Archive for June 2010

All together now: “But it’s a dry heat”

Yesterday in the Arizona Republic:

While an excessive heat warning is in effect through Monday, temperatures are expected to plunge into the mid-90s by the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.

You probably don’t want to know what they consider “excessive.”

(Via Coyote Blog.)

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Not much Chance

In the theoretical shortest possible game of Monopoly, only one Chance card is drawn — and, for that matter, one Community Chest card.

Of course, once the sequence was revealed, commenters found ways to nitpick improve on it. And the probability of things falling exactly this way is of necessity very, very small — but definitely nonzero.

(Via Fark.)

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We don’t care if it works or not

TheNewspaper.com, in its article on Oklahoma’s proposed traffic camera system for insurance verification (which was previously mocked here and here), points out a significant drawback to the technology to be deployed:

Widespread use of [automated number-plate recognition] in the UK has resulted in a large number of innocent drivers being stopped over insurance verification problems. AA reported in February that it received 20 “mistaken identity” calls per week, mostly generated by errors in the recognition of characters like O and 0 on a license plate. In at least one case, the mistake turned deadly.

On May 19, 2008 a Northumbria, UK police officer engaged in hot pursuit of a vehicle that had been flagged by the plate recognition system. While speeding through the neighborhood, the officer struck and killed sixteen-year-old Hayley Adamson. It turns out that the database information that triggered the alarm was incorrect and the car being chased … had done nothing wrong.

And one vendor, responding to the Oklahoma request for proposals, brought up this set of issues:

“If the query response is returned with a disclaimer regarding accuracy, and a citation is generated based on inaccurate data, that will ensure negative press and possibly litigation, none of which will help generate revenue and so, projections must be reduced,” a vendor stated in an April 27 amendment. “The vendor and DPS will be accused of ‘trolling’ … not really knowing status but hoping that enough vehicle owners will actually be driving uninsured vehicles to make the system profitable. This is certain to create a vast number of failed citations, a very high level of bad press, public resistance and reduced revenues… If a name and address is sent in a broadcast email to many insurers, that would be in clear violation of both state and federal DPPA laws, inviting challenge in the courts and also greatly reduce the ability to provide revenues to the state; that too means that current projections would have to be reduced; this is a serious problem with the current system.”

The Department of Public Safety, in response, said basically “Screw ’em. We’re the goddamn Department of Public Safety.”

Okay, what they really said:

“It is respectfully suggested that the vendor concentrate on providing a system for verification of out of state car tags and spend less effort on concerns about OCIVS, per the RFP.”

This has FAIL written all over it.

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The age of Gotcha

Such is the nature of today’s politics, and this is what happens as a result:

[T]his blog really only worked when I was willing to discuss my thoughts in a much more unfiltered manner. Even though I’ve never used this forum in a way that might undermine collegiality, I have come to appreciate more that taken out of context — which much content on the Internet inevitably is, due to search engines — some of my more unguarded thoughts might be seen as representing more general attitudes that some might find as a convenient excuse to use to undermine future professional opportunities.

Being in a tenure-track position also, paradoxically, places me in the position for the first time of not being able to be quite as forthright about the serious issues that exist in academia generally and political science specifically. (I leave aside the paper trail of political views that would put me simultaneously outside the mainstream of academia and those of the American public at large yet somehow somewhere in between them, which certainly is a recipe for loathing from all sides.) I have no direct evidence that the blog has harmed my potential professional status to date, but frankly at this point in my career I feel the need to play it “safer” than I have in the past.

I’ve met this guy; “forthright” is his middle name. (And if by chance you’ve arrived here via search engine and are anxious to tell me that no, “Horatio” — or whatever — is his middle name, please be advised that you’re not helping; should you point out that there is no I in “team,” I remind you that there is a U in “STFU.” Three of them, if you spell it out.)

As for “loathing from all sides,” there’s a certain comfort in it, but usually not enough of one to pay the rent.

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Bevo don’t surf

John Kelso of the Austin American-Statesman has a geographical issue with the proposed Pac-16:

[T]he Pac-10 is talking about starting a superconference, with the eight West Coast teams in one division, and Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State in the other division.

Doesn’t management have a map in the Pac-10 office kicking around somewhere? Look it up. Pac stands for Pacific, as in that great big ocean out west of here. Trust me. Surf’s not up in College Station — unless you’re talking about the detergent.

