Archive for November 2009

Failure to pay attention

I did my Saturday run to the supermarket, and parked, as is my occasional wont, roughly halfway between the door to the store and the ATM on an outlot; the idea was that I would walk through the ATM’s drive-up — I never can seem to reach the darn thing from an actual car without coming too close to the concrete pillars protecting its edges — and then ambling up to do the shopping. There is an ATM in the store, but it belongs to Some Other Bank (Member FDIC), and I figured I could walk a few yards to save two bucks in service charges.

I withdrew my cash and looked at the receipt just long enough to check the balance, which was about a third what I thought it should be. Passers-by might have noticed the storm clouds forming on my brow.

I bought about two-thirds of what I’d planned to buy, got back in the car, and contemplated the upcoming Highly Denunciatory speech I’d be making to the bank for this grievous offense. I’d even figured out what had happened: payday was Wednesday, which means, technically, after the close of business Tuesday, and Tuesday afternoon I’d paid a metric buttload of bills through the bank’s online service, having noted that the funds were already marked as “available.” Something happened to the ol’ Direct Deposit, I reasoned, and since all those bills were sitting there in the Pay queue, the bank duly paid them, and then slapped me with a series of overdraft charges for the ones that exceeded the balance already in hand.

Arriving back home, I put away the groceries and then fired up the browser. The bank site reported that, after the ATM transaction, I had exactly as much left as I thought I was supposed to have. This spawned some incoherent babble along the lines of “holy flurking schnit,” at which time it occurred to me that maybe I should read the damn receipt again.

Which wasn’t even mine. Card number — last four digits, anyway — was different, amount withdrawn was different, balance remaining was different. A mixture of Saturday sun and accumulated bile evidently had blinded me.

I duly called the bank and informed them that their transaction processor and their receipt printer had somehow gotten out of sync; the young lady duly took down the report. (Who knew there was anyone named “Colleen” in Bangalore?) And with that, I retreated to the smallest room in the house, verifying the truth of that old “scared spitless” business. Of course, it’s not really “spitless,” but it rhymes with it.

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Not to be confused with the Toyopet

I’m close enough — geographically, anyway — to some of the tonier parts of town, so I recognize this carbon-burning life-form:

A pet car is what I call the second, or sometimes third, car of a typical family of the suburban overclass. It’s precious and tiny. It’s the pet of either the wife, who received it as a 40th birthday present, or the husband, who is desperately reliving his fantasy of youth by driving a luxury convertible that blows his scant hair around.

I’ve noticed that I tend to ignore his pet car, but I pay way too much attention to hers.

And apparently Porsche figures it can’t survive purely as a pet:

A Porsche is typically the second, third, or even sixth car in a household, a luxury trinket that is harder to justify in leaner times. With production targeted at 20,000 Panameras a year, Porsche is gunning for the house’s No. 1 spot, the place reserved for family transportation.

Provided, of course, the family can spring for a $90k (or more) primary mode of transport.

(Ever seen a Toyopet? They looked like this.)

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The Killeen field

Major Hasan: holy warrior or self-centered dipshit?

Answer: yes.

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Something else to blame on the Democrats

The World Series results:

Union workers, welfare queens and illegal aliens thrive under Democratic administrations, but not as much as the New York Yankees.

In this, the first year of the Obama Administration, the Yankees won their first World Series since … the last year of the Clinton Administration. You can blame George W. Bush for a lot, but you can’t blame him for a Yankee World Championship. While Clinton was having relations with Monica Lewinski, Derek Jeter was adding four rings and an untold number of venereal diseases.

Under GHW Bush and Reagan, the Yankees won no world titles and only one American League Pennant, in 1981 as America was still suffering from Jimmy Carter malaise. In Carter’s four years, inflation, unemployment, and Reggie Jackson’s # of rings rose exponentially (2 titles in four years).

In fact, the Bronx Bombers haven’t won a Series with a Republican in the White House for half a century:

You have to go back to Ike in 1958 to find the last Republican President to see a Yankee world title. Ike saw six pennants and three world titles. Then he waxed on about the military/industrial complex and gave birth to the modern left.

The GOP, if it is wise, will make an issue of this in 2012. Then again, what are the chances of the GOP being wise?

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Not quite going with the flow

The city assures us that there will be enough water around here for the next 50 years, and maybe there will, but I’m not the sort of person who really wants to put such a claim to the test, especially since I’m paying for some of that water and using somewhere around 25,000 gallons a year myself.

I concede, though, that worrying about the water table in 2060 wasn’t my main concern when I started working on the toilet this week: it seemed to me that it was running a little longer than it needed to be, and such a situation can’t possibly save me money, so I opened up the mysterious porcelain tank and started screwing with stuff.

