1 August 2006
Gimme back my keys

A writer for the Seattle Weekly, as an experiment, gives up his car:

[T]he economics of my decision made sense: Gasoline was roaring toward $3 a gallon, the useless monorail tax was still in place, and I only drove maybe 150 miles a month. When you factored in insurance (a rip-off even with my clean driving record), gasoline, and such, I was paying almost $1 a mile to have a car that was essentially used to run errands outside the city's main core and to visit friends who lived in Lake City and Bellevue and elsewhere away from my usual Capitol Hill haunts. And if I went out and bought a decent used car, I'd be looking at maybe $100 to $200 a month in car payments.

So I decided to rely on a mix of Metro buses and cabs and walking. I wanted to see how my work and social life would hold up. Besides, the Seattle liberal paradigm is that we should all be like Bus Chick — a really cute former Microsoftie who takes Metro everywhere and saves the Earth and honors the Kyoto Accords and tells President Bush and Chevron to stuff it.

I am here to tell you at the liberal paradigm is, in this respect, an abysmal failure. Or at least it was for me.

Bicycle, you say? Out of the question:

I have many years of bicycling (commuting by bike, even) under my belt and after all those years, plus years of running three miles day (plus years of hockey and weight-lifting), my knees are toast. Nothing will get you off a bike faster that hearing your knees click and pop while you are riding and having them lock up on you from time to time.

Disclosure: I got to that point without running three miles a day.

But why was this experiment such a tremendous flop?

My social life went down the tubes. If a friend of mine lived outside of Capitol Hill, downtown, Belltown, the ID, or Pioneer Square, I was screwed. I have a lot of friends who don't live in those places, and suddenly I wasn't being invited to pop over to a friend's house for impromptu barbeques and parties. That sucked. And if I needed to run an errand to, say, Best Buy at Northgate, it would take an hour-plus in each direction to get there — and with Metro's schedules, don't try that in the evening. Besides, you cannot carry more than a couple of shopping bags on Metro.

Not having a car got in the way of work, as well. I am the kind of reporter who prefers to meet people in person, if possible, and I suddenly had to resort to doing a lot of phone interviews unless I did a lot of planning for taking transit — and giving up half an afternoon for a half-hour interview. There were also public meetings I wasn't able to attend, either, all of a sudden — unless they happened to be downtown or somewhere close by.

Cabs weren't much of a solution. Anytime you pop into a cab in this city, it seems to cost about $15 by the time you tip the driver — and that's just around the central core of the city. That didn't make much economic sense.

And so he's back behind the wheel:

After two weeks of being back in the driver's seat, I am happy to report that I am visiting friends I haven't seen in ages, getting shopping done that I'd put off, and popping around the outer reaches of Seattle to do interviews in person. Even better: I can shoot down to White Center and the Rainier Valley to get really good Mexican food anytime the mood strikes. I can swing down to the ID to get great Chinese food without having to make an entire evening out of the trip. My social life is no longer restricted to near-Capitol Hill environs. That's great — and likely also an improvement for Capitol Hill's social whirl as well.

I point all this out because, like it or not, I am tied to cars. The Ron Sims/Greg Nickels/urban planning wonk wet dream of getting Seattleites out of their cars and onto the buses is unworkable, in my opinion. At least in 2006.

You'd probably stand a better chance of getting Seattleites onto a train, if not necessarily the monorail. It might cost more than, say, a basketball team, but it might actually get some public support. And soon-to-be-former Oklahoma Congressman Ernest Istook, who might be looking for work as a transportation consultant in '07, is a big fan of rail — as long as it's not in Oklahoma.

(Via Sound Politics.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:15 AM to Driver's Seat )
Paying through the nose

Jerry Reed, in "Lord, Mr. Ford" (1973):

Well, I figured it up and over a period of time
This four thousand dollar car of mine
Costs fourteen thousand dollars and ninety-nine cents.

In the previous article, a Seattle Weekly writer quoted the cost of driving around town at "almost $1 per mile." This got me thinking about how much I've been paying. Of course, the driver isn't the only person who incurs costs when a motor vehicle is operated, but since he didn't quantify those, neither will I.

So here are the numbers, as best as I can determine them, from my previous car, since its books are effectively closed at this time:

Selling price including destination charge: $20,100
Trade-in less amount upside down: ($2,600)
Rebate: ($2,000)
Gap insurance and similar things: $1,000
Finance charge (60 months): $6,800
Total purchase price: $23,300
Less salvage value: ($6,100)
Net cost of vehicle itself: $17,200

Taxes and licenses (six years): $1,100
Insurance: $7,400
Gasoline (@ 24 mpg, average 2.00/gal): $4,700
Repairs and maintenance: $2,300
Miscellaneous expenses (parking, etc.): $200
Total: $15,700

Total expenditures: $32,900
Number of miles driven: 55,700
Expense per mile: 59 cents

The painful part, of course, was remembering that gas was cheap enough five or six years ago to keep the overall average for the period right around two bucks despite today's $3-ish numbers. Had I paid three dollars a gallon for the entire period, it would have added a little more than four cents per mile to the total.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:16 AM to Driver's Seat )
Wishful thinking, maybe

The automated voice over the National Weather Service's VHF radio this morning reported 0.35 inches of rain yesterday, which so far as I can tell is either a glitch, a fluke, or a complete and utter flub.

As it happens, July was a little wetter than average, at least at the airport, but we're still way below normal for the year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:23 AM to Weather or Not )
Insistence of vision

Last year, the Hornets were all but invisible on national TV. This year, there will be five games televised nationally: one on ABC, two on ESPN, two on TNT.

The home opener will be in New Orleans on 5 November, against the Rockets; the first game at the Ford will be on the 7th, against the Warriors. Current plans call for 35 games in Oklahoma City, six in the Big Easy, before the Bees' expected move back to New Orleans full-time next year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:16 PM to Net Proceeds )
Vengeful little paperweight

"Why do you name your cars?" people occasionally ask me. And typically they give me the classic Spockian eyebrow raise when I explain, "I don't name them. I live with them for a while, and eventually they tell me."

A common response to this boils down to "You shouldn't anthropomorphize mere machinery," to which I reply, "If they object, they'll say so."

If this seems like imputing some form of intelligence to mere hardware, listen up.

About twelve years ago, we took delivery of a nice console printer, which was assigned number 2. It did far spiffier graphics than the machine it replaced, at somewhere between two and three times the speed. And it performed valiantly — until the moment when a newer model was moved in beside it at the number-1 spot.

Number 2 was furious. First its powered stack mechanism began acting up, shredding parts as though there were no tomorrow. It got so bad that one year while I was on a World Tour the sysadmin summoned tech support and bade them rip that frigging stacker out of the box and throw it away.

Which they did. Meanwhile, the machine was beginning to suffer memory problems, as in "Oh, I just lost all my 183 different configuration settings." These could be keyed back in, albeit tediously, but eventually Number 2 figured out that this was extending its useful life, and began burning up system boards, which meant that not only did you have to rekey all the configs, but you had to reload the microcode — from a floppy disk read by a notebook computer connected to the machine's otherwise-unused parallel port.

To make sure its appetite for boards was addressed, Number 2 devised a system whereby on every third power-up it would stick halfway through the process. I don't know how many boards for this model actually exist on earth, but I doubt seriously there's one we never used; at one point we were going through one or two a week.

Eventually tech support figured out that for their three grand a year, they'd put roughly $150,000 worth of parts into a $15,000 printer, and they threw up their hands and begged, "Please, no more."

A new printer was ordered, and old Number 2 was powered off and left there to collect dust and random paper boxes. Scheduled date for the new box: 1 August 2006.

This morning I started powering up Number 1 when a message came across the console: "Failure, Printer 2."

"How in the hell can it be failing? It's not even varied on!"

Despite a lack of life signs, somehow something got across its section of the controller, and onto Number 1, which — wait for it — had lost all of its configuration settings. It took the better part of half a day to get it back to normal.

I swear, the miserable little washing machine was laughing at us.

And no, the new box didn't arrive today.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:07 PM to PEBKAC )
2 August 2006
Golden brownouts

DreamHost, which has hosted this very site since the waning hours of 2001, goes public with a list of Everything That Went Wrong last month, and it's a long list.

Meanwhile, a commenter asks:

Kind of off-topic, but: Why do internet companies constantly choose to locate in LA, which has chronic power problems in the summer? Why not Dallas, Atlanta, or Richmond? There are tons of other cities with great infrastructure, cheap land, adequate power/no brownouts, and a skilled labor force. But for some reason, LA is chosen despite its lack of adequate power during the summer. I don?t really understand that.

These are surfer dudes, dude. They're not gonna go to Dallas, fercrissake.

Disclosure: Your humble narrator once sought fame and/or fortune in 90254.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to PEBKAC )
The Ministry of Roommates will contact you

Because, after all, you have no right to live alone:

People living on their own consume more energy and create more waste than individuals sharing a home which could cause an environmental crisis in the near future, according to a report published in the journal "Environment, development and sustainability".

The report said the fastest growing segment of the single household is among those aged 25-44 and in particular, single never-married men aged 35 to 44.

It said one-person householders are the biggest consumers of energy, land and household goods. They consume 38% more products, 42% more packaging, 55% more electricity and 61% more gas per person than an individual in a four-person household.

Besides, you really didn't want to live by yourself anyway:

"As part of the planned housing programme for England and Wales, there is a real opportunity to house this group in ecological new builds, that are prestigious, well-designed, state-of-the-art and environmentally sound," said Dr [Jo] Williams, who works at UCL's Barlett School of Planning.

Dr Williams added that a significant proportion of those living on their own were often single people who might enjoy living in a community which would give greater opportunity for greater sociability.

"Regretful loners who are forced into living alone by circumstances create demand for more collaborative lifestyles, such as more widespread co-housing schemes, where you have private space such as a bedroom, bathroom and kitchen but share some living and storage areas," she said.

The Planners will not be content until we're all crowded into proletarian concrete bunkers and they have to stack us against the walls like rolls of unused linoleum.

(Via McGehee.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:26 AM to Dyssynergy )
Feedback loopy

I got my 136 feedback points on eBay the old-fashioned way: I won auctions (from a few cents to $900), I paid up promptly, and I was acknowledged to have done same by a variety of sellers. (I've never sold anything on eBay.)

Apparently this practice isn't quite fast enough for some people:

Scammers have turned to automated bots to create eBay accounts with a positive feedback record, reports security vendor Fortinet.

Online criminals use the automated scripts or bots to create vast collections of user accounts with positive feedback records. Those accounts can then be used to attract buyers by offering high value items that are never delivered after the bot-master criminals have received payments.

I can just imagine some wanker banging his nonexistent chest and proclaiming "I AM THE BOT MASTER!"

The bogus accounts typically sell virtual items such as wallpapers and e-books through a "buy it now" auction for one cent and no shipping costs. Those items are then bought by another fraudulent eBay account, all in an automated fashion.

Further indicating a level of automation, each buyer is leaving identical comments for each transaction.

Says security vendor Fortinet:

"Most [of the sellers'] user names are made of six to eight random letters and bear around 15 evaluations. Having a look at these profiles reveals that they?ve bought roughly the same items — all for one cent."

After two hundred or so auctions and no problems at all, I'm not going to abandon eBay. But I suppose I need to turn the Alert Level up past Bert.

(Via The Consumerist.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:01 AM to Dyssynergy )
Heyla, heyla, the burn ban's back

Governor Henry today imposed a new statewide ban on outdoor burning for "as long as conditions merit."

Given the weather patterns of late, this sounds like at least a couple of months.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:35 PM to Soonerland )
Juan de Fuca says hello

The Tropical Café in Edmond (Kelly south of 2nd), per their ad in this week's Gazette, is "Proudly Serving Seattle's Best."

This has, of course, nothing to do with the Sonics.

I think.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:14 PM to City Scene )
202

Almost every trip back East, I find myself on US Highway 202 at some point; I think my favorite section of it is west of Concord, New Hampshire, probably because some of it is considered highly unsafe.

Less of a threat is Carnival of the Vanities #202, hosted by Eteraz, who reminds you that Vanity is Venerable.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:41 PM to Blogorrhea )
3 August 2006
A plate from the Word Salad bar

Out of this month's Premiere, a couple of noteworthy items.

First, from the inimitable Libby Gelman-Waxner:

The Da Vinci Code suggests that Jesus was actually married to Mary Magdalene, and that they were very happy and had a child. It's the Pretty Woman take on the New Testament, with a powerful guy falling for a hooker. This theory of course made me violently jealous of Mary Magdalene, because she could go to cocktail parties or cookouts and just casually say things like "Well, when Jesus and I were in Aruba . . ." or "Can you believe it? I had the baby two weeks ago, and I'm already back in a bikini. It's like a miracle!"

Let's face it, Jesus would have been the best husband of all time. He was gorgeous, he was incredibly compassionate, and he was a carpenter, so none of your cabinets would ever stick.

I bet they get letters about that one.

Elsewhere, Tom Roston notes:

I have to give props to [John] Heffernan for coming up with [the title of Snakes on a Plane]. When I prod him on what sort of creative thinking it took to think up that title, he reminds me of the quotation that says perfection is achieved when there's nothing left that can be taken away. "And that pretty much defines Snakes on a Plane," he says. "It's like, you know, McMuffin or Ziploc."

With that in mind, here's a nearly-perfect headline: State Court Rules Miller Genuine Draft Is Actually Beer.

Which is at least as debatable as, say, The Da Vinci Code.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to Almost Yogurt )
From C to shining C

Winston remembers this sample of George Carlin's brain gases:

Why are there no B batteries? There aren?t even any A batteries.

Being the old electronics person I am — and "old," I suppose, could modify either "electronics" or "person" — allow me to tell you where the A and B batteries were.

Back in the Pleistocene era, we had vacuum tubes, and it took two batteries to power them: the A battery, usually a "wet" cell, to provide juice to the filament, and the B battery, usually a "dry" cell, to provide plate voltage. (Here's an excerpt from a Crosley radio manual from the middle 1920s, showing both of them.)

Carlin, I note, is older than I am. Then again, he presumably never sat through a circuit-theory course.

You call this heat?

Why, this is nothing:

We?ve become so lame. It?s global warming, everyone is sure. After all, it?s "never been this hot before".

On July 11th, 1936, it hit 101 degrees on the north side of Lake Winnipeg, Manitoba. Take a look at that list — "One Hundred Teens" were very common. 120 in North Dakota. Strangely enough, the Oklahoma 120 degree temps are not on that list, but they are on another Weather Underground page.

120 at Alva, OK on July 18, 1936
120 at Altus, OK on July 19 and August 12, 1936
120 at Poteau, OK on August 12, 1936
120 at Tipton, OK on June 27, 1994

And in ?36, they didn?t have air conditioning.

Willis Haviland Carrier built his first A/C rig in 1902, but it was an industrial product: production of home units didn't begin until around 1928, and the Depression put them out of reach of most people anyway.

(The Oklahoma City record is 113, set on 11 August 1936.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:22 AM to Weather or Not )
The coming of the pod people

Apple, says Autoblog, has contracted with GM, Ford, and Ford's Japanese affiliate Mazda to provide iPod access to OEM audio systems beginning in 2007.

The new services will allow use of the OEM head unit to control volume and such, and will permit charging the iPod's battery in the car.

GM will offer the iPod jack (or whatever it turns out to be) in all its US models; Mazda will implement it worldwide; Ford's plans are still up in the air.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:18 PM to Driver's Seat , PEBKAC )
Report to the Toastmaster General

Yours truly, fall 2004:

Am I the only person in this city who ever buys Kellogg's Pop-Tarts in the unfrosted-blueberry variety? Their status as one of the original flavors hasn't done anything to insure their presence on the grocer's shelf; they seem to show up in the stores about twice a year if I'm lucky. Meanwhile, the sickeningly-sweet frosted versions get more shelf space than ketchup, despite their lack of palatability and their incompatibility with my old-style, uncomplicated toaster. (Something in the frosting seems to melt down into a nasty brown slag; for all I know, there could be plutonium in there.)

In the twenty-odd months since that manifesto, I have determined that buying from one of the few stores that does stock them accomplishes more than complaining to one of the many stores that prefer to stock stuff like this.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:03 PM to Worth a Fork )
4 August 2006
Tripping the joy buzzer

"How do you know," someone once asked, "if you're really leading the life you wanted to lead?"

Hard to say, but I think one irreducible component is being able to get away with crap like this:

I'm sitting at my desk when, out of the blue, it hits me: I need a burger. Not just any burger, mind you, an In-N-Out burger. The West Coast chain is the purveyor of cheap, fresh, immensely amazing burgers. No problem, right? Get up, go out the door, go to lunch.

Sure. Except for the fact that [our] editorial office is in Michigan, and the West Coast is, well, way out west. I check the Internet: the closest In-N-Out is in Prescott, Arizona.

Yep, tasty burger. I stare at In-N-Out's Web site. My eyes lose focus for a second.

I call my friend Jeff Diehl. Jeff lives in Chicago; Chicago is on the way. That's good, because I can't drive 1965 miles nonstop by myself. I ask Jeff to come with me, simultaneously glancing over at the car sign-out board. The keys to a 505-hp Chevrolet Corvette Z06 dangle from one of its hooks. I mention this to Jeff; he gets silent for a moment. Then he asks when we're leaving.

I grab the keys from the board and tell the rest of the staff I'm going out for lunch.

That's Sam Smith of Automobile Magazine, and the whole sordid story — thirty-three hours worth — is in the September issue.

Oh, and then they had to drive back home.

Sonic boosters

A report from the first meeting of Seattle's Save Our Sonics movement:

[The Regional Council] had 4 guest speakers talking about the economic impact of all 3 major sports teams in the region ... A consulting firm estimated the direct economic impact (including inter related jobs and additional sales) of the Sonics and Storm in 2004 was $160 mil and about $234 mil statewide compared to $177.4 and $270 mil respectively for the Mariners and $147.7 and $218 mil for the Seahawks. That's a pretty far cry from Nick Licata's estimate to Sports Illustrated earlier in the year.

Licata, president of the Seattle City Council, figured it as "zero cultural value," though he later backpedaled somewhat.

I mention this because I believe that, contrary to conventional wisdom, it is possible to make a case for the Sonics (and the Storm) staying in Seattle, and because I don't think The Move is necessarily a done deal until the moving vans actually show up. And anything can happen: down Oregon way, Paul Allen has decided that he doesn't want to sell the TrailBlazers after all. Does this mean he's contemplating a theoretical vacancy in Seattle? Maybe, maybe not.

And I suspect the NBA might be slightly uneasy about these matters, because the Sonics won't be playing in Oklahoma City this season until April, in game 75. (They'll come to New Orleans in February; the Hornets will visit KeyArena twice during December.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:35 AM to Net Proceeds )
The path of least resistance

In these parlous times, there's no good reason to incur any unnecessary expenses:

I entered the "non smoking" room at a Motel 6 in Sacramento, California, only to find an ashtray. So I called the front desk to complain and was told, "Oh, just turn it over, now it's a non-smoking room!"

Oh, and that light they'll leave on for you? Dimmer switch. Just watch.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:50 AM to Dyssynergy )
Everybody's a critic

Including, apparently, me.

(Original is here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:46 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Those damned deer

They're bad enough on country roads when you're zipping along at 65 mph, but when they show up on a racetrack:

Champ Car driver Cristiano da Matta was seriously injured yesterday when he collided with a deer that had wandered onto the track during a practice session at Road America in Elkhart Lake, WI. The unconscious da Matta suffered head injuries and was medevaced to Theda Clark Medical Center.

A CT scan showed that he had a subdural hematoma, and emergency surgery was performed to remove it.

Champ Cars top out over 200 mph, which means that da Matta took probably ten times the hit I took from Bambi earlier this summer. Poor fellow.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:29 PM to Driver's Seat )
Bushrock

An intriguing question from Steve G:

[S]ince artists always seem to lean to the left — or to be at the very least completely anti-war — does having a "right-wing" [scare quotes because he?s center-right at best on most things] or pro-war President make for better music? Or to put it a different way, do bands that are angry with the state of the country or world make better music?

Need examples? Pearl Jam fans are thrilled with their latest, which is pretty heavily political and anti-Bush. Same with Green Day. Within my range of music, Machine Head, Disturbed, Avenged Sevenfold, and now Stone Sour are all making good music while angry on some level with the President. And in the 80s, Metallica, Slayer, and countless pop musicians put together some great music while they were angry at ... well, the world, but particularly policies of the west embodied by Reagan and Thatcher.

And he has some ideas about how this particular dynamic might work:

  1. It's the sense of purpose — legitimate or not — generated by being anti-war in a time of war.

  2. It's a focus thing: instead of rambling on about various feelings in a vaguely angsty way (see: lots of 1990s music), there's a clear "enemy" to write about.

  3. It's easier to write lyrics about external problems rather than internal ones, leaving the musicians time and bandwidth to work on the music itself.

  4. You have to be a little nuts to write good music, and BDS is driving musicians just far enough in that direction to generate some good music.

