Archive for October 2012

Never let a trademark go to waste

The Oklahoma Publishing Company shut down the Oklahoma City Times, its afternoon paper, way back in 1984, much to the dismay of those of us who actually preferred an afternoon paper. There evidently weren’t enough of us around. However, they never let the trademark lapse, and now it’s back on the Web, as a brand for the Oklahoman’s downtown OKC coverage at NewsOK.com — which gives me an excuse to put up this nifty little song by the late Hamilton Camp.

I still have this on a 45.

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Your 2012 State Questions

The sixth biennial roundup on what’s on the ballot next month besides, you know, all those dadgum candidates.

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A pony-powered bandwagon

Every now and then I shake my head and wonder what I’ve gotten myself into. And then a reminder pops up:

Bronies — adult fans of animated children’s show My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (FiM) — are bound to set a record for the highest number of fanworks in the shortest amount of time.

Tons of art, hours — weeks, at least — of music.

But neither medium can hold a candle to the massive world of brony fanfiction.

Brony fanfiction has become one of the fandom’s most lasting traditions, with adoring writers creating their own stories that take the original equine characters of the Friendship is Magic universe and portray them in new situations.

I wonder about that word “lasting,” since the fandom itself is only two years old, but I can’t deny this:

I swore I would not get involved with fanfic, period. I admit that this particular fandom has drawn more of my attention than any other in recent years, and that these characters mean a lot to me in many ways, but still: No Fanfic.

And then I read one, because a friend suggested it. One can’t hurt, right? And then I read another, and it turned out to be My Little Dashie.

I wrote that on the 16th of June. Of this year. That was more than 400 stories ago. (Including three I actually wrote, with a fourth in progress.)

Perhaps I’m paying now for never having been a proper Trekkie/er. Or something. But nothing in Deepest Roddenberria ever affected me as much as MLD.

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More dinty

Or, we can have archaic and eat it too:

“[B]y dint of” — does any American speaker of English actually use that? I only know it as an “English” translation of some French construction — which I have now forgotten. But of course the English phrase sticks in my head, and even though it may be archaic, it still fits some situations, so I use it.

I duly typed “by dint of” into the Google Custom Search box over in the sidebar, restricting it to just this domain. Got 857 results. Admittedly, some of them were for the same page — this happens when you have individual, monthly and category archives — but still, that’s more than a hint of dint.

Then there’s Antarctica’s Dint Island, within a handy 7 km of Vittoria Buttress.

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Spotting the generic spammer

Distinguishing characteristics:

On sο many levels, Ӏ am more angered by the “generіс commenteг” than by the leѕѕ аrtful spammeг. Υou might ask whу, Bеcauѕe at lеast the obvіous spammer is complеtely open and honest about their spamming! We can sеe who they aгe. The so called genеrіc sρammer is a lіаг and a fаκe! Υou can probably sеe that І have ѵeгy stгong toward thiѕ group of рeорle.

Which was just one of entirely too many such foisted off on poor Buttercup.

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Bad for your imaging

I think we bought this same damnable device:

Today, after scanning a 10 page article and hitting print, after printing two pages, it happily informed me that I needed to replace the toner cartridge. Which of course I don’t have, since I didn’t get a spare with it. And unlike most copiers, this gives you no wiggle room. When it says you need to replace the toner, there is NO. MORE. TONER. At all. So I’ve just spent several minutes standing uncomfortably on my toes, and lost all of it. To e-mail this I’m going to have to scan it a page at a time into my office scanner attached to the computer which takes a lot longer. And I’m going to have to wait a week or so to get the new toner in. Grrrr. I ordered one of each color cartridge and two black, since one is going directly into the machine the instant I get it. And of course I can’t find out who else in the hospital has one of these models, if anyone, because no one can use the “everyone” e-mail list anymore.

I have a color laser printer in my weaselworks (like skunkworks, but vaguely deodorized), and it has the same attitude toward toner: Now, And I Mean Now. I have learned to keep C, M, Y and K at its side at all times, at a hundred and six bucks per letter.

