1 March 2006
Aggravated mopery

"Mopery," said H. Allen Smith in Low Man on a Totem Pole, is the "old English misdemeanor of exposing one's self in front of a blind man on a public highway."

The Word Detective once was threatened with a more contemporary version:

I ... was threatened with arrest for "mopery" back in 1970 by a gendarme in the employ of the Columbus, Ohio police department. As I knew I was guilty of no crime beyond a bad attitude and a subversive haircut, I presumed he was joking and simply walked away. But several days later I heard that a friend had actually been arrested, booked and jailed for "mopery," so I guess the relevant law really existed on the books (and, knowing Columbus, I'd guess that it probably still does).

The Detective's interpretation:

"Mopery," at least in Columbus, Ohio, consists of "walking down the street with no clear destination or purpose." "Mopery" is thus essentially "loitering while walking," and, like laws against loitering and vagrancy, functions as a sort of legal wildcard, a one-size-fits-all charge that can easily be applied to annoying people by irritable authorities.

Meanwhile, Milwaukee, reports Triticale, has "approved an ordinance calling for fines against persons who 'loiter in a menacing fashion'." I wonder if this is like Oklahoma City's "aggressive panhandling" minus the actual request for spare change.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 AM to Almost Yogurt )
A class war and nobody came

While it's of course a tragedy that Bill Gates has so much more money than some guy who pumps gas on the north side of Trenton, New Jersey, few people have volunteered for a tour of duty in the supposedly-inevitable class war. Whither this complacency? I think it may have something do with this:

[T]he gulf between the top 10% (or top 1%) and ... those below just isn't that big — it's big in raw numbers but it's just not that big in terms of quality of life. I live in a $150,000 house (in the Midwest). Within 1 mile of my house are $2,000,000 houses, which I drive by every day, and $50,000 houses. I'm not sure what progressive cause I should be thinking as I drive by: "My God, how can I live in the presence of such a well groomed lawn?" or something? The knowledge that they can afford to fly more often than I can? They eat more steak? What? Ultimately, I think people aren't especially resentful of the superrich because there just aren't that many of them, and it just doesn't reallly matter whether they exist or not.

Then again, like wealth, the capacity for envy is not evenly distributed; some people feel it much more than others. And if you factor out envy, what's left for the class warriors? Discredited, or at least discreditable, Marxist musings; the dubious assumption that it's all a zero-sum game, that there are only so many dollars in the world, that handing Shaquille O'Neal twenty million of them in a year results in fewer cans of spinach at the food bank; the notion that when Jesus said "Feed my sheep," He was thinking that the proper way to do so was to render a great deal unto Caesar, that Caesar may have the capacity to operate the Department of Sheep-Feeding and support legions of minions therein.

Beyond that, there's that "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" business. Some people, you may be sure, will believe to the end of their days that the pursuit is a fraud, that the race is rigged, and to prove it to you, they will point to the finish line and note that not everyone has yet arrived. The proper response: "Who put you in charge of the stopwatch?"

James Brown, the hardest-working man in show business, once sang "I don't want nobody to give me nothin' / Open up the door, I'll get it myself." So long as the door remains open, people will continue to get it themselves. A heck of a system, if you ask me.

The high cost of lizards

Geico, forbidden by New Jersey law to discriminate on the basis of race or ethnicity in its auto-insurance rate structure, has come up with a real winner: collar color.

The Star-Ledger reports that a single male, age 30, from Newark who works as a janitor would pay $2880 per year; were the same man a lawyer, he'd pay $1686.

Geico withdrew from New Jersey in the 1970s, complaining of excessive regulation; it appears that since their return in 2004, they've learned to read the fine print. New Jersey insurance rules apparently permit this sort of pricing if the company can demonstrate correlation between educational level or occupation and loss experience.

To me, this suggests that state insurance regulators ought to look into the possibility of requiring that all risk factors used by a company be disclosed, and the weighting thereof be noted, when requesting a quote; that Newark janitor might well want to take his business elsewhere, if Geico considers him that much of a risk. There would be howls from the boardroom at first, but since when is that a surprise?

(Spotted at Fark and duly marked up 15 percent.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:04 AM to Dyssynergy )
A visual I didn't need

Frosty Troy's Oklahoma Observer describes District 84 Representative Sally Kern as "Bill Graves in drag."

Considering that Graves himself represented District 84 before term limits kicked in, and considering that Graves and Kern have thus far been pretty indistinguishable on the issues, and ... never mind, it's too close to lunchtime.

(Previous snarkage here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:31 AM to Soonerland )
180

The 180th edition of Carnival of the Vanities is hosted by The Cigar Intelligence Agency, and they've adhered to the traditions of this long-running blogfest. (What, did you think they'd reverse directions or something?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:22 PM to Blogorrhea )
Skyborne tubes of venom

I don't think I can say it any better than this:

Whether or not Snakes on a Plane receives critical acclaim on the level of Brokeback Mountain is a moot point. Brokeback Mountain may have gay cowboys, but Snakes on a Plane has snakes. And a plane. It's such a natural combination; I can't help but wonder if the Wright Brothers had snakes in mind from the start. Regardless of their intentions, it has become obvious to me that planes were meant for snakes, and vice versa. Think of it like Romeo and Juliet, but with reptiles and aircraft.

In conclusion, everyone needs to see Snakes on a Plane. There's no way this movie can fail. The hype for this film has been building like crazy; there's even a Facebook group for it, and we all know what that means. To sum it all up: This film has Samuel L. Jackson, Kenan, snakes and a plane. So jump on the bandwagon before it's too late, because movies don't get any better than this. Unless, of course, there are boobs in it.

Coming in 2007: Boobs on a Plane! (Well, maybe.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:50 PM to Almost Yogurt )
2 March 2006
Clipped and/or Stapled

The return of the Third-Period Drought was dramatic: the Hornets rolled up eight quick points and then didn't score again for the rest of the quarter. "Frightening," said Gerry V. "At least at Dunkirk they had boats."

It was a new club record, and not one they wanted to set: they gave up twenty-three unanswered points, and the Clippers, who had been down ten, took a lead they would never relinquish, winning 89-67. (You want scary? The Bees had led at the half, 51-47, which means they scored sixteen points in 24 minutes. Is this an NBA record for futility? Yes, it is.)

P. J. Brown got a double-double (10 points, 11 boards), but nobody noticed; Desmond Mason picked up 20 points, but ditto. Brandon Bass, who hadn't been seen lately, made two free throws (out of four).

Macas Watch: Arvydas Macijauskas came in with four minutes to play, but did not score. (Then again, at the time, neither did anyone else.) He did get a rebound.

I need some sleep.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:00 AM to Net Proceeds )
Revenge of the policy wonks

Delmarva Power & Light is lifting its rate cap come the first of May, which will increase electric rates about 59 percent. This gave Fritz Schranck an idea: have Delaware state government generate its own power, using wind and/or solar technologies on state-owned land, rather than buy from Delmarva. This would presumably save the taxpayers a few bucks, it would answer the Governor's call for diversifying the state's energy purchases, and it might even relieve some small amount of pressure on Delmarva.

On the other side of the country, Matt Rosenberg suggests retraining the homeless for commercial-driver positions, which doesn't sound as insane as you'd think:

Truck driving is the perfect job for the non-addicted, sane ranks of the homeless, which means at least 50 percent of them. If only local, regional, state and federal governments would repurpose homeless aid for instructional scholarships at truck-driving schools. Workin' the big rigs, the homeless can enjoy a new place every night. Sleep in their pissoir-equipped rides, if they want — a lot better than a sidewalk, park, doorway, shelter or SRO cubicle. Plus: no office politics. You, your pet poodle Che (or Sparky), Ani DiFranco on the iPod, a semi full of Wal-Mart tupperware or Tyson chicken, and the open road. America — land of opportunity.

I think maybe that "50 percent" is a touch on the high side, but Matt's got some real-life examples to cite.

No surprise here

The SBC Bricktown Ballpark, following SBC's acquisition of AT&T and the assumption of its name, will be renamed the "AT&T Bricktown Ballpark" today.

Everybody, of course, will still call it The Brick.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 AM to City Scene )
A cheer for the hometown crew

The Professor mentioned this last night, but I thought I'd bring it up here, since The Oklahoman scored some props.

Jay Rosen's Blue Plate Special has come up with a list of the Best Blogging Papers in the country, naming six honorees and a couple of Honorable Mentions; one of the latter is The Oklahoman's LOOK@OKC blog project.

Of LOOK@OKC, the BPS folks wrote:

Frankly, the quality of writing and observation is not there yet, but an idea is. You can hear it in their invitation at the bottom of the blogging main page.

"Do you have eyes? Do you have ears? Can we borrow them? LOOK@OKC is always looking for young adults in the Oklahoma City metro area to become trusted bloggers for the community. If you have something interesting to say, and have the commitment to say it on a regular basis, then you might have the ability to become a LOOK@OKC blogger. Just fill out the form?"

There's something honorable about that, so the young adults on the Blue Plate Special team thought they should mention it. Especially since seven years ago the Daily Oklahoman was called the worst newspaper in America.

What I'd really like to see next from the Oklahoman is a blog from the editorial staff.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:51 AM to Blogorrhea )
Freeze a jolly good fellow

When Ask Jeeves announced that they were undergoing an extreme makeover, they let it be known that they were putting Jeeves himself on ice.

Or carbonite, which I suppose is close enough.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:39 PM to PEBKAC )
The thick edge of the wedge

Sort-of-actress/sort-of-singer Jessica Simpson now has a signature shoe line, mostly innocuous, though the "Anna" wedge strikes me as unusually hideous.

[Previous version of this paragraph deleted due to blatant inaccuracy.] Available in sizes 5 to 10; Simpson's official size is a 7½, which doesn't necessarily mean she has a built-in excuse not to be seen in these.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:30 PM to Rag Trade )
3 March 2006
Bombshells of the Mesozoic

Okay, not that early, but get a load of this:

Thanks to a food shortage and a man shortage about 10,000 years ago, men were in such demand they had their pick of mates.

With so much competition among women to find a mate, nature and evolution kicked in to give some cave women a distinctive look to attract the opposite sex: blond hair and blue eyes.

So says a new study published in the British science journal Evolution and Human Behavior.

Impossible. If it were a real British science journal, it would be called Evolution and Human Behaviour.

And anyway, there's a simpler explanation, says Dr. B:

[A] woman who is blond tends to have pale skin that will absorb more sunlight, and therefore more vitamin D, and will not develop rickets. Rickets causes bone deformities (bow legs, deformed pelvises) ... and not only are women with rickets less attractive, but if you have a deformed pelvis, you have a good chance of dying in childbirth. So blonds will be healthier, have more kids, and voila, genetic drift into blondness...

I'm inclined to accept the good doctor's version of things, especially since Betty Rubble, not even slightly blonde, always struck me as way hotter than Wilma Flintstone.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:16 AM to Table for One )
And the feathers shall fly

If you thought cockfighting in Oklahoma was dead and settled, you might want to think again.

Val Holland of the Oklahoma Game Fowl Breeders Association says that the battling birds used to bring $100 million a year into the state economy, largely in rural areas, and that the statewide ban should be changed to county option, in the manner of liquor by the drink; indeed, Senator Frank Shurden (D-Henryetta) had shepherded a bill to do exactly that through the Legislature, though it died this week in committee.

I haven't seen any "Don't Touch Our Cocks" bumper stickers yet, though it's presumably just a matter of time; Pamela Anderson, usually attentive to the putative needs of chickens, was not available for comment.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:29 AM to Soonerland )
We gotta get out of this place

Margi's had enough:

[T]he facts are this: We're busy busy busy around here. I have negative numbers in my bank account. Depressed people don't blog — or at least they don't post anything anyone would want to read. Therefore, paying for running a blog is probably not smart — no matter how much or how little it costs. And there are still blog "trolls" coming around here, looking at the pictures of my sweet, innocent baby. That squicks me out more than I care to admit.

Blogs will never be practical until they can be made squick-resistant.

Go, girl, and be happy. What happens out here on the Old Blog Prairie doesn't matter a hill of beans just now.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:58 PM to Blogorrhea )
4 March 2006
Fatuous Flashback 23

Before there was Bling, there was — well, this:

Here on the Edge of Gangland, strange and horrid automotive excrescences dot the landscape like so many chrome-plated cowflops, and the latest trend seems to be fake wire wheels so unconvincing you couldn't even sneak them past Manny, Moe and Jack, about two sizes too wide and two sizes too short, leaving enough room in the fender wells for an entire family of squirrels. Usually these will be misfitted to a late-Seventies or early-Eighties piece of Detroit iron with glass tinted darker than anthracite, which runs just well enough to keep the battery charged so that the ostensible owners (and anyone for 150 yards in any direction) can listen to their collection of godawful indistinguishable nontunes. Of course, I am old and crotchety, and I persist in believing silly things like "Automotive modifications, first and foremost, should enhance performance," and adding a bunch of unsprung (though shiny) weight enhances performance about as much as concrete enhances galoshes, but hey, it's your money.

(From this untitled post, 8 March 2001.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:48 AM to Greatest Hits )
Welcome to Ave Maria, Florida

You have to admit that this sounds pretty cool:

The Town of Ave Maria is believed to be the first modern town to be developed in conjunction with a University. Located on what was once largely agricultural land, it has been designed to be a compact, walkable, self-sustaining town that reflects the community's rural roots while offering a full range of residential options and commercial services to its residents.

Importantly, Ave Maria has been designed to human scale. Street networks, distinctive character, and environmental sustainability are integral to its planning. It is to be a true community, where neighbors care about neighbors, friendships span generations, and a sense of pride is felt by every resident, student, and worker.

The Ave Maria community totals about 5,000 acres, of which nearly 20% has been designated as the University campus. Connecting the University and the Town is a Town Core anchored by the landmark Oratory and incorporating retail and commercial space as well as residential condominiums.

It's a Catholic university, and to the extent that it's integrated into the community, you might well expect that the community plays mostly by the same rules.

And you might expect headlines like "New Florida town would restrict abortion":

If Domino's Pizza founder Thomas S. Monaghan has his way, a new town being built in Florida will be governed according to strict Roman Catholic principles, with no place to get an abortion, pornography or birth control.

Homebuyers in Ave Maria will own their property outright. But Monaghan and [developer] Barron Collier will control all commercial real estate in the town, meaning they could insert provisions in leases to restrict the sale of certain items.

This doesn't mean that they're going to, necessarily, but the reaction is predictable:

Frances Kissling, president of the liberal Washington-based Catholics for a Free Choice, likened Monaghan's concept to Islamic fundamentalism.

"This is un-American," Kissling said. "I don't think in a democratic society you can have a legally organized township that will seek to have any kind of public service whatsoever and try to restrict the constitutional rights of citizens."

The proper response, by Joanna of Fey Accompli:

contrary to Kissling's confusion of socialism with democracy (a common mistake made by veterans of government schools), this is exactly what a liberal society is about! ya know why? cause it's an entirely voluntary association!

*gasp!*

chorus: you mean that the people living there won't be shopping for condoms and titty magazines anyway? and they'll be there entirely of their own volition, fully aware of their abdication of certain rights, and can leave anytime they want?

yes! that's what i mean! which makes it the exact OPPOSITE of Islamic fundamentalism elsewhere.

Now if Monaghan were forcing people at gunpoint to live in his company university town, that's another matter. But he's not. Joanna continues:

lefties HATE IT when people enter into voluntary agreements that oppose lefty values of forced secularization and imposed diversity. they HATE it that a fact of humanity they can't indoctrinate out is our inherent tribalism — that people cluster in communities of like-minded others. but a liberal society that we ALL should defend would allow for a variety of these voluntary clusters of people to exercise their cultural preferences.

I'm sure that our stuck-in-the-Sixties socialists would have raised hell, assuming such a place as "hell" actually existed of course, had some Republican type in a grey suit tried to move into one of their precious communes back in the day. So it's not that they don't like voluntary associations: it's that they don't like voluntary associations that they don't control, either by decree or by sheer numbers.

Besides, this is my favorite kind of social experiment: privately funded.

(Submitted to Wizbang's Carnival of the Trackbacks.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:34 AM to Almost Yogurt )
A bigger display

Before the season started, the Hornets had been pretty much written off: no home, at least for a while; no star players; no reason to expect them to improve on the previous year's uninspiring 64-loss season. And therefore, there was no reason to put them on national television.

Well, forget all that. With the Bees drawing huge crowds and poised to make the playoffs, not to mention the presence of the almost-inevitable Rookie of the Year (thank you, CP3), ESPN has bumped the 31 March Wizards-Rockets game off its schedule in favor of the Hornets and the Grizzlies at the Ford Center.

(I need hardly point out that this would be a really good time for another sellout.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:12 AM to Net Proceeds )
Preemptive action

Two military funerals will be held in Oklahoma next week, and lest anyone think it would be a really cool idea to picket them, the state has enacted a ban on such things, effective immediately.

Under the Oklahoma Funeral Picketing Act, it's a misdemeanor to stage a demonstration within 500 feet of a church, mortuary or cemetery from one hour before the services begin to one hour after they end.

Take that, Fred.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:07 PM to Soonerland )
Saturday spottings (the splits)

May Avenue, said local historian Roy Stewart thirty-odd years ago, "especially from Northwest Thirtieth on north, is a glaring neon alley," and while neon has become a specialty decoration instead of a standard sign component, the glare remains, from 30th to 130th and beyond — except at 8412.

The area north of the Wilshire twist and east of May, originally platted as "Nichols Hills Suburban" though it's not within Nichols Hills proper, was settled with smallish houses on medium-sized acreages (say, ¾ acre) from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Most of them are still there, along Dorchester or Elmhurst or maybe Drakestone, but the homes fronting on May were removed years ago to make room for development.

Except, again, at 8412: the Farha house, owned for decades by interior designer Jan Farha, has remained on its tract all these years, surrounded by empty space, thwarting plans to develop the 8200 through 8500 blocks. But Farha is gone, and the property was sold off earlier this year; today the little 1937 house is cut in two and will apparently be moved somewhere else. (The Assessor's office has this photo on record; it presumably will be removed when the site is cleared and new construction completed.) I'll hate to see it go; there are relatively few green areas along May anywhere in the city, and I consider myself at least slightly blessed to live near one of them.

A little closer to home, The Original Fried Pie Place, on NW 50th west of Portland where 51st veers off at an angle, suffered a loss some months back when its sign split literally in two: the pole remains in place, but bent over, and the sign itself, now upside down and presumably not readable from the street, is now actually touching the ground. Yet the Place always seems to have customers, which suggests to me that perhaps they can afford to fix the sign, but it's drawing so much attention in its damaged state that they've reasoned, "Why bother?"

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:09 PM to City Scene )
5 March 2006
Don't you dare open this market!

The Swedes have rent control, and it doesn't work any better there than it does here. In fact, it might even be worse.

In Sweden, rents are generally set by something called "bruksvärde," which means literally "value of usage"; municipal housing providers negotiate with the hyresgästföreningen, or tenants' unions, and private landlords are expected to stay within the same general price range. The agreements cover size, age and general condition, but do not cover location: an apartment in downtown Stockholm and an otherwise-similar apartment out in the boondøcks will rent for just about the same number of kronor. It should surprise no one that new construction is essentially at a standstill; no one will give up an old apartment to move into a newer and de jure costlier one. Swedish scholar Johan Norberg writes:

[H]ere in Stockholm we are obsessed with flats because it's impossible to hire one. You have to be wealthy enough to buy one. And this is because of rent control, which means that the government stops you from hiring at market prices — which means that people never leave a flat in central Stockholm, that the flats are empty until the contract can be given to their kids, that there is a huge informal market, that no one builds new flats and that the old ones are turned into cooperative flats. And just like in every rationing system, you have to have the right contacts to get a flat in Stockholm.

It's an election year, and there's been a proposal to eliminate rent control. The tenants' unions have hired an ad agency to conduct some guerrilla marketing; the agency prepared thousands of stickers to plant on tenants' doors warning them that a switch to market-based rents will cost them 30 percent more.

The effect these stickers will have on would-be tenants way down the waiting list has yet to be determined.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:59 AM to Dyssynergy )
Zillow talk

Zillow.com is the current project of Expedia founder Richard Barton, and not everyone is impressed with Zillow's "Zestimate" market-value figures. Zillow contends that the more information it can tap, the more valid the Zestimates will be, and as it happens, the Oklahoma County Assessor has all this stuff available already, so I figured that Zillow had likely tapped in and run its magic formula and gotten something close to plausible.

Which, in my case at least, they did. The official Zestimate for Surlywood is $84,482, though they allow for a Value Range of $71,810 to $103,068. There are also percentiles: 43rd percentile for my ZIP code, 55th for Oklahoma City. (Who knew this part of town was pricier than average? Then again, it butts up against the south edge of Nichols Hills.)