Should we break it to him that the Round Rock Express, one county north of Austin, plays Triple-A baseball in the, um, Pacific Coast League?

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Unhandy man

“Specialization is for insects,” suggested Robert A. Heinlein at the conclusion of a long list of things a human should be able to do.

But apparently we don’t give that much of a damn anymore:

While assembling a table and chairs for some relatives in their 30’s, I realized that there is a rapidly growing percentage of adult men that don’t know how to do simple things like work a screwdriver and follow assembly instructions. I’ve even run into computer users that have no idea that you can add memory.

As the percentage of tech and mech inclined men in the population continues to decline, what will happen to companies like Ikea? Will there be people charging $30.00 an hour ($60.00 if you started) to put together the stuff you bought?

Part of this, I suspect, is our old friend cultural elitism: people who’d rather not get their hands dirty have managed to persuade others that the true measure of personal success incorporates being able to foist these tasks onto someone else.

But the real villain here is the label that says “No User-Serviceable Parts Inside”: we’ve seen enough of these over the years to make us believe everything is built that way. And the government, in its all-too-finite wisdom, has managed to make it actually illegal to work on some things: don’t even think about recharging the refrigerant in your air conditioner.

I don’t see things getting much better any time soon, unless there’s a sudden upsurge of people realizing that they have no idea how to replace a $5 part in the toilet and they can’t afford a $100 call to the plumber because they still owe $75,000 on their student loans.

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Talk about a waste of time

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Halle day for strings

Do you really need a reason for a picture of Halle Berry? Of course not:

Halle Berry in Los Angeles

Alas, eventually she must pass us by:

Read the rest of this entry »

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The intergalactic frat house

NASA is asking: What is Consuming Hydrogen and Acetylene on Titan?

Two new papers based on data from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft scrutinize the complex chemical activity on the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. While non-biological chemistry offers one possible explanation, some scientists believe these chemical signatures bolster the argument for a primitive, exotic form of life or precursor to life on Titan’s surface. According to one theory put forth by astrobiologists, the signatures fulfill two important conditions necessary for a hypothesized “methane-based life.”

I wonder if Titanians (Titanoids? Titanners?) are worried about oxygen accumulating in their atmosphere.

(Via my favorite rocket scientist.)

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No Jake breaks

Sonic Charmer watches doesn’t actually watch Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time so you don’t have to:

Moviegoers who are Prince of Persia purists, and therefore hope to be treated to a thrilling scene of Jake Gyllenhaal being sliced in half by a floor-to-ceiling blade, complete with a ‘slice’ sound effect, because he didn’t hold down the SHIFT key to make sure he took a ‘walk’ step rather than a ‘run’ step, will be highly disappointed. The rest of you will too.

Me, I’m waiting for Dan Brown to claim to have discovered the Konami Code.

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You want antibiotics with that?

I seldom eat in the car, mostly because trying to keep my focus on driving means I’m paying very little attention to the food, which is likely to end up in my lap or some place even less exciting.

It did not occur to me that I was saving my life:

[A] study by researchers from British auto accessories retailer Halfords shows that there probably are a lot more disgusting things in your ride than some fried potatoes or a few chunks of shredded lettuce. Scientists swabbed the door handles, steering wheel, shift knob, radio and seats and found bacteria ranging from Staphylococcus to Bacillus cereus. Those names just sound unhealthy, and in reality they are the germs that cause food poisoning, impetigo, severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Those nasty germs enter your car through the soil you walk on, the pets you travel with, the passengers you transport and the very hands you use to eat all that food.

That’s really bad news if you eat in your car regularly, and the study by Halfords shows that 70 percent of people do just that. Further, half of those study admitted to leaving food behind in the car, giving those bacteria the sustenance they need to help ruin your week. And don’t think that since this is summertime that the sun will bake your interior to the point where the germs die off. Quite the contrary, the nasty little microbes multiply faster as your vehicle heats up, bolstering the little buggers for the impending fight against your immune system.

The solution, it seems, is to find a place where the food’s so bad it won’t even support a colony of staph. (Possible first question: Do they slather mayo all over your burger?)

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Busted flush

Sarah Palin at Belmont ParkWith the notable exception of Andrew Sullivan, who presumably remains forever trapped in the womb, the goofier members of the leftosphere have now turned their attention, if that’s the word, to Sarah Palin’s rack, and whether it has been, um, artificially enhanced.