I'm inclined to give the premise as a whole a qualified thumbs up, at least in the rock realm, for the simple reason that rather a lot of rock is predicated on the notion of rebellion — against authority, against conformity, against [fill in name of unbearable cultural imperative] — and GWB seems to arouse levels of outrage more than sufficient to support this sort of thing. And some of us, I think, simply produce more interesting work when we're pissed off. (Note that this specification says nothing about whether we're justified in being pissed off; ultimately, this requires a longer historical perspective than the immediacy of popular music can reasonably allow.)

The only fly in this particular ointment is the fact that the same qualities that can inspire superior tunage can also give rise to spectacularly horrid crap. I'm not paying a whole lot of attention to contemporary antiwar songs, but then I'm not paying a whole lot of attention to much of anything that gets released today; as current as I get is an occasional pass through Jack FM, which has been known to throw in an occasional 1990s track. But Vietnam was still going on when it became obvious that for every forthrightly-angry "Ohio" there was a passive-aggressive "Military Madness," and I would be surprised to hear that the divine-to-dreck ratio has changed much over the years.

The best anti-Vietnam song, for my money, wasn't a hit at all: Bob Seger's "2 + 2 = ?" was way too corrosive to get any airplay. (The worst, by coincidence, was also a Michigan product: Grand Funk's "People Let's Stop the War." It got played to death.)

The trick, of course, is to avoid thinking that something's good simply because you agree with it. I'm as much of a flag-waving jingoist as the next guy, but that damn Lee Greenwood song makes me want to hurl.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:51 PM to Tongue and Groove )
5 August 2006
Sapling update

This being August, and early August at that, it's imperative to get the yard work done early in the morning before the sun gets high enough in the sky to bake you to a crackly crunch and the temperature forces enough liquid out of you to qualify as basting.

The upside, of course, is that the lawn grows more slowly, if at all, and once the mower was put away for the day, I decided to check on the Sprouting Sweetgum, which has now reached a height of twenty-eight inches, a four-inch gain for the month despite only two good rains.

Its more mature neighbors seem to be in need of some trimming, though that will have to wait a day or a week.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:58 AM to Surlywood )
Quote of the week

Reporting for Got Detroit?, it's Princess E.M.:

We as Americans do not like our politicians particularly independent, clear thinking, principled, thought provoking, or even smart. We prefer them a lot like we prefer, say, our remote controls, television sets, toasters and computers — dumber than we are, and easily controlled.

This perhaps explains my ongoing antipathy for Ernest Istook, who isn't notably controllable.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:19 AM to QOTW )
The animal shelter evolves

I didn't pay much attention to this when it showed up on craigslist earlier this summer:

Are you passionate about animal welfare? Does your heart ache for all the abandoned and homeless animals? Please help us make a difference by volunteering with the Oklahoma City Animal Welfare Division.

The Animal Welfare Division is responsible for public safety, animal care and protection. We partner with rescue groups, foster homes, volunteers and no-kill shelters to minimize unnecessary euthanasia and to promote the humane ethic. We are building a city in which pet ownership is a pleasure to the owners without becoming a burden to the community; in which owners, non-owners and animals alike are treated with respect; and in which animals are treated with kindness and compassion.

Our goal is to be "no kill" for placeable animals by 2010.

The business about "without becoming a burder to the community" made it to the city's Web site, but they aren't at all promoting the no-kill goal.

Yet. A friend of mine told me last night that Georgie Rasco of the Neighborhood Alliance asked her to become a member of their committee to push for no-kill. And it seems to me that if the Alliance is working on this, there's a better chance the city will get off the dime and start moving towards its stated goal.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:57 AM to City Scene )
Waiting 'round the Benz

Julie Bisbee reports in the Oklahoman:

As Oklahoma's per capita income grows, consumer's tastes are getting a little richer. Luxury car dealers in the metro area are seeing an increase in interest in their cars, and dealerships are adding more lines to appeal to consumers who are willing to plunk down more than $20,000 for a car.

I, of course, roared at this. Last time I went shopping for a new car, I bought a distinctly non-luxe make in the lowest trim level offered, and the sticker was just over twenty grand, and that was six years ago. The average price for a new car varies with who's doing the figuring: Edmunds.com guesses about $27,800, while Car and Driver will not give a "10Best" award to any vehicle costing more than 2.5 times the average, and their cutoff for 2006 was $71,000, which implies an average of $28,400. But even allowing for the fact that most cars (Saturns excepted) are sold at a smidgen below sticker, you'd have to get quite a bit over $20k to get into anything legitimately describable as a "luxury" car.

Inasmuch as I drive an Infiniti these days, I looked at the very bottom of their product line, and I find the G35 sedan with a six-speed stick sells for $31,200; with a five-speed automatic, $31,450. With the cheaper of the two Premium Packages, the wheel/suspension upgrade, and a trunk mat, the price tag rises to $36,280. (This is not that excruciating a price, I suppose; Gwendolyn's sticker, with fewer options, was over $30k, and she's six years old.)

Since one of Ms Bisbee's points was the acquisition of the local Saab franchise by Bob Moore, I went looking for Saab prices, and the 9-2X wagon starts out at a mere $22,990, though most of them, I suspect, are sold with automatic transmissions, which pushes the price to $24,240. And I suspect rather a lot are trimmed to Aero levels, which is four grand higher, knocking on the $30k door.

There remains, of course, the question of what makes a given model, other than mere branding, a "luxury" car in the first place. My own definition calls for higher-than-average performance and greater-than-average creature comforts, though I'd hate to have to quantify the average for either characteristic. For some people, anything other than the barest Point A-to-Point B device might be over the luxury threshold. Consumer Reports, perhaps not wishing to get involved in discussions of this sort, has adopted the term "upscale" for these vehicles.

And a thought experiment comes to mind. Right now, Toyota's "halo" car is the hybrid Prius, which is in sufficient demand to sell at sticker or above. If you ordered everything possible on a Prius, you'd get the sticker up to $30k or thereabouts. Could the Lexus folks jazz these up enough to justify a $35-40k price tag? I'm thinking they could, if only because Lexus customer service is widely considered to be an order of magnitude better than what you'd get from a Toyota store, and maybe that's a "luxury" in itself.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:24 PM to Driver's Seat )
I'm more of a C-minus, myself

Exactly as I saw it:

OkCupid is hiring. We're looking for both senior and junior C++ developers; pay to scale upward with experience. Applying is a highly competitive process — there's even a test you have to take — so only the best should apply.

if ((iq > 120) && (experience != 0)) {

sendResume (job7@okcupid.com);

} else {

getLost();

}

Now, where was I?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:35 PM to PEBKAC )
Saturday spottings (accelerated)

Old habits die hard. My previous motor vehicle (rust-preventative be upon her) had a superior chassis and not much of a motor; the proper way to deal with this sort of thing, of course, was to drive the living whee out of the car and enjoy flinging it about. I can't do that with Gwendolyn. Well, actually, I can do that, but she's so much faster — I've routinely shaved two to three minutes off what used to be a twenty-minute commute through moderate congestion — that it's an invitation to the gentlemen in blue with the rotating lights. More than once I caught myself doing somewhere in the low 60s in a 40 zone. Better that I should catch myself, though, than that they should catch me.

Speaking of catching, I was northbound on the Lake Hefner Parkway, a smidgen north of 63rd, when I caught sight of one of the weirder manifestations of Oklahoma's placement at the conjunction of every wind pattern on earth: an airborne plastic bag, wafting across the lanes at a height of, oh, three, maybe four feet.

And I caught it. Literally. On the passenger-side mirror. It wrapped itself around the structure and held on doggedly for two miles, shaking loose only after I'd turned eastbound (on Britton) and slowed to a comparative crawl.

Also: off to Midwest City today, partly to gauge the condition of Heritage Park Mall, which is no worse than it was last time, in the sense that I didn't notice anything else had closed. There's still the nagging question of how long you can sustain a mall built for 3.5 anchor tenants with one, and that one a Sears store, but I suppose that will be answered soon enough. Meanwhile, the newest dead corner is Reno and Midwest Boulevard, where both Target and Wal-Mart have abandoned smaller stores in favor of bigger ones elsewhere. The Target, I am told, will be converted to medical offices, which makes sense given its proximity to Midwest Regional Hospital, but no word on the fate of Wally World. Still remaining: Albertson's, a gas station with a McDonald's, a Carl's Jr., and a Walgreen's.

Just south of there is 250 S. Midwest Blvd., which has been about a dozen different eateries, none of which lasted very long. The Oklahoman noted this morning that it's been leased again, and this time it will be a chicken place. I think the only time I ever ate there was when it was a Dairy Queen.

On the other side of town, I got an answer to one of the dumber questions that had been tormenting me of late. The northern boundary of Mustang is SW 59th Street; Mustang, while it fits into the Oklahoma City street grid, doesn't use the city's numbers, instead using Oklahoma 152 (SW 74th) and Mustang Road as its axes. And as I headed west on 59th, I noted with some weird glee that the section of 59th east of Mustang Road was indeed posted "E. SW 59th St." And to think we have problems finding things on Grand Boulevard.

Also on Mustang Road, I discovered that the Force is strong:

For Sale sign

(Taken around the 2100 block South.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:18 PM to City Scene )
6 August 2006
He set the scene

I once tried to explain away Arthur Lee as "America's Syd Barrett," but that was likely fair neither to Barrett, who died earlier this year, nor to Lee, who died Thursday.

Love, Lee's ever-changing band, could fairly be described, at least at first, as garage folk; nonetheless, Love's 1967 LP Forever Changes is justly regarded as a high-water mark in the sea of psychedelia, quite an accomplishment for a group whose first chart record was a robotic version of Burt Bacharach's "My Little Red Book."

In memory of Arthur Lee, here are two recollections by people who knew him. First, rock writer Ellen Sander, in her liner notes for a sort-of-greatest-hits LP called Revisited:

Love, more than any other group, was rock and roll L.A. Hung-up, strung-out, three sets a night in clubs with wall to wall freaks dancing and mobbing the stage. Ain't nothing in the world like California good-time music but there just wouldn't be California good-time music without California bad times, those inglorious L.A. blues and exhortations, where the whole dazzling universe is spinning the wrong way and there's nothing to do but hang out and look for folks worse off than you. That's the seamy side of pop L.A. where the losers are king and the emperors are dressed to the teeth. What the hell, the whole place is going to fall into the goddamn sea any spring now so who's got time for anything but living?

Lest this strike you as something of an aberration, here's Herb Cohen, L.A. pop-biz fixture, one-time manager to the Mothers of Invention, and, for a while anyway, the intermediary between Lee and Elektra Records' Jac Holzman:

They're all living in one hotel room, starving, and Arthur says, "I want a $5,000 advance to sign the contract — cash." Jac says, "OK, meet me at the bank." Jac cashes a check. Arthur says to the band, "Go back to the hotel. I have to pick up something." And about four or five hours later Arthur shows up with a gold Mercedes 300 gull-wing that he paid $4,500 for. "Well," he says, "we need some transportation for the band, so we can get around to the gigs."

The Mercedes-Benz 300SL of this era seated two, making it remarkably inappropriate for transportation of a five-piece band, but what the hell: this was Arthur Lee, and in 1966, he was all of twenty years old.

Incidentally, Burt Bacharach hated what Love had done to his song. The fact that no one else got it even halfway up the charts didn't seem to matter.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:21 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Next: Disney buys Guantanamo

What's better than a Soviet prison camp? A Soviet prison camp catering to the tourist trade:

The Mayor of what used to be one of the most infamous outposts of Josef Stalin's Gulag wants to charge masochistic foreign tourists £80 [about $150] a day to "holiday" in an elaborate mock-up of a Soviet prison camp.

Igor Shpektor, the Mayor of Vorkuta, 100 miles above the Arctic Circle and 1,200 miles northeast of Moscow, says he is looking for an investor to turn an abandoned prison complex into a "reality" holiday camp for novelty-seeking tourists keen to understand what life was like for Soviet political prisoners at first hand.

Residents are perhaps not so keen:

Camp survivors, some of whom still live in Vorkuta, have condemned his idea. They call it a "sacrilege" and a tasteless insult to the memory of those prisoners who died in the area. Historians say 200,000 prisoners, known as zeks, died in the camps surrounding Vorkuta, out of more than two million deported there between 1932 and 1954.

But it's not like Vorkuta has a whole lot to offer otherwise:

In winter, the temperature plunges to minus 50C, while in summer the population of mosquitoes explodes. At the Gulag's peak 132 camps existed in and around Vorkuta. Now the city desperately needs new funds to pour into its dying economy. Eight of its 13 coal mines have shut in the past 15 years and the city's population has almost halved, from 217,000 to 120,000.

Life in Vorkuta is so bleak and subsidy-dependent that the government and the World Bank are offering residents money to move so the authorities can, literally, turn out the lights.

I'm not sure that this is such a bad idea, though really, if they're going to recreate one of Stalin's major projects, they should do it in a location where Stalin is still staggeringly popular — say, Berkeley.

(Via Pratie Place.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:15 AM to Dyssynergy )
How I hate those mirrors

It's a boy, Mrs. Walker, it's a boy:

Good-looking parents are 36 percent more likely to give birth to a girl than less-attractive couples — which also explains why women are, on average, better looking than men, argues [Satoshi] Kanazawa, a professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science, in a forthcoming article in the Journal of Theoretical Biology.

Kanazawa based his conclusion on data collected during in-home interviews with 2,972 randomly selected young adults in 2001 and 2002. All were parents 18 to 28 years old, and they participated in the ongoing National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. As part of the study, the interviewer rated the respondent's physical attractiveness on a five-point scale that ranged from "very unattractive" to "very attractive."

Kanazawa compared the percentage of boys and girls born to study participants who were very attractive with the sex ratio of babies born to everyone else. He found that 56 percent of babies born to beautiful parents were girls. For parents in each of the other categories, fewer than half of the babies — 48 percent — were girls.

But ... is there a reason for this?

[W]hy are beautiful people more likely to have girls? Kanazawa says scientists studying humans and other species have found that parents who possess any heritable trait that increases male reproductive success at a greater rate than female reproductive success will have more males than female babies, and vice versa.

Because men value physical attractiveness more than women do when looking for a mate, good looks increase the reproductive success of daughters much more than that of sons. So attractive people should have more daughters — which is exactly what Kanazawa found.

I note in passing that I have two children: a daughter and a son.

(Via Exploding Aardvark, with the following caveat: "A previous study by the same researcher [who incidentally used to teach here at the U of I] found that tall people are more likely to have sons. What happens with a tall, beautiful couple?")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 AM to Dyssynergy )
The women of 2008

Riverwind513 doesn't expect a Clinton-Rice battle for the Presidency, but she does give some thought to the second half of the ticket:

I imagine too that the choice of VP would be critical in this race. It wouldn?t be enough just to find a moderate and quiet person no one really has a problem with. In other words, Lieberman isn?t going to cut it this time. Both sides would need a charismatic and popular party figure to offset the unusual candidate. Hillary would want someone like Barack Obama, who is incredibly popular, could make sure the minority vote had a tougher decision to make before jumping the fence, and could help deliver the younger votes too. Meanwhile, Condi would want to go with someone like Orrin Hatch, who is about as dyed in the wool Southern Republican as you can get, and proud of it. Well, maybe not Orrin Hatch, but certainly someone very much like him. Someone who has been around forever, and who is so Republican you just couldn?t stand it.

I demur: apparently a lot of people, way off the left edge, have a problem with Lieberman. And is Orrin Hatch really all that charismatic?

Whom do you see as a plausible running mate for Senator Clinton or for Secretary Rice?

Safe for work at last

WorkFriendly is a proxy that strips out graphics and reformats Web pages as innocuous Microsoft Word documents, which might be useful if you're staring at trying to read Fleshbot in between phone calls.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:25 PM to PEBKAC )
Making the pitch

I've mentioned before that I was hanging around a bit on OkCupid, which is a dating service based upon screwy TheSpark-like tests — which isn't surprising, since the same guys were responsible for TheSpark.

And I'm not at all thinking I'm actually, you know, going to meet anyone as a result of this, but I get a major kick out of reading the user profiles, and the following is a selection of stuff I read today.

I am not one of those glass-half-full people but I am also not one of those glass-half-empty people either. My freaking glass has holes in it and the water is dribbling out down the front of my shirt.

I spend a lot of time doing homework, and even more time doing nothing. I'm also learning to throw pottery. You know, on a wheel, not across the room. I learned how to do THAT ages ago.

I enjoy just about any food as long as it doesn't contain flaked coconut.

I have a pretty strong sense of humor, though it can dip to the dark/dry side where not even I quite get my own jokes.

Someone pointed out to me the other day intimidate and intimate are only 2 letters different. Thought that was interesting.

I shave my legs pretty infrequently, partially because they're a little sensitive in spots, but mostly because I'm lazy and it's a real chore.

I am one of the most independent people I know, but according to whatever this site uses to measure independence, I show up as borderline basket case. I wholeheartedly disagree. As they point out though, it's only a website.

Hey, it beats reading me all the time.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 PM to Table for One )
7 August 2006
Strange search-engine queries (27)

I thought at first I might get away with this three times, but now, three times three times three times, it's become almost a tradition. (Cue Tevye and the guy with the fiddle.)

pier 1 fragrance spray:  Do you really want this place to smell like Pier 1?

longer "second toe" more sex study british men 70 percent:  I have no idea what this means, but it sounds kinda kicky.

Adult Nude Recreation Complex redmond washington:  Insert "Microsoft" joke here.

what's pamela anderson's breast size?  You mean this week?

where to put your purse in an envoy xuv:  The thing's the size of a freaking house; you should be able to put it almost anywhere.

what brand of pantyhose does meredith vieira wear?  I have no idea, but I suspect you can get more than 15 pair for $1 million.

shoehorn the kind with teeth:  You know there's no such thing.

how to give dirty looks:  Is there anyone over the age of four who does not know this?

mascots related to oxygen:  Well, there's the Congressional Airhead.

i'm so lonesome i could cry in mono:  Of course. If you could cry in stereo you wouldn't be lonesome.

baltimore crossdress "second tuesday":  The rest of the month you need a permit. (Not applicable in Cockeysville.)

how to make thousands and millions of dollars without effort:  What bothers me is that this query came from Ghana, which presumably has enough Ghaniffs already.

is aeon flux a subtle discourse on the ideology of the new right?  Not as much as it is an excuse to look at Charlize Theron in the tightest costumes ever designed.

a japanese suv that doesn't look lame nor is butch but has enough room to fit camping gear and people while looking:  And I thought I was picky. (Toyota Land Cruiser. Be prepared to write a check for $60k.)

"middle aged women" lingerie:  Just drop it on the floor, you can retrieve it in the morning.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to You Asked For It )
Serious service

Alldata offers a subscription service to the vehicle manufacturer's actual service information, including part prices, official labor times, and updated Technical Service Bulletins; I have subscribed to it for my last three cars, and have been known to browse the TSBs for information which may (or may not) subsequently become useful. (Honda/Acura and BMW do not permit this sort of thing, but most other makes do.)

I was reading a TSB for transmission slippage on I30s of Gwendolyn's vintage, and it calls for replacement of a particular solenoid valve. But the first item in the service procedure is this:

1.  Record the radio presets.

Because, of course, you'll lose them when the battery is disconnected, as it must be to change out electrical components.

And the last step is to reprogram those presets. (I guess this is why these luxury brands command such high loyalty.)

Incidentally, Gwendolyn is not showing signs of transmission slippage: I just happened to be going through that part of the TSB list.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:32 AM to Driver's Seat )
It followed me home, can I keep it?

Civilian contractors, recently returned from Iraq, are kicking back with a couple of cold ones, and Tamara is there:

Yeah, a lot of firefighters and cops over there are civilian contractors. These people need a lot of help just setting up basic... I mean, think about it: They've never been able to just pick up a phone and dial 911 to get help before, so they just don't know what to make of it. And when they do call, they've got real problems. There's not much rescuing kittens, it's... I mean, like, "Hello? Hello? Yes, my child has bring into the house an anti-tank mine. It is sitting on the living room floor. I live in the four story apartment, on the third story. Can you help me, please? What do I do?"... and I'm thinking An anti-tank mine? Buddy you don't need the fire department, you need the army!

Have one on me, guys.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:25 AM to Dyssynergy )
Presumably cut from Episode III

"Hey, if the Dark Lord of the Sith wants to indulge his fantasies of being a Japanese schoolgirl, who am I to stand in his way?"

(Courtesy of Dr B.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:29 AM to Bogus History )
Little Joe never once gave it away

The manufacturers of inkjet printers are constantly looking for ways to make sure you pay and pay, no matter how much it depletes your wallet; in fact, they're even resorting to setting time bombs in the cartridges to make sure you have to buy new ones.

You might not think that such a scheme would be possible with an impact (read "dot-matrix") printer that runs off old-style spools of ribbon.

As we discovered today at 42nd and Treadmill, you would be wrong.

IBM's 6500-series printer is an impressive workhorse, but don't try to fool it with a generic ribbon: the spindle is just slightly too small, and there's a gizmo inside the head assembly that:

  • tells you how much life the ribbon has left, based on some algorithm which you're not told;

  • checks the spool for the presence of a barcode, and refuses to accept an off-brand ribbon no matter how clever your jury-rigging may be (and mine's close to legendary).

