, reminding the viewers that they only pump "one or two" inches an hour running full speed. He also frankly acknowledged that with people's cars most likely fully tanked up, that after a week or so of being underwater, that they would certainly leak, and that it would be very difficult to clean up N.O.
He did say that prior to the storm surge that they were going to directly flush the entire sewer system into the gulf, and that it was likely that flushing would be available in the near aftermath. He also estimated that about 80% of the city's residents had been successfully evacuated, which he considered to be beyond an excellent result. (60% would have been considered excellent.) He even frankly acknowleged that there would be many, many casualties. Talk about a class act.
I'll be praying for those in the path.
As will I, and if this is the sort of thing you do, please join in.
29 August 2005
Somehow I can't see this happening
I think we can consider this wholly unexpected:
"The lagoon's waters are warmed by a state-of-the-art process I developed in tandem with Wakanda's greatest scientists called ... thermal dynamics! Care to join me for ... a dip?"
"But I ... I don't have a bathing suit!"
The engineer in question is none other than T'Challa, the Black Panther; the reluctant (at that point) swimming companion is Susan Richards, née Storm, one-quarter of the Fantastic Four.
Yes, she went in; yes, she was married to Reed Richards at the time; no, she didn't put her powers to use.
(It's a flashback in Marvel Knights 4 #21. Really.)
Man smart, woman dismissed
Well, actually it doesn't. What it does show is that there are more men than women near the top of the, um, curve:
Genetic differences in intelligence between the sexes helped to explain why many more men than women won Nobel Prizes or became chess grandmasters, the study by Paul Irwing and Professor Richard Lynn concluded.
They showed that men outnumbered women in increasing numbers as intelligence levels rise. There were twice as many with IQ scores of 125, a level typical for people with first-class degrees.
When scores rose to 155, a level associated with genius, there were 5.5 men for every woman.
My immediate reaction, of course, is "So?" The roster of Nobel winners or chess grandmasters is sufficiently small to insure that the sexual demographics of those groups would be of interest only to those people who are sniffing around for sexual discrimination in every corner.
And a personal note: My own way-up-the-scale (or so I'm told) IQ is at least somewhat offset by an uncanny ability to piss away my presumed assets. I suspect this trait is biological, if not necessarily heritable.
Addendum: An observation from Kim du Toit:
That ... doesn't mean that the IQ divide between men and women is permanent, either: what will be really fascinating is if this study is repeated in a hundred years' time, and the divide has shrunk or disappeared completely.
I mean, a five-point differential is nothing, really: the difference between someone with a 140 IQ and another with a 145 IQ is barely measurable. Is it possible that two hundred years ago, the IQ difference between the sexes was 25 points?
This latter seems unlikely, but how would we be able to tell? You can extrapolate only so much from existing writings.
And IQ tests generally have a standard deviation of 15 points, suggesting that five or ten points isn't such a big difference after all.
Beyond mere readability
Mike says it's the "lowest-tech, crappiest sign" he's seen in a while, and I've got to admit, it's pretty shabby, especially for something that's supposed to encourage actual business.
On the other hand, it might be an improvement over some of the stuff that hangs out toward the curb on May Avenue, especially south of NW 36th.
Some of us never learn
So here's an open thread. Try not to be too obnoxious, wouldja please?
Remember when patience was a virtue?
But today, there's no need to wait.
And really, "so close you can feel it" has way too much ick factor, if you ask me.
(Snatched from Tinkerty Tonk.)
Whatever the heck that means, it's in Buckinghamshire, and it's the 68th rudest place name in all of England. (The reverse Wendy-cum-Shingay is apparently in Cambridgeshire, and presumably less rude, since it didn't make the list.)
None so fine
This has been all over the place, and I suppose I've stalled long enough.
And now, buoys and gulls, the top 100 of 1969, below the fold. (I mention in passing that of these 99 songs for some reason one is on the list twice I own copies of 94.)
30 August 2005
The state of radio
Little Steven Van Zandt gave the keynote address at the 2005 Radio & Records Convention in Cleveland in July. This is long and profound and occasionally profane; the latter explains the use of the jump.
I Love Radio!
And I feel nothing but love in this room because as I look around, I see only two kinds of people: our beloved affiliates . . . and future affiliates.
So now matter what happens in this next half hour, remember what I just said. It's just family talking.
And without any further disclaimers let me ask the only important question that is on my mind, and I'm sure you've been thinking about it also, especially lately.
WHEN DID THE FUCKING PUSSIES TAKE OVER?
(applause and laughter)
Don't you look forward to the day when your grandson is on your knee and he looks up and says, "Grampa weren't you in radio once?"
"Yes, Grandson," you'll reply.
"Could I ask you something," he'll say.
"Of course, my love, anything," you'll say.
