Archive for November 2007

Updated ghost/goblin count

As determined at the front door:

    2000:  0
    2001:  0
    2002:  0
    2003:  0
    2004:  0
    2005:  5
    2006:  0
    2007:  9

Let it be noted that I spent twenty minutes trying to get the porch light to stay on long enough to accommodate those nine little monsters. (It has one of those light-sensitive gizmos on it which lately hasn’t been sensitive to anything at all.) Eventually it paid off; in fact, I had to kill the switch to shut it down.

I’m starting to see more kids in the neighborhood generally, which I hope is the beginning of a trend. I think we have something to offer in this corner of town: relatively-affordable housing stock in better-than-average shape for its age (sixty years), proximity to shopping, and one of the better city schools within walking distance.

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Bankers’ hours

In the best of all possible worlds, they’d be 24/7/365. We’re not there yet by any means, but this is kind of heartening in a perverse sort of way.

Earlier this week I dropped a check payable to me in the night depository at Monolithic Bank and Trust Company (Member FDIC). Historically, I knew to expect a certain amount of hold time, and that the bank would send me a letter telling me exactly when that hold time would expire.

Which, it turns out, is the third of November. A Saturday.

They’re still not accustomed to this sort of thing — if I pay most bills using their online facility on Saturday night, it will be Monday before the actual payments are posted — but this is progress, however small.

One other promising sign: If you also have one of their credit cards, you can pay the bill online up to 8 pm Eastern on the due date and it will still be on time. However, perhaps to offset this advantage, they’re twiddling the due dates so they don’t always fall on the same day of the month. (I’ve experimented with this: a bill paid at 6:55 pm Central was in fact credited the same day. Wait ten minutes, though, and you might as well wait 24 hours — or 23:50, anyway.)

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So long, Vicki

There will be no 2009 Ford Crown Victoria at your local blue-oval vendor; retail sales have dwindled, and Ford will offer the car for fleet sales only after the 2008 run is complete.

Its sister under the skin, the Mercury Grand Marquis, which is produced in smaller numbers but which sells better at retail, will continue, at least for a while, along with the tarted-up Lincoln Town Car: all three vehicles are assembled at Ford’s St. Thomas, Ontario plant, which is expected to remain open at least through 2010.

Disclosure: My ex drives a Grand Marquis, though not with the de Sade package.

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But mostly, they’re friendly

The Casper Rockies, Rookie League affiliate of the Colorado Rockies, have decided that the merchandising take would be better with a more distinctive name, and will play next season as the Casper Ghosts.

Team owner Kevin Haughian says the change will help create an identity for the team beyond just being a Colorado farm club:

The Casper Rockies brand never really took off, unfortunately. If folks wanted to buy merchandise they were going to buy Colorado merchandise, not Casper. The appeal was limited to our die-hard fans in town. We think with the new name, the new look, the new logo, that it’s not only going to be popular here in Casper, but nationally and internationally.

There is precedent: the former Albuquerque Dukes, taking a lead from The Simpsons, are now the Isotopes.

I’m wondering if Wendy, the Good Little Witch, will show up as a, you should pardon the expression, batgirl.

(Via McGehee.)

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Time to see someone’s shorts

And this is the place to see them:

It was just a short while ago it seems that we were having a great conversation about an independent short film over a cocktail. We should do it again sometime. How about next Wednesday, November 7? We should all get together at XO Lounge on the bottom floor of the Colcord Hotel at 15 N. Robinson Ave. in Oklahoma City and watch some animated shorts.

This installment of shortsSUITES will feature talented Oklahoma natives Shawn Downey and Marty Martin as the spotlighted filmmakers. The doors will open early at 8 p.m. and the shorts will start at 8:15pm. Come on out and enjoy an early evening of short films and a mid-week cocktail.

The page at the link actually says the 14th, but the email they sent out to film fiends says the 7th, which is consistent with the usual first-Wednesday schedule. Inasmuch as actual ethanol is involved, you must be at least 21.

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257

In 1890, John Philip Sousa composed a march for the Corcoran Cadets, based in Washington, DC. The actual Cadets unit, founded in 1883, survives today as the 257th Army Band, District of Columbia Army National Guard.

This week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 257th in the series, has been designated by keeper Andrew Ian Dodge (may he live a long and happy life) as “Impending,” although it’s actually already up.