There is one way out — unroll all 200 feet or so and thread the contents of a generic ribbon onto IBM's spool — but this is messy and time-consuming. (Do not ask why I know this sort of thing.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:25 PM to PEBKAC )
Adventures in iTunes (5)

Since the podcasts I'm already getting take up all my time, one more can't possibly make any difference, right?

The first edition of Ready Steady A Go Go: From Merseybeat to Mod, a half-hour-ish program devoted to the British Invasion bands, compiled and hosted by Michael Lynch, has found its way to my listening station, and it's massive fun, especially since Lynch doesn't feel compelled to confine the playlist to the tried and true. (The very first track he played was an Arthur Alexander remake — by Gerry and the Pacemakers! What's next, Helen Shapiro covering Ruth Brown?) The sound is just lo-fi enough to be evocative, and the proffered biographical detail is impressive. Besides, it's good for me to be exposed to people who know more about this stuff than I do.

You can subscribe via iTunes or listen through the site's own player. (And a tip of the old Beatle wig to Rich Appel, who passed this link to me.)

8 August 2006
I only have eyes for you

Never underestimate the power of a little temporary joy:

BLIND Andrew Hall stunned his bride when he SAW her walk up the aisle and stand with him at the altar thanks to special vision-enhancing drugs.

Andrew had not seen girlfriend Carolyn, 25, properly for years — but thanks to the medication, he achieved the seemingly impossible.

However the drug is so strong it can only be taken for a short time because of side effects — and the sight benefits do not last.

Andrew has just six per cent sight thanks to Retinitis Pigmentosa.

Some things, of course, are worth mere side effects.

And Lachlan asks the question:

[I]f you were [to] lose your sight, but could have it restored, what was one thing you would want to be able to see again?

Someone other than me in the hallway mirror, I think. Beyond that, I'm not really sure.

Made for each other

It says here that Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson got married because — well, it wasn't a shared interest in 18th-century French literature:

Kid Rock married Pamela Anderson because she?s amazing in bed.

The rocker and the former Baywatch star tied the knot on a yacht in St Tropez on Saturday.

After the unconventional ceremony, Rock lifted the lid on the reason he was marrying the blonde actress.

He reportedly said: ?I just married the most beautiful girl in the world. She f***s me and scratches my back!?

Pammie, 39, has also hinted the great sex she has with Rock was one of the main reasons she wanted to become his wife. She previously said: ?I?m not going to pretend it doesn?t make a difference. I know women say size doesn?t matter. But it does, at least for me. Put it this way, I can?t see any down side to a man being well hung.?

And I suppose he can put it this way, should he be so inclined.

Given these imperatives, my own list of desiderata (sweet smile, killer legs, gets a minimum of two-thirds of my jokes) seems even more pathetic than usual.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:36 AM to Table for One )
A linguistic Venturi effect, as it were

Sister Mary Discipline gave me the Evil Eye once for saying that something or other sucks. Forty years after the fact, Seth Stevenson jumps to my defense:

Sucks is the most concise, emphatic way we have to say something is no good. As a one-syllable intransitive verb, it offers superb economy. Granted, some things require more involved assessments (like, say, James Joyce: I find his early work unparalleled in its style and its evocation of emotion, while his later writing became willfully opaque in a manner that leaves me cold). But other things don't require this sort of elaboration (like, say, John Grisham: He sucks).

Besides, "sucks" fits in well with a vernacular that also allows for things that "blow" and "bite," though Bart Simpson, a reliable cultural observer over the past couple of decades, would be amazed were you to come up with something that simultaneously sucks and blows.

(Via In Theory.)

Open forum (maybe)

Press release from Sustainable OKC:

OKLAHOMA CITY— On Tuesday, August 8, 2006, at 7:30 p.m., Sustainable OKC and the Vivian Wimberly Center for Ethics and Servant Leadership at OCU will host the third event in their Smart Growth series: "City on the Move: Transportation in Central Oklahoma," a panel discussion on mass transit.

The panel will be held in Watson Lounge on the lower level of the Angie Smith chapel at Oklahoma City University. This event is free and open to the public. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., and the presentation begins at 7:30 p.m.

This panel discussion will explore factors that have influenced transportation in central Oklahoma, market and environmental forces that are affecting transportation choices today, and solutions to make Oklahoma City less dependent on the automobile.

The event, moderated by OETA's Dick Pryor, will include the following panelists:

  • John Dugan, Director, Oklahoma City Planning Department
  • Rick Cain, Director, Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority
  • Willa Johnson, Ward Seven, Oklahoma City Council
  • Dean Schirf, Vice President of Government Relations, Greater OKC Chamber of Commerce
  • Zach Taylor, Executive Director, Association of Central Oklahoma Governments

This presentation is the third in a series on smart growth organized by Sustainable OKC.
Date: Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Time: 7:30 pm-10:00 pm

Tom Elmore, who forwarded me this, notes:

Perhaps oddly, the panel is a rogues' gallery of some of those most responsible for fighting rational transit development over the years. These have also helped cover up reality and quash the truth about the need to save OKC Union Station's rail yard.

With the announcement this morning of the "little problem with Alaska oil production" and with it, likely higher gasoline prices, I'd say that those who'd like to talk to some of those most responsible for Central Oklahoma's lack of alternative transportation (and that the air conditioning in 25% of OKC's existing transit buses doesn't work[!]) will have a marvelous opportunity to do so Tuesday night.

So be it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:28 AM to City Scene )
Fourth gear, hang on tight

Japanese transmission manufacturer Jatco predicts that the four-speed automatic will be gone within a decade, replaced by newer technologies.

The continuously-variable transmission, which has theoretically infinite gears, will probably take over at the low end of the market; I'm thinking that performance vehicles will have automatically-shifted manuals similar to the VW Group's DSG.

Still, the four-cog slushbox lasted quite a while in the marketplace: my last three cars have had four-speed automatics. (Gwendolyn's is from Jatco.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:44 PM to Driver's Seat )
The Gas Game (August)

Oklahoma Natural Gas's Voluntary Fixed Price program, begun last fall, would contract you to purchase gas for 12 months at a flat rate of $8.393 per dekatherm plus the usual fees and charges. I declined, on the semi-honorable basis that I didn't quite believe it would go that high; since then, I've been charting the cost of this decision.

As of now:

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

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

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

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

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

  • April: 4.6 used at $8.660; total price $39.83; VFP price $38.61; loss of $1.22.

  • May: 2.0 used at $8.781; total price $17.56; VFP price $16.79; loss of $0.77.

  • June: 1.2 used at $8.486; total price $10.19; VFP price $10.07; loss of $0.12.

  • July: 1.1 used at $7.520; total price $8.55; VFP price $9.53; gain of $0.98.

  • August: 1.0 used at $7.566; total price $7.82; VFP price $8.67; gain of $0.85.

  • Cumulative: 40.4 used at $9.986; total price $403.43; VFP price $339.07; loss of $64.36.

(Rounding errors are being ignored.) The new VFP will be announced, they say, next month.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:17 PM to Family Joules )
9 August 2006
We few, we plumbers

Actually, I'm not a plumber, but I felt like one when I read this bit by Lori Leibovich in Salon.

In the fourth article in its fascinating series "The New Gender Divide," the New York Times looks at why marriage rates among men without higher education are declining at a significant clip.

The reasons for the decline vary and include greater economic independence for women, and the increase in the number of couples who live together without getting married. The Times interviewed men who are afraid to commit, men who fear divorce, and one 41-year-old who says he'd love to have a family but he just hasn't met the right woman.

But the single most significant reason these men remain unattached is "because the pool of women in their social circles — those without college degrees — has shrunk," according to the Times. "And the dwindling pool of women in this category often look for a mate with more education and hence better financial prospects." As Shenia Rudolph, 42, from the Bronx said succinctly, "Men don't marry because women like myself don't need to rely on them."

I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I'd rather be rejected because I'm dumb as a post than because I never bothered to compose a thesis.

(Crossposted to OkCupid.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:16 AM to Table for One )
Paying up

Blogathon '06 is history, so it's time to write the checks.

This year's checks go to:

Note: "The Daily Bitch" is the name of a blog, dammit.

Slouching toward Joeblivion

Empty suit Ned Lamont defeated generic liberal Joe Lieberman in the Democratic primary in Connecticut, and that's enough for Brendan Loy:

[T]he hard reality is that the voters have spoken, and their message was loud and clear: there?s no longer room for Joe Lieberman in the Democratic Party. And alas, tonight?s result will reverberate through the November elections and into the 2008 presidential campaign. It?s really much more than just a single primary in a single state; it?s a shot across the bow of moderate Democrats everywhere. And so, whatever further ramifications this result might have, there?s one thing it definitely means, one result that is officially cast in stone, as of today:

I am no longer a Democrat.

Those who have been waiting for me to make such an announcement will have to wait a while longer. While I agree with Loy that "the Democrats have jumped off the cliff, and are in free fall," I'm not at all horrified by the prospect: if they right themselves before they hit bottom, that's good, and if the party's current crop of Super Geniuses wind up flat on their faces like Wile E. Coyote, well, I wield a pretty mean spatula.

This is what I wrote the day of the 2004 Oklahoma primary:

[T]he candidates on my ballot strike me as something less than inspired. And while the differences among their domestic policies are largely trivial — will we spend too much, or way too much, on health care? — exactly one candidate seems to grasp the notion that there are more immediate threats to the Republic than a percentage point or two of taxation, which is why when I'm through with my dental appointment today, I will grit my semi-sparkling teeth and pull the lever for Joe Lieberman. Yes, he spends money like a 21st-century Republican; yes, he's a common scold, occasionally rising to the level of uncommon scold. But in 2004, the desired characteristic, in true Firesign Theatre tradition, is Not Insane, and rather than opt for the bumbler, the banshee or the Botoxed, I'm going with Joe.

Sanity eventually will return to the Democrats, even if Brendan Loy doesn't. I can wait.

Update: Loy cites Tammy Bruce and me as "a couple of Democrats who aren?t quite ready to jump ship yet," but adds: "If there was a viable third-party alternative, I bet they?d both be on board." As if Oklahoma would actually allow third-party alternatives.

Plus tax where required

We've all seen that phrase or variations thereof; How to be Websmart is now listing the tax policies of the top 50 online storefronts.

For instance, Overstock.com adds sales tax only for shipment to Utah or Indiana; Target.com adds sales tax in 47 states (the exceptions being Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont). This information is always subject to change, though, so if you stumble upon this in 2009 and Target charged you tax in Brattleboro, it's not my fault or HtbW's.

(Via The Consumerist.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:33 AM to Common Cents )
Nice pair, as it were

The late Shel Silverstein wrote a poem, eventually a song, called "Stacy Brown Got Two", and, well, it goes like this:

Do you know the reason for his success? (No we don't, so tell us)
They say that he is double blessed (Not like you fellas)
They say that Stacy Brown was born
Just a little bit deformed
But still his girlfriends wake up smilin' every morn.

(Singing) Everybody got one (Everybody got one)
Everybody got one (Everybody got one)
Everybody got one (Everybody got one)
But Stacy Brown got two.

Esquire seems to have found him a date.

Long-distance browsing

From the front page of the Web site of Peakirk Books:

We Welcome those who are able, and would like to visit our shop in Peakirk, a small village just outside Peterborough, England. (An advance phone call would ensure we were here to greet and assist you)

I have the feeling I'd like to see this place some day. I've actually done business with Peakirk Books, albeit the newfangled electronic way: they had some obscure Hutchinson juvenile by the tersely-named M. Frow that I'd gotten an urge to read, and Random House, which owns the Hutchinson imprint these days, isn't much help. And one of Peakirk's strong suits is books for children:

We Specialise primarily in secondhand Childrens Books for both Collectors and those trying to find those books they once read.

I wouldn't hazard a guess as to which of the two groups might be larger.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:12 PM to Almost Yogurt )
10 August 2006
File under "WTF?"

I have defended Zillow.com's Zestimates in the past, but I'm thinking maybe they've finally gone off the deep end after all. My semi-regular once-every-three-weeks search on my own house produced this implausible statistic:

1 week change: + $20,329

In one week? Does this look like the freaking San Francisco Bay Area?

I was sufficiently alarmed to pull up the County Assessor's listings. They haven't changed. The only thing I can conclude is that some poor souls overpaid for housing stock in this neck of the woods and all the comps were dragged up commensurately.

We'll see how long this number lasts: $117,695. I give it a week.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:02 AM to Surlywood )
Lock mess

A couple in the next cubicle warren have acquired a 2006 Toyota Avalon in bank-vault grey, and she was mumbling something this morning about the keyless start routine: apparently you have to wiggle your body in the general direction of the sensor, that it may detect the presence of the fob somewhere on your person. Finally, pushing a button brings the mighty V6 to life.

I know something about this — Gwendolyn has a remote starter and an acceptably-mighty V6 — but I'm enough of a traditionalist to prefer actual keys. Maybe it's a guy thing, as Lileks might say:

I remember looking at my dad's key ring, and marveling at the locks to which he had access. Men had keys. There was a limit; men with thirty keys seemed like living versions of Marley's ghost, shackled to duty. But guys like having enough keys. There's a reason they don't remove the powerboat key at the end of the season. You're not defined by your locks, but by the locks you can open.

Women, at least according to stereotype, can't even find their keys. This is, of course, the stuff of comedy, and therefore subject to revision; I expect to hear some day on the news that the presence of all these metal devices hard against a man's thigh causes some sort of contusion which all by itself accounts for the seven-year difference in life expectancy. We would live longer, we guys, if we got proper bags.

But maybe aesthetics outweigh longevity; certainly nobody wants to witness the spectacle of me, having to wiggle my body in the general direction of a sensor, that it may detect the presence of a fob somewhere on my person.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:45 AM to Almost Yogurt )
203

After World War II, the French automotive industry was slow to recover. One of the first new models to be produced was Peugeot's 203, built in Sochaux beginning in 1948. For the first five years, this was the only Peugeot being made; the larger 403 appeared midway through the 1950s, though production of the 203 continued through 1960.

Meanwhile, the 203rd edition of Carnival of the Vanities is being hosted at Humantide, and it's subtitled "Froth Edition," which refers to coffee. I think.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:03 PM to Blogorrhea )
Just like real people

Pennsylvania Democrats are charging that petitions on behalf of Green Party Senate candidate Carl Romanelli contain lots of fake names, including Mickey Mouse, Mona Lisa, Woody Allen, Robert Redford, George Bush, Gerald Ford and Lee H. Oswald.

Now I was under the impression that Mouse was registered in Ohio, but I could be wrong.

Not that the Democrats are blaming the Greens, exactly:

Democratic officials said that some GOP donors had contributed funds to help Mr. Romanelli's campaign and hurt [Democratic candidate Bob] Casey. Some money went to hire a Florida firm, JSM Inc., to circulate Romanelli petitions. There have been complaints about the integrity of JSM petitions circulated in other states, including Ohio in 2004, Democrats said.

Still, what's most galling is not that they're fakes, but that they're obvious fakes. You'd think even Republicans could have figured this out by now.

File under "But of course"

Harley-Davidson common stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "HDI."

Until next Tuesday, that is, when the company will be changing to the symbol "HOG."

A few other sort-of-appropriate symbols:

  • BID: Sotheby's
  • BUD: Anheuser-Busch
  • DNA: Genentech
  • EAT: Brinker International (owner of Chili's and On the Border restaurants)
  • FUN: Cedar Fair (theme-park operator)
  • LUV: Southwest Airlines (based at Love Field, Dallas)
  • ROCK: Gibraltar Industries
  • SAM: Boston Beer Co.

(Thanks to Interested-Participant.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:41 PM to Common Cents )
11 August 2006
I'll take Unreal Estate for $1000, Alex

A Rocket Jones observation:

Ever notice how when a new housing development is going up, if it's Something Estates then it's ritzy and pricey, and if it's Whatever Heights then it's always "affordable" housing. If I had the money, I'd do a development called Estates Heights just to see what would happen.

I wonder what he'd make of the Flats in Cleveland.

Actually, I live in Whatever Heights, and it's more or less "affordable" (despite what you may have heard), but it's not especially high, and you'd think one of the irreducible characteristics of something called "Heights" would be, well, height. Similar liberties are taken elsewhere in the city: "Bricktown" now apparently means "anywhere within a couple of miles of downtown," Flower Garden Park has been short on flora in recent years, and don't even think that the Northwest Expressway has anything "express" about it. (Well, there's Express Personnel, I suppose.) And I've grumbled before about Basswood Canyon Road, inasmuch as we have neither canyons nor basswood. What's more, someone had the temerity to name a moderate-to-high-zoot development "Rivendell", and I'm pretty sure it wasn't Elrond.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:16 AM to City Scene )
The ghost in the Shell station

Brian J. Noggle explains what just happened:

George W. Bush has ginned up the fake "air terror" alert to make it inconvenient for you to fly. So you'll have to drive to your destinations and will have to buy gas at Big Oil's gouge — nay, plunge router! — prices.

On the upside, I can get a heck of a lot of fizzy drinks into the car; why, there are even designated locations for their placement.

Quote of the week

The road to Splitsville? Tam considers the possibilties:

P.J. O'Rourke once wittily remarked that Tito had a brilliant strategy to keep Serbs, Croats, Bosnian Muslims, and all the other constituents of his polyglot ersatz nation from killing each other. His plan was a brilliantly simple one: he did it for them. After he was gone it didn't take long for the denizens of the synthetic republic of Yugoslavia to start rummaging through sock drawers and digging behind loose bricks in their fireplaces to drag out long-dormant grudges and start beating each other over the noggin with them. The country went to pieces so fast that nations as far away as the USA were hit with the shrapnel.

The situation in post-Saddam Iraq is starting to look depressingly similar. Now that Saddam is no longer available to kill them wholesale, his liberated subjects (liberally goaded by outside agents provocateurs from various Muj factions) are happily back to slaying each other on a more retail scale. This of course raises the troubling question as to which is the proper approach for us: Do we keep applying splints and bandages and hope the country knits itself together stably over the long term? Or do we accept the centripetal forces at work and try to manage the fragmentation, letting the country split itself into the three chunks it's so desperately trying to fragment into, and thereby focus our attention on the breakaway republics that need it most? Either way is a gamble, and the potential payoff for each path has its upsides and downsides.

Iraq's borders are just as synthetic as Yugoslavia's were. It may be that partition might work: certainly the Czechs and the Slovaks aren't shooting at one another, but then they weren't shooting at each other to any great extent during the brief existence of Czechoslovakia. If the Bush administration is wise — a lot to hope for, I suppose, but work with me here — they're already thinking about the possibilities.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:01 AM to QOTW )
Braniff grounded

Back in the spring of ought-five, I suggested that someone rework the old Braniff building at 324 N. Robinson, and before the year was out, Kerr-McGee signed on to a deal to turn the place into upscale condos.

But Kerr-McGee is gone — the Anadarko Petroleum takeover was approved by shareholders this week — and now the Braniff project has run into a snag:

"We expected to close today," said Anthony McDermid, one of the project's lead developers. "It didn't happen. It was a surprise to us. We spent a significant amount of time and resources on this."

A lawsuit filed Thursday in Oklahoma County District Court by McDermid and his partners allege they will suffer more than $8 million in damages if Kerr-McGee does not honor its part of the redevelopment.

But, says KMG/Anadarko, it's the fault of McDermid's Corporate Redevelopment Group:

"We have an existing contract with Corporate Redevelopment Group to build a parking garage that would be suitable to Kerr-McGee," [KMG spokesman John] Christiansen said. "After completion of that garage, Kerr-McGee has agreed to deliver to Corporate Redevelopment Group the certain properties identified for redevelopment. We are willing to perform under that contract."

Christiansen said Corporate Redevelopment Group requested changes in the contract conditions — changes he wouldn't disclose — that were not acceptable to Kerr-McGee.

Outgoing KMG chair Luke Corbett seemed enthusiastic about the project, but Corbett's no longer running the show.

Clearly something's happened here that we're not being told — yet.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:27 PM to City Scene )
12 August 2006
Picture this

Retouched photos from the Middle East!

No, not fake news. We're talking digital face beautification, and here's a snippet of the abstract:

[G]iven a frontal photograph of a face (a portrait), our method automatically increases the predicted attractiveness rating of the face. The main challenge is to achieve this goal while introducing only minute, subtle modifications to the original image, such that the resulting "beautified" face maintains a strong, unmistakable similarity to the original.

What for, you ask?

Professional photographers have been retouching and deblemishing their subjects ever since the invention of photography. It may be safely assumed that any model that we encounter on a magazine cover today has been digitally manipulated by a skilled, talented retouching artist. Since the human face is arguably the most frequently photographed object on earth, a tool such as ours would be a useful and welcome addition to the ever-growing arsenal of image enhancement and retouching tools available in today?s digital image editing packages. The potential of such a tool for motion picture special effects and advertising is also quite obvious.

I'd be content if they'd just require it for driver's-license photos.

(Via Popgadget.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:20 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Things I learned today (7)

It's an ongoing process, after all.

