Archive for December 2006

Is this the future of radio?

With everybody defecting to satellite or shuffling their iPods, allegedly there’s no audience left for good old FM, let alone even-older AM.

But wait:

I’ve been told, more than once, that the way around the copyright hassles involved with podcasts (basically, you can’t play music from the big record companies — namely, most music you know — without [jumping through legal hoops] that are very much not in the lightweight-labor ad-hocky nature of what podcasters do) is to get a real (FCC licensed) radio station to play your podcast. Because they’re allowed to play that music and you’re not.

So, if you can get a friendly station to run your ‘cast at 3am on a Sunday or whatever, you’re set.


San Francisco-based KYOU (“Open Source Radio”) says that’s exactly what they do:

If you’ve got a podcast that contains copyrighted music and a radio station decides to play it, it can be rebroadcast and, providing all DMCA rules are adhered to, it can be streamed as well. Since stations that play music pay all licensing fees (ASCAP, BMI, SESAC & SoundExchange) those fees will cover the music in the podcast.

This does not necessarily have anything to do with the fact that I finally got around to replacing my 31-year-old microphone last week.

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Two roads diverged

Normally I use this space to deny responsibility for things, but I don’t think I’m going to get away with it this time.

The starting point:

I envy people who journal. I’ve always thought it must be a splendid way of expressing and exploring one’s feelings and thoughts. Blogging is related but it’s not as personal. More accurately, it’s personal but it’s not interior or confessional. Confessional writing tends either to bore me or make me uncomfortable. I took a class once called something like ‘turning the personal into stories’ but the results were a lot of fairly appalling stories about rapes and cruelties that had been experienced by the participants. I have to admit that I prefer the slightly cooler atmosphere of blogging. Another important plus about blogging, for me, is that I know someone may actually read what I’m writing. (Having an audience apparently matters to me, Dr. Freud.) But there are things I’d like to write about more privately, and yet — interestingly, puzzlingly — I literally cannot write one word if I’m only writing for myself. Near-physical writer’s block. A juicy conundrum, eh? Some writers, some of whom blog, don’t seem to have any trouble writing very personally. I wonder if they are less fearful — and I more so — about something and, if so, what that something is. Or if the issue is something else altogether.

I make no claim to being less fearful, but I did weigh in on this matter:

There’s some overlap, but over at my place, the sort-of-weekly Vent series … is more journal-like, while the daily blog stuff is, well, bloggier.

Apparently this bifurcation of mine she deemed to be the solution; for now, from the same writer, there is The Dust-Up, which will indeed be more personal and less bloggy. And if that name sounds vaguely familiar, I suppose you can blame me.

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Keep on scannin’

The Help America Vote Act of 2002 made some people suspicious, including me. And it didn’t help when the Oklahoma State Election Board put out an RFP for a “Telecommunications-based Statewide Voting System” earlier this year.

A LiveJournal member, curious, wrote the OSEB and asked what was up, and was told:

Identical mark-sense optical scan voting devices manufactured by the Business Records Corporation (now Election Systems & Software) have been used in every precinct in the State of Oklahoma since 1992. As you know, these devices read paper ballots marked in the voter’s own hand and preserve a complete and perfect paper audit trail. We do not have any plans to replace our optical scanners with direct recording electronic (touchscreen) devices, or with voting devices of any other type.

Their superior accuracy, reliability and audit capability notwithstanding, optical scan voting devices cannot be used conveniently by some persons with certain disabilities, including visual disabilities and motion impairments. For those voters, the act of hand-marking the ballot cannot be performed unaided in private. We are investigating other voting technologies to better serve those voters; however, we expect that any accommodative devices we integrate into the election system will be additions to — not replacements for — the existing optical scanners.

And that “telecommunications-based” system? Here’s how it works:

At the polling place, the voter listens to an audio ballot and votes the ballot by pressing keys on a telephone keypad. The voting system then produces a marked paper ballot, which is scanned and read back to the voter, allowing the voter to confirm whether the paper ballot has been marked according to the way he or she voted. After the voter confirms that the ballot is correct, his or her vote is cast, and a paper ballot is tabulated by the same mark-sense optical scanning voting device used by all other voters statewide.

Oklahoma’s telephone voting system features a fundamental and innovative improvement over direct recording electronic (touchscreen) voting systems, including even those that provide accommodative telephone keypad input devices and voter verifiable receipts. Typically, a touchscreen voting device in audio mode will read back a voter’s marked ballot, but the information read back to the voter is merely that which exists in the device’s memory. The readback may confirm the voter’s selections, but there is no way to say that the vote eventually cast is the same as that voted by the voter or read back by the voting device. But with Oklahoma’s system, it is the paper ballot generated by the system that is scanned and read back to the voter, and it is the paper ballot that is tabulated by our mark-sense optical scanners, preserving the complete and perfect paper audit trail that most Oklahoma voters seem to prefer.

I believe this calls for a “Yay us!”

(Via Batesline.)

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A frank appraisal

We definitely have a wiener here: How to Calculate Pi by Throwing Frozen Hot Dogs.

