1 October 2005
The white flag is up

Michael Bates reports that the last Casa Bonita in Oklahoma, at 21st and Sheridan in Tulsa, closed last night when their lease was not renewed.

Casa Bonita used to have locations in Oklahoma City — in fact, the chain's first locations were here in OKC — but they've long since gone away, and in fact the only remaining Casa Bonita is on the west side of Denver, Colorado, presumably still within a reasonable distance from South Park.

The stepchild of the Casa Bonita operation, Taco Bueno, continues to flourish.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:44 AM to Soonerland )
One last eye-opener

As the Shorts Season draws to a close and all those glorious legs (some of them actually walking about 42nd and Treadmill) go back into hiding for the winter, I am bemused to report that Angela McNeany of the Chicago 'burbs has, we are told, the best legs in America.

My immediate reactions are three:

  1. Well, someone had to;
  2. At least it wasn't Katie Couric;
  3. If said gams are truly that incredible, it's probably a good thing I'll never see them.

(Via Fark)

Family Fun Fellowship foofaraw

A local public school — I'm guessing in Mid-Del — apparently has been soliciting student participation in activities at a local church, which prompted a debate on a local message board. (I am fairly confident I know which church is involved.)

The principal of the school says he's looking into how the church flyer got into school distribution in the first place.

And that's the problem here: that the school was actually distributing a church flyer, which appears to step over the line drawn by the Establishment Clause. I'm thinking that if they had simply parked a box of flyers in the hallway with a Take One sign, they might have been able to slide, but apparently they sent them home with the individual students, a distribution vector which always suggests Official School Business. ("Make sure you give this to your parents.") I have no problem with churches doing outreach to public-school students, but they can't use those schools as their agents.

(Update, Sunday: It ain't necessarily so. Read this.)

Quote of the week

Found at Ravenwood's Universe:

I wonder if shooting a 20 year old mugger is considered a 63rd trimester abortion.

I suspect it depends on when his birthday falls.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:25 AM to QOTW )
At least it wouldn't be Gonzales

Miriam's idea for filling that Supreme Court vacancy:

Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, who I believe is named Mary, although possibly not. The Democratic candidates for president and vice president mentioned her often and approvingly, but not by name. They just called her Dick Cheney's lesbian daughter, but you could tell their wells of compassion were overflowing for her. In fact, she seemed to be the only Republican of any sexual orientation the Democrats truly liked — notice the way they kept dragging her into the debates, even when she had nothing to do with the matter at hand.

So I think we can all agree that DCLD would be the perfect candidate: female, lesbian, and if she takes after her parents, bright. She has no baggage, so no one can criticize her stand on abortion, the poor, children, Halliburton, etc. The fact that she is not a lawyer is also in her favor.

Democrats, here's a Supreme Court nomination we can all get behind!

Except to note that her name is indeed Mary, I think I'm going to leave it at that.

Fatuous Flashback 1

As this site approaches the ten-year mark, I have decided to fill up space commemorate its history with excerpts from its semi-glorious past, in a sort of "This Week in Blogorrhea" mode. For example:

Life out here in the Wintel Wonderland has its peculiar aspects, and few are quite as odd as Microsoft's ongoing desire to be all things to all computer owners.

Of course, this isn't something new for Microsoft. Within about thirty seconds of nailing down the contract to produce PC-DOS for IBM back in the Pleistocene era, Microsoft made known its intentions to provide versions of DOS under its own label to anyone with suitable hardware, thereby giving birth — or at least inducing labor — to the PC clone industry.

We are now up to DOS 7 and Windows 95, and Microsoft, even while basking in its position as undisputed ruler of the desktop, must still be wondering how long a wait it's going to be before it's safe to refuse to support cranky pieces of antediluvian junk like my late-Eighties pre-HP Colorado QIC-40 tape drive, or any program that requires an entry in the SETVER table. (If anyone was wondering, the Jumbo 120 does work under Win95, with the current version of Colorado Backup, but don't even think about doing a full system backup with 40-megabyte tapes.) Being out on the cutting edge is wonderful, but having to deal with us throwbacks on the dull side must give Redmond's programmers fits.

(From Vent #71, 1 October 1997.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:54 PM to Greatest Hits )
Waste not, or at least not much

The Seventh Generation company, based in Burlington, Vermont, derives its name from a precept of the Haudenosaunee, otherwise known as the Iroquois Confederacy, to the effect that decisions must be informed by their potential impact on the seventh generation to follow.

The company sells a variety of paper and plastic products and household chemicals, and earlier this year I decided to give some of their product lines a try, on the reasonable basis that paying a little more for a little less overall waste and/or toxicity can be justified.

After a couple of months, I've appointed Seventh Generation to be the official Surlywood supplier of paper towels and bathroom tissue. They are not, however, getting the contract for trash bags: in two successive boxes, the little plastic welds, which are supposed to keep the drawstrings in place, didn't.

It wasn't that long ago that recycled-material products weren't even slightly competitive, so, applying the principle of "When in doubt, predict that the trend will continue," I assume that this stuff will get better as time goes on.

Protect yourself

The following public-service announcement is brought to you by The Daily Bitch:

Police today warned all men who frequent yacht clubs and dock parties to stay cautious when offered drinks by women.

Females are using a date rape drug called "beer" to target unsuspecting men.

This drug comes in liquid form and is available nearly everywhere.

"Beer" is used by female predators to persuade hapless male victims to go home with them.

Women need only persuade a man to consume a few of these "beers" and then ask him home for no-strings-attached sex, a simple approach that renders most men helpless.

After several "beers," men will have sex with even unattractive women.

Often men awaken with only hazy memories of the night before, a horrible headache, and a vague feeling that something bad happened.

Some really unfortunate men are even separated from their life's savings in a scam called "a relationship."

In extreme cases, females have entrapped unsuspecting males into long-term servitude through a punishment called "marriage."

Apparently, men are much more susceptible to this scam once "beer" is administered.

If you, or some man you know, have fallen victim to this insidious "beer" and the predatory women who administer it, rest assured: male support groups exist in every major city where you can discuss the ugly details of your encounter in an open and frank manner with similarly affected, like-minded guys.

For the support group nearest you, look in the Yellow Pages under "GolfCourses."

You have been warned.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:13 PM to Table for One )
That "temporary" arrangement

Don Mecoy of the Oklahoman interviews Hornets owner George Shinn in tomorrow's edition, and, well, judge for yourself:

Q: Do you think there's a chance that your team may never go back to New Orleans?

A: I can't go there. You understand? I just can't go there. We'll just have a wait-and-see attitude because legally, technically, we are a New Orleans team and the NBA has to vote on any moving. They had to vote on us coming here and approve it. They wouldn't have approved us to just tell them to stick it in their ear, we're going to move on. You can't do that.

My feeling is that if we do what I think we're going to do and we sell out all these games, and New Orleans completely recovers and all the people go back, the economy starts going up and everything looks great, then we'll probably have to go back. We won't have a choice.

(Emphasis added.)

I may be wrong, but it sounds to me like already Shinn wants to stay.

(Update: The Oklahoman has now posted the interview.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:48 PM to Net Proceeds )
2 October 2005
Hysterical note

It was buried way down in the paragraph, but Google didn't seem to mind:

[B]ack in the Eighties, a bunch of us BBS freaks put together an online soap opera called Brentwood Bay, set in a small Florida Gulf Coast town dominated by a family in the news business; one of the characters I portrayed was crusading reporter (and Major Babe) Sharon Sheeley of the rival Sunova Beach Sentinel.

Not to be confused with the real Sharon Sheeley, a songwriter of considerable prowess, alone or (usually) paired with Jackie DeShannon; Sheeley passed away in 2002.

Our Googler, as it happens, was looking for the original Brentwood Bay soap; turns out he was a participant (he played Rev. Bernard Bradshaw). [Insert "small world" reference here.]

Just for the hell of it, here's an actual excerpt: a phone conversation between the fictional Ms Sheeley, then still working in local radio news, and the Brentwood Bugle's Bill Badderley.

"City desk. Badderley."

"Hello, Bill. This is Sharon. What's the deal with your boss?"

"Mrs. Brentwood? Far as I know, she's going on a trip. My guess is, she's having a nervous breakdown and doesn't want it to get out."

"Don't kid me, Bill. Blanche Brentwood hasn't taken a vacation since I don't know how long."

"Thirty-one years, to be exact. She spent almost the whole year in Europe, and believe me, everyone at the Bugle had to listen to her endless tales. I'm just grateful she didn't have slides."

"What happened in 1955, that she'd want to be gone a whole year?"

"Beats me, Shar. That was the year Benjamin was born, and you'd think she'd want at least one of her kids born in the U.S.A."

"What do you mean?"

"Oh, that's right, you're new here. All the Brentwood kids were born in Bougainville, France, at some villa that Mr. Byron Senior used to own. Mrs. B sold it after he died. Uh, Sharon, maybe I shouldn't be telling you these things...."

"Perhaps you shouldn't. Well, don't worry about it, Bill. I certainly won't."

"That's okay. I just get a little jumpy when I talk to the competition, you know?"

I still don't know Badderley's agenda, though I suspect he was basically biding his time until he could retire and was close to the NGAS point by then. (NG = "Not Giving"; you can figure the rest.) And this was before Sheeley was hired away from the radio station by the paper in the next town.

Further Family Fun Fellowship foofaraw

When last we left this story, I had suggested that there were Constitutional issues involved.

Sean Gleeson reports on what those issues are:

[A]s the law stands now, it would have been illegal and unconstitutional for the school to refuse to distribute the Pumpkin Festival flier!

In 1993, the Supreme Court decided Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, holding that it is a violation of the First Amendment for a public school to "discriminate on the basis of viewpoint." In other words, the school must treat religious persons and organizations no differently than non-religious ones. This legal doctrine was strengthened and reaffirmed with Good News Club v. Milford Central School in 2001. In both cases, the court forced the schools to allow religious groups to use their facilities.

These cases were not specifically about distributing fliers, but in 2003 the U.S. District Court in San Diego ruled against the San Diego Unified School District in a case involving fliers advertising free lectures at a Lutheran church. The school district was ordered to post and distribute the church's fliers. The school district was ordered in a summary judgment to post the church's fliers. A summary judgment is one in which one party's case is so weak that the court can rule without hearing any testimony. After this, the school district settled out of court and agreed to distribute the church's fliers to students as well.

Which would indicate that if the school is handing out promotional material for non-religious organizations — been a while since I've had any dealings with grade schools, but I rather suspect that they might be — they have no basis on which to refuse material from religious organizations.

And that would seem to settle that.

Addendum: The Subjective Scribe says it's okay with him if they send home no materials at all:

[O]utside groups, religious and otherwise, have other avenues for reaching their target market. An involuntary, captive audience should not be subject to outside marketing.

Time to fake the donuts

Krispy Kreme's largest single franchise operator is suing Krispy Kreme, charging that executives at the home office misappropriated funds designated for marketing and billed their franchise for bogus charges.

The partners of Los Angeles-based Great Circle Family Foods LLC contend that Krispy Kreme is seeking to drive them into bankruptcy.

Krispy Kreme has been under considerable fire recently: a New York State inquiry and an SEC probe have questioned the company's finances, and a previous lawsuit claims that KK management manipulated the balance sheets to conceal deficiencies in the company's pension program.

The company spokesperson would not comment, but given the shellacking Krispy Kreme has been getting in the press of late, I surmise that her eyes glazed over when she was questioned.

(Via McGehee.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:27 AM to Dyssynergy )
That pesky Bill of Rights

Motivated by the cause of Truth in Advertising, Tamara K. suggests the original 18th-century text be updated as follows:

You have the right to freedom of certain approved speech, at certain times that aren't too near elections. There is freedom of the press, as long as certain things aren't printed, and the internet is understood to not be "the press." And please understand that you are being monitored so that certain things you say or print may be being gathered as evidence just in case you are ever charged with anything down the road.

You have the right to keep some arms, as long as they are a flavor the government approves of, and in some places you may not keep arms of any kind. You may bear these arms in the field and forest if you have paid money to the government. You may bear them on a licensed shooting range. You may bear them in public in some locales only if you have been photographed, fingerprinted, investigated and taxed. In many locales you may not bear arms even then.

You have the right to be secure in your person, house, papers, and effects unless a paid informant has suggested that you may have something the government doesn't want you to have, or Fluffy the Uberhund alerts on your luggage, or you fit a certain profile, or a policeman asks you.

You cannot be forced to be a witness against yourself, except with recordings of your voice, and various samples of your breath, bodily fluids, and small bits of flesh.

Your property cannot be taken for public use without just compensation, unless it'd be a swell place for a strip mall, or the cops need a new armoured car.

Cruel and unusual punishments shall not be inflicted, unless one considers being GPS/radio-tagged like a migrating seal to be cruel and unusual.

Any rights not specifically enumerated above presumably devolve upon the Senate Judiciary Committee / local county commissioners / Halliburton [choose one].

Bombs away, dream babies

Lan Lamphere, whose Overnight AM radio show used to be carried here on KOKC, questions the official story about the explosion on the OU campus yesterday:

What I find amazing is that the press release that [OU President David] Boren's office has released to the public stated that "Prior to the game, the entire stadium was swept by the expert bomb teams with the help of dogs." Was there a bomb threat that OU didn't take seriously? Is that why the stadium was swept with "expert bomb teams with the help of dogs"?

Logic dictates that two "devices" suggest that two people were involved. A terrorist cell? Why would someone committing suicide using a large bomb to kill themselves just keep another bombing laying around? You know, just in case the first one didn't click off? It’s all premeditated in the first place. That means conspiracy to kill at least themselves if not someone else in the process. But then there's that whole "large bomb" thing we're left to contend with? Why would someone use such a large "device" to take himself or herself out if they were not targeting others to go with them? And when I say a "large bomb" that's exactly what I mean.

My family and I were sitting at home, roughly one mile away from the stadium as a bird flies, when we heard and felt an earth shattering explosion. I was monitoring my hand held amateur radio when the local repeater erupted with chatter about a explosion. It was so loud that people wanted to know if others had heard it. I called the Police who advised me that officers were on the scene and that a explosion had occurred but they would not give any other details. Our house literally shook. The ground vibrated with a deep rolling growling sound. This was a large explosion. Not some mere Pipe bomb put together by a pissed off student. But when I arrived at the stadium to shoot video for a local news station I regularly freelance for, already this was the spin on the story. This was serious business. This bomb was meant to kill not one person, but as many as could be reached in a crowd based on the size and power of the "device" alone.

The explosion apparently took place in the courtyard of George Lynn Cross Hall, across Asp Avenue from the stadium; Boren says [link requires Adobe Reader] there really wasn't a second device.

(Submitted to the Outside the Beltway Sunday Drive.)

Update: The Oklahoma Daily has a roundup of announcements and findings and statements and whatnot here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:51 PM to Soonerland )
We got your platform right here

Mike at Okiedoke is, he says, "trying to imagine a dustbury party platform."

It might be something like this 1986 scrawl from P. J. O'Rourke:

We are opposed to: government spending, Kennedy kids, seat-belt laws, being a pussy about nuclear power, busing our children anywhere but Yale, trailer courts near our vacation homes, Gary Hart, all tiny Third World countries that don't have banking secrecy laws, aerobics, the U. N., taxation without tax loopholes, and jewelry on men.

We are in favor of: guns, drugs, fast cars, free love (if our wives don't find out), a sound dollar, cleaner environment (poor people should cut it out with the graffiti), a strong military with spiffy uniforms, Nastassia Kinski, Star Wars (and anything else that scares the Russkis), and a firm stand on the Middle East (raze buildings, burn crops, plow the earth with salt, and sell the population into bondage).

Actually, this is something of an exaggeration: I don't give a damn about banking-secrecy laws, and Nastassia Kinski doesn't do a thing (well, okay, she does one thing) for me.

(Update, 8 October, 4:40 pm: An actual endorsement from Ian Hamet. I'll have to get his opinion of Ms Kinski.)

What I get for watching the floor

I hadn't seen this before, and I'm not sure why I'm seeing it now, but toe rings under hosiery? Seems to me it would be (1) uncomfortable and (2) an invitation to snags, but then this isn't an area where I have any noticeable expertise.

One of those alternamantive thingamubobs

So how much gasoline does George W. Bush's pickup truck actually burn?

None, apparently.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:54 PM to Family Joules )
Glenn or Glennda?

Harvey imagines, with entirely too much detail if you ask me, how blogdom would change with the arrival — via surgery, one assumes — of the Instapundette.

(Hey, it could be worse. At least he didn't suggest bleaching Oliver Willis. Yet.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:26 PM to Blogorrhea )
3 October 2005
The grammar blows, too

An email that made the rounds:

There are many individual Bloggers earning over $100k per year we can show you how to possibly achieve this through your own personal blog.

Um, no, you can't.

(Via Doc Searls.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:18 AM to Scams and Spams )
Technically, she's not a minority

JUDGE EDITH HOLLAN JONES
JUDGE EDITH HOLLAN JONES
U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit,
appointed by Reagan, born 1949
A Texan! Nearly nominated to Souter's seat by
G.H.W. Bush. You're hoping the son follows through!
Jones is considered radioactive by
Democrats, which you (and the administration)
might consider a plus!

New World Man presents: My favorite candidate for the Supreme Court
brought to you by Quizilla

Not that it matters, at this point.

I do not choose to run

This thread at Okiedoke is highly worrisome. Mike started it out sensibly enough:

If you are…
  • a Democrat/liberal — What Republican could best lead the country now?
  • a Republican/conservative — What Democrat could best lead the country now?
  • a third party/Independent — What Republican or Democrat could best lead the country now?

The idea was to gauge the depth of the divide, which is a perfectly reasonable question. What's perturbing, though, is that as of this morning (subsequent postings might, and probably should, change things), I am outpolling everyone except John McCain. This is simply unbelievable, at least to me: who knew there was that much support for McCain?

And anyway, while I've already put out a sort of platform, I really don't have any political ambitions per se: the one job to have, I think, is Karl Rove's, and I don't quite meet the evil-genius specification called for by that position.

Besides, announcing plans to run for office is the surest way I know to unearth previously-buried copies of that calendar I posed for in the middle 1980s, and no one should have to see that on Drudge.

Harriet the Justice

Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblog predicts that the Harriet Miers nomination will be rejected:

The nomination obviously will be vigorously supported by groups created for the purpose of pressing the President's nominees, and vigorously opposed by groups on the other side. But within the conservative wing of the Republican party, there is thus far (very early in the process) only great disappointment, not enthusiasm. They would prefer Miers to be rejected in the hope — misguided, I think — that the President would then nominate, for example, Janice Rogers Brown. Moderate Republicans have no substantial incentive to support Miers, and the President seems to have somewhat less capital to invest here. On the Democratic side, there will be inevitable — perhaps knee-jerk — opposition. Nor does Miers have a built in "fan base" of people in Washington, in contrast to the people (Democratic and Republican) who knew and respected John Roberts. Even if Democrats aren't truly gravely concerned, they will see this as an opportunity to damage the President. The themes of the opposition will be cronyism and inexperience. Democratic questioning at the hearings will be an onslaught of questions about federal constitutional law that Miers in all likelihood won't want to, or won't be able to (because her jobs haven't called on her to study the issues), answer. I have no view on whether she should be confirmed (it's simply too early to say), but will go out on a limb and predict that she will be rejected by the Senate.

I don't know. It's been reported (this morning on NPR, for instance) that some members of Congress had suggested to the President that he nominate someone without extensive judicial experience, and Miers certainly meets that criterion. The nomination does suggest, however, that Bush wasn't in any mood for a knock-down, drag-out confirmation fight, to the presumed disappointment of the (more) conservative wing of the GOP.

I don't think this nomination is doomed, but it's surely not going to sail through the Judiciary Committee in a matter of minutes either.

Render unto Sears the things that are Sears'

If you work for Sears, says Sears Holdings chairman Aylwin Lewis, you do not carry a competing store's shopping bag onto a flight for which Sears is paying.

Sears has been running a shuttle between Detroit and Chicago for employees at the old K mart headquarters at Troy, Michigan, which is being phased out as a cost-savings measure in the wake of the K mart/Sears merger.

Lewis also asked employees to get Sears credit cards if they don't have them, to visit Sears-owned stores "three to four times a month," and to make friends and relatives and neighbors more Sears-conscious.

In the wake of the Sears announcements, and any rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, Sonic chairman Cliff Hudson has not actually ordered that any Sonic employee seen in a Braum's parking lot is to be shot on sight.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:06 PM to Dyssynergy )
One-line reaction to Istook's announcement

Finally, a good reason to vote for Brad Henry.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:00 PM to Soonerland )
Gimme back my bullets

Remember these?

  •   <———  This is a bullet.
  •   <———  So is this.
  •   <———  This, too.