Information overload point: reached.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:13 AM to Blogorrhea )
The flying fickle finger of Visa

The Bank of America-MBNA marriage has produced offspring: FIA Card Services, which seems to contain mostly MBNA DNA.

Where they came up with "FIA" is beyond me, since it has connotations; I do hope it wasn't Fark.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:56 AM to Common Cents )
The little beige doorstop still lives

I gotta love this: the C64 Orchestra is a real live band that, for the moment anyway, plays music from Commodore 64 games.

Details, sort of:

Recent fascination in the Commodore 64 (not just as a retro game computer) has fuelled compelling interest for the C64 as an instrument in the dance-scene (think of the Dutch hit from the artist Bastian "You've got my love" in 2001).

For this new production, Micromusic and Productiehuis ON invited members of the Dutch Riciotti ensemble and conductor Bas Wiegers for the C64 Orchestra. This new orchestra focused their attention on the groundbreaking 80s computer, the Commodore 64. Micromusic and ON approached two of the most experienced C64-composers of the 1980's, Rob Hubbard and Jeroen Tel. The Dutch Ricciotti ensemble will perform their music, with scoring done by Rob Hubbard himself. The game scores that are to be performed include the following Rob Hubbard compositions: Monty on the Run, One Man And His Droid and International Karate.

Also Jeroen Tel's Cybernoid II, Hawkeye, Myth and Supremacy will be performed.

Okay, it's not a massed array of SID chips, but I'm impressed just the same. And here's a highly-subjective list of the greatest C64 game music, just to jar those memory locations.

(Seen at Popgadget, which, despite being billed as "Personal Tech for Women," is rapidly becoming my favorite geek-overload site.)

Storm patterns

I've put out a handful of pieces on the Sonics and the possibility that they may wind up here in Soonerland. It might be well to remember, though, that Seattle has two professional basketball teams, and while the city leaders may disagree on the cultural importance of the Sonics, there's one distinct market that's drawn to the WNBA's Storm:

Since the rumors and eventual sale of the Sonics and Storm began, I've had one thought about what it would mean to lose the Storm in particular:

Seattle's lesbian community would be devastated. Bayou and I have attended several games in the past, and two within the last month. Both times, I looked around, and thought: "Wow, I can?t believe how many lesbians are here."

Everywhere, wall-to-wall dykes, couples, femmes, singles, sports dykes, families with one or more kidlets, goth riot grrrls. It was an absolutely diverse microcosm of gay women and their loved ones. And judging by this article, I am not the only one who?s noticed this phenomenon.

From said article:

[I]t's all so ordinary. A Storm game isn?t some political gay confab, civil-rights rally, must-be-Pride-Month thing — events that get sidelined as "alternative" or worse. Storm games are social shindigs, community gatherings and business-networking affairs.

They?re as much a fixture of the city's lesbian community as they are a destination for straight people. And at a time when the future of the Storm, and the Seattle Sonics, remains uncertain, it's worth exploring the significance of the games and who they're meaningful to.

And it's worth mentioning them to Clay Bennett next time he holds a press conference in Seattle, I should think.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:55 PM to Net Proceeds )
13 August 2006
Land rovers

I haven't bought a plane ticket in five years or so, and I don't particularly regret it: there are vanishingly few instances when I need to be halfway across the continent in a single day, and recent "advances" in passenger screening, by most accounts, have fallen somewhere between merely obtrusive and obsessively counterproductive. "And besides," I am wont to remark, "my car has never lost my luggage."

So I drive, and so does Bill Quick:

I, for instance, wouldn't dream of flying to Los Angeles any more. I drive. Yes, I admit I began that policy back when smoking was banned on all airlines, and checkin security was just beginning to become onerous. The time tradeoff, in exchange for being able to inhale the intoxicant of my choice, as well as travel in large-seat air conditioned comfort with my own music seemed reasonable to me. Today, air travel has only become worse, to the point that there soon won't even be a time tradeoff on any flight under, say, five hundred miles. Come to the airport three hours, four hours, five hours early and prepare to be treated like cattle by a bunch of unionized morons? Thanks, but I think I'll pass.

And I think, if this goes on, more and more people like me will pass as well. Why does the government take the easy way out of harassing people, rather than actually doing things that might be effective, like arming pilots, armoring cockpits, and instituting high tech substance-catching and people-profiling systems?

Because it can.

Personally, I'm in favor of having those morons ionized.

In the meantime, I take comfort in the recently-revealed knowledge that I can go 400 miles on a single tank of gas (presently $50ish).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:26 AM to Dyssynergy )
Shinier happier people

Or so you might think, anyway. Jennifer isn't so sure:

Last night while at the grocery store, yes friends at WEGMAN'S I stopped to take this photo. Why? Bald man head wipes? WHY? And why for God's sake is there the Z at the end of GUY? Who buys this?

(1) Putting a Z at the end of something makes it seem edgy and au courant: cf. Yard Dawgz, Boyz II Men. (Besides, there's a slight chance that a Z word might not have been trademarked yet.)

(2) The official explanation:

Bald Guyz is the first line of grooming products designed for the special needs of a bald man. The line is designed to provide the man with a variety of products especially formulated for him. We use only the finest ingredients so that the sensitive skin of the head is cleaned, moisturized and protected from the harmful elements we face every day. Harmful UVA/UVB rays from the sun, dirt and pollution in the air, irritation from shaving or the dryness and irritation from a sunburn are no match for Bald Guyz. We have created the perfect products with Green Tea, Vitamins, Herbal Moisturizers & Protein to ensure that your head will maintain a fresh and healthy look and feel. Bald Guyz is available at leading food and drug stores.

(3) It's not like you can get these guyz to wear actual hatz.

Besides this

Not all of my scribblage winds up here where you can easily see it; in the past week or so I've facelifted the FIdb and its attendant FAQ file, reworked the front page of the Music Room, written up another semi-obscure single ("No" by Bulldog), and redesigned the pages devoted to the 1940 film The Invisible Woman.

Still to come: research for yet another semi-obscure single ("I Love Onions" by Susan Christie, who incidentally is not Lou Christie's sister), and more behind-the-scenes tweaks.

Being given the Randaround

Seen at OkCupid:

So a few days ago, somewhere on the internet (I'm simply too lazy to go find where) someone commented on a journal post that Ayn Rand was being pretentious for spelling her name with a "y" in the middle, like she was some kind of Mary-Sue named Krystyna.

Being slightly less lazy, I went looking, and came up with this:

I will call her "Ann" until my dying day, because it's a real name (and because I have a mental block against using the correct one), and it annoys the snot out of me when pretentious college boys correct me all the time. I mean, even she admits that she sort of made it up! In a letter to a fan in 1937, she said this, "Your letter inquiring about the origin of my name has been forwarded to me. In answer to your question, I must say that 'Ayn' is both a real name and an invention. The original of it is a Finnish feminine name.... Its pronunciation, spelled phonetically, would be: 'I-na.' I do not know what its correct spelling should be in English, but I chose to make it 'Ayn,' eliminating the final 'a.' I pronounce it as the letter 'I' with an 'n' added to it." And her birth name? Was Alisa. What's wrong with that? I can pronounce that correctly!

Of course, this is crossposted over there as well.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:23 PM to Bogus History )
The blessings of obscurity

Last Thursday, Salon.com sportswriter King Kaufman made a semi-horrifying discovery:

Don't know who or why, but someone has created an article about me at Wikipedia.

The article says, in its entirety, "King Kaufman is a sports journalist for the online publication salon.com. He currently resides in St. Louis, Missouri." I have to say: That's pretty accurate!

But you have to scroll down to see that. The first thing you see at the top of the page is:

"It is proposed that this article be deleted, because of the following concern: non-notable."

OK, that hurts a little.

The next day:

You're going to think this is disingenuous, but it's true: When I wrote Thursday that my Wikipedia entry was one sentence long and nominated for deletion because of my "non-notable" status, it never occurred to me that doing so would cause people to go beef up the entry and turn it into a real biographical article.

That's because I'm dumb. I wanted to show you something funny, and by pointing it out, I caused the funny part to disappear. Now the funny part is that if I were devious, self-serving and narcissistic — I mean more devious etc. — the exact same thing would have happened.

I didn't create the item, didn't ask anyone else to create it and have never touched it, and I think with enough Wikipedia savvy you can look at this list of who's edited the article and figure out that none of them are me. But feel free to think of me as devious, self-serving and narcissistic because that's more fun, and if you're not having fun here, you're not coming back.

Being distinctly less notable than Kaufman, or indeed almost anyone, I presumably don't have to worry about this sort of thing, right?

14 August 2006
Strange search-engine queries (28)

Among the six thousand or so people who wandered into this site this past week were a handful looking for stuff like this:

zooey likes pantyhose:  Does Franny know about this?

"nudists for bush":  This might be political, or it might not.

erotic superheroines use itching powder:  Was this an outtake from My Super Ex-Girlfriend?

eleven people you'd most like to see naked:  No way. Four or five of them read this site.

women don't fart belch:  Obviously this guy's never lived with one.

is planned parenthood open on weekends in colorado:  Hey, an argument for Plan B.

what are the g spots in sex:  Holy crap, you mean there's more than one?

Pennsylvania renaissance faire burger king coupons non sexual:  Here insert ye a Whopper jest.

how many visitors equals 8gb a month:  For me, about 24,000.

is it a date or hanging out:  If it's hanging out, you probably won't get that date.

lost lonely hopeless late thirties single childless worried:  Being a guy-type person, I'm bound to ask "About what?"

"unchained melody" sung by hitler:  Lonely SS march to the sea, to the sea, / to the open ports of the sea. / Lonely Frenchmen sigh, "Wait for me, wait for me, / I'll be yielding soon, wait for me."

can I afford an apartment california making $30,000 a year:  Perhaps, although the number of roommates you'll have to get increases as your distance from the coastline decreases.

moon landing spam:  That's one small pill for man, one giant tool for all mankind.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to You Asked For It )
Curbing sprawl

I am not one of those New Urbanists who think that anything beyond the core of the central city is of no interest; on the other hand, I am also not keen on endless developments on the fringes while the core is neglected. (Only recently — let's say, within the last fifteen years — has Oklahoma City come to realize the value of its core, and the city takes one step back, or at least to the side, for every couple of steps forward. We're still learning.)

A number of solutions have been proposed, some workable, some which might work but which won't likely ever happen, but nothing strikes me as quite so ingenious as Arkansas writer Kevin Carson's prescription:

[P]erhaps the most effective measure would be shifting the property tax off of buildings and improvements onto site value alone. The effect of such a policy, wherever it has been tried, has been to increase the cost of holding land vacant in older parts of town and to encourage in-fill development. When such a tax shift has been implemented, it is immediately followed by mass sales of vacant lots that have been kept out of use for years for speculative purposes, and by an enormous construction boom. Shifting taxes onto land value also encourages efficient and intensive use of land, rather than the giant parking lots and unusable front yards associated with current sprawl development. Such a policy would take taxes off of human labor and ingenuity, and put them instead onto the unearned wealth that pours into the pockets of landlords.

The Oklahoma County Assessor is already calculating land values for taxable properties, so it's not like this would be an enormous regulatory burden; getting it past the usual suspects, of course, is another matter entirely.

And there is one downside, at least from my point of view: while I have the smallest house on the block, I have the largest lot, so I can expect the biggest tax bite should Carson's idea be implemented. Nobody said this was going to be easy.

(Spotted in Michael Bates' linkblog.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:51 AM to Dyssynergy )
Get off my damn lawn

Oh, wait, he's not actually on the lawn:

A demonstrator sat down Saturday near the home of a Muslim candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates with a hand-lettered sign bearing a crude denunciation of Islam.

The sign was apparently aimed at Saqib Ali, a Gaithersburg resident who is running in the Sept. 12 Democratic primary for a seat in House District 39.

The demonstrator, who wore a T-shirt reading "This mind is an Allah-free zone," planted himself near the house in the Quince Orchard Estates development that Ali also uses as a campaign office. Ali, a software engineer who is challenging three incumbents, said he went out into his small cul-de-sac to look at the man but said nothing to him.

"I knew he was there to bait me," Ali said.

But he wasn't on Ali's property:

Police were later called, and Ali said he agreed with their assessment that nothing illegal took place.

The man, he said, was in a common area and not on Ali's property. But police apparently notified the man later that he could be arrested if he did go onto the candidate's property in the next year.

Ali, who was born in Chicago, said his candidacy is about such matters as "roads, the schools" and not his religion.

The current version of this Washington Post story is prefaced by the following statement:

An earlier version of this article contained a quote that was removed per editorial discretion.

Probably the demonstrator's sign, which read "Islam Sucks."

Mr Ali, to his credit, is neither sucking nor overreacting.

Let's not always see the same hands

Nominations are now open for the 2006 Okie Blog Awards, and will continue through the end of August; the actual voting begins on the 2nd of September.

What defines an Okie blog? From the rules:

Only Okie bloggers with active Okie blogs at the start of nominations are eligible. "Active" is defined as having at least one blog post during the previous 60 days. An "Okie blog" is defined as having at least one active blog author residing within the state of Oklahoma. All Okie Blog Awards are to be decided only by Okie bloggers.

And Okiedoke, despite being more deserving than some of us (like, well, um, me, for instance), is officially ineligible, since Mike's running the tabulations and wishes to avoid the very hint of scandal, which doesn't necessarily explain why he's not running for a statewide office this year, but could.

There are a dozen categories this year. Get your nominations in soon and avoid an abundance of nagging posts.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:08 PM to Blogorrhea , Soonerland )
Wax tadpole: unbitten

My knowledge of Asian languages is pretty close to nil, but I can believe this:

New York City jewelry designer Jane Ko, 30, who is Chinese-American, has been approached countless times by sheepish and somewhat befuddled strangers and acquaintances who have asked her to translate tattoos that they once thought were Chinese characters for attractive concepts like "power" and "love" but now suspect might actually say "General Tso's Chicken special" or "gullible white boy."

So this story from last Thursday's Mid-City Advocate managed to catch my attention, albeit belatedly:

A new Chinese name adopted recently by Oklahoma City University is building momentum for the school across the globe.

Profound City University, or Ao Cheng Da Xue, is the new translation for OCU. Previously, the university used a literal translation of its name, which was often misunderstood. Julie Sinclair, director of international student services at OCU, explained that the literal translation for "city" referred to a small type of municipality that did not warrant respect. "It diminished our stature considerably," said Bernie Peterson, vice president for academic affairs.

The new name uses a Chinese word for a grander city. Additionally, the new word for "Oklahoma" doubles as a translation for "profound." OCU is the first university in Oklahoma to use the word "Ao" for Oklahoma, but that translation is recognized by local Chinese groups.

I should point out here that OCU isn't just screwing around with this stuff because it's on the edge of the city's Asian District; OCU's Meinders School of Business, for instance, offers an MBA program at the Tianjin University of Finance and Economics.

(Title explained here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:46 PM to City Scene )
15 August 2006
And it's not even a mood elevator

Still, this is a noticeable (as in $35 a bottle) lift: a drug I take for osteoarthritis — well, technically, a drug I take against osteoarthritis — has come off patent and is now available in generic form.

Over a year, that's a car payment and a half.

First, you must submit

The fourth birthday of Carnival of the Vanities will be upon us shortly, and Zeuswood and Stingflower, in their capacities as Primary Carnival Barkers, have introduced new submission guidelines for future editions, lest they become as stale as my lame links to same each and every week.

Or, as Zeuswood says:

My position can be summed up in three words: cut the crap.

Good posts. Timely posts. It?s not a linkfest for the sake of a linkfest, shades of trackback parties. Have some respect or you?ll kill it.

Laurence Simon, who knows from crap, was not available for comment.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:21 AM to Blogorrhea )
And keep the puppies out of the blender

According to legend, there's more than one way to skin a cat; when asked, I generally reply that I prefer a belt sander.

This, however, is beyond the pale:

A New York man faces charges for allegedly throwing five kittens into a hot frying pan. The kittens are about six or seven weeks old. Authorities say they were slightly burned and are expected to recover.

The incident occurred in Buffalo after the apartment's occupant began cooking pork chops in hot oil. When he left the kitchen, a visitor put two of the kittens in the pan. The visitor then threw one kitten on the floor and wiped the other on the wall. After that he put the other three in the pan.

Police say [they] expect the suspect to be charged with animal cruelty.

Or, at the very least, to be spritzed with Pam and rolled onto a cookie sheet.

(Suggested by BuffaloPundit.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:40 AM to Wastes of Oxygen )
Too good for you?

Jacqueline Passey is a "high-quality woman," and if you don't believe it, just ask her:

I know that sounds arrogant, but let?s consider the facts:
  • I?m slim (whereas 62% of American women age 20 to 74 are overweight)
  • I?m attractive (my new picture has been rated more attractive than 86% of the women on Hot or Not — and the women who upload their pictures are a self-selected sample that is probably already biased towards being more attractive than the general female population)
  • I?m relatively young (whereas 82% of American adult women are over 30 years old)
  • I?m intelligent (IQ tested at 145 when I was a child, which is 3 standard deviations above the mean — higher than 99.85% of the population. Even if I?ve gotten dumber as I?ve aged I?m probably still at least a 130, which is higher than 97.5% of the population.)
  • I?m educated (whereas 77% of American women do not have bachelor?s degrees)
  • I have my financial shit together (no debt, perfect credit history, 6+ months living expenses saved, adequate insurance, self employed)
  • I have a strong libido and love having sex (my lover *never* has to beg, unless it?s for me to let him get some sleep!)
  • Most of my interests tend to be more popular with men than women: science fiction, libertarianism, blogging, politics, economics, guns, gambling, etc.

And she caught a fair amount of flak for saying these things: one ex-reader (I assume) sniffed, "Is there a more self righteous bitch anywhere else in the blogsphere?" (Answer: Scads of them.)

For my part, I can't get too worked up about this. At the very least, she's upfront about what she has to offer, and it's up to you to decide whether she matches your particular priorities; rather a lot of folks hide their light under a bushel. (Ask me about my grain elevator.) She doesn't happen to hit mine especially well, as it happens, but that's hardly a reason to criticize someone. And while I tend to be wary of an elevated sense of self — rather a lot of people have defined themselves as Good while doing their best to hide from the advance of Evil — I suspect she's closer to the Ayn Rand side of the spectrum, where love and romance are transactions like any other, and hey, it's a tough market out there. Besides, I'm older than her target age group, and I suspect that the clash of dissimilar libidos would result in either heartbreak or heart attack, neither of which is on my list of Desired Outcomes. Still, I am a firm believer in holding out for what you want, and I can't fault her for doing the same. Bottom line: I think I'd like her; I have no reason to think we ought to be dating.

She adds:

I'm sorry if I've offended you, but I'm also really sick of getting e-mailed several times a week by delusionally hopeful men who read my blog and think because I am their dream girl that I'll therefore want them too. Too often they act crushed when I reject them, which I feel bad about, but if they had stopped to consider whether they had as much to offer me as I have to offer them then they might have had more realistic expectations.

Now that's gonna leave a mark.

Disclosures:

  • I did actually email her once, about something of not much importance. Her response could be fairly characterized as direct and precise.
  • Approximately half the population is below average in appearance; a different half (inevitably there is some overlap) is below average in intelligence. I assume I qualify for at least one of the above.
  • I'm relatively old. Even my relatives are relatively old, or at least older than they used to be.
  • On the wealth curve, I rank as "not broke but not rolling in it either."
  • Most of my activities tend to be of no interest to anyone.
  • I get zero emails a week from delusionally hopeful women.

I should also point out that this post multiplied Jacqueline's traffic ninefold, so I can reasonably expect to get three, maybe four extra visits out of this response. And if what you wanted here was a point-by-point response to her assertions, try this.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:27 AM to Table for One )
Nothing up my sleeve

As Fleshbot says:

This is either the worst striptease of all-time or the greatest magic trick ever, depending on your point of view.

Either way, it's not safe for work unless Hugh Hefner is your supervisor, and possibly not even then.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:11 AM to Entirely Too Cool )
Besides, people keep stealing the pens

Earlier this year, banks in the UK rolled out a plan called "Chip and PIN", which is intended to reduce payment-card fraud. Customers are issued "smart" cards with an embedded chip and a four-digit number, and instead of signing the slip at the point of purchase, they must enter that number directly into the terminal.

Since most US-issued cards lack the chip — only two of my cards are so equipped — some American travelers are encountering problems at UK stores. Cards lacking the chip should still be accepted with a signature, according to the proponents, but evidently not all merchants have gotten the message.

Full rollout was 14 February 2006: in the year before, the pilot program produced a 24-percent reduction in fraudulent transactions.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:32 AM to Common Cents )
Words from the Duke

Edmunds.com's Inside Line gets MG's Duke Hale to sit for a few questions:

What is your sense — and do you have any data to support — if MG has any brand equity left, particularly after being out of the U.S. since 1980? And if it has any, who is that equity with? Mostly older people?