On the upside, we have a chap who comes by the shop once a week to ascertain our printer needs, and then delivers the products himself. I suppose if I spent half a day combing through the Intarwebs I could beat his prices by a few cents here and there, but why bother?

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Agitators everywhere

All of a sudden I feel better about my relatively antiquated (nine years old) laundry equipment:

Families are reporting exploding washing machines that have led to doors shattering and shards of glass covering their kitchen.

Dozens of complaints from owners of appliances have been received by an online forum and now consumer magazine Which? has launched its own investigation into the growing phenonemon.

In some cases, doors have shattered when the machine is not even in use while others users said glass had simply fallen out of its casing.

I tell you, it’s those damned front loaders. They’ll get you every time.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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A general sense of rightness

Snapped from the iTunes Shuffle playlist:

Screenshot from iTunes

“Right or Wrong” is, of course, a cover of Wanda Jackson’s 1961 original, and you met Dr. Smith here.

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They could almost be twins

Rainn Wilson tweeted this Monday: “I’m like Zooey Deschanel without the quirkiness, beauty or vagina.”

Replied Zooey: “Why? Did you get bangs?”

In response, Rainn put up a vintage photo of himself at around age 14.

You know what’s coming next, right?

Zooey Deschanel and Rainn Wilson as teenagers

On the left, one of Zooey’s high-school yearbook pictures; at right, Rainn’s vintage photo. In view of same, we find Mr Wilson to have made his case, or at least two-thirds of it.

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Easier to swallow

“Better living through robotics,” says FuturePundit, and that especially includes robotic surgery:

We need robotic surgery to cut costs and reduce accidents. We especially need robotic surgery to swap out old organs for new organs once organ growth in vats becomes practical. Replacement organs created by tissue engineering are going to be a key rejuvenation therapy. Only robots will be fast enough and safe enough to do organ swapping on the scale that will be required for full body rejuvenation.

He cites a present-day implementation for tumors in the neck:

The study found that the use of robot-assisted surgery to remove these tumors through the mouth took about 25 minutes on average, and that blood loss was minimal — a little more than three teaspoons, or 15.4 milliliters, on average, per patient. No surgical complications were encountered and 11 of the 13 patients could accept an oral diet within 24 hours.

If, on the other hand, these tumors are removed by performing open surgery on the neck, the operation can take around 4 hours to perform, require 7 to 10 days of hospitalization on average and require a tracheotomy tube and a stomach tube, the researchers say.

As the Instant Man might say, “Faster, please.”

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You’re so syllable

I can’t say I’ve always wondered about this, but I must acknowledge the truth of the matter:

It has been noted that “Uh”s and/or “Uhm”s in linguistic, cultural and situational settings can perform varying functions not only according to their timing and their intonation, but also dependent on their position in a sentence.

Curiously, I tend to use “um” here and “uh” in fiction. I’m not quite sure why I make the distinction.

(Via the Local Malcontent.)

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Want it, need it

Although Facebook isn’t working on a “Need” button, “Want” is definitely on their radar:

It’s kind of like the “like” button, but instead compiles a wish list of all the products you’re lusting after on the Internet and lets your pals (and ostensibly, the retailers selling the item) know.

The convenient part for shoppers and the attractive part for retailers? Once you’ve amassed your virtual treasure trove, the idea is you’d be able to click through and actually buy the products on that list.

The question for me, of course, is whether I’d have enough sense to limit my Wants to that which I can actually afford.

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Bits of rust

It’s the preseason and therefore it doesn’t count; on the other hand, it’s the Rockets, and you don’t want to lose to the Rockets, even in the preseason. (Kevin McHale remembers things like this.) The Thunder were minus Thabo Sefolosha, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins, which made for an interesting starting five: Cole Aldrich manning the middle, Lazar Hayward at the three and Kevin Durant playing power forward. Aldrich played longer than anyone — 33 minutes — but he seemed to lose his edge in the fourth quarter, and Houston’s Terrence Jones gave all the Thundermen a scare, rolling up 20 points from the bench and leading the Rockets to a 107-105 win.

