1 April 2006
Fatuous Flashback 27
Sometimes an error message is just an error message:
It is, I think, a measure of the cynicism extant in IT departments that when our Big Blue Box (it's black, actually, but that's beside the point) signaled that it was in distress, the sysadmin thought it could conceivably be a prank woven into IBM's microcode, set to trigger on the first of April. Instead, it turned out to be a disk drive gone troppo. We lost nothing datawise, but there will be extra laundry this week.
(From this untitled entry, 1 April 2002.)
Speedy to the Knicks?
Knicks coach Larry Brown says he's going to look for a point guard in the off-season, and Stephon Marbury, injured last night against the Sixers at the Garden, won't be it.
Hornets free agent Speedy Claxton, who played for Brown in Philadelphia, is on the coach's wish list. Claxton is a good defender, ball-handler and looks first to set up others. The former Hofstra star is behind Rookie of the Year shoo-in Chris Paul.
Claxton could be available for the $5 million mid-level exception, the only avenue other than a sign-and-trade in which the Knicks can obtain a decent free agent.
Speedy is pulling down $3.6 million in the last year of his contract with the Hornets.
Blind squirrel, nut, you know the drill
On the first of January, I made a number of predictions, some rash, some less so.
These two, however, seem to have been fairly close to the mark:
Oklahoma City Blazers (2005-06): 36-24-4 (third in CHL Northwest)
Oklahoma City Blazers attendance (2005-06): 253,000 (average 7,900; 1st in CHL)
The Blazers finished 35-24-5, third in the Northwest division, and drew 275,493 paying customers, averaging 8,609, first in the Central Hockey League.
The attendance figure was skewed slightly by last Saturday's game at the Ford Center (which Amarillo won, 4-3): the first 10,000 adults through the gate got a Powerball ticket, and paid attendance was reported as 17,826.
If nothing else, this demonstrates pretty convincingly that the presence of an NBA team has no adverse effect on the hockey crowds: the Blazers averaged 8,245 per game last year while finishing third in their division. I had thought it might cost at most three or four percentage points.
A voice from the past
Her name was Brittney, she was fourteen years old, and the last time I saw her was at a user-group meeting in the middle 1980s.
Not that I ever forgot the sassy little blonde. For one thing, she was a sassy little blonde, a subspecies that tends to stick in the mind, or at least in my mind anyway; for another, she had already climbed to a level of cynicism that it took me until almost seventeen to reach.
Which doesn't explain how we met in the first place, but this does: I was a somewhere-above-minor player on the local bulletin-board stage, and she was an avid reader and poster (and, briefly, assistant sysop) who seemed to be quite often in sync with my perceived world-weariness, and though obviously she wasn't old enough to be truly world-weary I was thirtysomething and I don't think I was we had enough in common to justify occasional social contacts offline. In the company of others in the context of user gatherings and such, I hasten to add, lest you suspect something else might have been going on.
As usual with ad hoc communities of this sort, people drifted in and out all the time, and when she disappeared, rumors flew that she had irritated the parental units once too often and had been packed off to a boarding school / a convent / the French Foreign Legion [choose one]. I put in a perfunctory query or two, but not wishing to appear as though I had some prurient interest in the young lady, I didn't pursue matters much.
That would have been the end of the story, except that last month, she dropped me a line from just across town; she'd been reading this here bloggage, thought the style, such as it is, seemed vaguely familiar, and eventually she put two and two together and came up with me. We traded incredulous emails, and finally decided to meet on neutral territory.
And that was today. My memory for faces is none too good, but I spotted her from forty feet away: she's a little taller, maybe, but I'm pleased to report that "sassy" and "blonde" remain intact. Of course, she's spoken for: her better half reminds me somewhat of me, on those days when I'm more amiable than irascible. But what impressed me most, I think, is the fact that she's made the transition from young wisenheimer to, well, somewhat less young wisenheimer, without losing any of the qualities that made her interesting in the first place, and I'm happy to count her in that section of the world where "readers" and "friends" intersect.
Incidentally, "Brittney" wasn't her real name, nor was she fourteen at the time. Then again, I'm hardly in a position to complain about people putting out disinformation.
Render unto seizure
"Ideas shower" is in fact the new term for what was previously known as a "brainstorm". Brainstorm was ditched because it upset people with epilepsy. Or at least, it upset people who spend their time worrying about what might or might not upset epileptics.
Speaking as an epileptic myself, I never really thought of the term as offensive. That's because I've always interpreted it as a reference to an open-ended ideas meeting, not a derogatory reference to my unfortunate neurological condition.
Of course, the modern method is to co-opt the word for yourself or your group:
In fact, now I come to think of it, I quite like the idea that my seizures might be referred to as brainstorms. It makes them sound cooler and more dramatic. Like the sort of thing a Marvel comic character might practise in order to summon up his superhuman powers. I can imagine myself alerting onlookers to the onset of an epileptic episode by bellowing: "Behold the might of my magnificent Brainstorm!" then passing out on the floor and twitching about for five minutes.
Certainly, brainstorm is a more agreeable way of referring to such incidents than, say, "'mongs", "moodies" or "spaz outs".
Which latter is what I did when, while driving through southeast Pennsylvania, I passed by the facilities of Spaz Beverage Company.
2 April 2006
Strange search-engine queries (10)
As the phrase goes, all you gotta do is ask, and these people did.
how much is a tire rotation? 360 degrees.
real estate appraisal song: How about Graham Nash? "Our house / Is a very, very, very fine house ...."
what's coming to 56th & pendleton pike: Probably Starbucks. God knows they're everywhere else.
dating less educated men: If this actually happened, I wouldn't be home now.
donnaville height: 528 feet above sea level, not counting Donna herself.
dan blocker nudist: Fercrissake, Hoss, put some pants on!
ford creates vehicle that runs on urine: This would be the Excretion SUV, which should reach showrooms in the fall of 2009.
photos of exaggerated breast augmentation: If they're augmented, aren't they exaggerated by definition?
no emails to find women in oklahoma city: If you really want to find them, it's going to take more than just email.
doug funny and party mayonnaise: I'm having a whole lot of trouble with this idea of "party mayonnaise." Is that like Silly String?
what's a grecian urn: Now that the drachma is obsolete, about 17,600 euros.
condi rice has nice legs! Yeah, so?
