1 November 2006
Truthiness or consequences

If you ask me just how it is I came to pick this particular set of candidates, and some of you might, I might just refer you to The Caustic Tart:

The politicians, in the end, win. Theyíve successfully muddied the waters. So how to decide who to vote for? Being a libertarian, I think Iím left with two solid options: pick the least lying liar, or make a choice based on who I dislike the least.

I haven't yet resorted to flipping a coin, but I'm not entirely ruling it out either.

The candy dish is full

No goblins this year, though someone felt compelled to call me on the landline at 5:46, 5:48 and 5:51 am, which I suppose qualifies as a trick: it certainly wasn't anything resembling a treat.

Incidentally, I must object to the characterization of these minimal packages as "Fun Size"; no way is there enough in any one of them to qualify as Fun.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:04 AM to Surlywood )
The new Hostage Incentive Plan

News Item: Iran has said it would offer cash incentives to travel agencies to encourage Western tourists to visit the country, giving a premium for Americans, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday. The proposal is Iran's latest bid to reach out to ordinary Americans in an attempt by the Islamic Republic's political leadership to show that its quarrel is with the U.S. administration — not U.S. citizens.

The old American Embassy will hold 66 persons, more or less indefinitely.

(Via Francis W. Porretto.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:30 AM to Dyssynergy )
Seeking a wizard

Oklahoma City is looking for an Urban Design Consultant.

More specifically:

Over the last decade the center city has benefited from $2.4 billion in public and private investment. In addition, several new design districts and specialized review of development proposals have been developed to address a growing and changing city. In order to ensure that new development of this scale, value and impact promotes sustainability and quality growth of our city, the City Council allocated resources for four new positions to support an enhanced urban design function as part of the FY 2006-2007 budget. The Planning Department has created an Urban Design and Planning Division to house this staff and oversee this function. A high-level professional advisor is needed to supplement the expertise of staff for guidance and advice in developing the City's Urban Design Program, including review of high profile projects, and the development of design guidelines and procedures consistent with national standards.

The beginning of wisdom is the point where you realize you don't know everything.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:19 AM to City Scene )
Shoveling out the installs

Reprinted from Valentine's Day:

[T]he Playboy Advisor once took on a three-pronged question from a reader who was (1) worried about sexually-transmitted diseases, (2) suffering from premature ejaculation, and (3) dissatisfied with the size of the unit. The Advisor recommended:
  1. Wear a condom.
  2. Wear two condoms.
  3. Wear three condoms.

This sort of additive protection, as it were, does not work on PCs. After reviewing some of the more questionable decisions made by our end users, we have determined that the efficiency of one's antivirus protection varies inversely with the square of the number of antivirus products installed on any one box.

In other words, if you have two AV programs running, you have one-fourth the protection; three of them, one-ninth. (Spyware detectors and such interact differently, and cannot be so easily quantified.)

And no, you don't want to know how many we found on [description of machine redacted].

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:22 PM to PEBKAC )
215

Construction on the Great Wall of China began around the year 215 B.C.

If you grew up in the South, you might recognize "B.C." as the brand name of a headache powder. Kehaar is having aches and pains of his own, but it hasn't stopped him from bringing you Carnival of the Vanities #215, the first (and still the oldest) of the blog compilations, awaiting your inspection as soon as you break away from this place.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:15 PM to Blogorrhea )
Stuff received (Wednesday)

Yesterday was all GOP; today the Democrats drop in.

  • A card with a photo of all the statewide Democratic candidates, with the tag "Experienced Leaders You Can Trust." Brad Henry's in the middle; the tall guys at the ends are Cody Graves and Lloyd Fields.

  • A letter from Dana Orwig, addressed to "Dear Neighbor," complains about Trebor Worthen's "misleading and untrue allegations," and says, "In view of the trend of Mr Worthen's mailings, I suspect his campaign has further plans to 'go negative'." (I've mentioned this tendency before.)

See the wire? That's what we're down to.

I missed the game

Then again, I had a good excuse: dinner date. We hit the Elephant Bar east of Penn Square. No political implications, and the food was pretty decent: I had the misoyaki pork loin, she had something called the Shrimp Adventure Platter. I never thought of shrimp having adventures, but maybe that's just me.