Apart from one brief spritzing in the face from an accidental disconnection without the shutoff completely shut off — don’t even ask — things went fairly well, and in the process of checking for leaks, I tweaked the refill-height adjustment to the tune of about ½ inch, which seems to reduce the fill time by several seconds and the water consumption by some fraction of a percentage point. I don’t expect this to make much of a difference in my utility bill, but I’d just as soon not be wasting the stuff, on the off-chance that I might want a drink on my 107th birthday.

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Bink mode

Early in Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, there was a character named Bink who turned out to be resistant to magic. The Thunder evidently took some inspiration from Bink tonight, thrashing the Orlando Magic, 102-74.

Admittedly the visiting Floridians weren’t at full strength — Rashard Lewis was still on suspension, Vince Carter was ailing, and Stan Van Gundy suited up only nine players — but Orlando was leading 25-23 after the first quarter. Then the bottom fell out. Dwight Howard, as always, was several kinds of awesome, but he had to earn half of his 20 points at the foul line, and it took him 17 tries to bag them. The Magic shot a mere 36.8 percent from the floor and hit only three of 13 3-point attempts.

Meanwhile, the Thunder owned the boards, 45-30, and shot 57.1 percent, including 9 of 16 treys. They weren’t at the stripe very much at all — 15 free throws, fewer than Dwight Howard — but they hit 13 of them. Kevin Durant turned in a 28-point night; both Thabo Sefolosha and Russell Westbrook recorded double-doubles; and things were moving so fast almost nobody noticed when Jeff Green fouled out, by which time Van Gundy had basically called it a night anyway.

Now beginneth the road trip: Tuesday at Sacramento, Wednesday at Los Angeles against the Clippers, and Saturday at San Antonio, before returning Sunday night to see the Clippers again. For the moment, and we all know how long those last, the Thunder is ahead of all three of those teams in the Western Conference standings.

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Strange search-engine queries (197)

This presentation is a bipartisan effort, in the sense that a small percentage of these might not have actually come from Google, but from some other vendor of basically the same sort of search stuff.

fastest profit.com:  Affiliated with quickest disillusionment.org.

“political breakdown” “independent voters”:  I suspect that if we do have a breakdown, it won’t be because of the independents.

no boyfriend, sick of nsa sex, not meeting anyone, celibacy seems like a punishment, help?  If you’re truly sick of NSA sex, celibacy might actually be an improvement; if nothing else, you’d stand a better chance of landing an actual boyfriend instead of just someone to take up half the bed. Not that I’d know anything about that.

why don’t we feel the earth moving?  Too much NSA sex, maybe.

i do not wear socks:  Are you bragging or complaining?

why textbooks suck:  Ask any student.

glenn danzig doing yardwork:  I wonder if he’s going to move that circle of snakes.

stinky cocaine:  You might want to keep it away from your nose, then.

America’s most rat-infested city is Baltimore:  It depends on what your definition of “rat” is. I think you could make a pretty good case for Washington, D.C.

undergarments for unshapely body parts:  Well, I should hope so.

what does amazingly fugly mean:  Do you, perchance, own a mirror?

dustbury post office fremont ca:  This must be around that marshland on the east side where hardly anyone lives.

Obligatory Rule 34 item: Biped Robot Kit Newt.

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That night in Berlin

In November 1989, I was running a FidoNet echo and reading a lot of others. And a chap named Wolfram Sperber dropped into INTERUSER, and we dropped everything, because he was there, man. I saved his story, and it’s followed me through half a dozen computers since then, which is a neat trick considering I was running a Commodore 128 at the time.

Twenty years after the fact, live from the Berlin Wall, via dozens of dial-ups from all over the world, you get to read a little piece of history here.

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The height retort

Real women, Linda Grant insists, wear flats:

It is perfectly all right to wear ugly, clumpy clothes when you are 16, but if you wear them when you are 50 it might look as if you never understood style in the first place, or have given up, ­surrendering to the idea that you can wear a red hat with a purple dress, on the spurious grounds that you are old and what does it matter because no one wants to look at you anyway.

But my God, those shoes were comfortable. It was like wearing slippers. I gave in and bought two pairs: patent T-bars with a spongy wedge, and black leather Mary Janes. Experimentally trying the Mary Janes out on a day when a friend wanted me to accompany her to the flagship Marks & Spencer at Marble Arch, so she could examine every single item of stock, I kept interrogating my feet: “OK down there? Still holding up?” But my feet were doing the job of carrying me around without complaint; they had fallen into silence. By the end of the day I had totally forgotten about them.

Try that with a five-inch heel. Apparently it’s all a con by the fashion industry:

Every woman is supposed to adore gorgeous shoes. Of course it is absolutely correct that they make your legs look longer and your hips slimmer, but if your legs can only be elongated while you’re standing or sitting down, there doesn’t seem much point to them. I love the extra height heels give me. I like being able to look men in the eye. I like the look of beautiful shoes, but until the manufacturers start including a sedan chair and two attendants with each purchase, I shall wear ugly shoes.

