Archive for August 2016

The bloom is off

Ad for KVOS-TV featuring Jack Benny

This turned up at the International Jack Benny Fan Club, and yeah, that’s a great picture of Jack, but what puzzled me was the plug for KVOS-TV in “Canada’s Third Market.” Clearly not a Canadian call. I of course had to hunt this station down, and found it in Bellingham, Washington:

In 1955, [owner Rogan] Jones, realizing that most of his audience was across the border, incorporated KVOS in Canada, establishing a subsidiary company in Vancouver. The subsidiary, KVOS-TV Limited, brought in revenue for the station by allowing many Vancouver-area businesses to buy advertising time on the station, which is still the case today. KVOS-TV continued to broadcast from Bellingham, with much of its audience based in southwestern British Columbia.

Eventually, KVOS-TV gave up its CBS affiliation; it now carries MeTV. (Reruns of The Jack Benny Program air weekends on rival Antenna TV.)

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I suspect I’m drowning in it

And I never, ever even knew:

An international collaboration of research scientists in Australia, the United States and Sweden has identified a molecule in the blood that holds the key to identifying the cause of suicide.

“We have known for a long time that people who attempt suicide have markers of chronic inflammation in their blood and spinal fluid. Commonly used antidepressants have only limited effect because they target serotonin — the branch of tryptophan associated with happiness — rather than quinolinic acid which is the other branch of tryptophan associated with inflammation,” said Professor of Neuroscience Gilles Guillemin from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“Our latest research provides further evidence of the role of inflammation in a person’s mental state. It shows that suicidal patients have reduced activity of an enzyme called ACMSD which results in lower production of picolinic acid, an important molecule for brain protection. We now have a much clearer indication of the biological mechanics behind suicidal tendency.”

Because you want to know:

Brundin, L., Sellgren, CM., Lim, CK., Grit, J., Palsson, E., Landen, M., Samuelsson, M., Lundgren, C., Brundin, P., Fuchs, D., Postolache, TT., Träskman-Bendz, L., Guillemin, GJ., Erhardt, S. An enzyme in the kynurenine pathway that governs vulnerability to suicidal behavior by regulating excitotoxicity and neuroinflammation. Translational Psychiatry, 2 August 2016, doi: 10.1038 / TP.2016.133.

(Via Fark.)

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Done with it

What can you say to someone who’s already decided she wants to die? “Don’t do that” seems somehow inadequate.

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The spirit of Kenosha

A TTAC commenter suggests that it’s time for Fiat Chrysler to bring back American Motors:

The AMC brand name could be revived, for modern takes on archaic models — the Gremlin could be a Kia Soul/Nissan Juke competitor, weird and ugly and all that; the Eagle wagon would now be a mainstream competitor for Subaru; the Matador would be a huge failure, but would make the variations of the [Fiat] 500 look successful by comparison; the [Chrysler] 200 could be restyled and called the Concord or the Hornet — it couldn’t sell any worse than it does at the present.

There is, of course, a limit to this sort of thing:

A modern interpretation of the Pacer will never be seen, though, because window glass has pretty much gone out of style.

I blame side-impact door standards.

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It gets worse as you go along

As Australia completes its 2016 Census, Tim Blair speculates as to what might be asked ten years from now:

Question 1: Where is this dwelling located?

  • In an area threatened by flooding due to global warming.
  • On illegally occupied Aboriginal land.
  • At a PokeStop.

Nor is this likely to be the most perverse question.

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Meanwhile in France

I got silly one afternoon — Monday, if you care — on Google, and typed in: “politicians with nice legs.”

Result the first:

Valerie Pecresse seated

Valérie Pécresse, forty-nine, is the President of the Regional Council
of Île-de-France; she has served on the Council for twelve years. She is a member of a center-right party called The Republicans, formed from the remains of Jacques Chirac’s Union for a Popular Movement. (Could you imagine an American center-right party called the Republicans? I didn’t think so.)

Valerie Pecresse standing

Valerie Pecresse standing

Since I generally react like Gomez Addams to a woman speaking French, here’s Mme. Pécresse debating French academic Axel Kahn:

Which is not to say she’s emotionally wedded to her language. She speaks four, and one of them got her into trouble in 2009:

They were giving out the annual Prix de la Carpette Anglaise the other day. Literally it means the English Rug Prize, but doormat would be the better translation.