That is, unless you're teaching in the City of New York:

Today in our weekly PD it was mentioned that the region doesn't want us to use the term "bullet points" anymore because it has a negative connotation.

If I had a dollar for every idiotic complaint about "negative connotations," I could retire and have plenty left over for ammo.

(Via Ravenwood's Universe.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:07 PM to Say What? )
The Ambassador needs a new suit

The Oklahoma City Convention & Visitors Bureau has, shall we say, a serviceable Web site; it's not particularly cluttered, which is good, but it reeks of 1999. (Which is to say, there's nothing on it that I, with my decidedly-limited portfolio of mad Web skillz, couldn't have done.)

Others take a dimmer view of it. This letter was sent by the techier-than-I Gerard Morentzy to the OKCCVB, and is reprinted with his permission.

Dear Oklahoma City Convention and Visitors Bureau, I was shocked to go to Oklahoma City's Visitors website at www.okccvb.org and see the site that promotes your growing city. I simply couldn't believe this is your introduction to your town. I was told I need to visit Oklahoma, and Oklahoma City in particular. I went to the site and saw this distorted picture of your city at the top of the page. What's that about? The picture size doesn't fit the space. The Oklahoma City 'logo'?? My god! That looks like something from 1975 — it's horrible! Bottom line: I was surprised at all the good things I am hearing about Okla. City and then see this horrible website. I travel often and visit many Visitors Center sites. I wonder if you realize how awful your site really is? For comparison in your region, I visited — and you should too:

I would hope that all the progressive things that I hear are happening in your city will eventually make its way to the Internet gateway to your city — the Convention and Visitors pages on the web are considered just that. You have much work to do.

Respectfully,
Gerard Morentzy

And while we're on the subject, a URL that might actually stick in the mind would be a useful thing to have. (They own visitokc.com, but I don't remember seeing it promoted anywhere.)

Why Topeka rates a (!), I don't know, unless it's because of that CSI episode.

4 October 2005
It could have been

Greg Hlatky is contemplating changing the name of A Dog's Life, a step that one does not take lightly.

I myself have been through this once already: this site was established as Chez Chaz in 1996, and retained that name until the dustbury.com domain was acquired in early 1999. I'd been using "Dustbury, Oklahoma" as a pseudonymous location practically from Day One, and it seemed logical that I should adopt some version of it as a domain.

But you should have seen some of the names I threw away:

  • Girthwatch
  • Fnord Fnocus
  • Instaputz
  • Site Unseen
  • Ghoti
  • Deeply Superficial
  • Henry Fondue
  • 163,216
  • Odi et Amo
  • Fdisk

And some were actually worse.

Addendum: I found my Site Unseen logo buried in the archives.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Blogorrhea )
A complete unknown

The big question about Harriet Miers seems to be "Does Bush know something that the rest of us don't?"

Well, duh. (Caution: Not safe for work.)

(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)

Tell Kofi to bite a root

The United Nations is persuaded that it, and not those awful Americans, ought to have control of the Internet. Aside from being totally unfair to Al Gore, this is a generally bad idea, but it really can't be implemented:

ICANN, the corporation that distributes IP addresses and domain names, doesn't own the Internet, nor does the United States government. The Internet is a standard; anyone who's willing to communicate in conformance with that standard can come aboard. No one can own a standard, though persons can squabble, as the UN has been doing, over whose proposed alterations to it should be respected.

Imagine for a moment that the UN were to put itself forward as an alternative to ICANN, and were to designate its own collection of root servers and domains. Would that have any particular bearing on what standards we in the United States might choose to observe in our digital communications? Only this: it would compel us to choose between the root servers and domains that have been nominated by ICANN, and those put forward in their place by the United Nations Committee Overseeing Overall Linkage (UNCOOL). Inasmuch as the overwhelmingly greater part of Internet activity, particularly commercial Internet activity, is based in these United States, we would hold the whip hand regardless of any and all UN assertions or maneuverings to the contrary. It would simply be about which set of standards users would choose to employ.

See Beta vs. VHS for comparison.

John F. (comment to previous link) explans how UNCOOL would work:

The Security Council would require that posts critical of the UN or constituent government members be restricted in the interests of "amity".

UNCOOL would levy a "small" use tax to defray "administrative costs" necessary to support their "management conferences" in such internet hotspots as Tahiti.

Users would be required to register with UNCOOL in order to ensure that only "responsible" people had access to the internet. Registration approval could be expected (by snail mail) only a year after the necessary registration fees were paid (and paid, and paid).

UNCOOL would be forced to establish the Internet Police (UNIP) in order to ensure that internet regulations (UNIR) were complied with. Spamming would become a capital offense unless conducted within a certified third world country by an oppressed minority. Hackers would be shot on sight by UNIP thus saving the costs of unnecessary trials.

We could get the same results by turning the whole shebang over to the Mafia, and probably a hell of a lot cheaper to boot.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:43 AM to PEBKAC )
Take it out on the templates

What do you do when the pace of life is accelerating faster than you can?

Why, work on the blog, of course:

Because things have been careening down the mountain at such a pace, my brain is dead empty of anything of substance to talk about. At this juncture, it's too delirious from just trying to keeping up to have an independent interesting thought.

In lieu of content, and in need of a procrastination project, I tinkered with the site last night. Wasted three hours or so in a world of my own, oblivious to the various masses clamoring for my attention via to-do lists.

I note that I still haven't begun the Version 9 upgrade. Hmmm....

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:36 AM to Blogorrhea )
Forget "Unsealed with a Kiss"

Dawn Eden has announced that she's taking a break from blogging to work on her book The Thrill of the Chaste.

Gawker suggests some alternate titles that presumably wouldn't have made it past the editors at Dawn's Christian-oriented publisher:

Chaste Manhattan
Abort, Retry, Ignore
Repressed For Success
You're Going To Hell, Slut

Actually, I kind of like a couple of those.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:25 PM to Almost Yogurt )
The first volley of 2008?

Something styling itself "Citizens Against Corporate Welfare" slipped a flyer onto my door today which castigated Rep. Trebor Worthen of District 87, where I live, for voting for two bills they considered particularly heinous.

Chesapeake Energy spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the last election buying elected officials. They gave Trebor Worthen $3,000. Once the election was over, it was payback time! Representative Worthen paid back. He voted for legislation that would give over $100 million of your tax dollars in Corporate Welfare to Chesapeake at a time when their profits are obscene. Since 2003, CEO salaries at oil companies have increased by 109%.

With the possible exception of 42nd and Treadmill, CEO salaries are bloated just about everywhere in the nation. I'm assuming (since CACW didn't bother to spell it out) that this was HB 1588, which provided exemptions from the state Gross Production Tax for really deep drilling (12,500 feet and beyond). (Text of the enrolled version in RTF format here.) This bill passed the House 79-19 on its way to being approved by the Governor; I don't remember taking a position on it myself, but historically there are only two occasions when oil and gas producers are looking for incentives:

  1. When prices are low;
  2. When prices are high.

Then there's SB 484 (enrolled version in RTF format here), of which CACW said:

SB 484 was a bill that prevents counties and cities from regulating the over application of animal waste (they call it fertilizer) to land. Why would [Worthen] take away the ability of cities and counties to protect us from chicken waste in our water?

Well, actually, what 484 does is to take away the ability of cities and counties to regulate any fertilizer products of any sort. I complained about it myself in Vent #434:

Senate Bill 484, by Daisy Lawler (D-Comanche), would (what a surprise) give the Legislature more turf: it puts fertilizer under state, rather than local, regulations. The Oklahoma Municipal League opposed it for that reason alone, and sought amendments.

Says lobbyist Keith Smith: "Our fertilizer laws in Oklahoma are so weak that just about anything can be defined as fertilizer if it contains enough Nitrogen, Phosphorus or Potassium to qualify as beneficial to plants. There is no required labeling for heavy metals (lead, arsenic, etc.), dioxin or pathogens. By our law's definition, a "guaranteed analysis" of fertilizer only discloses its N-P-K content."

Emphasis in the original. I looked at the actual bill, and Smith's right: so long as you specify N-P-K correctly, you can dump just about anything else in the mix and still call it "fertilizer" under SB 484. At the very least, the bill should be amended to require more comprehensive labeling.

Today's Legislative Lesson: A chickenshit bill doesn't necessarily have anything to do with literal chicken shit.

If anyone outside District 87 got a flyer from "Citizens Against Corporate Welfare," I'd like to hear about it.

Notes on Camp

Actor and occasional singer Hamilton Camp once sang (on Warner Bros. single 7309, never issued on an LP):

I've got to be more than just two lines
In the Oklahoma City Times.

Camp outlived the Times by more than twenty years; he died Sunday in Los Angeles at the age of 70.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:32 PM to Almost Yogurt )
5 October 2005
And we'll never be lonely anymore

Wouldn't you love to hear the Dixie Cups again?

Sure you would.

(Via Oddfellows Rest.)

Dubious collectible

The issue of TV Guide shipping this week is the last issue in the magazine's traditional digest-size format; next week it grows to "regular" size and sheds all those pesky local TV listings.

For the occasion, they've issued nine alternate covers, each an update of a cover used once before. (On my subscription copy, it's Reba McEntire stomping grapes à la Lucille Ball.)

Inasmuch as there are probably going to be a brazillion copies of this issue out there, I'm thinking maybe I won't put this one aside for safekeeping. And considering the fact that the other day, while looking for something else, I found a 1988 issue of TV Guide which, so far as I can tell, is distinguished only by a leg shot of Rita Braver, this must be considered Unusual Thinking for me.

Dead trees strike back!

This being National Newspaper Week — is there a parade? — there is the requisite quantity of promotional materials to remind us of just how essential the daily paper truly is.

Eric Siegmund happened upon one of them and happily mocks it. Here's the text from the original (which you can see at the above link, or here in PDF format):

Letters to the editor: the Original Web Blog
Every day all across America citizens participate in their community's public discussions and debates by writing a letter to the editor of the local newspaper. Letters to the editor in the newspaper provide an ideal forum for citizens to exchange ideas and opinions. A way to interact with fellow citizens about the issues of the day.

Eric finds this pitch risible:

[T]he idea that printed letters to the editor "provide an ideal forum for citizens to exchange ideas and opinions" is laughable, especially in comparison to comments-enabled blogs. The editorial control over those printed letters and the absence of real-time dialog makes them far from ideal. (Granted, the same kind of editorial control is theoretically possible in blogs, but the blogospheric feedback mechanism is swift and without pity. Blogs that engage in significant editing of comments will likely find themselves without commenters or readers.)

I am reminded of something Michael Bates said last year about the Tulsa World:

The Whirled, for whatever reason, won't publish letters until the relevant story is good and cold — at least two weeks after the event or story that the letter addresses, long after the story has migrated from their website to their website's archives or from your coffee table to the recycling bin.

As forums (fora?) go, this strikes me as being well short of the "ideal."

One impertinent statistic: Most days that I see it, the Oklahoman runs four or five letters to the editor. Assuming that this is a standard practice at the Black Tower, this means that since August of 2002, they have run about 5,700 letters. During the same period, I have accumulated 11,000 comments.

Now I have to assume that their market share has to be a lot higher than mine; they're the only general-interest daily in town, and I run just one blog among dozens, maybe hundreds. Besides, my comment-to-post ratio, slightly above 2, is distinctly lower than average for this traffic level; there's far more actual dialogue at other blogs.

Besides, "Web Blog" is at least slightly redundant.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:03 AM to Blogorrhea )
Boomer Sooner, so to speak

The father of the "Sooner bomber" is disputing claims that his son was a budding jihadi:

[He] would have become a Muslim fanatic when pigs fly.

The FBI says they have found no connection between Joel Henry Hinrichs III and any known extremist groups. (Full text of FBI statement in PDF format here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:00 AM to Soonerland )
All generalizations are false

Including, of course, that one.

One item within the 75k or so of rotating boilerplate that appears in the "It Is Written" section reads: "Man loves little and often, woman much and rarely."

Girlfriday finds this statement questionable, and it might well be. For myself, I can say only that my experience in that baffling man/woman stuff is not likely to produce any words of wisdom.

(Who said it originally? I don't know. It's on a few quotation sites, always credited to that legendary deep-thinker Anonymous.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:26 PM to Table for One )
High impact

From Double Take in the current Urban Tulsa Weekly:

How they know this already is beyond us, but a study released by Oklahoma City officials indicated that the relocation of the New Orleans Hornets to the Ford Center will generate an additional $57 million to the state's economy.

If that seems a little high, it is.

Consider that the Hornets will play 35 games in OKC this season.

Last year, the team's average attendance was 14,421 per game in New Orleans, or about 505,000 total.

Figure the same number come to the Ford Center, and that means to reach the $57 million figure, each one of those 505,000 will have [to] spend the equivalent of $113 each game.

To put it another way, to accept the estimates, you'd have to believe that a family of four is going to spend almost $500 for, say, a Hornets-Clippers match-up on a Tuesday night in March.

Just how expensive are hamburgers in Bricktown?

Actually, it's the parking that gets you, not the burgers.

Here's where the numbers come from, for the curious.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:36 PM to Net Proceeds )
159

Howard Stern no doubt knows this number: FCC Form 159 must accompany all administrative payments to the Federal Communications Commission, which includes fines.

If you'd rather not FCC around, there's the Carnival of the Vanities #159, the latest edition of the soi-disant Best of the Blogs, hosted this week by Technogypsy.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:50 PM to Blogorrhea )
Selling the story

The online poll at NewsOK.com as of this writing:

Two to one believe it's a suicide

I draw no conclusions. Yet.

(Update, 7 am, 6 October: It's down from 2-1 to 3-2.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:43 PM to Soonerland )
6 October 2005
Carry on 'til tomorrow

Chris at PhilDennison.net has a tribute to Badfinger drummer Mike Gibbins, who died Tuesday at 56.

Of the original foursome, only Joey Molland remains; Pete Ham and Tom Evans are long gone.

Where angels feel the tread

If you made a list of everything you'd consider buying over the Net, automobile tires are probably way down there, perhaps above cheeseburgers but well below books and music and tchotchkes.

It's a fairly busy time at work these days, and I said to myself, "Self, do you really want to go buzzing all over town looking for P205/60R-15s?"

I didn't. Enter the Tire Rack, a major dealer (lots of big brands) with a Web storefront and the ability to drop-ship a quartet of donuts to a nearby tire shop for installation.

I knew about these guys because they sponsor One Lap of America, one of the more amusing racing events around, and because they have five or six pages in almost every major auto mag every month.

And while I figure I'd have no problem finding the low-end Bridgestone Turanzas I've been driving on for 50,000 miles, I didn't much like them; while dry grip is decent, they let go way too easily in the wet, and they're noisy to boot. (There is a Turanza series above this one, but the price differential struck me as excessive.) I'd had Michelin X-Ones on my previous car, which I really liked, but which are amazingly pricey when you can find them.

In the end, I called upon Dunlop, who had made the OEM tires for my old Toyota Celica back in the immediate post-Fred Flintstone era, and who offered the SP Sport A2 Plus in the size I needed and with an appropriate speed rating: H. (My car won't do 130 mph, but the tires could take it if it could.) If you pay attention to UTQR ratings: treadwear 460, traction AA, temperature A. Four of these came to a stirringly-negligible $224, plus forty bucks to UPS them out of Indiana and whatever (I'm guessing $100) I get charged by A to Z Tire Warehouse over on NW 10th, who will be doing the install.

If the $370-ish tab seems high to you, keep in mind that it's worth something simply to avoid going to Pep Boys.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:00 AM to Driver's Seat )
Personally, I blame the Penguin

The stately 16,000-square-foot Tudor house on South San Rafael Avenue in Pasadena, California which was used for exterior shots of Bruce Wayne's place in the Sixties Batman series has fallen victim, not to a supervillain, but to something much more mundane: a fire, which essentially gutted the place.

The owners were in the process of remodeling, but this is surely more than they had in mind.

(Via Fark)

(Update, 7 October, 7:20 pm: Would you believe it was the wrong house after all?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:42 AM to Dyssynergy )
Not the usual political bologna

I do not believe this phrase means what he thinks it means:

"...I think with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court, you can't play, you know, hide the salami, or whatever it's called. He's got to go out there and say something about this woman [Harriet Miers] who's going to a 20 or 30-year appointment, a 20 or 30-year appointment to influence America. We deserve to know something about her."

So speaks Howard Dean, Democratic Party chair, on Hardball with Chris Matthews.

One word of advice, Dr. Dean: Don't buy the liverwurst.

(Seen by Baldilocks while perusing Wizbang.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:20 PM to Say What? )
How desperate are they?

A few weeks back I muttered something incoherent about "Desperate Librarians", partly because I'm a sucker for goofy calendars featuring individuals in varying degrees of undress, and partly because I wanted to see if "Weyauwega" is really spelled like that. (It is.)

As for the calendar itself, which bears the cutesy tag "The Book Stops Here," it's quite a bit more modest than the usual run of such things, and each of the staffers is hiding behind a book with a work-related "title" Photoshopped thereupon. The librarian inclined to reveal the least is Miss June, whose large-format volume is emblazoned "librarians definitely should wear clothes." Certainly at work: it's probably cold in there.

I suspect this particular cultural artifact is on a vertical trajectory, the shark waiting below; whether the vector is upward or downward remains to be seen.

7 October 2005
Trust us

Car and Driver editor Csaba Csere has heard the same stories you have about so-called "plug-in" hybrids that get triple-digit gas mileage. In his November column, he reveals that he dispatched editor-at-large Barry Winfield to get some seat time in one of these cars if at all possible.

It wasn't. Writes Winfield: "The developers of plug-in hybrids are extremely unwilling to have their babies tested by any means right now." Some things are known: with the gasoline engine disconnected, the Toyota Prius, the usual test bed for plug-ins, is limited to 28 bhp running on batteries only, and tops out at around 34 mph.

Winfield's conclusion after trying to get a grip on the state of this particular art:

[T]he plug-in hybrid developers are happy to have the uncritical support of various newspaper journalists who blithely reprint the claims of 250 mpg, but as soon as you say fuel consumption or performance test, they're not having any of it.

C/D, whatever their degree of cynicism, actually did test a Honda FCX fuel-cell vehicle this year, and they reported that apart from a different portfolio of noises, it was pretty much like driving a Civic — assuming you could fatten a Civic up to 3700 lb. Of course, there is as yet no hydrogen-refueling infrastructure to speak of, but the FCX seems much closer to being a Real Car than any of these electrified buggies.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Driver's Seat )
Where are all these people coming from?

Traffic has picked up markedly this week, and I can't think of any good reason why. The usual 800-a-day average, after sliding into the middle 700s during the summer, has somehow jumped over 1,000; even Sunday drew 916. I'm not getting any extra linkage that I know about: I'm still ranked just above 3,000th in Technorati, and still in the middle of the TTLB Large Mammal phylum. And while I've had a couple pieces on the Norman splodeydope, arguably the biggest non-basketball story in these parts, I'm hardly leading the way on any of this stuff.

No, I'm not crowding my bandwidth limit or anything. (My host is projecting 8 GB for the month, which is a lot by the standards I'm used to but far from getting into the dreaded Extra-Cost Zone.) But if by some fluke I'm actually doing something right, I'd like to know just what the heck it is.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:00 AM to Blogorrhea )
The last of Pratt's

You have to wonder if maybe J. B. Pratt was too far ahead of his time.

In his thirty years in the grocery business, he came up with some ideas that sounded distinctly odd: he had sections devoted to products actually grown or made in Oklahoma, and he put the organically-grown produce right up front where you couldn't miss it.

This would have worked wonderfully in, say, 2003 or 2004, but it didn't play well in the 1980s and 1990s, and the last outpost of Pratt's modest empire, Shawnee Community Foods, which closed this summer, is about to be auctioned off, part of his company's Chapter 7 liquidation.

Smaller grocery stores survive: Kamp's continues to anchor the Asian District, and Crescent Market, literally as old as the city itself, is still hidden away in Nichols Hills. Braum's has added small grocery sections to some of its dairy stores. But the big story, not unexpectedly, is Wal-Mart, which garners about half the local sales.

The sad thing, I think, is that it would probably take a J. B. Pratt to create the sort of niche market that is needed downtown: his stores were always just enough off-kilter to shake off the stigma of the suburban Big Box. (His Wellmarket in Edmond, opened in 2001, had the right idea, but it closed after half a year.) And Pratt, in Chapter 7 himself separately from the company, is in no position to do so.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:45 AM to Soonerland )
Because you really want to know

Sean Gleeson presents: Ask Harriet!

(McGehee is gonna love this.)

Ahead of my time

I note that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has recently added an online reader forum, which is called The Vent.

It's a pretty good name, if I say so myself.

Spiced up a bit

Erica's Audience Participation regimen:

Give a shout in the comments and...

