1 February 2006
Brother, can you spare a twenty?
According to the old joke, it's called "take-home" pay because you can't afford to go anywhere else with it.
ACNielsen research reports that of all the people they surveyed, the Americans and the Portuguese are the most cash-strapped; twenty-two percent of their US survey respondents reported that once the bills are paid, there's nothing left.
Then again, it was 28 percent last year, so at least some folks are doing better now.
And there's this:
[O]f U.S. consumers who do have spare cash, their first priority for that money is debt repayment (42%). This number has increased nine percentage points since October 2004.
I am slowly but semi-surely whittling down that mountain of debt, though an occasional Pick 3 winner would help.
Open Subchannel D
I never thought about this, but now that it's come up:
If you're recording an audiobook, how do you handle the footnotes? What if the character falls down a well? Should the your voice change? And are you true to the punctuation, breathing, pausing, lifting your voice as originally heard in the author's head? These are some of the little dilemmas facing the people who put a voice to a book.
I do know that when I'm called upon to read out loud mercifully, these days this is for the benefit of a child or occasionally two, not for a grade which goes on my Permanent Record I do my best to provide the inflections I think are indicated by the material, and try not to sound too much like a dork. (Exception: when I'm reading something that's supposed to be dorky.)
It's been suggested to me once or twice that I should put out some of this here drivel in book form, and I've always fended off the idea with "What would I do with the links?"
Actually, this question has already been answered. In 1997, Wired Books (then related to the magazine) put out a compilation of articles from my favorite Webzine under the title Suck: Worst Case Scenarios in Media, Culture, Advertising, and the Internet, edited by Joey Anuff (who used the Suckronym "The Duke of URL") and Ana Marie Cox (then "Ann O. Tate," more recently "Wonkette"). The articles were printed with the links highlighted; a line was drawn from the link to a sidebar, which contained the pertinent section of the linked material and its URL, in a wholly-different font so you wouldn't be confused by all this linear digression. At the time, it seemed freaking ingenious; today, it seems, well, freaking ingenious, even if you can click on a link in a PDF file these days.
Beck thinks it's 4897, but he lost count somewhere along the way, a feeling I know well.
Anyway, it's the 176th Carnival of the Vanities, a week's worth of high-intensity bloggage, hosted by Incite, and refreshingly free of anything from me.
Numerical trivia: Tulsa's firefighters are members of IAFF Local 176.
Might as well face it
"We're addicted to oil," says George W. Bush.
Possible reasons for this statement, per Pudentilla:
* father of a lesbian
I'm thinking one part "b," one part "d," and maybe a side of "Geez, Laura, have you seen this Texaco bill?"
And, now that I think about it, wasn't Rove supposed to be the Dark Lord?
Actually, few of us are ever Foyilled to begin with. I go through there maybe once a year just to avoid the Will Rogers Turnpike.
Foyil, Oklahoma, population 250 or thereabouts, is a little more than a wide spot in the road along Route 66 between Chelsea and Claremore, where Oklahoma 28 veers off to the east; the railroad runs parallel to 66 on the west.
Killed my groove, I've got to say
WESTERN UNION NO LONGER IN TELEGRAPH BUSINESS STOP COMPANY NOW BEING SPUN OFF FROM FIRST DATA SENT LAST TELEGRAMS LAST THURSDAY STOP WILL CONCENTRATE ON FUNDS TRANSFER BUSINESS STOP SAMUEL F B MORSE REPORTEDLY SPINNING IN GRAVE STOP
(Via Outside the Beltway.)
In their previous game, the Bulls were losing to the Mavericks by 30 points; they only lost by four. So you have to figure that the Hornets' 17-point lead in the second quarter wouldn't hold up, and it didn't; Chicago managed to retake the lead with three minutes left. But the Bees, in Sean Kelley's phrase, hit the switch at the right time, winning 100-95.
Now this is dedication: Aaron Williams, just acquired from Toronto, arrived at the Ford at 6:15, less than an hour before tipoff, and suited up. What's more, Byron Scott put him in four minutes into the game. (And the sellout crowd gave Williams a standing ovation when he set foot on the court, which had to be gratifying for everyone; he responded with 8 points, matching his season high, five boards, and two blocked shots. And five fouls, but you can't have everything.)
Incidentally, Williams is wearing the same number 34 that he wore for the Raptors; I have no idea what number Steven Hunter, due in from Philadelphia shortly, will be wearing, since Rasual Butler already wears 45.
Five Bees in double figures tonight; Chris Paul knocked down 25 and 13 assists.
There's still the question of what the Hornets, now 23-22, will do with Kobe and the Lakers this weekend but that will be answered soon enough.
(Addendum: Brian Hanley of the Chicago Sun-Times heads his writeup: "Hornets cast a Paul on road trip." And Hunter's been assigned number 31.)
2 February 2006
Strange search-engine queries (7)
Another compilation of the weird things that draw people to this very site.
hit the road jack the meaning of the song: I think it's to be found in the phrase "And don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more."
naked lady t shirt: If she's naked, how is she wearing a T-shirt?
what percentage of teenagers lose their virginity on prom night? Somewhere between 0 and 100. Beyond that, it's impossible to be sure. (I was a 0, but you knew that.)
faith hill long legs: Yea, let us give thanks unto the Lord.
what is the nearest large city to feasterville trevose: Define "large." Otherwise, Philadelphia.
dating someone unattractive: I have never dated someone unattractive. This does not, however, work in reverse.
switch bodies paris hilton: It's not her body that's annoying.
playboy wax: Airbrushing is less painful.
are republicans donkeys or elephants: Some of them are dinosaurs.
No similarity otherwise
Oh, what wondrous things you find in your referral logs.
In the context of Oklahoma City, David Stanley Ford is an automobile dealership at 39th and May.
Elsewhere, David Stanley Ford is a playwright, who has written an American historical drama I'd love to see: The Interrogation of Nathan Hale, in which the man who regretted having but one life to lose for his country reveals the last secrets of that life.