As the citation explains, the award goes to the French person or institution who has given the best display of “fawning servility” to further the insinuation into France of the accursed English language… topping the poll for grave disservices to the mother tongue is France’s higher education minister, Valérie Pécresse.

Her crime: proclaiming to the press that she had no intention of speaking French when attending European meetings in Brussels, because, she said, it was quite obvious that English was now the easiest mode of communication.

Perhaps she should have tried Russian. Or Japanese.

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Engulfed

This has been floating around Facebook with the question “Do you remember when gas prices were this low?”

1960s price stand at a Gulf station

If you’re immediately thinking “1950s,” you’re just a little too early. This sign can’t be from any earlier than 1961, when Gulf decided to drop its super-premium Gulfcrest (from a purple pump!) and replace it with the sub-regular Gulftane.

Why would they do a thing like that? Presumably to compete with the cheap gas from that questionable-looking station on the wrong side of the tracks.

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There can be only two

Clay Shirky argues that there’s no such thing as a protest vote:

Throwing away your vote on a message no one will hear, and which will change no outcome, is sometimes presented as “voting your conscience”, but that’s got it exactly backwards; your conscience is what keeps you from doing things that feel good to you but hurt other people. Citizens who vote for third-party candidates, write-in candidates, or nobody aren’t voting their conscience, they are voting their ego, unable to accept that a system they find personally disheartening actually applies to them.

I could argue, I suppose, that voting for one of the two major-party psychopaths would “hurt other people,” because no matter which one wins, we lose, but that’s not really what Shirky wants, is it?

None of this creates an obligation to vote, or to vote for one of the two viable candidates. It is, famously, a free country, and you can vote for anyone you like, or for no one. But if you do, don’t kid yourself — and certainly don’t try to kid anyone else — that you are creating some kind of positive political change. Noisily opting out as a way of demonstrating your pique is an understandable human act. It’s just not a political act. It’s an elaborate way of making the rest of us do the work of deciding.

Some of us are persuaded that human acts need not be judged by their political impact. The doofus who came up with “The personal is political” has done more damage to our culture than either of our Officially Nominated Grifters.

(Via Sheila Scarborough.)

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Other theaters of engagement

Everybody hates spam. For all I know, even spammers hate spam; telemarketers (spammers with dial equipment) are probably not happy when I call them out on Twitter. However, I seem to get less of it than most. From the WordPress dashboard here:

Akismet has protected your site from 40,195 spam comments already. There’s nothing in your spam queue at the moment.

Now this is a low-volume sort of site, with 250-350 visitors a day. I’d expect someone with twice the traffic to get at least twice the spam, maybe more. But this kind of floors me:

[T]he cleanup of spam … initially involves deleting the contents of the spam filter. You’ll understand how important that filter is when I tell you that I delete about 10,000 spam comments a day. Spam must be profitable in gaming the Google algorithm, or whatever the goals are, because it has proliferated in recent years to a point that would be completely overwhelming without the spam filter.

Then again, I have one more tool at my disposal: a plugin that bans spamming IPs, a whole bank at a time if need be. It’s not 100-percent reliable — there are always ways to sneak past a barrier — but I’ve denied entry to approximately 1.2 million would-be spammers.

Still, 1.2 million, for someone getting ten thousand a day, is barely four months’ worth.

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The world, the flesh, and the asshat

They met on Tinder; they had a wonderful time together. And then he sent her this the next day:

Thanks for a wonderful evening last night. I really enjoyed your company and actually adore you. You’re cheeky and funny and just the sort of girl I would love to go out with if only my body and mind would let me. But I fear it won’t.

I’m not going to bull***t you … I f***ing adore you Michelle and I think you’re the prettiest looking girl I’ve ever met. But my mind gets turned on by someone slimmer.

Shallow? It’s not meant to be. It’s the same reaction you get when you read a great author or see an amazing image, or listen to a piece of music you love, it has that instant reaction in you that makes you crave more.