Of course, if you insist on including the buns, you will be off by approximately twenty percent.

(Via Rocket Jones.)

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Friday morning, 6:30 am

This can be considered the reverse-angle shot to this one from yesterday afternoon, following a night of high winds and blowing snow. Temperature was a balmy 14 degrees Fahrenheit.

More farging snow

That slight bloom in the center is an artifact from the flash. (Sunrise was around 7:20, so it was still way dark when I shot this.) Not visible, off to the right, are the redbud trees and the strings of lights hung upon them, mostly because I thought it was a bad idea to run electrical stuff when the cord and the plug are under half a foot of concentrated wetness.

The camera, incidentally, is six months old.

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It might have been

If they’d played 49 minutes, they’d have won it. Unfortunately, the game runs 48. The Hornets were down 18 halfway through the third, and responded with an actual offensive show, which no one expected in the absence of Peja and D. West and Bobby Jackson, whittling that Chicago lead away, but they never got closer than two, and the Bulls finished on top, 111-108.

Did I mention offense? Rasual Butler dropped in 33 points, a new career high, including seven 3-balls. Chris Paul got his third triple-double: 25 points, 18 assists, 11 rebounds. Marc Jackson, playing both forward and center at times, scored 15; Jannero Pargo scored 18 off the bench. But the real killer, if you ask me, was whoever spooks the guys at the charity stripe: the Bees took 40 free throws and missed 13 of them.

The Bulls weren’t any better at the line, but they got even more treys: 12, five of which were hit by Andres Nocioni, who scored 31 points and pulled down 13 boards. In the Battle of the Swapped Centers, P. J. Brown outscored Tyson Chandler, 3 to 2, but Chandler ruled the backboards, hauling down 11 rebounds to Brown’s three.

At least we know this team can score without the big guns. And they’ll need to, since they’re going back on the road for another one of those killer West Coast trips.

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Too much shimmer on that Bimmer

Andy Dokmanovich comes up with a metaphor for recent BMW 3-series styling in a letter to Car and Driver:

Ever notice how that cute, unassuming girl next door with natural brown flowing hair, smooth clear skin, and “jeans and a T-shirt on a Saturday” look will usually tug at the heartstrings deeper and longer than the girl on stage with the multicolor striped hair, two pounds of hope-in-a-bottle on her face, über-jewelry, and razor-creased outfit with pointed-toe shoes? Besides the hint of insecurity, someone who seems to be “on” all the time with that much stimulation and business in every single nook and cranny is just too much to bear without wincing and hoping it’ll just go away.

By coincidence, or maybe not, the letters page was illustrated with a lovely Bill Neale drawing of the vehicle I’d prefer to that overwrought Bimmer: an Infiniti G35 in Arrest Me Red. And apart from that color, I’m pretty sure that the aforementioned girl next door (who actually is a few blocks and half a lifetime away) would prefer it too.

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In with the Inn Crowd

From today’s Oklahoman’s Land Sales list:

OKC-Bricktown Lodging Associates LLC from Sheridan Development LLC, 308 E Sheridan Ave., $732,500.
OKC-Bricktown Lodging Associates LLC from Power Alley Parking LLC, 308 E Sheridan Ave., $558,000.

Power Alley Parking is Marsh Pittman’s parking facility northeast of the Bricktown Ballpark, and Pittman and the Wisconsin-based Raymond Management Company are joining forces to develop a nine-story Hampton Inn on that block of Sheridan.

Hampton Inn

The project has been on the drawing board for three years already, and is scheduled to open, says Raymond, in the summer of 2008. The inn will feature 200 guest rooms, hot Continental breakfast, complimentary wireless-high speed Internet access, business center, indoor pool and whirlpool, exercise facility and meeting space. It will not, however, have its own restaurant, which, given the vast number of eateries already in Bricktown, is no big deal. And the inn’s location near the ballpark means that at least some of the rooms will have a nice view of right field. Hampton is a mid-priced Hilton brand, which means that this hotel won’t likely be cannibalizing guests from Hilton’s higher-zoot Skirvin, opening this spring. The picture was swiped from Raymond’s Web site; I’m assuming it represents what they expect the place to look like when it’s finished.

(If Richard Mize, the Oklahoman’s Real Estate Editor and an occasional visitor to these pages, is wondering if anyone ever reads those little columns of raw data, the answer is Yes.)

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The pink torpedo, unchanged

The latest dubious dingus-embiggener to hit the mailbox is something called “Man XL,” and inasmuch as I was no great shakes, so to speak, when I was forty, I have no reason to want to pay to relive those times.

Incidentally, one Dr Oz, apparently one of Oprah’s posse, has recycled the old story about how losing 35 lb is the equivalent of gaining one inch. Were this at all reliable, you’d see guys lined up around the block for stomach stapling and other arguable ventures. Certainly the year I lost 30 lb (this would be 2004) didn’t end with anything resembling six-sevenths of an inch of newfound wangage.