The Assessor's 2006 numbers should be out by the first of April. I will check that figure against Zillow's presumably-updated figure at the time. I'm thinking, though, that the difference between the two will probably be $1000 at most.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:14 AM to Surlywood )
Mission creep

New cars have a genuine appeal, but if you've hardly gotten any mileage out of your old one, you're probably loath to trade it in.

It doesn't seem to work that way for laws, though; even if we're not getting any use out of the old ones, we still want new ones. Eric Scheie explains:

It's just a recurrent pattern. The drug laws started as a tax measure in 1914, and ever since, they have become ever more draconian. Examples aren't really needed, although the latest trend (now that they've run out of drugs to make illegal) is to criminalize precursor ingredients. So Americans are no longer allowed to buy cold medicine over the counter — all because it might be used to manufacture illegal drugs. What's next? Glassware which might be used to cook drugs?

Sssh. Not so loud.

It has always been illegal to cross the border into the United States without documentation, and without going through the proper protocols. Yet for many decades, there has been a de facto open border policy with Mexico, which has allowed millions of illegal immigrants. The laws are there, but people act as if there aren't any laws. Instead of going after the existing non-citizen law breakers (who are, after all, the ones who broke the law), Congress proposes dramatically toughening penalties against American citizens who hire them. Doesn't this put the cart before the horse?

The pattern seems to be pass laws, ignore them, wait until the problem is huge, then pass draconian laws, plus new laws against conduct which resulted from the previous climate of non-enforcement.

It goes on:

It has long been illegal for felons to buy or possess guns, and to buy, sell, or transfer a gun to a felon. But felons buy guns all the time illegally. Which means that we need a crackdown on what? On perfectly legal purchases of guns by ordinary citizens.

Because, you know, the felons might steal them or something.

Only slightly closer to home, there's a different worry: when some kid climbs my fence while I'm away and drowns in my pool, and it's my fault because, well, I had a pool. Now I don't actually have a pool, but this is what I have come to expect; the lawyers call this an "attractive nuisance."

(Aside: About ten years ago, I was still living in one of the CrappiFlats™; I was hauling my laundry bag across the complex one morning when I saw some unexpected activity at the pool area. I dropped my bag and peered in, and there were a couple of kids I hadn't seen before, their clothing tossed aside, their grins as wide as could be. No, I didn't turn them in; but someone did, and a few days later, there was a new fence around the pool area, harder to climb and easier to see through.)

So I figure that eventually I'll be told that effective on such and such a date, I won't be allowed to have a pool, inasmuch as pools are demonstrably a nuisance and all that. A neighbor once asked me if I was considering a pool, and I said I wasn't, and indeed I'm not; but should anyone propose a ban, I'm calling the contractors first thing in the morning.

(Yes, it is sorta warm and sunny today. Why do you ask?)

Keyed up

Swiped from The Louie Report:

A C, an E-flat, and a G go into a bar. The bartender says: "Sorry, but we don't serve minors." So, the E-flat leaves, and the C and the G have an open fifth between them. After a few drinks, the fifth is diminished: the G is out flat. An F comes in and tries to augment the situation, but is not sharp enough.

A D comes into the bar and heads straight for the bathroom saying, "Excuse me. I?ll just be a second."

An A comes into the bar, but the bartender is not convinced that this relative of C is not a minor.

Then the bartender notices a B-flat hiding at the end of the bar and exclaims: "Get out now! You're the seventh minor I?ve found in this bar tonight."

The E-flat, not easily deflated, comes back to the bar the next night in a 3-piece suit with nicely shined shoes. The bartender (who used to have a nice corporate job until his company downsized) says: "You're looking sharp tonight, come on in! This could be a major development." This proves to be the case, as the E-flat takes off the suit, and everything else, and stands there au naturel.

Eventually, the C sobers up, and realizes in horror that he's under a rest. The C is brought to trial, is found guilty of contributing to the diminution of a minor, and is sentenced to 10 years of DS without Coda at an upscale correctional facility. On appeal, however, the C is found innocent of any wrongdoing, even accidental, and that all accusations to the contrary are bassless.

The bartender decides, however, that since he's only had tenor so patrons, the soprano out in the bathroom, and everything has become alto much treble, he needs a rest — and closes the bar.

Presumably the whole staff was let go.

(Whoops!)

The argument for cloth upholstery

A survey of telecommuters says that about a tenth of them work without clothing.

While the most popular attire seems to be sweats — 39 percent of respondents wore them — 12 percent of the men and 7 percent of the women surveyed wore nothing at all.

Yes, I know I'm in the wrong business.

(Via Fark.)

6 March 2006
Thank you very mulch

A reader of Bob Waldrop's Oklahoma Food Blog has a warning for us gardening-oriented types:

[B]e very careful about buying mulch this year. After the hurricane in New Orleans many trees were blown over. These trees were then turned into mulch and the state is trying to get rid of tons and tons of this mulch to any state or company who will come and haul it away.

So it will be showing up in Home Depot and Lowes at dirt cheap prices with one huge problem; Formosan Termites will be the bonus in many of those bags. New Orleans is one of the few areas in the country where the Formosan Termites has gotten a strong hold and most of the trees blown down were already badly infested with those termites. Now we may have the worst case of transporting a problem to all parts of the country that we have ever had. These termites can eat a house in no time at all and we have no good control against them, so tell your friends that own homes to avoid cheap mulch and know where it came from.

LSU's Ag Center has issued this report on the critters.

File this under "invasive species."

Update, 3:15 pm: Snopes is doubtful about this; also, Home Depot says they don't buy bulk mulch from this part of the world.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Dyssynergy )
You think, therefore I am

Might George Berkeley have been right after all? Julie R. Neidlinger, on the persistence of memory, or the lack thereof:

Being remembered is important to people, especially if they think that this life is all they get. A new book, The Brief History of the Dead, touches on the importance of this by setting up an alternate plane of existence where those who have died only exist as long as someone alive remembers them. I find this horrifying, the idea that my existence would be wrenched from my control and placed in the wispy basket of memory, casually handed over to other people, people who might not cherish it as I would.

Julie? Oh yeah, remember her? Barely. She was like the color gray, nothing much, I imagine them saying. And then they toss me out of the basket.

Though this is only a science fiction book and not reality, I still allow people a fraction of that power every time I grasp at straws when I realize that someone is willing to let me "slip out of their reality." They are willing to let me go, in all ways. The check's paid up, the beautiful dinner is over, and they are out the door.

There is something else, though, something worse than being let go, being forgotten. What could be worse than someone letting you go when you don't want them to? What could be worse than being forgotten?

I was going to say "Not being noticed in the first place," but obviously that's wrong; if you've never had something, you'll never know what it's like to have it taken away from you.

As close as I ever came to the heart of the matter was the day I turned forty-nine:

[M]ost people tend to wilt just a little when contemplating the Grim Reaper. Some of us are better at sneering at it than others — "Yo, Death, I got your sting right here," said James Lileks — but we laugh at Death because we know Death will have the last laugh on us. (Christ, I'm quoting Lou Grant now. And it's not "I hate spunk," either.)

[K]nowing I'm going to die isn't what scares me; what scares me is knowing I'm going to die alone. Some day, more likely some night, that "finite number of breaths" will be reached, everything will come to an end, and no one will know until two or three days later because some mundane task wasn't performed on time, some phone call wasn't returned, or, most absurdly, because this goddamn Web site wasn't updated.

But this would seem to defy Berkeley: if I exist outside of other people's perceptions, at least long enough to expire unnoticed some weekend, then that existence cannot be dependent on those perceptions.

Still, there's a part of me which believes, insists even, that I make no particular impression, that I leave no footprints in the sand, that the moment of my demise means not only that I no longer am, but that I never really was.

Or, as Julie says:

It isn't the fear of slipping in and out of someone's reality. It's realizing you've never even made it in.

Another reason, I suppose, to keep on writing, on the off-chance that I might make it in, somewhere, somehow.

We got to move these refrigerators

Scion's slowest-selling vehicle, the appliance-box xB, nonetheless averages a mere two weeks in dealer inventory before being sold, among the fastest movers in the industry according to the mysterious associates of J. D. Power.

Quickest off the lot? Two other Toyota products, the Prius and the Lexus IS-series, at a mere ten days. The fastest domestic-nameplate movers were the Pontiac Solstice roadster and Buick Lucerne sedan, which fly out of the showroom within 16 and 18 days respectively.

The average vehicle is sold within 58 days, down 8 days from last year.

Glued to the showroom floor: Chrysler's Crossfire (302 days), Land Rover's Freelander (248 days), and the shoulda-retired-years-ago Ford Taurus (246 days).

These are, of course, averages. Be it noted that my car, so far as I can determine, spent approximately 380 days in an unsold state before I signed on the dotted line, and why, yes, there was a rebate.

(Via Jalopnik.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:00 AM to Driver's Seat )
Tainter of light

A Google search came in today for "Kinkade lousy person", which surprised me a bit, until I happened upon this:

Former gallery owners, ex-employees and others say his personal behavior ... belies the wholesome image on which he's built his empire.

In sworn testimony and interviews, they recount incidents in which an allegedly drunken Kinkade heckled illusionists Siegfried & Roy in Las Vegas, cursed a former employee's wife who came to his aid when he fell off a barstool, and palmed a startled woman's breasts at a signing party in South Bend, Ind.

And then there is Kinkade's proclivity for "ritual territory marking," as he called it, which allegedly manifested itself in the late 1990s outside the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim.

"This one's for you, Walt," the artist quipped late one night as he urinated on a Winnie the Pooh figure, said Terry Sheppard, a former vice president for Kinkade's company, in an interview.

In Kinkade's defense, who hasn't wanted to whiz on Winnie the Pooh?

Still, this is a far cry from his carefully-crafted Christian Family Man persona.

(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:40 PM to Wastes of Oxygen )
The Suns also rise

The Phoenix Suns arrived in town with a ten-game winning streak, and nothing, not even the loss of Steve Nash in the third quarter with an ankle injury, was going to keep them from going to eleven. The Hornets shut them down in the first half, 61-49, but the second-half blues struck yet again, badly in the third quarter, worse in the fourth, and the Bees dropped their third in a row, 101-88. Phoenix now leads the series 2-1.

David West led all scorers with 22 points; Chris Paul picked up 14 points and 11 rebounds. Still unexplained is how they could pile up 61 points in the first half and only 27 in the second.

It's off to New Orleans to take on the Lakers Wednesday night. Rumor has it that the Arena will be pretty close to sold out.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:20 PM to Net Proceeds )
7 March 2006
Taxpayer Bill of Goods

I tend to be suspicious of anything that's labeled a Bill of Rights: the likelihood that any legislative package deserves this auspicious a title, I reason, is scant indeed.

The proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights has been kicking around a while, and actually got adopted in Colorado — and promptly got suspended when the state ran up against a recession, which duly cut available funds for state spending. At the very least, the Colorado version of TABOR seems a bit inflexible; I am assured that the Oklahoma implementation, to appear on the ballot as State Question 726, will be different.

This is not to say better, though. If the Oklahoma legislature had carte blanche to raise taxes any time it wanted, I could see the need for TABOR; but in point of fact, the state has some fairly stringent spending limits already. Even the State Chamber knows this. Kent Olson of Oklahoma 21st Century, a think tank affiliated with the Chamber, made this clear last week:

"Oklahoma's TEL, Taxation Expenditure Limits, is one of the most stringent in the country," Olson explained.

He said the main problem with TABOR is that it does not take into account the effect of [the] state's aging population on population growth. With Oklahoma's continuously aging population, Olson said those residents will have different expenditure needs than younger Oklahomans.

Olson added that TABOR in its current form would drastically shrink Oklahoma state government, falling from a current level of 8 percent to just 3 percent, which Olson said is "frightening to say the least."

The bottom line, Olson said, is that the state needs to engage in a serious debate about what Oklahomans want government to do and how large it should be. He said adopting TABOR will not settle the issue and will make the problem more difficult to solve.

I'm not quite so frightened by this prospect — and the State Chamber is under no obligation to accept this finding as its official position — but I'm inclined to agree with Dr Olson: we need to find a proper size for government before we think about ordering a straitjacket.

Update, 14 March: Francis W. Porretto suggests that even TABORs aren't enough:

[A] TABOR measure is only a first step. Our spending mess is what it is because governments have seized many powers and responsibilities their enabling documents never granted them. To reverse the trend in government growth will require the reassertion of the principle of constitutionally enumerated and limited powers: each and every bill that comes before any legislature must begin with the specific Constitutional or charter clause that authorizes the relevant level and organ of government to do what it proposes to do.

To me, that is the more logical first step; we can work on (de)funding issues later.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:03 AM to Soonerland )
Filling the middle of the horseshoe

Oklahoma City elects a Mayor today, and it's widely expected that the winner will be incumbent Mick Cornett.

Still, that's no reason to stay home. If you're backing Bob Waldrop or Joe Nelson, you need to be there for him. And if you're happy with Cornett, you need to tell him so.

This is technically a primary election: if no one receives a majority, the top two will face a runoff on the fourth of April.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:21 AM to City Scene )
Miss Tomlin smiles from the wings

Joe Goodwin is concerned about the latest telco merger:

Don't get me wrong — I'm all for corporate success and the "trickle-down" theory. But didn't we recently (about 20 years ago) go through a heck of lot of trouble to break up the Bell system? Yet here we are, watching Ma Bell slowly reassemble herself like a zombie from one of George Romero's movies.

Not to worry. Zombies, more than anything else, need brains; AT&T, even before the dismemberment into Baby Bells, had already sworn off brains, and people who worked there for extended periods will tell you that the place was absolutely hostile to anything resembling a brain. If you had one, or had access to one, you kept it discreetly to yourself.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:53 AM to Dyssynergy )
Down under, so to speak

Maybe Maureen Dowd was serious about finding a fellow in Oz:

When I was 20, I fell in love with an Australian hotel manager in Dublin called Rowan. After that, I wanted to emigrate to Australia but my parents made me go home instead.

Now I'm here at last. And if they can take a strong, sassy, saucy woman, Australian men should please apply.

Applications follow:

"The Ultimate Bloke":  It's simple why we Aussie boys are the juice ... poor Maureen has had to suffer for years the irony of US boys calling themselves men. Now she's in Australia, her search for a man can begin.

"John":  Any woman that can write so elegantly and with such biting sarcasm must be worth spending a little time with. And the added bonus — Maureen is a redhead! Reds are the best!

"Tori":  I'm an intelligent young man with exceptional communication skills, GREAT sense of humour and a charismatic personality. I am a self-trained gourmet chef with an exquisite taste for fine food & wine, which I would like to share with Maureen. Indeed, I'm 2QT2eat and the perfect accompliment for an attractive career woman.

Jeebus. After reading these, I'm starting to think that I coulda been a contender. Remind me to pick up a case of Carlton Draught.

(Via Wonkette.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:23 PM to Warn Mode Due )
Old Facefull

Note to self: That abandoned birds' nest you knocked down this afternoon? There's a reason it held together all through the fall and the winter: careful application of local soils to reinforce its structure. Add four months and very little rain, and allow to sit; then, when force is applied, gravity does exactly what it's supposed to do.

Had I fetched a ladder before dislodging the nest, making it possible to attack it from the side, I'd have had nothing to write about; on the other hand, I'd have had a lot less dirt on me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:49 PM to Surlywood )
8 March 2006
Member FDIC

Or so Wal-Mart hopes. The retail giant is seeking a new bank charter from Utah officials, and has applied for Federal deposit insurance.

Wal-Mart sought an industrial-bank charter because, says the company, it has no plans to enter the retail banking business; it merely wants to cut its expenses for payment processing.

FDIC has already received nearly two thousand comments on the Wal-Mart application, which has spurred the agency to hold public hearings in Washington and in Kansas City.

Relatives of Sam Walton control Arkansas-based Arvest Bank, which has some Oklahoma locations; the new Utah-based bank would have no connections to Arvest.

I don't recall this much fuss when Nordstrom and Target acquired banks for just about the same reasons.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Common Cents )
Testy commentary

Things I noticed in the Consumer Reports Auto Issue (April):

  • The magazine considers the '00 Mazda 626 to be one of the "reliable used cars" one can get for "$6000-$8000". Maybe. I've had no trouble with mine. But the Reliability Ratings include only the six-cylinder models — perhaps they didn't get enough responses from owners with fours — and a '00 626 with a V6 will cost more like $9000.

  • Quote from Environmental Defense's John DeCicco: "Hybrids have been overhyped, and the focus on the hybrid has created this image that if you want to be green, you have to get a hybrid. I think that's a very damaging perception because there are a lot of other ways to save fuel." This was incorporated into an article which states flatly that you'll never save enough fuel with a hybrid to cover the initial cost.

  • Instead of just showing the horizontal bar, they're giving you the actual road-test score (1-100) on each car tested. There was one actual 100: the Porsche Boxster. (The Boxster, however, is not Recommended, due to lack of reliability data.)

  • They got 21 mpg with their base-level Corvette convertible, the same mileage they got with a four-cylinder Dodge Stratus. (And the non-Z06 Vette runs on regular.)

  • A reader sent in an ad for a Ford product with, among other worthwhile features, "anti-lick brakes."

  • Their Scion tC test vehicle came with pricey Bridgestone Potenza RE92 45-series Z-rated tires that cost $680 for four at The Tire Rack. Rather a lot of rubber for a car that sells for under $17k.

I never have liked car shopping much; each year Consumer Reports justifies that dislike. Time to renew the old subscription, I guess.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:11 AM to Driver's Seat )
You deserve a break this eternity

"I'm sorry, honey, I can't," he says. "It's Lent."

"That's awful," she sobs. "To whom, and for how long?"

Your reaction to that may well foreshadow your reaction to this. [Requires QuickTime.]

Think of it as an object lesson in the superiority of Western civilization: we can take it as well as we can dish it out.

(Via Church Marketing Sucks.)

Winchester '73

Which would be 1973, the year of Roe v. Wade.

In this Vent, I complained about a new abortion "reporting" measure being pushed by Rep. Susan Winchester (R-Chickasha), which I characterized as "intrusive." This KWTV news clip might actually make it look even worse than I said it was. [Brief ad before clip begins.]

Macas wants to play

Reserve shooting guard Arvydas Macijauskas is not at all reserved when he discusses his dissatisfaction with the way things are going, or not going, for him.

Glued to Byron Scott's bench, Macas has played just 105 minutes this year, scattered among 16 games. (A quarter of those minutes came in one game, against Atlanta on 7 January; he was 1-7 from the floor and scored 8 points.)

"I'm aware that I can't have 30 minutes every night," he says, "but you must remember, I gave up a promising career in Europe to play in the NBA. If I can't play [for NO/OKC], I hope they trade me. I'm twenty-six years old, the best possible age for a player; I can't spend three years on the bench."

Well, that's the gist of it, anyway. He's signed to the Hornets for two years, with an option for a third, at $2.5 million a year. On the depth chart, he's behind J. R. Smith, who isn't getting any minutes either; relief for starter Kirk Snyder usually comes from Rasual Butler or Linton Johnson, who are technically small forwards.

Rumors circulated right around the trade deadline that Macijauskas and Smith would be dealt to San Antonio in exchange for Brent Barry; it didn't happen. The Hornets front office confirmed that there was a last-minute trade that missed the deadline, though they haven't said exactly what that deal was.

Myself, I'd like to see both of these guys pried off the bench once in a while; the Bees are not that overwhelmingly deep.

[Google translation]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:02 PM to Net Proceeds )
Back to the future

The newly-renovated New Orleans Arena kept filling up all during the first half; apparently there was a major traffic jam downtown. Attendance was 17,744, which is about as many as you can get into the Arena and still play ball. (If there was any question as to the extent of fan support in the Big Easy, I think that question has been adequately answered.)

The Hornets kept within screaming distance of the Lakers all night: they were down six at the half, the dreaded third-quarter blues didn't materialize, the Hornets briefly grabbed the lead a couple of times, but finally Kobe Bryant, who hit seven straight from the floor, and Smush Parker, who pulled off two late steals, put the Bees away, 113-107.

Unsurprisingly, this makes the playoff situation a bit murkier. The Hornets are now 31-29 (.5167); the Lakers are 32-30 (.5161). And right behind are the Jazz and the Kings.

Kobe beat his average, getting 40 points. Five Hornets got double figures; David West got 25, and both Chris Paul and Speedy Claxton dropped in 22. (CP3 snags yet another double-double, serving up 10 assists.)

