1 May 2006
Strange search-engine queries (13)
No matter what it is, or what it isn't, somebody out there is looking for it, and rather a lot of somebodies wind up here. Some examples:
Elmer Fudd with a toothache: Ow! This weawwy huwts!
brown things come from uranus: Moved to #2 on the list.
women are seen as invisible: If they're seen, they're not exactly invisible, are they?
chlamydia punishment: You'd think chlamydia itself would be punishment enough.
48 years old lonely: Hey, that was four whole years ago.
men don't like smart women: Actually, we worry that if they're that smart, they won't like us.
women are drawn to the sewer to take their clothes off: Doesn't sound like any sewer I've ever seen.
Compiles only because of luck
Back in the day, I actually had a COBOL compiler for the Commodore 64, and I can tell you, there were times when I couldn't tell a PICTURE clause from Santa Claus.
But there's a whole lot of COBOL code still out there, which is apparently what keeps Rocket Jones in incendiary devices:
I'm actually a young whippersnapper compared to a lot of the COBOL programmers still working, and that pool of talent is shrinking faster than the remaining need for 'em. One of the best skills to have for the massive Y2K effort was COBOL. Business needed them, and paid dearly because they needed them badly.
I must point out here that I work in an RPG shop, which means that I'm not in any position to snicker.
Guess we won't cry
A possibly-appropriate song for the day:
When I was small, and Christmas trees were tall,
We used to love while others used to play.
Don't ask me why, but time has passed us by,
Someone else moved in from far away.
It's the first of May, as noted above by the Bee Gees, and some of those who have moved in from far away will take pains to remind us of that fact today.
Actually, I anticipate things will be rather quiet around town. Latino high-school students in the city are expected to take to the streets after school hours. The city school district has put out no statement that I've seen. In fact, I didn't even see any rally notices at the local branch of Indymedia.
Which means, unless things change in a big hurry, that you're most likely to be affected if you're expecting a delivery from the Home Depot today.
Update, 8:50 am: KGOU reports that a pork processor in the Panhandle will close for the day.
9:45 am: Lonewacko points to this report that says Oklahoma LULAC is "not promoting a work stoppage." Director Ray Madrid: "It's not a good idea to risk either academic status or [one's] livelihood."
1:10 pm: KWTV interviews the leader of Hispanic Democrats of Oklahoma at the Capitol; he talks May Day before he talks immigration. [Brief ad before video clip.]
9:40 pm: AP reports about 4,000 turned up for a march through OKC's Capitol Hill; city schools report approximately normal attendance.
I thought it said "dude ranch"
Tucson's La Tierra Linda Guest Ranch Resort, a favorite getaway for Hollywood types in the 1930s, has changed both its name (it's now Mira Vista) and its dress code (you no longer have to).
As usual with clothing-optional resorts, you're expected to be on your best behavior regardless of your lack of attire: says co-owner Dave Landman, you shouldn't do anything you wouldn't do in your mother's living room. I'm sure my mother would have pitched a fit if I'd showed up without my pajamas, but that was, like, years ago.
Final proof the NYT is out of touch
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., speaking to the annual shareholders meeting of the New York Times Company:
Before I begin, let me ask if anyone in this audience needs the aid of a sign language interpreter. If you do, please raise your hand.
In Pinch's defense, he didn't trot out that old joke about the time Helen Keller fell down a well and broke three fingers calling for help.
Feathers and flowers and flak
Louisiana apparently won't be banning cockfighting this year.
Meanwhile, the state's Horticulture Commission is in court today trying to justify the licensing of florists, a practice followed in no other state. (Cockfighting isn't quite so unique; it's allowed in one other state.)
In 2004, the Louisiana House voted to discontinue the florist license and the examination required to obtain it, but the Senate refused to go along.
Here in Oklahoma, where a cockfighting ban was enacted in 2002, florists aren't subjected to any regulations specific to their craft; then again, as we all know, florists just aren't driven to misbehave.
Life could be a dream
I hesitate to say that DreamHost, which has been the home of dustbury.com since the last day of 2001, ever takes my advice on anything, but they've definitely filled out one item on my wish list: they've put up an ongoing status page, off their regular network (in case they go down or get DDoSed), with RSS feeds.
If it saves me just one instance of "What the hell is going on here?" it will have been worth it, I say.
2 May 2006
Insert "Cherry Orchard" joke here
A Fox Reality (UK) series called My Bare Lady will ask four female porn stars to try their hand, as it were, at legitimate theatre you know, to see if they can really act.
David Lyle, general manager of Fox Reality:
It's a wonderful tale of redemption. Do they want lines that are a little more challenging than "Oh, here's the pool guy..."?
They apparently asked no men, and I suspect it's for the obvious reason: they already know the answer.
Things I've learned
Learning is something I value greatly, especially since I am convinced that during my younger years I didn't do enough of it. So any Cosmic Revelations I can find these days, I cherish.
Okay, that's enough information overload for one day.
What? We don't tax that?
Some of the fine print from Apple:
iTunes Music Store purchases will include sales tax based on the bill-to address and the sales tax rate in effect at the time of download. If the sales tax rate for the billing address changes before the song is downloaded, the new tax rate in effect at the time of download will apply. We will only charge tax in states where music downloads are taxable.
Oklahoma is not one of those states, and apparently isn't rushing to become one of them:
"I have not heard or seen any legislation," Oklahoma Tax Commission spokeswoman Paula Ross said. "I don't see it happening any time soon for Oklahoma."
How long the state can hold out remains to be seen, what with the market for digital music now running $1 billion a year, but the mere fact that the Capitol can read the news and not immediately think "Ooh, a new revenue source!" has to be considered a Good Sign.
Phoenix reborn, or at least resold
Alabama-based Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which owns 15 dailies and a number of other newspapers in Oklahoma, is acquiring the Muskogee Daily Phoenix for an undisclosed sum.