I presume, therefore, that this is an old wives’ tale, which makes sense inasmuch as Oprah’s audience is largely composed of old wives — and old ex-wives. I accord it the same credence I give to that business about shoe sizes, and inasmuch as I wear a size 14 double E, I consider myself in a reasonable position to render judgment thereupon.

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Saturday spottings (I thought I thaw)

One of the unfortunate facts of life is that while snow is white, and my car is white, the combination of the two is a dingy grey, and it got more so as the day wore on. I might have attempted to clean off the windows at the gas station, but the squeegee was still frozen solid inside the little bucket o’ slop they provide as a low-cost water substitute, so it’s another Windex Weekend.

I wasn’t too successful at dodging all the potential sources of slush, but I did manage to avoid hitting any of the fresh crop of pavement craters that have opened up this weekend, usually adjacent to previous craters which have been patched once or twice already. Most of the ones I found, to absolutely no surprise, were along NW 50th west of Pennsylvania, a stretch of road so legendarily bad that the city, which ran a small surplus this year, is actually promising to use some of the overage to fix it next year rather than wait for a city vehicle to disappear into a hole, never to be seen again.

The Del Rancho on Britton Road has closed, sort of. In fact, it’s moved across the street and down a block, and it’s no longer a traditional drive-in: the new facility is about the size of one of those seasonal snow-cone shops, and it has a drive-through and one curb-service space (if there are any others, I couldn’t see them from the westbound lanes). Cutting expenses, I suppose. Still, better this than tampering with the Steak Sandwich Supreme; it’s as sacred as the B. C. Clark jingle.

Bob Moore has relocated the Mazda dealership one very long block east to 130th and Kelley; as I passed it, I got the feeling that, given the vast sums I’d spent there, I’d financed this move myself. I’m not sure what’s going to happen to the former location, though it’s obviously being turned into something else; my best guess is that it’s going to house Moore’s Saab store, which is currently bunking with the Cadillac/Land Rover people down the block.

And around the corner from me, for a limited time only, are the remains of a snowman (he presumably looked better when he was new, but who among us didn’t?) carrying a sign which reads, prophetically enough, “The End Is Near.”

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People for the Merkin Way

Giving no thought to mere traffic considerations, McGehee stands firm against Britney Spears’ uncovered sissywhoha.

And by “against,” I mean “in opposition to,” not “adjoining.” Just to make that clear.

(If the above link doesn’t work, try this one.)

Addendum, next morning: “Britney Spears’ Crotch” would make a great name for a snarly, Violent-Femmes-ish garage band, suggests Andrea Harris.

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He just keeps movin’

When I was ten years old, one of the most compelling records I’d ever heard jumped onto the radio and demanded my attention. Matt Lucas, a name I hadn’t heard before, had taken a song I had heard before — “I’m Movin’ On,” by the country legend Hank Snow — and turned it into a wild rockabilly jump which, I said, many years later, “simulated the song’s railroad train at least as successfully as, say, Arthur Honegger’s Pacific 231.”

Lucas eventually found that quote on the Web, perhaps found it amusing, and over the next couple of years, let me in on what he was up to. Most recently, it was cutting a bunch of tracks in Chicago with a solid backing band and some genuine legends, including guitarist James Burton and harpist Charlie Musselwhite. Lucas says there’s enough stuff in the can for a second CD, so I figure if I want to hear it, I should encourage sales of the first, issued by Ten-O-Nine Records as Back in the Saddle Again.

Which is no problem for me, since it’s a damned fine album. Starting — well, actually, finishing — with that Gene Autry chestnut, Lucas has put out a sterling example of what the pigeonholers insist on calling “roots” music, some of it country, some of it blues, some of it pop, and all of it performed with verve. Lucas is past 70 now, but he can still belt out a tune, and it’s no surprise: after all, he’s been doing this sort of thing for fifty years or so. Some of the delights: Lucas’ own update of his 1963 hit, now called “Still Movin’ On”; the bluesy take on Jimmy Reed’s “Little Rain”; Burton’s gritty guitar on “Little Sister,” the Doc Pomus/Mort Shuman Elvis hit from way back when, and solo on Ike Turner’s “Cuban Getaway”; the shuffle that turns out to be “Sheik of Araby”. (Don’t laugh. Even the Beatles did this one, in their audition for Decca Records before their eventual signing to EMI/Parlophone.)

I did miss hearing Matt on the drums, but he says the session engineer wasn’t quite prepared for a drummer who also sings. Not to worry: Jon Hiller knows his way around this stuff. The production is clean without being sterile, and the energy never flags. Pour yourself a cold one, then pop Back in the Saddle Again into your CD player. I bet even your beer will taste better.

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This is not why it’s called the Netherlands

At least ten people in the Hague are recorded for posterity on the satellite photos of Google Earth either partially or entirely unclothed.

Just as a precautionary measure, I punched my own coordinates into the mapping system. Nothing to see. Fortunately.

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Parasites? The Flood in Halo

Mrs. Bluebird tries to connect with her class by bringing in a subject they know, with dismaying results:

Knowing that my kids are pretty much obsessed with video games I told them that endocytosis, where a cell engulfs a large particle and brings it into the cell, is a lot like Pacman.