1. I'll respond with something random about you.
2. I'll tell you what song/movie reminds me of you.
3. I'll pick a flavor of jello to wrestle with you in.
4. I'll try to say something that only makes sense to you and me.
5. I'll tell you my first/clearest memory of you.
6. I'll tell you what animal you remind me of.
7. I'll ask you something that I've always wondered about you.
8. If I do this for you, you must post this on your journal. You MUST.

I duly shouted out, and this is what came back:

1. I love the nickname "Chaz." It's sassy.
2. Standards. Or that classic old stuff that's a little older than "Oldies."
3. As we can see, I've moved on from Jello wrestling to drinks. I'm thinking whiskey. Something sophisticated.
4. I've never seen anyone but Dean actually spew beer through their nose.
5. I'm seeing you sitting in a lawn chair in Dean's front yard. I was all, "Who is this guy?" Hadn't heard you were coming, see. And I've been reading ever since.
6. Goldfish.
7. How did the whole World Tour thing get started?

In answer to #7, it was a combination of three factors: accumulated Wanderlust, which I hadn't been able to work on because of ongoing motor-vehicle issues and low cash flow; scoring a third vacation week at 42nd and Treadmill; and finally, my acquisition in the fall of 2000 of my first new car, ever, which made for even less cash flow but eliminated the vehicle issues.

So, after a decent break-in period, I hit the road. Running.

(I posted this as a comment to her original thread, and decided that it wouldn't hurt to take advantage of #8, even if she did cross it out. Oh, and it's this Dean.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:27 AM to Screaming Memes )
Clamming up

Whatever is going on down there in Norman, they don't want to talk about it:

The warrant used to execute a search of Oklahoma University bomber Joel Henry Hinrichs III's apartment, where an undetermined amount of explosives were found, has been sealed by a federal court at the request of the Justice Department.

Hinrichs blew himself up yards from Oklahoma Memorial Stadium Saturday night while tens of thousands of fans watched an OU-Kansas State football game.

Bob Troester, first asst. U.S. attorney in Oklahoma City, said the department requested the warrant be sealed, but declined to elaborate when asked why it was necessary to do so given previous media reports that a depressed Hinrichs acted alone and on a whim.

"You can draw whatever assumption you like," he said. "We don't comment on any sealed indictments."

Which, of course, is exactly why those documents get sealed: to eliminate possible comments and/or potential tip-offs.

Beneath the surface, the iceberg continues to grow.

(Via A Blog For All.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:58 PM to Soonerland )
Themes like old times

Now this is scary:

  1. Pick one of your favorite blogs (not including your own; we'll get to that), and suggest a theme song for it. Explain.

  2. If your blog (see, I told you) had a theme song, what would it be? Explain.

  3. If your blogging career suddenly collapsed into a steaming mass of putrid refuse because of your inability to cope with its worldwide popularity, and your friends decided to try to revive your spirits by putting on a benefit concert, which musical artist(s) would you hope that they would invite? Explain.

I am nothing if not incredibly foolhardy gutsy.

1.  For Jay and Deb of Accidental Verbosity, the Beatles' "Two of Us," from Let It Be:

You and I have memories
longer than that road
that stretches out ahead

Two of us wearing raincoats standing solo
in the sun
you and me chasing paper
getting nowhere
on our way back home

2.  Sam Cooke speaks for me:

Don't know much about history
Don't know much biology
Don't know much about a science book
Don't know much about the French I took
But I do know that I love you
And I know that if you love me too
What a wonderful world this would be

3.  You mean it's not already a steaming mass of putrid refuse?

Go rent Tom Hanks' That Thing You Do! One of the Wonders' Play-Tone labelmates is a girl group called the Chantrellines, who do a lovely little pseudo-Spector number called "Hold My Hand, Hold My Heart." Acting credits go to Darlene Dillinger, Julie L. Harkness and Kennya J. Ramsey, who probably didn't actually sing on the song, but I'd love to see who did.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:29 PM to Screaming Memes )
8 October 2005
Fatuous Flashback 2

From back when "MoveOn" actually meant something:

[M]ass-market Schadenfreude has given us such ineffable delights as Monster Truck competitions, the Jerry Springer show, and, you guessed it, the House impeachment hearings. Of course, the putative gravity of the situation doesn't make it any less of a farce; the spectacle of the Keystone Kongress scurrying about pretending to be statesmen is far more embarrassing to the rest of the world than anything "inappropriate" the President admits to having done. Still, the news vendors dare not turn their attention elsewhere; while the public piously claims not to be interested in the sordid details, the moment your favorite news source switches to something comparatively important, the public responds by switching to the Olsen Twins. Rubbernecking by remote control! Only in America.

(From Vent #120, 9 October 1998.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:33 AM to Greatest Hits )
Assembling the pieces

As evidence goes, there is circumstantial, and there is really circumstantial.

This paragraph in an Oklahoman story is instructive:

Hinrichs lived near [an] Islamic mosque, had a roommate from Pakistan, had other explosives in his apartment and had tried to buy ammonium nitrate two days before the attack. Those circumstances as well as some news reports have fueled public concern that the bomb was part of a larger plot.

The reporters have arranged these, it appears, in increasing order of relevance.

Living "near" the mosque, for instance, is no big deal: it's located fairly close to the University (on George Avenue), so lots of students are in the vicinity, and no one seems to recall ever seeing him there anyway.

In my experience, finance types (like Hinrichs' roommate) tend to be fairly apolitical, but none of the finance types in said experience were Pakistani (like Hinrichs' roommate), so score this as a slight possibility, but no more than that.

There's still the question of what he wanted with this humongous cache of explosives, and anyone who knows anything about the Oklahoma City bombing knows about ammonium nitrate. Unfortunately, for the moment, the answer to this question was washed off the side of a bus with a hose.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:06 AM to Soonerland )
Wretches without ink stains

The News-Journal sort of endorses the Delaware Supreme Court's decision not to force an ISP to reveal the identity of a blog commenter:

Smyrna Councilman Patrick Cahill and his wife, Julia, wanted the court to force Comcast to release the unique Internet identifier of the person who posted criticism on the Delaware State News' weblog. The Cahills claimed the remarks were defamatory, and they wanted the blogger's name in order to pursue a libel lawsuit.

We understand their concern. The remarks were scurrilous. By hiding behind the Internet's anonymity, the author showed an utter lack of backbone.

But freedom of speech would not amount to much if it were only guaranteed for pleasant, flattering talk. The rights of the unsympathetic pamphleteer must be guarded as well, so that everyone's rights will be preserved.

Fritz Schranck points out that the News-Journal editorial is itself unsigned, and adds:

In that respect, perhaps the Supreme Court was also quietly making a point to the state's newspapers, who are sometimes quick to take issue with the court's decisions in other cases.

After all, the old adage that one shouldn’t pick a fight with folks who buy their ink by the ton doesn't quite ring so true anymore — not when one can respond quite effectively with just a few thousand pixels.

Text of the ruling in PDF format here.

(Prompted by Lynn S.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:42 AM to Blogorrhea )
Burqa's law

Traffic percentagesAbout five years ago, there was a little Web toy to generate "glam names"; the name of a friend of mine, fed into the form, was rendered "Nova Hotsex", and that was the name I used for her on this site in those days. Generally speaking, this falls under the heading of No Big Deal. But today, I was looking at the site stats via Analog, which produced the table to your right (which has been edited to remove IPs not pertinent to this piece), and you'll notice an awful lot of IPs in the 212.138 range. A call to a Whois produced the following notation: Part of this IP block has been used for proxy/cache service at the National level in Saudi Arabia. All Saudi Arabia web traffic will come from this IP block. If you experience high volume of traffic from IP in this block it is because your site is very popular/famous of Saudi Arabia community.

This, of course, seemed implausible: what would the Saudis want with this site? So I went back and matched up IPs with referrals, and every last one of them was Googling for "hotsex" and was fed the link to Nova. Perhaps Riyadh has decided that this search string is sinful and is duly punishing the searchers by referring them to me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:34 PM to Blogorrhea )
The acrid smell of brake material

Not to mention flat-spotting the tires, which are about to be replaced anyway.

The story is hard to figure from two positions back, but so far as I can tell, the doofus in the aged Infiniti got about a car length and a half beyond the intersection and stopped cold, prompting the Cadillac right behind to do likewise. I was barely underway, so the pedal got only a slight tap.

A few seconds passed, the Infiniti moved on, and then stopped again. This time both the Caddy and I were moving at a decent clip and had to burn it off in a hurry. M. de Ville did a very quick 90 and got the hell out of the way; I dropped back until the doofus had picked up about three or four car lengths before hitting the gas again, and then took the next turn off.

"If you don't know where the hell you're going, don't go there on Saturday afternoon" is always good advice, and doubly so on May Avenue.

Then again, about three hours earlier, somebody of similar smarts, westbound on Britton, decided that it wasn't worth waiting for the left-turn signal at May to come around again and followed the last car through despite a total lack of yellow — and totally not noticing the presence of a Village police officer, pointed southbound on May and in position to give chase. Easier busts than this you will seldom find.

Compared to those frugal SUVs

I continue to get search queries for the gas mileage on the Bugatti Veyron 16.4, which is currently in production, which costs, as Dr. Evil might say, one MILLION euros, and which apparently can actually reach its top speed of 400 km/hr, a couple of ticks over 250 mph.

At this price, what could you possibly care about fuel consumption? Still, Wolfgang Schreiber, head of Bugatti engineering, assures you (in Automobile, 11/05) that it's "acceptable":

In normal use, the Bugatti typically betters 12 mpg. At full throttle in top gear, however, you are looking more at something like 4 mpg.

This is pretty close to what my sister got out of her Dodge Li'l Red Express Truck, which wasn't nearly as fast. Or as expensive.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:16 PM to Driver's Seat )
9 October 2005
Squirrels on crack

That's right, squirrels on crack.

I have been accused from time to time of coming up with an article just because it fits a title that's been kicking around in the back of my head. Occasionally this is even true. But never before have I even contemplated the idea of squirrels on crack.

Although Rita has.

(Via Jacqueline Passey.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:31 AM to Dyssynergy )
Porpoiseful travel

Technically, it's a Variable Attitude Submersible Hydrofoil©, a fully-enclosed watercraft that can operate on the surface or dive for short periods.

More familiarly, it's known as the Bionic Dolphin™, and what amazes me about it is that it's controllable over the same three axes as aircraft (pitch, roll and yaw), something you find in submarines but not in surface watercraft.

I don't even want to know how much it costs.

Show-offs

It's way late at night, I'm sitting here looking at Michele's boobs, and she says:

Aren't all bloggers exhibitionists at heart, anyhow?

And I suppose we are: it's not a function of clothing, or the occasional lack thereof, but the willingness to put ourselves on display, as Cromwell is supposed to have instructed the artist doing his portrait, "warts and everything."

Some blogs deal with the most intensely personal topics you can imagine; others don't come close. I think we set a boundary for ourselves in advance and seldom if ever venture beyond it, though where that boundary actually lies is going to be different for each of us, and what's more, our individual comfort zones seem to be subject to occasional variation. (Once in a while I go back and reread some of my stuff, and "What was I thinking?" isn't at all an uncommon reaction on second sight.)

There's potential for conflict as the boundary comes closer: "Do I cut off the story here, or do I bring in all the gory details?" I usually compromise and bring in some of the gory details, on the dubious basis that if I had cut off the story, I really had no reason to post it, and then I'd be scratching around for something else to write about. (The price I pay to maintain the fiction that I am some sort of prolific writer.)

Still, there's at least a hint of "Look at me!" in almost every post, personal or not, if only because we'd like to think that someone is in fact looking: this is why God, or Dave Smith anyway, invented Site Meter. And I'm not above wording something to make it look like more is going on than there really is.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:46 AM to Blogorrhea )
Oh, and bring your own chalk

Our man with the high explosives in Norman presumably violated the majority of these helpful rules for Philadelphia suicides:

1. Make sure you're dressed. Mom always said to wear clean underwear — and a pair of pants wouldn't be a bad idea, either.

2. While you're at it, take a thorough shower. Even fresh corpses tend to give off an unpleasant odor.

3. Use the restroom beforehand. Otherwise, Mother Nature will do it for you — usually at the exact moment the officer picks up your body.

4. Lie down, legs straight, and arms at your side. Body bags and stretchers don't accommodate people with legs akimbo. Rigor mortis is a helluva thing.

5. Try and be tidy. If you're going to use a gun to end it all — especially via the melon — wrap the back of your head in towels and blankets. Ever try to get blood out of shag carpet? It's a bear.

Other than suggesting that you take your shower before you get dressed, I wouldn't change a thing. Those of you inclined to off yourselves, please consider the impact of your act — if not upon your immediate family, then certainly upon the investigating officers.

Justice much as ever

Matt Barr reads John Tierney so you don't have to:

To choose a nominee, we should do more than rely on the president's word or on a confirmation hearing in which [Harriet] Miers will be determined to say nothing of interest. We need the best process available today to determine the nominee's real-world credentials.

That, of course, would be a reality TV show. Pit Miers against other would-be justices in "Road Rulings," which would test their real-worldliness as they traveled the hinterland in an RV. They'd cope with the arcana of daily life. Do they know what a gallon of milk costs? Can they pump their own gas?

They'd emerge in small towns and large malls to test their legal skills. Can they help someone beat a speeding ticket? Can they arbitrate a divorce settlement? How will they apply the Supreme Court's definition of obscenity when they hear a case by a church group demanding that a newsstand stop selling Hustler and Barely Legal? Can they explain to a family why it would be a "public use" for the government to take its home to make room for Costco?

Of course, should this turn out to be a ratings hit, they'll drag it out for as long as possible, but Tierney's thought of that too:

If this competition seems too time-consuming — I realize we have a vacancy to fill — then we could instead quickly replace Miers with a nominee who already has the perfect credentials, starting with her sex. She's an experienced judge yet hasn't ruffled feathers with rulings on constitutional law, and no one can accuse her of living in a judicial monastery.

Just this week she has dispensed justice to a tenant accused of making $3,000 in 900-number calls, a woman battling with her nanny over a loan for back surgery, and a 9-year-old girl accused of popping wheelies and wrecking a motorized minibike at a birthday party. If real-world experience is what the Supreme Court requires, all rise for Justice Judy.

I like. But how does Judy rate on the mysterious Poindexter factor?

Quote of the week

By Lindsay Beyerstein:

Hillary Clinton reminds me why Chuck Schumer is my second-least favorite New York senator.

I couldn't possibly fail to disagree with her less.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:49 PM to QOTW )
10 October 2005
Tripoli recommended

A better Nobel laureate than IAEA and Mohamed El-Baradei? Debbye Stratigacos makes the case for an alternative Peace Prize winner:

[T]hey should have given the award to Libyan Head of State Omar Muammar al-Ghaddafi. It was through him (albeit indirectly) that the black market of nuclear weapons technology and Dr. Khan were exposed. At least one source was actually shut down, which is more than the IAEA has accomplished.

Me, I'm just grateful they didn't cobble up another award for the late, unlamented Yassir Arafat.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:01 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Escape from Malibu

Found on the local craigslist:

I'm a script writer and thinking about moving to OK ... because I can sell my house here and get one hell of a cool one in your country!

Politically, I'm in the center. Left on social issues; and I'm a "soft and cuddly" atheist: I'm not an enemy of religion, I just don't believe.

My friends say I'm CRAZY for even thinking about a move to OK ... they say the religious right will "kill" me; and, there is no "culture."

I don't believe it! Should I consider a move? What do you think? Does OK want a happy open-minded atheist in their midst. Hey, I always tell my religious friends that they just could be right ... I'm always ready to change my mind.

I've been here thirty-odd years, and the number of people actually killed by the religious right during that period seems fairly minimal. There is plenty of proselytizing, to be sure, but everyone reacts to it differently; the sort of person who takes the slightest mention of any deity as a threat is probably not well-suited to life on the Windy Plains. Me, I consider it to be just like telemarketing: it can be an irritant, but nowhere does it say that I have to pick up the phone.

Our writer says he's "happy," which is a plus, and when he finds out how much of a house he can get here for, say, a quarter-million, he might well be ecstatic, though probably not inclined to attribute said ecstasy to divine intervention.

And I am not inclined to discourage someone just because he's "left on social issues"; it's a minority viewpoint around here, to be sure, but active crushing of dissent is conspicuous by its comparative absence. A lot depends on how insistent he is on being surrounded by like-minded souls.

A reply to the fellow asserted baldly that "coming here will murder your muse," which is maybe a half-truth: frustration plays hell with the creative process, to be sure, but no muse I know of takes it as anything more than a challenge.

Of course, in my idea of the best of all possible worlds, he arrives the same day as Steve H.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:07 AM to Soonerland )
In the dark all cats are grey

Benjamin Franklin, tongue perhaps in cheek (though we'll never know for sure), once explained why younger men should seek out older women, and this is the sentence that always struck me the hardest:

The having made a young Girl miserable may give you frequent bitter Reflections; none of which can attend making an old Woman happy.

Not that I have any experience making old women happy — for now, we will overlook the young ones I may have made miserable — but that's not why we're here.

A fellow identified as "Steve Trevor," noting a reference to Harold and Maude in this Donnaville post, commented as follows:

I can tell you, anecdotally, that when I was a 21 year-old college junior, I dated one of my professors, who was 54 at the time.

She was childless, divorced, and had a PhD in British History. She looked about 45, and drove a pretty cool Nissan 300-ZX. We often enjoyed the symphony, opera, and other cultural events.

I loved her dearly; she most definitely provided me with a proper initiation to the finer things in life, and the countless joys of dating older women.

Older women tend to know what they like, and aren't perpetually indecisive. Their physical passion may not be at the same level as younger women, but the emotional intensity and bonds formed are purer, and sweeter.

To all the male readers of the Donnaville, you haven't truly lived until you've dated a woman in her late-40s or older. If nothing else, the experience will provide you with a good life barometer. The fiery intensity of an older woman's kisses, alone, is worth the experience.

I never claimed to have truly lived, and I suspect I would have thought twice before posting something like that to the blog of a woman barely into her thirties, but maybe that's just me and my off-center sense of propriety.

Still, I suspect that there's truth to what he says, and really, there are worse things in life than being on the same side of an issue as Ben Franklin.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:27 AM to Table for One )
Actually, one's a crowd

"Well, if some doofus in Oklahoma can make a bomb, so can I."

"Me, too!"

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:25 PM to Dyssynergy )
Six will get you five

From The Clog Almanac:

Name 5 items located within 6 feet of your computer that are metaphorically, literally, or otherwise connected. Explain briefly.

Besides the actual desk itself, there are five pieces of wooden furniture in this room, a room small enough to enclose them all within a twelve-foot diameter. Clockwise from north-by-northeast:

1) The box itself sits upon a small end table, not quite two feet off the ground. There is a lower shelf, which contains a power strip and whatever happens to get thrown there.

2) The remains of a video rack — the swinging doors disappeared years ago — support my scanner (which is legal-size, so it needs a lot of support), my answering machine (which is downright tiny), various tools, and a twenty-year-old cassette deck, should I decide to dub a tape to CD.

3) A small drop-down desk (there was a matching chair, but the operative word is "was") contains everything pertinent to paying the bills, which, given the number of bills I have, is quite a lot.

4) A bookshelf reaches nearly to the ceiling, and is almost completely full.

5) An old chest of drawers, painted white, holds up my small shelf system and a Cambridge SoundWorks Model 88 radio (one of two I own). In years past, this chest held about four hundred tapes, but at the moment, only one drawer is full; it contains about ten years' worth of photographs and the attendant ephemera.

What all these have in common, besides the fact that they circle my chair, is the fact that I got none of them new. The end table and the video rack were garage-sale purchases; the desklet once belonged to my ex, but was passed to me with the rest of the second-best furniture at breakup; the chest was salvaged from the woodchipper, or some similar fate; and the bookcase was presented to me by a friend who now has built-in book storage — which she should max out any day now, if she hasn't yet.

Not exciting, perhaps, but this is not a room wherein a great deal of excitement takes place, as those who saw my dubious television appearance may recall.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:51 PM to Screaming Memes )
And now, a word from Pore Jud

Well, maybe not, since he's daid.

But listen to Meryl:

In what universe did any Oklahoman ever talk like the actors were taught to do in the film Oklahoma!?

They used a dialogue coach to get them to mangle those accents.

Jus Addiss was laughing all the way to the bank.

Or should that be "laffin’"?

He probably don't kyeer.

I'd say something here, but someone would no doubt remember my origins in northern Illinois.

And besides, sometimes it's fun to work the stereotypes, as I did the first time I visited Joisey.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:09 PM to Soonerland )
11 October 2005
Today's election

A lot of school districts are hoping to get bond issues approved, but here in the Big Town, unless you're in one of those districts, there's only one matter on the ballot: changing one line of the franchise agreement between the city and Oklahoma Natural Gas.