I have looked at research done by a European-based firm that definitely indicates there is positive equity in North America with the 40-plus crowd. It certainly has more positive equity in Europe, where MGs were sold up until about 10 months ago in the range of 120,000 cars a year. It's been 25-plus years since the MG was sold in North America so people as young as in their late 30s and early 40s still remember the brand. Younger than that, they don't. But look at the Mini Cooper. That was never as strong a brand as MG. I hardly remember the Mini Cooper. But look at what they've done, selling 200,000-plus a year. I think we can learn from Mini on how to not only appeal to the 40-plus crowd, but also how to tap into the 22-40 crowd. We'll tear a page out of Mini's playbook.

Why Oklahoma? General Motors recently closed the state's only assembly plant there.

The opportunity in Oklahoma is immense. The Ardmore Air Park, where we will build the coupe, is a 3000-acre parcel. Some of the land is sovereign Indian state. We are partnered with Mark Nuttle. [Editor's note: Nuttle is manager of the Oklahoma Sovereign Development LLC, which has a joint venture with the Chickasaw Nation to develop the land into an international trade and distribution center. Nanjing would benefit from tax advantages, including property tax exemptions, accelerated tax depreciation and employment tax credits if the tribe purchases 650 or more acres for the Ardmore Airpark and leases it to Nanjing.] Let imagination run and you can think of creative ways that allow the business to be more efficient and profitable to the point that one might be able to build vehicles in Oklahoma nearly as cheaply as China.

There is, of course, a lot more being discussed, but these were the questions I most wanted answered.

Ninety thousand

Next week Gwendolyn goes in for her 90,000-mile service. I do not expect any change from a $500 bill.

Incidentally, the 99s and earlier are eighty bucks cheaper; they have a fuel-filter replacement, which I don't, but they don't have the cabin air filter to pull, and I do.

I should point out here that Sandy, had she lived, would be pulling in for 60k about now, and that's closer to $800. Then again, she had a timing belt which was due for replacement.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:49 PM to Driver's Seat )
We B Peeved

Men's Health magazine, always on the lookout for new statistics to hype, has announced the 100 Angriest Cities in the US.

The criteria:

Our search for evidence of urban anger began with the percentage of men with high blood pressure, from the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (as calculated by Sperling's BestPlaces). We then factored in FBI rates of aggravated assaults and Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers on workplace deaths from assaults and other violence. And because rage and the road often go hand in hand, we also included traffic-congestion data from the Texas Transportation Institute, as well as speeding citations per state from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

I leave to the Floridians who read this page to explain which of these components got four Sunshine State cities into the Top 10, with Orlando and St. Petersburg holding down the top two slots, Miami seventh and Jacksonville ninth. By contrast, Soonerland is practically placid, with Tulsa pulling in at 41st and Oklahoma City yawning to 58th. For maximum mellow, you want Fargo or Bangor or Manchester, N'Hampsha.

(Via Fark.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:15 PM to Dyssynergy )
16 August 2006
Terror firmer

One of these responses is not like the others:

FDR: Oh, I'm sorry, was wiping out our entire Pacific fleet supposed to intimidate us? We have nothing to fear but fear itself, and right now we're coming to kick your ass with brand new destroyers riveted by waitresses. How's that going to feel?

CHURCHILL: Yeah, you keep bombing us. We'll be in the pub, flipping you off. I'm slapping Rolls-Royce engines into untested flying coffins to knock you out of the skies, and then I'm sending angry Welshmen to burn your country from the Rhine to the Polish border.

US. NOW: BE AFRAID!! Oh God, the Brown Bad people could strike any moment! They could strike ... NOW!! AHHHH. Okay, how about .. NOW!! AAGAGAHAHAHHAG! Quick, do whatever we tell you, and believe whatever we tell you, or YOU WILL BE KILLED BY BROWN PEOPLE!! PUT DOWN THAT SIPPY CUP!!

You'll pardon me if I don't think this last is an improvement.

(With thanks to Steph Mineart.)

How to be as cool as Sean Gleeson

Well, okay, let's not go overboard here. Nobody is as cool as Sean Gleeson, except maybe William Shatner. And the Shat can't teach you Web design.

But Sean Gleeson can, and he's filling up Web Design classes at Oklahoma City Community College. This is your one chance to partake of all that Gleeson goodness. (You didn't really want to wait another whole semester, now, did you?)

Details here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:07 AM to City Scene , PEBKAC )
204

"Chic and comfortable clothes for every occasion" have been found for thirty years at Opus 204 in Seattle.

Not quite so old, but always chic and occasionally comfortable, is the Carnival of the Vanities, and the 204th edition is hosted this week by Spooky Action. In an especially Spooky move, Mike DeWitt has subdivided the Carnival into five distinct sections, and surely there's one for you.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:32 AM to Blogorrhea )
Insert coins, no change returned

Jay brings up this chart of major business/economics blogs and their relative influence. In terms of daily visitors, the top such blog is Marginal Revolution, which is the USA Today of bizblogs, in that USA Today is the national newspaper-circulation leader. (No other comparison is made or should be implied. You buy the premise, you buy the bit.) The remainder of the chart places other bizblogs below MR, and based on their traffic compared to MR's, they are matched to a corresponding newspaper. For instance, QandO, with about half the traffic, is paired to a newspaper with half the circulation: the Los Angeles Times.

On this basis, I figured I'd fall somewhere around the level of the Sulphur Times-Democrat in relative clout. But, says Brian Gongol, who compiled this data presumably right off people's Site Meters and such, Marginal Revolution pulls 8307 daily visits, yielding 14370 page views. My own current numbers are 861 and 1194; taking the less-flattering of the two, I get 8.309 percent of the traffic enjoyed (I assume he enjoys it) by Tyler Cowen. Now: what newspaper has 8.309 percent of the circulation of USA Today?

ABC numbers for the period ending 31 March 2006 put USA Today at 2,528,437 copies daily. Doing the math, I wind up at 210,087, which is good for a top-100 finish: behind Investor's Business Daily, number 64, but ahead of two New Jersey papers, the Record in Hackensack and the Asbury Park Press. (I have some problems with the rankings as given here, since papers under a JOA, like the Seattle Times and Post-Intelligencer, are cited as the total of the two; if they deobfuscated the numbers for these pairs, I'd be between zero and three notches lower.)

If I go by visitors, I'm at 10.365 percent of Cowen's; this puts me at 262,066, splitting the difference between the San Jose Mercury News (48th) and the St. Paul Pioneer Press (49th).

Of course, this is just a statistical exercise, valid only for the days for which visitor counts were made available, and ultimately signifying nothing. In terms of Genuine Reader Influence, I probably rank below the Sulphur Times-Democrat (circulation figures not available).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:08 AM to Blogorrhea )
Glides and slides across the floor

Chesapeake Energy's expansion in recent years has been reminiscent of The Blob: eventually it would engulf the entire city, and you'd see people running out of a theater — well, maybe the Will Rogers Center — screaming at the top of their lungs.

The question of "What are they thinking?" has been sort of answered: the company has requested Planned Unit Development zoning for its campus and points to the east, roughly from Western to Shartel, 59th to 63rd. (The city's Web site, on this type of zoning: "The PUD may be used for particular tracts or parcels of land that are under common ownership and are to be developed as one unit according to a master design statement or a master development plan.")

So what's the plan? The complex may eventually contain, says the zoning application, "up to 75 condos, restaurants and a heliport," though nothing is quite graven in stone just yet:

It still is unclear ... exactly how all the space will be used, said Tim Johnson, an engineer at Oklahoma City-based Johnson & Associates.

"The language in the PUD is specifically structured so that it allows flexibility within the plan," said Johnson, who wrote the application for Chesapeake. "Chesapeake does not have a hard and fast master plan.

"As the campus develops, they may stop with office buildings and move on with condos, and that would be a good mix in the campus setting. They want to take care of their employees, so we thought about restaurants and cleaners. But nothing is concrete."

I presume Chesapeake's acquisition of Nichols Hills Plaza, northwest of its campus, isn't mentioned in the application, since the Plaza is within the corporate limits of Nichols Hills and therefore outside Oklahoma City jurisdiction.

And I have to figure that prices for natural gas won't remain in the stratosphere forever, so Chesapeake may be pursuing this diversification just to make sure they remain a major corporate player.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:06 PM to City Scene )
Cracking down on Induhviduals

"Against stupidity," wrote Schiller, "the gods themselves contend in vain." Governments, seeing themselves as the moral equivalent of, if not actually superior to, gods, are missing an opportunity here; why, there are at least 16 steps that could be taken now. A sampling:

"8 Items or Less" line violators will have their number of fingers reduced to 8, for obvious reasons. The government is here to help.

"You Must Have an IQ Greater Than 7 x 24 - 60 to Enter Through This Gate" signage will appear at all public queues, especially at amusement facilities, cinemas and airports. Failure to answer the mathematical equation correctly (and minor variations thereof) within 20 seconds will result in guards immediately repositioning the stupid at the end of the line. Sans kneecaps. Because we just know that there?ll be a dispute about admission fees, payment methods and whether you really do have a "constitutional right" to bring your own, open beer can into the facility.

Woe betide he who inserts parentheses around (24 - 60) and presents himself with an IQ of -252. (Alternatively, he could be appointed to a government job; obviously the qualifications are in place.)

"Induhviduals," you'll remember, is a coinage by Scott Adams, though he originally applied it to people who didn't receive the Dilbert newsletter. It has proven to have far greater application than he imagined.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:07 PM to Dyssynergy )
17 August 2006
Jumpin' Jiminy

Crickets outside are soothing; crickets inside drive me up a freaking wall, and since I have only eight-foot ceilings, I don't have all that far up the wall to go.

By chance, though, while climbing said walls last night, I found two of the little buggers: inside (sort of) the light in the hallway, which is one weird period piece of a fixture. It descends from the rafters, but doesn't quite make it to the ceiling; in the ceiling itself, there's a square hole, a frame around it, and a sliding glass plate to seal it up. (There's another one in the living room.) The crickets had apparently been dancing around the attic and wound up on that plate, where their every movement was amplified into Scary Stomps.

It occurred to me, at some point during the approximately 0.9 second I had to move the plate horizontally, drop the insects to the floor, and arrest their forward motion, that a baton twirler might have been more effective wielding the broom than I had been.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to Surlywood )
Redmond: home of tools

Microsoft is readying a "blog tool," and Winston is sounding the alarm:

[G]o hide in a dark corner and think ... and become afraid ... very afraid. Close your eyes and envision a future in which all blogs are done through Microsoft's BillyBlog service on their "pay-per-post" plan. All posts and all comments will become the property of Microsoft to do with as they please, including suing my ass for making these comments.

This reminds me of, well, me, circa 2003:

What would Windows blogging tools be like? Probably something like this:
  • All posts must be composed in Word.

  • You'd have to ping microsoft.com with a registration code before the program would send pings to blo.gs or to weblogs.com.

  • Any build error would generate a Blue Screen of Death and require a reboot.

  • The comment-spam filter would randomly block Safari and Opera users.

  • Windows Media Player would automatically delink any linked mp3 files.

  • Microsoft.com would wind up on the TTLB Ecosystem as the Highest Being, Dammit.

  • The built-in spellchecker will have issues with the word "Unix".

  • There will be a new security "upgrade" every other Tuesday.

  • Each member of a group blog would have to pay for a separate license.

  • A rogue email will be able to infect your templates.

On the upside, complaints about Blogger and Blogspot should diminish markedly.

Plus ça change, and all that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:25 AM to Blogorrhea , PEBKAC )
What's the bag limit on weasels?

You gotta hope it's at least two, preferably these two:

Troy Gentry, one-half of the country twosome Montgomery Gentry ... has been indicted for allegedly shooting a black bear named Cubby.

Gentry, 39, of Franklin, Tenn., allegedly bought the tame bear for $4,650 from wildlife photographer and hunting guide Lee Greenly, 46. Gentry then "killed it with a bow and arrow in an enclosed pen on Greenly's property in October 2004," reports The Associated Press.

Authorities claim that Gentry and Greenly "tagged the bear with a Minnesota hunting license and registered the animal with the Tennessee Department of Natural Resources as a wild kill."

The pair also edited a videotape of the killing to appear as if the country star snagged the bear in a "fair chase," authorities told The AP.

This is a couple of steps beyond the old delicatessen joke where the guy comes in to buy a whole load of seafood, and the attendant asks if they should deliver it. "No, just throw it to me," he says. "I have to be able to say that I caught it."

Gentry could face five years in Club Fed and a $20,000 fine, not to mention the eternal memory of not having had the stones to do any real hunting.

(Via skippy the bush kangaroo.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:46 AM to Wastes of Oxygen )
Zillow recants, partially

You may remember this from last week:

1 week change: + $20,329

In one week? Does this look like the freaking San Francisco Bay Area?

We'll see how long this number lasts: $117,695. I give it a week.

One week later: $114,095, "1 week change: -$3,600." Looks like they're going to fix it a little at a time.

A number I might believe: $96,200.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:39 PM to Surlywood )
Stocking up

Washington Post fashion editor Robin Givhans notes in Harper's Bazaar (September, the one that weighs eight or nine pounds):

The difference between fashion in Washington, D.C. and New York can be summed up in two words: panty hose. In New York, panty hose are an accessory that can be worn — or not — according to whim and weather. In D.C., panty hose are political.

Although I now live in Manhattan, for almost five years I lived in our nation's capital. I never wore panty hose in D.C. I made this decision based on personal comfort and my inability to get into a pair of sheer nude hose withour poking a hole through them. Years ago I mentioned my disdain for panty hose at a ladies' luncheon. My dining companions — each a power woman in her own field — gasped. A rebel was in their midst, and they were intrigued. Was I making a feminist statement of personal freedom? Was I snubbing my nose at personal propriety? Well, no, I just didn't like panty hose. "But don't you wear panty hose with your suits?" asked one woman. Did I dare admit I didn't wear those either? In a town filled with social secretaries and protocol specialists, flouting decorum is a serious matter.

Two thoughts:

  • I always thought it was one word: "pantyhose," except at JCPenney, which persisted in spelling it "pantihose" for many years.

  • Costa Tsiokos doesn't care one way or another.

I would, however, like to hear from some actual women on this matter.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:29 PM to Rag Trade )
18 August 2006
Quote of the week

How efficient, really, is the Efficient Market Hypothesis? Lance offers some illustrative dialogue:

Economist: That looks like a $20 bill lying on the ground over there.

Other Economist: It couldn?t be. If it were, somebody would have picked it up already.

And they call it a "dismal" science.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:18 AM to QOTW )
I suspect I've been there

At least, this sounds somewhat familiar:

We wanted to try someplace new, so I suggested Anne Stuart?s Food-a-teria (not the real name) because we had heard from a bunch of people over the years that the food was really good, blah blah blah. It didn?t open until 11:00 AM, so we killed 45 minutes at Border?s, and arrived back at the food-a-teria at 11:15 AM.

So far, so good. But then:

"Don?t you feel odd being here?" she asked.

"Why? Because I?m the only young guy in the room not wearing an Izod shirt? And we?re probably the only people that didn?t come here directly from church? Or that everyone is white white?"

"Yeah."

"I think if this place only served mayonnaise, these people would be okay with it."

Naw. This place is on the north side of town. It's Southerners who embrace mayonnaise to excess.

(Is this an effort to get McGehee to repost his December 2002 mayonnaise rant? What do you think?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:27 AM to Worth a Fork )
An army of Davids indeed

Diane Rehm's guests for the Friday news roundup, as always, came from various points on the political spectrum. But somebody went to a lot of trouble with this week's panel, all of whom were named David:

  • David Cook, Washington bureau chief, The Christian Science Monitor
  • David Gregory, chief White House correspondent, NBC
  • David Ignatius, associate editor/columnist, The Washington Post

Perhaps to compensate, the second hour of the show was scheduled to include Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Arianna Huffington and Paul Mirengoff.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:59 AM to Overmodulation )
Scroll up

A monument engraved with the Ten Commandments is to be installed near the Coal County Courthouse, though not actually on the courthouse grounds: it's on private property and was built entirely with private funds — "to keep some of these protesters away from it," said County Commissioner Johnny Ward.

I'd like to get a look at it, but given what happened the last time I was in Coal County, I'm thinking I can wait a good long time.

We're all OK

In case you thought you were the only one who noticed:

Seriously, what is it about Oklahoma that there are so many, and such interesting, blogs?! I check these three daily as I'm sure many people do (dustbury, numskullery, sweet familiar dissonance) and finally realized that they're all Oklahomans. Sheesh, is there something in the water? the air? the soil??

It's a hundred and five outside. No wonder we're at our keyboards, our tumblers of [fill in name of preferred libation] at our sides, our tongues loosened just enough to tell you things like this.

(Were this January, amend the first sentence to "It's twenty-seven and drizzling outside.")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:48 PM to Blogorrhea , Soonerland )
19 August 2006
Beyond the mixed bag

It's not like I've never had odd juxtapositions before:

The clerk looked at this Bee Gees thing, looked at the other disc I was buying, which turned out to be beautifulgarbage (Interscope), and looked at me, and I said, "There's a punchline here somewhere, I'm sure."

So try to imagine yesterday's Amazon.com shipment.

First, the music, by Scottish composer James Dillon (1950-    ), three pieces that don't go out of their way to be accessible but will eventually find their way into your synapses. East 11th St. NY 10003, it is said, is where John Cage once lived, and this 1982 work for six percussionists is indeed dedicated to Cage. This doesn't sound like Cage, particularly — its most obvious antecedent is Edgard Varèse's Ionisation — but the wild variations in durations and rhythms make it necessary to listen to the rests as much as to the notes, a very Cage-y idea indeed. East 11th St. was the first completed section of Dillon's Nine Rivers cycle: some of those rivers are relatively placid, some of them are turbulent, but all of them flow. Also part of Nine Rivers is La Femme Invisible (1989), the fourth section, a river flowing underground through caverns and tunnels and creating echoes and harmonies therein, the body of a woman rendered in rock and water. The piano and the percussion maintain the current; the winds define the surface. Windows and Canopies (1985) lie atop the rainforest, and sometimes you can see your way to the sky (winds and percussion) and sometimes the forest is so thick you can see nothing at all (strings scored as a veritable thicket of interlaced threads and glissandi). The recording dates from 1992 and was released on NMC, a non-profit English label funded by the Holst Foundation.

The book has English roots as well, but far different ones. Marianne Mancusi's A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court (2005) doesn't quite mix Mark Twain and Candace Bushnell, but it's a cheerfully preposterous read in its own right, and while some will tag it with the hated term "chick lit," I, a guy-type person, found it quite entertaining, perhaps because Mancusi's Kat is every bit as anxious as I am to work pop-culture references into everything, and besides, she's prettier. What's more, as is no secret, I am a sucker for off-kilter romances, and for sweetening, there's an absolutely shameless Back to the Future ripoff in Chapter Two that floored me: "I suppose Armani is not your surname either," says Lancelot.

Of course, the sort of person who thrives on breezy fiction like this is generally not the sort of person who buys contemporary music by self-taught Scotsmen either, but I've been out of sorts for most of my life. (And oh, there's a sequel to Fashionista due next year: A Hoboken Hipster in Sherwood Forest. How can I resist?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:38 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The evil that men do

Particularly men who want to live off the efforts of others. I saw this in the new Wired this morning, and while most of the tale was familiar, towards the end it took a turn I never would have — but probably should have — expected. From Charles C. Mann's "Spam + Blogs = Trouble":

Blogger and other blog hosting sites now require users to prove they are not spambots before posting comments by identifying a series of distorted letters and numbers. The protection codes are called Captchas, which stands for "completely automated public Turing tests to tell computers and humans apart." In theory, sploggers' autoposting software can't figure out the distorted images, thus reducing the flow of spam. But Captchas also make commenting harder. "It's a big pain for legitimate users," Blogger's [Jason] Goldman says, "and there are many visually impaired people who can't do it at all." (Google recently introduced an audio-based form.) Nor are Captchas completely effective. Sploggers are believed to be hiring squads of low-paid people to type through the tests. "We're seeing Captchas solved in bursts, which suggests they are working in shifts," Goldman says.

Emphasis added. (Could this account for what appears to be a recent upsurge in "work-from-home" schemes?)

I have been reluctant to get into pay-per-click ads on this site, at least partially because of my reservations about the ultimate viability of the concept: if the system is so easily gamed, how long can it survive? (Besides, if someone is so moved by my purple prose to want to support my efforts, there's always actual linkage, or maybe a few cents routed to my PayPal account.) I'd hate to think the whole structure can come tumbling down because of a few people who insist that their lunch be free.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:38 AM to Blogorrhea , TANSTAAFL )
Those Oedipal airborne serpents

What we need here is Leona Anderson, and some new lyrics to "Rats in My Room":

Snakes on a plane
I am bothered by those snakes on a plane
By those [word deleted] snakes on a plane
I have had it with those snakes on a plane

On one level, Snakes on a Plane delivers: you've got your plane, and there are by-God snakes on it. Beyond that, by all rights it should suck, should suck harder than the poor soul trying to extract venom with a razor blade and olive oil, and yet somehow it doesn't suck: the story makes sense, more or less; the scenes that were pasted in after the fact to push the film into R-rated territory seem only slightly obvious; the crowd (smallish, but it was an early Saturday matinee) was appreciative, even of lines like "Time is tissue." It's as though the filmmakers decided, "Yeah, okay, we'll give the fanboys what they want, but while we're at it, let's make a movie."