Is it too much to hope that one of our local theatrical troupes might consider staging this work?
Top of the heap
The Carnivals, of course, come out weekly, and they are staggeringly popular. But inevitably, they have a short shelf life: the participants strut and fret their paragraphs on the page and are promptly forgotten in seven days.
"Or maybe not," reasoned Mister Snitch as he sought to assemble the Best Blog Posts of 2005, a megacompilation which is, I think, the closest equivalent in blogdom to the Academy Awards.
Seriously. The awards for Best Something-Or-Other Blog, while worthy in their own right, are more like Oscar's Lifetime Achievement Award: it's given for a body of work rather than for any specific individual performance. And the recipients thereof would be the last persons on earth to suggest that everything they did was on the same superlative plane.
Snitch's compilation, by contrast, looked for the best individual performances during the calendar year, the posts which, given the ephemeral nature of this medium, have managed to stand the test of time. Ultimately, he hopes to see the collection, perhaps abridged for space considerations, appear in book form.
Still, one aspect of the Carnivals carries over: I'm happy to point you to the results, and urge you to read as many of them as time permits. (I won't feel hurt if you skip this one.)
This is no way to make friends
Especially on the day before a heinous worm is supposed to crap all over us:
You may experience problems with updating your [antivirus] program. The error message you will receive is "Fatal Error 3". We are aware of the problem and are working to post a fix shortly. Please try the update again later. Please do not open a technical support issue related to this problem.
Not that I'm worried if I'm reading this right, I already have a signature file to detect this little POS but I know an awful lot of people who don't.
(Macintosh partisans: go ahead and gloat, but be sure to identify yourself as such. Not that it's hard to tell. Besides, it's not like Chairman Bill is looking out for us.)
(Update, 4:15 pm: Fixed.)
And we were worrying about Kobe
Some day we may be worrying about this:
Epiphanny Prince of Murry Bergtraum High School [NYC] scored 113 points in a game Wednesday, breaking a girls' national prep record previously held by Hall of Famer Cheryl Miller.
Prince, a 5-foot-9 senior guard, led her team to a 137-32 victory over Brandeis High School.
Someone thought to ask the Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James what he thought of this, and he said:
It's an amazing thing when an individual does that. I don't know who she is, but maybe we'll see her in the WNBA. For that matter, the NBA.
And you know, at five-foot-nine, she's not much shorter than Speedy Claxton.
I do declare
The late Charles H. Goren, reflecting on the days when he was still bidding two no trump with only 17 points, recalled asking one of the experts of the day to reveal the Secret of His Success. Said the expert, "All you have to do is sit South. Look at any bridge column or book. South always has the best hand at the table." Since then, said Goren, he has always tried to sit South.
Meanwhile, Laurence Simon, no dummy, asks:
If you play Bridge with the table on top of the North Pole, is everybody South?
(Disclosure: I have played in exactly one ACBL-sanctioned tournament, with an unrepentant Spades player as partner. We took third place.)
3 February 2006
A man of constant maintenance
Since Acidman is almost pathologically truthful these days, I'll take this at face value:
I'll be 54 years old in two weeks. I've owned a total of ELEVEN different cars in my life.... I suppose that's really not very many, especially when I consider where I stand right now.
I'd say it's as close to the practical minimum as you can get unless you happen to be, um, me. My next birthday is my 53rd; my current car is my sixth, and that includes one I hardly ever drove and gave up in the separation agreement. (Scarier: when I turned 40, I was still on the third.)
I think we can all agree, though, that car payments are an abomination unto the Lord.
A Friday frolic
Which is by way of saying that I got nothin' much this morning, and feel free (without violating the usual considerations of taste and/or slander) to add something of your own.
The state of things
Not a speck of cereal
Warner Bros. once sold a $2 sampler album called All Meat, implying a distinct lack of filler among the tracks therein, which, given the content of most pop albums "singles separated by varying amounts of filler," said Dave Marsh in one of his lucid moments should be considered a strong selling point.
Not to Ann Althouse, though:
[W]hen did "best of" collections become respectable? I remember when it was considered embarrassing to purchase your music in that form. If you haven't been following an artist, you were supposed to pick an album. You were supposed to try to figure out which is the best one, and start there, with a set of tracks in the form the artist wanted. Who cares if "best of" marketing dies?
And how many albums are actually "in the form the artist wanted," and of those, how many of them are worth a second listen? How many albums have 100% prime cuts? (How many have even 40 percent?)
In the 1940s, we had format wars: the CBS LP (then styled "Lp") and the RCA 45. The thinking behind the LP was simple enough: no more changing records every four minutes or so. A wonderful idea if you're recording Das Lied von der Erde; not quite such a great deal if you're putting out pop hits. And the Top 40 radio format, which ascended to the top of the ratings books in the 1950s, had no use for albums of any size or speed, and not much use for "genre" tags; even as late as 1967, acts as divergent as Frank Sinatra and Aretha Franklin made the Top 40 charts, and therefore made Top 40 radio. Pop music is all about the single, the hit; I don't think I play any pop album of the last 20 years all the way through anymore, with the possible exception of Jagged Little Pill.
Reasons not to reverse a vasectomy
4 February 2006
Fatuous Flashback 19
When it's cold enough, the mind plays tricks on you:
From the onset of the howl to the last decaying harmonics, the sound of the 6:15 freight took about twice as long as usual this morning. I don't know whether this was a trick of the atmosphere or a problem with the track I do know that railroad men have been working on the bed just west of the Air Depot crossing but the call of the horn was so long and so mournful that I wondered if Junior Parker's Mystery Train, sixteen coaches long, was the train actually making the run. And given the fourfold increase in minor (and maybe not so minor) physical issues I've faced this year, I've got to wonder if next time the train is coming for me.
(Aside to Elvis: Yeah, I know, you'd have hopped that freight and dared them to take your baby away. That's why you're Elvis and the rest of us aren't.)