Of course, I only put this up to inflame tensions between fanciers of flats and defenders of the lofty. As to what I prefer, well, that depends on what else you’re wearing, doesn’t it?

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More of these

The 2009 Weblog Awards

Few things inflame my sense of déjà vu quite as much as a blog-award announcement; in this decade, I’ve had more award nominations than I’ve had girlfriends. (Make of that what you will.) Kevin Aylward put together the Weblog Awards back in 2003, and at the time, some of the categories were based on TTLB Ecosystem standings. Technorati Authority is now a criterion, though since no one, Technorati included, seemed to comprehend the current incarnation of Technorati Authority at first, it took a little while to roll out the divisions. (Apparently this here blog is Very Large, which is news to me.)

Not that it matters to anyone at this point, but I actually made it to the finals of this particular competition twice: in 2003 and in 2005. So I still pay attention to it, if only to reassure myself that I don’t have to play this time around. Nominations are being taken in about 50 categories until the 20th.

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Let’s get a sports team!

One of those things that Everybody Knows is that public expenditure for professional sports is a crummy deal, that whatever money comes in — and it’s always less than projections — ends up by design in the pockets of movers and/or shakers.

Just the same, the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets are circulating a study which asserts that the development of the city’s Arena District — the Jackets play in Nationwide Arena, the centerpiece of the District — has put $2 billion into the local economy since 2000. Maybe, maybe not. The Urbanophile, for one, is skeptical. But he’s prepared to argue that the traditional return-on-investment model is not really applicable in these instances:

[W]e should look at it as a marketing and branding expense. In effect, when cities pay hundreds of millions of dollars to team owners to put a franchise in their town, what they are really buying is naming rights to the team.

Consider, for instance, the cost of advertising:

How much money do advertisers pay to get their names on TV? A 30 second Super Bowl ad is $2.7 million or so. That’s what Budweiser pays to get 30 seconds of air time. But when the Colts were in the Super Bowl, the name “Indianapolis” appeared for a heckuva lot longer than 30 seconds. Think about what you would have to pay the TV networks to put your name on the screen and on the lips of the commentators (even that jerk Chris Collinsworth, who has always hated the Colts) as often as “Indianapolis” appears. The price tag would be staggering.

And you have to figure Columbus would like to get a piece of that kind of action. The Blue Jackets actually made it to the post-season in 2008-09; playing for the Stanley Cup doesn’t score anywhere near as many impressions as playing in the Super Bowl, but what’s a small city to do?

This also helps explain why small cities subsidize sports so much more than big ones. It’s not just about big market vs. small market revenues. Bigger cities aren’t as dependent on pro sports to get their brand message out.

Columbus, as it happens, is a hair bigger than Oklahoma City. Then again, the MAPS projects in this town, it is claimed, have brought in $5 billion, and while a goodly portion of that showed up before we ever got an NBA team to call our own, cakes do need icing, and maybe an occasional Bud to wash them down.

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Fender skirts, or something

However much I rail about this whole “girl-car” thing, I have to assume it’s not going away any time soon. I’d been going through Motor Trend’s Sport/Utility of the Year article, and the Chevrolet Equinox, while it didn’t win, garnered praise from the MT editors who served as judges, with this notable exception:

While most of us thought the Chevy was rather fetching, [Edward] Loh perceived a distinct femininity about it: “They’ll need to macho it up to grab men.”

On the very next page, they evaluated GMC’s Terrain, with the sub-headline: MANLY ENOUGH TO WIN? It’s the same damn truck; they’ve squared it off a trifle and glued on what appears to be a set of shoulder pads, but underneath it all, they’re twins, or at least Patty Duke-esque “identical cousins.”

A friend of mine is on her third pickup truck, and I once said something to her to the effect that truck manufacturers seem desperate these days to make their vehicles appear as burly as possible. She shrugged. “If I have to,” she said, “I’ll stick a big pink bow up on the roof.”

It would serve them right. (And the Terrain didn’t win, either.)

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We will control the vertical

ECCO Bouillon flat

This ballet flat — I figured that I probably should do some sort of flat, after this little outburst — is Bouillon by ECCO in Ascot Suede, one of eight variations on this theme. The button doesn’t really button, of course, but it’s sorta cute, and the shoe isn’t really flat: there’s about one inch of rise, front to back. Endless.com has this for $119.95, which is also a little taller than you’d think.

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You won’t see me

For some reason, “missed connections” has always been my favorite section of the craigslist personals.

This one from Chicago dealt me a solid:

As we both entered an ATM at Division and Milwaukee, you were momentarily distracted by a sleek 20-something brunette. Your eyes followed her until she was out of sight. Me, you looked right through. It’s hard to believe I have another 20-30 years of being ignored.