So whilst I am hugely turned on by your mind, your face, your personality (and God … I really, really am), I can’t say the same about your figure. So I can sit there and flirt and have the most incredibly fun evening, but I have this awful feeling that when we got undressed my body would let me down. I don’t want that to happen baby.

Shallow. I mean, we’re talking bas-relief here.

I did appreciate this bit from her return volley:

What truly concerns me, the real reason I’m responding so publicly, is the fact that you have a 13-year-old daughter. A talented illustrator, who collects Manga comics and wants to visit Japan as soon as possible.

I want you to encourage your daughter to love, enjoy, and care for her body. It belongs to her and only her. Praise her intellect, and her creativity. Push her to push herself and to be fearless. Give her the tools to develop a bomb-proof sense of self-esteem so that if (I’ll be kind, I’ll say “if”) the time comes that a small, unhappy man attempts to corrode it, she can respond as I do now.

She shoots, she scores.

Oh, there are pictures at the link. She’s not at all a tub of lard.

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Piped in

This story has persisted literally for decades:

There have long been rumors that Microsoft copied CP/M to create MS-DOS for the IBM PC. Consultant Bob Zeidman in 2012 used forensic software tools to analyze the code for IEEE Spectrum and found no evidence of copying, as he reported in “Did Bill Gates Steal the Heart of DOS?” Since he did that analysis, Microsoft donated previously unavailable source code for MS-DOS to the Computer History Museum. (Zeidman did his original analysis using QDOS.). And the museum also located and released a more complete version of the CP/M source code. Zeidman reran his analysis and presented the results 6 August at the Vintage Computer Festival West.

The conclusion? Still no sign of copying of source code. And no evidence to support a long-running rumor that there is a secret command in MS-DOS that can be called to print out a copyright notice in Gary Kildall’s name.

Which is not to say that the two operating systems are completely and utterly dissimilar:

However, Zeidman did find that at least 22 system calls, the commands used to request an action, like sending text to a printer or reading from a hard disk, had the same function number and function. That, he says, might have meant that Kildall “might have had a copyright claim for the system calls that it could have litigated against Microsoft. On the other hand, there is a good chance Microsoft could have beaten such litigation by claiming it was a ‘fair use’.”

And there’s a prize for proving him wrong:

[Zeidman’s] putting up $200,000 in prize money, $100,000 for anyone who can use “accepted forensic techniques” to prove the copying, and another $100,000 for anyone who can find that secret Kildall copyright function.

If you ask me, there’s something sort of heartwarming about sustained interest in DOS after however many versions of Windows.

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More than a Colonel of truth

Suddenly I’m kind of hungry:

Kentucky Fried Chicken ad from October 1964

Neither of these locations remains open. Then again, as you might have inferred from the prices, this was a long time ago.

(Source: The Oklahoma Journal, 1 October 1964.)

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Last train to Doodyville

This sort of broke me up: the opening and closing of The Howdy Doody Show episode #2343, the very last episode, aired Saturday, 24 September 1960.

The following week, Howdy was replaced by The Shari Lewis Show, which ran for three seasons.

Bitter irony: Buffalo Bob Smith died the last week of July 1998. Shari Lewis died the first week of August 1998.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Seduced by the rings

Everything you hate about NBC’s fawning-yet-inept coverage of Those Games Down There is neatly encapsulated in this tweet from their San Jose affiliate, which they promptly deleted once the clues started arriving:

NBC Bay Area tweets about Katie Ledecky's nail polish

I mean, geez, guys.

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Getting Ziggy with it

I’m kind of sorry I missed this:

Alternate uniforms for Bowie Baysox

The Bowie Baysox today announce that for one night only, the team has made the historic decision to change its name to the Bowie Baysox to honor legendary rock-star David Bowie, who passed away earlier this year. The Bowie Baysox David Bowie Tribute Event will be held Friday, July 22 as the team takes on the Erie SeaWolves at Prince George’s Stadium at 7:05 p.m.

The Bowie Baysox (pronounced Boo-ee) will make the ultimate dedication to the British musician who shares a heteronymous last name with the city by becoming the Bowie Baysox (pronounced Boh-ee) for this special night. The team will represent the star with Bowie music, contests and tributes throughout the event.