(From Fahrenheit 4.51, 7 February 2003. The temperature that morning was actually a balmy 14.)
On the south side of the river
The former Downtown Airpark will be turned into a mixed-use urban development under the direction of Grant Humphreys, last seen starting up the Block 42 project east of downtown, which is going to look something like this.
Humphreys' Urban Form LLC bid $7.2 million for the bankrupt Airpark; they plan residential, retail, possibly lodging, an office or two, but, they emphasize, no casinos.
He's here, but he's not here
Philadelphia 76ers center Steven Hunter, traded to the Hornets this week, apparently flunked his physical, putting that transaction on hold and ensuring that Hunter won't suit up for the Hornets/Lakers game tonight.
Sixers president/GM Billy King says he hopes to have the matter resolved over the weekend.
The cry of the Antiwar Redneck
Personally, I think "Mr. President, Pull My Finger" is a better title than "Mr. Shrub," but from what I know about Eddie Glenn, he won't give much of a damn what I think, and that's fine with me.
Anyway, he's posted the song and its accompanying video, along with this bit of exposition:
The concept of rednecks being anti-war may seem contradictory to some folks who aren't as well-steeped in redneck culture as Eddie Glenn.
But in fact, it's no more contradictory [than] Latinos against war, or Blacks against war. War kills the poor, but benefits them very little. Plus, why send healthy young men off to shoot at people they don't even know, when there are plenty of people right here in the backwoods of Oklahoma that need shooting just as bad!
No way am I going to argue with that.
Saturday spottings (on the march)
The Lakers game was sold out approximately nine minutes after tickets went on sale, or so the story goes, so I didn't have any compelling reason to go downtown today, but compulsion isn't everything, and I wanted to look over the old Downtown Airpark, which, as noted earlier, is about to be scraped away and replaced with one of those mixed-use developments you hear so much about in the trades.
Nominally at SW 16th and Western, the Airpark extends practically to the south bank of the
Or maybe not. The march of progress goes ever on, but one of the things about marches, and God knows I did plenty of them in my day, is that you don't look down to see what's getting stepped on. Part of the old Riverside community, centered on SW 10th and Walker the Community Center is just east of there, Little Flower Church just to the south is being pretty well stomped by the coming of the New Interstate 40, which is, according to the maps, going to overlay SW 8th. What the maps don't tell you is how much of 8th isn't navigable anyway railroad tracks slice through this part of town, and too many crossings cost too much money or how much of the area has already been swept into oblivion. Blocks with one or two houses, sometimes no houses, lots of broken glass, the occasional abandoned appliance, stagnant water from a recent water-line repair: it's obviously not Katrina, but you're excused if you think it looks like it could have been one of her smaller siblings. "Every year," says Bob Waldrop, "Oklahoma City looks more and more like a Victor Hugo novel"; all this area lacks is a sewer big enough to chase someone through.
Then back north on Walker to the site of the much-delayed ground was finally broken in late January Legacy Summit at Arts Central apartments, nice enough but fairly undistinguished as urban residences go, which can serve as a reminder as spring and baseball season approach: Oklahoma City has hit quite a few home runs in recent years, but the conscientious stats guy will point out that there have been plenty of bunts, rather a lot of pop-ups to shallow right, and altogether too many foul balls.
The Kobe show
Everybody talks about Kobe Bryant's bazillions of points, but it's almost just as important to the Lakers that he's second on the team in assists, and with Lamar Odom out, it fell to Kobe to feed the rest of the offense. And he certainly didn't hog the spotlight. (Well, there was that hissy fit in the third quarter that got him a technical, but he got over it.) But four minutes into the fourth, Phil Jackson pitched a fit (and got a T of his own), and pulled his starters in disgust. He thought better of it after four minutes more, but it didn't matter by then: the Hornets, who shot almost 57 percent from the floor, sent the Lakers on their way, 106-90.
Attendance was reported as 19,344, 181 over capacity. Chris Paul pulled yet another double-double 19 points, 13 assists and five other Hornets pulled down double figures. Rasual Butler hammered it home with a trey (he was 3 for 3 beyond the arc) with six seconds left; Desmond Mason started out strong and finished with 21 points.
Oh, and Kobe? 35 points and 5 assists. Good numbers, but this time they weren't good enough.
The Bees, now 24-22 and seventh in the Western Conference, next head for New Jersey; they'll be back at the Ford at midweek to meet the Sonics, and later the Knicks.
5 February 2006
Name by name, but not by nature
I've been puzzling over this one for a couple of days now:
My stepmother postulates that no one is ever entirely happy with his/her first name. Discuss.
I suppose I can provide support for this postulate, since I'm not exactly thrilled with the name I have. On the other hand, I can't really think of one I'd prefer. (Of the various noms de screen I've had over the past two decades, the single one I can say I really liked was "Harry," and that only because I'd paired it with the perfect surname: "Diehl.")
Maybe I should give this further thought.
This has gone on too long
At least, Chad the Elder thinks so:
Why in this fast-paced world of I-Pods, TiVo, high-speed internet, DVRs, one-click ordering, HDTV, file-sharing, PDFs, and wireless this and wireless that, do we still insist on using legal paper (8½" x 14") for things like mortgages and loans? I understand that the law talking elite might prefer to use a legal pad for scribblin' their notes and doodling, but why must the rest of us, the folks, be forced to deal with documents designed for the shyster set?
Everything in my office at home; binders, file folders, hanging folders, file drawers, and the fireproof safe is set up to store the standard, widely-accepted and used 8" x 11" documents. So when I get handed a stack of important legal papers at the bank and wish to preserve them for posterity's sake, I'm forced to fold, bend, spindle, or mutilate them in order to get them to fit. What's the deal with that?
I can barely resist posting this explanation:
This history of legal size paper (8.5" x 14") is unclear, although most historians agree it is a descendant of "foolscap," a traditional British paper size dating back to the 16th century. About 8.5" x 13.5", foolscap was used for official documents and it is believed that the size has been retained by the legal community more for tradition than for any practical purpose.