It’s hard to believe that somebody would be that easily distracted by — wait a minute, was that Zooey Deschanel?

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Blofeld never had to deal with this

International supervillains have it so much easier than the rest of us, notes Catherine:

I set up the international bank transfer to pay the rent deposit on our apartment in Paris. It wasn’t super-difficult, but there are a dozen steps and boxes to fill in, so I wonder how evil megalomaniacal movie villains manage to transfer funds so easily on screen. They must all be bankers in their spare time.

(Eventually, the permalink for the above quote will be here, but not until the first of December or thereabouts. You read someone for a decade, sooner or later you figure out [some of] her routines.)

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A veritable Samuel L. Jackoff

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have had it with those [expletive deleted] snakes in the [same expletive] drain:

A man who caught a 14-foot python in a Florida drain pipe was charged with perpetrating a hoax after wildlife officers discovered he owned the snake and put it in the pipe in order to stage the capture.

Justin Matthews, a professional animal trapper, later admitted that he had “staged the event to call attention to a growing problem of irresponsible pet ownership,” the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said on Thursday.

Matthews was charged with misusing the 911 emergency system and maintaining captive wildlife in an unsafe manner.

I can only conclude that this guy couldn’t afford to send the snake up in a balloon.

(Via House of Eratosthenes.)

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Then she rose up, and rent her garments

What do you get when you cross Net-a-Porter with Netflix? It’s called Rent the Runway, and it goes like this:

Harvard Business School graduates Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Carter Fleiss have created Rent the Runway. The site allows users to rent that showstopping outfit for four days. The dress is delivered directly to your doorstep, just like a Netflix movie. And just like the movie site, when the four day rental period is over, simply place the dress in the included prepaid envelope and send it back. No muss or fuss.

Featuring a tagline of “love. wear. return.”, rentals run from $50-200, which includes dry cleaning fees. There’s an additional $5 for outfit insurance — just in case there’s staining or structural damage to the clothing. If you totally wreck the dress, however, you will be charged the full retail cost so you’ll have to be sure to handle the piece with serious kid gloves.

Which is important if you’re dealing with a $2000 frock. (Kid gloves not included.)

Rentals are nothing new in the evening-wear realm — ask any guy who went to the prom — but this is the first time I’ve seen a variation on the theme that included actual home delivery. Furthermore:

Your dream outfit arrives in a custom garment bag that includes double-sided tape, bra strap extenders and deodorant stain removers to prevent any embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions.

Now all you need is the right pair of shoes — or to be in Boise.

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Barbara Carrera was not available for comment

Porsche is suing Crocs, the manufacturer of those (in)famous plastic shoes, for naming a sandal “Cayman.”

I await the inevitable suit against Rudy Giuliani, whose every sentence, according to Joe Biden, consists of “a noun, a verb, and 911.”

(Via Autoblog.)

Addendum: It occurs to me that if we’re going to use Barbara Carrera’s name in vain, we may as well go all-out:

Barbara Carrera

The question of whether she in any way resembles a Porsche, even this one, is left as an exercise for the student.

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KO’d in Arco

The Kings have their revenge. In the friendly confines of Arco Arena, the Kings put together a balanced, Kevin Martin-less attack — all the starters scored in double figures — to edge the Thunder, 101-98.

Jason Thompson did the most to pester the visitors, recording 21 points and 14 rebounds. Rookie Tyreke Evans earned his keep and then some, with 20 points, 8 boards and 8 assists. The Kings shot an indifferent 44.7 percent, and missed ten treys before finally making a couple of them late, but they were superb at the charity stripe, hitting 31 of 36. Where they really made the impact, though, was at the backboard: the Kings outrebounded the Thunder, 51-36.

Kevin Durant had another one of his patented surges, rolling up 37 points including 18 of 18 free throws, but it ended 3.5 seconds too early: that last trey try would have sent the game into overtime. It was not to be. Jeff Green was good for 19 points tonight, and Nenad Krstić dropped in 12. Serge Ibaka got to play two minutes, in which he got a rebound and hit two free throws, his first points in an NBA season game. The Thunder shot a blah 39.7 percent.

Sacramento is now 4-4, despite the absence of Martin; the Thunder drop to 3-4. Tomorrow, the Blakeless Clippers at the Staples Center. They’re tied for 11th in the West; the Thunder are tied for 9th. After last year, in which it took until the 82nd game to dispatch the Clippers, I am loath to predict anything about tomorrow.

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On the eleventh

“It wasn’t me who started that ol’ crazy Asian war,” the song goes. “But I was proud to go and do my patriotic chore.”

And yes, I suppose it was a chore, in the strictest sense of the word: first we take care of business, then we can sit back and swap stories.