Now I admit to being easily flustered by discussions along these lines, but that should surprise no one, so I shall press ahead. My first thought, apart from “Oh, wow,” was that this would spark a call to tax those wicked breast implants, but the Senate already thought about that once, to the extent that anything the Senate does can be classified as “thought,” and it wound up on the cutting-room floor.

And then I happened on this musing by Stephen W. Browne, which started out as a contemplation of former Citibanker Debrahlee Lorenzana (previously described here), and which suggests to me that maybe it’s something else entirely:

At an American Studies Conference in Minsk, Belarus, I met an American woman, a clueless lefty academic. To give you an idea how clueless, at one point in a presentation she referred to the “bearded, Christlike figures of Che and Castro.” She didn’t even notice the cold wave that swept across the room from the Belarusians desperately praying for the fall of communism in their country.

At one point she touched on the theme of how “cultural imperialism” is spreading the “Caucasian ideal” of beauty across the world. (She was, by the way, not beautiful.)

This is, of course, not to say that there are absolutely no hotties on the left: have you seen Mrs Kucinich lately? Nor does everyone on that side of the aisle fall back so easily upon cliché; I know enough counterexamples to know better. I submit, though, that people who find their connection to the divine in the likes of Fidel Castro probably should not be trusted on matters of beauty.

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Ceci n’est pas une Chevy

It’s a Chevrolet, dammit:

On Tuesday, G.M. sent a memo to Chevrolet employees at its Detroit headquarters, promoting the importance of “consistency” for the brand, which was the nation’s best-selling line of cars and trucks for more than half a century after World War II.

And one way to present a consistent brand message, the memo suggested, is to stop saying “Chevy,” though the word is one of the world’s best-known, longest-lived product nicknames.

“We’d ask that whether you’re talking to a dealer, reviewing dealer advertising, or speaking with friends and family, that you communicate our brand as Chevrolet moving forward,” said the memo, which was signed by Alan Batey, vice president for Chevrolet sales and service, and Jim Campbell, the G.M. division’s vice president for marketing.

After which, Campbell chugged a Coke, got into his Caddy, and drove home.

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377

The 377th edition of Carnival of the Vanities is titled “CoTVing to Geert,” a reference to Geert Wilders, leader of the Party for Freedom, which holds about two dozen seats in the States-General, the parliament of the Netherlands.

It occurred to me that I didn’t know much about the States-General as a unit, and discovered that it granted a trade monopoly to the West India Company for twenty-four years, later extended for twenty-five years more. The boundary line was set by the States-General at the Orinoco River, in a regulation published in 1632, revised and renewed in 1633. (Which is, of course, 377 years ago.) I have no idea what Geert Wilders would have thought about that, though he has been a frequent critic of Dutch government generally.

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Fark blurb of the week

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From the “Think about it” folks

Hyundai has a two-page print ad running in various magazines — I saw it in InStyle — with the following bogus-appearing URL:

Hyundai.com/Safety/Efficiency/200hp/35MPG/2011Sonata

I, of course, tried it, and it worked: the redirect lands here.

Evidently someone actually thought about it.

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On the road to Mandalay?

I’m not quite sure what I think about the impending sale of the Oklahoma City RedHawks to persons yet unidentified. It’s not like there’s something resembling perennial ownership stability at the Triple-A level; the Boids have changed hands three times in the last two decades. (One of those owners, New York art dealer Jeffrey Loria, sold out in 1993 and went looking for a major-league club to add to his portfolio; you might not want to mention his name in Montreal.)

On the upside, this sounds promising:

Mandalay Baseball’s core business is to own and operate Minor League Baseball franchises throughout the United States. An organization unique to minor league sports, Mandalay Baseball’s executive team possesses an incomparable depth and breadth of entertainment, financial, and sports expertise. Its acquisition and venue development strategy, business model, and operating and management philosophy are unlike that of any other in minor league sports.

No one is saying for sure that Mandalay is the buyer — don’t want to jeopardize the negotiations, doncha know — but clearly we could do a lot worse. And if Bob Funk père is sick of wasting leather on those Bricktown paving stones, well, he’s getting up there in years, and Funk fils has that damn hockey team to run.

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Please be seated

This looks like a happy little confab:

Michelle Obama and Jill Biden

My fondness for Jill Biden in red has already been noted, and once again, Michelle Obama comes up with a quirky pattern. Since the First Lady’s fashion choices have so often been hit-or-miss, I have to reserve comment on this one until I can see what it really looks like.