The Baysox are the Double-A affiliates of the Baltimore Orioles; they play in Bowie, Maryland.

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Retrieved from the vault

This story might have been interesting even if it didn’t involve Canadian garage rock:

A Grand Forks, B.C. man is living his rock and roll dream after a half-century on the shelf.

Danny Norton fronted a psychedelic rock band in the 1960’s in Winnipeg. He recorded a minor hit called Expedition to Earth, that small-towners grooved to back in the day.

That single was the end of his dream. The album was never cut.

But clearly the single was never entirely forgotten:

Norton’s wife went hunting on eBay for the vinyl and found out it had turned to gold.

The orange-labelled disc fetched $900 from collectors.

Another copy appeared three months later. Bidding for that ended at $1137.

Because obscurity, here are both sides of Franklin QC 618: “Expedition to Earth” b/w “Time Time Time,” by Danny Norton’s Expedition to Earth.

Norton’s now working on an album.

(With thanks to Roger Green.)

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Rodents of, um, unusual size

The guys in Rio running the Games are finding that yes, they do exist:

Wildlife is taking over the Olympic golf course just before the sport makes its official comeback to the Games after 112 years.

Capybaras have been seen exploring and settling in on the green, in sand traps and near water hazards, according to The National Post.

The animal, native to South America, is a semi-aquatic rodent that can weigh up to 100 pounds and can stand about 2 feet tall. It’s the largest rodent in the world.

Add this to the “What else can happen?” files.

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And surly to rise

Turns out that Grumpy Cat was right all along:

The truth is, pondering the worst has some clear advantages. Cranks may be superior negotiators, more discerning decision-makers and cut their risk of having a heart attack. Cynics can expect more stable marriages, higher earnings and longer lives — though, of course, they’ll anticipate the opposite.

Good moods on the other hand come with substantial risks — sapping your drive, dimming attention to detail and making you simultaneously gullible and selfish. Positivity is also known to encourage binge drinking, overeating and unsafe sex.

At the centre of it all is the notion our feelings are adaptive: anger, sadness and pessimism aren’t divine cruelty or sheer random bad luck — they evolved to serve useful functions and help us thrive.

And no, you should not suppress these things for the sake of camaraderie or whatever:

[I]n 2010 a team of scientists decided to take a look. They surveyed a group of 644 patients with coronary artery disease to determine their levels of anger, suppressed anger and tendency to experience distress, and followed them for between five and ten years to see what happened next.

Over the course of the study, 20% experienced a major cardiac event and 9% percent died. Initially it looked like both anger and suppressed anger increased the likelihood of having a heart attack. But after controlling for other factors, the researchers realised anger had no impact — while suppressing it increased the chances of having a heart attack by nearly three-fold.

I suspect this is why I am not a cardiac patient after all these years of surliness.

(Via Scott Kiekbusch.)

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Russian into things

War with Vladimir Putin’s boys? Bad idea, says Fred Reed:

Such a war would be yet another example of the utter control of America by rich insiders. No normal American has anything at all to gain by such a war. And no normal American has the slightest influence over whether such a war takes place, except by voting for Trump. The military has become entirely the plaything of unaccountable elites.

A martial principle of great wisdom says that military stupidity comes in three grades: Ordinarily stupid; really, really, really stupid; and fighting Russia. Think Charles XII at Poltava, Napoleon after Borodino, Adolf and Kursk.

Letting dilettantes, grifters, con men, pasty Neocons, bottle-blonde ruins, and corporations decide on war is insane. We have pseudo-masculine dwarves playing with things they do not understand. So far as I am aware, none of these fern-bar Clausewitzes has worn boots, been in a war, seen a war, or faces any chance of being in a war started by themselves. They brought us Iraq, Afghanistan, and Isis, and can’t win wars against goatherds with AKs. They are going to fight … Russia?

“It is an honor,” said Capulet’s daughter, “that I dream not of.”