No editorial changes are planned at the Phoenix, which has been owned for the last twenty-nine years by Gannett.
The Muskogee paper will be CNHI's third-largest in the state, behind the Norman Transcript and the Enid News & Eagle.
(Previous coverage here.)
Stuff and nonsense
I'm about 2.2 times the age of the average Stuff reader, but I figure, so long as they keep sending out the mag, I'll actually thumb through it once in a while.
Visitors to StuffMagazine.com were asked this question:
With which politician would you least want to share a hotel towel on a nude beach?
By a decent if not overwhelming plurality, respondents declined to be parked next to Dick Cheney (42 percent); 32 percent chose Ted Kennedy, 15 percent Bill Clinton, and 11 percent John Kerry. I'm inclined to think that the rationale here wasn't political what's the difference, voting-record-wise, between the two men from Massachusetts? but spatial; with the relatively gaunt Kerry, you'd presumably have a more reasonably-sized fraction of the towel than with any of these other guys, all of whom to greater or lesser extent qualify as Chunky Style.
One can achieve this chunkiness by way of overindulgence in BBQ, which you're likely to do at any of the 21 places they recommend as having the best such in the USA. Included is Leo's at 36th and Kelley in Oklahoma City, about which they said this:
If nice decor is what you're after, go to T.G.I.Friday's, yuppie boy. If kick-ass ribs with throat-scorching hot sauce are your thing, Leo's is your place.
Of course, the wondrous thing about BBQ is that no one is ever wrong about the best place to get it, though I tend to be suspicious of any place where all the flatware matches.
3 May 2006
Welcome to eHardly
Match low-earning, socially adept teachers with high-earning, socially challenged engineers. Good for the teaching profession, good for family income, probably a good mix for the gene pool.
This strikes me as just slightly problematic: the socially-adept educators might assume that they don't need a dating service, what with their surfeit of savoir-faire and all, and the nerds with the slide rules probably aren't as lonesome as the stereotype suggests.
Of course, even if this scheme comes with a money-back guarantee, there's no point in sending me the brochure.
Looking to the edge of the glass
You have the Academic hard left slashing away at each other, the Democratic Party hard left splintering into various bickering factions, the ruling Republican Party spending like drunken sailors (no offense meant to the Navy) and no one generating any enthusiasm, and a great mass of the populace in between who really aren't thrilled by any of the potential choices out there. I know I'm sure not. We may be at as prime a time for a serious third party run as we've ever seen, which makes it all the more important that the Evan Bayhs don't get to put their ideas on the Electoral College in play.
Actually, Bayh strikes me as somewhat sane, except for that Electoral College business, which is yet another in a seemingly-endless series of whines about the 2000 election and its clear-to-everyone-except-the-losers outcome. And given that 85 percent of the population is said to believe that the government can actually do something about gas prices, a notion two parts desperation and one part residual belief in the Tooth Fairy, you will find it difficult indeed to persuade me, and perhaps others, that wisdom is somehow inherent in majorities. Especially those majorities.
But the larger point stands: how, in 2006 or in any year, do we benefit by throwing out thieving morons and replacing them with moronic thieves?
A miner for a heart of zinc
(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)
The 1990 Clean Air Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of some 189 chemicals considered to be toxic.
Not even slightly harmful is the 189th Carnival of the Vanities, hosted this time around by Dodgeblogium with a cameo appearance by Cthulhu. (Okay, maybe he's harmful. Cthulhu, I mean.)
Apple 1, France 0
The French government, says CNET, has apparently reconsidered a proposal to force Apple Computer to make the songs it sells through its iTunes Music Store playable on devices that compete with its iPods.
For those keeping score, the color of that flag in RGB is #FFFFFF.
(Courtesy of ZP.)
Sliding off to the right
Human Events Online has ranked the Ten Most Conservative Cities in the US, and Oklahoma City places third.
Very much a pro-oil city. According to The Almanac of American Politics, "Oil rigs were pumping crude on the grounds of the then-domeless Capitol until 1989; a derrick still stands sentinel outside the governor's window." Represented by GOP Rep. Ernest Istook (ACU lifetime: 94%; 2005: 96%) who says, "Oklahoma has the kind of values that the rest of the nation needs to have."
I dunno. I think the conservatism in these parts is probably more faith-based than oil-based. There's nothing inherently conservative about oil: its reputation as such seems to stem from its fondness for "business-friendly" policies, hardly remarkable for a major industry even Hollywood, considered a "liberal" sort of industry, grubs for whatever tax incentives and such it can get and the Great Combustible Satan image conjured up by the press and the Sierra Club.
As for Istook, I'm looking forward, as I always do, to voting for his opponent.
(Via former resident Cam Edwards, who also has questions.)
4 May 2006
In this age of True Love Waits (no relation to Tom Waits), a Sage suggestion for determining sexual compatibility:
I've discovered over the years that canoeing with a partner can generate a pretty good sense of what the sex will be like. Canoeing can be done solo, but it's much nicer with someone else there. Canoeing is different with every new person you're with. Both people in the canoe have to adjust for one another's stroking. Being with someone with a strong, slow, even stroke is very different than being with someone with a quick and excited kind of stroke. But if it's good, soon you get into a nice easy rhythm. Sometimes this happens without even speaking.
And one should perhaps be suspicious of someone who stands up at an inopportune moment.
Bacon in the evening
This evening was the annual community association meeting. In the front of the room sat the 6 board members. They talked a little business and then opened the floor to the people in attendance. One man came to defend himself. He painted his fence red without the written okay of the board. After he spoke, another person talked about the roots that are destroying the sidewalk in front of his house. When he finished, a woman quickly started complaining about the depth of mulch around her house. Once she finished, I raised my hand. I stood up, cleared my throat and almost said, "My name is Ren MacCormack and I would like to move on behalf of most of the senior class of Bomont High School that the law against public dancing within the town limits of Bomont be abolished."