Meanwhile, the Hornets began the regular season with a W: 91-87 over the Celtics in Boston, and from a cursory look at the box score, I have to assume that it wasn't pretty. Still, it's a win, and I'll take it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:53 PM to Net Proceeds )
2 November 2006
Serious resonance

Leo Kottke, guitarist extraordinaire, has also been known to sing, but he's not fond of his voice: it sounds, he said, like "geese farts on a muggy day."

Which brings us to the lovely Gwendolyn, who, after a cold start, emits a flatulent-goose sound of her own. I took this description to the Infiniti store, where they told me that it's the starter getting old and (un)cranky, and so long as the car actually starts, I shouldn't worry about it. "I've heard them go two, three years like that," said the service manager. And, well, cold starts are going to be more common, what with November being here, so I suppose I should get used to the noise. I have about half a dozen Leo Kottke albums; maybe I'll copy them to CD and listen to them during the warmup.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:24 AM to Driver's Seat )
It's a Butte

There's just no way I can pass up linking to a piece which includes "How to Meet Naked Montanans" in its title.

Especially, you know, since otherwise normal people are trying to persuade me that Montana sucks.

(Inspired, if that's the word, by this Fark thread.)

Don't want no fancy funeral

And they didn't get one, either:

Thieves last week led archaeologists to the graves of three royal dentists, located near to the Step Pyramid of King Djoser, believed to be Egypt's oldest pyramid.

Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, told ... reporters that the tombs date back more than 4,000 years to the 5th Dynasty. They were meant to honor a chief dentist and two others who treated the pharaohs and their families.

Although their services were in demand by the powerful, the dentists likely did not share in their wealth. The tombs, which did not contain their mummies, were built of mudbrick and limestone, not the pure limestone preferred by ancient Egypt's upper class.

Back in the day when General Motors was struggling to keep its market share below 50 percent, dentists and lawyers and such, even if they could afford Cadillacs, tended to buy Buicks and Oldsmobiles, lest their clientele wonder if maybe they might be getting overcharged. The idea that there's historical precedent for this sort of modesty is just this side of fascinating.

This is not to say, though, that the dentists weren't protective of what was theirs:

[O]ne of [the tombs] included a curse warning that anyone who violated the sanctity of the grave would be eaten by a crocodile and a snake.

It could have been worse: the curse could have included root-canal work.

(Stolen from Scribal Terror.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:20 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Resisting boilerplate

Susan B., this past Sunday:

This evening, somebody (calling himself "Enlightenment", natch) posted a long screed in the comments to the previous post that hit on every single 9/11 "truther" talking point imaginable. It was in one long chunk of text, rather than being split up into paragraphs, which just added to the craziness.

Let me reiterate.... this crap is not allowed on my blog. The main reason is it's disrespectful of everyone who died in the 9/11 attacks and their families. The other reason is that it's stupid, ridiculous nonsense. Anyone who posts this crap in my comments will be banned and will have their comment removed.

The individual in question arrived here today with the same screed. I read it over, was planning to approve it, then remembered where I heard the name.

I read it again. It's medium-grade moonbattery, but that's not quite enough, in my view, to warrant junking the comment. I've approved worse. (I daresay I've written worse.)

Then I pulled a phrase out of the middle of it and sent it to Google, and discovered at least four places where the entire screed has already been enshrined, indicating that it's hardly needed here; it's a traveling text dump, nothing more.

So I've decided on this incredibly sub-Solomonic compromise: I won't post it here, but I'll put up a link to a place where it's already up, and you can read it for yourself if you so desire.

Stuff received (Thursday)

One oversized card today, on behalf of Jim Roth, asserting that he "has made Oklahoma County safer," a reference to road and bridge improvements in District 1.

Overall, I think I've gotten more mail from the Roth campaign than from any other this year.

3 November 2006
You're too young to have an Inner Slut

There's a scene in Bill Forsyth's Gregory's Girl that's always stuck with me. It appears that someone has it bad for Gregory's younger sister; in fact, the someone in question says admiringly, "She's only ten, but she has the body of a woman of thirteen."