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Otherwise known as “school supplies”

Rob O’Hara saves fifteen thousand dollars, maybe:

Below my desk is a plastic briefcase full of “blending” markers. A couple of years ago, I watched someone on YouTube draw using a set of blending markers. It fascinated me. The next day I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a wide assortment of blending markers. Good blending markers, like Copic brand, cost $6 each, and according to every thirteen-year-old girl on YouTube you need at least 2,583 markers to draw anything. I went the “cheap” route and bought a 32-pack of off-brand markers for around a hundred dollars. I came home and drew a picture of Malachai from Children of the Corn. Then I put the markers in a plastic briefcase and pushed it under my desk. My foot is resting on the briefcase under my desk right now, where it will remain until I die.

For what it’s worth, Vi Hart, my favorite disembodied hand, seems to get by just fine with Sharpies.

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The bill will be exact

The diagnosis, maybe not so much:

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Vaporware condensing

Elio Motors, the company that’s been working on an 84-mpg three-wheeler all these years, has finally announced a price: $7300. And it might even be less than that, but there’s a twist:

Since Elio has yet to deliver a single one of its cars, it needs loans to stay afloat and build its creation. In order to prevent more fenders from falling off, a loan from the Department of Energy would offer them support, if the company can meet its guidelines.

The loan agreement specifies that non-binding (i.e. refundable) customer reservations are usually not sufficient, which means the 56,000 reservations the company currently has is not enough to satisfy the DoE.

To get the ever-important boost, Elio has gone ahead and announced official pricing so its potential customers know what they’ll have to pay: $7300. Additionally, Elio stated a number of just $7000 for anyone willing to lay down a full, non-refundable payment. That’s $200 more than previously stated, but still quite the deal for something resembling an actual car.

I don’t think anyone believed the original $6800 price.

Still, it requires a fair amount of faith to put up seven grand without any guarantee that a vehicle will be forthcoming.

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Little Guadalupe

It’s not too startling, perhaps, to discover that Lupita Nyong’o was the first, um, Mexican to win an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (for 12 Years a Slave): her parents are indeed Kenyan, but she was born in Mexico City. Being the superficial soul I am, I noticed something else: she’s absolutely fearless on the red carpet. I mean, she can wear anything, any style, any color. Examples:

Lupita Nyong'o in red

Lupita Nyong'o in a car

Lupita Nyong'o in a yellow bikini

Bonus points if you noticed that “Lupita” is, in fact, the diminutive of “Guadalupe.” Says Wikipedia on the subject: “It is a tradition of the Luo people to name a child after the events of the day, so her parents gave her a Spanish name.”

And I dearly loved her 73 Questions for Vogue:

This series is always good, but Nyong’o’s episode might be the best of them all.

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The stuff no one’s dreams are made of

When I was younger, I’d have jumped at the chance to spend some time in the broadcast booth at the ballpark; it’s a unique perspective, and the opportunity to meet guys like Vin Scully or the late Harry Caray was a powerful draw.

Perhaps it’s not so much in the minor leagues. OKC Dodgers radio guy and media-relations dude Alex Freedman mourns:

Now I’m sorry I missed the game.

(For the record: Dodgers 8, Chihuahuas 4. Out in the West Texas town of El Paso, there is a ball club named after a dog.)

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The last dose

This seems like a legitimate problem to me:

[T]hen there is the “problem” with people accidentally committing suicide by taking too much of a prescription pain killer. If it’s a prescription painkiller, we know how much of the drug is in there. We aren’t talking about street corner heroin which have anywhere from zero to 100% active ingredients. If people are dying from taking too much Oxycodone, it’s either because they want to die, or they don’t know what a fatal dose is. And why is that? I’ll bet it’s because “nobody needs to know” that kind of information.

A lethal dose will probably vary from person to person. There is an FDA Black Box warning on Vicodin, but probably not the one you expect:

Acetaminophen has been associated with cases of acute liver failure, at times resulting in liver transplant and death. Most of the cases of liver injury are associated with the use of acetaminophen at doses that exceed 4000 milligrams per day, and often involve more than one acetaminophen-containing product.

They could slap that on Tylenol, and probably do.