Incidentally, "foolscap" refers to the watermark once used by a major producer of paper in this size; it is not a snide commentary on the quality of legal documents. I think.
Even more incidentally, I have an actual legal-size scanner, which has one distinct advantage, at least for me, over its smaller brothers: it can do an LP jacket (around 12½" by 12½") in two passes rather than four. (Works pretty well, too.)
Not having anywhere nearly as much fame as James Frey, I figure I'm going to have to punch up some of the incidents in my inevitable upcoming memoir, and where punching up isn't enough, I'm just going to have to fabricate things.
Top Ten possible embellishments:
Of course, I'll have to delete this post when the book comes out.
As promised, an early picture of Jackson Marshall Hill, firmly established as Grandchild #3, and presumably not fazed by an abundance of bloodwork in his first week, motivated by suspicions of jaundice. (It did drag him back into the hospital for overnight observation, but he's out and about; this being Russ and Alicia's second child, they've learned to outfit him with generic overalls instead of paying through the nose for OshKosh, b'gosh.) He has no idea what he's in for, of course, but how many of us did at the age of 0.7 week? I've got 2700-odd weeks to my credit, and I still don't know what's waiting around the bend. (A larger version of this photo, in which he doesn't look especially yellow to me anyway, can be had by clicking on the smaller one; sensibly, he's not fond of flash.)
6 February 2006
Opening up the archives
The secret to success for a newspaper on the Web? Same as it ever was, says Doc Searls:
Charge for the news, recycle the olds. That's the same business we've always had in the daily print news business, and I think it will leverage just fine on the Web.
The only problem with that is having no live Web presence, right? So, a suggestion: take everything but breaking news off the home page (which is way too crapped up with clutter anyway). Make it clear that subscribers get to see the rest of today's news today. Make links to today's news work tomorrow, even if only subscribers see those links today.
That way the paywall for each story or column is up only for 24 hours, and down for the rest of time. That way the paper gets plenty of authority and influence from having its full archives on the Web in searchable and linkable form. News customers get to pay for what they've always paid for. And hey, maybe once the high value of fresh news gets full respect from its producers, the papers will start making customers out of its consumers.
I like this, generally, but how "full" are "full archives"? It will cost you a few coins of the realm, but you can get everything that's been in The Oklahoman since 1901, when E. K. Gaylord was only twenty-eight years old and two years away from entering the newspaper racket in Oklahoma City. I'm not prepared to tell them that they should be giving that stuff away, especially since it's not really formatted for indexing. But last week's business briefs? Hardly anyone's paying for them now, I suspect.
(Aside: Is it proper to cite a reference in Wikipedia if it's one I wrote?)
First, sell the product
Although this seems a bit roundabout, given the nature of the product in question.
(Possibly not safe for work)
Addendum: Alternate link here.
We'll always have Dolly
One of the wondrous things about Dolly Parton, I've always felt, is that she has a splendid pair of legs which are almost always on display, yet which no one has ever seen: this is magical misdirection worthy of Penn and Teller.
If you, like me, can't even imagine a world without Dolly, you might appreciate this premise:
I'm developing a new theory: that Dolly Parton is an enterprise run almost identically to that of the Dread Pirate Roberts. So when the Dolly Parton we know grows weary and decides to retire, she identifies a replacement who will seamlessly merge into the life of Dolly Parton and carry on the Dolly Parton name and brand, as if nothing had ever happened. That way, Dolly is ageless and lives forever, and people will never have to know what a dark and woeful place the world would be without her and that hair, and the breasts that unwittingly prepared a nation to cope better with Anna Nicole Smith.
No one ever so brilliantly blended art and artifice; surely there must be some way to keep her around for a few more centuries, and if ripping off a theme from The Princess Bride will do the trick, I approve.
(Warning: Link also contains a photo of Pamela Anderson, who in an emergency may be used as a flotation device.)
Such an expensive legislature
The idea of streamlining bloated state legislatures is not new. More than one person has looked at Nebraska's legislature made up of 49 legislators, total, and wondered why a state like Oklahoma needs one hundred more than that.
Of course, Nebraska has a single legislative body: the other states have two, following the pattern established in the national Constitution.
There's no reason why it couldn't be done here, though. Mike cites this Muskogee Phoenix op-ed:
My vote would be to excise representatives, but call our senators "representatives." This is to punish senators for their disdainful attitude that being a representative is an inferior position.
They actually have about the same responsibilities, but I have it from a reliable source that senators carry on as if they are better than your common representative.
Myself, I'm persuaded that the attitude is more of an annoyance than the numbers, which is why I rather like the New Hampshire layout: twenty-two senators and four hundred representatives, none of whom get paid enough to make a career of it. (Annual pay, per the state constitution, is $100, with an extra $25 for presiding officers; subsequent amendments have introduced a mileage allowance, but the pay remains what it was in 1784.) At this level, it's hard to look down your nose at anyone.
Slower going in the Big Apple
I have admittedly not driven much in the City of New York no more than a couple of hours at most but when I did, I did not exceed the posted speed limits, when I could find said limits posted, though this is due more to crushing volumes of traffic than to my own dubious virtue.
That said, though, this perturbed me greatly:
On his weekly WABC-AM radio show yesterday, [Mayor Michael] Bloomberg voiced support for placing devices atop taxis and private vehicles that would light up when motorists exceed the speed limit, making speeders easy prey for cops. He mentioned seeing such alarms in Singapore.
"We all want the laws enforced. And when we have technology [that] can let us enforce the law and save us money in doing so, what's the argument against that?" Bloomberg mused.
"If I have a police officer watching to see if you're going down the street speeding, or the car reports automatically when you speed, you know, is either of those things fundamentally different in its infringement on your liberties?"