Under the current agreement, business customers who buy gas from an ONG competitor but still use ONG's pipelines — there are about three hundred such — don't have to pay the three-percent franchise fee. The new wording will specify that anyone using ONG delivery systems must pay the fee, regardless of the origin of the gas.

The new franchise agreement, if approved by voters, will be in effect for five years.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to City Scene )
Elitism by proxy

Who suffers from (or perhaps enjoys) it? Andrea Harris has the details:

[M]any people ... have suddenly revealed a perplexing attachment to academic credentials that was not in evidence in the many red-state blogger sneers directed at the shenanigans of the "snobbish" liberal intelligentsia. But maybe I'm wrong — maybe they reconfigured the definition of "elitist" while I was sleeping, just like they apparently reworked the definition of "conservative" to mean "supports the War on Terror but otherwise is indistinguishable from a liberal Democrat."

Gotta love that word "shenanigans": it conveys both malfeasance and triviality.

What the TruCons want, of course, is someone so plainly hard-right that (s)he doesn't even have to write any opinions: they'll already know how it's going to come out. The President didn't give them one, and I suspect it's because he figured those same TruCons didn't have the stones to get one through the Judiciary Committee, let alone the full Senate. The spectre of Donald Rumsfeld, I suppose: "You work with the Congress you have, not the Congress you want."

Oh, it's going to be great fun the next couple of weeks as Republicans force themselves to crib from the Democratic How To Obstruct A Nomination playbook. Those Texas gals (and I used to be married to one, so I know what it's like) can really mess with your head.

Low turnout?

I don't recall ever seeing it this low. At 10:30 am I got to my precinct and cast ballot #6. The poll workers said they'd be surprised if they finished the day with a dozen. The Election Board, or somebody, really ought to put some thought into combining some of these issues, or, if they're sufficiently subcritical, figure out some way to postpone them to November.

(If you're thinking "What election?" read this.)

Addendum, 12 October, 1:20 pm: I'd say 2.6 percent is pretty low. The measure passed with about 62 percent of the vote.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:25 AM to City Scene )
Where you won't find lottery tickets

Pawn shops, cash-advance and check-cashing storefronts in Oklahoma will not be selling lottery tickets; the Oklahoma Lottery Commission has so decreed.

In a separate action, local 7-Eleven stores have decided not to carry the tickets, reasoning that keeping that much cash on hand is not something they want to do.

Approximately 1200 stores will be selling the tickets starting tomorrow, about a third as many as the Commission had hoped.

Addendum: Bubbaworld points out:

Neither Governor Henry or the concerned lawmakers have announced any plan to deter financially strapped Oklahomans from purchasing lottery tickets at a convenience store next door or down the block from a pawnshop, payday loan company or check-cashing store. But give them time and they will probably propose some silly kind of "distance restriction" wherein convenience stores, gas-stations and other merchants within a specified distance of the businesses today prohibited from selling lottery tickets are also banished from their sales.

I wouldn't put it past them.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:19 PM to Soonerland )
New shoes for Sandy

Sandy, you may remember, is my most faithful companion, my modest little Mazda sedan, and today she was fitted with a whole new quartet of tires.

I have yet to explore the outer limits of their performance — it's seldom wise to do so on fresh rubber anyway — but the Dunlops seem to have plenty of stick, and while I didn't install a soundmeter in the car, I'd guesstimate they're about 1.5 to 2 dB quieter than the OEM Bridgestones, which at 65 mph is quite noticeable.

And three cheers for A to Z Tire at 10th and May, who installed these donuts this morning in about 45 minutes, and who apparently didn't have to rush to do it: their service envelope (free rotation every 7500 miles) contains a couple of cryptic notations which turned out to be the factory-recommended figures for air pressure (32 psi) and lug-nut torque (85 lb/ft). (And no, they didn't use an air wrench; I watched.) The Tire Rack has a feedback system to rate its installers; these guys were already at the top of the heap, but one more round of praise won't hurt.

Oh, and incidentally, my projection of $100 in installation cost was way high; including the state waste-disposal fee, the tab came to $72.50, bringing the total for all this stuff to just under $340. Not bad, and I shouldn't have to do this again for at least four years.

12 October 2005
Unnecessary mobility

Were this on Fark, the description would end with "Still no cure for cancer."

For now, we have this:

The position in which you sleep at night — whether it's all curled up in a fetal position or sprawled out across the bed — reveals your personality, Reuters reports of new research from Britain's Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service.

Led by Chris Idzikowski, the team has identified six common sleep positions and the personalities of the people who sleep that way. "We are all aware of our body language when we are awake, but this is the first time we have been able to see what our subconscious says about us," he told Reuters.

I don't sleep particularly well, and during a typical night I will assume two, maybe three, of the six positions. (Curiously, my afternoon nap, on those rare days when I get one, is in yet another.)

I do admittedly take up a lot of space; the fetal position is not for me. The most likely explanation for this, though, is the extremely low probability that I'd be sharing that space.

(Via Acidman.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Dyssynergy )
Inner-city blues

Miriam is deceived by Mapquest and winds up lost on the far side of Wilmington, something I've managed to do myself without computer assistance.

This aside in her last paragraph, though, will pin some people's How Dare You meters:

BTW, just asking, why isn't MLK Blvd ever in a really nifty part of town? I, personally, would not like Miriam St to be a place with boarded up businesses and decrepit houses, but that's just me.

I will say only that it's difficult to zone a parcel, or a neighborhood full of them, for maximum nift, and that the only road I know of named after me (which almost certainly isn't named after me) is actually in a really nifty part of some other town.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:47 AM to Dyssynergy )
Delphi as an oracle of sorts

In the 1990s, General Motors spun off its parts business to a separate company called Delphi. This past weekend, Delphi's US operation filed for bankruptcy. What does this portend? Peter M. DeLorenzo, in his capacity as the Autoextremist:

[The bankruptcy of] Delphi, in effect, is the equivalent of the canary in the mineshaft, signaling an entire industry — and the nation — that the domestic auto industry is at the precipice of unthinkable disaster. Detroit is competing at a dramatic disadvantage in every phase of the game — and its stratospherically out-of-whack cost structure is just one part of it. The other part lies in the predatory trade policies, currency manipulation practices and home market protectionism as practiced by Japan, Inc., Korea and China that Detroit is dealing with on a daily basis.

Given the fact that something like one out of every eight jobs in this country is connected somehow to the automobile, this isn't good news for anyone. And where Detroit goes, so goes the nation:

The implosion of Detroit will also be a dramatic wakeup call for the nation itself. This country cannot continue on the path it's going without dealing with the fundamental issues of health care and pensions. And our government simply cannot continue to allow its trading partners to competitively exploit our industries — to the long-term detriment and deterioration of our own manufacturing base.

The Delphi bankruptcy marks the beginning of the end for an industry and a way of life, as we know it. It also affords this industry and the country a golden opportunity to reinvent and reposition itself for a brighter, more competitive future.

When one door closes, another opens. But look for some folks to figure out a way to jimmy the locks.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:23 AM to Driver's Seat )
Mired in the spellcheck jungle

An observation from Jonah Goldberg:

I find it mildly interesting that Miers' last name seems to be the most routinely mispelled [sic] name in all my years on the web. I would say somewhere close to half of all my email — pro and con — misspells her name. I searched Google News for "Meirs" and a shocking number of news outlets have her name wrong in headlines. I have no idea why this would be so, but it's odd nonetheless. It's not like Bush nominated General Shalikashvili.

Microsloth Word 97, confronted with "Miers," suggests "Mires," "MIA's," "Mie's," "Miens" and "Myers." I trust you can write your own jokes.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:58 PM to Dyssynergy )
Title I'd wish I'd come up with

Jan the Happy Homemaker, describing the pain and sorrow associated with trees that shed in mass quantities: No Cedar Makes Your Life Easier.

Even got a smile out of Mr. Clean, I'll bet.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:07 PM to Blogorrhea )
160

The number of acres in a quarter-section; also, the sum of the first eleven primes.

Speaking of which, there's prime bloggage in Carnival of the Vanities #160, hosted this week by Chris Hallquist, the Uncredible Hallq. I believe him.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:29 PM to Blogorrhea )
Apocalypse eventually

But not now, if you please.

Meanwhile, surely this corresponds to the opening of a seal: a reunion of The Archies.

My heart is going bang-shang-a-lang just thinking about it.

13 October 2005
Breaking even

I said this last month:

At what point do renewables become less expensive than fossil fuels? I buy 600 kW from OG&E's wind farm every month at two bucks a 100-kW unit; in exchange, the fuel-adjustment factor is eliminated from the bill.

And for that month it came close to being an absolute wash:

[W]ith natural-gas prices out of sight for almost half the billing period, the difference between electricity from gas and electricity from wind was a whole twenty-three cents out of a $95 bill. I have to assume that the tipping point is well within reach.

It's here. Knocking off the fuel adjustment this month saved $12.04, which is four cents more than I spent to support the wind farm.

Okay, it isn't enough to retire on, but natural-gas prices aren't exactly headed downward, you know?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:16 AM to Family Joules )
On the upside, there were no lines

Ward 8 Councilman Pat Ryan thinks municipal ballot issues are too difficult to comprehend, and plans to introduce rules which would bring city ballot issues in line with state questions, which are limited by law in size and in reading-difficulty level.

I'd agree, generally, but I think the greater contributor to the miserable turnout Tuesday was the fact that hardly anyone knew there was an election going on: with no obvious proponents or opponents, there was no advertising, and while the Oklahoman devoted half a page to the matter Sunday, even deciphering the text of the measure, if you didn't see the "Vote Here" signs at your local polling place — or if you didn't read this — you likely never would have known.

I still think they ought to bundle these housekeeping issues and such and drop them on the November ballot with the stuff that (some) people actually care about.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:37 AM to City Scene )
Well, there's that greed factor, too

What's the real attraction of the new lottery?

At one Tulsa convenience store Catherine Davis said she was on her way to gamble at a tribal casino when she stopped to try her luck at the lottery. Davis says it's just "the thrill of scratching something."

Catherine Davis, I must point out, is a woman. Men don't have any problem finding things to scratch, or times to scratch them.

(Via Steven Roemerman.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 AM to Soonerland )
Who's gouging you?

William Sargent identifies the culprits at The Truth About Cars:

[I]f high gas prices were solely and inexorably linked to the price of oil, why are there still enough cheap plastic toys to keep your local Dollar Store in business? Why have disposable diapers, polyester pillows, Tupperware, hula hoops, toy dump trucks and other petroleum-based products not jumped to three times the price, too? Because they're not subject to the same political and economic pressures affecting gasoline.

When voters elect the latest gladhander to their municipal and state governments, the chemical makeup of the gas down at their local pump is not usually high on their list of priorities. BUT if you're an agricultural activist who wants to sell corn to the government to produce Ethanol, or an environmentalist who believes you possess the magic formula for reducing baby-killing smog in western cities, well, that's a different story. These groups are extremely effective at lobbying government at the state and local level to create a "boutique" gasoline formula to further their cause. As a result, Missouri gas isn’t good enough to burn in California, whose gas cannot legally be sold in New York City or parts of Arizona.

Which, of course, you already knew.

But there's one more factor:

Back when gas was $2.00 a gallon, industry experts speculated that speculation was adding five to seven cents to a gallon of gas. In the wake of hurricanes, the "investor effect" has been both more volatile and more pronounced. Basically, some heavily moneyed folks are betting against The Truth About Oil; they’re making a short-term gamble that the price of oil will keep going up. Because this strategy has been successful in recent years, more commodities investors are doing it, which inflates the demand (and price) of oil (and gas).

Can you say "bubble"? Sargent believes it's about to burst:

Fellow enthusiasts and SUV salesmen fear not: gasoline will be cheap again within a year or two. The price will return to the $1.00-$1.50 range, just like it was back in December of '02.

Suits me. My lawn mower doesn't much like that $2.75 stuff.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:20 PM to Family Joules )
The old sixty-forty

Former KWTV meteorologist Paul Bouchereau, in this week's Oklahoma Gazette:

The beautiful thing about television news formats is, if you leave Oklahoma City and go to Detroit, the basic format of a newscast is the same. The first 12 minutes are news, the middle five minutes are reserved for weather and the final four minutes are for sports.

He doesn't, however, go into detail about the unbeautiful thing about television news formats: those 21 minutes are somehow squeezed into a 35-minute time slot.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 PM to Overmodulation )
14 October 2005
We have ways of making you save

The American savings rate is somewhere between not much and nil, which has prompted a couple of card issuers to introduce cards that put some money aside.

The simpler of the two is the American Express One card, which has a typical 1-percent rewards package — but which takes those rewards and deposits them in a savings account in your name. (Currently it's paying 3.15 percent.) You can, of course, deposit funds in the account on your own. Amex stakes you to $25 to open the account, and waives the $35 annual fee the first year.

If you have a debit card from Bank of America, you have a new option called Keep the Change, in which debit-card transactions are rounded up to the next higher dollar and the overage is deposited to savings. (If you spent, say, $82.45, B of A will debit your checking account $83 and drop 55 cents in savings.) As an incentive, B of A will match the savings deposits for the first 90 days, and kick in five percent a year thereafter (maximum $250).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:22 AM to Common Cents )
The head Hornet's nest

I'm trying not to read too much into the purchase of a small Nichols Hills home by George and Denise Shinn; speculation has run rampant that this is yet another sign that the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets will never return to the Crescent City.

The team's PR man isn't suggesting anything like that:

"He did say off-hand that he bought the smallest house in the biggest neighborhood. It's certainly not palatial but will be comfortable for them while they are here," [Michael] Thompson said.

And it's not like you can't find houses bigger than 2400 square feet in Nichols Hills.

Why buy? I suppose the answer is the obvious one: he expects to turn over the property in a year or so for a profit.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:18 AM to Net Proceeds )
On the subject of small homes

The price of entry to my block is now $109,900.

No, really, I mean it. And that's up twenty thousand from last fall, even.

Evidently I'm not doing a very good job of repelling the neighbors.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:02 AM to Surlywood )
From Sussex with love

"Your name, sir?"

"Schranck. Fritz Schranck."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 AM to Entirely Too Cool )
Return-authorization blues

Further indications that the damned are working tech support:

"Just send us an email, Donna"

"An email?"

"Yeah, put it in an email."

"Let me repeat myself, MY COMPUTER IS IN A BOX ON A FEDEX TRUCK"

"Oh! I guess you can't send an email then can you?"

This is not quite "Browser not working? Visit [URL] for online help," but it's close.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:28 PM to PEBKAC )
It's a start

Gary-Williams Energy's Wynnewood Refining Company, the nation's 97th largest, will expand capacity nearly 30 percent over the next two years.

Wynnewood, fifth in size among Oklahoma refineries, will be able to process 70,000 barrels a day, up from 55,000. Alongside the additional capacity, the refinery will add new environmental equipment.

Tax incentives? Well, yeah, there's that.

Gary-Williams acquired the Wynnewood facility in 1995 from Kerr-McGee; it produces gasoline, diesel, jet fuel, solvents and asphalt.

Well, that's one way to do it

The unemployment rate in the Tulsa metropolitan area has dropped from 6.7 percent to 4.1 percent.

Mayor Bill LaFortune is happy to take credit for the decrease, whether it occurred within the city of Tulsa or not.

The Mad Okie would like to know if LaFortune will take credit for the continuing decrease in Tulsa population as well:

[I]s this something that the mayor of Tulsa should be proud of? Or, is he hoping people don't bother looking at the numbers.

If the latter, his hope is, um, misplaced.

(Via Tulsa Topics.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:28 PM to Soonerland )
The inevitable Hornets blog

A chap named Billy is blogging as "Hornets Fan" at LOOK@OKC. We know this much: he has season tickets, and he has ten questions he'd like to see answered.

Number 2 looks interesting: "Who will have the most bizarre injury and what will it be?" I think he might be right with his first guess: "Coach [Byron] Scott with turf toe from kicking a chair."

15 October 2005
Fatuous Flashback 3

The return of Beetlemania:

The New Beetle, I suspect, will arouse mixed emotions. It is, of course, terminally cute, and will likely supplant VW's Cabriolet as the national Chick Car. And retro everything (except maybe MS-DOS) seems to be in vogue. But one of the original Bug's strongest selling points was its utter simplicity; even if perhaps you couldn't fix it with the contents of the average teenage girl's purse, you always thought you could, and, thus emboldened, you pressed on with confidence. Modern-day cars, on the other hand, would baffle even MacGyver, and the New Beetle, despite its blast-from-the-past fittings, is still essentially an up-to-the-minute German sedan that, like its brethren from VW and others, will be costly to repair if anything ever goes wrong — and something inevitably will. The guys at Volkswagen may have captured the proper Bug attitude, but it remains to be seen how well they have dealt with the substance.

(From Vent #73, 18 October 1997.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:44 AM to Greatest Hits )
This invisible shield

In the wake of a proposed Federal shield law for reporters, Lindsay Beyerstein has been thinking about the dynamics thereof, and they seem to cut both ways:

The right of a journalist to protect her sources is not a constitutional right. Individual jurisdictions have to decide whether the benefits of protecting the press outweigh the costs.

On the upside, these laws prevent the press from becoming an arm of law enforcement. Think about it. It's a reporter's job to gather information. It's as if a reporter has a big flashing sign over her head that reads "Knows stuff about stuff." There's always going to be a temptation for lazy law enforcers to subpoena reporters instead of doing their own investigation. Add to that the potential for authorities to intimidate and harrass journalists with subpoenas. The threat of a subpoena isn't a trivial one. Testifying can ruin a reporter's career because sources will know that her promises of confidentiality isn't worth anything. During the Nixon years, subpoenas were used as political weapons against troublesome journalists.

Unfortunately, shield laws can also impinge upon a citizen's right to bring all relevant evidence to bear in a legal dispute. Shield protections are also open to abuse by both journalists and sources.

Trying to find the middle ground is no easier here than in other human endeavors. In blogdom, a bigger concern seems to be whether the Citizen Journalist (™ Jeff Goldstein) will be extended the same rights and/or privileges as someone from the Real Live Newsroom, and if the effect of shield laws is to create two tiers of reporters, only one of which is acknowledged to have legitimacy.

Some people see shield laws as pushing journalism towards a professional model. This is a legitimate concern. We don't want the state determining who is or isn't a journalist, nor do we want the state to defer to the mainstream media's judgement about who's entitled to report the news. A state-enforced monopoly on reporting would be totally unacceptable in a free society.

Shield laws don't necessarily put the government in that unacceptable position vis-à-vis journalists, however.

Journalism can't be a profession because professions need gatekeepers. Doctors earn their professional rights by establishing that they are uniquely qualified and by agreeing to abide by a common ethical code. By contrast, journalists don't earn the right to investigate and publish their findings — that's a basic constitutional right that we all enjoy.

Shield laws exist to further the free flow of information in society at large, not to grant special powers to a group of people on the basis of their allegedly superior qualifications. Legitimate shield laws exist in order to create overall conditions under which the press can function optimally. Therefore, shield laws should use functional criteria to determine whether someone is a journalist — i.e., is this person reporting and disseminating information on matters of public concern? If we have shield laws that explicitly exclude bloggers and other non-traditional media workers, then we're faced with the worst of all possible worlds. In that case, the government would be making substantive decisions about who is a journalist based on the medium they publish in, their employment status, or the willingness of a media corporation to vouch for them.

It's fine with me if each case is judged on its own merits, but such an approach is definitely contrary to the presumed extant desire for standardized guidelines.

So: do we really need a Federal shield law? Joel Sax says we don't:

I oppose any "all animals are equal, but some are more equal than others" legislation. [Senator Richard] Lugar wrote this legislation to protect future Judy Millers. I think there is already plenty of adequate protection for honest journalists. We don't need a Saint Judy Law.

And to me, at least, there's the question of whether Lugar was motivated more by concern for the Judys, or for the institutions that deploy them.

Emma Bovary says hi

Phoebe Gleeson noted that T.J.'s curriculum for the month includes Woody Allen's short story The Kugelmass Episode, which of course set me to thinking, and the result is an open thread of sorts:

If you could have yourself transported into any work of fiction, which one would you choose, and why?

As always, be sure to show your work.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:56 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Letter to an overly-avaricious bank

Twenty-two point four nine percent? Not with me, you don't.

The proposed new terms of the Cardmember Agreement are rejected herewith; please cancel this account. Any existing balance will be paid according to the terms as they currently exist.

It's been a good ten years. I was looking forward to ten more, but not at this price.