This leads to a conversation about how exocytosis (where the cell expells a large particle) is a lot like another character from another video game, one which I wasn’t familiar with. I start asking them about this when one of my kids asks, “Don’t you know anything about video games?”

The teacher admits that no, she doesn’t own any of the gaming systems. The students gape open-mouthed: they’d never dreamed it was possible that anyone over the age of 10 didn’t have at least a PS2.

One of my kids, Pig Pen, who is very messy but very, very bright, says, “You know, it’s a good thing you and Mr. Bluebird don’t have any kids, because it would be really mean to have them grow up without a video game system.”

Wait until she tells them that there were times in the distant past, when dinosaurs still walked the earth, when nobody had video game systems.

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Returning to the fold

Seattle-based Jones Soda Co., which, like most manufacturers of soft drinks, switched from cane sugar to high-fructose corn syrup for cost reasons, will switch back to the real stuff in 2007, with the complete product line, including its non-soda drinks, reformulated (re-reformulated?) by summer.

Jones CEO Peter van Stolk, on the change:

It’s better for you, it’s better-tasting and, overall, it’s better for the environment.

Jones Soda is a treat. It’s an indulgence. If you are going to sell a treat, you should make people feel good about it. Pure cane sugar has a different taste. It’s a cleaner taste, and people feel good about it. It’s a little thing. But in the beverage industry, it’s really challenging to do.

And you gotta believe a guy who can sell sodas in Green Bean Casserole and Turkey & Gravy flavors knows from “different taste,” right?

My one regret, of course, is that Jones, all by itself, isn’t big enough to persuade the government to abandon sugar-price supports.

(Via Girlhacker.)

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Quote of the week

Britain’s Channel 4 is working up a series called Virgin School, a “reality” series about a twentysomething student who attends a Dutch “sex school” and ultimately is deflowered (or whatever the term is for a guy) by a sex therapist.

TV Squad‘s Adam Finley wonders why they bothered:

Frankly, I’ve never understood why people feel they need to be taught how to have sex. It’s fairly easy: stupid people have it all the time. It’s a pretty basic evolutionary mechanism.

It’s like driving. Fifty percent of the population is below average, but damned few of them will admit to it.

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Strange search-engine queries (44)

Now is the time on when we dance through the referrer logs and laugh at some of the sillier things found therein.

Gilligan kept screwing up those rescues:  Of course. Otherwise, the series would have ended in six episodes (a three-hour tour).

Muslim names suited for virgos:  Islam rejects astrology in general, a decree from the Prophet himself — who reportedly was born on 26 April 570, making him a Taurus.

popeye’s last name:  No one knows. Poopdeck Pappy said he couldn’t remember it. (Rumors that it might have been “Garden” have so far been unfounded.)

bikini search engine:  You might try Booble.

baristas nude:  I think they’re required to wear aprons.

i disagree with i think therefore i am:  How about “I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together”?

what have I done wrong god:  If you have to ask, you probably already know.

is squid an aphrodisiac?  If it were, they’d charge a lot more for calamari.

how to accept a marriage proposal – not to appear overeager:  “Yes, I will” works pretty well.

What happens in men’s locker rooms:  Two words: “towel snapping.”

guacamole dip kraft firestone:  Yes, it does taste rather like a steel-belted radial.

Pros and cons of having a nuclear facility in palm springs:  Pro: cheap energy, limited greenhouse effect. Con: George Hamilton will drive by and wind up looking like Chris Rock.

does pepperoni contain maggots:  Not intentionally.

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Starting with 1 would simply not do

Nowadays it’s all bar-coded, but in the days of wine and vinyl, records were catalogued with numbers that sometimes made sense and sometimes didn’t. In fact, I once vowed that if I ever owned a record label, I would number its releases according to the Fibonacci series, a notion I abandoned when it became obvious that the second release, like the first, would be #1, and the third would perforce be #2. Besides, avoiding giving a record the number 1 was a standard practice, if only because it was a dead giveaway to the guy at the radio station who might or might not play your record that your label was brand-new and therefore the chances of your having a hit were fairly minimal.

Some curiosities I’ve noticed over the years:

  • Dave Marsh once noted that the Crows’ 1953 R&B classic “Gee” was the second single (following Vola Watkins’ “Seven Lonely Days”) on George Goldner’s Rama label, and indeed I’ve been able to find no earlier releases on the label, which had only just begun operations. “Gee” was released as Rama 5.