Maybe it's just as well. Community associations tend to be humorless lots; they'd have looked at her as though she'd been sniffing spray starch or something.
(Actually, this might have gone over well in my neighborhood, or at least with the one or two people who would have gotten it.)
Yesterday, on the 16th floor of the City Place building downtown, a bottle of malathion was upended and crashed to the floor; the building was evacuated and 14 people were sent to the hospital.
This is fairly nasty stuff: I've had some squirted in my general direction (note: this is not the reason I am no longer married), and it was not an experience I would particularly care to repeat.
On the upside, the likelihood of a Mediterranean fruit fly infestation at the corner of Robinson and Park is now virtually nil.
The proper use of Googlebait
Of the last 41 pieces of MT-related spam to come through, 40 of them have pointed to something called drugsb.com.
I mention this just in case you might be Googling about for information about this particular firm. And I have no such information, except to point out that someone working on their behalf has spammed me incessantly, and to note that if there were left on planet Earth only one dose of the one miracle drug that would save me, and that they had it and were offering to sell it to me for 49 cents, and that they would have Monica Bellucci in a towel deliver it to my door at no extra charge, I would still rather die.
A view to a Thrill
The cover art for Dawn Eden's book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On has been released, and to her great delight, it's not the sort of pastel line-drawing chick-lit thing she'd feared.
The obvious question, at least for me, is "Whose mouth is that?" I know it's not hers.
Publication date will be some time towards the end of the year. I will probably read it with my clothes off, just because.
5 May 2006
A day without flan
I have this sudden urge for something Italian.
(No, not Monica Bellucci. That's not sudden.)
Riding the learning curve
The Big Box from Adobe arrived yesterday, with Elements versions of both Photoshop and Premiere. I wasn't going to install this stuff until the weekend, but Geek Guy Mode took over, and I watched as somehow two CDs managed to eat up 5 GB of disk space. (Now that's compression.)
I haven't fired up the Premiere application yet, but I did a Photoshop experiment on one of my old (and bad) scans of a magazine page, where the bleed-through from the backside was a full-fledged hemorrhage. Cleaned it up in just under 55 seconds, including save time.
I do hope, though, that this small success doesn't induce me to try to clean up every last graphics file on this machine; there are literally thousands.
It's as easy as 73125
The Board of Governors has given its blessing, so it's official: the US Postal Service will build a new sort-of-central processing facility in the Reno/Meridian corridor and close its 40-year-old bunkeroid building at 320 SW 5th.
The new complex, over 800,000 square feet, is more than triple the size of the old one. The move is expected to take place in late 2008, or about the time serious redevelopment will be going on between the old and new Interstate 40 alignments, suggesting that the Postal Service, assuming it doesn't find another federal tenant, will have no trouble selling off the downtown property.
Where the downtown Post Office (not to be confused with the Downtown Post Office, west of the Memorial, or the Old Downtown Post Office, lately the Bankruptcy Court) fits into the city's plans for the redevelopment south of downtown remains to be seen, but I think it's a safe bet that it just won't sit there.
How does it feel?
The problems with Rolling Stone can be boiled down to one overarching illness: the magazine does not know what it is supposed to stand for anymore, and neither does its readership. It seems to be whatever publisher Jann Wenner wants it to be on any given week, whether it's a lad mag, a music source, a left-leaning political magazine or a generic culture watch pub. But it has not been an access point for bleeding-edge culture for many years.
And Wenner's not exactly giving his undivided attention to RS, what with the rest of his media sub-empire to oversee.
I remember when my subscription expired. Or, more precisely, I don't remember when my subscription expired: it was one day in the middle of the doldrums when I found a copy of RS lying around and thought, "Hmmm. I haven't seen one of these in quite a while." This can't be a good sign for a magazine, if a subscriber doesn't know if he's still a subscriber or not.
Maybe the future of the Stone is on the Web:
Rolling Stone righted itself somewhat and has stopped running peg-free "trend" stories on teenage sex addicts and out-of-place features on the latest in hot weaponry, but it still seems adrift, unable to tap into a culture that prefers Defamer over "Random Notes" and gets its record reviews daily from Allmusic.com and Pitchfork instead of waiting two weeks for that tired old thing to plop down on the newsstand.
I suppose one can wait for the second coming of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, but this seems a faint hope at best.
Everybody was feng shui fighting
KRON-TV is located at 1001 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. This number, said a station executive's astrologer, was some kind of bad juju, and so the station has pasted the digits 5-5-2 adjacent to its actual number.
Be it noted that here in Oklahoma City, when we screw around with a TV station's address, our motivation is more mundane: promotional value. KFOR-TV, channel 4, which continues to occupy the same building it's been in for the last thirty years through three ownership changes, has somehow drifted from 500 East Britton Road to, um, 444.
When the FCC forces everyone onto digital channels, I suppose KFOR-DT will have to move; I don't see any way to wedge a "27" into the mix.
The bad news Birds
This has not been a great spring for the Oklahoma RedHawks. After winning their first five, they've dropped to 9-18, which means they've been playing .182 ball of late.
Wednesday night in Round Rock, the 'Hawks and the Express were scoreless in the sixth, when John Rheinecker served up what looked like a called strike three. For some reason, it was ruled a wild pitch, and a runner scored from second. Oklahoma manager Tim Ireland was not pleased, and, says the Austin American-Statesman:
For a moment the scoreboard showed Round Rock with a 1-0 advantage, and it was around that time that Ireland came roaring out of the dugout and straight into the faces of the umpires. He was almost instantly ejected as he kicked dirt onto the umpires' shoes and then onto home plate. Eventually, Ireland made his way to the visitors' clubhouse, wiping out the chalk line delineating the third-base and left-field line on his way there.