Oh, wait:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Quote of the week

Smitty, prescient as usual:

Technology adoption is always a chancy thing. The GOP will have an effective Twitter strategy in place by around 2016. That result will be sandwiched between Stacy McCain’s 2015 adoption of TweetDeck, and the 2014 replacement of Twitter as the dominant communication tool by a to-be-announced technology.

On this particular schedule, it’s probably about time for John McCain to get a MySpace page.

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After Nebraska

A proposal for the new Big Ten conference logo:

Proposed new Big Ten logo

You’re welcome.

(In case you missed the news.)

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That smarts

I’ve been to lots of places that seemed dumber than Jacksonville. Then again, I’m not an econoblogger with a rating system:

Rob Pitingolo is an economist who rates cities based on the number of college-degree holders per square mile.

He created a list of the 52 biggest cities, called “clusters of smart people”, and put San Francisco on top and Jacksonville just above Oklahoma City, at the bottom.

I concede that we have our clueless moments here in the Big Breezy. However, the mere fact that we could move up several positions simply by deannexing a few dozen of our 600-plus square miles suggests that Mr Pitingolo is, let us say, oversimplifying matters. He was happy to furnish the following explanation to a Jacksonville radio station:

“The reason Jacksonville ranks low on the level of degree density is principally explained by the fact that Jacksonville is not a relatively densely populated city. This does not mean that the citizens of Jacksonville are any less intelligent than citizens of any other city; it simply means that degree holders in Jacksonville do not live in as close of proximity to each other as degree holders in other cities.”

As tautologies go, that one’s pretty taut.

(Via Fark.)

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Wood chips keep falling on my head

But that doesn’t mean I’m hurt: I never even bled. (Bleeding’s not for me.)

A couple of the light fixtures here at the Estate are peculiar: they hang from the rafters and don’t quite reach the ceiling. On the ceiling itself, below each fixture, is a square wooden frame which contains a sliding pane of glass. Think of it as recessed lighting without the actual recess.

The disadvantage of this layout is that it collects dirt on the inside, meaning I have to fetch the ladder, slide the panel out, give it a decent cleaning, slide it back in, and take the ladder back to its storage space. (It hangs on the garage wall.) I’m not in the habit of looking up at light fixtures unless they’re producing no light at all, but these were lit, albeit decidedly dimmer than usual, a side effect, I figured, of last week’s roof replacement.

So I duly fetched the ladder, slid out the first panel, and got a face full of sawdust and such. A couple of full-fledged sticks dropped out of the corner. It took several minutes just to clean the scuzz off the inside of the glass.

The second fixture had three times as much debris; I could hear it thunking on the hardwood floor.

I suppose this could be construed as better what I usually find up there, which is a lunchroom for the resident spiders, but I generally don’t have to sweep up after spiders.

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Girls on wheels

Via Fritinancy, we find this frightfully-detailed list: the International Rollergirls’ Master Roster, which lists nearly twenty thousand practitioners of this fine art, and the names they’ve adopted for themselves.

A few I found worthy of repeating here:

  • Anaïs Ninja
  • Beth Amphetamine
  • Blanch Davidian
  • Carmen Monoxide
  • Dread Pirate Roberta
  • Formalda Heidi
  • Irrational Velvet
  • Joan Cougar Menstrualcramp
  • Malice Trebek
  • Regreta Garbo
  • Sandra Day O’Clobber
  • Shirley Mae Q. Cry
  • Tara Newone
  • Trudy Struction
  • Val Catraz
  • Yvette Horizon

If you check out the whole list, be advised that some of them may confound or infuriate your work filters.

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Phase 2 awaits

Phase 1, you’ll remember, is “Collect underpants.” Check:

[A]s I was collecting laundry, I noticed that there were about a third fewer pairs to take in than I had hung out. All the missing pants were mine and SnarkGirl’s. The pins were still there, but the panties were gone. I foolishly checked the grass to see if they’d fallen or been blown across the yard. Nope — but part of the vine on the back fence behind the shed was broken and crushed down.

The police were only minutes away:

They showed up, looked at the area, and mentioned that a couple of other houses had been hit in the last few weeks.

I have yet to figure out how this is supposed to be profitable.

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No tomorrows

One of the wondrous things about the Carpenters’ single “Goodbye to Love” is the contrast you think you’re hearing between the scrubbed-clean angelic voices and that dirty, fuzz-ridden guitar solo. (If you haven’t heard it lately, it’s here.) I, of course, loved the song for its glorious wallow in post-adolescent self-pity, but when that guitar comes in at about 1:23, I couldn’t tell if it was intended as reinforcement or rebuke. And there’s more of it in the outro.