It was good to see Eric Maynor back. And Hasheem Thabeet, who spelled Aldrich at center, used his 14 minutes to score ten points — and pick up six fouls. (Aldridge had five. Is it any wonder the Rockets went 27-35 from the stripe and the Thunder only 12-14?)

And, oh, yes, Lindividual effort. Jeremy put in 19 minutes, about what you’d expect from a preseason starter: he scored 3 but served up six assists. This Rockets team seemed methodical and poised at times when the Thunder obviously wasn’t. Still, it’s the preseason.

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One of the earlier birds

Lileks was showing off some 1950s radios yesterday, and by golly, I had one of these:

Westinghouse 541T5 clock radio

This little darb dates to 1956; it was moved into my bedroom when the parental units got a Better One. Thirty bucks (about $250 today) for an AM radio that would actually switch on at a prescribed time. (If you wanted it to switch off, well, that was $5 more.)

Said Lileks of this design:

“Modern styling” means the face reminds you of TV and the letters are elongated to the point of absurdity.

And that includes the figures on the actual dial, except for the CONELRAD indicators at 640 and 1240. After a period of heavy use, the top of the case began to droop, the plastic unable to retain its shape after being exposed to all those vacuum tubes (five, including rectifier) for so long.

For that contemporary $250, you can buy a pretty decent AM radio that also gets FM. Assuming, of course, you have some reason to listen to radio.

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Available only in size OMGWTFBBQ

Scary Beautiful by Leanie van der Vyver and René van den BergThese are being billed as “the scariest shoes of all time,” and certainly the fright potential is there; I can imagine nightmares induced by this photo alone. The artist explains:

“After working in fashion for seven years, and therefore being well aware of the manipulation images in fashion suffer for a perfect result, I still compare myself to them and other current beauty ideals,” [Leanie] Van der Vyver told Yahoo! Shine exclusively. “My frustration with my own inability to overcome these feelings of inadequacy was what brought ‘Scary Beautiful’ into fruition. The shoes formed part of my graduation project that was a result of my thesis. The conclusion of my thesis investigation was that people are not satisfied with what they look like, and that perfection, according to the beauty and fashion standards, has reached a climax. Humans are playing God by physically and metaphorically perfecting themselves. Beauty is currently at an all time climax, allowing this project to explore what lies beyond perfection. Scary Beautiful challenges current beauty ideals by inflicting an unexpected new beauty standard.”

We might be playing God, but God has a four-run lead with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the ninth.

Why, yes, they were offered to Lady Gaga. How did you know?

(“If I were a shoe blogger,” Syaffolee tweeted, “I think I’d just give it the OMGWTFBBQ tag and leave it at that.” Hence the title.)

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At least a 2-wood

Golfer Michelle Wie, who turns 23 today, has been playing the game for most of her life: she spparently started at age four, and in 2000 (at ten) she qualified for the Women’s U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship. The week before her sixteenth birthday, she announced that she was turning pro.

As anybody this side of Tiger Woods (which is just about anybody) can tell you, the darn ball doesn’t always go where you want it to:

Michelle Wie

It took rather a while for her to gain any serious traction as a pro, and a couple of hotly-hyped appearances in men’s tournaments didn’t really help her reputation. In three years on the LPGA tour, she’s won twice. Still, she’s only twenty-three.

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The happiest of circumstances

When Trini was doing our hardware stuff, she’d occasionally assert that she had enough spare parts on hand to build a whole new (or used, actually) desktop box, and knowing her, I have no doubt that she was correct. There once was a time when I had enough computer parts on hand to do such a thing, but attrition has left me with three complete machines, none of them exactly au courant, and hardly any spares.