"Grampa where were you WHEN THE FUCKING PUSSIES TOOK OVER?"
Where were we? What happened?
Things are out of line and we're not leaving here today until we straighten it out.
(applause and laughter)
Now I was going to wait for this but we might as well get right to it since it is all everybody's talking about.
I have come to praise JACK not to bury him.
(laughter uncertain applause)
The guys at Infinity are friends of ours, as is everybody else, we got nothing but friends, you all know that.
And I've gotta say I'm proud of these guys for having the balls to shake things up. Things needed shaking up. And history will remember them in a very positive way when looking back at this world-changing moment.
Having said that . . .
Replacing 33 year old New York oldies institution CBS-FM with JACK is like replacing the Statue of Liberty with a blow-up doll.
(eruptions of laughter and applause)
But again, change is good. And necessary.
With a little bit of luck JACK will last 10 or 12 months because it is obvious people want something different, they are hungry for something, anything.
So it could be 6 months before anybody actually listens to JACK. Once they do it is doomed for 3 obvious reasons.
At the moment it is replacing oldies formats but it is not an oldies format in the true sense of the word. It's mostly 80's, some 70's, some 90's.
Now it must be said that the oldies format is vulnerable because over the last 5-10 years it has, in a word, sucked.
It has sucked for a very simple reason, somebody had the brilliant idea to eliminate the 50's and replace it with the 70's.
This was done by somebody uniquely stupid and deaf and ignorant and a bad businessman on top of it all.
So naturally, everybody copied it and the 50's disappeared virtually overnight.
Now let's digress and examine this oldies thing for a minute.
Assuming you accept the fact that those overseeing the oldies format these last 5 years 10 years are, in fact, stupid, deaf, ignorant, and bad businessmen, let's deal with it.
As far as stupid, deaf, and ignorant, when it comes to decades that matter, that matter historically, in terms of influence, importance, and never-to-be-heard-again-quality that is the 50's and 60's. Everything we do, everything we are comes from those two decades.
You're gonna throw one away?
You're gonna replace Elvis, Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Burnette, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Buddy Holly, Lloyd Price, and Fats Domino with, all due respect, Donna Summer and the Bee Gees?
You're gonna replace primal, vital, timeless, forever cool rock and roll pioneers with disco?
Disco? You wanna know what disco is good for?
Disco is for when you're drunk at a wedding with your old lady and you want to act like an idiot and be John Travolta for an hour or two.
That's where it belongs. Not on radio.
And to the issue of oldies being bad business all you hear I'm assuming from sales people is we must lower our demo's.
The oldies demographic are getting too old that's the rationale for replacing the 50's with the 70's.
Now if all there was to sell in the world were Froot Loops, PlayStations, and sneakers they might have a point.
But I got a little secret to share.
You know that age group 35 to 65 that nobody in sales seems to care about?
THAT'S WHERE ALL THE FUCKING MONEY IS!
I mean ALL the fucking money. 35 to 65.
Memo to sales team SELL THEM SOMETHING!
And, by the way, if you want younger people listening, you can get that done. And I mean kids, if you want them.
Who is cooler? Early Elvis or Elton John?
What appeals more to kids, Gene Vincent's black leather attitude, Eddie Cochran's teenage frustration, Little Richard's cry of liberation, and Dion's total Sopranos coolness or the Eagles?
You want wild? Put together the Sex Pistols, Audioslave, and the Wu-Tang Clan they aren't as wild as Jerry Lee Lewis in his prime.
But you have to explain that. Show it, illustrate, educate, sell it.
All right digression over so JACK isn't oldies so it must be some kind of classic rock/pop hybrid. But JACK doesn't address the two biggest problems of classic rock.
15 years ago I said we're chasing all the personality out of rock radio and into talk and sports. And the ratings went with it.
We need more personality, not less, and JACK has none. No DJ's means no personal relationship with the audience. Eventual apathy is inevitable.
The other big issue classic rock must consider is it must start playing new music again.
I've suggested it to my own affiliates and I'll keep saying it every chance I get.
We've got a big problem.
Pearl Jam does some business. Dave Mathews if he's rock at all does well. Maybe Oasis breaks this year in the U.S. Maybe Coldplay if they're considered rock.
But in a real sense, the last big band through the door was U2. That's 25 years ago. Has anybody stopped to consider that. Basically when our generation stops touring, it's over.
That's one reason why we started the Underground Garage format: new Hard Rock, Hip Hop, and Pop can be heard in various places, new Rock and Roll had nowhere to go.
We have played more new bands in 3 years than anybody since the 60's. We average 30 new bands a year. That's how many are out there.
And we are very picky out of respect to our classic rock affiliates, we know we need to keep the quality level high and we do.
But we can't sell records with 2 hours a week.