Some people will look at that word “proud” and grimace. “How can you possibly feel any pride in what you did?” Well, I did it well, and at the time, it seemed like exactly the right thing to do. Thirty years later, it still seems so.

No regrets from this former Army man; I wore the green, like so many others my age, and fortunately, most of us came back from where we’d been.

You don’t have to spend any time remembering me today, but please do think of your friends and mine, your relatives and mine, who took on this “patriotic chore” themselves. And say a prayer, if you would, for those who didn’t come back.

(Originally posted 11/11/2002.)

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Downtime to come

Oh, if only all of life were this predictable: there will be a scheduled period of downtime on this site around 10 pm due to a server relocation, by which is meant “take the machine out of the old rack and put it in the new one.”

I expect no problems, but you never know for sure.

Update: Move postponed. They didn’t say why.

Further update: 12 November, 8:30ish.

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Where it all goes (’09)

Last year I put up an itemized list of where my property-tax money was going, according to the County Assessor’s official breakdown, and I figured I’d do it again this year. Figures in [brackets] are for last year, and they’re of course lower.

  • City of Oklahoma City: $130.71 [$125.46]
  • Oklahoma City Public Schools: $517.11 [$439.83]
  • Metro Tech Center: $136.73 [$129.49]
  • Oklahoma County general: $113.81 [$94.29]
  • Countywide school levy: $36.64 [$34.70]
  • County Health Department: $22.92 [$21.71]
  • Metropolitan Library System: $46.02 [$43.58]
  • Total: $1003.94 [$889.06]

This is about as much as they could raise it without running afoul of either the cap law or the patience of the taxpayers, and I’m not so sure about the latter, especially since the notices haven’t gone out yet.

The actual rate chart is here. Many of the individual levies are actually the same as last year, though the OCPS levy is up 11.3 percent.

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Creeping under the table

The reference comes from Dr. Johnson:

“Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier, or not having been at sea.” Boswell: “Lord Mansfield does not.” Johnson: “Sir, if Lord Mansfield were in a company of General Officers and Admirals who have been in service, he would shrink; he’d wish to creep under the table.”

DaTechguy expands on this idea:

I didn’t shrink but I felt the way a man feels when his work is being done by someone else, and that is I believe more than any other reason why Veterans Day and Memorial Day have basically become retail holidays.

When we see a serving soldier we are reminded that there are a small group of men and women who are doing our work for us. They are part of a community that if you are not a part of it you may not understand.

This has been the price of the all volunteer army that was born in the desperate attempts of college students to avoid service in the 60’s. For decades our popular culture looked down upon these men, our movies have and still paint them as “broken”. Even after Sept 11th our popular culture still never caught up with the average man who recognized that maybe just maybe there is something more to the soldier than someone who is looking to pay for college.

C.S. Lewis once wrote that a man in sin will avoid signs of God because it reminds him of his current state. I think a similar thing has happened to Veterans Day and Memorial Day. We don’t want to think about it, we don’t bother to attend. It is safer to simply shop, because if we look at Veterans Day and Memorial Day for who they honor and what they do we look at ourselves and remember what we have not done.

This is not, I hasten to add, a call for a return to conscription. But I remember draftees from the early 1970s, and while you could tell that they definitely wanted to be somewhere else, they weren’t about to let the rest of us down. When you’re called by something bigger than yourself — well, first you have to realize that it is bigger than yourself. Not everyone possesses this level of awareness: the newspapers are full of stories of people who couldn’t imagine anything more important than themselves.

And then I read about someone like, say, Tim James, and all the headlines melt away.

At the 2004 dedication of the National WWII Memorial, that old soldier Bob Dole said:

What we dedicate today is not a memorial to war. Rather, it is a tribute to the physical and moral courage that makes heroes out of farm and city boys and that inspired Americans in every generation to lay down their lives for people they will never meet, for ideals that make life itself worth living.

Mark that: every generation. Yesterday my oldest grandson turned ten. Will he someday put on the uniform, take up a weapon, as I once did? I don’t know. I’m not going to try to talk him into it. But I’m not going to try to talk him out of it, either. Not everyone is cut out for that kind of life, and that’s fine; I figure, so long as he’s not creeping under the table, it’s all good.

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Next: tornadoes banned

State Senator Jim Wilson (D-Tahlequah) has introduced a measure to make it a misdemeanor for anyone to intentionally lie or spread misinformation in a political campaign.

The sort of “misinformation” he means:

The penalty would specifically apply to materials that provide false information regarding the personal or political character of a candidate, voting records or the effect of legislation authored.

This should, in other words, eliminate just about everything but “I’m [fill in name of candidate] and I approve this message.”

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Feed the hungry, just not here

And by “here,” the city of Phoenix, Arizona means anywhere in a neighborhood zoned residential, even if you’re a church:

A Phoenix ordinance banning charity dining halls in residential neighborhoods withstood a challenge by a north-central Phoenix church.