Yours sincerely,

[signature]

Charles G. Hill

Screen of Death, though not blue

The father of the late Joel Henry Hinrichs III, the OU engineering student who blew himself to the far side of Kingdom Come two weeks ago, has told the Oklahoman that his son left behind an electronic suicide note on his computer.

Joel Hinrichs Jr., in town to clear out the lad's apartment, says that the FBI found the message still onscreen when they searched the place, and disclosed it to him Friday.

The FBI says again they have found no evidence of a rumored link between the younger Hinrichs and various terrorist organizations.

The story will appear in the Sunday edition; as of this writing, it's not on the paper's Web site.

Addendum, 9:30 pm: John Hinderaker at Power Line is not impressed with reassurances given by The Wall Street Journal:

[W]e have no independent knowledge of Joel Hinrichs. We don't know whether he was a free-lance terrorist, part of an extremist group, or just a depressed student. But it simply won't do to cite bland, "no known link" statements by the FBI as an excuse to sweep all questions under the rug. It is important to know whether Hinrichs intended a spectacular terrorist attack at an Oklahoma football game. If he did, it is important to know whether he was inspired by extremist ideology, and it is important to know whether he was part of an extremist group that is still operating. The answers to these questions may be No, No and No. But at this point, we have no reason to believe that the authorities actually know the answers. And the Journal's effort to stifle discussion of the subject is unworthy of that newspaper.

Speaking for myself, I'm still waiting for an explanation of why Hinrichs wanted that load of fertilizer.

Actually, "depressed student" might explain that as well as anything else: "By God, they'll remember me when I'm gone!" A much-used Lincoln Town Car as the equivalent of a Murrah-era truck bomb? Yeah, that'll show them.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:51 PM to Soonerland )
16 October 2005
Broader broadband

A wish list from Doc Searls:

I would gladly pay $100 per month for a block of six IP addresses, no port blockages, and 1Mb of symmetrical service to my home. I would also gladly pay more on a tiered basis for higher levels of traffic and higher grades of provisioned service. Also perhaps for hosting. Offsite data backup (a potentially huge business for which high upstream speeds are required). And perhaps much more. And I'm sure there are millions of small businesses out there that would be glad to do the same. But most of us are stuck with a choice between 1) a shitty asymmetrical service from a phone company that wishes it could still charge for time and distance; and 2) and a shitty asymmetrical service from a cable company that wishes it were still just in the TV channel delivery business. Worse, when these two kinds of utilities each think of expanding beyond their shrinking legacy business, they look to compete with the other utility's shrinking legacy business: TV over phone lines vs. VoIP over cable.

Subtracting the price of the television-delivery service I hardly ever use, I'm already spending $94 a month on these dinosaurs. (Symmetry have I none; I can download at close to 2 Mb on a good day, but upward traffic is capped at 600 kb, and I mean 599.5.)

The answer won't come from fixing the phone and cable companies. There is no hope for them; and they will suck to death. Eventually. (Yes, the ice caps may melt faster, but the trend is still clear.)

And why is that? He explained it the day before:

In the course of talking, way too much, to Verizon and Cox representatives the last few days, it's clear these kinds of companies simply cannot imagine a world where consumers also produce, where demand also supplies, where the Net is anything other than a new way to deliver the same old crap.

Oh, you mean the old same crap. It's out back. Here's the key.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:37 AM to PEBKAC )
Keister parade

The first rap record generally recognized as such was 1979's "Rapper's Delight," a grafting of some South Bronx street nonsense onto a repurposed Chic groove. Except to the extent that their disc sold fairly well, though, thereby establishing the existence of a market for the stuff, nobody is likely to accuse the three guys who made up the ad hoc "Sugar Hill Gang" of being particularly influential; hardly anyone even knows their names.

And while various thugs and blingmeisters have gotten their names, or at least their pseudonyms, into the national discourse, the most important hip-hop disc, I'm starting to think, is Sir Mix-A-Lot's "Baby Got Back." Not only did it sell in the requisite zillions, but the very cut-and-paste culture that made it possible has found incredible versatility in this ballad of bootyliciousness. Richard Cheese (on Tuxicity) cut a lounge version a couple of years back; translations into Latin and Regency English have been carefully undertaken; and most recently, Jonathan Coulton has worked up an alt.country version. In Coulton's own words:

I've wanted to cover this song for a long time, because it is excellent — there's a wonderful message in there for those of you who have big butts. In the proud tradition of many white Americans who came before me I hereby steal and white-ify this thick and juicy piece of black culture.

And we're glad he did.

(Via Chris Lawrence.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:11 AM to Tongue and Groove )
North side, south side, all around the town

Ward 2 Councilman Sam Bowman has drafted a new city ordinance, to be considered by the Planning Commission at its meeting on the 27th, which calls for more sidewalks in Oklahoma City. [Warning: linked site likes to resize browsers.]

Under current rules, developers must build sidewalks along the interior streets of new developments. Bowman's plan calls for sidewalks along the arterial streets as well, and for the continuation of existing sidewalks into infill development in developed areas.

What's more, Bowman wants to see sidewalks placed along existing arteries. He cites May between 23rd and 50th (which is in his ward) as a particularly pressing need.

The area where I live was developed five decades ago. One quirk is that there is a sidewalk on the north-south street nearest to me (this would be Steanson Drive), provided for the residents of the apartments along that street. The sidewalk rounds the corner eastbound — and then stops. If any existing residential street ought to get a sidewalk, mine should; it connects to a major thoroughfare on one end (with a bus stop, yet) and an elementary school on the other. And there's lots of foot traffic.

But it's not likely to happen any time soon. If they continue the existing sidewalk along the north side of the street, they'll have to do some serious leveling: there's a decided slant to the terrain right in front of my house. And they'll have to take out an old elm tree that sits on the property line between my house and the next one to the east. (The alternative is to build the sidewalk on the south side of the street, which wouldn't connect to the existing sidewalk.) Neither of these operations is particularly difficult, and I am not inclined to raise objections to either, but I figure they'll go for more visible stuff in more prestigious neighborhoods first.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:43 PM to City Scene )
Skirtwatchers united

Andy Crossett, who runs the Celebrity Legs Gallery (not always SFW), is running his annual Best Legs poll. The rules:

  • Vote for any TEN (10) female celebrities that you feel displayed the best legs during the year 2005. You can vote for less than 10, but if you vote for more than 10 only the first 10 will be counted.
  • Don't vote for any one woman more than once. If you do, only one will count.
  • Please don't send in multiple ballots from different e-mail addresses.
  • Vote only for women who were alive and in the public eye during 2005. This is not a "best legs of all time" contest.
  • Don't bother ranking your votes — they will all count the same.
  • Please put "2005" somewhere in the subject line of your e-mail.

Send your email ballot to andrewcrossett-AT-earthlink.net before midnight 17 December. Winners will go on display, so to speak, shortly thereafter.

(Warning: Britney Spears won last year.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:23 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Just friends

Alicia at LOOK@OKC distrusts the term:

I have decided that it's possible for men and women to be friends if neither of them want anything other than friendship. Of course this mutual lack-of-nookie & love-seekin' is rare. I spoke with an older male friend of mine who admits that many men will lurk about waiting for their chance ... yet after knowing a female for years, he finally accepted that nothing would happen. In a way, he accepted his role as a friend to her.

I have also decided that men and women can be friends if one or both of them is ugly and non-sexual. In my opinion, men find it hard to be on platonic terms with a female they'd want as a bedmate. Women may find this situation equally frustrating, but speaking from experience, there is a line one can draw between "friend" and "other" that is fairly easy to ascertain and respect.

So, I think men can be friends with women they find unattractive. And vice versa. However, once sexual desire and want come into the picture, the rules change ... as do many of the motives.

Well, maybe. I haven't run up against this particular wall, but this is only because my acceptance "that nothing would happen" usually falls within the first twenty seconds of meeting someone.

And I'm not prepared to argue, as Laura does, that "men do not have a clue how to behave around a woman"; surely some of them must, or the species presumably would have died out years ago.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:15 PM to Table for One )
17 October 2005
Your new doubled mininum payment

As projected here before, it isn't, except in certain odd combinations of balance, fees and interest rate.

Most of the Big Boys are phasing in their new monthly minimums. I quoted one last month, and the others are looking very much like it. A sample, received this weekend:

The Minimum Payment Due will be the greater of either $10 or the total of the following amounts: (a) One percent (1%) of the New Balance on your Account, as shown on your monthly Statement, after first subtracting current cycle Finance Charges and Late Payment Fees; (b) current cycle Finance Charges other than Cash Advance Fees; (c) any Late Payment Fee charged in the current Billing Cycle; and (d) the greater of either any overlimit amounts (less any current cycle Late Fee provided that this excluded Late Fee will not exceed the overlimit amount) of any past due amounts.

After dejargonization, this is essentially the same rule as at that other bank, except for the $10 floor instead of $15.

The bank whose card I dumped this weekend is slightly different: it's either one percent plus finance charges and fees, or two percent overall, whichever be greater. Incidentally, this did not play a role in my decision to cancel that card.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:50 AM to Common Cents )
Lessons from life (one in a series)

An ink cartridge for a Hewlett-Packard DeskJet cannot reasonably be expected to work three years after its pull date.

Hoops-de-do

Lileks won't be going to any NBA games this season:

I participated in a phone survey for the Timberwolves basketball team the other day; asked how many games I intended to attend, I pressed the number indicating "Zero." Asked what was a major factor in my attendance choice, I waited for the option that said "Because it is basketball, and while I have an abstract appreciation of the athleticism and coordination involved in such an enterprise, I would rather sit in a soft chair and read a book. Even a book about basketball." But the survey seemed fixated on matters of price and seat location and disinclined to press the matter of my general objections. Ah well.

I can appreciate this point of view; still, I'll catch a Hornets game or two because, well, when's the last time I went to an NBA game?

Although there's certainly this:

Every sports event I've ever attended eventually felt like I was stuck in traffic. And then, after it was done, I'd get in my car, and be stuck in traffic.

Ah well.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:38 AM to Net Proceeds )
When botulinum isn't enough

"It's the ultimate, death-dealing irony," says Amy Welborn of this:

Britons desperate to halt the ageing process are being injected with the stem cells of aborted foetuses at a clinic that charges £15,000 for a controversial new cosmetic treatment. Despite warnings from biologists in the UK that the process is unproven and could be harmful, dozens of British women have flown to Barbados in the hope that the injections will make them forever young — and possibly even boost their sex drive.

The treatment is also available in Ecuador, Russia and Ukraine, where it was developed by scientists to treat Parkinson's disease and blood disorders. But converts claim that wrinkles can be ironed out and the fresh face of youth restored.

"It is the most natural form of healing there is," said Barnett Suskind, chief executive of the Institute of Regenerative Medicine (IRM) in Barbados. "You think better, sleep better, look better. Your quality of life improves and your libido certainly improves."

And, well, what else are you going to do with an aborted fetus? Squeeze baby oil out of it?

The use of tissue from aborted foetuses has also raised ethical worries. But Mr Suskind said he was "100 per cent sure" the treatment would be available in Britain "within five years". He added that the IRM would publish results of clinical trials in a "highly respected medical journal" by next year, and said the process had been analysed by leading stem-cell biologists in Britain and the United States.

"Ethical worries"? Gee, ya think?

Obligatory Silver Lining: Well, at least they're not embryonic stem cells. Technically.

(Via Andrea Harris.)

Here come the copays

General Motors is expected to spend $5.6 billion on health care for employees and retirees this year, which is plainly more than the General can afford. So it might be good news that GM and the United Auto Workers have reached an agreement to trim that expenditure by half.

The deal must be ratified by hourly workers before it becomes official; so far, no one is telling just how much it's going to cost any individual GM employee. And it may not be enough to save Rick Wagoner's bacon, either.

Active desktop

You don't see Mac OS acting like this.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:50 PM to PEBKAC )
Were this fiction, you'd complain

All the karma you could possibly want:

The first $25,000 winner in the Oklahoma Lottery is a New Orleans man who escaped the wrath of Katrina and wound up in Bethany.

Although the article doesn't make clear how many losing tickets he'd gone through before hitting a winner.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:39 PM to Soonerland )
18 October 2005
Which goes on my permanent record, surely

Following Julie Neidlinger's lead, a list of Ten Sort Of Vaguely Unclean Secrets:

  1. There is a product called MICR-Shield which dissolves the magnetic encoding imprinted on checks during the processing stage. Nasty stuff. In an office prank, I once feigned drinking an entire 6-ounce bottle of it.

  2. I spanked my daughter once. I think I cried for longer than she did.

  3. During the days when I had occasion to drive through the Mojave Desert, I carried extra jugs of engine coolant, and occasionally sold them to stranded motorists at a profit.

  4. I had a heck of a lot more sex before the vasectomy than afterwards.

  5. Only once did I ever try to ice-skate: in a parking lot in central Massachusetts in mid-January. The results — well, I'm grateful they didn't have mass-market portable video in those days.

  6. I once was a bowling-league secretary, and put my own name in for the Least-Improved trophy.

  7. When I was six, two of us first-grade boys had crushes on the same blonde girl; I was actually fool enough to propose a time-sharing plan.

  8. For some reason, I got it into my head that the sexiest possible female foot has a second toe longer than the big one. I say "for some reason" because I have no idea where the idea came from, and because I've never dated anyone meeting that description.

  9. I scored a couple of detentions for possession of a dummy grenade in Latin class.

  10. My ex once hosed me down with Malathion. She swears it was an accident. All I know is that I've never had any problem with Mediterranean fruit flies.

Feel free to go and do likewise. Post a list, I mean.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:24 AM to Screaming Memes )
More strange search-engine queries

Actual stuff that brought people to this site during the past few days:

women prefer erect penis: I'll take your word for it.

"well made bed" "health risk": Not to mention boredom risk.

where to find AOL discs: Any landfill in America, six feet deep.

anger kills 12 ways: Cool, do I get my choice?

blackmail bra "take off your clothes": Smart lingerie is here.

"who wears short shorts" "brian hyland": Better that than an itsy-bitsy, teenie-weenie, yellow-polka-dot bikini, I suppose.

is torture effective: I assume so, since I have repeat visitors.

downsized Borzoi: At least it isn't "bonsai."

effects of housing on self-esteem for Katrina's evacuees: Actually, it's the ones without housing who feel worst.

what's considered 2nd base with hook ups?: Right before the short stop.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:02 AM to You Asked For It )
The blue-hair test

Susanna reports on a school-bus accident in Wisconsin and wonders if maybe the fact that the driver was 78 years old and up past 2 am has something to do with it:

I think that drivers past a certain age should have to undergo testing that measures not just how well you see or hear, but actual reaction time. And I think that there needs to be provision for not selecting an older driver when there will be additional factors of concern — for example, driving a 20 mile loop in the daytime at speeds not exceeding 40 or so mph, in regular traffic that frequently slows you further, is very different from driving at 2 a.m., in the dark, after a day that may be in its 16th or 20th hour, at interstate speeds. The most important thing is the safety of the people involved, not the feelings of the driver. And accusations of "ageism" or "discrimination" need to be shouted down. No one who is 78 years old drives as well as someone who is 48. No one who is 78 drives as well as he himself did at 48. That should matter.

I'm about two-thirds of the way to 78 myself. And in some ways my driving has improved over the last thirty years: I've been working steadily on honing my skills, to the point where, if I'm certainly not qualified for racetrack duty, I definitely suck a lot less than J. Random Lunchpail over there in the center lane. But in terms of reaction time, a significant factor at any speed much over 0 mph, there's no way I'm as fast at 52 as I was at 22; the brain may still be working at close to top speed, but the brain doesn't interact directly with the wheel or with the pedals, and the parts that do don't move as fast as they used to.

To a certain extent, these factors offset one another: I may be ever-so-slightly slower, but experience, which brings with it the additional bonus of lower panic levels, makes up for it — right now, anyway. Should the state demand that I prove I'm still roadworthy when I'm 82, I'm not even going to complain.

Update, 19 October: The bus driver in question seems to have been posthumously exonerated.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:31 AM to Driver's Seat )
Of course, some of us are shameless

Urban Aid presents the Shame On You Kit™:

  • 1 toothbrush (and toothpaste)
  • 1 panty (one size fits all thong)
  • 3 condoms
  • 1 "emergency" phone card
  • 1 packet of pain reliever
  • 1 "leave behind" note

In the case of thongs, I am more inclined to believe that one size fits none, but I suppose that this pack of stuff could be useful in certain situations, and the price ($24) is not out of line.

Of course, the price you'll have to pay for having needed this pack of stuff — but that's another issue entirely.

(Via Lawren.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:25 AM to Entirely Too Cool )
The futilitarian approach to dating

Jay Tea admits it:

I love it when a woman is crying and turns to me for help. It makes me feel all manly and wanted and needed. And if it happens to be a woman I happen to care about a bit, that's all the better.

Which he promptly retracted, sort of:

No, on second thought, I don't. It makes me very angry, and that anger is best sated by finding out what made her cry and causing the person responsible to suffer.

The exact definition of "a bit" remains unspoken, but this parenthetical aside at the end of the post gives me pause:

[B]efore anyone starts playing matchmaker between me and my departing colleague, I've considered it — and rejected it. For one, she's nearly 13 years younger. For another, she's just too damned nice — my rougher aspects would steamroller her, and "nice" people like her should be allowed to continue to be "nice," and kept from getting too close to brutes like me.

Apart from the absence of 39-year-old women in my life, I could have written this myself, and probably gotten this scolding from Francis W. Porretto:

Stop playing at being noble and do what you know you ought. Ask her out to dinner. If she's known you for any length of time at all, she's probably been waiting for it. For you to withhold yourself, and all you can offer, out of concern for her is just a rarefied form of cruelty. Besides, just think how much she'll enjoy working on you.

Those of us who were written off as lost causes years ago tend to question that potential level of enjoyment.

And unlike Jay, I don't feel compelled to take action against Person B who made it necessary for me to provide assistance to Person A. I consider that it is my function to provide assistance, and eventually I'll actually get around to doing it; the identity of the person requesting it is largely irrelevant. (Besides, some people react extremely badly if they think you're playing favorites, especially if you are.)

Oh, and "rougher aspects"? I suppose I'd be bipolar, had I a second pole.

(Half an hour later: a couple of phrases added to reflect Jay's corrections in Comments.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:49 PM to Table for One )
Non-accidental verbosity

Tim Blair, arguably the fastest-driving member of the Pajamas Media (name change pending) Editorial Board, on buying pixels by the barrel:

People wrongly think the benefit of writing online is that you have infinite room to go on, but the true benefit of not being locked into a word count per page is that the writing can be as brief as you can make it. A lot of mainstream journalists could benefit from that. Maureen Dowd, for instance, whose columns I think run to about 850 words, could easily pare her columns down to ten, fifteen or even five words, and that includes the byline.

Assuming two words for the byline, that leaves three words. Were I some sort of quasi-MoDo, I might come up with "I'm so cute!"

Of course, there's always the question of whether my readers might not be better served by a blank page — or by a 404.

19 October 2005
I should hope so

The instructions for the prescription sleep medicine Lunesta™ (eszopiclone) contain the following Dire Warnings:

All medicines have side effects. The most common side effects of sleep medicines are:
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Difficulty with coordination

Drowsiness? I thought that's what I was paying my forty-five bucks for in the first place.

Oh, you mean during the day. Already got that, thanks.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Dyssynergy )
And where does this leave the 'Stros?

What makes this year's White Sox different from, oh, the 46 editions that preceded them?

Could it be, um, the socks?

I mean, really. Look at them.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:08 AM to Dyssynergy )
There's that question again

A rhetorical inquiry from The Subjective Scribe:

Republicanomics has "rescued" our economy from the perilous times of the Clinton years with its prosperity and record growth. To borrow from that great Republican icon Ronald Reagan, "ask yourself this question: are you better off now than you were five years ago?"

Well, yes, I am, though I'm more inclined to credit me than the GOP for my improved position. The tax cuts did help somewhat, although I rather suspect that they won't outlast the current government spending spree.

The AP article quoted by Scribe, though, doesn't support his premise — unless, of course, he's prepared to argue that George W. Bush actually caused all those hurricanes and stuff, and that the US, as a net importer of petroleum, is in a position to dictate the world price. (Which is not to say that Bush hasn't screwed up; it's that these aren't the specific things he screwed up.)

And I've answered this question before, most recently here.

Beyond levitation

Knowing how it's done doesn't ruin it for me: I have a few elementary magic tricks up my sleeve, so to speak, and after all, they do call them "illusions."

Still, I've got to wonder how this is going to come off:

David Copperfield says he plans to impregnate a girl on stage — without even touching her.

Speaking to German magazine Galore, the illusionist rejected the theory that there were only seven different kinds of magic tricks.

He said: "Bull s**t! There is a great deal of new territory to conquer. In my next show I'm going to make a girl pregnant on stage."