At the time, this seemed innocent and goofy. Twenty-five years later, it sounds like a warning shot: somewhere between then and now it became de rigueur to turn tween girls into oversexed Bratz. A week doesn't go by that I don't get some Googler looking for risqué photos — even fake risqué photos — of twelve-year-old Dakota Fanning. One could argue, I suppose, that I don't deal well with female sexuality of any sort, and maybe that's even true, but I can't see any upside to having middle-school students looking like tired call girls.

Enter Up Stream Girl, which aims to be the anti-Abercrombie and/or Fitch:

We founded Up Stream Girl with a desire to provide fashion apparel with a more feminine, classic look for girls, teens and juniors. The kind of clothes we had when we were younger, but with today's fashion — the fashion which makes these clothes great! Fun and cool colors, new fabrics and great styles. We call these "Todayís Classics".

We know today's girls can be demanding when it comes to the clothes they wear. And they should be. They want clothes that make them look and feel both beautiful and feminine. We also know that our girls face challenges that we never had when we were their age. The clothes a girl wears says a lot about her. The confidence she shows, her beauty, her character, and her belief in herself, can all be inspired by the clothes she wears.

And surely there has to be a middle ground between the burqa and the "Who needs brains when I've got these?" T-shirts.

(Discovered here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Rag Trade )
A shortcut in the paper chase

Life in Erica's world:

We have this system for electronic document routing. You upload your doc, fill out some things, and then everyone who needs to review it gets an email. They make notes and sign electronically. You manage those notes, fix your doc up all purty-like, and then it goes around again for e-sigs for approval.

"Cumbersome" is putting it mildly. So why not this?

When you log into the system, you have a list of all your docs that are in review or approval, and you have a list of everyone else's docs that you need to review or approve.

What I'm really really wishing for is an RSS feed for my list of docs, so that whenever someone leaves a note or signs off, I can aggregate that information somewhere, instead of having to go back to that list and refresh, refresh, refresh.

Yeah, it might be a pain in the tuchas to set up — once — but if people's time is worth anything at all, and surely it is, the return on investment should be considerable.

(Why, yes, I do use Lotus Notes. How did you guess?)

Look out, kid, it's something you did

Zimmerman wasn't exactly wroth, but he was definitely perplexed. He didn't mind so much when somebody called "Bobby the Poet" put out a Hardly-Worthit version of "Positively White Christmas" or something like that, and he admitted to a guffaw or two when that Weird Al guy ran backwards and forwards at the same time. In the same song, yet.

But he didn't quite know what to make of Chastity Rome-Sick Blues. Okay, the girl was way cute, if a tad fumble-fingered, and she looked the part. (Johanna? Forget those visions.) Besides, whoever heard of a music video made to promote a book? He shook his head in amazement and pressed the Watch Again button. "Funny," he finally said. "And it beats the hell out of watching parking meters."

Hey, babe, easy on the Plutarch

Neil Kramer reads Cosmopolitan so you don't have to, and finds stuff like this:

Guys are looking to avoid that overeager girl who goes out of her way to show everyone exactly how intelligent she is. If you find yourself using the names Hemingway, Dostoevsky, or Nietzsche more than once per conversation, you may be guilty of academic name-dropping, which reeks of insecurity.

The hottest woman I ever met had a Ph.D. in medieval French literature or some such thing. And you know what? Not once did it ever occur to me that she might be able to correct my misapprehensions (if any) about Molière's Tartuffe, nor would it have bothered me greatly if she had.

I suspect Neilochka is dipping into the Double Secret Irony stash for this:

There's a reason the librarian always TAKES OFF the glasses. We like the woman to be stupider than us. Of course, a woman should read, but preferably material like Cosmopolitan, chick-lit, or maybe a few mommyblogger blogs. Nothing too heady. Men are known to be better in math and science, so please don't try [to] show off any of your math skills. It is a real turn-off. The only mathematical term you should be using in conversation with a man you are dating is "big," as in "My Gawd, you are so big!"

Either that, or he's letting the wang do the talking again.

Now if you'll excuse me, Michel Houellebecq awaits.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:48 PM to Table for One )
Stuff received (Friday)

In the waning days, it's a GOP blitz. Here's what showed up today:

  • A Trebor Worthen trifecta: three items from the Republican State Leadership Committee, all touting Worthen's tax stances — and all citing the same bill: HB 1172, which scissored the top end of the income tax and repealed the estate tax. The RSLC's mailer, Targeted Creative Communications, Inc., has yet to figure out that there have been three owners of this house since the one to which these items were addressed.