  • One thing Marsh was definitely wrong about was Musicor, which, he said, was started by Aaron Schroeder to release Gene Pitney’s one-man demo “(I Wanna) Love My Life Away,” issued as Musicor 1002. There was a 1001: the novelty record “Sick Manny’s Gym,” credited to “Leo DeLyon and the Musclemen.” DeLyon, I’m guessing, is the same guy who did zillions of animation voiceovers.
  • According to legend, Berry Gordy started the Tamla series with 54024, in an homage of sorts to his first hit as a producer: Jackie Wilson’s “Reet Petite,” which was issued as Brunswick 55024. I have some doubts about this, since two different records have been reported to be Tamla 54024 — which, for Motown, wasn’t that unusual an incident — and Gordy’s first independent production, Marv Johnson’s “Come to Me,” which he licensed to United Artists, was initially pressed as Tamla 101. Further, Barrett Strong’s pre-“Money” “Let’s Rock” came out as Tamla 54022.
  • Some co-owned labels combined their numbers: Smash and Fontana through 1964 or so; London and Parrot around 1962-1965; all the Motown labels starting in 1982.
  • Stereo LPs presented all sorts of inventory issues. The simplest approach was taken by Capitol and RCA Victor: they changed a letter prefix. Some labels, like Elektra and Decca, prefixed a digit, usually 7. Columbia’s pop series wound up as CL-[number] mono and CS-[number plus 6800] stereo. London and Liberty had entirely separate numbering sequences for mono and stereo, but eventually found it simpler to bring them into alignment. (Example: Mantovani’s 1962 Moon River and Other Great Film Themes was issued on London as LL 3261/PS 249; the next Mantovani LP, Classical Encores, was LL 3269/PS 269.)
  • In 1982, the Warner-Elektra-Atlantic group began numbering their singles backwards. Fleetwood Mac’s “Hold Me” was issued as Warner Bros. 29966; the next single issued from Mirage was “Gypsy,” which came out as WB 29918. By mid-1985 they were down into the 28000s. The rationale for this was to make sure that when regular catalog lists came out, the newest stuff would be at the top. Really.

I, of course, have learned my lessons well. The next CD I grind out on my personal custom imprint will be 111129-2; it is the seventy-ninth disc in the sequence.

Update: Herein, those other Rama singles.

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To say nothing of “cameltoe”

Isaac Schrödinger suggests that one benchmark for liberty in Islamic countries will be pornography:

Understand: when I say pornography, I’m including everything from Playboy to the most hardcore, um, stuff. Westerners might think that this definition is too broad but for many Muslims any woman without a burqa is hardcore.

Currently in almost all the Islamic lands, women have few, if any, rights. Men always come first and women come second (or sometimes not at all). Women should have the right to make their sexual or sensual choices. Pornography will thus be the ultimate expression of women’s freedom in Dar al-Islam.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Muslims have to approve the whole enterprise. They also don’t have to encourage their children to go into the adult entertainment industry. What it does mean is that they don’t harm those who make that choice. That is the logic of liberty.

Another beneficial aspect: sexual tension among the sexes will be diminished. This will lead to a lessening of Jihad recruits. Of course, their numbers won’t be fully eliminated since one can find numerous Jihadists among the sex-saturated West. But it’ll certainly make an impact on those who piously dig Allah for the (imaginary) chicks.

I’m not sure I buy that last paragraph — we’re awash in smut here in the Civilized World, and I fail to see any substantial lessening of sexual tension — but it’s got to be awfully hard to hide the average explosive belt under a tight tank top.

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There’s always another route

In researching the weird search-engine stuff, I go back through 3000 to 4000 visitor records, and I’m not just looking at Google and Yahoo and Ask results; I’m also looking for unexpected linkage and browser trends.

For those who may be curious, about 28 percent of visitors here use some form of Firefox, and 11 percent have upregraded Microsoft’s Internet Explorer to version 7. Most of the rest are on IE 6, but two of last week’s callers were on game systems: one on a Sega Dreamcast running Planetweb, and one on a Nintendo Wii using Opera.

I suspect that this place doesn’t look too swift on the Dreamcast, which presumably hasn’t been updated in a while, but I’m guessing that Opera on the Wii looks pretty much like Opera on any other platform.

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Endowment computation

Saint Kansas, commenting at The Dawn Patrol, has happened upon a quintessential rule for conducting interviews:

The more I think about this whole approach to interviews in 2006, the more clear it becomes that, throughout time, there are only two questions that cannot be asked of a man: “How much do you make a year?” and “How big is your penis?” It strictly is not done.

On the face of it, this might seem to be a taboo, and maybe it is. On the other hand, there are ways to handle such things. In the July ’85 Playboy Interview, Rob Reiner came out swinging, so to speak, in the very first paragraph: “Under no circumstances will I reveal the size of my penis.”

For myself, I’ve never been asked either, and don’t expect to be — and as it happens, the answer I would give is the same for both: “I wouldn’t mind a little extra.”

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We’ll have a bonfire to celebrate

Governor Henry, noting that there was a heck of a lot of snow last week, has canceled the burn ban for the four counties where it was still in effect.

This is not to say that we’re permanently off the hook:

“Oklahomans must still use common sense when they are involved with any type of outdoor burning,” said Gov. Henry. “If conditions merit in the weeks and months to come, I will not hesitate to reinstate the burn ban to protect lives and property in our state.”

And it’s not like we’re out of the drought or anything: we’re still running 20-25 percent below normal on rainfall here in the middle of the state, and other areas aren’t doing even that well.

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I’ve got to be somebody

Jacqueline Passey has disappeared from Wikipedia, and she’s not exactly upset about it:

As much as I like links and free publicity and all, even I don’t think that C-list internet “celebrities” are notable enough to be included in an encyclopedia.