The umps temporaries, as the regular Pacific Coast League umpires, who started the season by going on strike, won't be back until Monday eventually rescinded the call and voided the run. The Express won it in the ninth, 1-0.
The next day, Tim Ireland got the news from PCL HQ: he was being suspended for ten games for his "extended display."
I imagine the 'Hawks are happy to be out of Texas for now, but tonight they start a four-game series at Albuquerque, and the Isotopes are 19-9.
6 May 2006
It's another franchise election
If you're thinking "Didn't we just have one of these?" the answer is yes, we did, but that was for Oklahoma Natural Gas.
Now it's OG&E's turn. Tuesday Oklahoma City voters will pass judgment on a slightly-revised version of the 2001 franchise agreement, which will extend until 2031. There are a few interesting items on the table:
Turnout for these things, of course, is woefully low.
If it moves, tax it
Cigarettes cost Catherine Cavallo her husband of 25 years.
Now they might cost her $875.63.
Two years after her husband, Anthony, died of smoking-related illnesses, Cavallo got a New Jersey tax bill for the thousands of cheap cigarettes he had ordered on the Internet.
In 1949, the Feds enacted something called the Jenkins Act, which required tobacco vendors to report out-of-state sales to the buyer's state; originally intended as a means to shut down tobacco bootleggers, Jenkins is now being put to use by a number of states to get the names of online buyers which included the late Mr Cavallo.
Says Scheie of all this:
I remember the good old days when the very idea of "taxing the Internet" brought indignant cries of outrage from every geek and libertarian with a modem. Now it seems like a done deal. Ebay, Paypal, even virtual money the state has its mitts everywhere.
Not to be confused with Mitt Romney, governor of Taxachusetts, a state which three years ago began enforcing Jenkins on its own.
Down here in Oklahoma, we have our own variation on this theme: tribal smoke shops, which make up about 4 percent of our tobacco retailers, garner 50 percent of the actual sales. There are various tribal tax rates, the lowest of which is 6 cents per pack; the rate assessed outside the tribes is $1.03. The Oklahoma Tax Commission hurriedly passed some emergency rules, which for now are on hold, at least partly due to the possibility of litigation by the tribes, who see them as yet another encroachment on their sovereignty. Besides, this is not an area where the state has a strong record of enforcement; you want enforcers, you call New Jersey.
Who are these guys?
All we know is that they're from California and that they paid $21 million cash for the First National Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Tim Strange of Sperry Van Ness, who handled the deal, says it "came together, from inception to closing, in 48 hours," which suggests that the Californians were really smitten with the place.
The original First National Bank building at 120 North Robinson was completed in 1931; the complex expanded toward Park Avenue in 1956 with the first of two add-on towers. (The second was built in 1974.)
While the Center hasn't exactly fallen into desuetude, it's only about one-third occupied; First National Bank itself failed in the 1980s, and today there is no banking in the fabled Great Banking Hall.
Downtown watchers are somewhere between guarded and giddy right about now.
Update, 8 May: These guys have been identified.
One in the Los column
Michelle Malkin seems peeved that the Texas Rangers would rework their uniforms slightly for
I can't bring myself to get worked up over this. There has been a substantial Hispanic presence in major-league baseball for decades, and there isn't anything wrong with tacitly acknowledging that fact. And while "Los Rangers" looks, well, sort of silly, this gesture strikes me as more "Oh, what the hell, it'll be fun" than "Let's do something for reconquista."
Although I think it would have been funnier had the visitors that night seen fit to replace their standard "New York" shirts with, say, "Damn Yankees."
I did like Rick Moore's barb:
Just for last night's game, stolen bases were known as "undocumented bases", and no one was allowed to be thrown out.
Incidentally, Los Rangers lost, 8-7.
And if we ever have a Cleveland/Atlanta World Series, expect the rhetorical fur to fly.
Not to get too graphic about it
I am at best maybe a semi-regular at New World Comics by this I mean, no one looks at me funny, and I spend somewhere around $150-200 a year and I wasn't in a particularly acquisitive mood this afternoon, what with yet another rainy Saturday on tap. But since it's Free Comic Book Day, I figured the least I could do is see what was going on.
And evidently they took it seriously. I arrived around three-ish, and there were masked characters on the curb exhorting passersby to come in; as I turned into the driveway, one of the misshapen messengers gave me what I calculated was a high 3.5.
Store traffic was about 50 percent above what I usually expect, and the clerk told me, "It was much busier earlier." Indeed, the stack of pizza boxes toward the back of the store told me that they had made a party of it.
These were the freebies on display; we won't mention the four mags I bought outright.
Well, okay, I'll mention one. Marvel's revived What If? series poses the question: "What if the Fantastic Four had been Soviet cosmonauts?" No way was I going to pass that up.
Yet another tech bleg
If you want QuickTime 7, you install iTunes; Apple has so decreed, and I have done so.
I now find myself increasingly tempted by the offerings therein, and indeed one marginally-obscure album track caught my eye this evening. (You'll never guess what it was.) I am no expert on AAC-format files, which is what iTunes serves up, and I own no iPod, but it's my understanding that they can be converted to the more flexible MP3 format, perhaps with some loss in fidelity, or burned directly to CD right out of iTunes. I do know that Nero (6.6) will not accept AAC files directly; however, I have to assume that once on a CD, the files are in normal CDA format and can be handled accordingly.
If you have experience superior to mine, which in this case is any at all, please feel free to pass along whatever enlightenment may seem appropriate.
7 May 2006
So hard to bear
Peggy Lee taught me all about sex. I was twelve at the time, and had just made the earth-shaking discovery that my fatherís record collection was of more than merely historical interest. This was in 1968, the year of the White Album, and I was still trying to figure out how to play "Rocky Raccoon" on my brand-new guitar, but I was also chewing my way through the selected works of Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, whose recording of "Fever" was shall we say instructive.