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Pennies pinched while you wait

Kathleen Wilcoxson, who represents Senate District 45, is about to be term-limited out of office — 2008 is her twelfth and last year — and three Republicans are competing for her seat. (Democrats seldom even bother to file for this seat.) Mike McCarville has the numbers on their fundraising activities, and former Oklahoma City Councilman Jerry Foshee raised the most money during the reporting period ending 30 September; he’s also spent the most.

Retired Army Lt. Colonel Steve Russell reported he raised $10,204 and spent $8.50, leaving him with $10,091.50 on hand.

He spent eight and a half bucks? Granted, the election is 53 weeks away, but I’m wondering whether this guy is God’s Own Skinflint or just a big fan of The Producers.

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Will Saudi Arabia ever change?

Stephen Browne of Rants and Raves talks to Dr Ali Alyami, head of the Center for Democracy & Human Rights in Saudi Arabia, a US-based institution that hopes to change the rules in Riyadh.

The Center, it appears, has its work cut out for it:

“If you ask why women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia,” Alyami said, “they will tell you, ‘It is our religion.’ But in reality it’s politics and now it’s becoming a big business for younger princes. If women are allowed to drive that would eliminate importations of millions of expatriate drivers who normally pay good money to middle men, princes, to get visas to work as drivers for Saudi families. The same for alcohol, the princes make money importing all the good liquor in Saudi. If it becomes legal, they would lose monopoly over the illegal trade.”

And what do the Saudi royals want?

Dr Alyami said that the only agenda item the Saudi royals [have] is to stay in power, pure and simple. To that end they want to make Arabs and Muslims in general hated throughout the world. They hope that hatred will push them together and prevent their assimilation into modern, secular, tolerant society.

The Center’s agenda:

Given its trenchant influence on 1.2 billion Muslims worldwide and its position in the world’s oil market, Saudi Arabia cannot be disregarded or surrendered to an absolute monarchy that encourages the oppression of women and religious minorities, and fosters domestic extremism and international terrorism. A constitutional, democratic government combined with the rule of law, is the best hope for the long term prosperity and unity of the people of Saudi Arabia. This prospect will give Saudi citizens a say in decisions that impact their daily lives and empower them to join the international community as respected equals. A democratized Saudi Arabia will no longer be an incubator for intolerance and terrorism; instead, the result will be a responsible, accountable and productive society, ruled by laws created by its members, not by leaders who invoke fear and resentment. This outcome is in the best interests of the Saudi people, the United States and all democratic societies.

So far, our politicians seem to be more or less evenly divided between “disregard” and “surrender.”

Stephen Browne said he posted the interview at Rants and Raves “because there isn’t a lot of interest elsewhere.” Let’s see if we can’t stir up a little.

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Chevy digs in

Back in September I called attention to a new Chevrolet Malibu ad campaign with the pithy lead “WE’RE TIRED OF BEING A FOREIGN CAR IN OUR OWN COUNTRY.” The bow-tie bunch isn’t giving up, either: the newest installment says “IT’S EVERYTHING YOU NEVER THOUGHT IT WOULD BE,” a shot at all those folks — a group which on occasion has included me — who wouldn’t be caught dead in a domestic automobile. (The ‘Bu is built at the Fairfax plant in Kansas City, Kansas.)

Motor Trend, meanwhile, has declared the Malibu “the most important new Chevy sedan in decades,” though what makes it important to them might sound a mite unusual:

More important than anything is what Malibu can do for the Impala. Chevy sold 290,000 front-drive Impalas and 164,000 Malibus last year. If it can reverse those numbers, there’s a better business case for a RWD Impala.

I’d like to see a rear-wheel-drive Impala myself, but I can’t imagine GM wanting to cannibalize its own sales. Besides, the biggest problem with a rear-drive Impala is not the Malibu, but GM’s need to crank up its Corporate Average Fuel Economy numbers, which a full-sized two-ton sedan will presumably not enhance. And the Malibu can probably sell well enough on its own, given MT’s declaration that it “makes segment-leader Camry and the just-launched Accord look decidedly lumpen.”