Still, I retain a certain admiration for this mindset, and Bill Quick exhibits it in a non-computer environment:

When I built my new Schwinn Paramount all-chrome, all-Campy Record single speed, I cannibalized most of the parts from my old Paramount frame.

So I was looking at it, and I got to thinking that I probably had enough spare parts lying around to build a whole new bike.

He did, too; the only things he bought new were the tires (twenty bucks apiece). Color me impressed.

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The orange remains

Starting in 2009, the old-style license plates in this state were replaced with the new Sacred Rain Arrow design, though I was hoping for, um, something else.

Now Florida is about to toss its current plate design, but they have, um, other motivations:

Gone would be the county name designation and the “MyFlorida.com” motto. Also eliminated is raised lettering — deemed hard to read by electronic toll booths and red light cameras.

Gone too could be the state’s long use of prison labor to make the metal tags, as state highway department officials are proposing to put the plate contract out to bid for the first time in more than 30 years.

Julie Jones of the Highway Department figures this won’t cost much of anything:

Jones said the increased cost will be covered by millions of dollars the state expects to recoup from drivers now on the road with illegal or expired tags, who will have to pay up when they are forced to get the new plate.

In addition, from January to August, 2.8 million unreadable tags were reported by cities with red light cameras across Florida. At $150 per-ticket violation, a lot of cash potentially could flow into state and local government coffers, Jones said.

Vanity plates, which have their own separate revenue stream, will not be affected.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Willing, and occasional won’ting

“The problem with these young fellows nowadays,” says Robert Stacy McCain, “is that young women don’t know how to play hard to get.”

They knew when I was young, but heck, I’m even older than RSM. Still, this seems fairly inarguable these days:

For a lot of kids, it starts in elementary school with the “boyfriend and girlfriend” game, and any boy that’s halfway cute has girls fawning all over him. (Ask the parents of boys how it is.) Even before there’s anything like actual sex involved, the boys get spoiled by all that female attention. It makes the boys arrogant and gives them an unfavorable impression of women generally as desperate, clinging, needy creatures.

I got my own wakeup call on Facebook one day, when a grandson, then well under FB’s ostensible age limit of 13, posted that he was, um, “in a relationship.” Seriously. Did I rat him out to his mom? You betcha. Now is the kid arrogant? Insufficient data at this time.

There is no reason women should be stuck-up — cruelly aloof and distant — but at the same time, a woman does not enhance the value of her companionship by chasing after men. A woman can be friendly and even flirtatious without being easy, and the most brilliant women are those who know exactly where to draw the line, who convey by their manner some sense of their own dignity.

I’ve known a few who met that criterion for “brilliant.” They were, of course, not the least bit interested in me, but then again, even those inclined to chase after guys were likewise lined up none deep on the porch.

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The umble instrument

Trendwatching.com hath decreed for this month:

Yes, consumers are more demanding, time-starved, informed, and choice-saturated than ever-before (we know you know). For brands to prosper, the solution is simple though: turn SERVILE. This goes far beyond offering great customer service. SERVILE means turning your brand into a lifestyle servant focused on catering to the needs, desires and whims of your customers, wherever and whenever they are.

Um, no, it does not mean that. You don’t have to believe me, but you should definitely believe Nancy Friedman:

It isn’t a neutral term meaning “of service”; rather, it means “abjectly submissive,” “slavish,” “relating to servitude or forced labor.” Its synonyms are “obsequious,” “toadyish,” “sycophantic,” and “fawning.”

Not a positive association in the bunch.

See, for instance, “Check our monthly Servile Specials.” And does “ever-before” actually require a hyphen?

(Title courtesy of Uriah Heep. No, not the band.)

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The appearance of thrift

There are some among us who think it would be perfectly fine to keep filling GSA parking facilities with the last-generation Chevrolet Impala, which is dirt-cheap to buy yet is big enough to keep J. Random Bureaucrat from thinking he’s been consigned to a penalty box, no thanks to those ungrateful citizens.