No C.O.D.s to coyotes
Anyone who ever sat through Warner Bros.' Looney Tunes and/or Merrie Melodies will appreciate this: from the catalog of Sears, Roebuck and Company, circa 1900-1910, you could order anvils.
1-0 in T.O.
According to Byron Scott, it was the whim of the Schedule Gods that the Hornets hadn't played the Raptors even once in the first 71 games; whatever the explanation, this would be the Bees' only trip to Toronto this year. (The Raptors will visit the Ford Center this coming Friday.)
The Hornets piled up an 18-point lead in the third quarter, but Toronto refused to roll over and die, and with two minutes left, the Raptors, cashing in on three consecutive turnovers, regained the lead. The fourth quarter ended with a 95-95 tie.
The first overtime was full of sound and fury, but signified nothing; each team managed five points in five minutes. In the second overtime, the Bees struck early and made it stick, coming out on top 120-113. (I am, I suppose, slightly disturbed that the Bees scored 20 points in five minutes, considering they only scored 15 points in the 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.)
With 58 minutes of play time, you might think there were a lot of shots taken, and you would be correct: the Hornets took 99 shots and made 45 (45.5 percent), while the Raptors hit 45 of 113 (39.8 percent). Toronto hit 12 of 31 three-balls; the Bees, 4 of 14.
For the first time this season, there's a triple-double for the Hornets: Chris Paul scored 24 points, grabbed 12 boards and served up 12 assists, the first time he's pulled off this feat, and he didn't need the overtime to reach the threshold, either. David West, back in the saddle, scored 23; Rasual Butler dropped in 17, Marc Jackson 16, Aaron Williams 13, Speedy Claxton 10 (and 12 dimes, for a double-double) and J. R. Smith 10. It appears that when Linton Johnson starts, he scores a lot and provides a fair amount of defense, or he scores very little and provides a whole lot of defense. It was the latter tonight, with three points, two blocked shots and 8 boards, including some clutch play towards the end. And Brandon Bass, who played about 10 minutes, snagged 4 points and 7 rebounds.
But what I wonder is how is this Toronto team only 26-47? They seem to be a lot better than that, and they didn't even have the services of Chris Bosh tonight; what's more, their ace rookie Charlie Villanueva scored 25 points and hauled in 18 boards.
To Auburn Hills on Tuesday, where the Pistons will be waiting and presumably without Rasheed Wallace, who got his 16th technical foul of the season today and is subject to a one-game suspension.
3 April 2006
I bought what?
Top Five Truly Important Teenaged Years Songs that I now view as Truly Idiotic, or ... the What Was I Thinking Song List.
I tend to think of my teenaged years as ending in 1969, but I actually turned twenty in 1973, so I figure I can allow for stuff up through 1972 in the compilation of this list.
In order of release:
Deep, dark secrets: I bought all five of these, and they all made #1 in Billboard.
Disturbing of Slumber Time
Generally I yield to Lileks, since (1) he can outwrite me with one hand tied behind his back and a Child whispering in his ear and (2) he has a week's seniority over me in this wacky Inter-Nettery stuff.
But after having to drive to work in pitch darkness again, I cannot let this go by without complaint:
There are those who do not like Daylight Savings Time it's false time, a patent lie; why not say the sun sets at midnight? You can believe these things if you like, but do not bring them up in my presence. By my lights, setting the clocks back is the unnatural part. As a night owl, I treasure the longer evenings, and few things put a lilt in this grey hard lump of anthracite I call a heart than stepping outside at eight and seeing the world has not been cast back in the black pit. I love Daylight Savings Time. For that matter I'm used to its conclusion; it's actually become part of the rhythm of the year for me. When the clocks go back the day seems to contract; when they leap ahead in a single bound, as though they’ve been straining at the leash the day expands and exhales. It's a wonderful thing. People who oppose it are ugly and stupid and un-American and wrong and evil and anti-life.
"Expands and exhales." As Bart Simpson might have said, "I didn't think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows."
I realize Daylight Savings Time is an artificial construct. (Like the 60-minute hour, for example.) And I ... don't ... care. If nothing else, I like resetting all the clocks. The average American has more clocks than a 15th century Pope could dream of owning. And next year it starts the second week of March! Suicides in the Northern tier states will drop, I tell you.
If it's that wonderful, why don't we have it all year?
Oh, yeah: sunrise in January at a quarter to nine.
My VCR, at least, has automatic adjustment for DST: instead of blinking 12:00 constantly, it now blinks 1:00 constantly. Maybe I should get a TiVo.
Addendum: Lynn likes DST.
Lasers on a sunny afternoon
On the World Tours, I am accompanied by three electronic gadgets: my notebook, my cell phone and my digital voice recorder. Compared to some of you, I'm probably just this side of a Luddite. But if I had more gizmos, I'd start wondering about how I'd provide regular battery juice.
Enter the solar-powered bag, which draws enough skyborne voltage to keep up (we hope) with the demands of the hardware. The form factor is sufficiently compact, in fact, that it's possible to produce backpacks, even jackets, with a solar array.
Not that you'll get me into a jacket in the middle of July, but I'm still impressed.
Memo to a dillhole
If you're going to call up our CS people and loudly demand that they research a charge on your credit card from way the hell back in October, the very least you can do is come up with the correct card number.
Of course, if you're going to make an error this fundamental, it's no farging wonder your books don't balance.
All the good ones are taken
Now you just need to find the perfect domain name ... at (and, in true new-economy fashion, you'll base your corporate name upon whatever available domain name you find ... PILLAGEANDPLUNDR Corporation).