Retired Arizona Supreme Court Justice Robert Corcoran, serving as a hearing officer, ruled Monday that feeding the homeless at a place of worship can be banned by city ordinance. The decision affects all Phoenix churches with underlying residential zoning.

Over the summer, city officials maintained that CrossRoads United Methodist Church, 7901 N. Central Ave., violated Phoenix zoning code by feeding the poor and homeless on its property, a use that can only occur in commercial or industrial zones. City officials said the decision is effective immediately.

Oh, and this isn’t for the reason you think it is, we are assured:

Paul Barnes, a Phoenix neighborhood activist who spoke at last month’s zoning-adjustment hearing, said churches must be mindful that zoning rules and restrictions apply to everyone.

“It’s not a homeless issue, per se, it’s the fact that you need to have some control, and that’s what the zoning ordinance provides,” he said. “It’s not a problem with homeless people in wealthy neighborhoods. That would be a matter of prejudice. This issue would be setting churches up to avoid zoning ordinances.”

As if, says Coyote Blog:

[W]e all know what a problem it is when churches are organized solely to evade zoning regulations. Why, just last week the First Baptist Church and Gas Station as well as the United Methodist Church and Topless Bar opened right in my neighborhood.

Caesar, asked for comment, said that he was pleased with the rendering.

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Close Clipping

This one had the potential to be very, very ugly, and at times it was “agonizing,” as Matt Pinto put it, to behold. But if the Thunder couldn’t shoot, they could (mostly) keep the Clippers from shooting, holding Los Angeles to 10 points in the final quarter to escape the Staples Center with an 83-79 win.

Then again, when Baron Davis had it working, he had it working nicely: the man knows how to work an offense. He dropped in 17 points and served up nine assists; Chris Kaman collected a double-double with 21 points and 11 boards. The Clips managed to hit a meager 35.9 percent from the floor, though they did manage seven treys in twenty attempts.

Speaking of working an offense, Russell Westbrook checked out from that function early, limping off to the locker room; he made it back to the bench, but no farther. This left Kevin Ollie to run the point, and the wily veteran picked up 11 points, as much as the entire L.A. bench. That other guy named Kevin pulled another double-double: Durant had 30 points and 10 rebounds. OKC had a slight edge on the boards, 46-43, and a difference of six personal fouls, by coincidence the number committed by Serge Ibaka in fifteen minutes of pestering the Clips. The Thunder shot only 42.2 percent, but for once that was enough.

So it’s an even split in California. The road trip ends in San Antonio Saturday night; these same Clippers will show up at the Ford on Sunday.

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Some Plain White T’s

Delilah is not mentioned, but you know she’s giving this song another listen.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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Dr. No is positive, maybe

The Smith Brothers, Trade and Mark (not their real names), might actually endorse this endeavor:

Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn, aka Dr. No, has threatened the unthinkable. He has found the mother of all horror stories and is considering reading it in front of the Senate. Each and every tortured word. And it’s not even Halloween.

Actually, this is the part they’d endorse:

We should all send him cough drops to be sure he can make it through.

I get pretty good results from Ricola, but we have a balance-of-trade deficit to think about.

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The caliber of our reference material

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Little do they know

John Salmon will read anything on the Web — with one exception:

Recipes. Does anybody actually use them? Do we really need recipes for cold soups, ingenious uses of beets (yuk!), or yet another way to make cole slaw?

Post a recipe and you lose me forever as a reader. And there are millions like me!

Let’s just hope he doesn’t find this. Or, for that matter, this.

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New and improved malevolent scum

You can’t even talk to these farging people:

Based on “a routine credit check due to increased usage of your cards”, they were chopping my credit line by ~25%.

Called them up and found out that the reason for this is that their “credit check” shows a $6,000 phantom; they’re claiming I owe them the balance transfer amount (correct) but also claiming I owe it to the two smaller cards that the transfer paid off (no longer correct). In other words, they claim I have roughly 40% more debt than I actually do. Not only that, but based on this erroneous information, they just damaged my credit score by reducing my available credit, making it that much more difficult for me to do other credit-related things. This actually took two calls; the first person, who I will refer to as “bubblegum-chewing blonde bimbo #1”, simply kept going round in circles saying “well if the computer program says this is what we should do this is what we do”, and hung up on me when I demanded to speak with a manager. The second person, who I will refer to as “Useless Tyrell #2”, basically repeated the same thing, then informed me that “all the supervisors are unavailable” and that he would “put a note in my file” and one of them should give me a return phone call in 48 hours or so.

I think I’ve actually talked to one of those, um, individuals myself. Not that it made the slightest bit of difference. Then again, you already know what I think of these practices.

Previous Malevolent Scum activity here.