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A somewhat hairier version

It is common knowledge that I hang with the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic fandom under the name of Dusty Sage, and about four years ago I used one of those cute online generators to produce a ponysona. That was good enough for a while; but I wearied of it, and when the noted artist LeekFish announced she was taking commissions, I asked her to knock out a sketch based on my original design but looking less artificial.

Which she did:

Dusty Sage as envisioned by LeekFish

I am quite pleased.

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Quickly spotted

By gum, here’s another vintage item from The Fashion Capital of Delaware:

Chiffon dress with polka dots

I think you have to be exactly the right age to appreciate this sort of thing.

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Quote of the week

Severian sees the problem in a post-scarcity world:

Time was, everybody was fairly “conservative,” as even the richest and most privileged Westerners experienced “tough shit” moments daily. Carriage crashes, polio, no climate control, no running water … unless you actually were the Queen of England, every day you saw some easy, obvious thing that would make your life better, and it was juuuuuuust out of reach … hell, even if you were the Queen — catch Victoria with a toothache, and she’ll make you Viceroy of India for some over-the-counter aspirin.

But now, a level of material comfort that would be literal heaven to 99.9% of the world’s population for 99.99% of human history — and for a great many people even now — is taken for granted. Our “poor” people are fat and have flat screen TVs. I doubt there are more than 1 in 1,000,000 Americans who have ever experienced actual hunger — that is, I need food and have only a very remote possibility of getting any. So why shouldn’t everyone get everything he wants, the second he wants it? It’s no faaaaaair if I don’t!

I’m not suggesting we turn the clock back to the Middle Ages — that’s a liberal preoccupation — but I am suggesting that perhaps the greatest gift you can give your children is enrolling them in Little League. Something, anything, that teaches them that no matter how strongly you feeeeel about it, some people are better at some things than others, and sometimes the ball takes a funny hop.

I’d question that hunger “statistic,” but I think it’s pretty obvious that we have the wealthiest poor people in recorded history.

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Fading into silence

A hint at what radio used to be:

Advertisement for radio station KWK in St Louis, 1947

You’d think an original three-letter call from the 1920s would be worth preserving, but apparently not: starting in 1984, KWK went through a dizzying variety of call letters, ending in 2015 as KXFN. Before it was KWK, it was KFVE, and over the years they moved from 1280 to 1350 to 1380. For a while, there was also an FM, at 106.5. This made for some interesting situations:

Since the AM and FM stations were licensed in different cities, KWK was only allowed to simulcast on both frequencies for a portion of the day. John Hutchinson remembered “when the AM and FM broadcasts were split, the FM jock would play the playlist from the top of the page down and the AM jock would play tunes from the bottom of the page up. When the time came to simulcast we would pick a tune over the intercom and try to begin the tunes at the same time so that we could flip the ‘simulcast’ switch and purportedly no one would detect the merge. Of course this did not always happen smoothly … causing much hilarity amongst the air staff.”

The station has been silent since last December. The Mutual Broadcasting System was killed by Westwood One in 1999; the “Muny,” still in Forest Park, continues.

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A long way from Neptune, New Jersey

Also from Jupiter, Florida:

Actually, it’s not technically a town:

Uranus Missouri, often called simply “Uranus,” is a tourist attraction located in the rural area of Pulaski County, Missouri along Route 66. It is a shopping mall consisting of a Fudge Factory and General Store, a sports bar, a nightclub, a tattoo shop, a festival food truck lot, and an outdoor store with a gun range and pro-shop. All the business owned by a single individual, Louie Keen, who proclaims himself the “Mayor of Uranus”. While Uranus Missouri is marketed as a city or town, the commercial development is unincorporated and even proclaims on the entrance sign, “It’s Not a Town, It’s a Destination.”

If you’re looking, it’s near St. Robert, Missouri.

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Strange search-engine queries (550)

If you’ve seen this before, well, you’re seeing it again. If you haven’t, well, basically we’re going through the search strings that bring people to this site, and puzzling over some of them. Nothing more complicated than that.

foreskin puns:  Sorry, no tipping allowed.

ave maria waterpark and university within minutes of amreican discount pharmacy:  And they say convenience is dying.

“roto rooter” “slut”:  She’s busy having her lines run.