You pull up GoDaddy and start punching in clever names, along with their many variations, only to find that they're all seemingly taken.
"This can't be!" you cry. "Has every possibility already been registered?"
Just about, says Forbes:
Given that there are approximately 50 million .COM domains registered, it is indeed true that the low-hanging fruit domain names are overwhelmingly taken, and your chances of lucking upon an unnoticed available three-letter acronym (TLA) are close to zero, and your only recourse would be to haggle with domain speculators.
Of course, if you're willing to go for a long and inscrutable domain name, you're allowed up to 63 characters, as reflected by, um, DIDYOUKNOWTHATYOUCANONLYHAVESIXTY-
Disclosure: I own four domains, three .COM and one .NET.
I'm assuming I was #102
ThePhoenix.com presents: The 100 Unsexiest Men in the World (and Al Franken is #40).
Yeah, yeah: beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some eyes can behold only so much, you know?
How logo can you go-go?
Draw whatever conclusions you like. I'll suggest only that the Lacoste alligator comes off quite a bit better than the Peugeot lion.
(Via Jeffrey Zeldman.)
Say goodnight, Tom
I assume that he's actually bowing out of the race and that this is not, you should pardon the expression, some DeLaying tactic.
We wish him well as a private citizen, but boy, are we glad to see him leave the House.
4 April 2006
So I'm taking the ess-curve on May at Wilshire in this thing, and half a dozen bags of assorted groceries take the path of least resistance directly into my lap.
Even at 40 mpg, I think I'll have to pass, thank you very much.
Reclaim the name
I don't consider myself a member of "The Left" (nor "The Right", for that matter) but I don't have any particular allergy to the word socialism. It's a perfectly good word and it has a reasonably accepted meaning. It's useful for communicating meaning and expressing intent.
Whereas "progressive," by contrast, really doesn't mean much:
It's like saying virtuism or goodnessism. Who doesn't want progress? We just don't all agree on what it means.
Well, there's National Review, whose marching orders were set out by William F. Buckley Jr. in Volume 1, Number 1: "It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it."
As an old reactionary myself, I can understand Buckley's complaint about what passes for progress but that's really another issue.
As I say, I'm not allergic to the word socialism. Nous sommes tous socialistes. Only the most doctrinaire completely reject redistribution. It's a pragmatic necessity. We tax the rich for the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks: it's where the money is. It's a matter of degree.
So I'm completely in favor of those who are calling themselves liberals or progressives or the netroots or whatever they're calling themselves these days calling themselves socialists. Using a word that actually has a definition and you can really sink your teeth into would have a number of beneficial effects:
A conflagration devoutly to be wished. And besides, actual Marxists don't return your phone calls.
A damn dirty ape call
Rate hikes in the pipeline
Oklahoma City's water rates have been rising at 3 percent a year; City Council is pushing it to 3.75 percent for the next four years.
Over the four-year period, the expected revenue increase would be just under $17 million; the city says that it's needed to keep pace with repairs and upgrades to the city's water system.
The current rate structure is here. It is not clear whether sewer rates will be increased commensurately; city trash service (which, on my bill at least, costs more than water and sewer) is not affected.
Needling the players
Someone asked me once if it was possible to be way over the bounds of acceptability and still be funny.
Well, of course. For instance: a fan lobbed a syringe at Barry Bonds last night in San Diego.
Now, throwing anything on the field is indefensible and not to be encouraged under any circumstances. Bonds, properly, handled the matter with the utmost disdain. Still, the punchline will not be denied.
A better one, though, was a sign in the stands that read simply "*".
(Via the Crank.)
Sliced and McDyessed
Any illusions the Hornets might have had about sneaking this one away from the Pistons were utterly shattered by Antonio McDyess, who came off the bench in the absence of Rasheed Wallace to score 26 points (and 14 rebounds). The Bees were game, maybe a little beyond that, but Detroit had lost only three games at the Palace this year, and they were in no mood for a fourth: Pistons 101, Hornets 93.
The Hornet mainstays stayed with it all game: both Chris Paul and David West picked up 24 points, and the team shot a respectable 48 percent. But when the Pistons are hitting on all cylinders, they don't lose, and this was their 60th win of the season.
A long flight back to OKC, and Golden State will be waiting at the Ford Center for a Wednesday-night contest.
5 April 2006
People moving out, people moving in
A house up the street (mentioned here three weeks ago) sold last week; two more around the corner and northward went up for sale about the same time or slightly afterwards, and one of them already has a contract.
I don't know what the neighborhood record is the house that became Surlywood was listed on a Tuesday evening and I put in a bid the following Saturday, which is fairly quick but obviously there's some serious demand over here.
Still, if the one that remains for sale (it's a "Dream Starter"!) brings the $114k asked, I'll be somewhere between delighted and flabbergasted.
Update, 16 April: They've cut the Dream Starter to $107,000.
Tulsa boots Bill
Incumbent Tulsa Mayor Bill LaFortune was turned out of office yesterday in favor of former Secretary of Commerce Kathy Taylor.
More than 75,000 votes were cast. (By comparison, the rather sleepy election in Oklahoma City, in which incumbent Mick Cornett pulled about 87 percent of the vote, drew less than 15,000.)
What can we expect? Michael Bates once characterized Kathy Taylor as the second coming of Susan Savage, and suggested that Tulsa could look forward to More Of The Same upon her election. Taylor, like Savage, is a dealmaker rather than a policy wonk, and if there's one thing Tulsa has in abundance, it's people anxious to make deals.
What fascinates me about this election is that the Tulsa power structure, more or less en masse, decided that Bill LaFortune had become a liability and threw its support to a challenger. The result is cognitive dissonance on a grand scale: the ostensible agent for change turns out to be a Good Old Boy in a dress.
Booze in space!
Well, no such luck: it's methanol, not ethanol, which means that it's not drinkable unless you have access to Ted Kennedy's liver.
Still, the idea of organic molecules of this sort floating around in the universe has a certain appeal, if only because it vaguely supports the notion that We Are Not Alone.