He added: "Naturally it will be without sex. Everyone will be happy about it, but I'm not telling you any more."

Maybe we should just ask Tom Cruise.

(Courtesy of Lawren.)

161

In the year 161, Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus became officially co-Emperors of Rome, though Marcus eventually became the dominant figure — siblings, even adopted ones, are sometimes like that — and on Lucius' death became sole Emperor.

I don't know if it's still dominant, but the Carnival of the Vanities is now in its 161st edition. The World According to Nick — Schweitzer, that is — takes its place among the celebrated hosts of the original blog compilation.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:30 AM to Blogorrhea )
It's time to play Name That School

The Edmond school district is building a new elementary school at 17601 North Pennsylvania, and it doesn't have a name yet. They're taking suggestions here.

"Schools," according to the official suggestion form, "shall be named after the following:"

  • A natural event, feature or features
  • Memorials in honor of a deceased community leader, or a deceased national or state leader
  • Historical sites or events
  • Geographical locations
  • Landmark significance

Suggestions must be in before Monday, 31 October; the school should be open next August.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:03 PM to City Scene )
Changing to widely-scattered light in the morning

The sunrise tomorrow is at 7:41 am, which is even later than it happens in the dead of winter.

Another reason why I can't stand Daylight Savings Time.

20 October 2005
From around the corner

I remember being jolted the day I heard Garth Brooks on KJ-103 (!) doing a Billy Joel (!!) song. A "Shameless" ploy, we called it, but hey, it worked. And here I find Monique Gonzales, another Oklahoma country-ish singer with crossover appeal, doing Joel's "Matter of Trust."

Gonzales' first album, Out of Nowhere, issued on the Blanchard-based Triple Tower label, has now arrived at my listening post, and it's pretty decent. Recorded at the Engine Room in Oklahoma City, it's long on heart and comparatively short on overdubs; the nine songs here (there are both English and Spanish versions of "Momma", making ten tracks in all) include a remake of a Garth Brooks recording ("You Move Me"), a lovely take on Dan Fogelberg's "Leader of the Band", and some Oklahoma originals. My favorite of the lot, I think, is the heartrending "Far Side of Lonely," in which Gonzales manages to sound simultaneously wistful and world-weary. There's nothing here likely to bring down the house, but it's better than about half the stuff you're likely to hear on country radio these days.

The old begging bowl

Twice a year, public radio goes through its fundraising ritual; once a year, I send my check and then shut the thing off for a week so as to avoid it. KGOU is passing the hat this week, and KCSC will follow shortly.

Pledge Weeks are the bane of the listener's existence, to be sure, but there's no real alternative yet: relying on the government dole is unacceptable, and "underwriting" announcements are verging awfully close to real live commercials these days. (The operative word, of course, is yet.)

So I kick in my small contribution and grumble. It's basically the same dynamic that prevails when I pay my taxes.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:25 AM to Overmodulation )
Good old skinflint Tom

I tweak Tom Coburn from time to time for being just a trifle ideo-illogical (and if that wasn't a word, it is now), but he does exemplify one characteristic I respect in a politician: chintziness.

His amendment to the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development appropriations bill will reallocate the $220 million for an Alaskan bridge (sometimes, not entirely fairly, derided as the "Bridge to Nowhere") to Katrina relief. And I have to agree with Mike Krempasky:

Friends, this is as easy a call as I've ever seen. If Republicans aren't willing to step back from this idiocy in Alaska to fund the needs in Louisiana — they don't deserve anything more than a snicker next time they try to describe themselves as the party of limited government.

Actually, I think they're probably close to that point already, but I figure the GOP will put up one hell of a fight to keep that bridge, not so much because they care about a handful of Alaskans, but because they, like the Democrats before them, greatly enjoy the ability to hand out taxpayer dollars and see it as the key to reelection.

The Hill inches closer

The Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority has granted design approval for The Hill, an upscale housing development in the Deep Deuce area.

A description from the current Downtown OKC Skyline Snapshot:

The $40 million development features 170 well-planned and created urban homes ranging in space from 1,387 to 3,100 square feet. Amenities include rooftop terraces and balconies on a select number of homes. Every home features large living spaces, elegant living rooms, open dining rooms, gourmet kitchens, oversized bedrooms, generous closets and bathroom space as well as enclosed and attached double car garages. Also, on-site concierge services, fitness club with pool and spa. Homes in this private community come with individual monitored security systems. ADA homes available and WiMAX high-speed broadband give residents of The Hill rapid-fire links to the world. The Hill residential presentation captures the stylish architectural reverence from the 1920 and 1930 heydays of the famed Deep Deuce District, with historically accurate façades influenced by the prominent buildings of the time.

And we're all in favor of architectural reverence, especially if it's stylish. "What we want," said senior designer Rand Sisk, "is for these buildings to look as if they have been here for years."

Construction will begin after the first of the year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:16 PM to City Scene )
Quote of the week

McGehee, in a comment to this post:

The collapse of this administration in the last few weeks is just crucking infredible.

For the moment, Googling "crucking infredible" brings you the response: "Did you mean: trucking incredible".

Um, no.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:10 PM to QOTW )
Ready for Yabba-Dabba duty

After Kofi Annan, who? Fred Flintstone, says Lemuel.

A page right out of history, say I.

(Who was it who asked if I had something against guys named Fred?)

21 October 2005
Bulletproof windows?

The trouble with armored vehicles is that at some point you have to see out of them, and that requires glass, and glass doesn't resist ordnance all that well unless you use so much of it that you can barely see through it.

Now there's a layered aluminum oxynitride armor, backed up by a polymer with just a little glass in the middle. It's nicely clear, and in testing this summer it stopped a .50-caliber round. Try that with glass.

Right now, the stuff is about twice as expensive as glass, but you have to figure it's going to last quite a bit longer.

(Via Dean Esmay. And no, you can't get bulletproof Windows; Microsoft hasn't figured out how to do that yet.)

Oil things bright and beautiful

During this year's World Tour, I wrote about Pennsylvania's Oil Heritage Festival, and noted semi-snidely that such a thing would never happen here: "Oklahoma is far too embarrassed about its own oil patch ... we'd like to think we're so over that."

Perhaps I spoke too soon. Devon Energy has put up half a million bucks for the construction of a four-acre oil-patch exhibit at the new Oklahoma History Center northeast of the Capitol, which, when it's finished, will start off with a replica of the 1905 derrick at the Glenn Pool south of Tulsa, the state's first major oil field, and cover a whole century of drilling and exploration.

The Oklahoma exhibit apparently won't be as big as the Kansas Oil Museum in El Dorado, which I visited in 2001, but I'm happy to see this state making some sort of acknowledgement of the importance of the oil industry in some way that doesn't boil down to another package of tax subsidies.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:00 AM to Soonerland )
Buncha tall guys in suits

"Meet the Hornets" this afternoon from four to six at Centre Court, Penn Square Mall.

(Yeah, suits. The NBA insists these days.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:34 AM to Net Proceeds )
These go to 11, or maybe 12

Is there some reason why one of the most gorgeous creatures on God's green earth shouldn't have six toes if she wants?

(Via Defamer, who probably doesn't think so either.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:38 AM to Dyssynergy )
File under "Slow News Day"

Polydactylous actresses not entertaining enough? How about modified librarians?

(Found at Lifehacker.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:25 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Fall's mainly an arraign

Lindsay Beyerstein traipsed to Texas to get photos of the Tom DeLay PerpWalk this morning; she's also got relevant posts and other good stuff. For now, it might be easier just to go to the top of the page and scroll down.

Darling Dave's debt service

Michael Wright, writing from Norman, says that OU President David Boren is handling the Hinrichs case this way for one very obvious reason:

Boren's problem is that he is very worried about the financial condition of the athletic program. History shows that revenues from ticket sales and donations fall after losing football seasons. At the time of this writing, Coach Bob Stoops had lost four of the past seven, including the January '05 Orange Bowl fiasco. Texas Tech and Nebraska will probably be favored to beat OU later in the season. Both teams will have the home field advantage. A terrorism scare would also hurt the money flow.

In recent years Boren has indulged Stoops (with other people's money) in these ways:

  1. Huge stadium expansion driving up the bonded indebtedness of the athletic program to $152.7 million:

  2. $2.4 million annual compensation package;

  3. $3 million bonus (if Stoops stays at OU through 2008).

The stadium expansion encumbered OU with an annual debt service of about $5 million for 30 years. Official records confirm that Boren has already been raiding the OU general fund to help out his pals in the athletic department. Due to his extravagant over-spending, Boren is desperate for cash. That explains the huge tuition hikes he has been inflicting on OU students. To deal with these debts, he needs to maximize revenue flowing into the athletic department through ticket sales also. That's why he doesn't want football fans to think they might be at risk of a terrorist suicide bomb attack by going to the games.

Which at the very least suggests that Joel Hinrichs' choice of self-immolation location was perhaps rather astute.

(Suggested by a comment to this post at Gates of Vienna.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:22 PM to Soonerland )
Speaking out of the box

Jon Gabriel has a list of Words That Must Die. It's very unique, not even slightly tentative, and utilizes 110-percent authenticity.

(Leveraged from Matt Galloway.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:41 PM to Say What? )
22 October 2005
Fatuous Flashback 4

"Vengeance is mine," saith the Lord, but who can wait that long?

To my knowledge, no one on earth who has given me grief in the last fifteen years has ever coughed up so much as a perfunctory apology, let alone any reasonable form of compensation. Hanlon's Razor, as least as sharp as Occam's, says "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity," and I am not one to impute malice where it does not exist — admittedly, some people's repetitive failures at clue acquisition make me wonder — but extenuating circumstances won't reduce the workload one bit, and I resent bitterly the notion that I should be forgiving while I sweat.

Some of this, I think, has spilled over into my reactions to the events of the 11th of September. The direct effects on me have been fairly close to nil, but the voice within me is still screaming, "Why isn't someone being roasted on a goddamn spit for this?" Of course, roasting the appropriate someone(s) is not a goal easily attained, as Donald Rumsfeld will happily (or at least serenely) remind you, and then there's all that due-process business in the Constitution that we take seriously, except in the case of people who are believed to possess hemp and/or sidearms, which for some reason annoy the government. And while I'd like to believe I have dovish tendencies — for one thing, it makes it a lot easier to peruse Utne Reader — lately I'm much more of a porcupine than a dove. Coworkers and relatives who consider me to be a prick anyway will be less than surprised.

(From Vent #266, 24 October 2001.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:14 AM to Greatest Hits )
Do your shoes stick to the floor?

Jacqueline goes to the movies and is pleasantly surprised:

So Terrence, his friend Ana, and I went to a movie at the Terra Mall in Cartago tonight. They have something there called the "VIP theaters". These theaters come equipped with faux-leather reclining seats with cupholders and waiters who bring you BEER or COCKTAILS or CREPES or even SUSHI to enjoy during the movie.

Costa Rican civilization is clearly more advanced than ours. It is a good thing for the US that they are a peaceful people, or we would be doomed.

Geez. I'm happy if I can get an actual box of Raisinets for under four bucks.

Now that was weird

TrackBacks from here to TypePad sites have been wonky of late, so for the previous post, I decided to bypass MT's TB routine and use Wizbang's instead.

This is the response I got:

TrackBack error

Okay, I sent that from my desk, and my Web host is in southern California — but why should that matter to TypePad? Linkers to Basil's Blog (see comments) seem to be experiencing the same phenomenon. For now, I'm guessing it's a spam preventative gone horribly wrong.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:16 AM to Blogorrhea )
Love is in the air

Or maybe it isn't. My capacity to judge the condition of the atmosphere is no better than anyone else's, and surely poorer than some.

Then again, I was sitting at a stoplight today behind a black minivan, and the couple therein, in between exchanging words and/or glances, were exchanging brief kisses. This is not something I see particularly often, else I wouldn't have noticed it. I also noticed, mounted on the tailgate, a set of five of the standard-issue Christian fish emblems, two larger ones leading three smaller ones, which I took to be an echo of biological reality for this couple, in which case it's yet another indication that columnist Mark Morford, who for some reason thinks Christians "asexual," is unusually clue-resistant even by the standards of moonbattus barkus sanfrancensis. (Dear Mark: You don't have to worry. You can't be busted for sodomy, even in Oklahoma, for having your head up your ass.)

A couple hours later at the supermarket, and here's a sixtyish couple holding hands as they stride (well, maybe "stride" isn't the right word) across the parking lot.

I never know what to make of what the school administrators have dubbed "public displays of affection." On one level, I want to hurl; on a deeper one, I curse myself for being insufficiently demonstrative, overlooking for the moment the inconvenient fact that there is no one for whom I can perform any such demonstration in the first place. What I can do, though, is fake a smile, put up a brave face. And if that face isn't enough, there should be nineteen others available.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:38 PM to Table for One )
Super marketing

The lead story in tomorrow's Oklahoman business section is about the quest for a downtown grocery store and the inevitable Catch-22 (23.84 including tax) that's standing in the way: grocers won't want to enter the downtown market unless they're sure there are enough potential shoppers in the area, and folks won't move downtown unless they have some place to shop. (A sidebar includes a map of stores "within a 10- to 15-minute drive of downtown," which I think is somewhat suspect, what with its inclusion of places like the Mayfair Market, which, being just this side of 50th Street, is inevitably going to be low on downtown shoppers' lists. The Wal-Mart at Belle Isle is just as far north, but nowhere near as far west; it's basically a straight shot up Classen.)

The kicker to this story, by Steve Lackmeyer and Tricia Pemberton, is the hiring of a research firm by the city's Powers That Be (City Hall, the Chamber of Commerce, and Downtown OKC) to ascertain the best possible site for a downtown grocery store. There's an interesting remark from a partner from said firm, developer Larry Kilduff:

There has been a dis-investment in the urban areas to where you have a hole in the doughnut. But most of these areas still have the density that would support retail. In most of those cities, and Oklahoma City is no different, development has moved far enough away that you find the hole in the doughnut is large enough to support retail again.

Rising dough raises all hopes, or something like that.

In another sidebar, the possibility of a specialty store like Whole Foods or the H.E.B. chain's Central Market is explored. I suspect that one (not both) could do well in the area: there's a core of distinctly-upscale residents downtown, and the stores are sufficiently different from the norm to justify the occasional trip downtown from the 'burbs.

Last winter, I projected that the most likely location for such a store would be just north of Deep Deuce, in the general Flatirons area: new developments are planned for this area anyway, and there would presumably be fairly-easy access from I-235. If I'm correct, I plan to take as much credit for it as possible; if I'm wrong, well, at least I'll check out the new store.

(Update, 6:30 am, 23 October: The story is now online at NewsOK.com.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:07 PM to City Scene )
Fences straddled, inquire within

So far I haven't taken any real position on Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court; while she wasn't my first (or even twenty-first) choice, I'm having too much fun watching a substantial segment of the GOP conveniently forgetting all that "All we ask is a simple up-or-down vote" stuff they blathered about on behalf of, for instance, John Bolton.

While one should never underestimate a Texas woman, and she's easily as qualified for the post as, say, McGehee, and has nicer legs to boot, this is not what I'd consider sufficient recommendation for the highest court in the land. Still, I'm not inclined to make a major fuss just yet, so for now, and with all due respect to N. Z. Bear, I am neutral on the Miers nomination.

23 October 2005
We need our space

Apart from the mold and the leaks and various other offenses against tenancy in general, there's one thing wrong with Andrea Harris' apartment: it's too big.

I keep thinking I'll move out of here next year when the lease is up (my office is moving at the end of this year so the reason for moving here will be gone), and I hate moving too much crap. I plan to move into something smaller, maybe even a studio if I can find one. Want to know what's really funny? I actually miss the apartment I had last year, the one in the lousy neighborhood three bus rides away from anywhere. I think what I miss about it is the way it was open on two sides. It got a lot more light. And there was a park with a lake right across the street, and the neighborhood wasn't that lousy. Also, it wasn’t too big — it was 600 square feet, which I think now is just about the right size apartment for me.

I have had flats from 625 to 930 square feet, and every last one of them played hell with my claustrophobia; right now I live in a 1060-square-foot house, which isn't all that much bigger but which seems to be just about the right size for me. In my case, though, I'm thinking that the real annoyance came not from the smallness of the rental units, but from the necessity of cramming them as close together as possible; I didn't flinch at houses running a mere 800-900 square feet during the buying process two years ago, and I believe it's because considerations of "Geez, how freaking tiny" were overwhelmed by the potential delight of "Omigod, no shared walls!"

Still, there are limits. My younger sister once lived in a tiny stone house on the south side of the city that looked like it had received only perfunctory updates since Fred Flintstone moved out; it tended to make me scream.

Not an aerial view of my bookroom

But close enough. As the title says, it's a few thousand science-fiction covers in a seeming jumble; but as you mouse over each one, you can get an enlarged image and some publishing details. There's a similar engine for Mad magazine and for comics and graphic novels.

(Via Denise Inglis.)

A suitable Halloween libation

Especially if you're having, you know, grownups over:

Vampire Merlot can take on the biggest char-grilled steaks and barbequed pork cutlets that you can throw at it, but it also has the fine elegance of this classic variety, allowing it to be served at parties with buffet foods and dips.

Although there are, of course, precautions to be taken:

The wine's lively, dark purple color will destroy your carpet so be careful!

Which would, as they say, really suck.

Vampire also produces an energy drink, a vodka, and Dracola Cola. Only the merlot, though, seems to have that true Transylvania twist.

(Via Population Statistic.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:05 PM to Worth a Fork )
Saints to be converted?

Chris Mortensen of ESPN is predicting that 2005 will be the last season for the New Orleans Saints, that the team, temporarily berthed in San Antonio in the wake of Katrina, will either remain there permanently or eventually find its way to Los Angeles.

James Joyner is inclined to agree:

While [Saints owner Tom] Benson will be vilified, especially given the public sympathy New Orleans has after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the city is a poor home for an NFL franchise. The Super Dome, while a marvel when new, was a dilapidated, obsolescent stadium even before the storm damage and it is a very small market, indeed — especially considering that it is so close to the much more popular Dallas Cowboys.

San Antonio isn't all that much larger — Nielsen Media Research ranks it 37th, while New Orleans is 43rd — so the team may well end up in L.A. instead of La.

And this adds yet another potential twist to the eventual fate of New Orleans' NBA team, the Hornets, currently settling in Oklahoma City (market #45): if the Saints are definitely gone, there will likely be more pressure on Hornets owner George Shinn to bring his team back to the Big Easy. Then again, the NBA may have another round of expansion in a few years, in which New Orleans might get another franchise to replace the Hornets; the NFL, however, has no plans to expand.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:58 PM to Dyssynergy )
As ascertained by experiment

I have no reason to think that beef at sixteen dollars a pound is anywhere near twice as good as beef at eight dollars a pound, even if filet mignon does sound a little spiffier than your average ribeye.

(We won't get into the fine points of, say, ground beef at $2.89. And before you ask, this was an impulse purchase, motivated by this very spirit of experimentation and by a projected vacant grilling day.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:13 PM to Worth a Fork )
24 October 2005
Timely messages

Last year at this time, I noticed this sign at the Kelly-Moore paint store near 23rd and May: 100% CARB FREE PAINT.

There have been various changes since then, but this past weekend, they'd pared their signage back to a single word: BOO.

Can't argue with that, either.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:13 AM to City Scene )
Does someone know something I don't?

Not that this is difficult or anything.

But I had a Google searcher last night arrive here looking for mel gibson's house in nichols hills oklahoma.

Mad Max beyond 63rd? The mind boggles. (And anyway, the Web site of the County Assessor's office didn't have any records for anything owned by Gibson or Icon Productions.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:04 AM to City Scene )
'Twas indict before Fitzmas

If these guys are at all representative of the rest of the state's liberals, there will be little or no gloating in Soonerland this week.

First, Matt Deatherage:

This is the continuation of a horrible time for the United States of America. Even if you feel personal glee that it just might be nearing an end, please refrain from expressing it in public. The only joy for any of this is that the system may still be working. That's not a "Fitzmas" gift — that's a treasure we've nearly lost and must fight to protect at all costs.

Stop celebrating — there is no festival involved. It's good that our country can peacefully remove even the most odious and treasonous of high officers, but it's tragic that we're being forced to consider it because of the low character of those who hold such high positions of trust. Every celebration you mark over this helps make this "politics as usual" — now and in the future.

Now, the Subjective Scribe:

I look forward to the day this presidency ends. But nothing good comes of a premature demise. For administration opponents, if you consider the line of succession, there's no "savior" waiting in the wings. Only a change in the power in Congress could bring such hope. But that's no guarantee and our nation is weakened in the process. It's during these times that we are most vunerable to our true enemies.