Does this work in Israel? Kinda sorta:

50 Cabinet ministers, judges and high ranking police officials in Israel were offered the choice of a new state car this past summer, and had the option of a BMW 528i or a Citroën C5. 28 of the 50, mostly cabinet ministers, picked the Citroën after a significant public backlash surrounded the BMWs.

The Bimmer’s $30k-higher sticker was the official reason given, though Munich served notice that it was ready to deal. Apparently not a factor: the fact that said BMW was built in, um, Germany.

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Surrounded by words

Photo from Rebecca Black videoTwo Fridays ago, I learned that one of the two new songs on Rebecca Black’s concert setlist was an original called “In Your Words.” And that’s apparently the next single, because this week they shot the music video, and from the looks of things, they put her in a glass cage with a Sharpie. (She posted this picture to her Instagram account Thursday. Of course.)

Nobody except the little WordPress gizmo is actually keeping count, but this is apparently my 97th Rebecca Black-related post. If I’m really lucky, the video will come out for the 100th. Not that she owes me any favors or anything.

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Relatively motionless

What single word describes the Thunder offense tonight? My first thought was “nonexistent,” but since they did score once in a while, I’ll go with radio guy Matt Pinto’s offering: “stagnant.” As in “not moving when you could be.” As in “never once led.” The usual preseason cautions apply, and Russell Westbrook had the day off — just resting — but the Jazz still seemed a lot more organized, and won it on their home court 97-81.

How dominant was Utah? All but one OKC player finished minus for the night, the exception being Perry Jones III, who checked in with a zero. PJ3, who played 30 minutes, led all Thunder scorers with 14. Once again, Hasheem Thabeet led all Thunder foulers with six in just over 16 minutes. Meanwhile, the Jazz, which leads the entire NBA in players named M. Williams, started both of them. Mo scored 15, Marvin 10, in identical 22:36 stints, the only amusing aspect to the box score.

And Enes Kanter, second-year Jazz center, was actually formidable, leading the bench with 12 points and 12 rebounds in 18 minutes. From the sound of things — no TV except for a dubious stream — Kanter managed to irritate Cole Aldrich no end in the fourth. (Aldrich had the only other double-double on the floor: 11 points, 10 boards.)

Scott Brooks, right about now, is trying to explain how you don’t win games shooting 37 percent. Or putting up 15 treys and hitting three. Not even against the Bobcats, who will be in town on Tuesday.

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Perhaps a black comedy

All I know about it is that it opens on the 20th of October:

Imagine sitting in a theatre without seeing anything. It’s pitch black, and someone strokes your arm. A “cause celebre” in a number of European theatres, the Odyssey brings a unique experiment to its own stages. Theatre, all in the dark! Anticipate the ever present potential of the unexpected. What can happen during an evening theatre experience in complete darkness with audience intimately confronted by actors, constantly changing spatial and sound perspectives, utilizing voice, music and sound?

Short answer: I have no idea. This is not a huge theatre — the Odyssey is one of those Showcase Code (formerly “Equity Waiver,” and I’ll bet a tale hangs thereby) houses with exactly 99 seats that have flourished in Los Angeles over the past couple of decades — and given how easily I’m baffled by low-light scenes, I have to figure I’d be utterly discombobulated by this pair of productions, which are sensibly titled Dark and More Dark.

It may be, though, that I am merely insufficiently cynical. As Nancy Friedman tweeted yesterday: “Can’t decide whether Theatre in the Dark is a brilliant creative concept or just a way to save on set decoration.”

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Quote of the week

Fillyjonk, on the ubiquity of geekitude:

I honestly can’t say I really know any people I’d call boring. People who have few interests that intersect with my interests, yes, but I’ve found that people generally have something interesting about them if you look a little bit. As I said to a colleague the other week, when we were standing around while our students collected data: “Everyone’s a geek about something. There are people who are geeks about barbed wire. Or trains. Or old books. If someone says they’re not a geek about anything, they’re either lying or they have a very limited imagination.” And actually, it’s the place where a person IS a geek that makes them interesting — because they know stuff about that topic and are interested in sharing it.)