(Via Play One on TV.)
Top speed of Joe Walsh's Maserati.
"Hello, American Airlines? Can I bring snakes on a plane?"
Through the eyes of love
Singer Gene Pitney died in his hotel room in Cardiff today after singing up a storm on his UK tour.
Pitney was a songwriter first "Hello Mary Lou" and "He's a Rebel" are his and while he'd cut some singles with Ginny Arnell as "Jamie and Jane" and released a handful of solo 45s, some as "Billy Bryan," his recording career seemingly started by accident: he sent up a one-man (he played everything but the bassoon) demo to publisher Aaron Schroeder, who liked it enough to start a record company (Musicor) and to release it as the first single. "(I Wanna) Love My Life Away" eased into the lower reaches of the Top 40 in 1961, and suddenly Gene was a big-name singer. He cut a version of the title theme from the film Town Without Pity, and sang it at the Academy Awards; "The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance," written for the film of that name but not used in it, also clicked.
Pitney went on to chart twenty-nine singles for Musicor, plus a duet with George Jones; he recorded country songs, songs in Italian ("Nessuno Mi Puo' Giudicare" "Nobody Can Judge Me" even bubbled under the US Hot 100), and all manner of pop artifacts. (On this very site, Dawn Eden reviews "Twenty-Four Hours From Tulsa". Short version: loved him, hated the song.)
Not a lot of Pitney gets played on the radio these days. In an era which respects attitude more than altitude, Pitney's soaring voice is way out of place, and some of his hits seem scandalous today, though not in the sense you'd expect: "Mecca," a metaphor for the brownstone house where his baby lives, is almost forgotten these days. (You can hear what he sounded like here.) In 2002, at the age of 61, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And he'll always have a place on my record shelf.
Addendum: The aforementioned Dawn Eden shares personal recollections of Gene.
Do or die time
Somewhere in the third period, the Hornets snapped: first David West, then Chris Paul. The crowd was appalled. Technicals were assessed. Frustration was rampant.
And with two seconds left, it was 103-103. West uncorked one of his patented last-second shots; it refused to drop in.
So the Warriors and the Hornets, one point apart in their last meeting, went into overtime, and Golden State's last shot wound up in the arms of Chris Paul. Bees 114, Warriors 109.
Every Hornet starter made double figures: Rasual Butler had a double-double (11 points, 11 rebounds), and Chris Paul got his second triple-double (17 points, 16 assists, 11 rebounds). But Speedy Claxton, off the bench, outscored them all, picking up 21, and Kirk Snyder, after many days glued to that bench, hit five of six (including a trey) for 11.
Unfortunately, the Kings surprised the Spurs in San Antonio, so the Bees remain two games back in the race for that last playoff spot. But at least they're still in the race.
The Raptors drop in Friday, followed by a quick trip to (shudder) Dallas.
6 April 2006
Coyne of the realm
It's a Flaming Lips week around here. Last week I bought Jim DeRogatis' Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips, and finished it up Tuesday; Wednesday Preston Jones had a review in the Oklahoma Gazette.
Jones talked to DeRogatis, and this interesting quote emerged:
There was a year and a half or so, after I panned the boom box tour, where Wayne [Coyne] was actively not speaking to me if I'd seen him the night he first read that review, he (probably) would have punched me in the face. I think that's only made the relationship stronger, because they know I've been critical, so when I say I like something they've done, I mean it.
And it's not like Jim lives in fear: the last book of his I snagged was Kill Your Idols: A New Generation of Rock Writers Reconsiders the Classics, in which he and his cohort of snarkmeisters dismember all the records I own, which was great fun. Staring at Sound isn't quite as gleeful, but there's plenty of stuff I didn't know about the Lips, and while DeRogatis suffers from occasional fits of Not From Around Here no one in this part of the world refers to the Interstate west of town as "Route 40" he's obviously gone to a lot of trouble to take a look at this band in the context of where they came from, and if you have any interest whatever in the Lips, you really need to take a look at this book.
Wayne Coyne, incidentally, shows up in Stuff (May '06), and offers the following wisdom about Gwen Stefani:
I never intended ["It Overtakes Me"] to be written for her. It's a silly exercise where you think, "If Gwen Stefani was thinking this, what would she do?" Not like the Flaming Lips would ever do what she would do, but it frees you up.
He also endorses the Deep Fork Grill:
A dear friend of mine runs [DFG]. He is cool, young and gracious. An intense and imaginative master chef creates the food. I get treated like a rock star even though I don't expect it.
Well, he is a rock star, even if a reluctant one.
The first ten years
(Bumped up from Sunday)
Sunday, this Web site will be ten years old. To give you an idea of the time frame involved, this actual interchange occurred on PBS in 1996:
STEVEN LEVY: This year I think was the first year where pretty much anyone you meet in business was supposed to have an e-mail address. It asked them, what's your e-mail address, instead of asking, do you have an E-mail address?
PAUL SOLMAN: And e-mail is what for those of us who don't know, or those people who don't know?
STEVEN LEVY: It's simply an address in some sort of vaguely obscure computer code which enables you to accept and send out messages electronically. You know, it's actually a very effective and efficient way to communicate with each other.
Or would be, if 90 percent of it wasn't touting worthless penny stocks or drugs of dubious provenance or perversions beyond Kinsey's imagination.
But neither Levy nor Solman anticipated spam; they were busy being amazed at how much things had changed in just a short time, and trying to imagine what might happen in subsequent years. And certainly neither of them paid any attention to what I had begun scribbling over here in an obscure corner of cyberspace, at a time when the Dow was still around 5500, the Ramones were still playing, and The Onion was still just a satirical newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin.
With the official Tenth Anniversary in the offing, I'm soliciting reactions: to the site, to individual writings, to perceived philosophy, to whatever you might think is pertinent. And atypically, I'm not taking them as comments: I don't want the tenth one received, for example, to be affected by the preceding nine. This will be email only, and a representative selection of the reactions received will be posted here next week. Use this link if possible; if you don't want your name used, say so.