If I seem to be harping on the Malibu a lot these days, it’s simply because I think we’re better off with an American auto industry that actually sells cars. And GM, after years of wandering in the desert, might actually be starting to find a path that leads somewhere: the General is cutting production on the hot-selling Buick Enclave in an effort to keep demand high and incentives out of the picture, a trick the imports have long known. “Nothing destroys the value of a new product faster than overproducing,” says GM car czar Bob Lutz. If the Malibu is a big hit, you can probably expect more artificial scarcity.

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We got your neologisms right here

Mark Peters runs a blog called Wordlustitude, which he describes thusly:

This blog (recently featured in The Telegraph) is a growing dictionary of ephemeral words — also known as nonce or stunt words. All readers are strongly encouraged to use these terms in their blogs, poems, prophesies, and recipes.

Enough to get him onto the blogroll right there. Yesterday’s word:

Assitudinousness, noun. A multitude of assitude heretofore unimagined by assologists, buttheads, or civilians. Related terms: crapitudinousness, funkitudinousness, skankitudinousness.

Actual citation:

“Lucky Charms, almost uniquely among cereals, possesses an irreducible assitudinousness: it will taste like that whether you immerse it in milk, water, V8, Pennzoil or Fletcher’s Castoria.”

Between that and Googlage, I think I’ve done more than my fair share of knackering the vernacular.

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Note to self: avoid paperwork

In the current radio ratings, Spanish-language station KTUZ-FM dropped from a 4.2 share to a 2.4, and management says it’s because of HB 1804:

Tyler Media market manager Skip Stow blamed KTUZ’s decline on Oklahoma’s new immigration law.

“They’re scared,” Stow said, referring to some listeners in the Latino community. “They don’t want to fill out anything official looking.”

Interestingly, Tyler has a billboard around town (I saw it along I-35 near NE 63rd) proclaiming that the local Latino market is 300,000 strong — and “we reach them all!”

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Quote of the week

Jesse Walker, writing for Reason’s Web site, on bureaucratic attempts to stifle Halloween and such:

I can appreciate their dilemma. As long as the government’s schools are monopolies capable of compelling attendance, they have to respect the many worldviews of the children that attend them. In a country as diverse as this one, it isn’t always obvious where the line lies between making minorities comfortable and acting like a goddamn jackass. The typical bureaucrat prefers to err on the side of jackassery.

And almost invariably does.

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In the zones

Oklahoma City’s voluminous zoning regulations are contained in Chapter 59 of the Municipal Code, and as the city gets bigger and new classifications are introduced, Chapter 59 becomes more cumbersome and impenetrable.

So it is with something of a smile that I report that City Council is ready to throw out the entire thing and replace it with something sort of organized. On the agenda for Tuesday’s Council meeting is a complete rewrite of Chapter 59, and [following link goes to PDF file] the City Manager explains why:

It was the intent of the re-write to make the ordinance more user friendly to the public and to the different professionals who rely on these regulations to conduct their business activities. Additionally, upon adoption of the new ordinance, it will be available online and will be designed to allow a user to select a section of the code from the table of contents and be linked directly to the applicable part of the code.

The present Municipal Code lookup has acceptable search, but the sheer prolixity of the Code means you’re going to get all manner of unrelated stuff you didn’t want. If they’re breaking out Chapter 59 separately and giving it its own interface, it’s bound to be at least something of an improvement.

No property will be rezoned as a result of the new ordinance, though there’s one substantive change: newly-platted property falling under the classification of Planned Unit Development will require the developers to submit more specific planning details, and the city proposes to collect a $500 fee for a PUD site review. Approximately 100 such reviews per year are anticipated.

The new ordinance, if adopted, would go into effect 27 December 2007, one month after final hearing.

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Not exactly wing-tips

MICHAEL Panama Oxford by MIchael KorsFetiche just bought a pair of these, and I figured I’d give the rest of the resident shoe critics a chance to look them over. This oxford is called “Panama,” it’s by Michael Kors, and I liked the detailing on it, hinting at somewhere between the classic spectator pump and the sort of old-school wing-tip things out-of-touch shlubs like me wear to the Jersey Shore. The crinkly leather is a nice touch: makes it seem a tad less stiff without going too far into the realm of the flexy. You can’t see it at this angle, but there’s a little hardware logo at the top of the heel, for the benefit of those who simply have to know where these shoes came from. (I used to cringe at such things, but inasmuch as rather a lot of my shoes have large slanted Ns on them, I feel I have no right to complain.) I can’t help but think this might be nicer in a slightly lower heel — say, three inches instead of four and a half — but then I’m not the target market for this shoe by any means. Zappos will sell you these in grey, chocolate or black for $132.95.