D-listers like myself aren’t likely to be included either. But after reading this, I did sit down and ponder the question: “Do I know anyone who might rate a page in Wikipedia?”

Specifying as a condition of “know” actual physical existence in the same room at the same time, I decided that there might be two.

And I was right, sort of.

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Thank God it’s fryday

Fred knows from comfort food:

In the south, whatever comfort you find in your foods, they will most certainly be fried.

The smell of hot grease alone is enough to bring down a true southerner’s blood pressure a notch or two. Stick something in it while hot — anything; doesn’t much matter — and you’ve cooked up a batch of Southern Sedative. Let’s see. What might be fry-able. How ’bout pickles?

Which is, of course, true. You can fry just about anything: okra, squash, ice cream, Snickers bars.

Refried beans, I should point out, are not actually fried twice, though I really ought to try that some day. My grandmother used to dish them up with sizzling fideo and follow with pan dulce.

I don’t think she ever fried a pickle, though.

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Here’s your Allowance

The Allow Card is a prepaid Debit MasterCard pitched to parents of teenagers. It comes with a fistful of parental controls, of which perhaps the neatest is the ability to block out specific types of merchants. The limit, of course, is how much is loaded into the card at any given moment.

I’d probably feel better about this if the proponents weren’t also suggesting it as a fundraising tool.

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Most Eccentric Rich Capitalists Enjoy Driving Expensive Sedans

Miss Cellania has a list of Automotive Acronyms, of which perhaps the best known is Ford: “Found On Road Dead.” (At least, I think it’s the best-known; the only time I ever actually heard it spoken was while I was trying to get an old Mercury started in the parking lot at Heritage Park and a couple of clowns in a Pontiac tossed it at me as they whizzed by at 14 mph.)

I offered my standard (okay, maybe it’s automatic) rendering of “Oldsmobile” — “Old, Leisurely-Driven Sedan Made Of Buick’s Inferior Leftover Equipment.”

Other old favorites:

  • Acura: “Another Car Using Rice Additives”

  • Dodge: “Digs Own Damn Grave Eventually”
  • Fiat: “Fix It Again, Tony”
  • Honda: “Hugely Overpriced Non-Domestic Automobile”
  • Hyundai: “How Your Usual Nerd Drives An Import”
  • Kia: “Korea’s Incompetence Amazing”
  • Mazda: “Major Asshole Zipping Down Alleyways”
  • Saab: “Shape Appears Ass-Backwards”

And it took a while, but I finally turned up one for my own car: “It Never Found Its Niche: It’s Truly Inconsequential.”

(A truly prodigious list can be found here.)

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When an eel bites your arm

And it causes you harm, that’s a moray.

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Biden gets it, maybe

Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE) was speaking to the Columbia (SC) Rotary Club, and he came up with this sensible observation:

“The mid-term election may have been a rejection of the policies of this administration,” Biden said. “But it was not an embrace of the Democratic program or the Democratic Party. We’re in a state of flux right now and have a lot of problems that need to be resolved.”

And no, I don’t think he plagiarized this address, since it also contained this howler:

Delaware, he noted, was a “slave state that fought beside the North. That’s only because we couldn’t figure out how to get to the South. There were a couple of states in the way.”

John Ray complains about said howler:

Had he been anyone but a Democrat politician, his remarks would have been condemned in the media from coast to coast.

Which may well be true, but (1) South Carolinians, having lived with the likes of Strom Thurmond, know race-baiting when they see it, and this wasn’t it, and (2) the Jesse Jackson wing of the party is busy these days complaining about comedians, fercrissake.

If nothing else, this indicates that Joe Biden isn’t submitting his material for vetting by the Democratic groupthink committee, which must be considered a Good Thing.

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The island of misfit Oklahomans

Sarah’s still waiting for the Most Wonderful Day of the Year:

I tend to self-identify with those “elite snobs” much more than I self-identify with the term “hillbilly.” I’m a blue state girl who happens to live in a red state. I should know better than anyone that not everyone who lives in flyover country is a rube. Furthermore, intolerant morons exist everywhere — not solely in the Bible Belt.

I’ve become really sensitive about the whole thing. I’m a little hurt when people speak disparagingly about this part of the country, and irritated when they use sweeping generalizations to describe its population. I almost cried when someone recently commented on my “twang” (which I didn’t even know I had), and was embarrassed to speak for days afterward, for fear of sounding ignorant. I remember all the times I’ve gone out of my way to prove to some out-of-state friend or relative that I’m nothing like the Red State Stereotype existing in their minds. And then, like always, I become embarrassed that I’m embarrassed. I shouldn’t care. I know that. But I do.

There’s only one thing that can put a stereotype out of its misery: the counterexample. Nothing silences “They all do that” faster than someone who doesn’t do that. We don’t have a lot of blue-state girls? Be a blue-state girl. And be unapologetic about it. There’s a strong populist streak here, and always has been. (Two words: “Woody Guthrie.”) And if someone from distant Stuffy Heights says “You’re from Oklahoma? I never would have guessed,” you’ve done your part. Next time he’ll think twice before spouting off like, um, an intolerant moron.