Press Alt-F4 for higher access
"My first modem was a screamin'-fast SupraModem 2400 I bought for the low, low price of $150. I got PC Pursuit at some point and started calling around the country. I remember spending a good amount of time on a couple BBSs in Philadelphia. At my first job I ended up setting up a ProLine BBS for my employer and later helped set up a network of NovaServer BBSs (dubbed theLINQ) for schools. Somewhere in there I also became a forum assistant on GEnie, mostly so I could enjoy free access to the service, which cost $6 an hour for 1200 bps access."
"I was 14 years old. I lived at home with my family. We had one phone line. We used this phone line mainly to talk to family and friends. I had just posted the number for this phone line as a 'Hot New BBS' on all the local BBSes. Like many 14-year-olds, I didn't think through the consequences of my actions. I guess I just thought that the computer would answer the phone when another computer dialed it. It was an experiment I hadn't done. And, y'know, it was ok for the first few hours, while my folks were out of the house. The phone rang, the computer answered, the local BBSers got to see my BBS. But then my parents came home."
"Apple II+, Hayes Micromodem. 213 AC. It was called Dragon's Lair one of several Dragon's Lairs, turns out. A useless but fun BBS. Useless for everyone else, fun for this 11 yo SYSOP, until we moved to Saudi Arabia & it died."
And many more. As a relic of this period myself though I was already thirtysomething years old I can relate to a lot of this.
In my opinion, blogs do foster relationships and can help revive old ones (I have briefly gone off on this tangent before here and here). I also noticed a link to BBSmates that I will have to check out when I get a chance.
Could it be that the BBSers of old have just found a new voice?
I wouldn't doubt it for a moment.
Title of the week
Defamer says "New Bond making major adjustments for the role", which is good, but the magazine spread they're showing is better.
(Safety for work is debatable.)
Why I still keep a dialup
The cable over here is deader than Francisco Franco, and with fewer notifications, too.
I assume it has something to do with these 50-mph winds that nearly blew me off my feet in front of a gas pump this afternoon. (Gotta be the wind; the price increase since yesterday was four cents, which is off-putting but generally not the sort of thing which induces vertigo.)
Maybe I should just go stand outside and let myself be sandblasted. Exfoliation is such a bore.
7 April 2006
Top 40, large
Wouldn't it be neat to have, say, a 1963 WMCA Good Guy T-shirt?
Until Mr. Peabody gets the WABAC machine working, this will have to do: fresh CafePress knockoffs, researched by the major radio fiends at RadioLogoLand, who have imaging from lots of classic pop radio stations though nothing yet from Oklahoma City's KOMA or WKY. (They do have KAKC stuff, for the Tulsans among us.)
I suggest you grab one of these before the Gods of Intellectual Property take umbrage and request injuctions.
That "fake news" stuff
This Raw Story report on so-called Video News Releases has been getting plenty of airing, and deservedly so. Noting that a prime offender was KOKH-TV in Oklahoma City, Matt Deatherage said: "KOKH doesn't seem to know that there's supposed to be a line between news and advertising."
But if none of these prepackaged propaganda pieces is news, neither is the Center for Media and Democracy study referenced by Raw Story: VNRs have been oozing into newsrooms for two decades. Medialink Worldwide is reported (by themselves, anyway) to have invented the VNR way back in 1986; TV Guide did features on VNRs, which they described as "fake news," in 1992 and 1993. The G. W. Bush administration was caught issuing such things on its own two years ago.
None of this excuses the current batch, of course. But we shouldn't see this as a new and insidious attempt to influence the public; it's an old and insidious attempt to influence the public.
I was cleaning out my wallet at work and had all these useless business cards I was dumping out on the table along with receipts and other built up wallet junk. The woman I am working with this night says "I bet all those cards came from men". "Yeah, looks like most of them are, why?" I ask.
"Well", she continues, "I know two things in this life for sure. One. Never trust people that say 'trust me'. And two, men give out business cards to women they want to sleep with".
"As if!" I reply. I'm sure that's not what these men intended. I mean most of them were handed to me in a professional business setting. "Well", she continues, "it's a subtle way to maybe get lucky, and ask youself what other purpose the card really serves in each of the cases you got one".
I looked over all the cards. I tried visualizing the context I was given each one. At the time they all seemed professionally appropriate or at least not socially perverted. But in all these cases there was also really no good purpose to give me their card.
Two observations. First, this from Costa:
Maybe it's an old boys' network tradition, going hand-in-hand with the two-martini lunch. Personally, I had no overt intentions along these lines. I really just wanted to generate some low-impact publicity for the blog, and my own self. I'm wondering now if the women to whom I doled out cards thought I was on the make.... I probably was, but I didn't want to make it this obvious.
And from me: It has never, ever occurred to me that it might be worthwhile to have a batch of business cards printed up. And the card does have the ability to pass on one's phone number.
Sometimes even my grasp of the obvious is tenuous and insecure.
Paper! Get yer paper!
The Muskogee Daily Phoenix is up for sale: Gannett Co. has transferred control of the paper to its foundation. The sale, which should take place about a month from now, ultimately serves two purposes: as it pares down the corporation's list of properties, it replenishes the foundation's coffers.
There are buyers waiting: five, says Phoenix publisher Larry Corvi. The Phoenix sells about 17,000 copies daily.
Rhymes with "politician"
Somebody (I'm almost sure it was Lynn, but I haven't found the original post yet) once pointed out that the random-letter captcha used on Blogger and some other services occasionally generates something that ought to be an actual word. (Under what those of us who never took anything beyond Statistics 202 think of as the Law of Averages, this occurrence would seem to be almost inevitable.)
I have yet to get anything I can play on a Scrabble board, but what I have here is awfully close if you think of Taiwan as close.
Addendum: It was Lynn, and here's her original post.
2-0 against T.O.