Not that she was obvious about it, or anything else. If a Hitchcock blonde could have raised her voice in song, then Peggy Lee, who died [in 2002] at the age of eighty-one, would have sounded pretty much like that, cool and self-possessed and ... amused. But even at twelve, I got the message, and then some: what the lady on the record had in mind was pretty much what I had in mind twenty-four hours a day, except that her point of view was more informed. That was when I realized my father knew a thing or two about music.
I wasn't, um, glandular at twelve, at least not to any degree worth mentioning; what's more, when I was twelve, the first version of "Fever" that I had heard was not Peggy's, or Little Willie John's R&B version, which had hit first, but a remake by the McCoys, the immediate follow-up to "Hang On Sloopy." It was a fun record, but not the least bit sexy. (Come to think of it, "fun, but not the least bit sexy" could be my tagline on a dating site, were I actually any fun.)
It took me a while to realize that while all this stuff may have been played on the radio for my adolescent self, the songs themselves, especially those from the R&B side of the shelf, were aimed at someone older and more worldly-wise. Probably why I liked so many of those bubblegum tunes: they assumed less of me.
But Peggy won me over, too. And when she died, while Terry Teachout was writing that, I wrote this:
Peggy Lee has left us, and were I a proper R&B purist, I'd probably feel compelled to point out that Little Willie John did "Fever" first, and of course he did it better. Approximately half of that is true. Not to slight Willie John, who never made a bad record in his short, unhappy life, but Peggy utterly redefines the tune. Confronted with the same temperature imbalance, Willie sounds like his usual bereft self, while Peggy, instrumentation stripped to the bare minimum, comes off as threatening, as though she were saying "You did this to me, and you will pay." Come to think of it, she said that to Walt Disney and Decca/Universal Records too. Clearly this was a woman with whom you did not mess.
I am not, I need hardly add, a proper R&B purist. And the fact that two guys about the same age (I turned fifteen in '68) could have such wildly-disparate responses to the same record well, maybe this is some of what Sly meant by "different strokes for different folks."
And one thing more: on a homemade CD, I once segued Peggy's "Fever" into Cream's "Badge," thinking that the prominent bass lines in both might form some sort of logical link. Not so; Max Bennett simply overwhelms Jack Bruce, and no amount of tweaking levels would equalize matters.
Quote of the week
Paul Zrimsek, commenting at Protein Wisdom, addressing an earlier comment which ended with "What of Ives' 4'33"?":
Ives' intent here was quite clear: he wanted to be mistaken for John Cage. (The giveaway is that Cage's piece is written for piano; Ives would have written it for two orchestras, one not playing "Marching Through Georgia" at the same time the other isn't playing "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean".)
I honestly can't think of any way to improve on that paragraph.
(The actual Goldstein post is pretty swift, too.)
I can't pass up an item titled "I ruined the Constitution":
We went to the National Archives to see the Magna Carta and Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They're kept in a darker room under special lights in special glass cases and all that. No flash photography allowed. As we walk into the room, the guard says, "Ladies, there's no line system," and boy was he right, but there should be, because some people were seriously hogging some documents. One thing this trip taught me is that while I'm way into America, not so big on Americans. Like the one lady in front of me who wanted to take twenty pictures of the Constitution from every angle instead of just buying a postcard or looking it up on the freaking internet. So while I waited for my turn in the no-line system, I turned my camera off to save the battery, but when she moved suddenly, I saw my window, turned the camera back on, aimed and shot. And immediately realized that I had forgotten to re-turn off my flash, thus adding my name under Nicolas Cage's on the list of People Who Are No Longer Allowed Near the Constitution.
Wasn't Cage trying to steal the Declaration of Independence?
(Via This Fish Needs a Bicycle.)
Adventures in iTunes
I am now resorting to quoting myself:
I now find myself increasingly tempted by the offerings therein, and indeed one marginally-obscure album track caught my eye this evening. (You'll never guess what it was.)
Actually, it was a bit more dramatic than that; I opened up the Store and said, "If they have [insert song information here], I will sign up, and I will purchase that track, and no doubt there will be others to follow."
They had that track. It was, in fact, "The West Wind Circus," a narrative by Adam Miller that Helen Reddy cut back in '73 for her Long Hard Climb LP; it has stuck in the back of my head for lo, these many years, but never pushed its way far enough to the front for me to track down either the LP or the current CD release. (Yeah, yeah, I know: Helen Reddy. Forget those 45s you threw away; this is a lovely song, beautifully sung.) Ninety-nine cents well spent, I'd say.
There were some surprises in the Music Store, not all of them pleasant. No Johnny Nash tracks, not even "I Can See Clearly Now"; the wrong (which is to say, "not the 45") version of Gerry and the Pacemakers' "I'll Be There," and not even the usual incorrect version, but a different incorrect version; the crummy stereo mix (with the wrong vocals) of Marianne Faithfull's "Summer Nights." On the upside, they had Garnet Mimms' solo single "I'll Take Good Care of You," which I'd been wanting, and both 45 and six-minute LP versions of Bebu Silvetti's dance classic "Spring Rain."
I don't think I'm going to spend an incredible amount of money on iTunes; after all, I've spent the last forty years accumulating records in more tangible forms, and most of the ones I've wanted, I have. But once in a while, I have to assume that something there will demand my attention, and since Apple's DRM is a bit less annoying than it could have been, I'm not averse to giving them a buck for something I don't feel like searching for elsewhere or, as in the case of Quarterflash's "Take Me To Heart," something I'm too lazy to clean up from vinyl.
8 May 2006
Strange search-engine queries (14)
This is getting to be something of a habit, you know?
girls my shame is obscure nude: Inasmuch as this came from Yemen, perhaps obscurity is in the searcher's best interest.
font dongbats: That's dingbats. I hope.