And of course, there's Samuel L. Jackson. The man has serious gravitas, and Snakes wouldn't have worked if he hadn't; this is the sort of material which, if you try to tack on even the slightest bit of synthetic irony, would dissolve into self-parody almost immediately. So Jackson plays it straight, and even the ostensibly-humorous characters avoid fourth-wall snickering, which is how a film which is basically Airplane! with reptiles instead of punchlines comes off as workable, even likable. If it's not truly first-class entertainment, well, you can still get quite a ride in coach.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:48 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Saturday spottings (you gotta look)

If there's a universal Guy Utterance, it's "Hey, watch this!" (If he asks you to hold his beer, trouble may be in the offing.) Close behind, at least among those who are single and straight, is "Where are all the women?"

Well, as of noon today, they were at Stein Mart. I wandered over in search of sheets and towels, and the place was like Estrogen Central: wall-to-wall women, twentysomething through sixtysomething, each of them presumably engaged in serious bargain hunting. I am no bargain, but I did say something to a clerk about coming down with Only Male In The Store Syndrome, and she smiled just long enough to give her a chance to remember the script: "Oh, but we have many customers who are men." Maybe some other day.

The other thought I had was "Does no one have a full-sized bed anymore?" The vast majority of the offerings, including the spiffy 500-plus-thread-count packages, were queen or king only, and much as I'd like to buy a new bed, I can't see spending that much money on something that benefits me only when I'm asleep.

This past spring, an almost-new sofa appeared by the side of the road, on Grand Boulevard just north of NE 29th. Over the months, it accumulated debris: first a discarded bottled-water container, then bits of blown-in paper. I wanted to get a shot of it last time I was by there, but Grand had been closed; the city was redoing the railroad crossing south of the Oklahoma Railway Museum. (This is presumably going to be part of the spur line from downtown, or at least Bricktown, to the Adventure District.) Today Grand was open, but the sofa apparently had been attacked by something: one of the cushions was ripped open, and there was a whole new layer of garbage at that end. Wee, and not so wee, forest creatures abound in this part of town, so I'm guessing it was one of them rather than the occasional fatigued pedestrian or cyclist.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:28 PM to City Scene )
20 August 2006
Poll-ish jokes

Sean Gleeson has a complaint about the royal Timese machine:

The cover of the magazine shows Hillary's face, and underneath it only two choices, "LOVE HER" and "HATE HER." Purchasers of the magazine are invited to check one or the other option, and mail in the cover.

Since I will not be buying a copy of Time to register my choice, I will cast my vote here instead. And I vote for "LOVE HER."

No, I would not vote for Hillary, for any office. That's because I oppose her positions in matters of governance, and do not trust her to make decisions on my behalf. But I do love Hillary Clinton, and I hate no man, woman, or child. I am disappointed in Time's cavalier use of "love" and "hate" as a sort of shorthand, meaning approval or disapproval of the political opinions or actions of a human being. Is anyone else disgusted by this?

Political speech being debased almost by definition, and polling as a form of political speech being the most debased of all, I think I'm more frustrated than disgusted — what else could I expect?

And on the real poll, as Gleeson puts it:

... the one conducted with real statistical sampling. This poll didn?t ask the respondents whether they "love" or "hate" Hillary, but that didn?t stop [Ana Marie] Cox from pronouncing that "Republicans hate her." She knows this because most Republicans wouldn?t vote for Hillary. This poll did ask some pretty pointless questions.

As do most of them, I suspect, and I think Xrlq might agree:

Recently we've read that 38% of Americans polled believe the U.S. government is withholding information about UFOs proof of the existence of intelligent life from other planets, and 36% think 9/11 was an inside job. Now, E&P reports that 39% of Americans polled think Muslims should be required to carry a special ID.

Time for my own poll. Is there any question so wacky that one-third of the population will not answer it in the affirmative?

I have long believed that people are fed up with the endless stream of polls, polls, polls, and will tell pollsters literally anything just to shut them the hell up. You want to know what the electorate thinks? Watch what they do in November.

And now there's Rehm Watch

Actually, it's called "What You Did Not Hear on the Diane Rehm Show," and this is its mission statement:

Diane Rehm hosts a show that is civil, "classy", intelligent, varied, relevant, and completely different from the "shout you down" "run-of-the-mill" shows that pass for ?talk-shows?. But there is a slight flaw: it leans liberal. Let?s be frank.

Besides the fact that most guests are of a liberal bent, and the fact that most topics are introduced by way of adjectives which betray that bias — there?s not one week that goes by that one doesn?t hear a topic introduced as "the Bush administration..." — the best example of the bias is in the weekly News Roundup (hereinafter called the Weekly Gang-up). The composition of that panel is typical of what can be seen in the rest of the mainstream media (hereinafter called the Old Media, or Liberal Media). It is usually a 3 against 1 ratio, that is, three liberals including the host and one token conservative.

Usually (although not done so much anymore) the three liberals are introduced without the nomination of liberal before their names, while the conservative is customarily introduced as "conservative commentator or writer so and so." The implication is that the firsts are, of course, neutral and objective journalists. Because we enjoy The Diane Rehm Show and because we believe that a healthy unbiased media is healthy for Democracy, and because we contribute with our taxes to the airing of The Diane Rehm Show we therefore declare ourselves "Self-Appointed Ombudsman" of the best variety show on radio.

I have to agree that it leans a tad to the left, but I'm not convinced that this is a "flaw": otherwise, all those "run-of-the-mill" shows, unless demonstrated to be smack dab in the middle, wherever the middle might be these days, are comparably flawed. (On the larger question of media bias in general, I tend to believe that most people are smart enough to apply their own filters as needed, and those who aren't, well, how likely are they to read this?)

The Ombudsman himself is José Alejandro Amoròs, and here's his vantage point:

I have spent half of my life in the US and one half outside. I did not grow nor was I intellectually formed in the bipolar ideological struggle of the present generation of Americans. I have a different experience. Liberals think [I] am Conservative and Conservatives think [I] am Liberal. I am a proud American citizen and consider myself an American Revolutionary in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

Not a bad place to be, all things considered. (Is there an All Things Considered Watch?)

Disclosure: In addition to the aforementioned taxes, I write a check each fall to the NPR affiliate that carries Diane's show.

In the zone, maybe

The MAPS for Kids folks send out an eight-page newsletter every quarter to let us taxpaying types know what we're getting for our $650 million, and this time around, in addition to a feature on the new Martin Luther King Elementary (1201 NE 48th Street), there's a chart for figuring out the John Marshall/Centennial (formerly Eisenhower) breakdown, and it goes like this:

If you live in the NEW John Marshall attendance zone:
  • 6-9 grade students will attend the new John Marshall High School, 12201 N. Portland Avenue.
  • 10-12 grade students will remain at the original John Marshall High School facility, 9017 N. University Avenue.

If you live in the Oklahoma Centennial High School attendance zone:

  • 6-12 grade students will remain at the original John Marshall High School facility, 9017 N. University Avenue.

If you live in the Eisenhower Elementary attendance zone:

  • Students will attend school in the old Hoover Middle School facility (2401 NW 115th Terrace), which will become Stonegate Elementary School once it's renovated.

Got all that? Me either. I last discussed this matter here; since then, rather a lot of things have changed besides the Eisenhower name for the new high school. There was a map floating around that detailed the various attendance zones, but I haven't been able to find it online lately. (You can always call the district office at 405 587-0000, should you need one.)

I complained a couple of years ago about the proofreading in the newsletter, and it's not much improved. Sample from page 2 of the current edition:

In the next two years, the north section of Oklahoma City will have two new high schools to compliment the new Douglass High School and the new U. S. Grant High School.

"Hey, Douglass! Looking good!"

(In passing: Managing Editor of the newsletter is Drew Dugan, whom you may remember from such wonderful House campaigns as "Mexican Meth".)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:40 PM to City Scene )
Welcome to the Panhandle State

Dan Paden meets the beggars:

Perfectly able-bodied — they don't all have bad backs, friends — people, often young, standing on corners or walking around parking lots, begging. I swear sometimes I've seen it all. I've seen people begging — in tandem! — on a corner in one part of town, and getting off a bus to beg on a different corner later in the day. I've seen the same guy show up on the same corner at regular intervals — usually Saturdays. I guess he'd beg all week long, but it must interfere with something else he's doing. He must be doing okay. He's not getting any skinnier, that's for sure.

Nice work if you can get it. Oh, wait, did I say "work"?

Tulsa has an unemployment rate of somewhere between 3.75 and 4.25 percent, if memory serves. Employers are screaming for people, often anyone who'll just show up and try. At this point, you practically have to hide under a rock to avoid getting a job in this town. Or you have to be way too dadgum choosy.

Or maybe you'd rather just spend your days playing the slots and Governor Henry's lotto and letting strangers buy your beer, cigarettes, and lotto tickets before you go back home to the city-subsidized apartment you share with the disabled lady.

One commenter wrote that "they come to Tulsa because they can't panhandle in OKC," which should be a surprise to anyone who's driven past Penn Square lately.

In the event that you saw this and immediately thought "But panhandlers are protected by the First Amendment," I note that (1) courts have indeed often, if not invariably, so ruled, and (2) such protection, whatever its extent, imposes no obligation on the general public: no one is guaranteed an audience.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:10 PM to Soonerland )
21 August 2006
Strange search-engine queries (29)

Sooner or later, something you search for will bring you here. After all, you're not looking for anything weirder than these folks:

delusional women dating:  They're not dating me, so they can't be too delusional.

fairy envoy seat covers:  Who knew that GMC had dealers in the Land of Faerie?

google wayne walters okla senate:  What's funny about this is that "google" is a search term — and the search was sent through MSN.

industrial spray gun melts pewter, zinc instantly:  How well would it work against snakes on a plane?

definition geezer offensive:  No, it isn't. Now get the hell off my lawn, you young punk.

Allen Iverson Sixty Thousand Dollar Shoes:  If he buys one pair, does he get the second for half price?

"women who wear glasses" nearsighted:  Some of them, surely.

seattle goth lesbians:  Some of them, surely.

animaniacs fetish:  Yeah, that Minerva Mink is hot.

repressing sexual desires:  This isn't particularly amusing, but I found it a bit odd that I should be in the top 20 results.

walgreens call center in okc closing?  Actually, it's been sold to United Health Group. (Story here.)

switch bodies with jessica simpson:  Oddly, no one wants to swap brains with her.

why do I receive so much spam from unsavory sources?  Who else would send it?

"invisible woman" fantasy giggled:  Never actually seen one, you know, but I can imagine why she might want to giggle.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to You Asked For It )
Proactive scum

When I switched to Movable Type back in 2002, the system numbered each individual archive, starting with 000001, and assigned a similar series to TrackBacks, though inasmuch as I didn't implement TB until a couple of hundred posts were in place, the numbers for posts and TBs don't match up. None of this presented any particular problem.

Then I popped open the Junk TrackBack folder this morning, and there was a TB to a post I hadn't even published yet. (This one, in fact.) Obviously they were just trying numbers to see what would stick, and of course it didn't actually get onto the site, but this is a definite drawback to the numbering system. Newer versions of MT allow post titles to be worked into URLs, and TB links are named accordingly; I didn't switch over when I installed version 3.2, for the sake of consistency. It would be, I assume, harder for a spammer to anticipate a post title than a post number. (Then again, I've had some fairly predictable post titles over the past four years.)

The Oracle of Premium Unleaded

Were I the nation's Energy Czar, the first thing I would do, of course, would be to abolish the position of Energy Czar. The second thing I would do is to suggest (since I no longer had any actual, you know, power) that everyone try to be nice to Trilby Lundberg.

The AP has a feature story today on the "guru of gasoline prices," whose biweekly Lundberg Survey is the best-known of all the petroleum indices. She learned this stuff basically by OJT: she was trained as a classical pianist, and wound up with the job when her father, Dan Lundberg, who developed the survey half a century ago, died in 1986.

And, she says, there's no Svengali manipulating the prices behind the scenes:

Are there five oil industry executives someplace deciding the price of gas? "That would be tragic because that would wreck the market," she said. "And it would be a comedy because it is impossible."

Lundberg said oil companies have no interest in helping each other; they want to increase their sales at the expense of the competition. "They all have no mercy," she said.

Oh, and don't ask her about the gas mileage on her Mercedes. She has no idea.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:32 AM to Family Joules )
Snakes on a tomb

Not necessarily official doctrine:

We definitely have a huge problem with our mosques. Many of these mosque preachers never had any religious education; they could just be members of the congregation who know a word or two from the Quran and end up preaching to hundreds if not thousands every week.

Preaching against Jews and praying that God will orphan their children is not the only problem with these guys. Many of them, including even those who had religious education but are extremists in nature, say insane stuff that drive sensible minds crazy. For example, they might issue crazy fatwas on the nitty gritty things of life, things you'll find it very hard to believe that the almighty would be interested in. Other focus on hell and the "torture of the tomb." They think that by scaring the guts out of people, they'll pray more and visit the mosque more frequently.

I have a friend who one day decided that he had enough of his local mosque preacher. During the prayers, the man was telling the people about the "torture of the tomb" and what awaits the sinner when he dies. "And the bald snake will whirl itself around you in your tomb," he said.

The obvious question?

My friend raised his hand asking for permission to say something. "You said the bald snake, but is there a snake with hair in the first place." The guy's eyes popped out and several people started laughing.

I do hope the friend is still alive; some of those preachy types have no sense of humor.

(Via Scribal Terror.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:14 PM to Dyssynergy )
Sew what's old

A friend sent me this, and I have to admit it's kinda neat:

Past Patterns, one of the premiere pattern manufacturers of historical sewing patterns, covers Regency through 1930s fashions, engineered with historical accuracy, skill and come with detailed instructions and historical background. These patterns are suitable for novice through expert sewers. Highly recommended.

$60.50 Canadian will get you, for instance, a template for this:

Wedding Gown with Cathedral Train
Slight bustle created by metal stays in three rows from below the centre back waist to the knees, but can be eliminated without effect to the cathedral train which can be removed all together. This makes into a gorgeous gown. I have created this from ivory Duchess silk satin with antique (c.1860) lace for a client and found the pattern to be wonderful. Sizes 10-16 inclusive.

Only one thing perplexes me:

Weight: 971.00 gms

I've got to assume that this is the shipping weight for the pattern, because surely this gown weighs more than two pounds, doesn't it?

Snakes on a shoe

Christian Louboutin sandalE. M. Zanotti found this slithering through Neiman's, and not only are there snakes on the vamp, the heel is snakeskin. From Christian Louboutin, around $690. This reminds me of his "Palace" sandal, worn by the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, which I suppose should serve as a reminder that there's seldom any need to reinvent the wheel. (Aside: Speaking of snakes, I have to give some sort of props to whoever it was who thought it might be amusing to drape a rubber snake across the auditorium door at Tinseltown this past weekend. Very amusing in a tacky sort of way, rather like the film I came to see.) This is a very nice shoe, though I can't imagine anyone I know actually wearing it, what with the four-inch heel and all. (Those whom I know who do like four-inch heels generally don't like snakes, even stylized ones made out of shiny metal.) And yes, I swiped E.M.'s title; this was a case where I knew I couldn't improve upon it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:04 PM to Rag Trade )
22 August 2006
Jingle and/or jangle

One of the most mind-boggling bits of trivia extant, at least according to those to whom I've told it over the years, is that the second publisher of the Paris Review, one of the industrial-strength literary magazines of the last half of the twentieth century, was also the lead vocalist on "Sugar, Sugar."

Ron Dante, Renaissance Man. Darn few pop-music figures even come close to deserving the title. Since it's his birthday (he's 61), and persuaded as I am that anything this man does should be considered news, I thought I'd point you to his MySpace page and let you see (and hear!) what he's been up to lately. Or, what the heck, you can also play "Sugar, Sugar" — or "Tracy," ostensibly by the Cuff Links, Dante's second consecutive top-10 hit under a name other than his own. (His biggest hit as Ron Dante, 1970's "Let Me Bring You Up," topped out at a meager #104.)

Oh, and he has two Tony Awards, too: he produced both Ain't Misbehavin', Best Musical of 1978, and Children of a Lesser God, Best Play of 1980. I'm telling you, Renaissance Man if ever there was one. And we haven't even mentioned his commercials or his work with Barry Manilow yet. (Oops.)

What? My favorite Dante? Probably "Leader of the Laundromat," a Shangri-Las sendup from the end of 1964 recorded by the Detergents, that still makes me giggle. ("Who's that banging on the piano?" "I dunno.") Dante is one of the three hyper-clean voices, the others being Tommy Wynn and Danny Jordan. A subsequent Detergents nonhit, "I Can Never Eat Home Anymore," is currently atop my want list, mostly because Collectables, which did go to the trouble of compiling a Detergents CD in the late 1990s, managed to leave it off, possibly because it was released on a different label originally (Kapp instead of Roulette). And yes, it's more demented than even "Laundromat":

Listen, does this sound familiar?

You wake up every morning
With a hunger pain inside
Your mother makes you breakfast
But you wanna run and hide
You sneak out of the back door
And hang around the street
You know it's time for dinner
But you're afraid to go home and eat
And that's called ... hungry!

As much work as Ron Dante did over the years, he might not even remember this bit of, um, whimsy.

Found on road, dying

Charlie Hughes and William Jeanes are two names I know well. Hughes was the president of Mazda during its transformation from an also-ran Japanese nameplate to a recognized purveyor of Zoom Zoom, and Jeanes was perhaps the sanest editor of Car and Driver ever. In their forthcoming book Branding Iron: Branding Lessons from the Meltdown of the US Auto Industry, the guys offer a restructuring plan for Ford that goes way beyond anything Dearborn can possibly imagine. Some of the details:

  • Three brands: mainstream, near-luxury, high-end. Ford, Volvo, Jaguar. Everyone else has got to go. BMW would probably take Land Rover back, and Mazda might well want to be free of blue-oval influence. Aston Martin surely would find a taker. And Lincoln-Mercury? "They spend $300 million a year to flog Lincoln and Mercury, says Hughes, "and what kind of return are they getting on that?"

  • Move out of Dearborn and away from all those people named Ford. Chicago would work.

  • Adopt one standard, companywide: "We build the best cars for the money in any segment you might want."

Ford might actually spin off one of their British marques, but anything beyond that seems unlikely. Still, the people who are eating Detroit's lunch — Toyota and Honda, mostly — seem to be getting by with a mere two brands apiece. Ford, now sandwiched between them in size, can't be reasonably expected to sustain eight.

(Via Autoblog.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to Driver's Seat )
All thumbs

Thumbs up to SBC/AT&T/whoever they are this week for putting a wide variety of long-distance packages on display on their Web site; this is exactly the sort of information a customer needs.

Thumbs down to SBC/AT&T/whoever they are this week for making it impossible to order one of those packages over the Web if you already have one; you have to call the poor, harried service rep and give him the chance to do his spiel for the nine or ten other products they're dying to sell you, and then they'll talk to you about changing your LD plan.

Oh, well. They'll learn, one way or another.

Addendum, 3:40 pm: BStewart gives Bell Canada the finger. Maybe the whole darn fist.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:46 AM to Dyssynergy )
In summary

The usual Blogger template has a section called "About Me," and I admit, if I haven't read you before, I will read this first. Second at the latest.

And once in a great while I will encounter something as nifty as this:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the one strewn with Cheerios and diaper wipes, in a sensible car and pair of old jeans. I wake up next to an adorably hairy computer geek and spend my days wiping snotty noses and admiring crayon drawings. You know what? Life has never been more full of romance than it is right now.

Now if that isn't compelling, I don't know what is.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:25 PM to Blogorrhea )
Meanwhile at the voting machine

Not much of a wait: at 5:15 pm I checked in at #375. For the brief period I was there, there were as many Democrats as Republicans — although two of each hardly qualifies as a valid statistical sample. The pollworkers seemed a smidgen cheerier than usual, perhaps because they'd been waiting all day to have as many as four people at the table.

If you're wondering why it took me an hour to post this, the few drops of rain that fell upon me during the afternoon commute provided just enough motivation for me to drag out the lawn mower and reduce the height of the weeds out front before the next round of stormage. Assuming, of course, there is a next round.

They didn't say if it was kosher

Gatorade, schmatorade. What your body craves is ... pickle juice?

Apparently so:

Claiming 30 times the electrolytes of Powerade and 15 times that of Gatorade, the newly released Pickle Juice Sport already has major sports figures endorsing it.

Yes, you read correctly ? pickle juice. Developed through market research that confirms many people sneak a drink of pickle juice from the jar. Apparently there was a market, after all, for a manufactured beverage that tastes of dill, salt, and vinegar. This was later reinforced by an NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, which received national attention over the Eagles? consumption of pickle juice to beat the 120 degree heat and led them to victory. Who knew?!

I plead guilty to taking a sip out of the jar once in a while, but it never occurred to me to pass it off as a sports beverage.