The Pacers will come to the Ford Center Friday night, followed by the Nets on Sunday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:51 PM to Net Proceeds )
9 March 2006
<snark>

From Expert Texture (read all about it), a proposal for a new tag at the center of a new language:

<snarkup:snark target='href' level="low|medium|high"
tone="even|sarcastic|abrasive|ironic|unhinged"
subtext="none|veiledsuckup|allingoodfun|threatened" >

Defaults for these parameters: level=medium; tone=even; subtext=none.

With 3x5x4=60 different combinations, it should be possible to cover anything from a Maureen Dowd pop-culture reference to [fill in anything by, say, Jeff Goldstein].

</snark>

(Via Doc Searls.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:09 AM to Blogorrhea )
Slightly less dry

Rainfall, 1 January through 7 March: 0.36 inches.

Rainfall, 10 pm last night until now: 0.54 inches.

To my utter amazement, I slept through it, which is more remarkable given the candlepin-bowling noises that tend to accompany spring rains out here.

There may be some more today.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:22 AM to Weather or Not )
Dispatch from the Land O'Darkness

This morning at Pratie Place: excerpts from Cab Calloway's Hepster's Dictionary, a 1940s guide to the language of jive.

What is most remarkable, to me anyway, is how few of the entries reproduced seem quaint and outdated; many "jive" terms are still considered more or less contemporary. You won't hear "hincty" (adj. conceited, snooty) too often anymore, but the 21st century is rife with people seeking to "hype" (v., n. build up for a loan, wooing a girl, persuasive talk, cajole) something or someone.

(This post is dedicated to Barbara Billingsley.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:40 AM to Almost Yogurt )
181

The Global Perspective is your host for the 181st edition of Carnival of the Vanities, the first — and, I remind you, still the oldest — of all the weekly blog compendia.

Volkswagen had a Type 181 vehicle, designed for, and used by, the German military. The 181 was produced for twelve years, and was discontinued in 1980. A few of them were imported to the US in the 1970s, and sold as "The Thing."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:06 AM to Blogorrhea )
Memo to an unnamed customer

When you cancel your checking account, you are no longer allowed to use the Visa Check Card associated with that account.

Just in case you hadn't noticed.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:19 PM to Wastes of Oxygen )
The Gas Game (March)

Spring is almost sprung, and natural-gas prices have receded from Heinous to Marginally Less Heinous. Still, I'm running behind on my goal, which was to spend less than ONG's fixed-for-a-year rate of $8.393/dekatherm, and with the heavy-spending periods now pretty much over, I am forced to concede that I am not going to make it.

Gratuitous statistics:

  • November: 2.4 used at $11.044; total price $26.51; VFP price $20.14; loss of $6.37.

  • December: 4.4 used at $11.550; total price $50.82; VFP price $36.93; loss of $13.89.

  • January: 9.7 used at $12.012; total price $116.52; VFP price $81.41; loss of $35.11.

  • February: 6.4 used at $9.589; total price $61.37; VFP price $53.72; loss of $7.65.

  • March: 7.6 used at $8.455; total price $64.26; VFP price $63.79; loss of $0.47.

  • Cumulative: 30.5 used at $10.475; total price $319.48; VFP price $255.99; loss of $63.49.

It won't take much more of a drop for me to start recording gains — but it's highly unlikely I'll get sixty bucks' worth between now and October.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:48 PM to Family Joules )
Wanna buy a mall?

There's a distinct air of bogosity to this eBay auction.

Still, that's a sort-of-plausible price tag, and, well, somebody ought to do something with it — though the lister should have noted the upcoming departure of Dillard's.

Update, 10 March: Ja'Rena Lunsford of The Oklahoman checks it out, and it's legit, although what's for sale isn't the entire mall itself, but the north wing of it, which used to be a Montgomery Ward store. (The anchor positions — Wards, Dillard's, Sears — are owned separately from the rest of the mall.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:08 PM to City Scene )
10 March 2006
Or he could just wait for the spammers

Rotsa ruck: The 1 Billion Comments Project.

(I've been at this for 9 years and 11 months, I've had some form of commenting enabled for approximately half that period, and I've managed to amass only around 14,000 comments.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:18 AM to Blogorrhea )
One way or another, or another

The new Blondie Greatest Hits compilation, as you might expect, is far from perfect. I didn't expect them to dig up that live version of "7 Rooms of Gloom" that showed up on the CD reissue of Eat to the Beat; but they should have at least sprung for "X-Offender", which was a single, after all. At least "Denis" is there. Still, 20 tracks and 16 videos — it's a CD/DVD package — is nothing to sneeze at.

The one new track is something remarkable: a mashup of "Rapture" and the Doors' "Riders on the Storm," titled "Rapture Riders," which works better than it has any right to. Presumably for a limited time, you can hear it here. [Requires Windows Media or — gag — RealPlayer.]

(Spotted at Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch.)

Pity the seats

The Mayor of the Tasman District on the South Island of New Zealand has called for the cancellation of a clothing-optional bicycle race for reasons of safety: the riders won't be wearing, um, helmets.

Local police said they had no legal justification to intervene, which prompted Mayor John Hurley to say:

They have ridden bikes in the past down the road with no crash helmets, no nothing on and people say that's a double standard.

But is it a double offense?

(Via Fark.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:19 AM to Birthday Suitable )
They're sphincterrific!

Seen at Tongue Tied:

I work in Information Technology for a large health care system. Recently we had a power outage on one of our campuses. In a meeting the next week our team performance was summarized and it was made clear to us that from that point on our process will no longer be referred to as "Disaster Recovery" but will now be called "IT Service Continuity Management".

Being the sensitive soul I am, I feel as though I should come up with a term for people whose job it is to invent euphemisms, a term that is itself something of a euphemism, a term which ever-so-slightly conceals instead of being straightforwardly informative, and, well, "rectal milliner" has been used.

Suggestions are welcomed, though I'm currently leaning to "cranial copulator," a full seven syllables instead of two.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:20 PM to Say What? )
Of bottlenecks and goosenecks

I tend to be impatient with other drivers, not because I'm in such a hurry myself, but because if the number of them is great enough, it is inevitable that among their number will be a member of the Anti-Destination League, waiting for the exact moment to cause brake lights to flash for miles at a time.

I was northbound on I-35 around NE 36th when the 60-mph traffic, which hitherto had been doing an actual 60 mph, abruptly dropped to about half that. No obstructions anywhere: just a League member, discovering he was in the wrong lane, and remembering that having a Plan B at times like this would get him drummed out of the ranks. (I couldn't tell if the miscreant was from around here or not; if he was, he had even less excuse.)

About 100 feet west of the Classen Circle, I was inclined to be a great deal more forgiving. The problem this time? Geese. A couple of dozen of them across three lanes, three more in the median, migrating north on foot. (This was right in front of Horn Seed Company, so maybe they were looking for dinner.) I don't know if these are the same geese which occasionally hang around Temple B'nai Israel, about a mile to the west, but I knew that if they were, it was pointless to try to distract them; I've tangled with them before, and they will not be moved. One woman actually got out of her car and stared, her face screwed into the very incarnation of "WTF?" I think she suspected, though, that she and her car were no match for twenty-odd birds with both size and attitude.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:35 PM to City Scene )
The night of a thousand free throws

So said radio guy Sean Kelley near the end of the third quarter, at which point half a dozen technicals had been called; I was starting to wonder if maybe I'd picked up a Blazers hockey game.

No high-sticking at the Ford Center, though I'm quite sure that if either the Pacers or the Hornets had sticks, they'd have used them: this was a seriously physical game, and Indiana's Danny Granger left the fray with an eye injury, though he came back in the fourth quarter.

Oh, yes, the score: Pacers 92, Bees 90, after the weirdest six seconds I can remember. Down two, the Hornets called time at the beginning of an inbound, which annoyed Anthony Johnson enough to slam a ball back to an official. Yet another technical; the Hornets missed the free throw, and another inbound, where a classic David West at-the-buzzer jumper rimmed out.

And if there weren't a thousand free throws, there were sixty-three of them, with four players finishing with five fouls each.

David West, for the umpteenth time, finished with 20 points, 17 in the second half. Kirk Snyder and Desmond Mason both dropped 16; Speedy Claxton got 11. And while Chris Paul only pulled 7 points, he also bagged 7 rebounds and served up 8 assists.

Now 2-7 since the All-Star Break, the Hornets drop out of the 7th seed in the Western Conference, with the New Jersey Nets due in on Sunday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:41 PM to Net Proceeds )
11 March 2006
Fatuous Flashback 24

"Rock is dead," said Dean Esmay, which prompted this postmortem:

[A]s one of those hated Baby Boomers, I run the risk that anything I say on the subject will be interpreted as an expression of proprietary interest, yet another example of how, um, my generation still thinks it rules the goddamn world even as it teeters on its walkers on the way to the grave.

Still, almost anyone of any age beyond twenty-five or so believes somewhere in his heart of hearts that everything that's been inflicted on us by the music industry since he got out of college truly and deeply sucks, and neither Dean nor I is immune to this notion. My own thinking is that when we're younger, the music isn't just the soundtrack to our existence: it's woven into the fabric of our selves, and cannot be separated without unraveling everything that we know, everything that we are. As we get older, more settled, maybe less emotional, the music recedes somewhat into the background: we take note of it, we may even be fond of it, but it isn't part of us anymore.

The music industry has aided and abetted this situation by fragmenting itself beyond all understanding. In the Sixties, there were maybe half a dozen music formats on the radio. Today, there are genres, subgenres, even sub-subgenres — does anyone other than a radio consultant know the exact point where CHR/Pop ends and CHR/Rhythmic begins? — all motivated by desperation in the guise of "research." Inevitably, this rush toward differentiation ultimately repels the audience; except for a few 12-year-olds of varying ages, people's musical tastes span a range far wider than anything you'll hear on any single radio station, commercial or otherwise. And so we push another button, and another consultant is hired to explain why, and the cycle repeats. (Not even classical stations are immune to this, as anyone who has heard me grumble, "Jeez, Saint-Saëns' Organ Symphony again?" can testify.)

(From "Two days burying the cat", 14 March 2004.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:56 AM to Greatest Hits )
Sticker shock and then some

I don't have any bumper stickers. But if I did, I sure as hell wouldn't consider them subject to employer review:

A San Diego County woman is suing her former employer, accusing her manager of firing her on the spot when she saw the woman's car had a bumper sticker advertising a progressive talk radio station.

In a civil suit filed at the county courthouse in Vista, Linda Laroca is targeting both her former manager, Beverly Fath, and the company she briefly worked for last year, Advantage Sales and Marketing, Inc.

According to Laroca's suit, the bumper sticker in question read only: "1360 Air America Progressive Talk Radio."

In her Feb. 21 claim, Laroca asserts that on Oct. 8, three weeks after she started working for the marketing company, Fath called her on a Saturday and requested they meet at a nearby grocery store parking lot so Laroca could pass on some documents Fath needed.

During the brief encounter, Laroca charges, the manager pointed to the bumper sticker — the only one on Laroca's car — and remarked that it was a new sticker and called it "that Al Franken left-wing radical radio station."

Laroca alleges in her suit that Fath then told her, "The country is on a high state of alert. For all I know, you could be al-Qaida."

A stunned Laroca laughed nervously at the statement, the suit alleges, and then was dealt "the final blow" when Fath fired her on the spot.

California law would seem to prohibit this sort of thing. And if it doesn't, well, it ought to.

(Via skippy.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:30 AM to Dyssynergy )
Burn the spring chicken

Whatever happened to "one from Column A" and "two from Column B"? Now there's "Sour bamboo shoot steams fish mouth" and other ineffable (ha! eff them, I say) delights.

Maybe McGehee will eat it: I don't see any indication that they put mayonnaise on any of this stuff. Not even the French Crips.

(Via Dr. B.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 AM to Worth a Fork )
Marketroids on duty

Devra asks:

Is it a lovely convenience to have someone (something?) keep track of your tastes and sift through the onslaught of incoming information, or not?

And by "someone (something?)," she means Amazon.com, which is constantly serving up "recommendations." Lynn thinks this could be interesting, so I'm putting up my list of recommended items and rating them on the classic American Bandstand 35 to 98 scale, where 98 = "I'd actually run up the mileage on the Visa card to get this right this minute" and 35 = "I wouldn't take this even if you had Aisha Tyler deliver it to me in person."

The Flaming Lips: The Fearless Freaks DVD: 85. Added to Wish List.

Hard To Find 45s on CD, Vol. 2: 1961-64: 60. Of the 20 tracks, I have 19 already, and I don't particularly like Joe Dowell's "Little Red Rented Rowboat." Like all ERIC Records product, it's done extremely well, but I don't need this one.

Hard To Find 45s on CD, Vol. 5: Sixties Pop Classics: Not rated, I already have it.

Half a dozen different Mystery Science Theater 3000 episodes: Average of 87. (I don't know if I can sit through Red Zone Cuba, though.)

Brian C. Anderson, South Park Conservatives: The Revolt against Liberal Media Bias: 70. This isn't as blatant a play for attention as Rod Dreher's "Crunchy Conservatives" shtick, but it's probably not a great deal more meaningful either.

John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History: 85. Added to Wish List.

Robert Spencer, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades): 80.

Erin J. Shea, editor, Tales from the Scale: 65, simply because I doubt it's as funny as Wendy McClure's I'm Not the New Me, my purchase of which brought on this recommendation.

Glenn Reynolds, An Army of Davids: How Markets and Technology Empower Ordinary People to Beat Big Media, Big Government, and Other Goliaths: 86. Added to Wish List.

One Kiss Can Lead to Another: Girl Group Sounds Lost and Found: 90. Added to Wish List.

Sideways (Widescreen Edition): 85. Added to Wish List.

Lynn's conclusion on her own list: "Overall, fairly accurate but relatively little that I'm very excited about." I can say just about the same.

Disclosure: While looking over this list, I was distracted by $58.83 worth of other stuff, which presumably will be reflected on the next group of recommendations.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:02 PM to Screaming Memes )
Saturday spottings (blurring the lines)

Where does the city end, where do the suburbs begin? The easy answer: at the city limits. But that's not always the useful answer, especially when you're dealing with Oklahoma City, which covers 600 square miles of land and rather a lot of water, and whose borders are the poster child for irregularity. In the geometric sense, I mean.

Northwest 23rd Street is hardly suburban. Yet when Sears, Roebuck opened a store on the edge of the old Shepherd homestead at 23rd and Pennsylvania, it was thought of as a "suburban" store, probably because the Sears store downtown (on Sheridan, then still Grand Avenue, west of the Biltmore Hotel) was still open at the time. Both those stores are gone now, as is the Biltmore — the present-day Biltmore at Reno and Meridian has tenuous connections at best to the original — and 23rd Street is now the city's Axis of Ethnicity, with black, Asian and Latino sectors that don't exactly overlap but which aren't really distinct. The city has been sprucing up the streetscapes on 23rd, but what's been lacking so far has been a concerted effort to bring new business to the area. (The Gold Dome restoration arguably did more for Classen than it did for 23rd.)

So I have to see it as a favorable sign that the old Tower Theater on 23rd between Walker and Hudson, considered a "suburban"-style moviehouse when it was built in 1937, is being restored, along with the retail space surrounding it. A 1964 photo posted by the developers shows the theater nestled between C. R. Anthony and T. G. & Y. — and doesn't that take you back? Retail along 23rd has been in constant flux for the last 40 years or so: the old Sound Warehouse is now an Asian grocery, and perhaps the store with the longest tenure during this period is the Soul Boutique, which opened in the early 1970s in what used to be the Records, Inc. building on the northeast corner of 23rd and Classen. (A CVS store sits there now; the Boutique was last spotted on 23rd between Lee and Dewey, with the same logo it had originally.) I can't help but be hopeful about this project.

Speaking of Towers, there's something called the Atrium Towers on 63rd west of the Lake Hefner Parkway, and something about it has always bugged me. Today I figured it out: can you really call something a "tower" if its height is way short of its width?

If you head out east on Reno, you'll leave the city limits in a mere three miles, and I did that today to take a look at the current state of things in Midwest City. (And, well, to run a couple of errands: I have my hair, such as it is, done in MWC, and the Woodside Car Wash, off 8500 NE 10th, can usually be counted upon to be functional, which sadly is not always the case for squirt palaces closer to home.) I-40? Fuggedaboudit; there was signage freshening today along the Crosstown, and traffic was backed up three or four miles.

Over at Heritage Park Mall, there's not a great deal of hope, though the current owners have spruced up the place a bit; Dillard's, due to die this month, has locked all but one set of exterior doors, and the parking lot still looks like the surface of the moon. I didn't mention the infamous eBay auction, though: why worry people unnecessarily?

And it's weird to see the last vestige of the old Atkinson Plaza, the Firestone store, still standing along SE 29th while everything else for a third of a mile in either direction is the very new stuff for which the Plaza was demolished. On an impulse, I pulled out the Yellow Pages, and it's still listed as being at 139 E. Atkinson Plaza, an address which should not even exist anymore. (Behind it, the Target store is at 7305 SE 29th; Kohl's is at 7401; closer to the street, Steak 'n Shake is at 7181.) I suppose this was negotiated with the city of Midwest City.

And I came back on the Crosstown to see the new signs, and didn't see a thing — unless it was for the two-lane exit off I-40 westbound to I-44, which I don't remember being there before.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:06 PM to City Scene )
12 March 2006
Get out of jail, not quite free

I've never had occasion to avail myself of their services, but it occurs to me that a bail-bond operation, to be successful, must be memorable: when you're likely to need them, your mind is probably on, um, other things, and research is not high on your list of priorities.

This is no doubt why Ken Boyer has all those vintage cars parked around town. One outfit that advertises on TV occasionally is 2 Blondes Bail Bonds (not to be confused with 4 Non Blondes), though I'm not entirely sure why lightness of hair is an advantage in this business. A firm with a small but eyecatching Yellow Pages ad is A-Bomb Bail Bonds, whose slogan is "We'll Blast You Out!" Then there's Nutt Bail Bonds: "We've Got the Nutts to Get You Out!"

Still, if your greatest need is for a number for that One Phone Call, perhaps the coolest of the bunch is Mickey Bail Bonds, which can be reached toll-free at 877-IBN-JAIL.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:55 AM to City Scene )
Over one million served

As of 9:09 this morning. The 1,000,000th person through the turnstile got here by way of Beirut (!), trying to find out something about "courtesy kerr dental products, orange, calif.", about which I know from nothing but for which I seem to have the #2 spot in Yahoo!'s database.

Otherwise, my Middle Eastern traffic is way up this week, probably because of this.

For the statisticians in our midst, this is the way they've accumulated:

Thanks to all who participated in the making of this utterly-meaningless milestone.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:45 AM to Blogorrhea )
Best buds

I'm just starting to see the faintest hint of blossoming on my twin redbud trees out front — once they get going, they look something like this — which means that it's a perfect time to point to this BlogOklahoma story on the official state tree.

In the 1930s, Mrs. Mamie Lee Browne helped organize a campaign for adopting the "eastern" redbud as Oklahoma's state flower. Later this was changed to a campaign for a state tree, when they learned Oklahoma already had a state flower, the mistletoe.

In March 1937, Governor E. W. Marland was about to sign the bill making the redbud the state tree, when a telegram arrived starting a controversy over the redbud. Mrs. Edward Campbell Lawson of Tulsa, president of the National Federation of Women's Clubs, sent the telegram claiming the redbud was the Judas Tree that Judas Iscariot used to hang himself after he betrayed Christ.

The controversy appeared in Newspaper stories and editorials all over the United States and other countries.

The dispute was resolved by an Oklahoma City resident who was a native of Jerusalem. He affirmed that there was no connection between Oklahoma's Redbud tree and Israel's "Judas tree."

With the controversy resolved, on March 30, 1937, Governor Marland signed the bill into law, making the redbud Oklahoma's state tree.

For the purists and/or botanists: our redbud is Cercis reniformis; the Judas tree is Cercis siliquastrum.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:17 AM to Soonerland )
Won't you be my neighbor

The house three doors down, which was sold around Thanksgiving 2004, has since been resold; there was a massive yard sale yesterday to get rid of most of the contents. I don't know the sale price this time, but the previous sale was for $101,000, and Zillow.com Zestimates the place at $114,646.

Now a house across the street from there has gone up for sale. It's a slightly smaller home — 1152 square feet, says the Assessor's book — and the asking price is $85,500, within a lawn mower or so of Zillow.com's Zestimate. (Speaking of Zestimates, the one on my place, which was lower than that a week ago, has crept up to $86,407.) The usual neighborhood benefits apply: walking distance (a block and a half, in this case) to one of the better Oklahoma City schools (state API score: 1291 out of a possible 1500), comparatively easy access to the best stuff in town, Urban Conservation District zoning, and a Neighborhood Association that gets rather a lot done, given its limited resources. So far as I can tell, my presence on the block for the past two years has not caused property values to plummet.