One more thing: don’t worry about the “twang.” We were not put on this earth to sound like network-news correspondents.

And now, back to your regularly-scheduled reindeer games.

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They didn’t have to count them all

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The din of equity

As if finding the marriage of true minds hadn’t already proven difficult enough, here comes another impediment:

The thirties and forties are those periods when a singleton with some extra income decides to stop waiting for Mr. / Miss / Mx. Right and buy a house. Few singles appreciate the impact on one’s marriageability of already owning real estate. It might make you seem attractively stable to potential spouses … for a while. But beware! If you fall in love with someone who owns her own home, your three-bedroom kingdom might come to seem a ball and chain rather than a comfortable retreat from the wider world.

I note here that I closed on this place the day after my 50th birthday — and that someone would have to be just this side of Beyond My Wildest Dreams to get me to give it up.

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I think he looks more like Tugboat Annie

David Hasselhoff, Roger DeBris is you:

Former Baywatch star David Hasselhoff will take the role of a flamboyant director in the Las Vegas production of the hit musical The Producers.

Hasselhoff, who is six foot four, will wear a dress to play the gay director Roger DeBris, whose shows have an unbroken record as flops.

“He is perfect for Roger DeBris because he has the best legs in Hollywood,” Mel Brooks said in announcing casting for the Las Vegas production [last month].

Didn’t we meet him on a summer cruise?

(Via Lawren.)

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From the Buck Floomberg files

What’s cooking chez Scott Chaffin, True American:

Me, I plan to fry my chicken in Crisco cut with lard just like my grandmother did, and I plan to butter my biscuits with butter, not fake-ass crappy margarine, just as the good Lord intended. And I’m going to cook my steaks rare and bloody in peppered olive oil, and I’ll like as not continue to forge right ahead with the chopping and cooking without washing my hands in scalding soapy water after I so much as look at poultry. Nobody’s died on my watch yet, nor gotten even a little bit sick, including the one who’s eaten the most of my cooking since I started cooking, and that’s me. If I ever do pass on as a result of what I made a decision to ingest, well, nobody gets out of here alive, and at least I’m not running around like some flaky Chicken Little, waiting for the vague, vaporous sky to fall.

(Title explained here.)

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There are appropriate outlets for the electric range and for the dryer, but otherwise, my house is not wired for 220.

Kehaar hasn’t been wired for much of anything lately, but still he manages to put out the Carnival of the Vanities, now in its 220th weekly edition.

What’s that? You wanted more about the number? Okay, how’s this? Four consecutive prime numbers — 47, 53, 59 and 61 — add up to 220.

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Smile, you’re on Toll Road Camera

At the beginning of this month, Texas began collecting tolls on a stretch of State Highway 121, from Carrollton to the Denton County line. And no, there aren’t any tollbooths:

TxTag® stickers, the Dallas area TollTag, and the Houston area EZ TAG are accepted on the road. Toll charges are deducted automatically from your prepaid toll account when you use the road.

If you don’t have a toll tag, you’re still welcome to use SH121. There’s no need to prepay or register. Just get on, and we’ll record your license plate, match the license plate number with the state’s vehicle registration file, and send you a monthly bill for your toll charges.

About time they did something useful with a traffic camera. Of course, you’ll pay more without the toll tag, but this is pretty much the rule with any toll road these days.

Will we ever get something like that here? Steven Roemerman asked the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority:

I contacted Jack Damrill, public relations for OTA, and asked him if this was in the future for Oklahoma. I got the impression that they were cool on the idea, the official position seems to be “We will watch what happens in Texas.”

I’m not sure why we would not want to implement video tolling. Getting rid of toll booths would eliminate the need for the employees to man the booths; it would reduce unnatural congestion points, and would make the toll roads more accessible. But if our official stance is “wait and see,” I guess we will wait and see.

I guess he’s right.

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A new incentive plan

The Oklahoman’s Darnell Mayberry predicted that the Hornets would go 0-3 on this road trip; the team was not happy to hear it, and said so.

Mayberry was philosophical:

Hopefully their anger lasts through Saturday and they do prove me wrong. If so, Byron Scott needs to give me a cut of his paycheck this week.

Cut that man a check. The Bees stayed close to the Lakers throughout the first three quarters last night and then pulled away in the fourth to score a 105-89 win. Chris Paul led all scorers (yes, even Kobe) with 26; Rasual Butler and Jannero Pargo came up with timely treys and scored 22 and 21 respectively. CP3 and Desmond Mason put together double-doubles, and Tyson Chandler, as usual, led all rebounders with 12.

It is a measure of the sheer awesomeness of Kobe that in a game where he estimated he was maybe 50 percent at best — he’d sprained his ankle Monday against Indiana, but thought he was ready to play — he still pulled down 24. And Bryant had kind words for Paul: “I love his game.”

Busy weekend coming: at Seattle on Friday, then Golden State on Saturday. Let’s hope the Bees are still pissed at Darnell.