I want to see nasty porn shots of Shania Twain: That don't impress me much.
six years dakota fanning eighteen: Do you think you could possibly hold it for six years? The girl is twelve, fercryingoutloud.
How to Send 1,000,000 emails for FREE: Just in case he finds out, I'm blocking his IP address (126.96.36.199).
how much are jackboots worth? That depends. How much dissent do you want crushed?
chlorethylene for warts: Sounds like a fair trade.
"mccain republican": Yeah, that's what they want you to think.
men have a higher IQ: Than what?
"avoid an overlimit" capital one: Um, don't charge so damn much?
I ate a whole pint of ice cream. What do I do: Wait for your head to stop hurting.
what is a type o personality: The type that makes lots of keyboard errors.
how to know how men feels: You could try feeling one.
The Gas Game (May)
The idea here was that the gas company offered a fixed price for 12 months of $8.393 per dekatherm, and I've been trying to calculate how much it cost me not to sign up. So far, it's been rather a lot.
I think we can safely rule out a break-even point between now and October.
Go this way and that way
If you don't go downtown a lot, you never quite get the hang of the seemingly-random placing of one-way streets. Of course, it's not really random, but it's not particularly intuitive either.
Public Works Director Dennis Clowers, asked about this, offered up some good news: half of the one-way streets downtown will be converted back to two-way over the next five years. The only remaining one-way streets downtown will fall between NW 6 and SW 3, from Walker eastward.
Clowers made his recommendations to City Council last Tuesday; the city, I assume, will eventually put out a map of the proposed changes.
New and improved gridlock
What if the Democrats actually retake the Senate? Fine, says Bill Quick:
From some conservatives' point of view, making sure that Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush are occupied with defending themselves from investigations and impeachment attempts for the next two years is a win-win: Bush will be too hamstrung to do much more damage, and the Democrats will be so occupied with trying to destroy him that they won't be doing much damage either.
For this to work, we need one branch of Congress in Republican hands. I vote to keep the House much more conservative than the Senate under GOP control, and use the Senate to teach the RINOs including the RINO in the White House a much-needed lesson about remaining loyal to the principles and the voters who put you in office.
The current conventional wisdom seems to be that yes, there's a chance the Democrats can unseat enough GOP Senators to take over, but no, they have no real shot at regaining control of the House.
My own idea paying the entire sorry lot to stay home for two years probably won't fly.
I've held out for over twenty years but I'm thinking that it might be time to lift my ban on compact discs. While I do have a few CDs, either left over from the days when I had a spouse with a CD player or purchased because Bruce Dickinson does not release his solo albums on LP, I generally avoid buying compact discs. I think they are sterile and unfriendly and the liner notes are too small, which I hate because I'm a compulsive liner note reader.
However, two things are making me think that I should add compact discs to my diet. I recently heard a rumor that MP3 sales are about to overtake CD sales. In fact, MP3 sales may have already overtaken CD sales. I wasn't paying such close attention to this new development. And then it hit me: if people are not buying CDs, CD stores will close and that is a problem because that is where I buy LPs.
Most of the stores that I frequent seem to carry LPs to humor people like me and not necessarily to make money. They make their money from the CDs. What happens if my stores do not make money from CDs? They close and I have no place to buy LPs or any future Bruce Dickinson solo CDs. I still prefer a CD over an MP3 any day, even if I did have the chance to download an entire album. Even if I could also download the art, I'd still have to burn a CD and create my own crappy label.
Some of us even do our own crappy art.
But there is a way out, sort of:
I'm thinking of getting a DVD player. I used to watch DVDs on the computer but now I'd rather have a separate player that actually faces a comfortable chair and gives me elbow room to play puzzles. Plus, you know, Bruce Dickinson DVD Anthology on June 20. Also, there are some episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on DVD that I do not have on VHS and MST3K is best viewed from a comfy chair. And don't DVD players also play CDs? (Seriously. I don't know.) If they do that would give me access to something that plays CDs and I could still go through life claiming that I don't own a CD player. It's technically correct, and according to Futurama that is the best kind of correct.
Every DVD player I've seen also plays CDs. I believe this is technically correct.
$600 an hour
The bill has come in for my four-hour sojourn in the Emergency Room, and it's just under $2500.
Which, compared to the last time I was in this facility, seems almost cheap. Then again, that was full-fledged surgery.
Our insurance carrier, CFI Care (not its real initials), is presumably even now gleefully disallowing bits and pieces of the claim; how big a check I will have to write remains to be seen, but I will be surprised if it's under four figures.
Low-level high-level languages
Leave it to Lileks to write an operating routine for dogs.
Of course, Lileks is old-school: he wrote it in some dialect of BASIC. Naturally, this just screams out for conversion.
(Oh, and there's a routine for cats, also, though how you get a cat to parse anything is beyond me.)
9 May 2006
Break out the Elector Set
Today in the city, a handful of voters will decide if OG&E's city franchise will be extended another 25 years.
In Tulsa, expect bigger turnout as the third penny of sales tax comes up for renewal.
Addendum, 5:15 pm: Did I say "handful"? At 5 pm, I was the 27th voter in our usually-busy precinct.
One pill makes you something
This Washington Post story asserts that college men are turning into candidates for Viagra, what with all these forward, forceful women putting the move on them.
If you really want a psychosexual explanation for this putative phenomenon, you could start with the pernicious myth that all normal men are rarin' to go 24/7. In the old days, men always had to ask women for sex, and so they asked for sex when they felt like it. Nowadays, women feel entitled to initiate sex (gasp!) when they feel like it. Maybe macho culture is teaching guys that natural ebbs and flows in sexual desire are pathological.
Steve Martin: "You know 'that look' women get when they want sex? Me neither."
And if you won't buy psychosexual explanations, how about a purely mercenary one?