“feckful barged:”  I hate it when people barge in fecklessly.

first time naturists:  Easy to spot: typically, they’re the color of a bathroom sink in a pediatrician’s office.

used laredo fifth wheels for sale russellville ar:  The mind boggles that someone might have more than one.

dampnation:  Appropriate cuss word for when there’s 18 inches of rain.

michel thayer novel no verbs:  Because you know he’s all about those nouns — no actions.

knuckleheads san antonio:  Hey, that’s no way to talk about the Spurs.

is hercules on the commodore 64 supposed to suck balls:  I think you have to have the Bonus Cartridge for that.

stardust rod animus:  Not to be confused with the Legendary Stardust Cowboy.

granny in stilettos:  Hey, if she can walk in the darn things, more power to her.

whigged out:  That’s what they said when Zachary Taylor died in 1850.

too much metamucil:  And then there are those who never Metamucil they didn’t like.

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Thereby causing a brouhaha

This is perplexing:

I suspect that this is a regional phenomenon, and that this product can be purchased elsewhere as “Healthy Hoo-Ha.”

Wait, twat?

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I’m all about that baseball

While I was hospitalized, I rediscovered an old friend: baseball. In the period between the time they take the dinner dish away and the time they bring the nightly pain meds, baseball did a wonderful job of filling up the time I would otherwise use bewailing my fate and wishing I was dead.

Unfortunately for me, I managed to be in bed during the All-Star break, so there were a couple of rough nights to be faced. When I finally got out of there, I stayed with it, going back to the ancestral home of baseball: AM radio. No trick to pick up the local Triple-A club, the Oklahoma City Dodgers: they have a deal with one of the smaller stations. Getting the parent club is trickier: they have a nominal local affiliate, but not all the games get through the endless web of tedious talk shows.

When I discovered Sunday that the Pittsburgh Pirates/Los Angeles Dodgers game would not be carried here, I took action. I cranked up the tablet, which doesn’t get enough work, and installed Major League Baseball’s At Bat app, which gives me all the audio I can stand for twenty bucks a year. About halfway through the first inning, I had everything in place and running.

Standard MLB blackout rules apply to the Rangers, the Astros and the Cardinals, though not to the Royals.

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Sort of soft-boiled

This year’s winner in the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is William “Barry” Brockett of Tallahassee, for this bit of noirishness:

Even from the hall, the overpowering stench told me the dingy caramel glow in his office would be from a ten-thousand-cigarette layer of nicotine baked on a naked bulb hanging from a frayed wire in the center of a likely cracked and water-stained ceiling, but I was broke, he was cheap, and I had to find her.

Honestly, I preferred, or maybe just disliked less, this Crime/Detective winner:

She walked toward me with her high heels clacking like an out-of-balance ceiling fan set on low, smiling as though about to spit pus from a dental abscess, and I knew right away that she was going to leave me feeling like I had used a wood rasp to cure my hemorrhoids.

Courtesy of Charles Caldwell, Leesville, Louisiana.

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Remote forage

From early on in The Sparkle Chronicles:

Next day at 5:56, the doorbell rang, and my heart did a couple of half-gainers off Kilimanjaro. It was the evening repast: bean sprouts and hummus and stuff Fluttershy wouldn’t dare feed Angel and sort-of-freshly baked bread and a couple of bottles of what was probably filtered tap water from Wichita. I was sufficiently crazed to demand no change from two twenties. The fellow’s truck — what, he didn’t ride a bicycle? — had just barely cleared the driveway when the feeble little bleep of my thirty-year-old wristwatch announced the hour, and an oval of light appeared on the concrete.

This paragraph was done with a local firm in mind, though I admit I hadn’t actually patronized that firm at the time. Now I have.

Dining Delivery Express of Oklahoma City, better known by its phone number — 858-TOGO — takes orders for participating eateries and arranges for delivery to your very porch. For those of us who aren’t in the mood to go crawl across town, this is ideal, if a tad pricey: a flat $5.99 delivery fee, plus an appropriate tip to the driver. Anyway, this was tonight’s decidedly not vegetarian repast:

858-TOGO invoice for Oklahoma Station BBQ

Ended up being close to $30 when it was all done, but it was worth it, and delivery took less than half an hour, competitive with the pizza parlors. Considering that my typical pizza order ends up over $20, and that barbecue joints are not known for being economical, I’m not about to complain.