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Blatant profiling

If your taste in fiction runs to the Utterly Implausible, you could read a sheaf of political-party platforms, or you could browse profiles at Match.com:

No matter what the boys told you down at the Auto Zone, no woman wants to see you flexing in front of your Jeep. Because we know you’ll inevitably end up looking more at yourself than looking at us. And we suspect that you might watch MTV Spring Break specials well into your 50s. And not really understand why they don’t give the Dateline predators a second chance.

I’m also going to give a heads up to the boys who don’t seem to know that women have seen cropped photos before. See, we recognize when you cut your ex-girlfriend out of a picture, or all of the 27 pictures you used for your profile. Because women worth their salt and their Lasik know that you don’t have blonde extensions on the right side of your head and that the perky breast eclipsing your arm probably doesn’t belong to your mother. Unless when that photo was taken you were bagging your mom. Which she of course is hoping you were not. And are not.

There also seems to be an overabundance of guys who don’t have the foggiest idea as to how one writes a paragraph about himself. In many cases, these men opt instead and not all that cleverly to pen something expressive along the lines of, “you’ll know when you meet me,” or “mere English words cannot capture the essence of my innards” or “let’s cut thru this and git her done.” I wish Match hired reviewers that wouldn’t only rule out objectionable profile content, but who would also offer suggestions to the guys who just can’t pull 250 words together. For example, a self-reference of “simple” just isn’t a mating selling point. Simple is great in recipes and vibrator instructions. In reference to humans, it’s pretty much synonymous with having to be fed dinner through a straw or not understanding just why sisters and brothers shouldn’t have children.

On the other hand, a character who describes himself with a straight face as “complex” perhaps realizes that what he meant to say was “You’ll find my moods mercurial and my desires incomprehensible,” and maybe even dimly suspects that this might not actually qualify as a turn-on.

I admit to being unable to write 250 words about myself — not 250 persuasive words, anyway — but for the record, I have never watched even one MTV Spring Break Special, and I am, yes, well into my 50s.

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Now this is serendipity

Bill Quick’s poking around in a secondhand store, and happens upon some classic furniture: a pair of side chairs in the style of Danish designer Kurt Østervig, which turn out to be actual original Østervigs.

Of course, he snapped them up; turns out he doesn’t have the space for them, and so he’s letting them go. If there’s a lesson in this for me, it’s this: brush up on those Mid-Century styles and designs, which seem so utterly compatible with my post-WWII house.

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Conspicuous non-consumption

A couple of years ago, I wrote up a short piece about a Zero Energy Home being built here in town, and I made this observation about the price:

[T]he target price is $199,000, which is on the high side for a 3-bedroom, 2-bath house with 1650 square feet, but the energy savings should compensate for that.

It won’t happen overnight, of course: the payback period is measured in years, and anyway we have rather lower real-estate prices here than prevail in, say, the Twin Cities:

Peter Lytle has gone to extraordinary lengths to set an example. To show other people how to live in harmony with the environment and lighten their footprint on the Earth, Lytle has spent more than $1 million to buy and revamp a 1948 Minnetonka rambler as a “green” home.

By equipping it with four kinds of alternative energy and the best available insulation, windows and indoor air system, he has made it a lesson in how to operate an ordinary home with far less energy and expense.

Far less energy, no doubt. But “far less expense”? Let’s ask Chad the Elder about that:

Let’s see, they invested about $685K (at least) in making the home green. But remember, the water and energy bills will [be] a fraction of a traditional home. According to this Energy Analysis, the average annual energy costs for a home like this in Minnesota would be about $3200. Throw in another grand to cover water (easily) and you’re at $4200. We’ll bump it to $4500 just to leave a little wiggle room.

Then, just for fun let’s say that this new green house completely eliminates all energy and water costs. In that case, it would only take ONE HUNDRED FIFTY-TWO YEARS for the homeowners to recoup their costs.

I believe the technical term for this is “cost-defective.”

Of course, the buyer didn’t do all this to save money: he did it to set an example for the rest of us poor slobs, which is far more important in the long run, right?