Well, the NYPD does other things besides watch for speeders; their presence on city streets can be justified quite easily. And while it could be argued that installing one of these contraptions could be added to the list of conditions for possessing a NYC taxi medallion without difficulty, I'm thinking that mandating them for everyone will run into some Fifth Amendment issues.
Besides, does Bloomberg really want to be taking his lead on civil liberties from Singapore? Migod, he'll be having smokers caned.
The State of things
Governor Henry's State of the State Address was given today, and I listened to it on the radio.
There was no mention of one of his pet projects, the state lottery, except in the most elliptical of terms:
We gave voters an opportunity, and they created the first new revenue streams for education in more than 15 years.
And he attempted to preempt ongoing GOP obsessions:
Together we rebounded from difficult times to build a vibrant economy. We permanently reduced the income tax, eliminated capital gains taxes, and even provided rebates to all Oklahoma taxpayers for the first time in history.
Together, we lowered taxes on our retirees and veterans, and we passed landmark workers' compensation reforms. Our policies have breathed new life into our economy. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that our growth in jobs and personal income now outpace the regional and national averages.
He's calling, again, for cheaper drugs:
Prescription drugs are one of the chief drivers of increased medical costs. When needy Oklahomans must choose between food and medicine while drug companies spend more than $4 billion on advertising, something has gone terribly wrong. The status quo is unacceptable.
This session, I renew my call that we work together in a bipartisan manner to help Oklahomans safely re-import lower-cost prescription drugs from other industrialized nations. We know some pharmaceutical companies will again fight this every step of the way, but the people of Oklahoma elected us to represent their interests, and not special interests.
And he's willing to spend the bucks to push the state as a research center:
Leveraged by a $180 million bond issue, we will stimulate cutting-edge research. We will invest in sensor technology at Oklahoma State University. We will invest in cancer and diabetes research at the University of Oklahoma. And, we will support private-sector research throughout the state. It is critical we equip ourselves with every tool needed to develop a research infrastructure that will fuel our long-term prosperity.
He departed substantially from his advance copy only twice: to acknowledge the absence of Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby, who was scheduled to be there but was called away on an emergency, and to add something of a homily to the closing.
Most of his new proposals are fairly non-controversial; there may be quibbling over the details, but I suspect he'll get most of what he wants. Which, if you get right down to it, sums up his first term pretty well.
Towards the end, he dropped the name of WWII correspondent Ernie Pyle, by way of one of my old favorite quotes, circa 1943:
The men of Oklahoma are drawling and soft-spoken. Something of the purity of the soil seems to be in them.... An Oklahoman is straight and direct. He is slow to criticize and hard to anger, but once he is convinced of the wrong of something, brother, watch out.
As a Midwestern transplant, I have long since learned the value of this approach.
Gross vs. Nets
New Jersey had won ten straight at the Meadowlands, and they weren't about to let the Hornets break that string, so when the Bees took a 12-point lead at the half, the Nets poured on the pressure in the third quarter, and iced it midway through the fourth when the Hornets' offense went cold; even a pair of patented Rasual Butler treys couldn't salvage matters, and the Nets got their 11th in a row, 99-91. ("An industrial-strength tail-kicking," quipped Russ Eisenstein about that second half.)
It was the Bees' bench that provided most of the scoring: Speedy Claxton got 23, and Rasual Butler pulled down 18. Even J. R. Smith and Bostjan Nachbar were seen; Nachbar got a board and a dime, and J. R. hit both his shots, one a trey.
Fortunately, as road trips go, this is a short one: one game. The Hornets return to the Ford Wednesday to meet the Sonics.
7 February 2006
You should see the questionnaire
I swiped this off a message board and cleaned up some (though by no means all) of its all-too-numerous offenses against the English language. It's, um, different:
I think since we have a registry for sex offenders and violent crooks we should have [a] registry for grotesque, desperate and unconfident singles. This would save those of us who are attractive and confident from dating those out there who are clearly losers and do not deserve dates or relationships. Just think of it the next time you are asked to go on a date with someone you look them up and find out if they're a loser or not. Then you could tell them you know they're a loser and to get lost. I know it would save us all tons of time. Besides do we really need the dateless wonders and one date wonders procreating. I think not. The only ones of us that should be procreating are those that are beautiful, confident and talented. Just think how much money we would save on welfare alone. The savings could pay off the national debt.
I really don't see what this would do that likely couldn't be accomplished by some judicious Googlage.
And if I'm reading this correctly, those who are "attractive and confident" apparently don't make these judgment calls very well, or they wouldn't need the registry to begin with. At the very least, that should shake their confidence, n'est-ce pas?
Here we go loop de loop
Usually I keep my wireless phone shut off at work, not so much to avoid the interruptions I get relatively few calls but because reception at that location is somewhere between suboptimal and nonexistent. Once I leave the building, I crank it back up.
And the little blip came on to tell me I had a voice message. Okay, fine, I've had these before; I dialed the usual shortcut and was connected to a tutorial on how to set up voicemail.
They've been threatening to revamp the voicemail system, I remembered: maybe they finally broke down and did it. I set the phone down and drove home.
Back at Surlywood, I fired up the browser and jumped onto their Web site, and sure enough, there were a couple of lines on the tech-support page which suggested voicemail changes. I hit the pertinent one, and was rewarded with a lovely semi-transparent screen overlay which asked me which of the 70 or 80 phones they support I actually use. I made the selection and was sent back to the tech-support page, where there were a couple of lines which suggested voicemail changes. I hit the pertinent one, and was rewarded with a lovely semi-transparent screen overlay which asked me which of the 70 or 80 phones they support I actually use. I made the selection and was sent back to the tech-support page, where there were a couple of lines which suggested voicemail changes.
You can see where this is going, and the answer is clearly Nowhere. I exited the Web site and forced myself to endure the tutorial, which, however annoying, actually got me to my voicemail.
Perhaps this is what one should expect when a firm from the Seattle area is acquired by the Germans: lackadaisical yet somehow militant.