I mention this because Tony Peluso, who performed that particular bit of guitar wizardry, has died of heart disease in Los Angeles at the age of 60. And if you’ve heard all nineteen minutes of “Yesterday Once More,” you’ve also heard Peluso’s voice: he’s the DJ playing those totally-terrific top-ten tunes.

Peluso went on to pile up lots more credits, as player, arranger and producer — among other things, he provided production chops for Gustavo Santaolalla’s score for Brokeback Mountain — but I suspect it’s that Carpenters gig for which he’ll be best remembered.

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Feces, don’t fail me now

A little bit of banter with Fillyjonk led me to this:

Knitted dog with equally-knitted crap

The real tragedy, of course, is that you must obtain two different patterns to recreate this scenario on your own: dog and poop are sold separately, as they say in the commercials.

Knitted crap from equally-knitted dog

Watch where you step.

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A tad more MAD

MAD magazine, formerly published eight times a year, then published twelve times a year, then published four times a year, will now be published six times a year. Editor John Ficarra reports in the August 2010 issue (#504):

With this issue, MAD is increasing its frequency from four to six issues per year. Happily, this means more issues of MAD for you and, tragically, a lot more work for me and the staff of the magazine!

I figure the next step is five issues a year, one every 73 days. (Don’t even think about bringing up leap year. At least, not until 2012.)

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No word from the plumbers’ union

Evanston, Illinois is not having any of that “pants on the ground” crap:

Wearers of saggy pants that dip too low could be in violation of city decency standards under an ordinance that moved forward in Evanston Monday night.

Members of Evanston’s Human Services Committee voted in favor of a redefinition of public nudity. Under the proposed ordinance, nudity would be defined as “the showing of the human male or female genitals, pubic areas or buttocks, or female breasts with less than a full opaque covering of any portion thereof below the top of the nipple.” Women breast-feeding in public are exempt from the definition.

The way this looks to me, your pants can sag as much as you (or they) please so long as you don’t expose any of the verboten skin areas.

E. M. Zanotti, who does not live in Evanston, comments:

What’s slightly more interesting about this proposal is the discussion that ensued in the meeting, excerpts from which include the fact that this is designed to “prevent the long-term health effects” of nudity, none of which I can think of immediately other than a particularly embarrassing sun burn, and Alderman Jane Grover, who looks like your mom, is a dedicated bikini wearer. Just so you’re aware, a bikini “covers all the right parts.”

Well, not my mom. Still, this seems inarguable:

Knowing that your pants could fall down at any time and reveal your lack of an ass to the world in the middle of a major intersection should be punishment enough.

On the upside, there’d be no chance of getting kicked by Barack Obama.

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How Swede the sound

Proposition: People who argue that our government policies should follow the example set by Sweden (or some other Scandinavian country) do so for highly non-political reasons:

[S]uch people subconsciously think socialism (in particular note the obsession with government medical care) will make more people around them sexually attractive — and, in particular, sexually active. Thus increasing their (currently poor, we surmise) chances of having sex with sexually attractive people.

I dunno. Scandinavia doesn’t seem all that far to the left sometimes. Sweden recently declined to bail out Saab; Denmark has no use for open borders. Still, you don’t see anyone suggesting that we take a lead from the late, unlamented Soviet Union, which practically invented socialism as we know it, and no one, except maybe Paul McCartney, had kind words for their babes.

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Don’t play with your food, either

This has never happened to me, of course, but they say that if your date is rude to the restaurant staff, you should consider the relationship doomed from that point on.

In which case, there are going to be lots of folks breaking up in short order:

Ever worked in a restaurant? I sure have. It’s hellish. People seem to be more piggy than ever when they eat out now. There’s this air of entitlement and they seem to think the servers are subhuman.

You can try to compensate for these miscreants:

I had a nice but very nervous new waiter-dude being “trained” by a female server. The second I was seated I told him what I wanted to eat (just the salad bar), and let him know that he could basically just get me a plain glass o’ water and then ignore me and spend his time dealing with “the difficult people.” He laughed and looked grateful. He was great, the little I saw of him. I didn’t need to see him, though. At the end, I tipped him $5 on a $9.53 tab to TRY to make up for the tables who ran his legs off and talked his ear off, pigged out the table and the carpet around it, and took up all his time asking stupid questions about stuff on the menu like they’d never heard of “a hamburger, with cheese or without cheese” before, and left shitty tips. If you don’t know who these people are, you ARE them.