The Fitzmas parties being planned are nothing short of disgusting and shameful — period. To delight in the demise of your opponents impugns your own character and integrity. It truly is the politics of personal destruction. Both sides are guilty. And it's what continues to disenfranchise Independents and those in the center. And it's what continues to destroy America.

While I appreciate their efforts to support a perspective with dignity, they may be setting the bar just a trifle high: while a stack of indictments is clearly not good for the country, I think people can be forgiven for cracking a smile under the circumstances, though actual partying would surely be unseemly. (Solemnity, at times, is its own punishment.) And there's always the question of reciprocity: how much consideration would be extended were the party labels reversed?

But thanks, guys.

Equal time, so to speak

Last fall, ABC News put out a poll purporting to show "surprising new findings" about American sexual attitudes, including a sidebar to the effect that Republicans were more satisfied with their sex lives than Democrats. I responded with the top 10 reasons why.

This is not to say, of course, that Democrats take this sort of thing lying down, and last week at the Funniest Celebrity in Washington Contest, Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA) pointed out that "all the Republicans who hit on me are married and all the Democrats who hit on me are gay."

But she won't date a Republican anyway, and here are the top 10 reasons why:

10.  The only time they believe in fiscal restraint is when the dinner bill comes.

  9.   His idea of getting to second base is fondling my stock portfolio.

  8.  He thinks that Emily's List is a call girl service.

  7.  His idea of oral stimulation is getting me to recite the Contract with America.

  6.  He thinks that white pantyhose and pearls are sexy — and you should see what he wants me to wear.

  5.  Because when Republicans say that they want to create opportunities for minorities, that means they want to date me and [her sister] Loretta.

  4.  Despite all the hype, I still can't find his weapon of mass destruction.

  3.  His pending prison term for political corruption is just another excuse for him to be emotionally unavailable.

  2.  Republicans are only interested in screwing the poor.

  1.  Because they make love like they make war: they lie to get in and don't have a plan for what to do once they get there.

(Disclosure: I'm not dating anyone. If this is a surprise to you, you must be new here.)

MILFing it

Says Omar, it's Mrs. Michael Douglas:

Catherine Zeta-Jones has thrown down the gauntlet as the current Queen of the MILFs. If you are an aspiring MILF, you'd better prepare to run a race against Mrs. Jones because she has raised the bar for all of MILFdom. The MILF formula, as it were, has changed and it is no longer enough to be a good-looking woman who has shown resilience from having kids. Now you have to shimmy on stage and wear something see-through and then still look glamourous and posh in a phone commercial where you let people know exactly what idiots they are for not having the right cell phone and/or cell phone plan.

So, potential MILFs get to work. Get on those pilates. Take tap lessons. Because Catherine Zeta-Jones is setting the bar pretty high for all MILFkind.

As if things weren't difficult enough for American women already.

(Disclosure: I have my wireless service through T-Mobile, though I got it before CZJ became their spokesbabe.)

(Second disclosure: I decided I didn't like the original title.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:42 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Trading spaces

How about we put Ben Bernanke on the Supreme Court and let Harriet Miers run the Fed?

Bag limits not specified

There are, reports Aldahlia in this field guide, four standard types of contemporary Nazis:

  1. The Suburban Asshole Fascist

  2. The Redneck Moron That's Full of "White Pride"

  3. The Angry White Skinhead/Neo-Nazi that Attended a Black High School

  4. The Guy that Just Got Out of the Fed

Mary-Kate and Ashley Himmler, apparently, are descended from Type 3.

The early line

We're starting to accumulate candidates all of a sudden, and so far, this is what I'm thinking:

Governor: If it comes down to Henry vs. Istook, as I suspect it will, it's an easy preference for Henry.

Lt. Governor: I like Nancy Riley, but I'm leaning slightly toward Jari Askins right now. I think I've seen enough of Todd Hiett.

House District 5: Unless the Democrats manage to find someone with something resembling throw-weight — the Fifth has long drawn sacrificial lambs — I'm inclined to go with Mary Fallin. Then again, the true joy of this race comes from not seeing Istook on the ballot.

Caution: with a whole year still to go, almost anything can happen.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:51 PM to Soonerland )
25 October 2005
Delete options

Bob Elton suggests that automakers save a few bucks by deleting superfluous features. Some of his ideas:

Spare tires have ... outworn their welcome. Thanks to superior rubber technology, better roadway surfaces and improved maintenance, flat tires are now almost as rare as cell phones are common. Company car administrators have already moved to eliminate spare tires from their fleets, saving their employers fuel as well as money. Lose the spare tire and you can deep-six the jack, lug wrench, tire hold downs and jacking instructions (and associated legal costs). Most motorists are incapable of using the jack and the lug wrench, so why burden the car with the additional weight and complexity? Extra-cautious (and/or rural) drivers could opt for run-flat tires or a more extensive tire repair kit.

I'd like to see some of those "better roadway surfaces" he's talking about. Then again, the last time I had to change a tire was back in the 1990s. Since the government is moving toward mandatory tire-pressure monitoring systems anyway, this isn't as drastic a step as it sounds, and run-flat tires are becoming more common in high-dollar vehicles.

The accelerator cable should also go. Replacing a mechanical cable linkage with an electric motor and a rheostat may not sound like the best way to generate cost savings, but losing the archaic mechanical technology would decrease the cost of other, related systems. For example, an electronically controlled throttle eliminates the need for an idle air control mechanism. A drive-by-wire also makes cruise control less complex; electronically matching engine speed to vehicle speed removes the need for additional cables and mechanisms.

Having once had to replace an IAC valve ($600, of which only about $40 was labor), I'm definitely in favor of this.

Very few motorists regularly check their engine oil. Even fewer monitor their oil pressure gauge, or have the slightest idea what it indicates (much less whether or not the needle is pointing to a safe or a dangerous position). Even if a driver happened to be staring at the oil gauge when a catastrophic loss of pressure occurred, the engine would probably be trashed before the needle sank to the bottom of the red zone.

The same principle holds true for the voltmeter. How many motorists know their car's proper voltage, or what to do if it's not where it should be? A simple warning light would suffice. In fact, every car that has an oil pressure gauge and/or voltmeter also has lamps to monitor low oil pressure and alternator output. The lamps respond a lot faster than gauges, and drivers respond a lot faster to lights than needles.

I'd argue here that I'd rather know what the car is doing, as opposed to what it just quit doing, but I don't think I could do it convincingly, inasmuch as no car I have ever owned had a complete set of gauges. (I once had a Mercury that didn't even have a temp gauge; perversely, it overheated more than the others.)

There's been a debate for years over whether it's useful to have a tachometer in a car with an automatic transmission. My thinking is that if you ever do any manual shifting, you probably ought to have the tach. (In the worst winter weather, I shift for myself.) Besides, I've likely spent way more time near the 6500-rpm redline than most people who own this same make and model; I'd rather see it coming than suddenly feel the fuel cutoff right before 7000.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Driver's Seat )
Note to an antivirus software vendor

Throwing up a warning on the screen that the annual subscription is about to expire is one thing.

It should not be two things, every day, for three goddamn weeks.

If I have anything to say about it — and we'll see if I do — the site license will be allowed to expire and you'll have lost twenty users.

(Hint: Launching a Web browser ad lib is the sort of activity one expects from the very scumware you claim to be preventing.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:06 AM to PEBKAC )
Aw, shucks, it's back to $2.05

A reminder from McGehee:

Strategic resource or not, the oil industry is not a public utility. Supply and demand ought to be allowed to operate just as it would in the snack cake industry. Those who want to bring a final end to our dependence on fossil fuels ought to have faith that if supply and demand make fossil fuels no longer economically feasible, alternatives will become available; thus they ought to be perfectly okay with high prices for petroleum-based fuels. And if I were CEO of Conoco-Phillips or BP-Amoco or any of the other oil companies, I'd already be funding research into alternatives. You can't patent gasoline, but a viable gasoline substitute?

(1) Have you seen the prices of snack cakes lately?

(2) Alternatives will suddenly appear at the exact point where they're price-competitive with our old-tech stuff; if there's a stumbling block, it's with the fact that we don't have much of an infrastructure to deal with alt-fuels. (How will we know when the fuel cell has been accepted by the marketplace? When there's a hydrogen-dispensing unit at 7-Eleven.)

(3) It's a shame Scotty never finished up that second transporter.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:50 AM to Family Joules )
A seat in heaven

Rosa Parks, whose refusal to go along with one of Jim Crow's more asinine decrees helped to precipitate the American civil-rights movement in 1955, has died in Detroit at the age of 92.

On 1 December 1955 Parks boarded a Montgomery, Alabama bus and sat with three other blacks in the fifth row, the first row that blacks could occupy. A few stops later, the front four rows were filled with whites, and one white man was left standing. Under the segregation laws, blacks and whites could not occupy the same row, so the driver asked all four of the blacks seated in the fifth row to move. Three did so; but Parks refused, was arrested, and subsequently fined.

A one-day boycott of the Montgomery bus system was planned in protest, and when almost the entire black community joined in, the boycott was continued; and it didn't end until a year later, when the Supreme Court ruled that segregation on buses was a violation of the Constitution.

In the grand scheme of things, it was a small step, but first steps often are — and you don't get anywhere unless you take them.

La Shawn Barber has links to lots of blog reaction.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:10 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The URL-for-food scandal

Steve Gigl examines the Internet if the UN ran it:

Time to propagate DNS changes: six months (only 3 months if you grease a few palms in Ghana).

Load times: FOXNews.com: 3 hours; CNN.com: 1 hour; Al Jazeera: 3 seconds.

All ".il" domain names redirected to ".ps" sites.

And that's just the beginning. (Actually, that's the middle, but work with me here.)

What's more, Sugar Land rots your teeth

Voters in White Settlement, Texas, on the western edge of Fort Worth, have rejected a measure to change the town's name to "West Settlement".

Mayor James Outzts, reports The Dallas Morning News, said the name has a negative perception to some potential residents and developers.

Where did the name come from?

In a time when many predominantly white pioneers were moving to the area, several surrounding settlements were still occupied by Native Americans. In 1849, in an effort to help protect the pioneers, the War Department constructed a small fort at the confluence of the Clear and West Forks of the Trinity River. It was given the name Fort Worth.

This historical chain of events led to the development of two settlements, one occupied by white settlers and another encompassing a grouping of seven villages occupied by Native Americans. Thus, the name White Settlement was coined.

As of the 2000 Census, White Settlement was about 78 percent white.

There is apparently no sentiment in Nueces County for renaming its largest city "Corpus Someguy."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:57 PM to Dyssynergy )
What I'm running to, or from

Has this ever happened to you? You've heard the song fifty, a hundred, a thousand times before, but this time it hits you where you live, and you don't know why, but you can't deny it.

Showed your photograph
To some old gray bearded men
Sitting on a bench outside a gen'ral store
They said "Yes, she's been here"
But their memory wasn't clear
Was it yesterday, no, wait the day before
So I fin'ly got a ride
With a preacher man who asked
"Where you bound on such a dark afternoon?"
As we drove on thru the rain
As he listened I explained
And he left me with a prayer that I'd find you

Both Eddie Rabbitt (who wrote those words) and Elvis (who sang them) are gone now, so I can't ask them. But I have some familiarity with that cold Kentucky rain — every time I've been there I've been caught in it — and I know that it doesn't last forever.

If there's some pertinent deeper meaning, well, maybe it will come around in the next 35 years.

(Addendum, 6:20 pm: I swear I didn't know about this at the time.)

On the Spot

Dear God, LilRed was right: Ed Murray's been reading this stuff again.

If he read it to you, welcome aboard. I question that "one of the most widely read" business: I'm sure it's true, but I'm also sure it's fairly irrelevant.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:53 PM to Blogorrhea )
26 October 2005
User-surly

Comparison shopping? Not always possible, as Doc Searls finds out the hard way:

[I]f you go to book with any car rental agency from the United [Air Lines] site, you can't open multiple sessions with multiple agencies to compare deals. United won't let you do that. If you start your booking process with one, you can't open another without losing your session with the first. In other words, they replicate the airport experience online.

I don't know which is worse: the chance that this was done accidentally, or the chance that it was done deliberately.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:41 AM to PEBKAC )
Get on the bus

"Real change, not spare change," says the Oklahoma City Homeless Alliance, and this is part of the plan:

How can you help the less fortunate among us while ensuring your gift does not contribute to unhealthy behaviors? The Homeless Alliance offers "Real Change" vouchers you can buy at cost to give to individuals who are panhandling for money on the street. Each voucher includes information on Oklahoma City’s three general homeless shelters and a bus ticket to get there. Once at a shelter, the person will get hot meals and a place to sleep and will have access to a variety of other services.

Research shows that across the country, approximately 80% of panhandlers are not homeless. Moreover, studies have found that most of the time cash given to a panhandler will go to support a drug or alcohol habit — not to help the person access services he or she needs. Real Change vouchers allow you to truly help genuinely needy individuals while discouraging panhandlers who do not want real help.

A book of five vouchers costs $5; you can get them from the Homeless Alliance, 312 West Commerce Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73109, or at selected downtown office buildings.

Of course, there's always the chance that the recipients will collect bus tickets and swap them for something else. But Alliance executive director Dan Straughan isn't too worried:

There will be a black market for these things. Today in Oklahoma City, five bus tickets will get you a joint, or so I'm told. If we put 50,000 of these [vouchers] out on the street, though, that's going to really depress that market.

Run-of-the-mill panhandlers are probably not going to be happy with this program at all, which is another point in its favor.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:22 AM to City Scene )
Slipping into the future

Matt Rosenberg waxes lyrical about Savoy Brown's Street Corner Talking, and notes that "this is a 60s album, as the 60s didn't end until Dec. 31, 1971. I assume, perhaps blithely, that everyone knows that."

I don't expect Michele to go along with that particular date, but I suspect that most of us define our decades by something other than strict calendar entries. For the record, here's where my decades begin:

1950s:  25 June 1950
1960s:  22 November 1963
1970s:  4 May 1970
1980s:  20 January 1981

It is a measure of something, I'm sure, that I've given no thought to where the 80s shift into the 90s. The double-oughts, though, surely must begin on 1 January 2000.

Where are the markers on your timelines?

(Addendum, 9 am, 27 October: Lynn S. specifies hers.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:54 AM to Almost Yogurt )
162

According to the Surgeon General, half of all U.S. citizens over the age of 50 will be at risk of osteoporotic fractures by 2020; those of us who don't wish to be, um, boned in this manner will spend megabucks on things like Amgen's AMG-162, which is a RANKL inhibitor.

Inasmuch as I'm already over the age of 50, sufficiently rankled and scarcely inhibited, I will point you instead to Carnival of the Vanities #162, which is hosted by Baboon Pirates. (Now there's a visual.) Your weekly compendium of high-gauge bloggage awaits your click, and thank you, El Capitan.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:41 AM to Blogorrhea )
Evacuees = absentees

Reported at Facing South:

Congressman Artur Davis (D-AL) has introduced the Displaced Citizens Voter Protection Act of 2005 (HR3734) that would allow displaced Katrina evacuees to vote in their home state elections by absentee ballots under the same protections afforded absent military and overseas voters. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) introduced a similar bill in the Senate (S1867).

The legislation would require evacuees to certify their status and former address and attest that they intend to return to the area. They would then be allowed to vote in their home state by absentee ballot according to the state's rules.

There's clearly some potential for mischief with a bill like this — when isn't there, with a voting issue? — but I'm definitely in favor of this idea, and urge Oklahoma's Congressional delegation to support it: if someday you know you're going home, you ought to be able to retain your voice in what is being done there in your absence.

(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)

Thieves getting nervy

Jan reports on a new scam to separate you from your credit line:

The caller then says, "I need to verify you are in possession of your card". He'll ask you to "turn your card over and look for some numbers". There are 7 numbers; the first 4 are part of your card number, the next 3 are the security numbers that verify you are the possessor of the card. These are the numbers you sometimes use to make Internet purchases to prove you have the card. The caller will ask you to read the 3 numbers to him. After you tell the caller the 3 numbers, he'll say, "That is correct, I just needed to verify that the card has not been lost or stolen, and that you still have your card. Do you have any other questions?" After you say No, the caller then thanks you and states, "Don't hesitate to call back if you do", and hangs up.

You actually say very little, and they never ask for or tell you the card number. But after we were called on Wednesday, we called back within 20 minutes to ask a question. Are we glad we did! The REAL VISA Security Department told us it was a scam and in the last 15 minutes a new purchase of $497.99 was charged to our card.

Well, not her card, actually; she's just passing on a report.

The CVV is three digits on the back of your Visa, MasterCard or Discover Card, or four digits on the front of your American Express Card. This number is based on the information in the magnetic strip of the card, and cannot be derived from the account number itself; this is why thieves will try to get it out of you, since if they have both the account number and the CVV it will be assumed that they have the actual card and purchases they make will most likely not be questioned. (And if the merchant requires the CVV, as all online merchants really should by now, there's a 1-in-1000 chance of someone guessing it.)

Fare thee well

Tonight, save a prayer for MommaBear, just arrived at a far, far better place.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:39 PM to Blogorrhea )
27 October 2005
Left in the mailbox

A new catalog from Syracuse Cultural Workers under the title Tools for Change has arrived here, and it looks pretty much like the one I saw two years ago: the Alternative Alphabet Poster for Little and Big People is still featured, and there's the usual panoply of buttons and stickers.

As usual with a grab-bag of progressive schwag, there's a small number of interesting items — I thought the soybean-based crayons ($5.95 for a box of 64) were kinda neat — an enormous amount of stuff you've seen before, and, inevitably, one outrage to sense and/or sensibility: a really absurd poster claiming STICKS & STONES CAN BREAK MY BONES BUT NAMES WILL REALLY HURT ME. Only if you let them, child; once you grow up, you learn otherwise.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Almost Yogurt )
From the Department of Major Upgrades (2)

I reprint (minus links and comments) this September 2004 item in full:

Tropos Networks has built a number of Wi-Fi systems for public-safety use, but they've never tried anything this big: a wireless network for the city of Oklahoma City, 600-plus square miles of spectacularly-irregular polygon.

The new network, which should be fully operational by the end of next year, will cost around $5 million. And no, there will be no public-access hot spots, at least at first.

Or maybe there will: Mayor Cornett is saying that while they're testing the public-safety network, the city will look into partnering with the private sector to set up a Wi-Fi hot zone centered on downtown. The Chamber of Commerce is already looking for those partners.

The proposed hot zone stretches along the Oklahoma River from the Reno/Meridian corridor to just east of the Capitol; it would include OSU/OKC, State Fair Park, the Stockyards, downtown, Bricktown, and the Health Center area.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:15 AM to City Scene )
Metalaw alert

Kevin Aylward proclaims "Gilliard's Corollary to Godwin's Law":

As the discussion of black Republicans grows, the probability of a racist slur involving some form of the "house Negro" analogy approaches 1.

So noted. The Gilliard in question wrote this; I don't believe he intended it as a bid for net.fame, but things happen.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:06 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Coverpop culture

I mentioned this over the weekend; Eric picks up on it and (in Comment #4) comes up with an astute cultural observation:

The coolest stuff gets done when people set out to do something for no discernible purpose other than to see if they can do it.

As motivations go, it's one of the best.

So long, Harriet

I think you'll probably be happier in relative obscurity, anyway; I know it works for me.

Oh, and nice save, guys.

Note to 42 people over the limit

Just a reminder: most of the banks who issued you those cards are getting ready to increase your monthly minimum payments substantially.

[evil grin]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:42 PM to Wastes of Oxygen )
A Lott to defend

Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) doing the post-Miers blither:

I want the President to go out and select a man, woman or minority [for the Supreme Court].

And just to make sure we noticed:

There are a lot of good men, women and minorities who can be on the Supreme Court.

Which, I guess, proves he isn't as dumb as that Strom Thurmond business suggested: someone neither man nor woman would certainly be in the minority.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:27 PM to Say What? )
Send Shepard Smith to Vesuvius

It's nice to know someone preserved these little bits of history: screenshots from the first 2500 years of Fox News Channel.

(Via Rocketboom.)

Still more strange search-engine queries

Here we go again:

does Connecticut have anything to do with taxation:  Yes. They love it.

motown bluegrass roe wade:  I'm not even going to pretend to understand that.

"brazilian bikini wax" statistics:  About the width of — um, never mind.

+codpiece +steel +16th:  I don't think I'd wear that on 16th. Or on 36th, for that matter.

how to write catchy ads about aluminum:  Difficulty: No "foiled again."

brian damage from withdrawal:  So don't withdraw Brian.

why are hornets in oklahoma city:  We also have wasps, and the occasional bumblebee.

can you start a sentence with a proposition:  And finish one, too.

whatever happened to the transylvania twist:  It's now the Mash. (It's now the Monster Mash.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:56 PM to You Asked For It )
28 October 2005
Next, the Penguin vs. C. S. Lewis

I'd link this just for the title: Why the Blessed Virgin Mary Is Better Than Wonder Woman or My Mom Can Beat Up Your Feminist Icon.