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He gave his life for tourism

In an effort to protect the remains, archaeologists have removed King Tutankhamun’s mummy from its sarcophagus and placed it in a climate-controlled container inside Luxor’s Valley of the Kings.

Tutankhamun’s tomb was opened in 1922 by British explorer Howard Carter; over the next four years researchers managed to remove the golden mask fused to the king’s face and separate the various treasures buried with him, and in 1926 the body, somewhat the worse for wear, was returned to the sarcophagus.

In the intervening years, increasing tourism has brought heat and humidity into the tomb, prompting the move to the new sealed box. A CT scan of the remains in 2005 suggested that the king died of complications from a broken leg. He was all of 19 years old, and had reigned for nine years.

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Got the Mercedes bends

Would you believe … M.C. Escher’s car?

Which way did he go?

(Swiped from the Australian Sceptics mailing list by Zoe Brain.)

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Introducing the cooler

Not being much of a gambler, I never knew someone like this even existed:

A cooler is a person so unlucky that casinos hire them to sit at a hot table and shut the other players down.

You’ll find one in Jana DeLeon’s novel Unlucky. As the author explains:

My husband and I got married in Vegas in 2000. Before we left, I studied and studied blackjack combinations, determined to beat the house. Unfortunately, I have absolutely, positively NO LUCK. In fact, my luck is so bad that when I sit down at a table, not only don’t I win, everyone else starts losing too. So I came up with Mallory Devereaux, the unluckiest woman in the world, who needs to make some money fast and decides to do it by “cooling” cards at a poker tournament of criminals.

And there was additional research involved:

While writing Unlucky, I contacted several casinos, both in Louisiana and Las Vegas. None of them would confirm or deny the existence of coolers.

That figures.

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Tiaraly wages

A statistic from Playboy’s Raw Data (December):

Forty-eight percent of American employees say at least one of their co-workers is a “Workplace Princess” who has an excess sense of entitlement and expects special favors on the job.

Given the need for magazine lead time, I figured this had to have been out for a while, and sure enough, it has. The study was commissioned by author/career counselor Rachelle Carter (Make the Right Career Move), and here’s what she found:

48% of American workers say there is a “Workplace Princess” on site.
48% of Workplace Princesses expect special favors from employers.
47% of Workplace Princesses believe they are being treated unfairly.
35% of Workplace Princesses make other people do work for them.

And just in case you were wondering:

16% of Workplace Princesses are men.

Based on my own experiences, I’d have expected a lot more than one out of six.

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Strange search-engine queries (92)

The new Hakia service combines a search engine with social networking: you can ostensibly meet people who’ve searched for the things in which you’re interested. This might even work, though I don’t think I want to meet the people who generated the searches reported here each week.

“tall beautiful women” nude:  Not at all picky, this guy.

my boyfriends 10 inch erection hit the steering wheel:  Tell him to wear pants when he drives.

Rep. Ronald V. Dellums niggardly:  Not so, and you’re a blackguard for even suggesting such a thing.

How much money is saved per family on daylight saving time?  As a general rule, not a damn cent.

walgreens 60000th store washington dc:  What’ll you bet it’s right across the street from a Rite-Aid?

sticky, slimy brown gel like stuff under skirt of trailer:  Uh-oh. Somebody just backed over a wino.

pantyhose fur stiletto silk transvestite fiction:  I’d say that just about covers the genre.

dating uses bases to represent relationship second base is boobs:  Of course, she could be waiting for a sacrifice fly.

why is it bad to live in a flood plain:  Hint: they’re not named after Curt Flood.

spammer punishments:  Declining stocks, expensive drugs, full-priced software, and an ever-diminishing wang.

how to disown a team in the nba fantasy team at nba.com:  Sell it to Clay Bennett.

(general motors) (tampons) (sexual harrassment):  Well, then, how about a Hummer?

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She’s not an addict

She can quit any time. Maybe. Here are the approved Belhoste warnings for Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock Bundle, and for gosh sakes, take them seriously:

  • Warning: this game is extremely addictive; don’t start playing if you have ANYTHING else to do for the rest of the day, week, month, year …

  • Warning: extended game play will result in sore wrists, fingers, feet, and necks.
  • Warning: playing this game with friends may result in fits of laughter (i.e. ROFLMAO).
  • Warning: 10+ hours of game play before bed WILL result in unusually strange dreams.
  • Warning: long time game play will result in seeing wavy lines and colorful dots every time you close your eyes (for at least an hour).
  • Warning: use of this product can be beneficial to your hand eye coordination.
  • Warning: extended product use may result in impromptu air guitar sessions.
  • Warning: prolonged game play may result in critiquing of radio songs for difficulty on a Guitar Hero playing scale.
  • Warning: repeated attempts to successfully complete songs will result in having the song permanently stuck in your head.