Update, mid-April: Selling prices, per the County Assessor: $109,500 and $87,000 respectively. The latter, you'll note, is above the original asking price, suggesting yet another bidding war on this block.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:11 PM to Surlywood )
Life in D without O

Well, the Hornets patched up their leaky defense (fourteen steals!), but there was still the issue of actually scoring some points once in a while, which they didn't do until about two minutes in, by which time New Jersey had already piled up eight points. The Nets led by as many as 19; the Bees whittled it down to four late in the game, but for the sixth game in a row, it was not to be: Nets 95, Hornets 84, and the Bees drop to .500.

Scoring? Five Hornets in double figures, but only CP3 got as many as 17. When you miss 48 of 81 shots, this is what happens. The Nets, meanwhile, never dropped below 50 percent from the floor.

Will time away from the Ford Center help? A trip to San Antonio sounds scary all of a sudden, and then two games in New Orleans, against the Nuggets and the Clippers, won't be pieces of cake either.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:27 PM to Net Proceeds )
All over the place

A few things I picked up, not entirely at random:

What a way to finish a weekend.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:10 PM to Blogorrhea )
13 March 2006
We never metaphor we didn't like

This Weetabix description of the City of the Big Shoulder Pads got me musing:

While San Francisco is a lithe, slightly aging woman sipping tepid green tea while looking out across the hills, Chicago is a plump grandmother of twelve singing in a Gospel choir before going home to cook up a nice plate of ribs. Or maybe Chicago is a beefy guy who smells a bit like sauerkraut and a bit like cigar smoke who wants to know how you like your dog. Chicago is a tough old broad, with visible roots and a harsh voice but she means well, really she does.

Chicago, of course, has had time to build up this kind of mythos, and enough people over the years to pass it on.

Is there a comparable description for Oklahoma City? Maybe. I see this town as a farm girl, used to fresh country air, at least when she's upwind from the livestock, used to simple, uncomplicated fare for dinner, suddenly faced with the task of picking out a prom dress and not having the slightest idea how she's supposed to look in it. You can tell her that her hair is pretty, that she can afford to take an inch or two off that hemline, and she might even say she agrees with you, but you can hear the butterflies doing barre exercises in her mid-section, almost loud enough to drown out her voice.

And yet when she finally puts it on, fills it out, makes it work, you know someone's going to fall for her — hard — and you just hope it's someone worthy of her.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to City Scene )
A po excuse

I had an entry yesterday — specifically, this one — in which I linked to six different sites and sent TrackBacks to five. (I haven't quite figured out how this works on BraveJournal.) Two of the sites were using TypePad, and one of them sent back this message:

In an effort to combat malicious comment posting by scripts, I've enabled a feature that requires a weblog commenter to wait a short amount of time before being able to post again. Please try to po

It ends there. Apparently this is the complete text:

... I've enabled a feature that requires a weblog commenter to wait a short amount of time before being able to post again. Please try to post your comment again in a short while. Thanks for your patience.

I'm guessing this is related to comment throttling in later versions of the Movable Type engine. I really don't care, I suppose — there are other ways links can be discovered, and it's not like I'm hard up for recognition — but there ought to be a better way to handle this issue. (I don't believe I've encountered this, for instance, among mu.nu blogs.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:09 AM to Blogorrhea )
Pelosi steps forward

Nancy Pelosi's Innovation Agenda is not really a typical Democratic document. Yes, there's the tendency to throw government funding at things, but there's at least the recognition that business does something other than generate tax revenue.

John Berlau of the Competitive Enterprise Institute's new Open Market blog singles out one provision of the Agenda for two, maybe two and a quarter cheers:

[The Agenda] she unveiled on behalf of House Democrats goes further than many Republicans have gone on reining in Sarbanes-Oxley. It commits House Democrats to support legislation that will "require specifically-tailored guidelines for small public companies to ensure Sarbanes-Oxley requirements are not overly burdensome."

While modest, this is further than most Republicans have been willing to go. For the most part, they have failed to challenge House Financial Services Committee Chairman Mike Oxley (the Oxley in Sarbanes-Oxley), who has said there will be no legislative changes to the law. Given the billions in compliance costs and many thousand of productive manhours these accounting rules have cost American business, it is smart politics for Pelosi to come out with her position. It?s a way of arguing to the business community that Democrats are reasonable, and Sarbanes-Oxley reform is not an issue that will particularly anger her Democrats' base.

A few more like this, please.

I, Mean Girl

What's scary is that the logic of this proposal is well-nigh impeccable:

If pop culture has taught me one thing in my life, it's that only the opinions of famous people matter. Why else do we let high school dropouts continue to lecture us on foreign affairs?

The fact of the matter is, if a news story breaks about the Guatemalan black market coffee trade, and you just so happen to have a Master's Degree in Guatemalan Coffee Export economics, people will still heed Lindsay Lohan's opinion over yours.

So, if this is the case, why not post as Lindsay Lohan?

It's that simple: change your blogger account to lindsaysopinions.blogspot.com, put one of Ms. Lohan's pictures in your profile, and have at it.

Well, there's one problem, but ...

The only person who will know you aren't actually Lindsay Lohan is Lindsay herself, and she's too busy bringing up her last meal or wrecking her car to pay attention.

Not everyone will fall for your hoax, but if you are convincing enough with your portrayal it should keep you in a steady supply of fanboys to elevate your traffic and potential revenue.

In an era when even respected literary lights can go batshit crazy, this might be just the ticket.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:08 PM to Blogorrhea )
I lift my lamp beside the cellblock door

Vermont's prisons are full. What to do? Why, outsource the jailarity to Oklahoma, of course:

"We're looking at ... a relatively new facility in western Oklahoma as the site for coming up [with] some more beds," said Vt. Corrections Commissioner Rob Hoffman.

Hoffman says the corrections department is contracting to reserve to up to 240 beds at the North Fork Correctional Facility in Sayre, Oklahoma for Vermont inmates. But the beds will not be filled all at once.

"Let's say over the next several weeks I expect we'll start with what'll be a trickle of a few dozens to start," said Hoffman.

This presumably is good news for Sayre: North Fork is the city's largest single employer. Capacity is 1440; it's operated under state license by Corrections Corp. of America.

And it's such a deal:

Jailing the inmates out-of-state is a taxpayers bargain: it costs only $20,000 per year per inmate compared to the $40,000 per year to house them in one of Vermont's nine state prisons.

"Oklahoma Discount Prisons, now with three great locations!"

And I suppose it's something of a relief to know that even with incarceration rates increasing far faster than the population, we still can make room for out-of-state, um, visitors.

(Via Fark.)

Update, 14 March: Sayre is happy.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:54 PM to Soonerland )
14 March 2006
And he fields, too

Bugs pitched only one game (in 1946) at the Polo Grounds, and it wasn't a complete game at that — he came on in the fifth inning — but contemporary research suggests a speed of at least 150 mph (!) for his "powerful, paralyzing, perfect, pachydermous percussion pitch."

I consider myself indeed fortunate to have witnessed this event, albeit after the fact, on film.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:22 AM to Base Paths )
The Boston rag

In 1969, the FCC revoked the license of WHDH-TV Boston, channel 5, owned by the Herald-Traveler Corporation, which also owned the Boston Herald Traveler newspaper, and accepted a competing application for the channel from Boston Broadcasters, Inc. The Herald fought back, but lost, and in 1972 channel 5 was taken over by BBI, using the call letters WCVB-TV.

(Note: The current WHDH-TV, owned by Miami's Sunbeam Television, is on channel 7 and was not involved with any of this.)

WHDH had been a CBS affiliate; BBI, as part of its application, vowed to run more locally-produced programming than any other station in the country, which scared CBS into dropping its affiliation. ABC, then languishing on channel 7, switched to 5. And BBI was as good as its word — at least, in the early years. I was actually in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts from the summer of '72 to the spring of '74, at the behest of Uncle Sam, so I got to see some of this stuff for myself; as I recall, some of it was a trifle too earnest at times, but channel 5 was my TV news source of choice.

But the station has been sold twice since then, and the standards that prevailed back in the Seventies are now — well, you can well imagine:

TO: Heather Unrue, Ed Harding
WCVB News Team
The Boston Channel 5

FROM: Verbify

SUBJECT: You make my mornings miserable

MESSAGE:
Dearest Heather and Ed,

When I stagger out of bed on weekday morning sometime between 5:40 and 6:15, I turn on the news. I suppose one could ask why I turn on the news, although I'd hope the answer would be obvious. I turn on the news to find out (1) how cold it will be, (2) whether I need to bring an umbrella, (3) whether traffic problems will mean the T will be overcrowded, (4) whether, by some miracle, all businesses in the greater Boston area are closed and I may therefore slide back into bed, and (5) oh, you know, the news. These are the things for which I do not turn on the television: (1) vapid and hollow newscaster banter, (2) vapid and hollow newscaster opinions, (3) unfunny jokes about Seinfeld, Brokeback Mountain, fashion, or the weather, (4) a clip (played three times) of Jennifer Garner stumbling slightly at an event totally unrelated to anything that will happen today, (5) vapid and hollow chatter about how Jennifer Garner is just sooooo quick on her feet, and (6) anything else that is not news. I suppose, then, you could ask why I turn on Channel 5's news. This is why: your broadcast leads in to Good Morning America, and I'd much rather watch fifteen minutes of Diane Sawyer's faux empathy than Katie Couric's ever more orange attempt at recapturing her early thirties. Keep this up, though, and I'm gonna switch to reruns of Angel or My Two Dads and just chance it with the weather.

In fairness to WCVB-TV, I should point out that they employ no Ogles.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:15 AM to Overmodulation )
From the Sticks and Stones Department

Besides, it's funny.

How Moses got the 10 Commandments....

God went to the Arabs and said, "I have Commandments for you that will make your lives better.

The Arabs asked, "What are Commandments?" And the Lord said, "They are rules for living."

"Can you give us an example?"

"Thou shall not kill."

"Not kill? We're not interested."

He went to the Blacks and said, "I have Commandments."

The Blacks wanted an example, and the Lord said, "Honor thy Father and Mother."

"Father? We don't know who our fathers are."

Then He went to the Mexicans and said, "I have Commandments."

The Mexicans also wanted an example, and the Lord said "Thou shall not steal."

"Not steal? We're not interested."

Then He went to the French and said, "I have Commandments."

The French too wanted an example and the Lord said, "Thou shall not commit adultery."

"Not commit adultery? We're not interested."

Finally, He went to the Jews and said, "I have Commandments."

"Commandments?" they said. "How much are they?"

"They're free."

"Free? We'll take 10."

Eventually, of course, it will be illegal to tell jokes of this sort, which is all the more reason to make sure they get entered on the Permanent Record while we still can.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:39 AM to Say What? )
Come up and see (not all of) me sometime

Alexandra Foley at Modesty Zone finds a perhaps-unexpected role model:

Consider the following quote by Mae West:

"I like my clothes to be tight enough to show I'm a woman, but loose enough to show I'm a lady."

Mae West, as you know, was the silver-screen actress famous for two things: her large bosom (her ample frontage inspired the name of a WWII life jacket) and her sharp wit. West's quips — such as "When I'm good I'm very good, but when I'm bad I'm better" — live with us still.

West thrived on being a verbal provocateur, so I am not certain how to take her statement about how tight clothes should be. On the one hand, given her bad-girl persona (she practically invented the genre), it would seem to be an endorsement of immodest clothing, clothing that is designed to arouse prurient interest without causing an outright scandal. On the other hand, her rule of thumb seems to suggest a happy medium between prudery and lewdness, and this is how I have always understood the virtue of modesty.

I think a closer match for that "happy medium" might be Dolly Parton, who has always been willing to mock her sexpot image — her trademark line might be "It costs a lot of money to look this cheap" — and who leads one of the least-scandalous lives in all of showbiz. Still, both Mae and Dolly were on the right track: they controlled their scenes, and should you presume too much, you could expect to go away empty-handed, or worse.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:45 AM to Table for One )
Gimme a C!

The Big Three credit bureaus — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — have decided that there should be only one system for determining credit scores, and are rolling out something called VantageScore.

Under VS, all three bureaus will use the same methodology to determine a person's credit score. Scores will range from 501 to 990 and are not strictly comparable to present-day FICO and similar scores. And each range will be assigned an alpha grade: 900s will get an A, 500s an F.

What won't change under the new system: the method of detecting and fixing incorrect information in a person's file, which will remain rather cumbersome.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:07 PM to Common Cents )
At least there are no excuses

Well, it was sorta different: P. J. Brown, who took an elbow in the forehead against the Nets, sat out this game, and Desmond Mason lasted all of fifty seconds before a bruised knee took him out. Marc Jackson started in the middle, and, mirabile dictu, J. R. Smith got some minutes. (He didn't score but once, but he played fairly decent defense.)

The result, unfortunately, was more of the same: Spurs 96, Hornets 81. But there weren't any ghastly lapses, any protracted dry spells, any spectacularly bad plays: the Bees played well, just not well enough to beat the league champions on their home court.

Jackson, in his first start, scored 16 points and pulled down six rebounds. Chris Paul scored 16, David West and Speedy Claxton 14 each. Tony Parker snagged 20 (and a double-double) for the Spurs, but the real thorn in the Hornets' side was Brent Barry, who came off the bench to hit six of six from the floor, including four treys.

Back to New Orleans for the next two: the Nuggets on Saturday, the Clippers on Tuesday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 PM to Net Proceeds )
15 March 2006
Nigel Wick speaks up

Late Late Show host Craig Ferguson did the 20Q thing with Playboy this month — by which I mean April — and get a load of Q6:

PLAYBOY:  Your Maureen Dowd interview was almost flirtatious. What was going on? Can you have as much fun with Ann Coulter?

FERGUSON:  I adore Dowd. I find her endlessly fascinating, endlessly sexy. She's very female, and I like that. But one of the things I like most is that when I challenge her on something, she seems delighted. It's what makes her such a good writer. Coulter thinks that everyone who disagrees with her has a political stance contrary to hers. She's strident and seems angry about something. Maybe it's just an act, but she has kept it up every time I've met her.

I'm not persuaded that it's an act, but if it is, it's a good one: I never hear of her breaking character.

This alleged Dowdian delight on being challenged is apparently something she switches on and off, depending on whether she wants to be Dr Jekyll or Miss Heidi; I await further research into this matter. I will point out, though, that anything more animated than obvious boredom will be interpreted by some guys as being flirtatious: Amanda Congdon caught some complaints about yesterday's Rocketboom. She replied:

If two men had a chuckle together, would that be flirting? I find it very sexist that every time I have a good time with the person I am interviewing (whether it be Steve [Brudniak] or Senator Edwards) people misconstrue it as "flirting" because I am woman. It just goes to show how women still can't be looked at without that weird sexual angle. It's 2006 and gender equality is just so far away. I realize that more and more every day.

Me, I think all sexual angles are weird, but maybe that's just me. I would suggest, though, that gender equality isn't the issue here: rather, it's gender interchangeability, which is even farther away and which I am not anxious to approach.

Third second thoughts

The 2004 measure which permitted municipal employees of the state's largest cities to unionize went through a series of legal challenges, the most serious of which claimed that it was contrary to the state constitution to enact a law which applied only to those cities.

The state Supreme Court, five to four, has now decided otherwise, and the law will stand.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:20 AM to Soonerland )
Hey, nice ASCII

James Lileks finds a beautifully-preserved example of computer-generated eroticafrom the summer of 1964. (Safe for work unless you work for Donald Wildmon.)

The specifications of the, um, individual in question looked familiar, and sure enough, I'd seen them somewhere before.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:16 AM to PEBKAC )
Fiscal fitness

Standard & Poor's has upgraded Oklahoma City's bond rating to AA+, the second-highest rating on the S&P scale, a testimonial, they said, to a "diverse, expanding regional economic base that serves as the state's economic engine." With this better credit rating, the city will presumably enjoy lower interest rates on future bond issues.

The S&P analysts pointed to conservative financial management, low debt levels, and a "manageable" capital-improvement program.

The city's property-tax base (although technically the counties levy the actual tax) has grown 28 percent in five years, to $29.16 billion.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:11 AM to City Scene )
Inside Kos' book

If you've been curious about Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics, the new book by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas "Kos" Zúniga, Lindsay Beyerstein has a detailed and thoughtful review.

Rather crummy odds, considering

Sean Gleeson has looked into the matter, and he estimates between 80 and 90 percent of child abuse/neglect investigations in this state prove to be bogus.

DHS annual report for FY '04, the latest released, is here; you'll need Adobe Reader. Here's Sean's take:

Every investigation of child abuse or neglect has two possible outcomes: "confirmed" or "unconfirmed." If any of the allegations is true, or if any of the children have ever been abused or neglected in any way at all, the result is "confirmed." "Unconfirmed" is just the OKDHS's way of saying "completely innocent."

In Fiscal Year 2004, fully 80 percent of all Oklahoma abuse and neglect investigations resulted in an "unconfirmed" finding. Some of these might have been real abusers who just managed to avoid detection, but the rest of them were completely innocent people falsely accused of child abuse. When considered with the "screened out" reports that don't even merit an investigation, this means that almost 90 percent of all child abuse reports in Oklahoma are found to be absolutely groundless.

I need hardly point out that some of them are more groundless than others.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:52 PM to Soonerland )
Difficulty rating: bling

Is it really all that hard out there for a pimp?

Steph Mineart runs the numbers.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:07 PM to Almost Yogurt )
182

Sometimes it's easy. I could throw in some reference to Turk 182!, or maybe the band blink-182. (You have to — well, I have to — cut some slack to a band that can put out an album called Enema of the State.)

But what you're here for is the 182nd Carnival of the Vanities, hosted by Forward Biased. Go ye and read.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:30 PM to Blogorrhea )
16 March 2006
The tyranny of the collar

Back around 1980, there was a sort-of-annoying TV-movie called Hardhat and Legs, with Kevin Dobson as a rough-hewn construction-worker type who finds himself in an unexpected romance with uptown divorcée Sharon Gless. I admit to having watched this, because (1) I have always been curious as to whether it's possible for a relationship between a duchess and a commoner, so to speak, actually to work, and (2) I had to figure Gless' character was called "Legs" for a reason. (Well, two reasons, more precisely.)

This otherwise-unused memory is brought to you by Lesley, and here's why:

Why is it when men marry women who are less educated and with lower-paid jobs, this is generally considered normal (in the non-statistical sense), but when women do the same thing, it's "marrying down"? This strikes me as being sexist in so many ways. It's both anti-woman and anti-man.

A lot of the men I date make less money than I do. So what? Am I supposed to value men primarily based on their earnings? Why should I? I make enough money to support myself and someone else. I have more options than I would if I made a lot less money. The same options that were, previously, mostly only available to men in selecting a partner. I don't think I'm dating men who are somehow inferior to me (the implication of "marrying down"). The whole notion says a lot about the ingrained sexism of our society (by which I mean more than just American society).

It is a measure of something, surely, that I can read these paragraphs, nod in agreement, say out loud "Yes, that's so true," and still give out with a whimper of despair at my own lack of accomplishment and/or wealth.

About the time Hardhat and Legs came out, I was still married, and contributing roughly 42 percent of the household budget, and feeling very much like I wasn't carrying my share of the load. (This was not the cause of the breakup, except to the extent that it represented yet another manifestation of the fact that I obviously didn't have any business being in any sort of relationship, given my horrendous immaturity at the time.) And a quarter-century later, I don't think I've quite outgrown this particular neurosis. Worse, I tend to fixate on women two or three social strata above me. ("Someone of prodigious desirability who wouldn't have me on a bet" was the description I proffered in the infamous OAQ File.) Is this the very model of a modern self-fulfilling prophecy?

I don't think, though, that this particular attitude, at least in my case, stems from vestigial sexism; it's just as easily, and perhaps more convincingly, explained by Non sum dignus.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Table for One )
Spring test

I think we can pass this pretty easily:

[ x ] Sunrise and sunset 12 hours apart.

[ x ] Trees beginning to develop new crop of leaves.

[ x ] Rainy weather pattern beginning.

[ x ] Pre-dawn freeze more the exception than the rule.

[    ] Twentieth of March has arrived.

Four out of five. I'd say that's probably good enough — though that "rainy pattern," predicted for tomorrow through Monday, had better produce more than the meager three-quarters of an inch the skies have coughed up so far this year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:25 AM to Weather or Not )
Time to stomp on Sally Kern

Remember when conservatives used to talk about smaller government? Rep. Sally Kern (R-OKC) has had her Hanes Her Way in a wad for at least a year over the possibility that some poor innocent child might stumble upon a book that doesn't take an unfavorable view of homosexuality. In 2005 she managed to get the House to vote for a resolution to restrict children's access to any such books, regardless of their target audience; this year the House has approved her bill to withhold state funding to any library which doesn't follow her dictum.