Update, 9:35 am: Hmmm. The Oklahoman story on the game was written by … John Rohde?

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The handwringing on the wall

While I have been known to do unspeakable things like defend Thomas Kinkade, I’ll be the first person to tell you that sometimes it’s the function of art to shake you up a bit. (I attended, for instance, this exhibit, and wrote about it here.)

“Shake you up a bit,” though, stops well short of what Jennifer went through:

The art was as painful to look at, a withering internal glare the artist forced mercilessly upon herself; a train wreck of pain and destruction, twisted fear and mental instability, so hideous you couldn’t take your eyes off it. Even when the gawking began to wrench knots in the spot where your neck greets your shoulders; even when finally seeing it for what it was bruised your eyes. Even when you realized what you were seeing was the bottomless pit of one woman’s tattered, tortured, wilted soul, the lurid, hellish evidence left smattered and splattered on the wall for public consumption. Not one thing more, and not one single thing less.

This was, I believe, the desired effect. From a promotional page for the same artist, and possibly even the same exhibit:

Using her own visual vocabulary, [the artist] orchestrates past, present and anticipated events connected to her misplaced sense of self. Utilizing paint, ink drawings, found objects and collage, [her] work references her own feelings of inferiority, abnormality, social anxiety, nervousness, and misplacement.

Jennifer recalls:

My insides twisted, my face flushed hot, my hands shook. From disgust and fear. From devastating sadness and aimless pity. From anger, directed toward an vast unknown, so vile its metallic aftertaste stung my throat.

A little of that, I submit, goes a long, long way.

The artist in question, apparently, is the visual equivalent of Jandek, a few of whose recordings I have heard over the years, despite warnings from Irwin Chusid, who says things like this about him:

[I]magine a subterranean microphone wired down to a month-old tomb, capturing the sound of maggots nibbling on a decaying corpse and the agonized howls of a departed soul desperate to escape tortuous decomposition and eternal boredom. That’s Burt Bacharach compared to Jandek.

And yet Jandek has made forty-eight albums at this writing. (Corwood Industries, Jandek’s record label, is normal in one respect, anyway: they started numbering with “0739”.)

There is, I conclude, a market for this sort of thing. The Muses, I assume, have their off-days, or a fairly warped sense of humor — or, conceivably, all of the above.

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Keister bonnet

Given the fairly-indisputable premise that there is an abundance of asshats in show business, there exists an ongoing debate over whether this is because they’re just naturally attracted to showbiz, or because showbiz, owing to its nature, eventually inspires people to degrees of rectal millinery.

Those of you who got better grades than I will recognize this immediately as the old nature vs. nurture controversy, scaled up to marquee size. In the past I have remained resolutely in the center, acknowledging equal contributions of both.

Now I’m not so sure. In the mail this week was a card with a stylized photo of a blue-eyed child and the caption: “You knew early on that you weren’t like everybody else.”

“So did we,” it continues on the inside, and then it gets right down to the real nitty-gritty:

What is it about owning an Infiniti I30 that sets you apart? Is it recognizing the high level of satisfaction that our vehicles offer? Is it the superb blend of elegance and performance? Is it the inspiration and innovation? No. It’s all of these things. And now, there’s even more.

Introducing a new approach to service: Welcome to the Infiniti Inner Circle.

As an Infiniti owner who understands the advantages of having your car serviced by factory-trained technicians, you’ve been selected to join our inner circle. The Infiniti Inner Circle is designed to remind you when your car is due for maintenance, communicate with you via your preferred means of contact, and work with you to help ensure that your I30 operates at peak performance. Most importantly, we’ll give you the attention an Infiniti owner deserves.


There follows the usual stuff, a card to fill out to indicate my “preferred means of contact,” and the summary: “The Infiniti Inner Circle. It’s exceptional. Just like you.”

And it occurred to me, after I stopped guffawing at this, that a daily dose of sucking up at this level might turn anyone into a veritable fedora of the fundament.

(Disclosure: Gwendolyn has, in fact, 92,497 miles.)

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Ellipsis sweet as candy

Dawn Eden talks to the Washington Times, and there are … rather a lot of … apparent … gaps.

Since she isn’t disowning the Times interview, I assume that the points she made were not affected by the nefarious practice of Dowdification.

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When you change lanes, the baby Jesus cries

I link to this purely for its amusement value, and there’s plenty of it, what with the bald assertion that there have been “460,000 Additional Motor Vehicle Fatalities Since US Supreme Court Banned School Prayer in 1963.” (There’s even a graph, just in case you had any doubt.)

Then again, that’s a side issue: what this fellow really wants is to get people who shouldn’t be driving off the roads entirely. On the face of it, this isn’t a bad idea, until you look at the people he thinks shouldn’t be driving:

  • Anyone who’s black;

  • Anyone who’s female.

Jalopnik linked to this drivel because, they said:

We … hope 100,000 sets of Jalopnik eyeballs blow the hell out of the bandwidth on his puny, $3.99 server.

And, well, the least I can do is to help.

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