But there's more: the top 10 reasons, in fact. I'll just quote #6:

Better Allies.  Do you think St. Joseph, her most chaste spouse, has anything to fear from being one-upped by Steve Trevor or even Superman? Guess again. Once you put in that Mary, as Queen of Heaven, also, can count the apostles, prophets, martyrs, confessors, and the many other saints, Wonder Woman will be hard put to impress me even if she were to marshal all the forces of Themescrya.

Not to mention that if an invisible jet had landed at Lourdes, it would have screwed up the spring something fierce and Bernadette probably wouldn't have seen a thing.

(Via E. M. Zanotti.)

Tighten that belt, Sam

Matt Rosenberg has lots of ideas to trim the federal budget:

[T]o start with: c-o-r-p-o-r-a-t-e w-e-l-f-a-r-e. End it. I'm just a huge, huge fan of free enterprise and small government, like a lot of Republicans. But tax breaks written into the tax code are evil, and generally not warranted to boot. A special commission of performance auditors with distemper should examine each and every corporate tax break granted by Congress. They should give beneficiaries, experts and the lay public a deadline to produce top-level documentation of proven benefits to the economy. Any corporate tax breaks which cannot be shown to produce a net benefit to the economy will have to be eliminated.

I'd say (remember, 82.3% of all statistics are made up) that this would eliminate about 82.3 percent of all such subsidies in a year's time.

Also targeted is the Department of Energy:

Contract out — all the way — for hazardous materials clean-up; and for disposal and then, security of remaining nuclear-weapons-grade materials. After which, shut the whole stinkin' agency down. They can't do anything right anymore, anyhow. Besides, do we really need the government to give us energy? C'mon.

I love ya, Condi, but you've got to go:

What, really does the State Department do? Except muck up things for the Department of Defense? Useless bureaucrats at State, nearly all. Excise the entire department. Who'd really notice, or care, besides WaPo and NYT reporters, a few equally vestigial columnists, and card-carrying DNC members who comprise their sole readership? Huge savings in salary and bennies, not to mention real estate sales of former State building stock.

I'm not so sure about that; somebody has to run the embassy party circuit.

And he's got a word for the party out of power for the moment:

Dimmocrats: it is not government's job to provide a social safety net. It is the federal government's job to protect our borders (ahem!) and our national security; and to fight vigilantly and intelligently against terrorist organizations who wish to destroy our infrastructure, populace and way of life. It is the federal government's job to help incentivize excellence in public education (no turning back from NCLB now, c'mon!); to protect the environment without becoming pawns of all the friends of Robert Kennedy Jr.; and to help fund transit, roads, highways, airports (especially new ones), dams, and reservoirs. Oh, disaster relief, that's fair enough, too, I suppose. I probably left out a few other things, but you get the idea. Health care? My tight, sweet a--. For veterans, yes (govt. health care, not my posterior). For the rest? It should be their own affair. It's a cost of living, like food and gasoline. Repeat after me: core competencies. Mission creep has gotten WAY out of hand.

Not to mention the creeps who provide staffing for the mission. (Myself, I'm not inclined to cut down the entire safety net, but I don't think it's too much to require that individuals, when circumstances permit, make an effort to extricate themselves from it.)

Based on past experience, I'd say Mr Rosenberg's tongue/cheek interface is currently operating at 41 percent of maximum — but remember what I said about made-up statistics.

Everything's going to BOK

Tulsa's new arena will be called the BOK Center, after Bank of Oklahoma, which ponied up $11 million over 20 years for the naming rights.

Meanwhile, I'm waiting to see what happens to the SBC Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City after AT&T child SBC buys out its parent and assumes its identity.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:55 AM to Soonerland )
It's not how long you make it

For those of us who can't even dream of writing a full-fledged (or even semi-fledged) novel in a month, there's WriAShorStorWe, for which you have to write a short story in a week.

When they get down to a sentence in half an hour, wake me up.

(Found at 50 Books.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:33 AM to Almost Yogurt )
She thinks your tractor's sexy

Ann Althouse, motivated by this New York Times piece, asks: If you're concerned about your sex appeal, what should you drive?

Of course, I don't actually have any sex appeal, but such considerations play little or no role when I seek to acquire a vehicle; my primary goals are to get from Point A to Point B with as little drudgery as possible, consistent with the amount of money I have to spend, and to attract the least possible attention from the gendarmes along the way. For the past five years I have driven a Mazda 626 sedan in Damn Near Invisible Beige, which is lacking in smoky-burnout potential yet handles the twisty bits with considerable (for a front-driver) aplomb. It has scored me no babes, but then I don't expect it to.

(Via the happily-attached Fritz Schranck.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:02 PM to Driver's Seat )
Hornets on the radio

Tonight's Hornets-Hawks preseason game is the first I've checked out on the radio, and the broadcast team comes off pretty well: they're not exactly low-key, but they don't scream at you either. (Yes, it's Sean Kelley doing play-by-play.)

Eight stations in Oklahoma are carrying Hornets games; the western flagship, if you will, is KTOK in Oklahoma City. The previously-existing Louisiana/Mississippi network continues pretty much intact.

29 October 2005
Fatuous Flashback 5

Before there was bird flu, there was cockfighting:

Only 1.73 other states (Louisiana, and 24 of 33 counties in New Mexico) permit this sort of thing, so the curiosity value is high and the news coverage typically smarmy. Under [State Question] 687, you can't stage a fight between game fowl, period; it's a felony to take part, and it's a misdemeanor just to watch. The 7000-member Oklahoma Game Fowl Breeders Association says the, um, industry brings in close to $100 million a year in the state. I've never seen an actual cockfight, despite having lived here for nearly thirty years and another decade in South Carolina, where the SC athletic teams have long been styled "Gamecocks", and I don't particularly want to see one; the descriptions I've seen are rather, well, icky. Then again, mere ickiness is not sufficient reason to ban something — if it were, we could deport Richard Simmons — so I am voting against 687. The fighting pit may be a horrible place for a chicken to end up, but so is Colonel Sanders' bucket, and I don't see any serious maneuvering to ban KFC. And while I'm at it, I am also voting against 687's evil twin, State Question 698, hatched by friends of the fowl and other folk, which would nearly double the number of petitioners required to get measures like 687 on the ballot in the first place, an idea anti-democratic to its very core.

(From Vent #315, 1 November 2002.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:26 AM to Greatest Hits )
How 1 percent of the other half lives

All sorts of interesting things in the November Harper's Bazaar, but the one destined to draw the most controversy, I suppose, is the 12-page Rolex ad with a number of expensively-dressed (of course) women who presumably are not freezing their size-2 behinds off despite being stuck on a glacier.

Mere incongruity, though, matters not. What caught my eye, apart from various expanses of flesh, was this tagline:

ICE IS LIKE A MAN'S EGO. FUN TO CRUSH.

Not that any of us would ever take this personally.

Yeah, yeah, I know, just having a little fun with the patriarchy. Fine. If it takes you a bauble that costs as much as a three-year-old Toyota to provide you with that fun, I have no objections. Just don't plan on sending me the bill, 'kay?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:57 AM to Table for One )
Eating me out of house and home

This is the usual function of teenagers, but since my children are grown, I now reserve this description for termites, and this week was the annual inspection.

Once again, no trace of the little SOBs. You can be sure that I plan to be most inhospitable should they put in an appearance during the next twelve months.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:30 AM to Surlywood )
Return on investment

Deb the Insomnomaniac has bailed out of Bosstown once and for all, and, well, it's different in North Carolina. As an example, she quotes a letter to the editor of her new local paper:

Forty years ago we had "poverty" in this country and President Johnson. 8 trillion dollars later and we still have "poverty" in this country. Just think how many tanks and bombers that could have bought.

Not as many as you'd think, given the overhead inherent in Pentagon procurement costs.

Saturday spottings (in place)

Legally, it's the Hassaman Heights Addition, but for years it's been known as the Edwards Neighborhood: one block wide (Page to Grand), seven blocks long (NE 10th to NE 16th), it was the first step out of the "inner city" for Oklahoma City's African-American community. Walter J. and Frances W. Edwards made it happen. In 1937, they bought the tract, then largely outside city limits; city government wasn't about to provide city services beyond the boundary. (In fairness to the city, they didn't do it for the previous owner of the property either, and he was white.) So Mr. and Mrs. Edwards took responsibility for running utility lines and paving the streets. They set up their own construction unit to train young black men for the job of building houses in the area, and when FHA at first expressed no interest in providing financing for buyers, they made the mortgage loans themselves. By 1939, FHA had come around; by 1940, the neighborhood contained some 40 homes, including the Edwards residence on Grand south of 16th. This year, the Edwards Heights area, across I-35 and extending to Bryant on the east and Success St. (north of 19th) on the north, including Edwards Park, was added to the National Register of Historic Places, so it seemed like a good time to take a look at Mr. and Mrs. Edwards' original strip, which had been put on the Register in 1996, and to which I hadn't paid a great deal of attention since they'd put up the "W. J. Edwards" sign at the intersection of 10th and Grand.

From a purely topographical standpoint, northeast Oklahoma City is easily the most attractive of the four quadrants; it's got rolling hills and lots of trees, the latter partly because it's on the edge of the Cross Timbers region, before you start moving into grasslands, but perhaps also because it was considered an unnecessary expense to remove them. (Elsewhere, the converted farmland that is now the fringe of the city is breathtakingly bare.) Grand slides down a hill from 16th to 10th; halfway down is a church — Tabitha Baptist. Page, not accessible from 10th, climbs up the back. The houses are smallish but neat, typical single-story prewar design, though construction continued at a reduced pace throughout the 1940s. I'm waiting for the city to extend Historic District, or at least Urban Conservation District, zoning to the area.

Speaking of ethnic movement, you might suspect some near MacArthur just south of the Warr Acres line, where a dollar store proclaims on its sign: IF YOU CAN READ THIS SIGN, COME IN AND SAVE. Innocuous on the face of it, unless you've noticed the increasing number of Spanish-speaking folks moving into this part of town, in which case you might wonder just what the store is trying to say.

The city of Warr Acres itself has had to adjust its signage, after biting the bullet and raising the sales tax by a penny. The signs duly reflect the new 7.5 percent rate, and the word "STILL" now precedes the proclamation of "Lowest Tax Rate."

And it must be lead time, or the lack thereof, to explain the general absence of Hornets references on local billboards this close to the beginning of the season.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:12 PM to City Scene )
I am so normal

Cut, then pasted — it would be silly to do it the other way around — from Accidental Verbosity:

American Snapshot

According to this book, a majority of Americans:

  • Eats peanut butter at least once a week
  • Prefers smooth peanut butter over chunky
  • Can name all Three Stooges (and two Alternate Stooges)
  • Lives within a 20-minute drive of a Wal-Mart
  • Eats at McDonald's at least once a year (maybe twice)
  • Takes a shower for approximately 10.4 minutes a day (more like 7 minutes a day)
  • Never sings in the shower
  • Lives in a house, not an apartment or condominium
  • Has a home valued between $100,000 and $300,000 (but wait until next year)
  • Has fired a gun
  • Is between 5 feet and 6 feet tall (missed me by this much)
  • Weighs 135 to 205 pounds (missed me by THIS much)
  • Is between the ages of 18 and 53 (but wait until next year)
  • Believes gambling is an acceptable entertainment option (not for me, anyway)
  • Grew up within 50 miles of current home

No stick: steal if you like.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:43 PM to Screaming Memes )
30 October 2005
Hope is the thing with spammers

This spam is titled "Dating site for sexoholics," and reads as follows:

"Where love reigns the impossible may be attained" a insightful man once said:

And briefly you can discover happiness for yourself as well, without the pointless dates;-D

If its just a One-Nite stand or maybe something more serious, you'll obtain it here;)

The link is to something called hope-to-get-laid.us, whose WHOIS information may charitably be described as imprecise.

And if I want to go out on a pointless date ... um, never mind.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:03 AM to Scams and Spams )
Nor are we broke, apparently

City government, crediting "careful fiscal management and some lower-than-expected costs," apparently finished the 2005 fiscal year (which ended 30 June) with $40 million in the General Fund actually unspent.

And they're going to spend $2.5 million of it on some street-resurfacing projects and sock away most of the rest for subsequent years. Given the condition of some of the streets in question — 63rd from Pennsylvania to May is utterly horrid — I think I'd forgive them for pulling another million or two out of the bag and taking on some other lumpy thoroughfares (like, say, 63rd from Pennsylvania to Western, or maybe 36th from Kelley to MLK).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:40 AM to City Scene )
Quote of the week

Commenter Merovign, on this Protein Wisdom thread:

Once upon a time, in the vast empty of history, offense was serious, and apology not taken lightly. A grave offense was cause for action, but could be forgiven if an apology was offered.

The problem is, at some point both offense and apology were trivialized by old children, in an unworkable attempt to make the world all balloons and puppies. And now offense is as common as dirt and apologies are seen as insufficient to allay the hurt.

So if you take offense, and no one gives a rat's ass, that’s why.

If anyone should be offended, it's the rats; their very asses are getting short shrift, if indeed any shrift at all.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:08 AM to QOTW )
They want a shoehorn (the kind with teeth)

A bit in the weekly Tulsa Beacon was picked up by guest writer TulTellitarian at Meeciteewurkor, and it seems troubling:

The arena [the BOK Center], with approximately 550,000 square feet, has a maximum seating capacity of 18,041. It will seat a maximum of 17,534 for basketball, 16,466 for hockey, 16,346 for arena football, 13,717 for "end stage" concerts and 6,988 for theater seating.

Which, for a nominal 18,000-seat facility, seems fairly normal. The ostensible 20,000-seat Ford Center in Oklahoma City, 586,000 square feet in size, seats 19,599 for basketball, 18,036 for hockey, 17,868 for arena football, 19,231 for "end stage" concerts, 19,711 for "center stage" concerts, and a mere 4,961 for theater seating.

There's just one problem from Tulsa's point of view:

I personally understood the goal was to provide 18,000 seats for basketball since the Mayor's "vision" seemed to center on NCAA Regional Basketball possibilities as a major component of future attractions. And, I recall the NCAA required places to seat 18,000 (for basketball) to be considered as a playoff site. Appears we may get left out anyway, by cludge design. No event could actually seat 18,000.

Let's see how many seats there will be for the 2006 version of March Madness:

  • Midwest at Metrodome, Minneapolis: c. 50,000
  • West at Oakland Arena, Oakland: 19,596
  • East at MCI Center, Washington: 18,756
  • South at Georgia Dome, Atlanta: c. 40,000

As a practical matter, they'd probably have fewer than 17,534 seats for a Regional, what with all the extra media presence and whatnot.

Is Tulsa's white-winged wonder destined to be an albatross?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:04 PM to Soonerland )
Reader visits Surlywood, lives to tell

Actually, so far he's keeping mum about the whole matter, which is probably a Good Thing.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:24 PM to Blogorrhea )
31 October 2005
MoDo with no mojo

Lindsay Beyerstein probably isn't buying Maureen Dowd's new book:

Remind me why anyone should take dating advice from Maureen Dowd. This is the woman who regularly uses her New York Times column for content that belongs in an F4M classified ad. Asking Maureen Dowd for perspective on intimate relationships is like asking Judy Miller for advice on journalistic ethics.

If this catches on, I can give out diet tips. But it's only the beginning:

Dowd thinks she's finally gotten the last laugh on those ugly, slutty, Birkenstock-wearing feminists from college. She and her mom knew all along that the feminists were kidding themselves. It's just a Fact of Nature that men hate self-actualized women. Always have. Always will. (Details are sketchy, but apparently Science has established that it has something to do with dopamine and ev psych.)

I adore self-actualized women. I also expect them to ignore my existence, but this is a different matter entirely.

Dowd's bitter takehome message is that women have to play by The Rules, whether feminism endorses them or not. Otherwise, they'll end up as barren old maids in corner offices. Feminism has confused women, Dowd thinks: The women's libbers convinced us that, at least in the abstract, women ought to be able to enjoy sex, power, and money without alienating men. They gave us the (probably correct) idea that it's degrading to hide your personality in order to manipulate some poor sucker into marriage.

I might suggest that what MoDo needs is an all-encompassing, utterly transcendent, and most of all brief affair, just long enough to get the blues out of her system — but then, it's also been suggested that this is exactly what I need. (And never, I hasten to add, has it been suggested by someone actually volunteering for the unpleasant task.)

It's not often I get to quote from both LB and FWP in a single post, but this Porrettoism seems apt:

The woman who wants to improve her relations with men will first clarify her own appreciation of what she wants, including (of course) what she wants from a man. That and only that will make it possible for her to be honest with men — and to know how to deal with them not as enemies, and not with contempt, but from a position of strength.

You make your template, then you start matching shapes. Not before.

Addendum: Lileks observes: "Just for the record: I am married to a Strong & Successful Woman. I have no problem with Strong Women. On the contrary. But I am less than fascinated by Strong Women who have issues like the Roman sewers had mice."

Hands across the water (water)

We're so sorry, Uncle Bustard
We're so sorry if we caused your hair to curl
We're so sorry, Uncle Bustard
But there's nothing left to blog, and I believe I'm gonna hurl

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:18 AM to Blogorrhea )
Finally, a machine that goes "Ping"

TypePad's TrackBack handling is still eccentric (a euphemism for "screwy"), which has motivated Basil (you may remember this) to come up with a solution of his own: move to WordPress.

(Disclosure: I have a WordPress site of my own off to the side.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to Blogorrhea )
For a truly high-speed breakfast

It was inevitable: NASCAR bacon.

(Serving suggestion: Arrange in oval, each slice almost but not quite overlapping the next.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:36 AM to Worth a Fork )
The herpsichorean muse

The state of New York is trying to select an official state reptile:

New York has a slew of state things that show our legislature in action. New York, for example, has a state muffin (the apple muffin) and a state beverage (milk) and even a state bird (the bluebird), all of which is very wholesome for the tourists but does not fool those of us who live here one damn bit. Everyone here knows that there is no state muffin, only the state bagel, that the state beverage is the manhattan, and that the state bird is the bird (Flippus birdus), a species native to the state highway system and most often seen at intersections throughout the state displaying itself for the edification of people who haven’t figured out for themselves that the No Turn On Red sign means that they shouldn’t come roaring around the corner at seventy miles an hour in a thirty mile an hour zone. But New York has no state reptile, and since New York will not remain behind other states like denial, anxiety, and depression, the state legislature has sprung into action and is now considering the issue.

I assume they've already decided that Chuck Schumer is ineligible.

For the curious, the Oklahoma state reptile is the Collared Lizard or Mountain Boomer, Crotaphytus collaris.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:17 PM to Dyssynergy )
Right above the remainders

In this morning's Big Box from Amazon.com, I found one item with a little green sticker, which reads as follows:

Enclosed is the product you ordered which is the last or best available item currently in stock in our warehouse. It may be a hard to find title or no longer in print. Although this item does not meet the physical condition quality standards of Ingram Book Company, we have decided to allow you to make the determination as to whether or not this product meets your needs. If the product does not meet your needs, please accept our apologies and return this item through our Hassle Free Return System.

So speaks the Quality Control Department of Ingram Book Company, the wholesaler from whom Amazon.com got this title. I looked over the book for not quite half a minute, and determined that the deficiencies — a slightly-bent (we're talking about 4 degrees) front cover, and a small tear in the back of the dust jacket — were not sufficient to justify returning the book. (I read these things; I don't seal them up in plastic and wait for the price to go up.) And really, I'd rather have the book in slightly-less-than-mint condition than not have the book at all.

(This is the title in question. Considering its presumed rarity, and the fact that Amazon.com sold it to me for ten bucks off the preprinted jacket price, I'm not even complaining.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:36 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Should the filibuster fail

Mike Hendrix on the next contestant on The Court Is (Far) Right:

If Alito is confirmed, we can surely expect to see the end of human freedom and the advent of gulags and re-education camps; all wages, salaries, and other income will be seized for use in the Rethugnicans' Kill The Poor program, and all private property will be legally turned over to Exxon immediately. There will be automatic weapons in every American living room. We will all be forced to wear ugly, rumpled grey tunics as we're marched off to the Reagan Memorial National Extermination Centers, and our children will be forced to sing Jesus Loves Me This I Know as they cook our intestines over fires stoked by the torn remnants of our cancer-riddled flesh.

This, of course, is unspeakable. Grey tunics? By Gandalf's snowy pubes, the International Criminal Court shall hear of this!

Addendum, 2 November, 8:10 pm: Lynn doesn't think this is all that funny.

The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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