Last time we saw the Raptors, I said something to the effect that they were better than their record suggested; they are indeed a persistent bunch. Tonight they made thirteen treys (out of 35 tries, which was almost the same as their percentage from inside the arc) and came back twice from major deficits to scare the Hornets. Fortunately, the Bees tend to play better when fear is staring them in the face, and they prevailed, 95-89.
Seven of those Toronto treys were sunk by Mike James, who scored 36 in all. It still amazes me that this team has lost 50 games.
Desmond Mason and P. J. Brown saw some action tonight from the bench; it was good to see them back on the court. David West scored 19, Chris Paul 16, and Linton Johnson 13; Speedy Claxton dropped in 11 from off the bench.
Saturday night in Dallas, where the Mavericks always seem to have the Bees' number; after that, the final homestand, against Cleveland, Seattle and Utah.
8 April 2006
Meanwhile across town
The RedHawks opened a four-day homestand against the Memphis Redbirds on Thursday night, and while it would be clichéd and overdramatic to say that the feathers flew well, the 'Hawks won the first two, though it took 13 innings to take the first, 5-4, and in the second, a late-inning rally gave Oklahoma a 9-5 win.
Attendance at the home opener was 8,366; last night, with nastier weather and the Hornets playing at the Ford, 5,972 showed up.
The case for being committed
Colorado psychiatrist Dr. Doreen Orion, herself a stalker victim, has written a book about it: I Know You Really Love Me: A Psychiatrist's Journal of Erotomania, Stalking and Obsessive Love.
The only difference between stalkers and anybody is else is that unlike other people, these people don't waver indecisively from person to person, and are more motivated. They've found somebody who matches their ideals they can't imagine a better fit, a more perfect match and they suffer from this incredibly. Who can it hurt if they observe from a distance the one person who taught them the meaning of the word "alive"? Be thankful if you're one to socially jump from one person to the next uncaringly that you may be spared the all-consuming intensity of real love. I wish upon no one the pain of watching the person you'd give anything for, who you know like the back of your hand from their needs and desires to the fears and moral qualms that wrack their concious [sic] stay in some deadend relationship regardless of any hoops you jump through regardless how you look, what you'd say, give, do nothing.
As expressions of self-justification go, this rivals anything you're likely to see in the political arena.
The Wikipedia birthday meme
As swiped from Phoebe Gleeson:
1. Type in your birthday (minus the year) in the search bar at Wikipedia.org
2. List three interesting facts, two births, and one death that happened on your birthday.
"Interesting," of course, is in the eye of the beholder, but here goes:
1491 - The siege of Granada, last Moorish stronghold in Spain, begins.
1863 - American Civil War: At Missionary Ridge in Tennessee, Union forces led by General Ulysses S. Grant break the Siege of Chattanooga by routing Confederate troops under General Braxton Bragg.
1950 - The "Storm of the Century", a violent snowstorm, paralyzes the northeastern United States and the Appalachians, bringing winds up to 100 mph and sub-zero temperatures. Pickens, West Virginia records 57 inches of snow. 323 people die due to the storm.
Born 1920 - Noel Neill, American actress
Born 1944 - Ben Stein, American actor, game show host, and political consultant
Died 1920 - Gaston Chevrolet, Swiss-born race car driver and automobile pioneer (b. 1892)
Now let's try it for the 9th of April, the birthday, as it were, of this Web site:
1413 - Henry V is crowned King of England.
1865 - American Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrenders the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the war.
1959 - NASA announces the selection of the United States' first seven astronauts which the news media quickly dub the "Mercury Seven".
Born 1926 - Hugh Hefner, American editor and publisher
Born 1928 - Tom Lehrer, American musician and mathematician
Died 1997 - Laura Nyro, American singer and songwriter (b. 1947)
Feel free to expropriate.
Bullet bitten: I have finally gotten around to installing a proper router, which supports four wired devices and however many wireless ones I can persuade to work. At the moment, I consider it miraculous enough that I have one wireless device working Toshi, my faithful old Road Warrior, which has had problems with Wi-Fi in years gone by.
Things will no doubt get more interesting as time goes by. Right now, I'm just buzzed by being able to blog from the kitchen.
Hounded out of downtown
According to this thread at OKCTalk.com, Gardner Tanenbaum Group will attempt to buy the Union Bus Station at Sheridan and Walker. The plan is to build a new bus depot elsewhere and convert the existing 1941 building to retail or restaurant use.
The kicker here, of course, is "elsewhere." At the very least, I'd think an intercity bus facility ought to be located near local transit, which effectively means MetroTransit's Downtown Transit Center, on NW 5th between Walker and Hudson. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a location close by that would fit the requirements for a bus station. And if they move it south, to the Phantom Zone between the old and new I-40 alignments, it will be even farther away.
Maybe they're going to put Union Station to work as a bus terminal, since they can't bring themselves to use it for rail, as God and the Santa Fe intended.
During the preceding three years in New Orleans, one thing the Hornets didn't do was beat the Dallas Mavericks; the last time they put the hurt on the Mavs, they were still the Charlotte Hornets, fercryingoutloud. Thirteen consecutive losses to Mark Cuban and company.
The relocation to Oklahoma City made absolutely no difference. The Bees played the Mavericks four times this season, and Dallas won all four of them, the only team to sweep four from the Hornets this year. The score 101-77 is almost irrelevant.
It's not like the Bees were bad, particularly: they shot 44 percent from the floor, fairly typical. But they gave up 18 turnovers, including 8 steals, and the Mavs owned the boards, getting 48 rebounds to the Hornets' 30.
Rasual Butler led the Hornets with 14 points. P. J. Brown, off the bench, picked up 12, and that was it for double figures.
Six games left, and now two below .500. It's still theoretically possible to make the playoffs but it's going to be that much more difficult.