Someday somebody will have the balls to put the Underground Garage format on 24-7 on broadcast radio but until then, we only have 2 hours a week.
We need your help.
Rock and Roll is not just that museum down the street. It's a living, breathing animal that needs to be fed. With new blood.
And I'm not saying you need to do as much as we do, we're about 40% new and the rest from the entire 50 years of history.
And by the way everybody told us you can't combine old with new but of course you can.
As long as you're making your decisions based on musical experience, good taste, and an effective, coherent emotional communication.
As opposed to your iPod on shuffle.
When you properly combine old and new the old records give the new ones a sense of depth, of belonging to an eternal continuum, carrying the flag forward.
The new records give the old ones relevance, keeps them vital, connected to the next generation.
And all testing and computer analysis and surveys don't tell you that. It's all bullshit. When are we going to learn that?
All that shit tells you is what people think they want right now.
Well, that's not the way great radio happens, or great anything.
You don't do a survey before you write a song, or make a record.
We are drowning in an ocean of mediocrity because sometimes you gotta have enough historical perspective, and vision, and balls to say we have to combine short-term want with long-term need.
And yeah, you gotta sell it.
If you're playing cool stuff make sure the audience hears it right in the right context. That is everything.
If to a punky consciousness the Ramones are sugar and the Ronettes are broccoli you play the Ramones into the Ronettes and, because Joey learned to sing from Ronnie and you can hear it, the Ramones become hollandaise and it works.
There is an art to this shit.
You know that.
It's the corporate bosses that forget that fact.
But it's not just music we have this problem plaguing every aspect of our culture.
Yes, content needs work, yes, marketing needs work, but it is the sales teams that need to be re-educated and motivated and inspired and creative. And it's not happening because they are being led by business oversight guys.
Content guys should be running companies, marketing guys should be running companies, who put business oversight guys in charge?
Wall Street, that's who.
Wall Street continues to love and reward and worship short term success for some reason. As the culture and the economy and all our fathers' and grandfathers' and hundreds of years of hard work get trashed in a generation or two.
The tail is wagging the dog.
Wall Street should not be calling the shots.
When did Wall Street ever write a song? Paint a picture? Make a movie? Play a song on the radio that changed somebody's life?
Where are the music people?
I see lawyers, accountants, test marketers running the world.
Where is the emotional connection? Where is the passion?
This ain't about JACK or BOB or Moe or Larry or Curly.
It's about you.
Everybody in this room.
You are here because you are connected emotionally.
This ain't Harvard Business School.
It's fucking Rock and Roll!
These Wall Street cats couldn't have gotten us here. They react they don't create.
They didn't build this industry.
We did it.
And you're not here because it was a smart business decision. I know what you make.
(pauses; slows down)
You're here because you loved it once.
And we've got to find a way to love it again.
And communicate that love to our audience.
I am determined &151; together we will find a way.
The Revolution is on.
(standing ovation; thunderous applause)
And thank you, sir.
(Little Steven's Underground Garage is available online, or, if you're luckier than I am, on a radio station near you.)
And add just a pinch of spike
The arrival of Katrina and the approach of Labor Day have had the expected effect at the gas pumps: stations that last week were flirting with the $2.50 mark are now fluttering in the $2.70 range, and only one station along my morning commute was as low as $2.699.
No one's making any noises about supply problems so far: you can have all the gas you want, but it will cost you ten percent more than it did last time. People who think anything over a buck-thirty is gouging, of course, will assume it's all the fault of The Conspiracy.
Powerball is coming
It won't be right away, but the Oklahoma lottery, most likely in 2006, will be joining the Powerball combine, the 28th state to do so. This will give Oklahomans an essentially-infinitesimal shot at winning implausibly-huge prizes without having to drive to Kansas or Missouri to buy tickets.
(Why are you looking at me like that? Do I look like the kind of person who would drive a couple hundred miles for a shot at a hundred million dollars?)
People living on Green Bay's east side are sticking up for themselves after parents from Bellevue criticized the neighborhoods around East High School, labelling them "inner city."
The controversy started Wednesday night at a meeting over school boundaries. Parents from Bellevue had this to say about a proposal that would send their kids to Washington Middle School and East High School:
"If I wanted my child to go to an inner city school, I would have moved to the inner city. I don't need to be worried about that."
"If we wanted to live near East High, we would have paid a lot less for our house."
"I, like the other people here, spent the money to get out of the inner city and send my child to a better school."
Some east-side residents were offended. Others were mad. Most told Action 2 News they thought these parents just didn't have enough information. The principal of Washington Middle School even challenged the parents to come and visit for a day, then make up their minds.