Doctors know that [the] vast majority of impotence complaints can't be linked to identifiable pathology of any kind. Often, it really is "just one of those things." There's no bright clinical line between recreational and therapeutic Viagra. (Nor should we be overly concerned about establishing one, except for insurance purposes.)
However, society isn't comfortable with the idea of recreational sexual enhancers. At least for older dudes it's plausible that there's some organic problem, if only the aging process itself. So, there's a lot of nudge nudge wink wink in the ads and the promotions about how this is a SERIOUS DISEASE, but that if you treat it your patient just may have a LOT MORE FUN.
So far, there's no comparable fiction that would allow Pfizer to market to twenty-somethings under the guise of medical need.
"So far." And wouldn't it be handy for a cohort of twentysomethings to show up at a time like this with exactly the need, as it were, for exactly this drug?
I don't have this issue myself: the flesh is willing, sort of, but the spirit is mostly bored at the moment. Still, I'm an Older Dude and presumably could get the Magic Bullet in wholesale quantities were I so, um, inclined; I'm simply not persuaded that it's the answer to my particular question. For someone not quite half my age who's thinking he should be up for anyone, anytime, anywhere, "It's not your fault; you just have this condition" might have powerful appeal indeed.
I hasten to add that this is just a theory; while Beyerstein has done pharma marketing in the past, she hasn't tapped into some double-secret plans deep within Pfizerland. But if I see more stories of this sort, I'll start to wonder.
Birds do it, unlike some of us
In some respects, nice guys really do finish first, according to Sharon Begley's story in Friday's Wall Street Journal. Or at least nice birds do.
The findings, based on research with male flycatchers, essentially blow Charles Darwin's theory of sexual selection out of the water. The so-called sexy-son hypothesis holds that a female who mates with an attractive male will have cute offspring. They, of course, will be just as charming, able to get the girl and give their mother a gaggle of gorgeous grandkids. As time went on, the most desirable genes would survive since females would covet them.
In the case of the flycatcher, however, the hot male birds were so busy getting their groove on, they ignored their little ones. The busted birds, on the other hand, were better fathers, creating sons who later had no problem getting the ladies to lay a few eggs.
The idea that females choose mates by getting an eyeful of how they look in their genes is being increasingly challenged. "Instead of choosing mates who will increase the genetic quality of their offspring, females make choices that will increase their number of offspring," Stanford biologist Joan Roughgarden told Begley.
I long have had reason to distrust that hypothesis: my kids are cute, and their kids are cute, despite the fact that all of them are related to me. Maybe it's the other side of the family whose genetic material prevailed.
"Each kind of male has its own way of going about its life. Each works out fine," stresses Roughgarden. So what does this tell us? Well, for starters, women are not always won over by all the male genetic bling out there. Maybe it explains why human females are so fond of the sweet guys with the soft bodies and bald spots, who make us laugh, and take good care of their little flycatchers. Now, that's sexy!
I don't think anyone's likely to accuse me of sweetness.
Watch those standards
I've started several posts, but canít seem to complete any of them. While thereís been much in the news lately that interests me, nothing interests me enough to write about it. I have, however, managed to produce several pages' worth of whiny, self-pitying bullsót. These charming little vignettes of despair started out as posts, but are currently banished to Diary Purgatory while I determine their blog-appropriateness. I can't quite muster up the necessary level of self-indulgence needed to post them.
Is she kidding? Were it not for whiny, self-pitying BS, there'd be maybe 200 blogs instead of 200 million, and Dave Sifry could run Technorati off a Treo.
(I am not, incidentally, volunteering for Poster Child. Though I could.)
I did actually spot this as a fake when I saw the original magazine article, although not right away; what's bizarre is that I still want one.
Not that I expect Bill Ford to sign off on production plans, but I think they ought to build one for the show circuit, just to make people shriek.
There is no news until 10 pm
KOTV is reporting that the third-penny sales tax in Tulsa has passed.
Interestingly, none of the major media outlets in Oklahoma City at this writing seems to have any numbers on the OG&E franchise election: I checked 4, 5, 9/NewsOK, 25, KTOK and KOKC radio, and not one has anything to say about it.
And it's not like it would have taken a long time to count the ballots or anything.
10 May 2006
I'm taking it slow through Fred First's Slow Road Home, because I think he would have wanted it that way.
And I don't think he'd mind if I shared this little fragment, inasmuch as we're still a bit behind on the rain this season.
Floods are cataclysmic, sudden, drastic and evident in their consequences. Drought like this is chronic and insidious. It drains life invisibly, quietly, leaving no record in the sand of geology's time. But it is an abundance of water that has carved the hollow of the creek bed and made the valley wide not water's absence. It is an abundance of water that has nurtured the broad-leaved forest that covers these mountain hillsides and allowed them to persist in this leafy biome. Drought has not formed this landscape, and it seems reasonable to have hope that it will not subdue it now.
We will miss the rains for a few more weeks, for maybe one more season, or two. But we must learn to see the cycles of wet and dry as the land sees it, and be patient. If history is any lesson, water will tell the story.
Fred's back east in the Blue Ridge, but it's just as true here on the edge of the west: water and destiny are inextricably bound together.
On the ropes but not down yet
KFOR-TV news guy Brad Edwards, famous for his "In Your Corner" segments, now finds himself backed into a corner of his own. Monday he did a broadcast from his hospital bed; Tuesday he suffered an aneurysm and lapsed into a coma.
The culprits: endocarditis and vasculitis, inflammation of the heart and blood vessels by a bacterial infection.
KFOR has set up a forum for Edwards fans and well-wishers.
Will they stay or will they go?
I sat on this for a while, wondering if I might hear some stories in the interim, but it didn't happen.
Anyway, Clark Matthews, who writes "Strictly Hornets" for OKCHornetsCentral.com, has taken a stab at guessing what happens to the half-dozen free agents on the Bees' roster. He expects five of them to be gone, with only Rasual Butler sticking around (and getting a fat raise, to about $11 million over three years).