9 April 2006
And I don't even have a hagiograph
I had actually already attended one ad hoc class on Web pages (let's not call it "design") in the spring of 1996 when I got the ridiculous idea that I ought to have a site of my own, inasmuch as I knew a handful of tags and my ISP of the moment was willing to allow me a whole megabyte of space. In a matter of hours, I ground out half a dozen pages and an index linking to them all, plus some homemade graphics which made them look, well, so 1996. Add to this a semi-cute counter, and suddenly I had a Web Presence.
A decade later, I've piled up 171 megabytes of stuff, the counter has gone into seven digits, and said Web Presence has had a wholly-unexpected effect: it's picked up regular readers. Last week I asked those readers to come up with some thoughts on the matter, and here's some of what I got.
Mike Pechar writes:
There is a scene in one of the early James Bond movies(I forget which one) where James is facing death on a platform which is slowly being lowered into a pond full of alligators. It's a drawn-out anxious moment accompanied by suspenseful music as the platform inches downward into the water. Bond, always the hero, extricates himself by racing to safety on the backs of the alligators. Each step touches a different alligator just long enough to move forward. It's a surprising and amusing scene and no alligators get hurt.
That's Dustbury racing on the backs of alligators and, by the way, older than Google.
As an old fan of Activision's Pitfall, I know from dancing across alligators, or maybe it was crocodiles. (And it was Live and Let Die.)
Winston Rand notes:
Just when I think I've got you figgered out, you prove me wrong. To this day, I would not know whether to tag you as liberal, progressive, conservative, whatever ... so I don't.
[The site is] nice and clean. I like it. Wish I was enough of an html jockey to do mine as well. One thing that does not detract by its absence, but might enhance if present use an occasional graphic, photo, or whatever, to break up the text. The bird gets boring after a while, but also provides a comfort level of stability, a benchmark, and a "yeah, I know where I am now" response.
[The Vent] may be unique with you. I have not seen it anywhere else. Tremendous idea. I vowed that I would read all of them.
So far as I know, two people have read all of them. I really ought to redo the interface so that you can go through them sequentially, but that's 480 pages to recode, each one manually. (No templates, folks; remember, this started in '96.)
I've had some sort of bird on the front page almost since Day One; I have about a dozen versions in the archives, and a few more I've played with but never actually used. Once I had a bird button made up to identify myself to a visiting reader who had just flown into town. Worked stunningly well.
Jennifer sent this:
What impresses me the most is the finesse and balance you bring to bear, day in and day out. Your posts are always so well-written. Your humor alternates flawlessly between the appropriately wry and the bone dry, and you offer little glimmers of insight into your personality in nearly every entry. You manage to educate and edify without patronizing, which is a rare talent indeed.
I, for one, appreciate the investment you make in sharing your well-trained eye for sussing out the genuine golden nuggets: from the educational and informative to the mundane and interesting, touching every inch of the spectrum in between along the way.
I figure, if I can find something interesting in the mundane (or, 24 hours later, the tuesdane), maybe it's not as mundane as I thought it was in the first place. Few of us find our lives to be one breathtaking thrill after another; if I wrote only about things that really, truly excited me, I might never have filled up that original megabyte.
And Michael Bates contends:
Dustbury is the epitome of a blog links to an eclectic mix of web content, each accompanied by a well-selected excerpt that entices the reader to click through, followed by a pithy observation, and topped with a clever play on words. Even the category names are inspired. By comparison, other blogs are mere shadows on the wall of a cave.
I am, of course, grateful for the kind words, and somewhat surprised that they were as kind as they are: at the very least, I expected at least a smattering of "I will eat dirt rather than bookmark this," from my original Feedback Form.
There is one new feature for the new decade. You've seen its ancestor before: a "linkblog" which collects items that aren't going to be given a whole post. 3WC imposes a new structure on the linkblog: it provides, for each news item or whatever, a three-word comment and no more. (Hence the name.) These will accumulate on the left side of the index page at indefinite intervals.
To all of you, thanks for coming, and remember: if you don't like what you read, your next visit is free.
Far from the comfy chair
Dawn Eden, approaching Catholicism, is facing her first Confession, and things don't seem to be quite the way I remember them from the Pleistocene era. The Archdiocese of New York recommends:
When finished examining his conscience, [the penitent] should make a mental list of all the mortal sins he committed, noting how and how many times he committed them, as far as he can remember. He can also add any venial sins he remembers.
This is "not helpful," says Dawn:
How exactly does one confess all one's sins from birth onward? I have some vague idea of going down the list of the Ten Commandments and highlighting anything particularly egregious.
Back when I carried around a Baltimore Catechism, I once used exactly this tack for the Sacrament of
Besides, we have all sinned. God knows that; the priest hearing the confession knows that. What matters, I think, is that you recognize the more serious lapses, take note of the pattern if there seems to be an awful lot of them, and work diligently to do better next time. The first confession is scary, but it's the second one from which you measure your progress.
Wait 'til we get our Heinz on you
Richard Armour explained it this way:
Shake and shake
The ketchup bottle;
None will come,
And then a lot'll.
But it doesn't have to be that way at all.
The Vitamin D test
The idea this afternoon was to drag the notebook outside and test for the feasibility of backyard blogging/sunbathing.
Call it a qualified success for now.
All over the place (3)
Yet another collection of Found Links. How I found them is anybody's guess.
More to come when they get here.
10 April 2006
Filling the gaps
In January 2000, the FCC approved a new class of low-power FM radio station. But what the Feds giveth, the Feds taketh away: three months later, the charmingly-named "Preservation of Radio Act" amended the rules just enough to eliminate most of the potential slots on the dial.
Oversimplified: FM stations in the US are allocated to channels 0.2 MHz apart. The new LPFM rules would have allowed new stations at the second-adjacent position, a distance of 0.4 MHz from, say, the KATT, which operates on 100.5 MHz, this would mean 100.1 or 100.9. The "Preservation" Act changed this to third-adjacent, 0.6 MHz away: 99.9 or 101.1. By no coincidence, the largest radio markets have most or all of their major stations 0.8 MHz apart; there are second-adjacent positions between them, but no third-adjacent positions.