Some day, perhaps, they will come up with a “Hero” package appropriate to my talents, or the complete and utter lack thereof. (No, this isn’t it.)

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An inadvertent truth

“We urge you to invest some more time researching unfit sites.”

This was the entire text of a spam TrackBack received here this weekend; the proffered link points to a vendor of antiperspirants. (No, they get no link here.)

And while it’s certainly fun to look at unfit sites once in a while, there are more than enough fit ones to occupy my time, thank you.

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Three liters, no waiting

My current ride has a 3.0-liter V6, not the biggest engine I’ve ever had at my disposal but certainly the most muscular: 227 ponies (6400 rpm) and 217 lb-ft of torque (4000 rpm). Still, this is last-century technology, especially compared to something like this:

The lucky dogs at MSN Cars UK got to test BMW’s new 635d coupe and came away mighty impressed. The key to this car is the “d” at the end of the model number. Propulsion comes courtesy of BMW’s 3.0L twin-turbo inline six cylinder diesel which is rated at 286 hp and a mighty 427 lb-ft of torque. The almost electric motor-like torque of of the diesel means that this big coupe has more usable real world performance than the high-performance M6 model. The 635d hits 62mph from a standstill in 6.3 seconds which is pretty decent for a two-ton car. More impressive is the fact that it does all this while scoring 34 mpg (US) on the EU combined cycle.

We’ll be getting this engine eventually, in the 5-series sedan and the X5 sport-utility thing. With the shift (finally!) to low-sulfur fuel here in the States, I’m hoping we’ll see performance-oriented diesels affordable by mere mortals before too long.

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The uses of history

A couple years ago, I tracked down a copy of Born Grown, a history of Oklahoma City written in the middle 1970s by Roy P. Stewart. This was the immediate post-Pei Plan era, after extensive clearing of downtown had begun but before there was any noticeable uptick in actual rebuilding. (It would be two decades more before downtown was upgraded from “dead” to “breathing.”)

Brian J. Noggle has happened upon a history of Webster Groves, Missouri, from the same period, and while he’s fascinated by the actual, you know, historical stuff, he has more important things in mind:

[T]he conversational tone tells you what replaced the old blacksmith shop and early businesses downtown. However, 30 years later, the Farmers Home and Trust Bank is gone as well as the IGA grocery store, and those things seem quaint now. But I didn’t buy it for contemporary insight, I bought it for its discussion of the old times, and I got it. More trivia for the cranium, and things that I can tell the child as he grows up so he will think I’m very smart.

Which, after all, is the whole idea — almost:

Fooling the children, really, is the secondary use of all knowledge that comes to the fore after you’ve succeeded in the primary use of all knowledge, fooling women into thinking you’re smart so they will mate with you. One, anyway.

I wish I’d known that thirty years ago.

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How odd

The current Consumer Reports tagline is this: “Expert · Independent · Nonprofit.” They’ve registered it as a trademark, even.

They’re still dependent on one ancient piece of marketing shtick, though: the 2008 Buying Guide, should you buy it in a store, will cost you $9.99. Not ten bucks, but one cent less than ten bucks. The usual explanation for this is that people read prices from left to right (duh), and somewhere in the back of the mind, the difference between $9.99 and $10.00 looks like a whole lot more than the meager penny it is.

Yeah, we know, everybody does it. (Well, my dentist doesn’t; if he presents me with a bill for $200, it’s for $200 and not for $199 and change.) For a publication which ostensibly seeks to create smarter shoppers, though, this is a discouraging lapse in standards.

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Nothing is real

Especially not real estate these days:

A berry patch near Loganville [GA] is under contract by a local developer who wants to turn the old strawberry field into retail and office buildings.

Crown Point Properties will go before the Municipal Gwinnett County Planning Commission at 7 p.m. Tuesday to request a zoning change to build the 94,200-square-foot complex outside the city of Loganville. The 10-acre parcel is part of some popular strawberry fields. Though the land is largely rural, the current zoning would allow mobile homes on the property.