There is, however, a limit to how much of this you can do:

[W]aiters don’t like ha-ha funny customers, the ones with routines, accents, stock phrases, and three other people who find them hilarious. (Or not.) These are performers. Waiters don’t like people whose humor has an aggressive undertone — I’ll have the horsemeat. Don’t tell me you don’t serve it, I’ve eaten here before.

On the other hand, I remember a young woman in deepest St. Robert, Missouri, spring 1972, who might have been the prototype for Progressive Insurance’s spokescreature Flo. I don’t know how long she’d been slinging hash, but she was eminently capable of dealing with the third-worst possible table occupants: four not-yet-drunk post-adolescent guys. (Identification of the first- and second-worst is left as an exercise for the student.) If she’s still there after almost forty years, today’s Unworthy Diners wouldn’t faze her in the least.

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As the incumbents relax

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Strange search-engine queries (228)

In this weekly feature, we analyze all the stuff in the server logs, and then reproduce whatever’s most likely to garner a few cheap laffs. There’s no particularly good reason to do this, but I suspect if I stop doing it, someone will probably want to kick my ass.

tall, ten young and lovely:  She may be only ten, but she has the body of a woman of thirteen.

teen girl lift carry:  She may be only ten, but she has the mass of a woman of thirteen.

chuck berry naked with white woman:  All the cats wanna dance with Sweet Little Sixteen.

“my lawn” artificial turf installed:  All the more reason for you to get off it.

Newscaster forced to take clothes off:  Dear God, let us hope and pray this isn’t Brian Williams.

google 10 strange queries man boobs:  Dear God, let us hope and pray this isn’t Brian Williams.

man in black shirt in dinkytown in the 60s:  Boy, that narrows it down.

faux skin k9 dildo:  Then again, I’d rather not imagine a real one.

Anvil Identification:  You’ve just plunged off the cliff. See that large metal object over your head that will hit the ground slightly after you do? That’s an anvil.

whale foreskin leather chair for sale:  File this under “dorksploitation.”

I don’t know either, actually:  That makes two of us.

93 dakota’s oil pressure guage fluctuates from low to high:  Yeah, that’s kind of what “fluctuates” means.

dustbury excessive plunging mid-90s:  I don’t think I’ve done any plunging since the mid-90s, if you know what I mean.

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And descended into Helvetica

Papal infallibility is not invoked very often: in all the years of my life, the Pope has spoken ex cathedra exactly zero times. (“The Pope,” Benedict XVI once said, “is not an oracle.”)

And assuming God can confer infallibility on computers, it’s obvious that He has not done so. From the Vatican’s online version of Sacra Virginitas, a 1954 encyclical by Pius XII:

Indeed, right from Apostolic Times New Roman this virtue has been thriving and flourishing in the garden of the Church.

Later in the document, quoting St. Paul:

Several Times New Roman in the course of his comparison between marriage and virginity the Apostle reveals his mind…

For some reason known but to the Almighty, whoever assembled this page managed to substitute “Times New Roman,” the name of the font used on the page, for the ordinary word “times,” search-and-replace supplanted by search-and-destroy.

I note that Firefox’s spellchecker didn’t think much of “cathedra,” either, suggesting, among other things, “Catherina” and “catheter.”

(From Catholic Culture via Christopher Johnson.)

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As the animals start to pair off

A plunge into the weather records suggests that the 24-hour rainfall record for Oklahoma City is 7.53 inches, set September 22, 1970.

I think we can kiss that record goodbye. One of the Mesonet stations in town has already made it up to 8, the others aren’t far behind, and it’s still raining. The office ranges from 0.5 to 4.5 inches of water inside. Jesus Christ could walk through the parking lot, but He’s just about the only one.

Travel is discouraged, so I’m probably not going to be able to go home, either, at least until some of this runoff actually starts to run off.

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More from the Department of Nomenclature

Tony Woodlief, filling in for Mrs Peter Suderman [sigh], contemplates the names we’re given and the names we assume:

We tend to get the big stuff right when it comes to names, in other words. And people can’t help it if they’ve been given a last name of Head, or Dick, or Putz. They certainly have it within their power, on the other hand, to think carefully about the first names they give their children. As with so much else in life, it’s not enough to choose a name with noble thoughts, one must choose a name and imagine what a cabal of twelve-year-old twits will do with it on the schoolyard. The average child does not have the wherewithal to muscle past a snicker-drawing name the way the makers of the iPad seem to be doing.