Setting aside for the moment the idea that some people might use the term "inner city" as an alternative to "black," which seems unlikely in mostly-white Green Bay, I wonder: Where in Oklahoma City's six hundred square miles will you find the inner city? Downtown, obviously, but how far a radius from downtown? Within the I-40/I-235/I-44 loop? The Mid-City Advocate's delivery area (Reno to 63rd, Portland to Kelley)? The original 36-square-mile township (Reno to Wilshire, May to Bryant)? The boundaries of the Oklahoma City Public Schools district?
Where would you place the inner city?
Am I nerd enough?
Addendum: Rachel demurs.
Days of 49
Which is seven by seven, as wrenched from Rachel.
Seven things I plan to do before I die:
Seven things I can do:
Seven things I cannot do:
Seven things that I find really attractive about the opposite sex:
Seven things I say the most:
Seven books I love:
Seven people I would like to see take this quiz:
(Should I rename this "Days of 42?")
31 August 2005
Cents and sensibilities
In 1980, Tulsa voters first authorized a one-cent sales tax, over and above the existing two cents, to finance capital improvements in the city. The tax went into effect in 1981, and has been renewed by the voters every five years since.
Typically, the Mayor's staff selects projects that are already part of the City's capital improvement program, adopted by the City Council on an annual basis. The projects are selected based on the need, the benefit to the city and criteria related to the condition of the existing infrastructure or amenities. The staff presents the proposed projects to the City Council in public committee, and later joins with the Councilors to present the projects to the public in each of the nine Council districts. Citizens also have an opportunity to address the Council during a public hearing held when it considers the project list. The proposed package is then placed on a ballot for a public vote.
For the first time, based on Mayor LaFortune's initiative, the administration wants public input at the front end of the process, while the package is still in the draft stages. Mayor LaFortune said, "Citizens know best what their most important infrastructure needs are. I am inviting all citizens to the meetings to provide their input and to share my vision for the future of the City of Tulsa directly with them."
There will be five such meetings in September. This is, of course, a good idea public input is better than no public input, at least if it's at all heeded but given what's been happening in Tulsa in recent years, I have to wonder if maybe someone in the Mayor's office has figured out that a lot of Tulsans feel the city government is out to screw them over, and the city might well lose that third penny when it expires in July 2006.
(For comparison, the Oklahoma City sales tax is apportioned as follows: two cents, general expenditures; one cent, MAPS for Kids [expires 1/2009]; 0.75 cent, earmarked for public safety; 0.125 cent, Oklahoma City Zoo. Including the 4.5-cent state sales tax, this comes to 8.375 cents, unless you're in the part of the city that extends into Canadian County, which levies a 0.35-cent sales tax of its own. Tulsa County has a 1.017-cent sales tax; Oklahoma County has no sales tax.)
Reasoning that it wasn't going to get any cheaper in the next couple of days, I pulled into the neighborhood C-store last night to fill up the tank (and the can from which I feed the lawn mower), which at $2.759 a gallon cost me $37 or thereabouts. Cringe-inducing, but not unbearable.
The overnight shipments apparently justified my conclusion: the lowest price I spotted on the way to work today was $2.899 for the cheap stuff. (One station still had $2.70 posted, but he wasn't open yet; his rival across the street was well into the $2.90 range.) The dreaded 3 is appearing on the higher grades.
This particular spike should subside in a week or so, as Gulf operations start to gear up again and post-Labor Day demand slackens, but I'm pretty sure the days when I could fill up for $20 are gone.
The Skirvin gets pricier
The $42 million price tag to renovate the downtown Skirvin Hotel, previously raised to $46.4 million, has now been upped to $50.4 million.
Construction-cost overruns are nothing new; perhaps more important, the city, which fronted $18 million for the project, isn't being asked to kick in anything further, and the current financial analysis suggests that the city will recoup its investment in full with little or no difficulty.
Developer John Weeman says the new Skirvin Hilton (as distinguished from the Hilton Skirvin, a name bandied about earlier) will be open by December 2006, in time for the state Centennial and the Big 12 basketball tournament.
Something of a break
These days, this sounds like good news: the online-donation form at the American Red Cross is apparently having trouble keeping up with the incoming donations.
(If you get bogged down, don't click twice, as it will cause your credit card to be charged twice. Unless, of course, that's what you want.)
Hard luck, your lordship
When the Northridge earthquake hit, my house was directly over the fault. As the damage was being repaired I figured, hell with this, I'm leaving, and moved to New Orleans. I have now fled both Hurricane Ivan and Hurricane Katrina, though Ivan turned away from New Orleans and Katrina didn't. Not only that, it has followed me up here to Jackson, Mississippi, still a category 1 hurricane as it passes through the area.
Wherever you are, you'd better pray that I don't move to your town next.
Not to worry; we'd be glad to have you. (Did I mention that we're right in the midst of Tornado Alley? Stephen did.)
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