Behind the Birdman
Marty Burns' NBA Notebook at SI.com reveals that the Players' Association is fighting the dismissal of Hornets forward Chris "Birdman" Andersen, who was suspended from the league in January for reasons which went unstated but whose penalty was consistent with severe violations of the NBA's drug policy.
The case will go to arbitration in New York Friday before Calvin Sharpe, professor of law at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland.
Andersen, who stands to lose more than $10 million over the next three years, is staying mum and completely out of the spotlight. Maybe he's guilty as charged and has enough respect for himself and the truth to let it go. Or maybe he's innocent but has been told to keep quiet.
That should about cover it.
What is hip?
That which is embraced by the hipsters, of course. And who are the hipsters? For the answer, I turn to cultural historian and/or surly crank James Lileks:
A hipster is someone who is aware of something six months before people who work primarily in the insurance industry find out about it. What they are aware of has to be fun but useless, something like "innovations in Danish halogen lighting" or "trends in indie thrash-pop ska/metal Nashville country-punk underground." I know, I know, that genre's gotten so broad it includes almost anyone. But it's still hip. [Editor's note: It was when the author wrote this yesterday, but he killed its hipness by writing about it here. We apologize.]
And if, like me, you have an occasional need to know what will be so five minutes ago ten minutes from now, these are the people whose friendship, such as it is, you must cultivate. No wonder I'm behind on all the trends. I'm not hip. I'm not even hep.
Apologising for the previous apology
We, the British media, would like to offer our sincere apologies for any offence we may have caused by our unthinking publication of the so-called "Mafia cartoons" last week. We freely admit it was disrespectful to portray Don Vito Corleone or any of his family in un-blacked out or unpixillated form. We have received many persuasive messages from Sicilian community leaders and we understand their anger. Let's not get into a situation where their pain becomes our pain too. Freedom of speech is a good thing, but it must be used responsibly otherwise it ceases to be freedom of speech.
Some reckless libertarians might accuse us of hypocrisy. After all, haven't we mocked other business enterprises in the past? If we can poke fun at McDonald's or Microsoft, then why not the Cosa Nostra? But there is a difference between portraying Bill Gates as Satan or Ronald McDonald as Hitler and depicting Don Vito Corleone as a ruthless criminal mastermind. Or, indeed, in any way at all. We regard it as deeply racist to associate members of the Sicilian community with violent crime, especially when there is not a shred of empirical evidence to back such slurs. Freedom of speech is precious but cultural understanding must take precedence. Sicilian narratives of legality may differ from ours. Is that any reason to resort to crude, inartistic caricatures depicting members of an ethnic minority carrying machine guns in violin cases and putting horses' heads in people's beds?
Let us state unequivocally how much we respect Don Corleone and his family and how much we hope he will respect ours. Don't hurt us please!!!
I'm in the casting division with ABC Television and we're looking for great families and moms who love to stand out from the crowd, families who aren't afraid to be unique. We think that amazing mothers who are part of your groups would be amazing to feature on our program.
We're currently casting for ABC's hit family show, "Wife Swap!" Please don't be confused by the title "Wife Swap" is a family show on ABC primetime. The premise is simple: two moms from two very different families get the opportunity to swap lives (but not bedrooms everyone has their own!) for a week to experience what it's like to live a different lifestyle and to see what they can teach each other about their own! In this case we're looking to feature interesting families with unique interests and hobbies and all the fun that goes along with it. I would greatly appreciate you forwarding my information on to any of your family members, friends, and associates who might be interested in sharing their lives with us for a week!
And so forth.
An online farm system for reality television. It almost makes me wish blogs had never been invented.
Remind me to pick up an extra bottle of Pepto.
As others see us
There's a full-screen "card" for each site they list, and a summary card which appears when you search by topic.
I bring this up because someone apparently went looking for this site, and the site card includes some useful info like the site description (which is normally hidden in a META tag), popularity (two stars out of five, which seems high) and posting frequency (43 per week, which also seems high, but which is at least subject to verification; this particular post is, in fact, the 42nd since the first of the month).
Interestingly, the following major topics are listed for this site:
Summary cards for forty-seven "related" sites are attached.
Also included: a tool to extract the front page from the Wayback Machine. The earliest one they had was 23 October 1999, which seems fair enough: this domain didn't exist before 1999. (Version 6.037, if you're curious, and it looks awful, even without the graphics.)
I dunno who was looking at this stuff, but the IP traces back to Los Angeles. (Thank you for your interest.)
8 February 2006
Unless, of course, you're binomial
At what time of the day are you the most sexually responsive?
AL / T + 10 x AG / SF x G = TOTAL / 60 = sexiest time, where:
AL = Represent units of alcohol consumed each week
AG = Your age
SF = sexual frequency per week
G = Gender ( Male - 2, Female - 1.5)
T = Sex time preference ( 1.5 - Mornings, 2 - Evenings)
Add or subtract your answer to or from 6am (e.g +11.75 means 4.45pm is the best time to hit the sack, if you scored -4, 2am is nookie time for you)
And so Samantha tried it, and this is what she got:
0/2 +10 x 30/3 x 1.5 = 150/60 = 2.5
So, since it's in the positive, I add two and a half hours to 6 am, and that means I need a visitor around 8:30 am.
I need hardly point out that if I try this, it violates a sacred rule of mathematics: the one about dividing by zero.
This will pass quickly enough
Senate Bill 1022, by Mike Morgan and Todd Hiett (as heavyweight authorship goes, you can't get much heavier), adds one new sales tax exemption to the 50 already in existence:
51. Sales of tickets made on or after September 21, 2005, for admission to a professional athletic event in which a team in the National Basketball Association or National Hockey League is a participant, which is held in a facility owned or operated by a municipality or a public trust of which a municipality is the sole beneficiary.
Which, of course, applies to the Hornets: this was part of the package deal that brought the Bees to OKC, but the legislature was out of session at the time.