All of which makes me think of a job application I reviewed once, everything about which seemed to be in order except her email address. It combined a fruit with a lovey-dovey name that freshly in love people might use with one another when no one is listening. Something like peachybear. Or persimmonboo. I winced when I read it. And I couldn’t help but think less of the candidate.

If you have one of the disfavored surnames, even innocuous first names will not save you. Tim Allen was born Timothy Allen Dick; once in an interview, he said that his wife at the time was happy to point this out to people. “Oh, he’s a Dick, all right,” she’d say. “In fact, his whole family are Dicks.”

I always wondered if Karl Rove ever got any email at turdblossom @ whitehouse.gov.

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Colors for $200, Hallux

“I can’t imagine anything profound about painting one’s toenails,” says Fillyjonk, and then retreats a bit:

Then again, I’m a biologist, not a semiotician, and it’s entirely possible that someone somewhere has written a treatise on what polished toenails mean, including what it means when you don’t also do the fingernails AND when you opt to do it yourself, rather than going to one of those Happy Pretty Nail Fun places where they do it for you.

What I know about biology and semiotics combined could fit into a thimble and still leave room for a couple of mustard seeds plus about 535 Congressional senses of ethics, but I’ll give it a try anyway.

I think we can eliminate the simple desire to attract attention, because if you were so inclined, the sheer ubiquity of said Happy Pretty places has forced the price down to levels so low that it’s not worth your time to do the job yourself, and they presumably have madder painting skilz besides.

Angie Harmon from here down in Manolo BlahniksNow your hands are always on display. Your feet, maybe not so much, probably even less so during the winter months. So if you skip doing the hands, because it will wear off in a hurry what with everything you have to do, but you do up your feet, which hardly anyone will see, I tend to think in terms of a little something special, more than a little bit girly, that you do just to reassure yourself that you haven’t put that part of yourself into a stasis field to get through workaday life — unless, of course, you do them up in blue, in which case all bets are off. This is a perfectly lovely pair of Manolo Blahniks, occupied by the perfectly lovely Angie Harmon, and I honestly don’t understand why she’d opt for an enamel color more appropriate for minor trim pieces in a pediatrician’s office. (Not even Shoebunny, who is supportive of all manner of shoe-related phenomena, is willing to accept this shade.) That said, the function of attracting attention is certainly, um, functioning here, and I’ve seen darker blues than this on a fairly regular basis around town. Not that I’m suggesting in the least that anyone should take my preferences into account.

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Still more from the Department of Nomenclature

This started out as an addendum to a previous post, but grew enough to be sent out on its own.

Andrew Wasson, writing in Dairy River:

Given the general meaninglessness of suburban street names it is easy to dismiss them as devoid of meaning. Not so fast. Given the myriad of vaguely identical street names out there, it is just plain unlikely that so many names could turn out so similar. There must be a subconscious rubric. Their striking uniformity belies some pattern. Sort of like the time that guy tried to defend against plagiarism because his mind just happened to work like an encyclopedia. Suspicious.

Yet, the more one canvasses the universe of possible street names, the more one realizes that the canonical suburban street name typology only occupies a fraction of that universe. Consider a few neutral but rare examples. Body parts are usually disfavored. There are not many streets named after the kidneys or the liver, for example. In fact, streets are generally not named after scientific jargon of any discipline: Endoplasmic Reticulum Terrace, C. Elegans Street, Shannon-Weaver Theory of Information Drive. Although a biotechnology office park named the Golgi Complex would be rather sweet.

Indeed, although I wouldn’t expect anyone to try that in Real Life™. (Then again, Apple does its business from 1 Infinite Loop. The traffic is unbelievable.)

In Oklahoma City, you can name your north-south streets whatever you like, so long as your east-west streets appear to follow the grid, which simplifies matters for people who live in places like, say, the Rivendell subdivision, where new homes are going in at 130th and Doriath.