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Bar exam evidently failed

Or something like that:

I mention purely in passing that WBBH-TV, the Channel 2 in question, is licensed to Fort Myers, Florida, and that according to Wikipedia, “in regards to the number of hours devoted to news programming, it is the highest local newscast output among all Big-Three affiliated broadcast television stations in the United States.” We’re talking 45 hours a week. You’d think they’d have hired someone who passed first-year stats. Then again, this Channel 2 is not on Channel 2 at all, but on 15 (virtual channel 20); the local cable companies have it on 2, so they decided to brand themselves as NBC 2.

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As the dogs and the cats frolic together

We have here a curious case where The Oklahoman thinks some of us are insufficiently taxed:

[S]ome Oklahoma counties have failed to assess properties at market value and collect the associated property taxes.

A study prepared by the Oklahoma Tax Commission at the request of State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones and Oklahoma Watch found 52 of Oklahoma’s 77 counties failed to collect $192 million in property tax revenue in 2014. That shortfall was created by county assessors who didn’t appraise property at market values.

The big counties, which have their own systems, seem to be doing okay, but the smaller ones, part of a multi-county computer system, maybe not so much:

In Pottawatomie County, for example, the study concluded residential property valuations were 16 percent below market value, and commercial property valuations were 24 percent too low.

In Pittsburg County, residential properties were 19 percent undervalued and commercial property was 54 percent below market rates.

Assessors in 16 counties have done such a bad job that the state Board of Equalization has warned that those counties’ assessors could have their paychecks suspended and their offices taken over by the state. Those counties are Adair, Bryan, Choctaw, Coal, Haskell, Johnston, Latimer, McCurtain, Murray, Nowata, Okfuskee, Pittsburg, Pontotoc, Pushmataha, Seminole and Texas.

Of course, trying to fix this will cause all manner of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

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You’re not dying fast enough

And this sort of thing matters to insurance providers and similar types:

When someone is receiving hospice care, it usually means they’re very close to the end of their life. But what happens if that person simply refuses to die?

A woman who’s outlived her prognosis has lost hospice care for that very reason, CBS New York reports. She wasn’t supposed to still be alive, after doctors gave her less than six months to live … two years ago. But despite battling stage 4 lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she’s hanging in there.

Because, you know, rules:

Medicare rules define hospice care as for the actively dying only, and “terminal” means you have less than six months to live. Now that her hospice provider has done what’s called “graduating” the woman from hospice care, she’ll have to go back to her private doctor and supplemental insurance.

I’m going to ponder that phrase “actively dying” for a while.

And while I do, I’ll think about my dad, who back in 1999 was told he had maybe six months to live.

He made it just past Christmas 2006. Then again, he was a right ornery cuss.

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An institution unto herself

Over the weekend, Halle Berry turned 50.

Fifty.

Halle Berry in something shiny

Halle Berry takes a walk

Halle Berry in something else shiny

Halle Berry takes a Lexus

You gotta figure she’ll make it at least to 91, equaling the old Cleveland department store Halle Brothers Company, for whom she was named.

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Not being particularly observant

This has been a particularly rough day, and I wasn’t in any mood to deal with someone handing out political flyers at the door. The mind was sufficiently fogged, I think, for me not to notice that I’d gotten to the door wearing nothing but my watch and a pair of sport sandals.

Of course, I was surrounded by my Horrible Walking Appliance, which might have blocked some of the view for the poor woman working the block, and she didn’t shriek in terror or anything.

I am not, you should know, in the habit of doing this: there is a tiny number of people who are aware that I normally don’t wear much of anything and who have let me know that they don’t mind, but the operative word is “tiny.” Fewer than six. I think only one actual current neighbor is clued in, but she’s never had a reason to visit here. (Used to be a woman around the corner who’d chat through the fence, and she was utterly indifferent to my lack of garb.) Still, I have to wonder if I somehow foreclosed a political discussion; and if I did, I have to wonder if it’s justification for doing it again.

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