Mostly unmentioned in the kerfuffle is Kern's review process, which mandates the creation of a State Library Material Content Advisory Board. Another farging state agency! This is conservatism? Even people sympathetic to Kern's, um, cause have their doubts about this sort of thing. Said Rep. Mike Wilk (R-Bartlesville): "How many times are we going to run a state bill to fix an Oklahoma City problem?"

What's more, the Oklahoman, seldom described as gay-friendly, refuses to sign on:

We find it ironic that the bill said each policy should "reflect the contemporary community standard of the community the library is located in." In putting the bill on a path to becoming law, lawmakers are taking away such local control and substituting it with their judgment. It's not the Legislature's job to tell libraries which books to stock and where to put them. Local library boards are capable of making decisions on whether restricted access is necessary.

Kern insists:

I'm not a Nazi. I believe in free speech. But for every right we have, there is a responsibility.

Indeed. The state Senate has a responsibility to abort this monstrosity before it reaches any stage of viability.

(Thanks to Library Stories, which has stayed on top of this story from the beginning.)

Update, 20 March: Mike of Okiedoke endorses the compromise position adopted by the Metro Library System: "[W]hy do I think this is a good compromise? Because both sides are still unhappy." A good sign indeed.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:02 AM to Soonerland )
Sync or swim

Patterico has discovered a Great Truth about himself:

I was in between my clerkship, which I had just completed, and my return to my civil job at a large New York sweatshop law firm (no offense, Jackie!). I took about two months, and played computer chess, read books, exercised, and generally experimented with my circadian rhythm period. I discovered I have a natural day of 28-29 hours. Every day I woke up 4-5 hours later than the day before. It was fun. Everyone should do it once.

I know whereof he speaks; mine runs about 26:30. Obviously I'd be better suited to a planet like Bajor, where the day runs twenty-six hours — assuming I didn't have to put up with any scheming Cardassians.

Frock and role

Interesting comment by Verbify on this thread at Modestly Yours:

There are ninety different ways a woman can dress which provoke the epithet "easy," but not a single outfit I can think of that would result in a man getting called a "slut." And I'm not sure if the solution to this disparity is imposing even more rules upon what a woman can or should wear.

I suspect that it would take more than a mere outfit to get a man characterized as "slutty," or whatever synonym might apply. It is indeed a disparity, though the more disturbing disparity is that there's still a tendency to lionize men for promiscuity, even as we castigate women for it. (Double standards? We got some.) If we can clear that up, the wardrobe issue might well solve itself.

Elsewhere, the thread contemplates the strictures suggested by Pope Pius XII back in the 1940s: "below the knee, halfway down the arm, and two finger widths below the collarbone," as regards hemline, sleeve length, and neckline respectively. Pius died in 1958; am I remembering correctly, and did hemlines slowly start to creep up right afterwards? (Keep in mind, I was five years old in 1958 and had no idea of the significance of hemlines until much later.)

Update, 18 March: Aldahlia describes Sleazewear for Men.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:08 PM to Table for One )
17 March 2006
Quote of the week

Hornets center P. J. Brown, during the "Hornets 101: The Art of Basketball for Women" promotion, was asked what he splurged on after getting his first big NBA paycheck.

"I didn't buy anything," said Brown. "Especially after I saw how much Uncle Sam was taking out."

(P. J., it should be pointed out, is in his thirteenth year in the NBA; those paychecks are bigger now than they were in 1993 when he signed with the Nets.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to QOTW )
Intruder alert

Winston Rand, who blogs at Nobody Asked, found himself locked out of the premises yesterday by someone identified as "Mr. Black-Code," who made some vague Islamist references and uttered some excessively-cutesy 1337speak. (Whether this means that Mr. B-C is actually an Islamic cracker, or merely wishes to implicate Islamic crackers, is undetermined.)

I doubt much was lost — DreamHost, which hosts that site (and this one), backs up the databases now and then — and Mr. B-C's insertion page has already been ruthlessly excised. (And for all I know, this was done without Winston's having to search for the DreamHost phone number.)

Update, 6:30 pm: He's back. Winston, I mean.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:26 AM to Blogorrhea )
Up against the graft ceiling

Now why didn't I think of this?

In the 60 years since the United Nations was founded, no woman has served as secretary general. And despite the body's stated goal of achieving gender parity within the system by the year 2000, women remain grossly underrepresented. The numbers are embarrassing: Only 16 percent of undersecretaries general are women.

Eleanor Roosevelt, who played a critical role in the early years of the United Nations, reminded us that universal human rights begin in small places, close to home, in this case the halls of the United Nations. She said, "Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere."

Women's unequal access to positions of power in the United Nations hinders progress toward all the organization's goals, including equality, development and peace. The Security Council should take Mrs. Roosevelt's wise words "close to home" in choosing the next secretary general. It's time for a woman.

Quickly, now: What "universal human rights" actually originated in the halls of the United Nations? Anyone? Bueller?

In other news, divers conducting research on the wreck of the Titanic have discovered evidence that the deck chairs were rearranged shortly before the ship sank.

Title of the week

By Derek Powazek: SXSW to MPAA: STFU.

You know, were I in the presence of high-profile, high-energy übergeeks who have had it up to here [gestures] with Digital Rights Management and other 21st-century farces, I probably wouldn't want to finish off my first sentence with "I'm from the Motion Picture Association of America."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:18 AM to Dyssynergy )
NY: keeping MA and PA apart

Why things should never be done by committees, Part 6.02 x 10^23: a task force of thirty-two worked eighteen months on a new tourism slogan for Washington state, and came up with "SayWA".

I await Maine's pitch to lure travelers to its seafood restaurants, which logically should read "EatME", right? *

(Via The Consumerist; this link may be considered NSFW for textual reasons.)

* Disclosure: I could swear I actually saw that on a billboard in Massachusetts back in the middle Seventies. Of course, I drank more then.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:00 AM to Say What? )
Not a ceiling fan

Defying the trend set by the Federal government, Oklahoma City resident C. G. Hill announced today that his debt ceiling will remain unchanged at $150,000 for the upcoming year.

Analysis of Hill's finances reveal a substantial decrease in the annual deficit between 2004 and 2005, due largely to a significant reduction in health-care expenses, although this was somewhat offset by markedly higher energy costs.

The debt ceiling, which turned sharply upwards after the acquisition of the palatial Surlywood estate on Oklahoma City's northwest side, had been as high as $166,000 as recently as 2004; the following year, an extensive line of credit was deemed too costly and was canceled.

Mr Hill's actual debt is estimated to be well within the current ceiling, at just under $115,000, the largest single component of which is a mortgage on the Surlywood property, which at the current rate of amortization will be paid off in 2032. Assets held by Mr Hill necessarily fluctuate with market values but are currently believed to be in the vicinity of $130,000. Further adjustments to the debt ceiling are not being considered at this time.

The Gleeson report

KFOR-TV sent a News Babe to talk to Sean and Phoebe Gleeson, and in the absence of any fresh Brad-and-Angelina updates, it rated a couple of minutes during the 10-pm newscast.

The unsatisfying thing about all this, of course, is that we'll probably never know for sure who turned in the bogus child-neglect report: DHS, said the reporter, doesn't have the resources to chase down bearers of false witness, and, well, we're not privy to the Last Judgment, except for our own.

On the upside, the Gleesons (all seven of them, though the younger ones got no spoken lines) came off as a traditional Big Happy Family, the sort that makes certain individuals (they know who they are) mumble to themselves about how glad they are that they didn't reproduce, a sentiment I am inclined to share.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:21 PM to City Scene )
18 March 2006
Fatuous Flashback 25

"International community"? Only in the broadest possible sense:

I've thought this over, and the more I think about it, the more I think that it's not a community at all.

Seriously. Each of the nations in the United Nations, as you might reasonably expect, is basically looking out for its own interests. If there's any sense of "community" at all, it's found in the temporary alliances among nations who seek to curry favor with, or extort money from, larger nations. The archetype for the leader of this type of community is Tony Soprano. At best, we're in an International Trailer Park: we're stuck next to one another and those damn people around the corner won't pick up their yard and someone else is trying to tap into our utilities. Under the circumstances, it's hard to blame the Bush administration for making noises about packing up and moving out.

"But they're our neighbors!" I hear you cry. Fine. Let them act like it for once.

(From "The international trailer park", 17 March 2003.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:59 AM to Greatest Hits )
Twenty questions

Poached from Donna:

  1. Two favorite colors: purple and green (God forbid I should wear this.)

  2. Two least favorite colors: yellow and pink (God forbid, etc.)

  3. Favorite fast food restaurant: Braum's, though they're not exactly everywhere; if I'm way out of town, I seek out Arby's.

  4. Favorite day of the week: Sunday. Day of rest, yadda, yadda.

  5. Least favorite day of the week: Thursday. Other than its proximity to Friday, it has nothing to recommend it.

  6. Best thing about your significant other: Not applicable.

  7. Least favorite thing about your significant other: Still not applicable.

  8. Your significant other's favorite thing about you (without
    asking them):
    Still not applicable, and "them" is the wrong pronoun.

  9. Your significant other's least favorite thing about you
    (again, without asking them):
    See above, and change the subject fercrissake.

  10. Black or white? Black, except maybe in mid-July.

  11. Red or blue? Blue.

  12. Day or night? Night. I am not a morning person unless 11:55 am counts.

  13. Favorite part of your body: The one knee that works semi-regularly.

  14. Least favorite part about your body: Everything else.

  15. Do you like walking in the rain at times? It has its charms.

  16. Do you have a tattoo? Not a one.

  17. "Short and sweet" or "long and hard"? I think this meets the criteria for "Not applicable."

  18. Favorite kind of car: One with both extravagant performance and utterly unnoticeable looks.

  19. Favorite kind of ice cream: Rocky Rococo Road.

  20. Trix or Lucky Charms: I consider all cardboard essentially interchangeable.

Feel free to swipe.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:31 AM to Screaming Memes )
Limited remedies

Thoughts from John Hinderaker:

One of the basic problems in our society is that nearly all informal sanctions have been forfeited, so that there is hardly any middle ground between passive acceptance of antisocial behavior and a felony prosecution. Legislation and criminal prosecution are blunt instruments that cannot be brought to bear against every deviancy that may arise.

The specific deviancy arousing Mr Hinderaker's wrath? Demonstrations at funerals, such as those staged by Fred Phelps and his merry band of dirtbags. What sort of "informal sanction" might be useful in this context?

If a bunch of crazies show up waving signs at a funeral, the appropriate course is for an able-bodied man — there should be at least one at any funeral — to take a sign and break it over the ringleader's head.

Alas, when the ringleader sues, the fact that he's a suppurating pustule on the hindquarters of humanity won't be taken into account.

Make a reasonably-positive noise

I have previously suggested that my personal religious faith is, shall we say, something less than muscular: part wishy, part washy, even the Unitarians could mock me.

So I'd best get busy learning some of these church songs ("hymns" sounds so ... so liturgical):

  • A Comfy Mattress Is Our God
  • Lord, Keep Us Loosely Connected to Your Word
  • All Hail the Influence of Jesus' Name
  • My Hope is Built on Nothing Much
  • Amazing Grace, How Interesting the Sound
  • O God, Our Enabler in Ages Past
  • Pillow of Ages, Fluffed for Me
  • Praise God from Whom All Affirmations Flow
  • I'm Fairly Certain That My Redeemer Lives
  • Take My Life and Let Me Be
  • There is Scattered Cloudiness in My Soul Today
  • What an Acquaintance We Have in Jesus
  • When the Saints Go Sneaking In
  • Where He Leads Me, I Will Consider Following
  • Lift Every Voice and Intellectualize

Brought to you by the Church of the Lukewarm.

Halliburton comes home, briefly

Halliburton's 2006 shareholders meeting will be held on the 17th of May in Duncan, Oklahoma, where Erle P. Halliburton founded the company back in 1924 as successor to his New Method Oil Well Cementing Company.

From Cathy Mann of Halliburton PR:

We are holding our meeting in Duncan because we are a company that values our tradition and spirit of innovation — much of which was started in Duncan more than 80 years ago. We are excited to showcase this heritage for our shareholders.

And indeed Halliburton, despite having moved its corporate headquarters to Houston along with most of the oil industry, still has lots of facilities in the Sooner State.

Unspoken but probably hoped-for fringe benefit: fewer protesters than last year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:37 PM to Soonerland )
Saturday spottings (in transition)

The rainfall today has just about equaled the rainfall from the preceding seventy-six days, which made for some interesting displays by the side of the road, what with the inability of the drainage system to keep up; southbound below Britton and May, water was six to eight inches deep in spots, and the usual 35-45 mph speed in the right lane generated sprays high enough to reach over the top of an Escalade.

The weather some weeks back caused some damage to Beverly's Pancake Corner at Northwest Distressway and Penn; the wind came through and ripped away the puffed-fabric-look awning across the top of the building. It's now been replaced, with a suitably anachronistic representation of Beverly's legendary Chicken in the Rough logo, just what this most ancient of area eateries — about a half-century old, it's the last survivor of the Beverly's chain, which dates to 1921 — ought to have.

No longer surviving, however, is the pastel-colored building at the southeast corner of May and Grand that sat empty for many years, which will be remembered by old-timers as the Girlie Pancake House ("They're Stacked Better"). Today the lot is just a sea of mud.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:42 PM to City Scene )
March badness continues

The Nuggets led after the first quarter, 34-16, and that was pretty much it. The Hornets actually outscored Denver by three the rest of the way, winning the second and fourth quarters, which didn't matter in the least: Nuggets 109, Hornets 94, and now it's eight in a row.

The three-ball was the Holy Grail tonight. There were forty-three three-point attempts: the Hornets made five, or as many as Greg Buckner made all by himself. Buckner had 19 points off the bench; add 28 from Carmelo Anthony and 17 each from Kenyon Martin and Andre Miller, and you'll wonder if the Bees brought any defense.

Which, in fact, they did: they outrebounded the Nuggets, 43-39. The big difference, aside from Denver's trey surplus — they had eight — was an inordinate number of Hornet turnovers (sixteen, versus ten for the Nuggets) and the ongoing below-average field-goal percentage (41.5, while Denver hit 48.2 percent).

Still, five Hornets made double digits, led by David West with 24 and Kirk Snyder with 12. CP3 pulled another double-double — 11 points, 10 assists — and off the bench, Marc Jackson picked up 10 and Linton Johnson scored 11 before fouling out. P. J. Brown had 8 points and 10 rebounds.

Another good turnout in New Orleans. But as Byron Scott says, playing 36 minutes of solid basketball is just not enough.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:39 PM to Net Proceeds )
19 March 2006
Non-technical support

Found at just muttering:

On a personal level, being loved by partners, friends and children is so important and yet it's difficult for people who live alone or have no partners or intimate friends because no one asks after them on a regular basis. It must be easy to feel as if no one cares what they do or how they are. And that must make it hard to stay interested in eating well or staying fit or anything much. If we live a long time, many of us will be there, so I wonder what would work well to keep from feeling sad or meaningless?

I've been there for quite a while and I'm only a quarter of the way through my fifties.

Some of this I attribute to living in Oklahoma most of those years. I wrote this last spring:

Much of what we think of as the Oklahoma character originated out in the countryside. On the farm we learned the basics of fatalism, that a few hours of horrible weather can take out a season's crop; in the small towns we learned that for every person who is content with his lot, there's another who wants out.

I am not particularly content with my lot, but I play the cards I'm dealt, and some hands inevitably are better than others.

Besides, I have always placed a high value — perhaps too high, by some folks' reckoning — on being as self-sufficient as possible. It should surprise no one that this particular stance informs both my politics and my personal relationships. Nor am I overly fond of small talk: should someone ask "How are you?" my standard response is "Compared to what?"

Trying to find meaning in this existence is a tricky business. I have never been in a position where I could define myself in terms of what I do for a living: the jobs I have held have been occasionally, not too often, remunerative, but never, ever more than marginally fulfilling. That leaves about 120 hours a week to work on the issue, and I see two approaches to the situation:

  1. Do nothing and shrug;
  2. Write about a million words on the off-chance that it might actually matter.

Welcome to Plan B.

Off the carousel

Last year, Peter Wood, provost of The King's College, a small Christian college in New York City, shut down the undergraduate program in childhood education. One reason, he says, was that state regulations had made it irrelevant:

[W]hile New York (and many other states) sets all manner of requirements for undergraduate education degree programs, New York (and many other states) has also rendered these programs redundant by requiring every teacher to earn a master's degree in education to be eligible for "professional certification." (A student who graduates with an undergraduate degree in education may receive "initial certification," which confers permission by the state to teach in public schools for no more than five years, during which time he must earn a master's degree or leave the field.)

But don't the undergraduate courses provide the necessary fundamentals, a base for graduate study? Dr Wood says no:

Schools of education mis-prepare would-be teachers in many ways. They deprive those would-be teachers of the opportunity to learn more important, substantive things during their undergraduate years; they require students to take hugely time-consuming courses of dubious intellectual value; and they inculcate would-be teachers in the educrats' pernicious ideology. It's an ideology that insists that virtually all of America's social problems derive from institutionalized prejudices; that most knowledge is "socially constructed"; and that children are best taught by allowing their natural creativity to flourish, rather than by actually trying to teach the habits of self-discipline and mindfulness. Substantive knowledge and real skill in areas like mathematics, reading, and writing are clearly tertiary concerns at best for most teachers, because they are less than tertiary concerns for SOEs.

I've got nothing in the world against natural creativity — indeed, there are times when I wish I had some of my own — but there's a lot to be said for being able to balance one's checkbook.

C. S. Lewis saw this coming:

The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be "undemocratic." These differences between the pupils — for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences — must be disguised. This can be done on various levels. At universities, examinations must be framed so that nearly all the students get good marks. Entrance examinations must be framed so that all, or nearly all, citizens can go to universities, whether they have any power (or wish) to profit by higher education or not. At schools, the children who are too stupid or lazy to learn languages and mathematics and elementary science can be set to doing the things that children used to do in their spare time. Let them, for example, make mud pies and call it modeling. But all the time there must be no faintest hint that they are inferior to the children who are at work.

(From Screwtape Proposes a Toast, 1959.)

Hang down your head, John Dewey.

(Via Joanne Jacobs, whose book I highly recommend.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:53 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Puttin' off the spritz

Inasmuch as everybody at the shop has gone through two or three bouts of What's Going Around recently, this sounds like a sensible approach:

When you have to sneeze, don't sneeze into your hand. Turn your head and sneeze into your arm. It's what they teach doctors to do.

Elbow, shoulder, it doesn't matter. Just not your hand, which you then continue to use to touch everything around you. I know that everyone thinks that they don't spray that much when they sneeze, but you do. You totally do. Or maybe you don't, but you should err on the side of caution.

I totally do. One day I was unfortunately enough to have both a case of the sneezies and a mild nosebleed, and the nearest wall wound up looking like a set for CSI: Des Moines.

All over the place (2)

Just some stuff that drew my attention:

Hey, it beats doing yard work.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:24 PM to Blogorrhea )
Still I wonder, who'll stop the rain?

It's supposed to stop by itself sometime tomorrow, which is fine with me: we're getting a decent soaking.

Still, this hardly means an end to the drought. The last month we had with average rainfall or above was August. Since then:

September: 1.89 inches (average 3.84)
October: 1.17 inches (average 3.64)
November: < 0.01 inches (average 2.11)
December: 0.28 inches (average 1.89)
January: 0.27 inches (average 1.28)
February: 0.08 inches (average 1.56)
March 1-17: 0.40 inches (average 1.54)

For a period when we should have had 15.86 inches of rain, we got 4.09. (All figures from Will Rogers World Airport; at Wiley Post Airport, which is closer to where I live, we've had 3.89.)

So yesterday's 1.61 inches, impressive as it sounds, plus whatever we get today and tomorrow, likely won't make that much difference: the statewide burn ban remains in effect.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:56 PM to Weather or Not )
20 March 2006
Strange search-engine queries (9)

People arrive at this site for the darnedest reasons.

is racism good:  It's probably good for David Duke, who's made enough off of it over the years to keep him from having to shop at KKK mart, but for the rest of the human race, no, it's not good.

are tall beautiful women intimidating:  Yes. Then again, so are short plain ones.

old macdonald was dyslexic:  E-O-I-O-E.

pigs fly on airlines:  Why not? They'll let snakes on a plane.

proctology worst job:  I know I hate getting behind in my work.

when do we eat Salvador Litvak:  Hmm. Maybe Lynne Truss was right about punctuation.

notification of admission to sacred mcgehee, new orleans:  It's probably easier to get into than Mecca.