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Troll mechanisms

Suzette is dealing with a particularly noxious comment troll, and Dogette explains the pathology involved:

I have theories as to why people do this. Let me list them.

1. They are sitting too close to their monitors. Seriously, this is probably the number one cause of troll-comment-leaving. People spend too much time on the computer but also they are just sitting too close to the monitor. After a while it makes them insane. All those little particles and shit. It’s brain damage.

This presumes the existence of a brain, but this isn’t too difficult a leap, so we will so stipulate. To continue:

2. They are repressing anger at some REAL issue(s) in their lives. Like, maybe they are really angry at their mailman. Or their trash guys. Instead of dealing with that anger through medication and therapy, which costs money, they troll blogs and get “upset” and leave these little comment turds. For a time, they feel better. But then the nagging thoughts, in the dark at night, alone: “I still hate my trash guys. I should go back to that Cripes Suzette site and spew at her some more. That felt good, I remember.”

Alternatively, we could charge people for commenting, which would make this maneuver something less than cost-effective, but so doing would drive away the non-trolls, and there are enough trolls who seem to be financed by [fill in name of shadowy rich guy who seems to have a thumb in all sorts of pies] — how else could they have so damn much free time? — to make such an action counterproductive in the extreme.

3. They have just lost touch with “reality.” “Reality” is this case must always be in quotation marks. “Reality” is pretty personal and customized in these cases. It’s not the same “reality” you and I might be in. It’s a “Special” reality. So I should have written “special” “reality” with both words in their own “separate” “special” “quotation marks.”

I suspect that “concern trolls,” of which there have been an abundance in blogdom generally of late, straddle the line between #2 and #3.

Personally, I think Dogette should formalize these subgroups and their definitions, and the rest of us should get used to the idea of referring to the troll in the previous comment as a “Type 1” or a “Type 3” or whatever. This would make, I think, a good Greasemonkey script, along the lines of Trollhammer. In fact, it could be incorporated into Trollhammer; in the process of eliminating the offending comment entirely in your browser, it would leave a reference to the troll type, for future reference.

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As reported in a cephalopodcast

And to think I used to complain about fishnets:

Textured plus octopus

Then again, I suppose from certain angles they seem a tad Lovecraft-y.

(By way of TYWKIWDBI.)

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Quote of the week

All we are saying, or at least what Robert Stacy McCain is saying, is give atavistic xenophobia a chance:

Except for straight, white, Protestant males, the only path to authentic identity under the multicultural regime is to separate yourself from the mainstream and strike a pose of alienated grievance. You’re only an authentic woman if you’re a militant feminist, and you’re only an authentic Latino if you’re marching with MALDEF.

Because such a posture only makes sense in the context of oppression and victimhood, everybody walks around with their insensitivity-detectors set to “stun,” prepared to blast anyone suspected of less-than-perfect tolerance. If it weren’t for racism, sexism and homophobia, the identity-politics lobbies wouldn’t have a fundraising raison d’etre, so they have a vested interest in magnifying every grievance.

“Tolerance,” incidentally, used to mean the ability to stand pain (from the Latin tolerare, to endure), or the range of acceptable deviation in a piece being machined. Its least-useful connotation, though, is not in this particular realm, but where it’s buckled behind the quantity “zero,” invariably found attached to an institution that honors buzzwords over brains.

This is, incidentally, not to deny the existence of actual grievances; were every last one of them immediately resolved, however, a lot of people would be out of work.

This mau-mau attitude actually causes more problems than it solves. The activist types who acquire money and influence by exaggerating evidence of “oppression” don’t really give a damn about the people they claim to represent. CAIR isn’t about the average Muslim any more than the National Council of Churches is about the average Methodist or the AFL-CIO is about the average blue-collar worker. The identity-politics professionals are merely exploiting the collective groups they claim to represent.

Not to mention the fact that anyone who tried to speak for the Syrian-Lebanese/Mexican/Scots-Irish likes of me would have to be wearing more hats than Bartholomew Cubbins.

And speaking of hats, a tip of the nearest one to Tom Wolfe, for putting “mau-mau” into the vernacular.

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A 22 top and a 7 bottom

Well, not exactly:

[I dreamed] I was a designer. I was producing a line of tracksuits called “Pi Couture.” Featuring, as you might guess, the digits of pi printed on the backside. The number of digits varied with the size of the tracksuit bottoms … so the tiny little ones would be “3.14” and the ones for someone like me would be “3.141592” and then there would be some sizes that said “3.141592653589793”.

And of course, that’s a real design FAIL right there (at least in the real world) because (a) very few women are going to want to walk around with an irrational number on their bums and (b) no woman larger than a “3.14” is going to want to advertise that fact.

Walking around with any number on your bum is irrational, whether or not it can be expressed as a fraction. (Maybe they’d prefer “transcendental.”)