Then again, given my fondness for corn — on the cob, out of the can, out of the freezer — perhaps I need some extra green to offset all that yellow.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:54 PM to Worth a Fork )
23 August 2006
And it's bronze, too

Add this to the Reasons for Side Trips file:

Recently, the [African American Hall of Fame] Museum commissioned Artist and Educator Preston Jackson to create a nine foot bronze sculpture of world famous Comedian and native Peorian Richard Pryor. The sculpture will be prominently displayed in front of our future home on the riverfront as part of the Peoria Museum Square. Mr. Jackson has recently completed the maquette and we will be unveiling the awe inspiring piece at the press conference. Please join us. We hope to see you there.

I don't think I can make it this morning, unfortunately, but there's something that just tickles me about a nine-foot statue of Richard Pryor, and inasmuch as Peoria is the largest city in Illinois I haven't seen up close, I'll have to keep this in mind for some future Tour route.

Now if we can just get some of these Oklahomans to do something fitting for Woody Guthrie.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Almost Yogurt )
205

This number probably doesn't mean much to you, unless you live in Alabama, in which case it is (or was) your telephone area code, and really, I don't think anyone will buy the notion that 205 is the atomic weight of the mysterious element dodgeblogium, which has affected Andrew Ian Dodge to the effect that he's now unleashed upon the world the Cthulhu of the Vanities.

Yes. R'lyeh. I am not making this up.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 AM to Blogorrhea )
Okay, who's got the wand?

Jeff Jarvis said this in the wake of 9/11:

So you can sneak a bomb in your shoe. The only solution is to fly naked. You can't bring anything on board; it all has to be shipped separately on cargo jet.

(The old Buzz Machine archives — the ones on Blogger — don't seem to be working; I copied this from a piece of my own.)

He later added:

Now you might say to me, Jeff, don't be ridiculous. At least we can fly in our underwear. But no. If enough C4 to take down a jet could be shoved into a shoe, imagine what could fit into a padded bra. I can see the headline now: Man Arrested at Logan With Explosive Codpiece. Ouch.

No comment from Jarvis yet on this. [Not safe for work.]

Update, 1 pm: Comment from Jarvis.

Now with even greater down content

You'll remember that two weeks ago Zillow.com came up with the implausible value of $117,695 for the palatial Surlywood estate, which occupies a whole quarter-acre in northwest Oklahoma City. After a $3600 drop the following week, I predicted that "they're going to fix it a little at a time."

This week: $109,315, down $6232.

My own guesstimate remains at $96,200.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:10 AM to Surlywood )
Clarification

When I said earlier today that the industry in which I work "blows goats," I in no way intended to limit the activity to domesticated animals.

If you were there to hear it, I apologize for the confusion.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:56 PM to Say What? )
Sphinx on a plain

Doug Bentin, in this week's Gazette, extolling the virtues of That Movie:

[Y]ou're either smacking your lips in anticipation or you're lamenting the fall of Western civilization. Sure, like Oedipus Rex is the model of dramatic good taste and restraint.

Of course! Samuel L. Jackson does Sophocles! They'll take liberties with the story, of course, but people will line up just to hear him say "I want this [obvious twelve-letter noun] off the [adjectival version of same] throne of Thebes!"

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:23 PM to Almost Yogurt )
24 August 2006
Giving them no quarters

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has revised those mysterious "Failure to pay toll strictly enforced" signs, and presumably now they mean business.

Then again, things happen. One of them happened to Steven Roemerman:

The other day I was forced to run a toll booth on the Creek Turnpike. I did not have exact change and the exit did not have a change machine.

Not wanting to get nailed to the wall for 60 cents, I called OTA Enforcement (1-877-774-9569). I was told to complete the following steps.

  • Write a check to the OTA for the amount of the missed toll.
  • In the memo field, put the offending vehicle's tag number, the date and time of the infraction, and the toll road.
  • Mail said check to P.O. Box 960029 Oklahoma City, OK 73196.
  • Wait for the OTA to mail you citation.
  • Call the OTA with the details of the citation and the number on the aforementioned check.

This sad story, of course, gives me an opportunity to recount this tale from my sordid past:

I got on the Kilpatrick Turnpike, duly stopped at the toll-basket, reached into my pocket, and did not find thirty cents. There was a Sacajawea dollar, though, so I grat my teeth and pitched the buckette into the basket.

Nothing.

This was not one of the toll stations with an actual bill changer, so I sat there. A truck pulled up behind me. I pondered running the toll light and sitting there waiting for the gendarmes, but decided this would be even more expensive. The occupants of the truck began to fidget.

Finally I flicked a second Sacajawea, my last, into the basket, and this time was granted admission.

I concluded at the time:

Yeah, I suppose this is a good argument for a PikePass. Truth be told, I was holding out until they came up with some measure of compatibility with the East Coast E-Z Pass systems, into which I pour a lot of coin during (some of) the World Tours. On the other hand, if I'm running a regular risk of spending $2 for a thirty-cent fare, the transponder will justify itself rather quickly.

I may get one of these critters yet, especially since Gwendolyn has some strategically-placed Velcro which might accommodate it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:26 AM to Soonerland )
Push, dammit

Gwendolyn's having a spa day, and in her absence, the dealer set me up with a G35, vintage 2004.

It took a while to adjust things — evidently the last person to drive this car was a member of the Lullabye League — but the G fits, albeit sports-car snug.

The growly VQ engine is here also, grown to 3.5 liters and 260 hp; there's a five-speed automatic at hand. On the way back from the shop, the G was docile and well-behaved; once shown an on-ramp, though, Dr. Jekyll jumped back into the closet.

For the G is rear-drive, the way God (or Karl Benz) intended cars to be, and the launch up that ramp was my first taste in ages of the sort of acceleration that hits you in the small of the back. Gwendolyn can do speed like that, but somehow it doesn't feel the same.

I've owned three front-wheel-drive cars in a row, and by and large, I've been happy with them; I know the limitations of the design, and I know how to get them to do what I want to do. But even the best FWD is no match for the best RWD, and the G (which, reskinned, is pretty much the current Nissan Z, a true halo car by my reckoning) is up there with the best.

Update, 2:45 pm: Make that two spa days. Apparently everyone in town showed up today with service requests. So I'll have the G overnight. Tragic, isn't it?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:37 AM to Driver's Seat )
Reorient your sweet tooth

From last August:

Russell Stover, the candy firm with a retail store on Northwest Expressway east of May, is putting in an outlet store around the corner, on May near NW 56th, in a building last occupied by an independent auto dealer and which looks to me like it started out as a Kinney shoe store.

Which, as it turns out, it had.

Now the outlet supersedes the original:

Tuesday, the candy shop will close. The company has decided to move into a bigger building a few blocks north at 5704 N May Ave.

There's just one problem:

The 1959 bungalow is one of only three left in the United States — the others are in Tulsa and Chattanooga, Tenn.

The red brick bungalow, with the wooden shingles that have never let water leak, has been sold and is likely to be torn down, [store manager Deborah] Wilson said.

Inasmuch as the candy was originally sold as "Mrs. Stover's Bungalow Candies," this is even more distressing than it sounds.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:51 PM to City Scene )
The smartest man in town

Whichever advisor told Mick Cornett, right around filing time, "Hey, don't quit your day job."

Because it's been a while

Michael Bates thought it was about time to tweak me again about Maureen Dowd, and he pointed me to this Fred On Everything denunciation.

I would remind him, and the rest of you, that I am aware of her, um, deficiencies. Except for the alleged resculpturing — "She probably gets more daily maintenance than a 747, but she still looks as though a vocational school held an injection-molding contest and everyone lost," says Fred — her deficiencies are fairly similar to my deficiencies, and therefore I'm inclined to cut her a bit more slack than she might deserve.

On the other hand, were I to decide that I must have a pundit around the house, I'd probably do better, or at least somewhat less badly, with the likes of Mary Katharine Ham, whose politics are a bit closer to mine, and who — never mind, this can't possibly be said with any degree of finesse.

And keep in mind that I don't consider myself in a position to look down my nose at Jacqueline Passey, either. (That is so last week, you know?)

25 August 2006
What's a girl to do?

Jack FM got to Los Angeles in the spring of 2005. How to counterprogram? Amaturo Group, which owned a trio of little class-A stations on the fringes of the city, decided to go for the obvious: Jill FM.

L.A. writer Meghan Daum is not impressed:

It plays artists such as Dave Matthews, John Mayer and Faith Hill, as well as some "deep cuts" from the past. Even though you can hear this stuff on regular, coed radio stations, we know Jill FM is a girl thing because the logo, on the website, is a lipstick smudge. Also, the promos feature a saucy female voice saying things like "Jill says: 'The only thing more unreliable than an Italian car is the man who drives one.'"

I stumbled on Jill FM when I veered slightly to the left of 93.1 Jack FM, that no-request, no-DJ station that purports to be absurdly eclectic but, I've noticed, seems to play the B-52's "Rock Lobster" at least 500 times a week.

Jill's own, um, mission statement:

  • Has deeper playlists — up to 2000 hits and less repetition!
  • Hit music from AC, Hot AC, CHR, Oldies, Rock, even Country!
  • Fewer interruptions, more music!
  • Fun with a sassy attitude!
  • Contests for people who live the Jill FM lifestyle!

By nature I am wary of anything that comes with a "lifestyle" attached, especially if it's this specific:

"She would not go to a sweaty bar at the beach," [general manager Robert] Christy said. "She likes to drink cosmopolitans, but after climbing out of the water from surfing, she'd enjoy a cold beer. She'd never drive drunk, possibly because she might have learned her lesson in the past. She might have a bad-girl streak. Also, she has three dogs: a cocker named Joe, a springer named Jerry and a poodle named Tony — that's for Tony Blair. Plus she has a Persian cat."

Obviously this isn't aimed at me, and it's just as well: nobody is going to program a station with me in mind. (If you'd like to try, here's a hint: play some Susan Barth.) But I've been listening to Jill's webcast, and I think I could save a button for her if she were broadcasting around here: she plays a few things not even Jack will dare to air, and she's definitely not intimidated by the boys, says her consultant:

My plan is to take it into every market where JACK or SAM or BOB is and say, "yeah, just like that except for women."

I don't expect Jack to go sliding down the hill, but you never know.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Overmodulation )
Reich this way

You have to figure that nobody opening a restaurant suddenly jumps up and shouts, "I've got it! Let's call it Hitler's Cross!" Not likely. Filed away with WD-30 and Preparation C and Nissan's original Infiniti Limited Edition were these rejected theme-restaurant ideas:

  1. Attila the Honeybaked Ham
  2. Ayatollah Khomestibles
  3. International House of Pancreas
  4. Goebbels and Bites
  5. Nero's Fiddlesticks
  6. Jack the Ripper in the Box
  7. T. G. I. Frightening's
  8. Genghis Khannoli
  9. The Yellowcake Factory
  10. Taco Tojo

Look for coupons in Wednesday's paper.

Quote of the week

Dawn Eden, on the FDA approval of "Plan B":

[R]iddle me this: Why do oral contraceptives still require a prescription, seeing as they're so safe that you can take 40 times the prescribed amount anytime you want?

My guess is "It's a guaranteed revenue stream," but then I'm not part of the target market.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:43 AM to QOTW )
His baggage, however, went to Newark

The Oklahoman is reporting that a passenger on a Phoenix/Charlotte flight was acting up. US Airways Flight 146 made an unscheduled landing in Oklahoma City, where the individual, described only as a male, was removed from the premises and turned over to the FBI.

Karen Carney, speaking for Will Rogers World Airport:

A passenger on board became disruptive — disruptive enough that the pilot determined they should make an unscheduled landing diverted here to Oklahoma City. It has landed. The gentleman was taken off the aircraft and is currently being interviewed.

The AP wire story says he got into an altercation with a flight attendant, and an air marshal "subdued" the dude.

Doesn't sound too horrific, but these days you never know.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:09 PM to City Scene )
Tie me drawing hand back, Mack

The BBC isn't having any of this:

The Franz Kafka Big Band, a comedy series commissioned for BBC Radio Scotland, has been withdrawn from the schedule after editors thought that jokes about Israel and Palestine and a sketch in which a cow flies into the World Trade Centre were inappropriate.

Executive producer Nick Low (I guess it's okay to like him) says:

We are disappointed because we have been working on this for eight months and now I don?t know if it will ever see the light of day. The Franz Kafka Big Band has always been about not compromising what it does. The BBC has been very supportive, it is just whether we can thrash things out and whether a compromise can be made. I don?t think we are talking fine-tuning; there are major changes that would need to be done.

The heinous offenses of the show:

One controversial segment is called Rolf?s Blasphemous Cartoon Time, featuring Rolf Harris drawing cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and Buddha. Another sketch has a voiceover for a famine appeal while the person is eating. There is also sexual content.

Anyone want to guess which of these is causing the uproar?

(Via Tongue Tied.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:00 PM to Dyssynergy )
Preemptive measures

When I turned Gwendolyn over to the dealership for her 90k service, I expected them to point out every little thing that was wrong with the car; after all, the word Inspect shows up rather frequently in the To-Do list.

And inasmuch as I'd rather have things fixed before they go troppo, I managed to add an extra $400 to her tab. Then again, nice new belts and nice new rear brakes are, well, nice, and they may save my bacon one of these days. I have never before had rear discs, or for that matter ABS, so I wasn't quite sure whether I actually needed the brake job or if it was just ABS overdoing it. The rotors weren't too bad, and could take a turning, but the pads were thinner than a politician's alibi. (I do look at discarded parts. Force of habit.) A pair of rear pads for this car, incidentally, runs $72.

Not that I'm in any mood to complain. Not only did they give my girl an actual bath (and a vacuuming), they reset the automagical power-seat thingy that I'd never been able to work correctly. And across the top of the invoice was my final request to the techs before I surrendered the key: CUSTOMER REQUESTS ADD 2 LBS OF EXTRA AIR TO TIRES.

Yeah, I'm anal.

As for the G, it was almost a shame to have to give it back, but I don't happen to have twenty grand for rolling stock right now. And it was wicked fast. Northbound on Kelley crossing 63rd, you have about 60 feet before the two lanes merge into one, and in the left lane was your friend and mine, Metro Transit. Let it be known that when the light turned green, it wasn't even close. I think I want one of those when I grow up. (Let's hope I drop a few pounds between now and then, since it was kinda snug in there, though I had no trouble finding a good driving position.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 PM to Driver's Seat )
26 August 2006
All things to everyone? Run, run away

It's hard to disagree with this Lileks perspective on successful bloggage:

If you are very serious about arts criticism, for example, people will come to that. They won't expect laughs, but they will come to that. And if you are hilarious about one aspect of the world and that's all you write about, people will go to that. But if it's just a grim slog everyday to read your acidic sharp little misery about something on the subway, you are going to lose them.

Note to self: Stay off the train.

At the time, Lileks was talking to BBC Radio 4's Mark Savage, who perhaps wasn't sure what he was getting into with this Descent into the Blogosphere™. Quoth he:

I was flying through the airport at Washington when an airport security worker stopped me. The microphone, tape recorder and all the wires in my bag obviously attracted her attention. She asked what they were for, so I explained that I was making a radio series about bloggers.

She pulled a face. There is a perception that bloggers are sad, joyless people in their underwear who sit in front of their computers all day.

Surely not all day. And, well, I don't think I've ever posted anything in my underwear. (The Instant Man admits to one out of three: he is in front of the computer all day, just as some of us suspected.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:35 AM to Blogorrhea )
Tiny ship to be tossed

One of the boats used as the S. S. Minnow on Gilligan's Island is on sale for $99,000. I have no idea of the extent of its seaworthiness, but you'd think it would be good for at least, oh, a three-hour tour.

Then I looked at the ad offering the vessel, and spotted this:

10' Dinghy, 3 batteries, sleeps 5.

Got that? Sleeps 5. Put seven aboard and you're going to wind up with stranded castaways, none of whom are guaranteed to look like Tina Louise or Dawn Wells.

(Via Steph Mineart.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:08 AM to Dyssynergy )
Not so firm as all that

Spam blog, semantic dementia, or something else entirely?

You make the call.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:10 AM to Say What? )
Saturday spottings (close at hand)

We start today with the news that the house across the street remains unsold after four months and one change of agent. The price has dropped from an ambitious $99,900 to a perhaps-more-rational $86,900. (Zillow.com, still riding some sort of bubble, Zestimates it at $101,212.)

Also still for sale is the "Dream Starter" around the corner, originally offered at $114k, knocked back to $107k, and now a low, low $99,500.

The lowest price possible, of course, is free, and for the last couple of afternoons, there's been a free car wash of sorts: the sprinklers on the Northwest Expressway median between Penn Square and 50 Penn Place, aided and abetted by brisk southerly winds, have been dousing westbound cars stopped at the 50 Penn Place entrance with some serious water. (How serious? Convertibles in the outer lanes were hurriedly re-topped.) Red Carpet, just around the corner, couldn't have been happy with this development. But there was nothing today, though, perhaps because it's the weekend.

Russell Stover CandiesThursday I mentioned the impending move of the Russell Stover Candies store from their bungalow on Northwest Expressway to the "outlet" location they acquired last summer, near 56th and May. The old store, they say, will be razed, so I figured I'd better get a picture of it while it's still there. (Click it to enlarge.) Business was pretty good today, at least while I was there; a lot of the prepackaged stuff was going at steep discounts, though the candy out of the display case seemed to be at regular prices still. The "new" store, at the moment, is closed for remodeling.

Also moving slightly farther away from me is Zorba's Mediterranean Cuisine, presently at 46th and May and relocating to a one-time Monterey Jack's location just north of 59th and May. I sort of hope they retain some of Jack's pseudo-Mexican decor, just to confuse the patrons, but this is probably too much to hope for.

And west of there stands the old (United) Founders Tower, which is going condo. The Real Estate section of the Oklahoman on Saturday lists all the major city building permits, and nineteen permits, estimated value $450k each, have been issued, presumably one for each floor. (Nikz, the revolving restaurant on the 20th floor, isn't going anywhere except in circles.) If you haven't seen the Tower lately, it looks like this (photo by Roadside Architecture).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:24 PM to City Scene )
Dem dry bones

Dry or not, they're under a flood watch. From the National Weather Service's wire:

ALTHOUGH MANY AREAS ARE STILL DRY... WEATHER CONDITIONS ARE COMING TOGETHER TO INCREASE THE RISK OF FLOODING TONIGHT OVER SOUTHWESTERN... CENTRAL... AND NORTH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA. A FAIRLY STRONG COLD FRONT MOVING THROUGH SOUTHWESTERN AND CENTRAL OKLAHOMA THIS EVENING IS EXPECTED TO SLOW DOWN AND EVENTUALLY STALL ACROSS SOUTH CENTRAL AND EASTERN OKLAHOMA LATER TONIGHT. LOW-LEVEL SOUTHERLY WINDS WILL INCREASE LATER TONIGHT... CREATING ADDITIONAL LIFT NORTH OF THE FRONT. A VERY MOIST AIR MASS REMAINS IN PLACE OVER THE AREA. THUNDERSTORMS WITH HEAVY RAIN... WHICH ALREADY ARE NUMEROUS FROM WESTERN NORTH TEXAS INTO CENTRAL AND NORTHEASTERN OKLAHOMA...ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE AND BECOME EVEN MORE WIDESPREAD LATER THIS EVENING NORTH OF THE SURFACE FRONT. THUNDERSTORMS WILL CONTAIN LOCALLY HEAVY RAIN... WHICH WILL CREATE A POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING... ESPECIALLY IN AREAS WHERE HEAVY THUNDERSTORMS TRACK REPEATEDLY OVER THE SAME AREAS.

Feast, famine — pick one of two.

Update: The station at Will Rogers Airport recorded 1.99 inches of rain during the evening, setting a new record for the date. Incidentally, the total rainfall from the 1st through the 25th was a close-to-average 1.78 inches.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:04 PM to Weather or Not )
27 August 2006
Now leasing: The Depths

A couple weeks ago, I linked to this Rocket Jones observation:

Ever notice how when a new housing development is going up, if it's Something Estates then it's ritzy and pricey, and if it's Whatever Heights then it's always "affordable" housing. If I had the money, I'd do a development called Estates Heights just to see what would happen.

Doesn't matter, says Punctilious:

Including the words Heights, Ridge, Hills or Vista in your subdivision name does not change the fact that it is still in a flood plain.

Remind me to run up to Quail Springs and see the, um, springs.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:46 AM to Dyssynergy )
The first premium channel

Just in case you thought HBO started it all, Bryan Painter has a piece in this morning's Oklahoman about the real origin of subscription television.

For $9.95 a month, "Telemovie," using a coaxial cable, would feed you 30 films a month, seventeen of them first-run, twelve hours a day — if you happened to be living in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. In 1957.

The Telemovie operation was a joint venture between a hardware manufacturer (Jerrold) and a theater chain (Video Independent Theaters). It lasted about a year. (The Green Channel, the predecessor of HBO, started up in 1970.)