Is this proposal greeted with unanimous enthusiasm? “Let me take you down,” say some folks:

On the other hand, some neighbors say they would rather see strawberry plants rising from the ground than a building. Thousands of people come to the area to pick the fruit at Washington Farms.

McGehee notes:

I looked through the entire article and didn’t see any sign that the owners of Washington Farms are being forced to allow the planned development to build on their strawberry fields. In fact it sounds more like the farm’s neighbors want to force the owners of Washington Farms to keep growing strawberries on their strawberry fields.

Yeah, but they’re just the owners: what rights do they have, anyway? Obviously this is nothing to get hung about.

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Living in debasement

The greenback is kinda brown these days, and while government figures go to great lengths to indicate otherwise, the real culprit is not hard to spot:

The 1964 silver dime weighed 0.1 ounce. In 1964, three of them would buy a gallon of gas anywhere in New York. What would they buy today?

Well, according to Kitco, which tracks the prices of precious metals, silver closed on Friday at $14.49 per ounce. Three silver dimes == 0.3 ounces == $4.35 worth of silver. That would buy 1.45 gallons of 2007 gasoline: 45% more than it did in 1964.

Clearly, the real price of gasoline has gone down, not up. The apparent increase in its price is really the deterioration of the dollar, which has been deliberately inflated to pay for the ever-expanding appetite of government.

Not to mention the deterioration of the dime, which is now made of some nickel/copper combination that’s worth less than either alone, if only because of the expense of separating the two.

Although the W-2 for the wages of this sin can be found elsewhere in the piece:

For example, a house comparable to the one your Curmudgeon owns, which recently appraised for $400,000, on which he pays $10,000 annually in property taxes, would have cost about $30,000 [in 1964], and would have incurred property taxes of about $450 per year.

The price of this house has risen thirteenfold and change; the taxes have gone up twenty-two times.

Of course, these numbers were recorded in the Vampire State, as Akaky Bashmachkin calls it; your mileage may vary, though probably not enough to make you want to break into song.

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Pull me sandal straps back, Mack

FitFlopThis is the FitFlop, which is being sold (for $49.95 $49.99) as “a workout in a shoe”:

“The FitFlop sandal tones your calves, thighs and glutes with a specially designed midsole that functions like a mini wobbleboard to engage your muscles as you walk.”

I assume this is the sort of wobbleboard you don’t quite fall off of, and not the wobbleboard you hear in all those wondrous Rolf Harris records. Still, I’d rather deal with these than with any of those horrid sandals with plastic cobblestones they try to sell as instruments of massage: I actually own a pair of such, which is the primary reason why I never buy shoes online anymore.

(Via Shoewawa. And no, I don’t know why I seem to be doing so much shoeblogging lately.)

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Never give a SAGA an even break

SAGA Zone is sort of Facebook with wrinkles: it’s a social-networking site where the minimum age is fifty. It’s run by Britain’s SAGA Group, which seems to be like AARP without all the lobbyists; I suppose this should work just fine, with the caveat that advanced age does not necessarily imply advanced maturity.

(Via Emalyse.)

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Meanwhile, Simply Red has broken up

T-Mobile and its parent Deutsche Telekom have trademarked magenta.

Riff Raff was unavailable for comment.

(Via Fark.)

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Pavane pour une infante défunte

Not Maurice Ravel’s, though he has a small role to play in this tale of someone whose time ran out far too soon, by the inimitable Akaky Bashmachkin.

If Blogspot is acting up, you can read it here. One way or another, though, you must read it.

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The eight- (or twelve)-year itch

In case you thought the issue of term limits was settled, you might want to think again:

A term-limited state senator has filed legislation that would ask voters to repeal legislative term limits that prevent Oklahoma lawmakers from serving more than 12 years in office.

Sen. Mary Easley, D-Tulsa, said legislative term limits, passed in 1990 when voters approved State Question 632, have made special interests more powerful.

“How so?” you may ask.

Easley said she believes the 12-year limit has given more power to lobbyists and large corporations and has taken the voice away from the public. Easley said it takes a while to learn the legislative process. Inexperienced lawmakers might give more weight to lobbyists’ opinions than those legislators with more tenure.