  • Another RSLC card, magazine-sized: "Oklahoma State House Republicans: They did what they said they would do." See the previous item for address concerns.

  • Two cards from Cliff Branan in what appears to be somebody's handwriting. (If it's a font, it's a good one; seldom do any two iterations of the same letter look alike.) One of these is actually addressed to me.

Question to the readership: Should I include items which due to mail delays didn't show up until Election Day or after? Or should I knock this off after Monday evening?

What? Another road win?

I am now prepared to argue that the Hornets have learned to play defense. The Bees picked up a startling 53 rebounds, led by Tyson Chandler with 15. (And after fouling out in the first game, Chandler was cooler tonight, getting called only twice.) And there was offense: five Hornets in double figures. There was just the faintest hint of Third-Quarter Drought™, but a 12-2 run at the beginning of the fourth put the Hornets back in front to stay, spoiling the Pacers' opening night in Indianapolis, 100-91.

Thirty-nine of those 100 points (and 19 of those boards) came from the bench, another indication that maybe this team actually has depth. And since Peja isn't hitting the 3-ball — he's 2-9 so far this year — it's a good thing that Rasual Butler can still drain the occasional trey. (He had two tonight in the fourth quarter.)

And there's this: against the Celtics last year, the Bees were 0-2; against the Pacers, 0-2. Personnel changes or no, I have to believe that there was some sense of payback out there. Moreover, last year's Hornets won only 14 road games all season. Getting two early has to be gratifying.

Having ruined opening night for two teams now, the Hornets will have two opening nights of their own: Sunday in New Orleans against the Rockets, and Tuesday at the Ford Center against the Warriors.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:53 PM to Net Proceeds )
4 November 2006
I'm not sure this qualifies as a nightmare

It does, however, meet the part of the definition that calls for a dream that makes you sit up and take notice, so I'll mention it here.

I'm on the periphery of a popular local eatery/takeout joint when I pick up on the crowd buzz, and what I'm picking up is implausible in the extreme: they've set up separate entrances marked "Straight" and "Gay." Shades of the Southern South, I'm thinking, and what the hell for?

On an impulse, I went in through the "Gay" entrance and noticed that no one was checking credentials, assuming such a thing were possible. I walked over to the "Straight" entrance: nobody watching that door either.

And the crowd seemed about twice as big as usual, so obviously the artificial constraints, or whatever they were, weren't discouraging customers.

I'm still puzzling over what, if anything, I am to make of this brief tale, except to note that people of any description have little use for attempts to pigeonhole them.

This will cost a few bucks

I question the timing. About five months after Sandy and Bambi fought to the death on a lonesome Oklahoma two-lane, the Oklahoman comes up with a piece on deer/auto collisions.

Things I didn't know:

  • October and November are the prime months for such things around here, inasmuch as it's mating season.

  • Nationwide there are about 1.5 million accidents involving deer, resulting in $1.1 billion in damage. (This works out to $733 per incident, a figure at which I wince: my insurance adjuster told me they just stopped counting at six thousand.)

  • So-called "deer whistles," which are supposed to repel the critters, don't.

I may buy one of those whistles anyway, since friends swear by them; but I'll pass it off as a tiger whistle.

"But there aren't any tigers for ten thousand miles!"

"See how well it works?"

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:41 AM to Driver's Seat )
Stuff received (Saturday)

It's yet another GOP blitz, with basically the same mailing issues they've had before (see prior installments), and these items fall into three general categories:

  • Cliff Branan (positive): "Why We Believe Cliff Branan is a Great State Senator," with paragraphs by seemingly everybody from David Boren to the owners of Bennett's Decal and Label. Two copies received.

  • Trebor Worthen (positive): A handwritten card similar to the one I got from Branan yesterday. I don't think the text was machine-generated, and I note in passing that Worthen's penmanship is worse than Branan's, though still far better than mine.

  • Trebor Worthen (negative): This was the first look I've had at the "misleading and untrue allegations" Dana Orwig says Worthen has made. The most obvious problem with the list is that Worthen provides a source for only one of four alleged Orwig statements, and makes an unwarranted extrapolation from that one: one's position on medical marijuana is not an infallible indication of one's position on other proscribed drugs. (And that source, incidentally, is the 2006 Libertarian Candidate Survey, which Worthen apparently couldn't be bothered to take himself.)