Oh, and Oklahoma also had a half-premium channel for a while. KAUT signed on in the late 1970s with a mixture of news programming during the day — George Tomek anchored "Newswatch 43" — and a scrambled signal during the evening which presented to subscribers an HBO-like channel called Vue. The news programming proved to be expensive, and was dropped after about a year, but Vue was offered at least through the end of 1982. This wasn't even the weirdest mix ever on the station: when Paramount Stations Group acquired it in 1998 and changed its calls to KPSG, the station ran PBS programming in the morning — by agreement with OETA, who had sold it to them — and UPN shows in the evening. (How did OETA get the station in the first place, you ask? The previous owner of channel 43, when it was a Fox affiliate, donated it to the state so that they could buy the presumably-better facillity on channel 25. No, this wasn't Sinclair; that came later.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:53 AM to Soonerland )
We're doomed, I tell you

But you don't have to believe me. Ten thousand reasons are being collected, and as of this writing, 2,388 have been reported; after reading them all, I have to conclude that (1) most people haven't a farging clue and (2) it probably wouldn't matter all that much even if they did.

Although surely it means something that Paris Hilton is #1.

(Via kottke.org, which is #185.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:33 AM to Dyssynergy )
"Pre-washed" vehicles?

When last we heard from the M/V Cougar Ace, it was heeled over practically on its side. Now righted, the vessel is being towed to a shipyard in Portland, Oregon, where repairs will be made and its cargo will be inspected.

The Coast Guard has claimed that there was "minimal" damage to the fleet of Mazda vehicles carried by the Cougar Ace, and Mazda has announced that they will inspect the cars to see if they can salvage anything saleable from the lot.

I have no idea whether they're likely to find anything worth trying to sell, though nothing about large quantities of water is actually good for cars; I'm pretty sure Jay Tea isn't interested.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:33 PM to Driver's Seat )
Missed your paper? Call Manila

In greater Orlando, anyway:

Today we announced that after careful study, the Orlando Sentinel has decided to outsource our circulation customer service calls to APAC Customer Service, a U.S.-based company with operations in the Philippines. The Los Angeles Times has successfully outsourced its circulation call center through this company for several years. Other Tribune newspapers also have decided to take this step.

While decisions like this are very difficult to make, this change will benefit our customers and our business in several ways. It will allow us to implement best practice customer service processes, utilize state-of-the-art technology including upgraded circulation and voice response systems, lower costs and provide expanded hours of operation.

Actually, this is less of a big deal than it sounds. (Your call to the Oklahoman is answered in Québec, and in my experience, their system works pretty well.)

Still, "local," as a word, is becoming as obsolete as "yclept."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:44 PM to Dyssynergy )
I never thought of this

I've been to one of H.E.B.'s Central Market locations — Austin, 40th and Lamar, if I remember correctly — and I'm sure I'd remember seeing something like this:

  1. Enter Central Market in the fruit section,
  2. grab a toothpick and get 8 of every possible sample the store offers (usually a total of 48 treats, which fills me up),
  3. prance over to the expensive body lotion department,
  4. try on enough samples of obscenely expensive body lotions to cover my full legs, arms, and back,
  5. waltz over to the sink with the expensive soap samples,
  6. wash my hands with the expensive soaps and dry them off with the earth-friendly paper towels,
  7. polka over to the coffee counter where the free samples are,
  8. pour myself not one but two free samples of coffee I could never afford,
  9. use the restroom and discover that I have mud on my neck (or strawberry seeds in my teeth or other silly thing), and
  10. tango out to the patio where I have a stash of tortillas hidden in my bag to feed all the grackles and pigeons that normal people are trying to scare away.

And that's the Central Market Ritual, my trademark, which I would highly recommend to anyone.

Cost? $0.00

Time? 6 minutes and 22 seconds.

Benefits: You're full, you smell great, your skin is soft and shiny, and you have enough coffee to last a good half hour whilst you feed the birds.

Needless to say, this would never work at a Wal-Mart Stuporcenter.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:20 PM to Almost Yogurt )
28 August 2006
Strange search-engine queries (30)

Since people are now actually searching for these little excursions into the backwaters of the referrer logs, I have moved them into their own category, where they can be browsed at your leisure, assuming you have time for leisure.

founder of curtis mathes:  Oddly, a guy named Curtis Mathes, though Curtis was actually his middle name.

why am I undatable?  You don't give off any carbon-14, maybe?

1957 plymouth put in a concrete tomb at chrysler in 1957 or 58:  I don't know about that, but there's a '57 Plymouth buried under the streets of Tulsa, due to be exhumed next year.

sanitized version of boulevard of broken dreams:  How about "parkway of interrupted musings"?

What percentage of bloggage to heart before bypass surgery?  Were I having bypass surgery, I'd be blogging up a storm.

what the hell are "cooling degree days"?  The difference between the day's average temperature and 65 (Fahrenheit), if positive. (Example: high 90, low 70, average 80, 80 - 65 = 15 cooling degree days.)

i have a new 2007 lexus rx 350 and the seats are peeling:  Next time, wear pants.

messy asses:  Next time, wear pants.

how often to change the timing belt on an infiniti i30:  Infiniti makes no recommendation for nonexistent parts.

chaz scum:  Ah, a former reader.

the world's political leadership sucks:  Ah, a current reader.

maureen dowd lesbian:  News to me, and probably to her.

the woman i love no longer wants to be with me:  Well, she didn't come over here, that's for sure.

"conservatives have abortions":  No doubt. (Why am I #1 for this?)

flaming gasbags:  Television is full of them. (Why am I #1 for this?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 AM to You Asked For It )
Hal has your cash

Saturday afternoon, a woman in a truck pulled into the drive-thru and found, to her amazement, some nimrod on foot using the ATM. (I have reference to me.) The transaction didn't take long, and she didn't look particularly alarmed, though I think it's probably a safe bet she doesn't see much of this.

And if she's really fortunate, she didn't see any of this. [Possibly NSFW]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:16 AM to Dyssynergy )
Throw it back

The Oklahoman's Mr. Monday sees the demotion of Pluto as an opening:

You're bopping around the cold suburbs of cosmos, minding your interstellar beeswax, when you get a call.

It's those bullies from down the road — Jupiter, Saturn, Earth — and they want you to know you're out. You're too small, a Solar System pip-squeak. They've demoted you to the "dwarf planets." It's you, a couple of chunky rocks and a new gal by the name of UB313.

So, that was easy, right?

How can you can kick a planet to the curb in a week and still have Baylor in the Big 12?

And while we're at it, how about those Royals?

Since 2000, the Royals have lost 571 games, plus another 85 this year. They are on pace to lose so many games that baseball will cease to exist in 10 years.

I question this assertion. Every game the Royals lose, some other team presumably wins. (Although that other team certainly isn't Baylor.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:19 AM to Dyssynergy )
Now that's a Captcha

There have been numerous examples of bloggers who wed, but this is the first time I've seen commenters tying the knot.

Maybe someday I'll get a date via TrackBack. [sigh]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:13 PM to Blogorrhea )
One last beautiful burst of psychedelia

First, to get the obvious out of the way:

I don't like snails or toads or frogs
Or strange things living under logs
But mmm, I love onions!

Cue the kazoo guy.

What we know about Susan Christie: she recorded this goofy ditty in 1966, and it managed to make #63 in Billboard; she is not, despite rumors to the contrary, the sister of Lou Christie; her follow-up single, "Toy Balloon," went nowhere.

And now this. Paint a Lady comprises eight tracks, half an hour, of the funkiest folk, or something, you've ever heard in your life. Recorded between 1966 and 1968, compiled for an album which never came close to an actual record store — legend has it that a total of five copies were pressed, and three somehow survived — this is the most unlikely reissue of the year, and among those I've managed to hear, it might well be the best.

Paint a LadyChristie herself, novelty records notwithstanding, was a serious singer; she'd been a member of a Philadelphia folk group and a voice student at Berklee. Her vocal range is more horizontal than vertical: she has timbres ranging from silky-smooth to raspy and ragged, and the songs vary from pastoral-pretty to acid-drenched. (Imagine, say, Judy Collins having hooked up with Lee Hazlewood.) The nine-minute "Yesterday, Where's My Mind" is almost indescribable: the closest I can come would be a fusion of Eric Burdon, circa "A Girl Called Sandoz," with Patti Smith, circa "Piss Factory." The mad genius behind, or alongside, all of this is producer John Hill, perhaps best-known for cowriting and producing Pacific Gas and Electric's hit "Are You Ready?" — and for cowriting "I Love Onions."

The British Finders Keepers label put out a limited-edition 45 of "Paint a Lady" b/w "Ghost Riders in the Sky" (!) earlier this year; the album was released in August. (Mike Callahan of Both Sides Now notes that on "Riders," Susan sounds like Nancy Sinatra: another one of those unexpected timbres.)

And one more thing: Susan Christie's real name is Beatrice Hill. John's sister, maybe? Nobody's saying, even today.

29 August 2006
Out in the noonday sun?

A survey by the UK real-estate site propertyfinder.com suggests that the Brits are doffing their duds at a startling rate: nearly 20 percent report having gone outside starkers, and as many claim to have spotted their neighbors doing likewise.

Even more remarkable, 50 percent said they had no particular issues with moving in next door to someone who went about in the altogether, and a further 34 percent said they had no problem so long as they didn't have to look at anything. Eighty-four percent for whom it's not a dealbreaker! By contrast, forty to fifty percent said they'd reject a home if the neighbors were boisterous or loudly argumentative. (I suppose the worst of both worlds would be, um, nude party animals.) *

I would love to see a comparable survey done here in the colonies, though I suspect we're a lot more reserved than the Mother Country.

(Found here.)

* This is not — repeat, not — intended as a setup for "Strange Search-Engine Requests".

Scrubbing bubbles

David Lereah is Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors®, so it's probably not too surprising to see a book by this title with his name on it:

Are you missing the real estate boom?

Of course, that was the 2005 title. Today it's:

Why the real estate boom will not bust

Anyone want to come up with a suitable title for the inevitable 2007 edition?

(Courtesy of Burbed.com.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:14 AM to Say What? )
Why Big Blue is still around

They may be fleeing the hardware business as quickly as possible, or so it may appear, but a call to 800-IBM-SERV almost always seems to get someone with Actual Smarts.

I had a printer issue to report this morning, and after the details were taken down but before the tech guys were summoned, I was punched through to an intake person, for lack of a better term, and she was sharp: she knew exactly the right questions, even for an oddball problem like this, and I have no doubt she was prepared to talk me through a procedure if she thought it could be solved in that manner.

Which apparently it couldn't, so the tech guys did get the call to come out and breathe upon the machine. But given the ginormous problems that seem to exist with call centers these days — one look at The Consumerist and you'd think that phone banks are manned by monsters and/or morons — I'm always grateful when I can get through something without screaming and/or tearing my hair out. (No points for sneering "Since when do you have hair?")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:48 AM to PEBKAC )
You'd think there'd be a hitch

Now here's something you don't see every day: a motor home with a garage.

Precisely where the Greyhound bus stashes your duffel bag, the Volkner Mobil RV parks your car. (This being a Eurovan, I have to assume that the space won't hold something the size of a Mercury Grand Marquis de Sade.) Still, it beats the heck out of towing the family car.

The Volkner is on display at the International Caravan Fair in Düsseldorf through Sunday, 3 September. Your local RV dealer down on the Interstate will be back as soon as his blood pressure returns to normal.

(Via Jalopnik.)

Well, this sucks (2)

Or, more precisely, it doesn't. A couple of killjoys Theoretical physicist Professor Costas Efthimiou of the University of Central Florida and Cornell University postgraduate student Sohan Gandhi have determined that vampires cannot possibly exist:

They argue it would take just two and a half years for vampires to wipe out the entire human race from the day the first one appeared, based on the myth that vampires turn their victims into other vampires by sucking their blood.

If vampires feed once a month, the great grandaddy of all vampires would have killed one human and produced one vampire in the first month. So in total there would be two vampires and one less human, or a tally of vampires 2, humans -1. By the next month, the 2 vampires would kill 2 humans, and so on.

After n months there would be 2 x 2 x 2 ... x 2 = 2n, or a geometric progression with ratio 2. "The vampire population increases geometrically and the human population decreases geometrically," they say.

Using the principle of reductio ad absurdum, they conclude that vampires can't exist as their existence contradicts the existence of humans.

Barnabas Collins was not available for comment.

(Um, thanks, Gail.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:21 PM to Dyssynergy )
30 August 2006
Another Democrat spotting

Dana Orwig, who won the Democratic primary for House District 87, made the rounds through my neck of the woods yesterday. She seemed somewhat surprised that I knew who she was; then again, I don't normally go to a lot of trouble to identify myself at all, let alone as one of those alleged "citizen-journalist" types.

I mentioned her lack of a proper Web site; she said that steps were being taken to get one up, and a domain had already been secured. And I got the feeling that she's just gotten past "What am I doing here?" and she's just starting to embrace "Geez, I should be able to beat that punk kid."

Said punk kid, of course, has the advantages of incumbency, and I'm not that unhappy with Trebor Worthen, but given the mood of the electorate of late, fresh faces may be very much in demand come November.

Little wheel spin and spin

To no avail, apparently.

I have a mild mystery on my hands. I bought a DVD of Indian origin — it is identified under "Regions" as "All NTSC" — from a dealer in Bangladesh. I popped it into my DVD drive, and it whirred and sizzled and made other untoward noises, but at no time did the computer actually read it.

Peeved, I pulled the disc out of the drawer and shoved it into the DVD burner (same brand, next bay up). Worked fine. It also plays correctly on the Panasonic DVD player connected to my TV set.

None of this presents any particular problem, unless I decide I want to copy the disc in a single pass. Since I'm not planning to copy the disc at all, this isn't an issue, but I'm perplexed just the same. There's nothing apparently wrong with that drive, since it's able to play other discs without difficulty.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:37 AM to PEBKAC )
206

According to Gray's Anatomy (not the television series), you have 206 bones.

According to the Carnival of the Vanities, this is week #206, and a return engagement by Lil Duck Duck. It's a major undertaking for a bunch o' ducks, but they've already proven themselves, back around #197, and it's good to see them answering the call once more.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:11 AM to Blogorrhea )
Visualize eighteen percent

Nothing much I can add to this:

Los Angeles-based Conscious Enlightenment and First Hawaiian Bank have launched eight new VISA credit cards. The "Enlightenment VISA Reward Card" allows socially and spiritually conscious businesses and organizations to offer their services and products as part of the rewards program. "Enlightenment Card" members can earn points that can be redeemed at retreats, workshops and classes that are available around the world. Points can also be redeemed for merchandise, gift certificates and much more.

And who are these "socially and spiritually conscious business and organizations"?

Conscious Enlightenment's current group of companies includes: Conscious Choice, Common Ground, and Whole Life Times, YogaMates, Monthly Yoga DVD.com, Organic Media Design, and Golden Bridge Yoga.

They hope to expand the list of participating organizations in the future.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:59 AM to Common Cents )
Buoy, oh buoy

This never happens with bass boats:

A participant in the annual Sex Dolls Rafting Tournament near St Petersburg was disqualified in shame for "sexual abuse of apparatus", Mosnews reports.

That's St Petersburg, Russia, by the way. I can't imagine this sort of thing happening in Tampa Bay.

[Safety for work arguable]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:55 PM to Dyssynergy )
Two Infinitis—and beyond!

I used to toss up a hand signal every time I saw a Mazda 626, to acknowledge our shared destiny as the few, the proud, the unrecognized, or some such silliness. Going from a relatively-unknown marque to a really-unknown marque has pretty much spelled the end of that activity.

Then I followed a Q45 into Nichols Hills today, and when we came to a four-way stop, the Q turned away, and there followed a sight I've never before seen: three other Infinitis were waiting their turn. Of course, this being Oklahoma, they were trucks: two QX4s and a QX56.

Also, if anyone cares, at least one 7-Eleven store (in the Village) is vending 87-octane unleaded for a comparatively-paltry $2.479, as of 6 pm today.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:32 PM to City Scene )
31 August 2006
Despite the hardware issues

I threw in a 3WC link to this the other day:

Toy manufacturer Mattel is reportedly threatening to sue a Brazilian artist for portraying Barbie as a lesbian.

Karin Schwarz's exhibition features pictures of Barbie in compromising situations, reports the Jornal de São Paulo newspaper.

Mattel has given the artist 24 hours to close down the exhibition or they say they will take legal action.

I found that link at Belhoste, and left the following bit o' snark on the original post:

After all those years with ultra-bland Ken, it's hard to blame Barbie for, um, looking elsewhere.

Came this response:

Personally, I think she and Ken just had an arrangement in their relationship — keeping up appearances. You can't tell me that any guy who dresses as well as Ken isn't gay.

Point taken.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Or wait for the trees to catch fire

A University of Oklahoma professor of meteorology and an Arizona lightning expert have come up with a a gizmo that can predict lightning strikes by scanning the atmosphere for electrical discharges.

The concept resembles the electric field detection used by NASA in Florida, says Professor William Beasley:

They use a network of electric field meters. If the electric field is greater than 1,000 volts per meter anywhere on the place, you can't fuel a car, you can't launch a rocket, you can't do anything because there's a charge overhead and it could lead to lightning.

However, this version doesn't cost space-shuttle prices: the production model from Campbell Scientific sells for about $3500, plus power source (solar cell) and mounting.

You must pay more for your buzz

Seattle puts the bite on Mad Dog 20/20:

The Washington State Liquor Control Board today approved a ban on 29 brands of fortified wine and beer for Seattle's "alcohol-impact areas."

The ban applies to neighborhoods covering more than six square miles of the city, including Capitol Hill, the Central Area, International District and University District.

The list of banned beverages includes cheap malt liquors, including Steel Reserve, Olde English 800 and Colt .45, and fortified wines such as Cisco and Thunderbird. Supporters of the ban say those products are favored by homeless alcoholics who cause problems in city neighborhoods.

Store owners in those neighborhoods will have to stop selling the prohibited products by Nov. 1.

The Law of Unintended Consequences should kick in around the third or the fourth.

In the meantime, Bayou asks:

[T]his really borderlines on poor-man discrimination. I mean, do they really think that taking the cheap booze off the shelf is going to stop an alcoholic from buying something else or from going to a different neighborhood to buy their preferred skanky drank?

Evidently they really think that. In my capacity, so to speak, as a person who, once upon a time, hoisted one too many one too many times, I suggest that drunks are far more cunning than Seattle's city council (or anyone's) ever imagined.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:51 AM to Dyssynergy )
eyeTunes

I've read about synaesthesia, and it's always seemed somewhat remote a concept to me: my own sensory apparatus comes up with questionable interpretations now and then, but it's difficult for me to deal with the idea of a single stimulus working on multiple senses.

Perhaps you have to be born with it, as Terry was:

For a few of us, [musical] notes have colors. Note sequences, particularly as scales and key signatures, even more strongly so. For years I thought I was the only one, until I ran across an article in a magazine describing it. No psychedelic drugs involved; it?s just a quirk of how my brain works. (I wonder if the LSD phenomenon may have something to do with allowing people to access that normally undiscovered part of the brain?)

In compositions, the colors I see have subtle hue and density variations based on the key, the structure of the music, the texture and the orchestration. For example, most Egyptian classical music is a rich burgundy purple, because of both the traditional modes and the common lown.

Interestingly, "lown" is often translated as "color," perhaps in the sense of timbre.

Color mapping for PrometheusThe important thing is that these reactions are not the product of suggestion. The score of Scriabin's Prometheus: the Poem of Fire (1910) included a part for a clavier à lumières, a color organ of sorts, although the composer's choices for colors seem inconsistent with the experiences of persons with this form of synaesthesia, and most likely Scriabin did not experience it himself. (Graphic swiped from Wikipedia.)

I'm still baffled by the mechanics of it all, but bewilderment does not preclude fascination.

TABOR is dead

A month ago, I said something to the effect that TABOR was going down:

Proponents of the so-called Taxpayer Bill of Rights collected 299,029 signatures; Oklahoma Supreme Court referee Greg Albert says the verified count is 218,223, just slightly shy of the constitutional specification (219,564) for going onto the ballot as a State Question. It is, of course, standard practice to get as many signatures as possible, with the expectation that some of them will be invalidated, but having more than twenty percent of them scratched indicates, at the very least, sloppy work. Of the 80,806 signatures invalidated, 56,940 were collected by persons legally unqualified to accept them.

And now it's official:

A unanimous Oklahoma Supreme Court threw out today the taxpayer bill of rights petition aimed at limiting state government spending, saying it lacked sufficient valid signatures for a statewide vote.

TABOR proponent Senator Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso) said he wasn't giving up on the idea. Perhaps he might be interested in this one:

Considering it was out-of-staters that messed things up in the first place, maybe Brogdon should start a petition drive to ban the gathering of signatures by paid out-of-state petitioners to begin with.

I'll sign that just as soon as I see some I.D.

Update, 1 September: The Oklahoman gave half the front page to the TABOR story today, and noted in their lead editorial that they had opposed the measure as written, citing the need to spend more on infrastructure and education and such to catch up to the rest of the country.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:04 PM to Soonerland )
From out of the blue, as it were

Just to see if anyone is paying attention: Eighties teen dream Debbie Deborah Gibson is thirty-six years old today.

(Yes, I'm still a fan.)

The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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