(Full text here, in Rich Text Format.)
Now: slower refunds!
It's always seemed at least slightly perverse to me that the American taxpayer, by and large, prefers to overpay (via withholding) his taxes during the year and then draw a fat refund the next spring. Of course, if he had to pay the entire sum at one shot, he'd be very, very unhappy, which is one reason why it's simply not done. (Another, more subtle, is that it tends to obscure the sheer vastness of said sum.)
Earnest Pettie, the Idea Man, is undoubtedly aware that the amount of the fat refund constitutes a de facto interest-free loan from taxpayer to government; taking this into account, and noting that Americans, as a whole, don't save very much, he proposes a system to offset both these issues:
Giving Americans tax refunds on debit cards could convince us to start saving again. Imagine that the amount of the tax refund given a citizen were considered by the government to be a bond, accruing interest for the recipient for as long as the government were allowed to hold onto the money. The recipient would be allowed to spend the money in his account, and as he spends it, there is less available to accrue interest. This would represent an incentive for a recipient not to spend their entire refund, encouraging the recipient to save money, without that person having to go to any trouble (such as the effort required to open a savings account) to start saving. The people who need savings accounts most, the poor, are the ones who least can afford to open them. This could be a huge opportunity to turn those people into savers.
Seems like this would get some extra mileage out of the Earned Income Credit, too.
Who loses? All those firms (including tax-preparation firms) who make loans based upon the expectation of getting their hands on refund checks. I can't say I'd shed many tears for them.
Yours truly, engaging in some guesswork a couple months ago:
If the Hornets return to New Orleans, as everyone involved swears they will, this is the most likely spot the Sonics will end up: team support here is running well beyond original expectations, and NBA Commissioner David Stern would much prefer to have another team move here than to deal with angry Hornets fans in Louisiana.
Stern, I suspect, has modified his position somewhat, if only because he's figured out that sending the Hornets back to New Orleans is going to cost a lot more money than any conceivable buyout. He's not crazy enough to say so, though.
Clay Bennett, a prominent businessman who led a group of corporate investors that lured the displaced New Orleans Hornets to Oklahoma City, said he is watching with interest the political proceedings involving the Sonics, the Seattle City Council and the Washington State Legislature.
Bennett is keenly aware of the strife building between city officials and the club, which seeks a taxpayer-funded $200 million for renovations to KeyArena. He also read the comments from principal owner Howard Schultz, who said last week that Sonics owners would be forced to sell or move the team unless they receive public assistance.
In a telephone interview Tuesday, Bennett said that he has not been in contact with anyone representing the Sonics, but "we'd be very interested in those discussions and would pursue them vigorously."
Number of NBA seasons, 2005 through 2015, in which there will be no team in Oklahoma City: 0.
Update, 10 February: Bennett and Oklahoma Professional Sports LLC, the ad hoc business consortium that backed Oklahoma City's bid to host the Hornets from 2005 through 2007, have set up a corporation to seek an NBA franchise for the city, be it the Hornets if they stay, or another team should they go. Meanwhile in Seattle, Schultz is making noises about selling out.
The Gas Game (February)
Regular readers, assuming they haven't fled for places less surly, will remember that last fall I balked at paying Oklahoma Natural Gas $8.393 per dekatherm for a year, on the seemingly-reasonable basis that the price couldn't possibly stay up that high for twelve whole months.
That sound you hear is my wallet flattening. On the upside, usage was way down, what with last month being the second warmest January since 1891, and prices have actually started to slide, though they're still higher than ONG's VFP Plan. Here's my situation, how it really stands:
O Spring, where art thou?
Slightly faster than the speed of sound
How can you buzz when you're slow? Chris Paul got knocked out of the game in the second quarter with bruises to the ribs; Speedy Claxton suffered a mild concussion after only thirty seconds in. The remaining Bees were game, and did their best to slow down Seattle's scoring machine, led by 34 points from Rashard Lewis, who got five treys in the fourth quarter and to the delight of the Ford Center crowd of 18,807, somehow it worked: Hornets 109, Sonics 102.
Once again, five Hornets in double figures. David West got the double-double with 26 points and 10 rebounds; so did Kirk Snyder, with 16 points and 12 assists. And P. J. Brown came this close: 21 points, 9 rebounds. But the Big Shot was yet another patented Rasual Butler trey which broke a 102-102 tie with 15 seconds left: P. J. and Desmond Mason drew Seattle fouls and calmly dropped two free throws each to ice it. (Mason had 15 points; Butler had 14; the resurgent Bostjan Nachbar played seven minutes, scored 4 and got 3 boards.)
What happens between now and Friday when the Knicks come to town is anyone's guess. We now know that Steven Hunter won't be here: the deal has been called off. And I'd bet that CP3 will be back; after all, he tried to start the third quarter tonight before discovering that he wasn't quite up to it.
9 February 2006
Okay, they're a little bit on the high side a five-inch heel, which not everyone can pull off with aplomb but one Dax Moy, a British "health and fitness chief," arguably the greatest title since one of those garage inventors said his 90-mpg carburetor had been vetted by a "physics colonel," as reported about twenty years ago in Car and Driver, asserts that shoes of this sort constitute a health hazard. I'm sure they're a hazard to my health show me these underneath a spectacular pair of legs (I have some specific ones in mind, and I'm not going to get more specific than that) and I am guaranteed a case of eyestrain but are they really that bad?
In a word, yes, says Moy:
The forward tilting of the pelvis allows the abdominal contents to spill forward, producing that "pooch" which many women have wrongly come to think of a "fat stomach." In doing so, they compress internal organs in a condition known as visceroptosis. It doesn't stop there neck, back, shoulder pain, stress headaches and even premature hair loss can all ensue as a result of ignoring the way your body is designed to work.
Plus, of course, it makes it very difficult to shag short men, thereby foolishly cutting your chances of impregnation against a wall.
And surely we wouldn't want that, would we?