In the Oklahoma City market in particular, move-ins by rim-shooters have positioned commercial stations at second-adjacent positions: KQOB (Bob) at 96.9 and KOJK (Jack) at 97.3; WWLS-FM (The Sports Animal) at 104.9, KINB (La Indomable) at 105.3 and KROU (sister to KGOU) at 105.7. It's true that the transmitters are scattered across the area to meet spacing requirements; nonetheless, these transmitters (except maybe Jack's) run a lot more power than microradio stations.
Which, incidentally, is the term they prefer to "pirate":
We are a "Micro-Station" We are here to provide the OKC area with Commercial Free programming and give our listeners what they want! We are not here to cause havoc or anything of that sort! We support our local police and if you listen you would hear us at 2am telling our listeners NOT to drink and drive. We are Radio Edited, We DO NOT broadcast 24/7. We are not hiding from anyone so there for [we] ARE NOT A PIRATE! We offer a various format of Dance, Trance, Hip-Hop, Comedy etc that you don't get from the Corporate Stations. We made SURE our equipment DOES NOT drift.
And, perhaps more to the point:
We are not the ONLY underground station in this City however we are the ONLY one I know of who does respect the law, we just disagree with some policies set by the FCC. Maybe if the FCC deregulated some of the channels this "Pirate Radio Movement" would slow down. We are not the first one here, And I KNOW we will not be the last.
Incidentally, they're on a third-adjacent to the nearest commercial station.
I'm a firm believer in following the rules. However, I'm also a firm believer in the idea that the rules ought to make sense. As media writer Jesse Walker notes, "There is clearly room for more stations on the local airwaves than current FCC regulations allow otherwise there wouldn't be so many operations able to broadcast without causing real interference. Public policy should aim to accommodate as many of these voices as possible, not snuff them out."
Not including taxes
A Malaysian man has been billed $218 trillion for final charges on a disconnected phone line.
According to the New Straits Times, Yahaya Wahab ordered his late father's telephone service turned off in January and sent in $23 to pay the final bill; he wasn't aware of any additional charges until he received the nastygram from Telekom Malaysia's collection agent.
Telekom Malaysia Bhd is connected to the Malaysian government, which suggests some form of bureaucratic bungling. Here in the States, it would never, ever occur to Verizon or AT&T to bill any residential subscriber for more than $50 billion.
(Heard this morning on NPR's Morning Edition.)
Someone to watch over me
A poll by RSA Security reports that more than 90 percent of American bank customers would like those banks to scrutinize incoming transactions for potential fraud, and 60 percent would like to be notified when something looks suspicious.
For what it's worth, I spoke to a MasterCard issuer this weekend, after they reported they'd spotted what they considered to be anomalies. They thought it was odd that someone would be paying for two ISPs; I explained my belt-and-suspenders approach to keeping myself online. And they found a transaction for $1 with the wrong expiration date, about which I knew nothing, and which they had duly declined. The bank suggested that, if I had concerns, they would cancel the account and send me a new card; after being assured that my reward points would remain intact, I agreed.
This is the second time I've canceled a card for security reasons. The first was five years ago, in connection with a hacking incident at the Web host I was using at the time.
I admit to a certain amount of "What do you care what I spend my money on?" But under the circumstances, I think the bank did the Right Thing in bringing their concerns to my attention, and I suspect the respondents to RSA's poll would agree.
(Via The Consumerist.)
Present at the creation
It's a whole new fiction genre: the Charismatic Russo-Nigerian Serial Epistolary Novel, which we pick up in section 4:19:
I am Mr. Felix Ogorika, the Personal Lawyer of late Mr. Petrovich Nazarova, a Russian Businessman that lived in my Country Nigeria for 22 years before he died in the plane crash last year. He was a very good Christian, he is so dedicated to God but he was not married nor had any child till He died, may His soul rest in peace, Amen. Throughout His stay in my country, he acquired a lot of properties like lands, house properties, etc.
As his legal adviser, before his death, Mr. Petrovich Nazarova, instructed me to write his WILL, because he had no child, he dedicated his wealth to God. According to the WILL, the properties have to be sold and the money be given out to a ministry or individual for the work of God. As his legal adviser, all the documents for the properties were in my care. He gave me the authority to sell the properties and give out the fund to a Ministry or individual for the work of God.
Brother Felix is of course awaiting a favorable response.
Welcome to Hovel Heights
Dwayne, way back here, was startled that houses in my neck of the woods were topping $65 a square foot. Now it's more like $80.
I shudder to think what he'd have to say about $925 per square foot.
(Via Steph Mineart.)
Just how bad is the Third-Quarter Drought? The Hornets scored 37 in the second quarter tonight and twelve in the third. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, picked up 29 in each, so the Bees' 11-point halftime lead turned into a six-point deficit going into the fourth.
The Hornets almost redeemed themselves in the last quarter, but the operative word is "almost": with half a second left, LeBron James picked up his 13th field goal of the night (for 32 points) and put Cleveland in front, 103-101.
It wasn't all LeBron, either; Flip Murray sank three treys and scored 25, and Donyell Marshall, off the bench, picked up 16 with four treys.
Chris Paul led the Bees with 22 points; Speedy Claxton had 14, as did David West, who departed with an ankle injury midway through the fourth. Three other Hornets scored in double figures.
Meanwhile, playoff hopes are, as Sean Kelley said, "on the ropes." And what kind of game is it when an official leaves with an injury?
The Sonics will be here Wednesday, the Jazz on Friday, and the season ends with three games on the road.
11 April 2006
The Gas Game (April)
April is the coolest month, if you ask me: too warm to run the furnace much, not quite warm enough to crank the A/C to the max. Unfortunately, March's gas usage is billed in April, and that means another shot to the wallet, especially because, as you'll remember, I didn't lock in a fixed price of $8.393 last fall and it's been costing me ever since. What's more, the floating price has floated a few cents higher since the previous billing.
The numbers as they stand:
It's things like this that make you wish for May.