He's probably right about Speedy Claxton: the 6th man for the Hornets, he could be a starter for rather a lot of teams, and he could get paid like a starter, too. Picture him gone.
I'm not so sure about Aaron Williams. A-Train isn't quite the bruiser Byron Scott wants to see in the lane, but he's steady, and he has a commendable work ethic, which counts for a lot with this team. (Might even be enough to justify keeping Linton Johnson around; he's not so steady, but he busts his butt.)
Jackson Vroman has already been waived; the team could pick him back up, but I somehow doubt it. And really, we didn't see enough of Marcus Fizer to know whether they want him for a whole season (he was signed for only two 10-day contracts).
Meanwhile, of the players still under contract for next year, I'm thinking we can say goodbye to J. R. Smith and Arvydas Macijauskas, and there's this nagging suspicion that P. J. Brown will ask to be traded, just so he can be on a playoff contender in what is likely his last year in the league. On the other hand, NBA Rookie of the Year Chris Paul isn't going anywhere. Thank heaven.
In 190 BC, the Romans under Lucius Cornelius Scipio defeated the Seleucids at the Battle of Magnesia, placing Greece under Roman control and no doubt contributing to the Empire's future heartburn.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the calendar, Mark A. Rayner, with the assistance of General Kang, presents Carnival of the Vanities #190, a week's worth of bloggage in a single handy compendium.
Niceness: threat or menace?
We need a definition of the Nice Guy, says Paul of York, and this is his:
Nice Guys ... are guys women do not want to meet but have to sometimes and will never get serious with or be seen with, if possible. Look it up, if you don't believe that.
Nice guys are the ground feeders of the male gender, a suffering gene pool, the male seals kept off the beach, a wandering group of optimistic hopefuls fooling themselves, thinking their likability can convert into love.
Looks like I missed on a couple of counts.
Compare this to Leo Durocher's definition:
"The nice guys are all over there. In seventh place."
The media managed to screw up Durocher's statement, which is remembered as "Nice guys finish last," which is off by at least one position, inasmuch as the major leagues had eight teams each in those days. And I once twisted that 45 degrees or so and came up with "Nice guys let her finish first," which perhaps unsurprisingly played better in theory than in practice.
Then again, to quote Zen master Yogi Berra:
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.
Which, I have to admit, has a nice symmetry.
I lost a tree today.
The storms ripped through the area just after midnight; I slept through most of it because, after all, it's an Oklahoma spring, and storms are part of the background. And since I didn't go into the back yard this morning, I didn't see it.
This afternoon, I was carrying some broken limbs from the front yard back to the patio, where the trash barrels reside, and there was the east sweetgum, ripped literally in two, its trunk intact to about five feet, half of its crown leaning on its sister to the west, the other half twenty-five feet away, parked next to one of the evergreens.
This is the very tree beneath whose leaves I did my best quiet time, whose shadow marked my sunbathing area, whose shade kept my patio from turning into a concrete grill.
And when it's cleared away, it's going to leave a hole a lot larger than just the circumference of the trunk.
11 May 2006
Today's Sign of the Apocalypse
Ann Coulter is interviewed in Vanity Fair (June).
Okay, it's a George Wayne Q&A, which inevitably means that the topic turns to sex before the second column, but Ann is equal to the task, and what's more, the photo of her is actually flattering, unlike, say, that infamous Time cover.
Oh, and she prefers 24 to Arli$$.
You won't feel a thing
Governor Henry has signed Senate Bill 806, which legalizes the fine art of tattoo, putting the Sooner State out in front of ... well, nobody, actually, since every other state has already taken tattooing off the Forbidden List.
Since the provisions of the bill don't take effect until the first of November, the only immediate effect is to reduce by one the number of gripes from those who believe that if there's a bright center to the universe, they're in the state that it's farthest from.
Despite the law, those under 18 cannot go under the drawing pen, and body piercing for minors (except ears, presumably in the usual place) still requires a note from the parental units.
And, to no one's surprise, the state is contemplating annual licensing fees for tattoo artists and their establishments.
The Oklahoma tattoo ban was enacted in 1963, possibly motivated by health concerns; other states had bans of their own, but all fell by the wayside over the next four decades.
An expensive avocation, this
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wrote this piece on NBA playoff officiating before the playoffs began, but didn't publish it.
Sunday, an incident at San Antonio: apparently disturbed at the absence of a foul call, Cuban ran onto the court and was ordered back to the bench. Cuban went back to his laptop and posted the article, which contained statements like this:
[T]he NBA has a huge problem. It doesn't view the playoffs as a place where the very best of the best of officials go to work. It views the playoffs as part of a reward system for officials.
Some people really, really don't like to be criticized.
Ever so slightly wistful
This is identified as "Abandoned Gas Pumps, Water Valley, MS," by the immensely-talented Bayou, and of course, it captures two different bygone eras at once:
No points for guessing which I miss more.
And they say I'm having no impact
As of this writing, I am #2 on Google for "irritating bloggers".
(Should this change, here's a screen capture of my lofty position.)
What I'd like to know is this: is "irritating" being used as an adjective (in its capacity as a participle), or as a verb?
I've got to admit it's getting better
Exhibit, um, well, not A: Venomous Kate returns with the Letter of the Day.
12 May 2006
Replacing the Mick
With Mick Cornett now officially running for Congress, the logical question apart from "What, is he nuts?" is "So where's the next Mayor?"
It's hard to imagine any of the eight current Council members moving to the middle of the horseshoe, though if it came down to that, I think I could live with Sam Bowman from Ward 2, or maybe Patrick Ryan from Ward 8. (Disclosure: I live in Ward 2.)
Although if I had my druthers, I'd like to see Jim Tolbert, who ran against Cornett in 2004 after Kirk Humphreys took off in search of a Senate seat, try it again.