"got divorced" and "well endowed":  Which cost him half his endowment, at least.

violet parr vs invisible woman:  So far, Violet hasn't had occasion to take her clothes off on a busy city street, which, given that she's still a teenager, is just as well.

underwear with a fake but:  Fake but what? (Please, God, don't let it be "accurate.")

call me frozen:  Okay, you're frozen.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:18 AM to You Asked For It )
Kiss her, she's Iris

Now here's an eye-opener: the Ponca City Iris Festival, 5-7 May, is looking for women named Iris for recognition and a special presentation.

As though the wine/cheese tasting and the Victorian Chocolate Festival — not to mention an appearance by Roy Clark — weren't enough.

(I grow irises myself — actually, they grow without much help from me — so I should probably go to this thing just for the flowers.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:29 AM to Soonerland )
Featuring the stylings of Run-D&E

Well, this seems innocuous enough:

You can win an iPod!

Come in for an appointment at any of our 8 health centers before April 30th and enter to win an iPod.

This is a current promotion by Planned Parenthood Golden Gate, and it got Dawn Eden wondering what sort of tunage might be appropriate.

The Curt Jester has now revealed the complete playlist, and it's extensive: "every sound but ultrasounds!"

Remember: offer expires on the 30th of April, and they're serious about expiration.

Cross the border, buy a house

There's a great deal of talk about how much illegal immigrants suck out of the US economy; there's rather a bit less about how much they put in. The Oklahoman has a piece this morning on mortgage loans made to the undocumented keyed to their Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers instead of the Social Security numbers they don't have.

In a sidebar, the head of a mortgage company who makes lots of such loans notes that it's not the easiest thing in the world to get one: typically, you have to have been here 10 years or more and must have filed tax returns for the past two years using your ITIN. And the interest rate is stiff: a local couple described in the article is paying 9.25 percent on a thirty-year fixed-rate loan, about three percentage points above the rate offered to more conventional customers with presumably better credit.

Still, these are people who would be solid citizens if they were, you know, citizens, and other than the standard "But they're here illegally!" complaint, I can't think of any reason why they shouldn't be allowed to buy a house. And if the INS can't enforce its own rules, they can hardly expect a bank to do it for them, especially when another branch of the government — the FDIC — expects that bank to make a substantial effort to serve low- and medium-income residents of its community.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:48 AM to Common Cents )
She can always run for President in 2012

National Football League Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has announced his retirement as of the end of July. NFL owners will begin the search for his replacement at the Annual Meeting in Orlando next week.

Now comes the $183,500 question: would Condi Rice bail out of State to take what she says is her dream job? (Would the owners even offer it to her?)

Update, 21 March: She says she'll pass, thank you; she's enjoying her job at State "at the moment." Hmmm.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:03 PM to Dyssynergy )
Throw some shrimp on the arc welder

The burn ban has been lifted, effective today.

Update, 28 March: It's back.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:50 PM to Soonerland )
Birdman: still out

In January, Hornets forward Chris "Birdman" Andersen was suspended from the NBA for two years for a violation of the league's drug rules. The Players' Association filed a grievance; today the arbitrator upheld Andersen's suspension.

Andersen can apply to be reinstated in January 2008. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, half his $3.5 million annual salary counts toward the Hornets' salary cap, even though he's not actually being paid.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:15 PM to Net Proceeds )
21 March 2006
Decartelization

Just one part of Will Wilkinson's vision of health-care reform, not approved by any think tanks at this time, and unlikely to win the support of the American Medical Associaion either:

You don't need a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering to change a muffler any more than you need a M.D. to set a broken arm. You just need to know how to change a muffler or how to set a broken arm.

There ought to be a guy, Manny, say, who does stitches. You cut your arm and you go to Manny's stitches joint, which flourishes because Manny is the best at stitches. Manny leaves no scar! Ever! Moreover, he's cheaper that some guy who spent years learning about the biochemistry of the human body. What does that have to do with stitches!? Why isn't there a Manny?s Stitches Joint! You should be able to get a degree from the University of Phoenix in knee replacements. Just knee replacements! Why can't you?! Because the AMA is evil. M.D.s are monopolists and welfare queens, and preventing a huge infusion of high-quality low-cost health care providers from coming to market. SHAME! If anyone attempts to say that our current system resembles a "free market," point out that in a free market you wouldn?t have to buy a massively expensive indulgence from the Church of Medicine in order to sell health services.

As for the uninsured, they fall into two groups: those who can afford to pay for their medical services up front and don't need it, and those who can't. For the latter, Wilkinson suggests:

What we do here is examine your case, examine the treatment options available to you on the roiling competitive market for healthcare services, or at your nearest [Health Rationing Service] facility, and offer you a voucher for an amount that will buy you the best treatment you can get relative to the Rationing Service's budget constraints and principles of prioritization. With the voucher you will be given a menu of qualified treatments. We will include on the menu some qualified treatments that cost more than the voucher. If you are able to raise funds from other sources (family, church bake sale, jar at the local McDonald's), then you should feel free to add those funds to your voucher to buy a pricier approved treatment. You will not get a voucher for the most expensive treatment. But because there is a real market, you also will not have to wait in line (unless you choose to use a HRS facility). And you can use Google Diagnostic Services yourself (which, to tell you the truth, is mostly what we do), and you will often be able to find excellent qualified treatment for less than your voucher. You are free to put the savings in your HSA.

Of course, this happens after all the other improvements are put into place. And this is why it works:

Our limited funds go a lot further. And you will not feel as bad not getting the very latest, most expensive treatments because the market will generate information that will make it quite clear just how little additional value you would get for the extra cost. You don't feel like a second-class citizen driving a ten-year-old Honda when it still looks pretty good and can get you from A to B just as well, and in almost as much comfort, as this year's Mercedes. We give you vouchers for the health equivalent of ten-year-old Hondas. But they work. The crazy thing about the old system is that you couldn't buy the health equivalent of a ten-year-old Honda even if you wanted to!

Migod, it might even be sustainable.

(Via Joanna at Fey Accompli.)

Play one as TV

In She's the Man, which reimagines Shakespeare's Twelfth Night for teenagers — no big deal if you saw Clueless and noticed Jane Austen lurking in the wings — Amanda Bynes is, well, the Man, which prompted this observation from Donna:

There are two laws that govern characters that cross-dress.

1. If a guy dresses like a girl, almost immediately some strong football player-type appears and falls in love with him. Hijinks ensue!

2. If a girl dresses as a boy, almost immediately another guy will fall for "him." The fellow in love questions his sexuality but then breathes a sign of relief when he realizes that the man he loves is really a woman.

What these two scenarios have in common, of course, is that in neither of them are any of the females fooled. (I learned this from Jessi years ago.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:07 AM to Almost Yogurt )
As in "You wish"

One of the youngsters from the shop wanted some currency conversions. After not a whole lot of questioning, she explained what she had in mind: she'd like to find someplace where she could retire on, say, $500.

Now the Yankee dollar is prized in some circles, but not so highly that you can live off one of them for more than 24 hours or so. I have to conclude that she's been watching too many informercials or something.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:31 AM to TANSTAAFL )
Democrats avoiding 5th

That's the 5th District, not the 5th Amendment, wiseguy.

I was sort of hoping Bernest Cain, soon to be term-limited out of the state Senate, might want to take on the House seat being vacated by goobernatorial wannabe Ernest Istook, but Cain says it's not going to happen:

I couldn't work out a scenario that I thought could pull it off. I've talked with a lot of people about it and done a lot of statistical work and it's just not the way I'm going to spend my time this year.

Also passing up the race is Bridgeport Holdings chairman Jim Meyer, who says "it's not the right time" for him.

I refuse to believe that this is an automatic GOP seat, but given the number of name-brand Republicans signed up, and the low name recognition of any of the three Democrats in the race — there's a political novice, last election's sacrificial lamb, and the Oklahoma County Court Clerk — I've got to figure that the Democratic apparatus thinks it's a lost cause.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:33 PM to Soonerland )
Feel the swarm

"If we're going to win games," said Byron Scott, "we've got to get angry."

And after the Clippers jumped out to an early 12-3 lead, the visibly pissed-off Hornets took out eight games' worth of frustration on the Angelenos, outscoring the Clippers 30-11 in the rest of the quarter and fighting off a late L.A. rally, finishing it off with a throwaway Rasual Butler three-pointer at the buzzer to win it 120-108.

You want numbers? This is the highest point total the Bees have posted all year; in fact, the last time they scored 120 was two years ago, and they lost that game (to the Raptors, 121-120). And Rasual Butler ruled: he shot 12 for 16, including seven of nine treys, plus one from the line for a career-high 32 points. Both Chris Paul and David West dropped in 21 points; West snagged 11 boards for the double-double. Marc Jackson scored 10 off the bench, and J. R. Smith fought his way back to respectability with 3 of 4 shooting (including a trey), seven points, a steal and a blocked shot in 18 minutes.

What makes it sweeter is that the Clippers were good tonight: they shot 55 percent from the floor (the Bees did 52) and hit 19 of 21 free throws. Corey Maggette scored 25 off the bench, dominating the fourth quarter, and Elton Brand dropped in his usual 24. But the Hornets forced 19 turnovers and pulled 13 offensive rebounds, insuring themselves plenty of looks.

Back to the Ford Thursday to take on the inconsistent Rockets, and then an industrial-strength road trip: the Bulls, the Lakers, the Jazz, and the Warriors, over a mere six days. Let's hope they stay mad.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:47 PM to Net Proceeds )
22 March 2006
Never reaching the end

Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, interviewed by J. Poet in the April Discoveries, on the eternal verities of "Nights in White Satin":

I remember being in a karaoke bar in Venice with my wife Marie one night, and a bloke got up and did "Nights" and brought the house down. I was a bit peeved and thought briefly about standing up and saying, "I wrote that song," but nobody would have believed me.

And how do you follow that, anyway?

I decided to follow him with "My Funny Valentine," and I died.

Breathe deep the gathering gloom.

ISP on you

The last time we mentioned Earthlink in this space, they were causing Matt Deatherage entirely too much grief.

Matt, you'll remember, was trying to cancel. But Dr. Weevil was trying to stay with them, and they screwed him over too:

When I finally got hold of a human being on the telephone Sunday evening, I was told that Earthlink no longer had possession of my domain, had nothing to do with it, and I should do a WhoIs through registrar.com to find out who has it now.

And they offered to sell it back to him:

So I need to spend $49 to join afternic.com ("the Exchange"), then bid a minimum of $200 to get my domain back — possibly much more, since the anonymous bidding would (hypothetically) allow Host Master to pretend that there are other offers, even if there are none. All because Earthlink couldn?t be bothered to bill me for another year of domain registration with them, or even e-mail me before canceling the registration. Perhaps I'm being cynical, but it looks to me like a technically legal but morally contemptible scam designed to cheat unwary customers.

(Disclosure: I keep a dialup from Earthlink for emergency and World Tour use.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:04 AM to PEBKAC )
And, well, they won't buy Levi's

Well, if there are Islamic soft drinks, why can't there be Islamic jeans?

The jeans, designed in Italy and manufactured in Pakistan, are baggy, so they won't bind during prayer, and have lots of pocket space, to accommodate the accessories one must remove during prayer.

Price is a smidgen over $30, which, as designer jeans go, is pretty inexpensive. The garments will first be marketed to Italy's 1.1 million Muslims before going international. They'll be easy to spot: the seams are green, the Official Color of Islam.

(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

Some things make you feel Yawkey

Today's "Ewwww...."-inducing entry: Annalisa Ellis lists the Red Sox players she'd do.

No, really:

With the recent theft of Johnny Damon, I really had to sit down to ponder which Red Sox I would genuinely have sexual encounters with. I mean, obviously, Johnny was number one. There isn't a repressed housewife on the East Coast that wouldn't do him. He?s the Joe Namath of baseball. I mean, c'mon, he has twins. TWINS! How freakin cute is that?

But, now that Mr. Damon has switched over to the dark side ... I've taken a long hard (pun intended) look at the Boston roster and revised my list.

Trot Nixon should be pleased:

Trot Nixon hit the only grand slam I've ever seen in person. I would do him solely on that. Plus, his name is "Trot." Done and done.

And yes, she knows he's really Christopher Trotman Nixon. Some things just don't matter.

[Insert vague reference to "The Curse" here]

(Via Deadspin.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:13 PM to Base Paths )
183

It's the 183rd weekly edition of Carnival of the Vanities, brought to you by BloggerIdol, for those of you who want a whole lot of superior bloggage in a single handy package — and you know who you are.

It's been a few years since I've been to Austin, but I still wince at the thought of driving on 183 North.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:00 PM to Blogorrhea )
Handle with care

After a sudden upsurge, as it were, of books about What It Means To Be A Man, comes a pointed question from Aldahlia:

Do you really think being in posession of a penis requires a user's manual?

Heh-heh. She said "manual."

Actually, the best treatment I've ever seen of this exact question came from author Catharine Lumby. In a short story Lumby contributed to Fiona Giles' anthology Dick for a Day, in which a number of women were asked what they would do with such a thing for twenty-four hours, journalist Rose Sélavy orders a dingus via FedEx to try out for herself, and the following instructions accompany the organ:

PENIS™ INSTRUCTIONS
Standard Heterosexual Model (U.S. Patent No. 6,945,776)
Patriarchal Privileges Fully Included
One Size Fits All

Please read this booklet carefully to familiarize yourself with the operation of your Penis™ and with the Limited Warranty.

WARNING: Please note that the consumption of alcoholic beverages may seriously impair the performance of your Penis™. Phallocraft Incorporated bears no responsibility for psychological damage to the wearer resulting from malfunctions.

Rose didn't think much of the booklet:

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Rose flipped the page and skimmed the rest of the laborious text. Jesus. They made it sound like you needed a Ph.D. in biology to operate something half the idiots on the planet were wandering around with. Trust male engineers to make the male organ sound more complicated than it was.

And in truth, it's that very simplicity that proves to be Rose's undoing.

Incidentally, U.S. Patent No. 6,945,776 had yet to be issued when Lumby wrote her story; the number has since been applied, to a method, and an accompanying skid member, to restrain heat transfer from hot material to a skid coolant pipe and introduce hot gas within the reheating furnace into the skid member to compensate for heat loss in an upper portion of the skid member.

The precise relevance of this invention to the dangly segment of the male anatomy is left as an exercise for the student.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:01 PM to Table for One )
23 March 2006
The llama watches fearfully

I am loath to mess with a software installation that works: you'll note that this site is still running MovableType 2.64, which goes back to the days when Prester John was the Emperor of Ethopia.

That said, I decided to upgrade Winamp last night, because (1) my D: drive, where it resides normally, is occasionally flaky and (2) I reasoned that the difference between 5.20 and 2.80 might actually be substantial.

It could be my imagination, but the newer version seems to sound better, which makes very little sense; I'm guessing that it has a slightly better MP3 decoder. I haven't tried to play back or rip CDs yet.

And at least the old, familiar 2.x face is still available: I hate new interfaces.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:16 AM to PEBKAC )
Old Man Winter keeps hanging around

The final totals for the day aren't in yet, but this figures to be the snowiest 23rd of March on record in Oklahoma City.

Which, in itself, doesn't mean a whole lot; there has been substantial (which is to say, more than a trace) snowfall in the city as late as the 14th of April. But I look upon the events leading up to the snow, which included three different forecasts in the space of four hours, and I can't help but snicker at the various Chickens Little whose very souls are in turmoil because of all that global climate change they've been hearing about. (As the baseball analogy says, Nature always bats last; you can twiddle your lineup all you want, but you'll never get past that simple fact.)

For the statisticians: normal high for this date is 65, normal low 41. Only once since 1891 — in 1974, to be exact — has it failed to get above 36 on the 23rd of March. I suspect that this record is about to be broken, or at least tied. And the record low for the 24th — 23, in 1965 — may also be in jeopardy.

Update, 24 March: An appearance by some mysterious yellow ball in the sky propelled temperatures above 40 yesterday afternoon, though it vanished as quickly as it appeared; around 6 am the temperature fell to 23, which ties the record low for this date.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 AM to Weather or Not )
Don't call us, we'll call you

This is one of those ideas that sounds wonderful, but oh, the horror when something goes wrong: PayPal via cell phone.

Still, I have to give it props for sheer spiffiness, even as I shrink away from it in fear.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:23 PM to Common Cents )
Scents of a girl, not yet a woman

The Foley's department-store chain coughed up another one of its sporadic sale catalogs this week, and bound into it an insert with not one but two signature fragrances bearing the name of Britney Spears.

Sephora.com on "Curious":

Curious by Britney Spears tempts the senses with fragrant blooms of Louisiana magnolia touched with golden Anjou pear and dewy lotus flower. The anticipation builds with a fresh bouquet of white flowers. Pink cyclamen brings an unexpected twist to the rich floral heart, while bottom notes of vanilla-infused musk enveloped in rich, creamy sandalwood and radiant blonde woods weave an addictive aura into the fragrance.

And on "Fantasy":

A fragrance inspired by love's ability to overwhelm you when you least expect it, Fantasy Britney Spears is a captivating blend of ripe fruits, sweet cupcake accord, delicate flowers, creamy musk, orris root, and sensual woods.

I probably should not have opened up the two scents within ten minutes of one another — the mixture is overwhelming — but individually, these didn't perturb me as much as I thought they might. They're very girly, in the sense of "If you're over 30, this is going to come off as a desperate attempt to recapture your lost youth," but they're not sickeningly sweet. Still, I'm waiting for either Patty or March to come up with a proper review.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:27 PM to Dyssynergy )
A problem with Houston

The idea, I assume, was to return to the style of play that prevailed before the All-Star break. Unfortunately, this meant the return of the Third-Quarter Drought, in which the Bees were outscored by Houston to the embarrassing tune of 26-10, and while they recovered somewhat in the fourth, it wasn't quite enough to make up the difference, and the Hornets fell to the Rockets for the first time this season, 93-92.

What happened? The Bees outrebounded Houston, 51-39, and had fewer turnovers to boot. But the shots wouldn't drop: the Hornets shot only 36 percent from the floor. And there's nothing more painful than a three-ball at the buzzer when you're down by four.

What attack there was, was balanced: six Hornets scored in double figures, with double-doubles from David West, Aaron Williams and Speedy Claxton, and the bench was good for 32 points (versus 11 for the Houston reserves). Still, an L is an L, and the Bees now have two more Ls than Ws.

Now to hit the road and hope someone is slumping at home.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:38 PM to Net Proceeds )
24 March 2006
Quote of the week

From Dr. B:

[N]ote to Walgreens: Patients who are bipolar anxious depressed paranoid psychotics tend to get angry if you call them crazy.

Actually, waiting in line at Walgreens makes me crazy, which is why I've been going to Sav-on.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 AM to QOTW )
Where there's a manger, there's a dog

Difficult times call for innovative solutions, which is why, in the wake of Katrina, New Orleans Chief Information Officer Greg Meffert opened up the citywide 512k Wi-Fi network, originally designed to service the city's network of surveillance cameras, to all comers.

With about half the city's wired infrastructure still teetering on the edge of the bit bucket, about 15,000 people a day are using the New Orleans network, and corporate sponsors were being sought to expand it.

This did not sit well with Ma Bell's minions, who swarmed Baton Rouge, and when the buzzing was over, the legislature was ready to order New Orleans to shut down public access to the network, or at least cut it back to 128k, lest they compete with the private sector — despite the fact that about half the city's wired infrastructure is still teetering on the edge of the bit bucket. (Note to BellSouth: If you're going to complain about the city cutting into your service area, it would be nice if you were actually providing the service.)

(Via The Consumerist.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:46 AM to PEBKAC )
Being like Mike

After Mike Wallace's appearance before the New York Press Club, I find I can agree with a few of his statements:

  1. Favorite president of the last 45 years: Ronald Reagan.

  2. On Hillary: "[She] may be the best candidate the Democrats can field for president in 2008, and she has been a good senator, but she isn't warm."

  3. Lesley Stahl has nice legs.

Okay, not a lot, but more than I had any reason to expect.

Appealing to greed

Get $20 for completing our survey, said the subject line, and, well, I just had to look a little closer:

Dear Valued Customer,

You have been chosen by the Chase Bank online department to take part in our quick and easy 5 questions survey. In return we will credit $20.00 to your account — Just for your time!

Helping us better understand how our customers feel benefits everyone. With the information collected we can decide to direct a number of changes to improve and expand our online service. The information you provide us is all non-sensitive and anonymous — No part of it is handed down to any third party.

It will be stored in our secure database for maximum 7 days while we process the results of this nationwide survey.

We kindly ask you to spare two minutes of your time and take part in our survey.