There should, I think, be a companion line for e, and also for i if the Emperor wants to participate.

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Meep

Also, meep.

Addendum: Meep.

Further addendum: “Meep you! I’m meeping dying here!”

Further further addendum: Meep5.

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Can this brand be saved?

Joe Sherlock (November 2) notes:

Fiat-Chrysler intends to make Dodge Ram trucks a separate brand: Ram.

Anybody else besides me ancient enough to remember when Packard decided to spin off Clipper as a separate brand? Look how that worked out.

A Fail just short of Epic, as I recall. Packard had made its name and its fortune as a vendor of the highest high-end cars; in the 1930s they were forced to move downmarket to survive, but in the sellers’ market of the 1940s they kept shipping out the medium-price models. In 1952, James J. Nance took over as CEO, surveyed the scene, and decided that the take would be better with three brands: Packard at the top, Clipper below, and Studebaker, which Packard acquired in 1954. At the time, Nance had yet to find out just how bad off Studebaker really was.

So the Clippers were given new trim and a new badge for the 1956 model year, and they were offered to both Packard and Studebaker dealers. There were few takers. The year was so bad, in fact, that Studebaker-Packard actually turned its management over to Curtiss-Wright, run by Roy Hurley, whose response to crisis mode was to shut down Packard’s Detroit plant and to use Studebaker’s woeful excess capacity to produce Packard-branded cars on Studebaker’s existing platforms. There was no room for the Clipper in this scheme, and the marque died after a single model year. Packard itself would be euthanized in 1958; Studebaker stumbled on for a few more years, then beat a hasty retreat to Canada before its own extinction in 1966.

The Dodge/Ram dichotomy is not strictly comparable, but the level of distress is probably about the same, and Fiat has apparently decided that Ram toughness is a tough sell in an actual car. To me, it would have made more sense to kill the Dodge cars, leaving the truck line intact, and rebranding the remaining non-Jeep Mopars as Chryslers, but Fiat also seems to have notions of pushing that brand somewhere north of Lincoln. Good luck with that.

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Plan 1 from Bentonville

Part of the assimilation process, if you’re working for a certain big-box retailer, is the process called “Orientation,” and LeeAnn tells you what you’d see if you were there:

The first was about unions, or as they like to call them in the video “UNIONS! OMFG! OMFGZOMBIEPONIES!UNIONS!” It was very informative and educational. Did you know unions exist only to take every penny you make and use it to fund the drug cartels? Did you know they eat babies and blame it on Baptists? Did you know they want to enlist your innocent children in fetish-based prostitution and sub-par dishtowel sales? Did you? DID YOU? Well, now you do, and so do I, thanks to the high-quality propaganda media that the corporation felt it should siphon thousands of dollars that might have been wasted on employee pay to produce this Ed Wood masterpiece. I am proud to say I wasn’t even tempted to fall asleep because, due to the blatant over-the-edge tone of the whole thing, I kept waiting for the punchline. Or at least for Quentin Tarantino to pop up like a razor-chinned jack-in-the-box and tell us where he’d hidden Jimmy Hoffa and what the bloody hell was in the glowing suitcase from Pulp Fiction.

The latter, I’m guessing, is the All-Inclusive Key to Chinese Industry (Reg. U.S. Pat. Off.)

Incidentally, I buy my dishtowels at Target. They’re up to par.

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Something to believe in?

The Unreligious Right turns up some shots of Hot Atheist Girls.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. On the other hand, I tend to suspect that this is one of those “mysterious ways” in which the Lord works.

(Via Jenn1964.)

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Bland on bland

They’ll stone ya when you’re tryin’ to keep your seat:

Whenever Dylan did something artistically egregious, in poor taste, inept, schlocky, or otherwise incompatible with his reputation for genius, the reviewers would explain that he was a kind of musicologist, plumbing the roots of Americana, absorbing within himself the variegated traditions of our native music and transmuting them into art uniquely his own. Hence “All the Tired Horses.”

As one of the poor sods who actually shelled out American dollars for Self Portrait in 1970, I’m prepared to defend its opening track: yes, it’s inane and repetitive — so is McCartney’s “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” — but it’s much more listenable than some of the vaunted Zimmerman epics. (Yes, “Hurricane,” I’m looking at you.)

But the occasion here is not to kvetch about forty-year-old trifles; it’s to mock Dylan for having had the temerity to release that most banal of all musical commodities, the Christmas album. I’m not going to run out and grab it myself — last Dylan album I actually bought was “Love and Theft,” eight years ago — but if any track thereupon gets enough radio airplay to crowd out even one iteration of José Feliciano’s beyond-fossilized “Felix Navidad,” I promise to be grateful to ol’ Blind Boy Grunt.

(Via Scuffulans hirsutus.)

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