Having studied (via textbook, anyway) the operations of Oklahoma government, I have to agree that it does take a while to learn the legislative process. And this is certainly true:

Voters exercise term limits every time they go to the polls, she said.

But even as Easley’s SJR 35 seeks to remove term limits, SJR 33 by Randy Brogdon (R-Owasso) seeks to extend them to other state offices:

Senate Joint Resolution 33 would put a two-term limit on the governor, lieutenant governor, state auditor, attorney general, state treasurer, labor commissioner, state superintendent, insurance commissioner and corporation commissioner.

And Brogdon isn’t buying Easley’s bit about lobbyists:

He believes term limits actually take power away from lobbyists and big corporations.

Brogdon said lawmakers who have served for decades get too familiar with lobbyists and then attempt to do things for their friends, rather than for the public good.

I’m waiting for someone to come up with a Senate Joint Resolution calling for term limits on lobbyists.

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He’s a complicated man

Bill Peschel’s talkin’ ’bout “Shaft”:

Despite the lyrics, if there’s any justice in the world, this would be a staple of classical orchestras. I want this played at my funeral.

Damn right. Even if it’s played on ukuleles.

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And doggone it, people like him

When Al Franken announced he was running for the Senate, the first thing I thought — apart from the visions of Stuart Smalley dancing in my head, which mercifully departed quickly — was “Geez, what would his fund-raising letters look like?”

Now I’ve gotten one, and, well, meh.

At least it starts out well, addressed to “Dear Person I’m Asking For Money.” There are two mentions of the “Republican slime machine,” which always makes me think of You Can’t Do That On Television, which routinely slimed know-nothings (not to be confused with Know-Nothings). And Franken says that he is less beholden to guys with big bucks than, say, Norm Coleman: “In the third fundraising quarter, my average contribution was just $67.”

And one quip near the end which speaks volumes:

We can change the balance in the Senate so that Democrats no longer have to govern by the skin of Joe Lieberman’s teeth.

Biting, one might say. Not enough to suck $67 out of my wallet, though.

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Bodhi by Fisher

No, not really. The Dalai Lama drove, not a GM vehicle, but a Land Rover — and if you’d lived most of your life in and around southern Asia, you probably wouldn’t take a second look at a Camaro.

As it happens, you can own that very Land Rover:

This auction from the Dalai Lama Foundation includes:

  • 1966 Land Rover 88″ Station Wagon (RHD)

  • 3 day Buddhism study session with the Dalai Lama in India
  • Meeting with Sharon Stone at The Missing Peace Art Exhibit show & dinner

The auction will run through the 12th of November; minimum bid is $75,000. All proceeds go directly to the Foundation.

(Via Autoblog.)

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SandRidge turns a buck

Rather a lot of them, in fact: Monday’s Initial Public Offering of 28.7 million shares at $26 brought in a quick $746 million to the Oklahoma City-based energy company, and by closing Tuesday the stock was trading around 32.

SandRidge is the former Riata Energy, acquired by Tom Ward after he left Chesapeake last year. Ward, who remains the largest single shareholder in SandRidge, is now technically a billionaire. The company expects to move from its current Northwest Expressway offices to the former Kerr-McGee Tower downtown within a year or so.

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More spotted dick, please

Traditional English desserts are in serious decline, says Emalyse:

The lure of spotted dick, sticky toffee pudding, jam roly-poly and similar dinner table dessert traditions has greatly diminished in the UK with each of us statistically only likely to indulge ourselves but once a year.

Premier foods, owners of that staple accompaniment to puddings, Bird’s custard, is so worried about our health conscious habits eroding their sales that they’re approaching MP’s in order to ask them to get hot puddings reinstated on menus in hospitals, schools, prisons and government offices.

Of course, if they’re not eating their meat — but never mind, you saw that coming.

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The Power of Blogdom (Part 2,423)

The lovely Sarah D. Bunting of Tomato Nation, in an effort to spike contributions to Donors Choose, offered, among various incentives, this:

$40,000 for me to don a tomato costume and do a dance in Rockefeller Plaza.

Total raised: over $100,000.

As promised:

If you’re thinking “Didn’t Angela Chase do this at some part of her so-called life?” you are quite correct. (And Claire Danes kicked in $7500, which would be icing on the cake if you could make cake out of tomatoes, which I suppose you could but I don’t even want to imagine what it might be like.)

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