To Continue click on the link below:

There follows a link in hex digits which doesn't go anywhere near JPMorgan Chase & Co.

But it's nice to know that the criminal element, even in the process of thinking up new ways to rip off the general public, is concerned about privacy issues. "No part of it is handed down to any third party," indeed.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:42 PM to Scams and Spams )
Bulls hit

And they hit hardest in the fourth quarter. After the Hornets dominated the first period, Chicago could do no wrong in the second, and while the Bees stayed with them through the third, the Bulls finished them off, 96-82.

It wasn't just the starters, either: Ben Gordon and Othella Harrington combined for 41 points off the bench, and Tyson Chandler pulled down 21 rebounds.

Interestingly, the Hornets' starters scored 41 points, and so did their bench; of the ten Bees who scored, seven got double figures, but all except Chris Paul (13) had either 10 or 11. With Brandon Bass dispatched to the D-League, Arvydas Macijauskas was put back on the active list, but didn't play.

And the shooting woes continue: the Hornets shot only 35 percent from the floor and got just two treys, both by Linton Johnson.

The Lakers are next, and I suspect Phil Jackson isn't fretting much.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:59 PM to Net Proceeds )
25 March 2006
Fatuous Flashback 26

Some warhorses have been beaten to death by now:

Even among the pieces we think of as Basic Repertoire, there's plenty of room for argument. Thirty-odd years ago, there was a panel discussion during halftime — um, between the acts — of the Saturday Met radio broadcasts in which Tony Randall, a frequent participant in such panels, was hit with the question: "Is there a masterpiece you really can't stand?" A two-edged sword, this, since you have to admit to the work's exalted status even as you rip it to shreds. Randall thought about it, then 'fessed up: he really didn't like The Magic Flute.

I've thought about this on and off, and there are a few pieces that are legitimately regarded as great that nevertheless set my teeth on edge, perhaps due to extreme overexposure: I can probably go the rest of my life without hearing Saint-Saëns' Organ Symphony again, and I can certainly make it to 2012 without another hearing of Tchaikovsky's 1812. Still, there's a reason these works made it into the Basic Repertoire in the first place, and if a young person approached me and expressed a desire to become more familiar with classical music, it's probably not too likely I'd start the process with [Schönberg's] Pierrot lunaire — even though I do have it on hand.

(From "The drones of academe", 30 April 2004.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:17 AM to Greatest Hits )
If I ever make this list, worry

While there still exists an entire industry devoted to concocting corporate names, often to (1) maximize trademark possibilities or (2) forestall negative reaction from [fill in name of ethnic/religious/whatever group], most corporate entities have names which have some actual connection to what they do or to what they'd like you to think they do, and Wikipedia is compiling a list of the origins of those names, though as always with Wikipedia, at least some of the entries will be disputed.

(Via Samantha Burns.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:00 AM to Say What? )
The self-pwn3d man

Ever seen this page before?

Yeah. No big deal. It's a default page that the CentOS version of Apache serves up before the Web server is given a proper index page.

But when a version of it showed up on cityoftuttle.org, the Web site of the city of Tuttle, southwest of Oklahoma City, city manager Jerry Taylor spiraled into a State of High Guano.

Who gave you permission to invade my website and block me and anyone else from accessing it???

Please remove your software immediately before I report it to government officials!!

I am the City Manager of Tuttle, Oklahoma.

Ashlee Vance snickers in The Register:

Few people would initiate a tech support query like this, but these are dangerous times, and Taylor suspected the worst. (Er, but only the world's most boring hacker would break into a site and then throw up a boilerplate about how to fix the hack.)

After a heated exchange between Taylor and CentOS tech Johnny Hughes, the truth of the matter was at hand:

The problem has been resolved by VIDIA who used to host the City website. They still provide cable service but do not host the website. The explanation was that they had a crash and during the rebuild they reinstalled the software that affected our website.

Still not CentOS's fault, but hey, you work for the city, you find people to blame.

As of this writing, cityoftuttle.org is still showing the Apache test page.

I could say something here about not letting your service provider also host your site, but I won't.

(Hat tip: Mad Mel.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:25 AM to PEBKAC , Soonerland )
Jackarity ensues

KOJK, JackFM™, is now on the air from its precarious perch in Blanchard, where it beams out with the power of ten billion butterfly sneezes 1,000 watts, making it the second-weakest of the weak-sister rimshooters in the metro area. (KINB, "La Indomable", belies its imaging with a meager 930 watts; it's no wonder they're now simulcasting on AM, coincidentally at 930 kHz.)

According to the FCC, KOJK should be able to put a city-grade signal as far north as SW 36th Street in Oklahoma City, with diminishing returns beyond that; the station should have good coverage in Cleveland County, but the closer you get to Edmond, the weaker it gets. From my own listening post west of 50 Penn Place, the Model 88s bring it in pretty well; the Big Receiver in the living room, which has one of those antiquated (and much-missed on newer gear) signal-strength meters, deflects to 2 out of 5. (Most of the bigger FMs in town run 4.5 or so.) My clock-radio, a weird Sony doorstop-like thing, barely acknowledges Jack; the portable in the kitchen can't find Jack at all.

No power increases are in the offing: at 97.3, Jack is short-spaced to Bob (KQOB, at 96.9), and there's a translator of The Love Station at 97.3 in Guthrie (K247AH) which runs about 86 watts and almost reaches Waterloo Road. These signals, decree the Feds, must be kept apart.

Still, this situation is not much different from what's happening to KVSP, the R&B/hip-hop station at 103.5 which transmits with 100,000 watts — all the way from Anadarko, and which actually covers Lawton better than it does Oklahoma City.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:27 PM to Overmodulation )
He can play the part so well

If there's any single incident that sums up the life of Buck Owens, who died today at 76, it revolves around the ad he placed in Nashville's Music City News, which would appear in the March 1965 issue. It read like this:

I Shall Sing No Song That Is Not A Country Song.
I Shall Make No Record That Is Not A Country Record.
I Refuse To Be Known As Anything But A Country Singer.
I am Proud To Be Associated With Country Music.
Country Music And Country Music Fans Made Me What I Am Today.
And I Shall Not Forget It.

And on the first of March, 1965, Capitol issued Buck's ninth album, I've Got a Tiger by the Tail, which contained a cover of Chuck Berry's "Memphis." Buck, bless him, was unapologetic:

Listen to the lyrics. If they?re not country lyrics... the melody... if that ain't a country melody....

Of course, he was right. As Dave Marsh might have said, and in fact did say:

When the Beatles chose to ennoble Buck Owens in the annals of rock and roll, they weren't choosing idly or for that matter, even just expediently, although "Act Naturally" of course provided Ringo the perfect vehicle to make mock of the group's movie career. More important, the Beatles were responding to an underlying similarity between Owens' music and theirs, for each threw at a hidebound establishment (one in London, one in Nashville) a brave and eclectic synthesis which respected only the broadest boundaries and closed the door to no influence whatsoever.

Even allowing for Marsh's tendency to slide off the edge into hyperbole, this seems indisputable: were it not for the ever-present pedal steel, you could have gotten lots of Buck's 45s onto R&B radio back in the day. And Ray Charles recognized this, putting out "Crying Time" and "Together Again" as singles of his own; he even dropped a version of "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail" into an LP.

How did he want to be remembered? In 1992, Buck said this:

I'd like to be remembered as a guy that came along and did his music, did his best and showed up on time, clean and ready to do the job, wrote a few songs and had a hell of a time.

And who made some damned good records along the way.

26 March 2006
No Schick, Sherlock

Meryl Yourish takes a stand against facial hair:

Men have a blind spot when it comes to facial hair. They simply cannot tell when they look sexy, and when they look ridiculous.

Fond as I am of Meryl, I must point out here that she's unnecessarily circumscribing her premise: it's not just facial hair. Our blind spots are far more extensive than that.

Fortunately, no one has ever accused me of thinking myself to be sexy.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:34 AM to Table for One )
Ben Domenech's preview

Sean Gleeson can't see the appeal of plagiarism:

What's the appeal there? I could maybe see a reason to plagiarize a research paper, thereby avoiding weeks or months of work. But Domenech was plagiarizing fluffy little humor columns. And movie reviews! Why on God?s green earth would anyone even feel the slightest temptation to plagiarize a movie review? Why not just, you know, go see the movie, and then write down what you thought of it?

Imagine you were the Devil, whispering into the ear of a movie critic. Imagine you were trying to tempt him to plagiarize some other critic's review (with some minor alterations) of the latest insipid James Bond film, instead of writing his own opinions. What words would you whisper? "If you use this other critic's review instead of your own, you'll gain ... um ... something. Just think of the ... ah ... stuff, you'll get. Oh, just do it, okay? Please?"

My own explanation was not really persuasive:

As someone who has spewed about a million words onto the landscape over the past ten years, I think it?s a combination of fatigue and opportunism.

Scenario: You've stared at the screen for an hour and a half and that last paragraph won't come. You look elsewhere for inspiration, and suddenly, here's some obscure passage which says exactly what you wanted to say.

Anyone else want to give this a try? And no, it's not a political issue: you can find people ripping off other people's material all over the political spectrum, so it's got to be something else.

Disclosure: I originally copied the entirety of Gleeson's article, with no attribution beyond a single link, just to see if anyone would notice. Before hitting the Publish button, I decided that this might not be such a good idea.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:23 AM to Blogorrhea )
Byron Scott wants to stay on

The New Orleans Times-Picayune is reporting that Hornets coach Byron Scott, whose contract expires at the end of next season, has been talking to owner George Shinn about extending his stay with the Bees.

Says Shinn:

Byron loves the Hornets, and he wants to stay, and he said that he needs a couple of more years to build this team. I like the way he coaches and his attitude. I just think he's a quality guy. He makes a few mistakes, and I think I need to coach him on P.R. a little bit.

There are a handful of instances in which Scott might have made Shinn squirm a bit: earlier in the season when Scott said that were it possible, he'd like the team to remain in Oklahoma City indefinitely, even NBA Commissioner David Stern grumbled that Scott was going against the Official Line.

What Scott wants is a five- or six-year deal; no one is apparently talking salaries, though Scott makes about $3 million a year now.

Meanwhile, The Oklahoman says that Shinn is ready to sell up to 49 percent of the team to an Oklahoma City group which includes Clay Bennett's Oklahoma Professional Sports LLC.

Formal paperwork has yet to be drawn up, and the NBA must approve the deal, but no problems are anticipated. I hasten to point out that this doesn't necessarily have any effect on the league's announced plan to return the team to New Orleans for 2007-08.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:11 PM to Net Proceeds )
Taking leave of one's census

How big is a small town? I suppose it depends on your frame of reference, but I think that a population of forty or fifty thousand would be enough to fill up a pretty fair-sized city.

David Lynch thought that his mythical town of Twin Peaks had about 5,120 people; ABC apparently balked, whereupon the "Welcome To" sign on the edge of town, seen in the opening credits, was amended to read 51,201.

Something similar seems to have happened to Smallville:

Smallville is obviously a small town. It's surrounded by farms, apparently only has one coffee shop (the Talon), and has little of what a "city" is supposed to offer. There's never been a mention of a Smallville Mall, for example, and there is apparently only one high school in the town, Smallville High. Having grown up in a small town about 30 minutes from a big city (and about four hours from Dallas, a really big city), it felt about right.

Then, in one of the third-season episodes, Clark was trying in vain to describe a bad guy to the sheriff, but he didn't have enough details to make it work, so the sheriff said, "In a town of 45,000 people, Mr. Kent, that's not much to go on."

To be exact, 45,001.

And as in Twin Peaks, where everyone knew everyone else, or at least everyone else's business, something that doesn't happen in cities of 50,000 and up — try that in Midwest City, Oklahoma sometime — the numbers in Smallville don't add up:

Any town with more than about 40,000 people needs more than one high school, and certainly wouldn't be based around a single main street like Smallville is on TV. Such a large population would explain why kids keep arriving and vanishing without too many people noticing, even though at other times, everyone seems to know everyone else. Still, when the producers came up with that figure as a "reasonable size" for a small town that would support their story lines, did any of them bother to look at census data and figure out that it would be close to the seventh-largest city in [Kansas]?

Now I'm starting to wonder about Eerie, Indiana (population 16,661).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:48 PM to Dyssynergy )
L.A.'s fine, but it ain't home

Not that the Hornets have been winning all that many home games of late, but the last time they came to the Staples Center was a thorough embarrassment, and while they avoided a repeat of that debacle, they also avoided the bucket too many times in the fourth quarter, allowing the Lakers, who had had a slender two-point lead at the half, to pull away and win it 105-94.

What's more, P. J. Brown fouled out with five minutes left; Speedy Claxton got his sixth foul with five seconds left. David West, steady as always, put together another double-double with 23 points and 10 boards; Chris Paul dropped in 17, P. J. got 13 before leaving the game, and Rasual Butler managed 12.

Comparisons to Friday night in Chicago are instructive. Against the Bulls, the Bees scored 46 in the first half and only 36 in the second; against the Lakers, the Bees got 60 in the first half and only 34 in the second. Kobe? He got thirty, below his average, but it didn't matter.

Tomorrow night in Utah, and the Jazz aren't likely to be any kinder.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:06 PM to Net Proceeds )
27 March 2006
You ... you siblings!

Laney and JacksonWhat's going on here? Laney, still two years old for two or three more days, and Jackson, still creeping up on two months, apparently have figured out this brother/sister thing just fine. Meanwhile, offscreen, Dad looks over at Mom, then looks up and offers a silent prayer of thanks that the kids got her hair rather than his (and, in accordance with those genealogical schemes you've been hearing about, rather than mine). Feel free to click here to embiggen.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:18 AM to Next Generation )
Thinking outside the gate

Just when I thought I'd figured out the concept of semi-boneless ham, Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Moore) comes up with the semi-gated community.

Under Terrill's House Bill 2807, which so far has passed the House and has yet to emerge from committee in the Senate, "semi-public" gated communities, which are accessible to the general public from 6 am to 6 pm, would be authorized and would be eligible for public road maintenance, presumably to be performed during daylight hours. It's no different, he says, from closing public parks at night.

Developers are apparently keen to see this pass, and homebuilder Marvin Haworth says he'll start on just such a community if it does. The bill has no retroactive provisions: a gated community apparently will not be allowed to convert to semi-public status.

I'm of two minds about this. You can count me as one that doesn't love a wall; then again, if people want to live behind these things, I don't feel as though it's my job to talk them out of it. And I can certainly understand why the demand exists, though I'm not convinced that any gate will ward off 100 percent of the riff and/or raff. (I have a fence of my own, as tall as I am, but it has a certain porosity.)

And Terrill is ready to fight off the presumably-inevitable charge of elitism:

The purpose of it is to allow folks other than just wealthy folks to be able to live in gated communities.

If this bill does pass, I'd be interested in seeing if any houses at a price point below, say, $120k end up behind Terrill's semi-walls.

Update, 1 May: The Senate turned it down, albeit by a mere two votes.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:43 AM to Soonerland )
Hers and hers

Olivia, which arranges vacation travel and other neat stuff for lesbians, has, not too surprisingly, introduced its own branded Visa card.

This is a rewards card, and from the looks of it better than average: while at bottom it's primarily MBNA's WorldPoints program, those points can be swapped for Olivia Dollars, which can be used toward Olivia's own travel and cruise packages.

CardTrak's headline on this reads "Lesbian Card," which for some reason makes me giggle: I can imagine someone whipping it out and announcing, "Yeah, I'm a card-carrying lesbian." Then again, I am not known for incredible breadth and/or depth of imagination.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:25 AM to Common Cents )
Two-headed girl dies

No, this doesn't link back to the Weekly World News.

Addendum: Dwight and Sarah would like you to know that the Two-Headed Blog lives on.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:00 PM to Dyssynergy )
The avatar of Avalon

As a character name, it's already been used; as a concept, it's only just begun.

I know this because romance authors are discovering The Sims:

Many authors spend days assembling collages to serve as visual aids while they labor on their latest novel. I find it a whole lot easier and great deal more fun to open up The Sims2 — where I can make my heroines and heroes look precisely as I envision them, and where I can not only build that towering castle or isolated manor that's going to figure so prominently in my book, but also furnish it and actually walk through it to determine whether its layout is exactly what I need to make my story work.

And sometimes, if I'm lucky, the process operates in reverse. Recently, I constructed an old Victorian house. When I first began to build it, I had no real purpose for it, other than thinking that I wanted to try out various construction techniques. But the more I designed and redesigned, erecting some walls, tearing out others, adding a gazebo, stream, pond, and landscaping, the more I decided that it would make an intriguing house for one of my novels.

Who would live in it — and what would his or her story be? I wondered. I started imagining all kinds of different characters who might live in the house. I now have several from which to choose.

This premise seems extensible even beyond print: I wouldn't be surprised to hear of filmmakers using The Sims to create virtual storyboards.

Color me suitably impressed.

Smooth Jazz

David West pulled up lame and did not play, and the Hornets were in trouble, though as usual, it didn't actually materialize until the Third-Quarter Drought™ kicked in. It may not have mattered, though: Utah shot better than 55 percent through most of the game and had it locked down well before the fourth quarter began. And the Hornets lost to the Jazz, 104-80, a difference far greater than D. West's 17-point average. (Picture of a disaster in the making: first quarter 31, second quarter 21, third quarter 16, fourth quarter 12.) Utah vaults over the Hornets in the standings with the win, taking 9th place in the conference and dropping the Bees to 10th.

Despite all that, six Bees scored in double figures, led by Rasual Butler with 15; the Hornets bench contributed 32 points, but this is less an indication of bench strength than of starter fecklessness. (The lowest-scoring Jazz starter, Andrei Kirilenko, picked up 13.) And the Jazz outrebounded the Hornets by an embarrassing 45-23.

Macas Watch: Arvydas Macijauskas came on in the last five minutes and missed two jump shots.

This road trip ends with Wednesday at Golden State, followed by Friday at the Ford against the Grizzlies (on ESPN!), then back on the road to meet the Raptors and the Pistons.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:34 PM to Net Proceeds )
28 March 2006
Hang a right on G. W. Patrick

The new Crosstown Expressway alignment will run about where SW 8th Street runs now, and one likely effect will be an expansion of the Central Business District southward, filling in the area between Reno and the new freeway that isn't already being used for downtown parking.

I'm thinking that when this happens, some of the numbered streets will give up their numbers for actual names, the way NW 2nd and 3rd mutated into Robert S. Kerr and Dean A. McGee.

But whose names? If it were up to you to rename, say, SW 2nd, whose name would you want on that sign?

To explain the title: Two communities were settled on the day of the Land Run, on opposite sides of Clarke Street (now Sheridan); the prime mover on the south side of the street, and the first mayor of the short-lived town of South Oklahoma, which extended south to the North Canadian River, was G. W. Patrick, who served about three weeks before the constant turmoil in the little community drove him to resign. In July 1890, South Oklahoma was annexed by its neighbor to the north. I don't think there's any chance that Mr Patrick will be remembered on a street sign, but what the heck.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to City Scene )
We don't need this stinkin' badge

When I was in the Army during the French and Indian War — okay, I'm not that old, but my first term of service began 34 years ago this week — we tended not to be too impressed by the Good Conduct Medal, and even less by the National Defense Service Medal, which we disparaged with terms like "fire guard badge."

I'm not sure I'd say that today. There was some sort of war going on, but I was rather a long way away from it, and I earned a total of three medals on active duty, two of which were the oft-derided GCM and NDSM. (The other was the Army Commendation Medal, which I'm going to have to tell you about someday, since the story, like rather a lot of mine, is slightly wacky.)

And apparently the Air Force is no longer awarding the GCM, which is no big deal, says Dave:

Military personnel are expected to engage in "good conduct" at all times, so rewarding them for doing so just seems to be a waste of energy and a pointless display of colored ribbon. I would prefer that the time spent processing such medals and paperwork, and purchasing them, and arranging them on uniforms, instead be spent doing something more tangible that truly helps the military fulfill The Mission.

And while I can't argue with Dave's premise, I'm goofy enough to think that pointless displays of colored ribbon are part and parcel of the military experience, and I'd hate to sacrifice them on the altar of the Great God Efficiency.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:16 AM to Dyssynergy )
The self-pwn3d man (the sequel)

Last we heard from Tuttle city manager Jerry Taylor, he was distraught at finding a default Apache information page instead of the town's Web site, and was sending out emails that just missed the threshold of hysteria.

He's no longer missing. To The Register, which broke the story, he sent this:

I do not follow instructions that show up when a website that I am not familiar with appears on my computer and I do not think anyone with experience would do so either. Once the Centos site appeared on four computers at one site I contacted our web service provider. The web service provider did not know what could cause the problem and had never heard of "CentOS". I then contacted the internet provider's local office and was told that they did nothing to cause the problem. I checked the building's server and found nothing relating to CentOS on the server. I was then left with only the web page email address to contact. I asked for the strange website to be removed because it blocked my City web site and I could not post public information. I only got help after threatening to contact the FBI.