Now I find myself wishing I were on a train, reading an old book about barbed wire. Or something like that.

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Bolshevrolet

One obvious effect from the post-WWII partition of Germany:

Take a society of diligent, hardworking people with the same heritage and cultural values, put half of them under Communism and half under Capitalism, and come back and check the cars forty years later. Capitalism gives a range of vehicle choices ranging from the diesel Golf to the Benz 600SEL, and Communism produces the Trabant, and so few of those that they have to be rationed at that.

Of course, it wouldn’t be history if it didn’t repeat itself:

In the follow-on experiment, Capitalism produces the Hyundai Genesis and Equus, and Communism produces the … the … does North Korea even have an auto industry?

In a manner of speaking, yes. You should know that the new-for-2008 (more or less) Pyeonghwa Hwiparam, which bears a “II” designation, is a Brilliance BS4, licensed from the Chinese and scorned by the British.

I have to believe that our current crop of Fuel Economy Über Alles types actually aspire to the DPRK model: we must conserve our precious resources, so that they can keep driving their Benzes.

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Approaching pandemic

Is this something related to Blogger? Fillyjonk reported a few weeks back:

I deleted a good 60 “anonymous” comments that were either just a long list of dodgy links, or were those weird, enigmatic, vaguely positive things with one link hidden at the end.

I’m kind of fed up. So I’ve tried turning word verification back on. I know this will probably cut the already-small number of comments I receive, but it’s really a pain to delete all the junk comments from my e-mail, and it’s disheartening to get a big whack of comments and realize not one of them is from someone who is NOT a ‘bot.

More recently, from Jeffro:

Man, it seems like this blog has been besieged with spam lately. Fifty or sixty spam comments are usually waiting in the ol’ folder after twenty four hours. I don’t think Feedjit or Site Meter are tracking them, but they do show up on TraceMyIP. Most are just the generic blast a bunch of drug names and a link, presumably where I can get fleeced thinking I’ll be able to buy Ambien. Or maybe I’ll really be buying Abmien or however they misspell it. Wonder what it does…

These numbers seemed unusually high to me, so I dug into my Akismet stats. Since the first of September, forty-three days ago, I’ve had 99 spam comments — and 527 nonspam comments. (“Missed spam” and “false positive” balance out at 1 each.) This is a hair over two spams a day. Now I have had worse periods than that — the Worst Month Ever, December ’08, saw 2988 spams, nearly a hundred a day — but in the last six months or so, the volume has tapered off considerably. Maybe the bot networks have refocused for the moment.

Whatever the explanation, I am forced to conclude that Google, which owns Blogger, should swallow their pride and trade whatever feckless anti-spam measures they use for a fresh copy of Akismet, even if it is owned by the people who own WordPress.

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Eternal Beverly

Today marks the 60th birthday of Beverly Johnson, champion swimmer turned criminal-law student turned model, who smashed a color bar in September 1974 with her appearance on the cover of Vogue’s US edition, the first time an African-American woman had ever been there.

On the off-chance that you might think it unkind to slip a picture of a sixty-year-old into the weekly roundup of Major Babe pix, we’re turning the clock back just a little for this:

Beverly Johnson in 2009

This shot comes from designer Tracy Reese’s show at Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week, Spring/Summer 2010, which of course took place in the fall of 2009, just before Beverly Johnson’s 57th birthday.

For comparison, let’s go back thirty years more. Here’s the jacket (minus a corner, this being a cutout) from her 1979 LP Don’t Lose the Feeling, issued as Buddah BDS 5726.

Beverly Johnson LP sleeve from 1979

Dayum, girl.