(Via Matt Rosenberg.)
I suspect one learns patience in a Corvette: being able to do well over the speed limit, well over twice the speed limit in some instances, and yet knowing that doing so will bring down the wrath of the gendarmes, would seem to make one a trifle cautious.
And I figure the guy behind me this morning on the southbound onramp to I-35 from I-44 east, who was keeping his distance, had already planned out his next few seconds: follow the ramp at 40-45 mph, behind that bog-slow sedan in front of him, and then dart leftwards into the I-35 traffic flow and make up the lost time. A reasonable plan, if I say so myself.
What he didn't figure is that I routinely take this ramp at 60, and while he was throttling back, I was applying what power I had, which admittedly wasn't a great deal, and tightening the curve. By the time Merge or Else came up, I'd left him five or six car-lengths behind, and what's more, I'd left him an opening more than sufficient to allow him into the flow.
Of course, I had the advantage of being in front and being able to see what was coming. But this little transaction tends to reinforce one of my cherished beliefs: it's more fun to drive a slow car fast than it is to drive a fast car slowly. And while I know better than to dice with Corvettes on the straightaways, I don't do at all badly on the twisty bits. (This, of course, is another justification for the World Tours: there's a dearth of twisty bits on the Oklahoma City waffle-iron street grid.)
I used to catch a bus every day outside 177 Meeting Street in Charleston, but that was years ago.
These toes are made for whistling
And that's just what they'll do. [Video clip, preceded by short ad.]
Dick Morris was unavailable for comment.
Quote of the week
From James Joyner, on a theme I've surely mentioned before:
Not only has it never occured to me that beauty and brains are mutually exclusive indeed, my experience has almost always been that when it rains, it pours but I can't even imagine what one might do with a stupid woman on the second night. Well, certainly, the second week.
Suggestions, within reasonable bounds of decorum, are welcomed. (By me, not by James, who is happily spoken for.)
Baby got loopback
Winston Rand spotted this on a truck bumper in Nashville:
Click your heels together three times and ping.
10 February 2006
Nancy Goldstein of The Raw Story asked twenty liberal bloggers the following question:
If you had $100 to invest politically, where would it go?
[W]hen I queried folks, I told them that I, like so many disenchanted progressives, had sworn off giving money to the Democratic National Party in the wake of the Alito/judicial nominations debacle. And I asked them to consider where they'd spend their hard-earned dough with that in mind.
The results were most interesting, and not even slightly repetitive: everyone had at least one cause or one candidate or one organization to fund. I think my favorite response was Kevin Drum's:
[M]y hundred bucks goes to Nick Lampson, Democratic candidate for Congress in the 22nd congressional district of the great state of Texas.
[W]hat could possibly give me more personal satisfaction than to contribute to the defeat of the loathsome Tom DeLay, a man so arrogant that he redrew the boundaries of his own district to include more Democrats because he thought he could never lose? Hah!
Works for me.
Inasmuch as I have readers on both sides of the aisle and almost everywhere else in the building, I'd be interested in hearing where you'd spend your $100 for political purposes.
(Via Lindsay Beyerstein, a contributor to the Goldstein survey, and one of my regular reads.)
Though we really did try to make it
The Oklahoma House has watched the livestock flee, but they're going to close the barn door anyway.
House Bill 2091, by John Wright (R-Broken Arrow), would provide a tax credit equal to the 3.5-percent vehicle excise tax to buyers of General Motors vehicles built in Oklahoma which means, vehicles produced at GM Oklahoma City Assembly, which will be idled later this month in advance of permanent closing.
Wright is hopeful:
Obviously, the plant is not yet closed, so as long as production is still taking place, there's still time for a change of heart.
Last month, Governor Henry announced an incentive package he hoped would persuade GM to keep the plant open; Treasurer Scott Meacham says that the company is scheduled to discuss the package with state officials before the production line shuts down.
Wright's bill made it out of committee at mid-week and will go before the full House.
Watches? So three minutes, 20 seconds ago. Here's how they do it in the Land of the Big Sky:
[H]ere in Montana, there are only two or three mobile phone providers, with Verizon Wireless being the major player; most people here have Verizon service (or at least most of the folks that I work with). Invariably, if someone at work asks what time it is, several folks whip out their cell phones and report the time. Since we are all subscribed to the same service, and our phones have replaced our watches, the time is the same for all of us: no one's phone is set 5 minutes ahead so that they're not late to a meeting, and no one's phone is running slow. We are all on Verizon Time.
During the World Tours, I allow my wireless service to dictate the time, mostly so I won't have to bother with time zones, but at home I set the darn thing myself: for some reason, they always seems to be about a minute and a half off. Then again, it's a consistent minute and a half.
If you were wondering if it's possible for a beautiful young woman to channel a grizzled old man, here's Donna in Andy Rooney mode:
Are there any other Netflix users out there? Have you also noticed the strange coincidence that your Netflix queue always hovers around the same number as your weight is in pounds? No matter how many movies I watch, the number of movies in my queue is always pretty much equal to what my scale reads in the mornings.
I think she just talked me out of Netflix: if my queue matches my weight, I won't live long enough to see all those films.
New York nix
So what's it like when Speedy Claxton starts? It's different, to be sure; with Chris Paul sidelined, the Hornets had to work yet another variation on their offense, and it didn't really start working until midway through the second quarter, at which point Slovenia's favorite son, Bostjan Nachbar, went on an 11-point rampage to finish off the half and cut the New York lead from 10 to 2; the Bees gradually pulled away in the third and after a couple of anxious moments in the fourth, put the Knicks away, 111-100.
Both sides had balanced attacks: the Knicks had seven players in double figures, the Hornets five. Two Hornets pulled double-doubles: David West (21 points/10 rebounds) and Speedy Claxton (18 points/11 assists).
The Bees are now 26-23; another one-shot out of town tomorrow night, against the Timberwolves, and back to the Ford to meet the Wizards on Monday.