Now I am being flooded with emails from CentOS users that after knowing the answer say the problem was simple. I think this is unjustified and would like for this to stop. Your website should provide useful information and be a credit to the IT world. I do not believe it should be used to incite the users. Your attention to this matter is greatly appreciated.

The users seem to be doing just fine inciting themselves, it seems to me.

But cut the guy some slack, wouldja please? If you were thinking of, say, sending him a batch file which runs fdisk, you might want to reconsider.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:39 AM to PEBKAC , Soonerland )
And for God's sake, don't exhale

Forget the white wedding. Today, it must be green:

Your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, but scratch beneath the glossy surface and it's immediately apparent that it also causes substantial environmental damage.

According to Climate Care, an organisation that offsets harmful carbon dioxide emissions, the average wedding emits around 14.5 tons of CO2, markedly more than the 12 tons emitted by the average person during a whole year.

This suggests that you can offset fully 83 percent of the CO2 from your ceremony simply by killing someone. I recommend, as a matter of common courtesy, that it be someone not on the guest list.

(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:20 AM to Dyssynergy )
High-priced orders don't upset us

George Carlin once groused about people putting minor purchases on plastic:

Take my word for this: Tic Tacs is not a major purchase. No one should be borrowing money from a bank at 18 percent interest to buy a loaf of bread.

Not a problem: we'll put it on our debit card.

Then again:

It's a lesson George Beane, a Palmdale, California resident, will never forget. He and his wife pulled up to a local Burger King drive-through window last week and ordered two Whoppers and a couple of cheeseburgers.

The distracted and busy cashier had already rung up the order and taken $4.33 off of George's debit card. But in her haste to put the 'fast' in fast food and get to other customers, she accidentally rang in the charge again — without erasing the first three digits.

That brought the Beanes' burger bill to a whopping $4,334.33! And to make matters worse, no one noticed.

At least not right away. But when the Beanes went to make their monthly mortgage payment several days later, they were astounded to discover there was no money left in the account. It had all gone to pay off their meal mistake.

The restaurant tried to get the couple a refund, but their bank told them the funds were subject to a three-day hold and there was no way they could change it. The Bank of America instituted the policy to stop those who don't have sufficient funds in their accounts from spending any more money.

No word on whether the Beanes got mayonnaise on said burgers.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:30 AM to Dyssynergy , Worth a Fork )
Thank you for smoking

It's not just a movie or a novel; it's a boon to us all, or at least to the U.K.:

For all the finger-wagging about how their noxious habit clogs up their arteries and the nation's hospital beds, smokers more than clean up after themselves. They currently generate about £8 billion in tax revenue — roughly five times what their coughing, spluttering and death cost the [National Health Service].

Then there is the fact that, in exchange for making our clothes smell and our eyes sting, many smokers pay a fortune into their state pension fund, and then selflessly refuse to collect it — by dropping dead before the age of 65. At a time when Western governments are desperately seeking ways of solving the pensions crisis, do we really want to discourage such altruism?

Not that I plan to stock up on Marlboros or anything, but with not a whole lot of rewording, this stuff is equally applicable to those of us who are supposedly going to drop dead a week from Tuesday because we said that yes, we did want fries with that. What we don't have, so far, is a suitable satirical film.

29 March 2006
Sucking in the Seventies

"Amoral creeps," says Jamie, "ruled the airwaves in the Seventies," and she offers a couple of examples, starting with Rupert Holmes and "Escape":

[T]he guy is bored with his girlfriend, so he takes out a personal ad looking for a replacement, implicitly without breaking up with the girlfriend first. Someone answers; they plan an assignation, sight unseen; and when they meet — [wahp-wahp-wahhhhh] it's "his own lovely lady." They've deepened their intimacy via the personals, they now know that each likes piña coladas and so on, and happily off they go to make love at midnight, in the dunes on the Cape, all oblivious to the fact that each of them had had full intentions to cheat on the other.

A less-happy ending, at least by a third:

[G]osh, the girl is going to throw poor Meathead — I mean Meat Loaf — out into the snow, because despite the fact that he both wants and needs her, there ain't no way he's ever going to love her. Sadly, his heart is permanently locked on some other chick who both wanted and needed him, but would never love him, though she at least had the decency to get out of bed and get out into the snow without argument.

Jamie says further that though these two tunes "were songs I loved when they first came out (in my childhood!), and songs I still sing along to, I'm increasingly uncomfortable with letting my kids hear them."

Which, I guess, is the one advantage of being old: it's possible to be very fond of a song and yet utterly despise its message. Consider John Lennon's "Imagine." At the very least, it's fuzzy-headed socialist utopian balderdash. But it's downright beautiful fuzzy-headed socialist utopian balderdash: I've never been entirely sure whether John really meant all this stuff or was just yanking our chains — I'm sure Yoko would have meant it, but that's another story — and yet I never really cared, because the record was that good.

In time, Les Kids will figure out that this sort of disconnect is actually rather common.

Even George Mason cracked a smile

What? You didn't have Maguire University (Chicago, Illinois) on your bracket? Tsk, tsk. Maguire is always a presence at the Big Dance.

(Via Fark.com)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:10 AM to Bogus History )
The Phanatic just smiles, sort of

Deadspin reports on a dubious milestone:

[T]he Phillies are about to become the first professional franchise to reach 10,000 losses. They currently have 9,879 losses in their franchise history (8,676 wins).

It won't happen this year, unless the Phils go 41-121, a level of phutility that would rival the '62 Mets.

And this, of course, assumes that you don't consider the Phils the successor to the old Worcester Ruby Legs/Brown Stockings (now that's a fashion faux pas if ever I saw one), who were booted from the National League after the 1882 season to make room for the Phillies, and who posted a 90-159 record in their three-year existence. (I don't.)

I admit to a certain sentimental fondness for the Phillies, perhaps because when I saw my first Oklahoma City 89ers game in 1976, the Niners had just become the Phillies' Triple-A farm club. (The affiliation was switched to the Rangers in 1983; the team was reconstituted as the RedHawks in 1998 as they moved downtown to the Brick.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:01 AM to Base Paths )
184

The 184th weekly edition of Carnival of the Vanities hits you Below the Beltway. As always, it's the week's finest bloggage in a single handy package.

There are 184 pins on the usual Dual Inline Memory Module (DIMM) used for desktop SDRAM.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:28 AM to Blogorrhea )
The de-Stipe-ization continues

Now that the city of McAlester has put up fresh green signage on Electric Avenue, there's a whole shelf full of old Gene Stipe Blvd. signs just gathering dust, and they will be sold as surplus property at the annual auction.

Those of us who were hoping that they might show up on eBay are just out of luck.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:38 AM to Soonerland )
Honey, it's an air bag calling

Isn't this lovely?

Dr. Kirtland Speaks is suing for his right to telemarket car accident victims. He claims that the Louisiana Board of Chiropractic Examiners regulations, preventing him from employing this marketing tactic, violate his freedom of speech.

The doctor planned to hire telemarketers to glean accident victims' names and telephone numbers from public accident reporters. "The Board" found this was illegal under two Louisiana laws designed to protect patients and victims from solicitations.

The doctor just won a victory. At the suit's start, he filed a "Motion for Preliminary Injuntion," asking the court to prevent the State from enforcing the don't-telesale-victims law. A lower court declined the motion but Speaks' appeal to the 5th Circuit resulted in a ruling in his favor.

Fifth Circuit opinion here [requires Adobe Reader]. The pivotal paragraph:

Sensing the difficulty of its position, the Board contended at oral argument that preventing solicitation of prospective clients only when they are "vulnerable to undue influence" functions as a time limitation. The argument is that it prohibits solicitation only when necessary and, theoretically, could allow solicitation sooner than a firm time limitation. We are unpersuaded. The term "vulnerable to undue influence" is undefined. The Board urges that the three subsections under § 37:1743(A) define those terms, but those subsections merely provide non-exclusive examples of situations in which a prospective client "may be considered to be vulnerable to undue influence." The uncertainty inherent in the statutory term "undue influence" leaves the seller of services uncertain of when he may call. It is this chilling uncertainty that supports the use of a bright line time-out period reflecting the State's judgment of when the risk of undue influence is too great. The balance of interests required by the First Amendment cannot be struck by use of such an open-ended stricture that resists ex ante fixity.

Me, I balance my First Amendment interests by refusing to answer the goddamn phone unless Caller ID presents me with acceptable information.

Update: Dr Speaks gets an unsolicited phone call.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:28 PM to Wastes of Oxygen )
30 March 2006
Who knew? A W in Oakland

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Byron Scott, vexed at still being 1-and-whatever this month, and beset with ever-increasing injuries, retrieved Brandon Bass from the D-League, and reshuffled the starting lineup: Marc Jackson took David West's spot at the four, and Linton Johnson started at the three, bumping Rasual Butler to the two and Kirk Snyder to the bench. (Four Hornets were listed as injured tonight: Vroman and Mason, as usual of late; West, missing his second consecutive game; and Claxton, with a return of the dreaded turf-toe. What's more, P. J. Brown rolled his ankle late in the fourth and had to retreat to the locker room.)

The Hornets didn't shoot particularly well, but neither did Golden State, and things were nip-and-tuck through almost the entire game. On the last possession, trailing by one, the Warriors brought it in and got one, two, three shots at the bucket, and the last one went in — too late. Hornets 86, Warriors 85, and now the Bees are 2-and-whatever for the month.

Pointwise, Rasual got his trey back in the fourth quarter, hitting four of seven overall and 20 points total; Chris Paul added 18, Marc Jackson 16, and P. J. got 12 before going down on that ankle. Brandon Bass scored just a single free throw, but he pulled down six boards. And no Third-Quarter Drought™, either: the quarters went 22, 22, 22, 20.

The Grizzlies will be waiting at the Ford on Friday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:03 AM to Net Proceeds )
Keeping our ologies taut

Akaky Bashmachkin reports from upstate New York:

The headline of today's dead tree edition of the Middletown (N.Y.) Times Herald Record reads, "Should Illegal Immigration Be A Crime," a statement that causes no end of cognitive dissonance among those of us with access to a dictionary, since it makes us all wonder if the word illegal has some shade of meaning that we've missed somehow.

It's not the post-newspaper age yet, but we would be better served were the papers to confine themselves to topics they actually understand, such as the extraction of ferret snot.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Say What? )
Pier pressure

March misses the old Pier 1 Imports:

The new Pier 1 is a downscale Pottery Barn, with cheaply made furniture, candles in scents I don't want, and wall art I don't like. I want my funky old Pier 1 with that fell-off-the-ship hodgepodge of hemp clothing, ancient powdery teas, mystery spice bags, ratty posters, weird creepy wood bibelots, etc. Not because I really need any of that stuff. I just miss the smell. If you could bottle the unique, spicy, musty, foreign smell of the Original Pier One, I'd be first in line to buy it. I'd use it as a room spray. They don?t even carry baskets any more. Yeesh.

I remember when Wilcox Records moved off 23rd Street to across from Penn Square and then died a miserable death; the space was filled by a Pier 1. Of the old configuration. At the time, I was resentful; I have since backpedaled — slightly.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:22 AM to Dyssynergy )
The blind leading the blend

I wrote a lot of checks this week.

This is not because I'm particulary fond of writing checks, but my standard bill-paying routine calls for the bills to be paid on the weekend following receipt, and this past weekend was the moment selected to phase out the Bank One online-payment system in favor of Chase's, and I had a feeling that the process might be something less than seamless early on.

Although I didn't imagine it would be this bad:

I told them that I had previously been downloading my transactions from within Quicken and using Quicken to access the bill payment service. The response from the outsourced, offshore customer service agent: "Yes, can you tell me ma'am, did you connect by going to the Bank One site, or directly from within Quicken?" Then they gave me a different phone number to call. Repeat three times. Yes, three more times, I told them how I previously used Quicken and that it didn't work that way anymore, three more times I was asked to tell them EXACTLY what I had just told them, and three more times, I was given another phone number to another outsourced, offshore customer service agent.

At the fourth number, I found someone who told me that I needed to go through the "Activate Quicken or Money link" which requires your electronic signature on an agreement to pay $9.95/month and your choice of which account you want them to take the money out of. Not to worry, I was told. Chase charges its historical customers for this service, but since Bank One customers had never been charged, it would be free for me. Even though I was agreeing online that they could charge me. Their systems should know automatically not to charge me, but she'll put a permanent record on my account, so that if I should accidentally be charged, I can just call them and they will reverse the charges. Right.

And eventually, I have to assume, they will be sending out amendments to the account terms which will enable them to start charging everyone.

But this is the bottom line:

I've had my oldest account with them for 14 years. I'm sure that changing banks is a logistical nightmare. But, this charging legacy Chase customers and not charging legacy Bank One customers obviously can't last. If they charge for this service, I will seriously take my money and run.

My current account was opened in 1975, two or three mergers ago. And I (see above) am obviously a creature of habit. Still, my part of town is simply awash in banks, and not all of them, when something goes awry, require you to call someone in the Eastern Hemisphere who's been given a stack of scripts.

Update: Chase has a fix for this specific issue.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:50 AM to Common Cents )
Non-Judgmental, I guess

The last time the United Church of Christ came up with a "controversial" television ad, it got a rhetorical shrug from this quarter; it struck me as earnest but mild, hardly worth the brouhaha — unless you're one of those people who believe that churches ought to have someone permanently stationed at the door scanning entrants with a Manual Gaydar Device, in which case you might have actually thought it, well, controversial. (More about it here.)

Well, they're at it again:

This time around a traditional American family looks horrified at the non-traditional church goers — single mother, gay couple, Hispanic or Middle-Eastern —and each one is literally ejected. The tagline is "God doesn't reject people, neither do we."

Which, I suppose, is probably slightly pithier than "You must be this holy to ride this pew."

More Tuttle scuttlebutt

The lovely and talented Amanda Congdon makes fun of Jerry Taylor:

Is the city manager a true dolt, or is this some kind of thinly-veiled publicity stunt?

She reads a couple of excerpts from the Gospel According to Jerry, and then:

Regardless of his intentions, what a nutjob, right? Man. I have half a mind to send my Virtual Wingman on his ass.

Waste of time, darlin'; the man responds to email like a dead fish responds to ultraviolet light. (No movement, per se, but the, um, aroma increments.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:27 PM to PEBKAC , Soonerland )
31 March 2006
Down from the Fourteenth Floor

Does the end of General Motors start today?

Motor pundit Robert Farago thinks so:

At 9:30am [this] morning, a group of lawyers representing bankrupt auto supplier Delphi will appear in front of a federal judge. The lawyers will file legal motions for Sections 1113 and 1114. It's a legal request to void Delphi's current collective bargaining agreements with the United Auto Workers (UAW). The moment the judge says the word "granted," he will terminate the wage structure, post-retirement health care and life insurance plans for the company's 33k US hourly workers. The UAW will respond with a strike against Delphi. Starved of its former subsidiary's parts, GM's assembly lines will fall silent. The General will begin its final slide into Chapter 11.

Of course, this won't happen instantaneously:

There will be a gap between Delphi's filing, the judge?s final ruling (May 8th) and industrial action. During this highly fraught interregnum, as the entire Detroit-based automobile industry stares into the abyss, Delphi President Steve Miller may make a fourth wage and benefits offer to the UAW. The proposal would fall somewhere between the workers' current compensation ($27 per hour) and Miller's last last stand ($16.50 per hour). As we've said before, the UAW will accept nothing less than the status quo, and that's somewhere where Miller won't go — at least not without GM footing the bill. Common sense says if GM CEO Rick Wagoner was going to ride to Delphi's rescue — perhaps buying back Delphi's domestic plants to maintain the UAW's current deal — he would have done so already. Chances are he can't.

Not that The Rick wants to see the status quo vis-à-vis the UAW maintained; it's killing him just as surely as it's killing Delphi.

And if the UAW doesn't budge, it's Tisha b'Av in Detroit, and everyone knows it. Said David Cole of the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor:

If you give any employee a choice between gold and silver, they will take gold. But if your choice is between lead and silver, silver looks pretty good.

I think I'll buy zinc futures.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Driver's Seat )
See you at 6.15

Rep. Richard Morrissette (D-OKC) tried earlier this year to get the state's minimum wage increased above the federal minimum, and failed.

Now a group called Raise Oklahoma will be circulating a petition to get a minimum-wage hike on the state ballot, and Morrissette says he's one of the backers thereof.

The petition calls for a $1 increase in 2007 and in 2008, and indexing of the wage to the Consumer Price Index thereafter; the petitioners must obtain approximately 120,000 signatures in 90 days.

As expected, the State Chamber announced its opposition; this is consistent with the Chamber's general belief that state law should match federal law in such matters. Senior VP/operations Mike Seney said:

This is an issue that needs to be resolved on a federal basis so it applies across the board to all states.

Of course, were there a federal bill to increase the minimum wage, the State Chamber would presumably oppose it also, so their definition of "resolved" might vary a bit from Webster's.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:31 AM to Soonerland )
Plus the animated Napoleon Dinosaur

Snakes on a Plane is almost certain to be a hit — if everyone who mentioned it on a blog bought one ticket, the first weekend's gross would be well over a hundred bucks — which got me to thinking about possible rip-off films to follow.

Fortunately, Fametracker beat me to it, and you can expect some combinations or variations of these to show up, if not necessarily at the multiplex, certainly on the rental shelf at Lackluster Video:

  • Boa Constrictor in a Bus Station
  • Tarantulas on a Ferris Wheel
  • Hyena in an Elevator
  • Stingrays in the Toilet Bowl
  • Wolverines at a Church Bake Sale
  • Velociraptors at the Prom
  • Piranhas at the Y
  • Wolf on the Staten Island Ferry
  • Scorpions in a Starbucks

And they say Hollywood is out of ideas.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:04 AM to Almost Yogurt )
'Hawks on the horn

For the past two years, WKY radio has carried Oklahoma RedHawks games. It would have been reasonable to suspect that they might drop the games after their switch to a regional-Mexican format, and sure enough, they have: Clear Channel has signed a one-year deal to broadcast the 'Hawks on KEBC (1340), except for when the Yard Dawgz are on, in which case baseball migrates to KTOK (1000).

What's more, there's actually going to be a RedHawks network this year: four other state radio stations will pick up the games.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:53 PM to Base Paths )
There are no words for this

Or weren't, at least until very recently:

When George Mason University Band Director Anthony Maiello composed the school's Fight Song a few years ago, he never got down to writing lyrics.

But after the basketball team advanced to the Final Four of the men's championship tournament, the NCAA called asking for the words. That sent several administrators scrambling this week to come up with real words to accompany the music.

As real as this, anyway:

Hail to George Mason, Patriot green and gold
We are George Mason, home of the brave and bold
Hail to George Mason, proud for all to see
Catch our spirit, feel our pride, onward to victory

"Boomer Sooner" it ain't.

(Via Deadspin.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:28 PM to Net Proceeds )
Tinkering with the formula

With pain and sorrow accumulating among the starters, the Hornets continue to experiment: they signed power forward Marcus Fizer from the Austin Toros of the D-League to a ten-day contract — and jettisoned the ailing Jackson Vroman to make room on the roster. (For Vroman, being waived means that there is a 48-hour window of opportunity for another team to acquire his existing contract; if he is not picked up at that time, he may be signed to a new contract. Either way, he is not eligible for this season's playoffs — which may not matter, since he won't be healed by then anyway.) And yet another new wrinkle: the ESPN presence in the Ford Center.

Depleted or not, the Hornets jumped out to an early lead, but Memphis stayed close, and there were plenty of ties (eight of them) along the way. But tonight, the Bees would prevail: they shot an amazing 59 percent, and ruled the boards, 33-22. Final: Hornets 107, Grizz 102, taking the season series 3-1.

Of the wounded, only Speedy Claxton returned to action, but the new starters seem to be settling into something of a groove. Linton Johnson, scoreless in his previous start, pulled down 16 points and 8 boards; Marc Jackson, holding down the middle, scored 24, a season high, and got 7 boards. Add 9 from Aaron Williams, 15 from Rasual Butler, and 21 from Chris Paul, and suddenly you've got offense. Weirdly, the Memphis bench outscored its starters, 53-49.

What matters here is first, of course, the W, but also the first real national audience for this year's Hornets and for the Ford Center. Cue John Lennon: "I'd like to thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition."

Two road games follow: the first meeting with the Toronto Raptors on Sunday, followed by the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:02 PM to Net Proceeds )
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

Click the Permalink on an individual entry to read comments and TrackBacks if any