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Honda wants to buy you some gas

Some compressed natural gas, anyway:

Honda just released an incentive, a big one, for those interested in buying the Civic Natural Gas. American Honda has an alliance with Clean Energy Fuels to provide a debit card pre-loaded with $3,000 that can used at Clean Energy fueling stations around the country. Another perk, for those living in California, is the ability to drive a 2012 Civic Natural Gas Vehicle in the High Occupancy Vehicle carpool lanes through January 1, 2015.

If you’re in my neck of the woods, the downside to this, apart from the fact that the Civic Natural Gas (formerly the Civic GX) is the priciest Civic, is that Clean Energy has only about 180 stations, more than a third of which are in California. We have something resembling an actual CNG infrastructure in Oklahoma, but none of it is owned by Clean Energy. On t’other hand, Honda is claiming an average $2.05 per gallon-equivalent at CE stations; the going rate around here is more like a buck-fifty.

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Somebody oughta Sue

The Nightfly discovers that Johnny Cash and Shel Silverstein anticipated Information Technology. First verse (you’ll want to see, and maybe sing, them all):

Well, my boss left the company when I got hired
Gave me a cubicle and then retired
My training was a stack of post-its in a drawer
Now I don’t blame him that he run and hid
But perhaps the meanest thing he did
Was before he left, he hung “IT” on my door

Somebody did that to me, I’d kill the [BLEEP].

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I’m a duckling and what is this

Why, it’s H-two-O:

Previously hoarded by a Crazy Bird Lady, these ducks had never even been within quacking distance of a place to swim. They’ll adjust.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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Hate to say I told you so

But hey, I told you so. Yours truly, May ’11:

Convention business isn’t exactly booming, and the grisly pas de deux of government policies and energy prices insures that the nation’s once-vaunted mobility is trampled underfoot: whether by design or merely by default, travel is rapidly becoming as inconvenient and as expensive as is humanly possible. There will always be some convention business, but it’s going to be confined to the handful of top-tier cities with which we already arguably fail to compete. If it is deemed necessary to remind the rest of the nation that Oklahoma City actually exists, a quarter of a billion dollars would buy a hell of a lot of Kevin Durant backpacks.

The Wall Street Journal, October ’12:

The nation’s slow-growing economy has hurt attendance. With budgets tight, companies and associations aren’t holding as many conventions or sending as many employees or members to them. And a glut of convention space has sharpened the competition among cities.

Between 2000 and 2011, convention-center exhibit-hall space expanded by 35% nationally while attendance fell 1.7% in the same time, said Heywood Sanders, a professor of public administration at the University of Texas at San Antonio, and an expert on convention centers. Attendance is down 5% since 2007.

Yet we’re going to spend $280 million (or so) on trying to get a bigger piece of a smaller pie. Dr Sanders knows why:

He blames cities’ hired consultants, who he said predict “all these people are going to come and do wonderful things to your economy.”

As they did here in the Big Breezy for Roy Williams and the OKC Chamber:

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber commissioned a study [in 2009] to determine how much convention space the city needs. The results showed the Cox Convention Center to be inadequate. Worse still, the building is landlocked by major streets and can’t be expanded. The Cox Convention Center brings in an estimated $30 million a year to the local economy, including $10 million in salaries and 400 jobs, Williams said.

“Essentially the new convention center would triple that,” Williams said. “The impact would go up to nearly $80 million. Salaries and wages would go to about $30 million and employment would go to 1,100.”

Unless, of course, they don’t, as Dr Sanders predicts:

“But the problem is they aren’t coming anymore, because there are lots of other convention centers … that desperately want that business,” he said.

We are, of course, going to build this monstrosity. I just hope they’ll come up with a more plausible justification for it: the elevation of civic pride, the desire for shiny new stuff, the ability to attract a higher class of hookers — anything but actual return on investment. Because that’s not happening.

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The Band of ’59 in triumph

Smashing Songs of Stage and Screen survives stall, succeeds successfully:

Kickstarter Screen for Big Daddy

I got the word from Roger at 8:54 Central, and Kickstarter’s official notification spot-on at 9.