Austin, on the other hand, runs out of numbers after 56½, so different rules apply:

We are purchasing some acreage lots in Oak Hill, and I just found out that other buyers on my street don’t like the name of the street on which our lots are located and have requested the developer to change the name. The street name is ‘Sisquoc’, which I think is a cool name. Sisquoc is a Chumash Indian (from California) name that loosely means “stopping place”. There is a Sisquoc River in California. The developer told me other buyers thought it was too hard to say and spell. Jeez, give me a break! The street is now in the process of being renamed to “San Lucas”.

What with calls for traffic-calming all over Austin, I’m surprised that Speedway is still allowed to exist — although “Avenue E” wouldn’t be all that wonderful either.

Still, this Sisquoc thing led to some seat-of-the-pants research I found interesting:

[T]he Shady Hollow subdivision in South Austin has streets with names including ‘Shoot Out’, ‘Six Gun’, ‘Gun Fight’, ‘Ammunition’ and ‘Shotgun’.

Regrettably, none of those fall into the 1900 block; I would love to have seen something at 1911 Ammunition Drive.

I performed an MLS search for homes in Shady Hollow that have sold since 2000 [through mid-2006] which are located on the aforementioned streets with gun related names. There have been 71 sales on those particular streets. The average sales price is $179,677, which equals $98 per square foot. I then searched the rest of Shady Hollow, filtering out homes newer than 1993 since all of the aforementioned homes are built before 1993 and we don’t want to pollute the results with more expensive newer homes. There were 606 sales of homes with less overt western names. The average sales price is $225,713, which equals $103 per square foot. It appears that the homes with politically incorrect names do not sell for as much compared to other homes in the same subdivision.

The interesting thing is, however, that the politically incorrect homes sold in an average of 37 days while the others took an average of 50 days to sell. This seems counter-intuitive based on the price gap. The politically incorrect homes were an average of 1811 square feet while the others averaged 2144 square feet, which would account for the sales price gap. But smaller homes, in general, sell for a higher per square foot price, and in this case they don’t, which suggests something is out of balance.

Which tells me that there is a small subgroup of home buyers who actually want to live at a distinctive address, and will pay for the privilege. Abbey Road runs for three discontinuous blocks through The Village, about three and a half miles from me; not only are houses seldom for sale there, but the street signs don’t give it away.

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Milk and honey

You can get milk from any of several sources, but for honey, you need bees. And in biblical Israel, they had them:

Archaeologists discovered the remains of the oldest earliest known apiary during an excavation of Tel Rehov, an important city during the Israeli monarchy located in northern Israel. The ancient bee colony dates to around 3,000 years ago.

The structure consists of three rows of clay cylinders — which researchers believe are man-made bee hives — situated within a courtyard. Some thirty hives were unearthed, but researchers expect up to 100 hives once existed.

Which is nifty enough, but consider this:

The architecture of the ancient hives is similar to bee farms found in modern-day Israel. But bee remains found at the site are from a variety of bee native to Turkey, not Israel.

Turns out the Syrian bees native to Israel are aggressive and hard to manage. Turkish bees, on the other hand, are calmer, making them more desirable for urban farms such as the one found in Tel Rehov.

The author of Exodus 33:3 (“a land flowing with milk and honey”) is now apparently entitled to say “Told ya so.”

(Via Scribal Terror.)

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No relation to Buffalo Bill

On a whim, Monday I dialed over to Wikipedia for June 14 birthdays, and found the likes of Boy George, Donald Trump, and Che. (Che, of course, rates a footnote.) None of these fit into Rule 5, not even Boy George, so herewith I give you a 2008 shot of Oscar®-winning screenwriter (and former stripper) Diablo Cody, who lately seems to be sporting more of a blonde ‘do. A couple of years ago she managed a Quote of the Week on this here site, making fun of her appearance. She still does that now and then:

I started getting cellulite when I was 9; how is that even possible?

Whatever. I still think she’s kinda hottish, and heck, she’s only 32. People have survived two decades with cellulite before. Please note that this angle was specifically chosen to avoid the humongous tattoo on her other shoulder.

Diablo Cody

(Photo by John Shearer, at the 19th Annual Palm Springs International Film Festival Awards Gala Presented by Cartier, January 2008.)

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Still no sign of Jimmy Olsen

No trip to Metropolis is complete without seeing the statue of Superman in the town square.

Then again, it is not meet that man, even Superman, should save the world alone, so now there’s a statue of Lois Lane, based on Noel Neill, who had played Miss Lane in a 1948 film and for most of the run of the Adventures of Superman television series.

Retired Planet editor Perry White muttered something about great Caesar’s ghost, I imagine.

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