So there will be a new Big Daddy album, circa 7/13. And once again, my presence on a Kickstarter backers list guarantees success. (Hey, I lead a charmed life.) What’s more, in the four minutes between that screenshot and the closing, three more backers signed on, adding $100 to the take.

Life is good sometimes.

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Strange search-engine queries (350)

From around the world, across the nation, and up your street, here are the latest goofy search strings from straight out of the server logs.

i dont begin any sentences with:  Capital letters, anyway.

your ponderous seemed to me inteed much more to emphasize your own brilliance:  Some call me the Ponderous of Love.

“this is the sort of man we mean when we use the word playboy”:  I presume this caption was not attached to a picture of Mitt Romney.

knickerless girl:  As seen in the Dickens classic “Knickerless Knickerby.”

what other problems can occur when transmission goes:  For one, bankruptcy.

how long do earthquakes last:  Until the ground stops shaking. (This does not include any aftershocks.)

her naked silhouette shown thru the window:  So back away from the window, Tom. Sheesh. You want to get yourself in trouble or something?

your girlfriend does not look like Zooey Deschanel:  Neither does anybody else’s.

is it common for squirrels to chew weatherstrip on garage door:  It is common for squirrels to chew anything, with the possible exception of anvils.

how to draw an anvil:  Figure out how to draw a coyote plummeting off a cliff. The anvil will appear, as if by magic.

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Pesky children

I run several sites besides this one, devoted to even narrower niches. I was working on one Saturday night when WordPress spun the black circle at me, telling me there was an update — to the theme, fercrissake. Now I hadn’t done a whole lot of modifications to that theme, though I’d deployed half a dozen widgets in the sidebar, so I figured nothing much would happen.

And, of course, I was wrong. They’d added some nav buttons to the sidebar which duplicated the widget arrangement — and which pushed said arrangement a couple hundred pixels down the page. It wasn’t particularly difficult to restore the functionality I had, but it was something of a jolt. (The theme in use here is pretty much dead, development-wise; I screw around with it more or less ad lib with no ill — other than aesthetic — effects.)

So it looks like I’m going to have to study up on child themes, to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.

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Happier endings

Or at least recognizable ones. I’m not as picky as I used to be.

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For the touch of your whips, dear

I’m guessing that this guy’s Safe Word was MOAR:

BERLIN (Reuters) — A German court has ordered a dominatrix to pay 200 euros ($260) to a local charity as a penance after a client accused her of hurting and robbing him.

Cologne district court spokesman Dirk Esser said the plaintiff had accused the woman he hired for sex last month of holding a kitchen knife to his throat before demanding his debit card and PIN number.

The plaintiff, a 49-year-old undertaker, also said the woman had detained him against his will for five hours.

What the hell kind of dominatrix lets you come and go as you please?

Oh, and their failure to convict her of anything didn’t mean they weren’t going to punish her:

The court decided that it was impossible to know for sure what really happened because both parties had consumed too much cocaine during their encounter. It dropped the charges but ordered the prostitute to pay the “penance money” to a charity that supports crime victims.

Ah, cocaine. She don’t lie. But she BSes with the best of them.

(Via Icepick.)

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Layers of fact-checkers

All of whom evidently had the day off:

MSNBC screenshot: Fearless Felix traveled faster than speed of light

There is, of course, ample precedent for this sort of thing.

(Via Twitchy.)

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Fleecing as white as snow

This is normally the day I get my online billing notification for the landline, and the amount thereof varies very little: the taxes creep up now and then, but that’s what taxes do. Today’s arrival was startling, but there is, of course, no way that I’d owe $2,328.05 on a landline, and the handy links for online payment go straight to a scammer.

Curiously, my homeowner’s insurance bill, which also arrived today, is for almost exactly the same amount, a 44-percent increase from last year, which in turn was a 35-percent increase from the year before. (Last time I switched carriers was 2009.)

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