On these mailing matters: Assuming that these addresses are obtained from voter-registration records of some sort, I'm wondering if maybe Mrs T (not her real initial), who lived here until 1997 or so, is still listed on the rolls at this address. Maybe I'll ask a staffer at the polling place on Tuesday if she's still in the book. (Better yet, maybe I'll ask Don Danz to come down and vote on her behalf.)

Addendum, 1 pm: As the block captain for the Neighborhood Association, I deliver the monthly newsletter on my block, and as I made the rounds today, I noticed a couple of flyers that had beaten me to the front doors. Here's what I found:

  • A card with Dana Orwig's photo and a sticker giving the location of the polling place.

  • A pair of sheets from Dave Mehlhaff, the larger of which complains that Jim Roth is getting outside-the-area contributions from the Victory Fund, a national GLBT PAC, and plays the by-now-dogeared "radical homosexual agenda" card. The Fund is indeed taking contributions for Roth; as for the "agenda," well, I attended the United States Holocaust Museum's traveling exhibit of gay and lesbian Holocaust victims, which Roth helped to bring here, and which Mehlhaff presumably would have preferred to be kept under wraps.

I have one concern: that people will come home, find all this stuff on their doors, and suspect they are in some way connected. They aren't. Orwig and Mehlhaff are political opposites; what's more, the Mayfair Heights Neighborhood Association has endorsed no candidates for office, and the arrival of its newsletter on this date was timed to remind residents of the monthly meeting Tuesday night, at which Ward 2 Councilman Sam Bowman (not up for reelection this year) will speak.

Sad songs say so much

Venomous Kate is looking for the 50 Most Depressing Songs, apparently to inspire her upcoming novel. Please feel free to make recommendations to her.

I suggested Jimmy Ruffin's "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted," which is a world-class downer, but I didn't mention this: at one time the song contained a spoken-word intro which was perhaps intended to set the mood, but which didn't make it into the version released to the general public. After listening to it, I don't miss it at all:

A world filled with love is a wonderful sight
Being in love is one's heart's delight
But that look of love isn't on my face
That enchanted feeling has been replaced

Somebody, maybe Berry Gordy himself, heard that and thought it was just too much.

This isn't quite an isolated incident: right before the last verse of the Shangri-Las' heartrending "I Can Never Go Home Anymore," at about the 2:30 point, Mary Weiss originally half-cried, half-whispered, "Listen, I'm not finished." The line was mixed out of the 45 and wasn't heard again for decades. (And this, too, is a Depressing Song, what with mother dying and runaway daughter contrite.)

Still, if we want Serious Discomfort in a pop tune, we call upon King Crimson, which in its first two albums was wont to work up implausible titles like "'Epitaph' including 'March for No Reason' and 'Tomorrow and Tomorrow'," from which we extract this example of finely-crafted angst:

The wall on which the prophets wrote
Is cracking at the seams
Upon the instruments of death
The sunlight brightly gleams
When every man is torn apart
With nightmares and with dreams
Will no one lay the laurel wreath
As silence drowns the screams

Confusion will be my epitaph
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh
But I fear tomorrow I'll be crying

This might be laughable were it not so perfectly orchestrated: the song (which runs over eight and a half minutes, with only one more verse and a repeat of the verse/chorus above) is carefully calculated to resonate against your last nerve, making seemingly-adolescent rubbish into a true Tale of Terror.

(Lyricist Pete Sinfield, incidentally, is responsible for the unofficial name of my workplace, but that's another tale of terror story.)

We demand a sugar rush

Laney and Jackson in costume

And the Princess of Darkness and the SpiderLad mean business. (Ages: Laney, 3½; Jackson, 8 months; furnishings in the background, God only knows.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:31 PM to Next Generation )
Peer pressure

Each issue of The Week has a section called "Good Week For..." and "Bad Week For...", usually with four of each.

This is apparently a Bad Week for Men, and here's why:

[A] British study revealed that the average man spends a full six months of his life staring at women in a slack-jawed trance of frustrated desire.

Finally, I'm above average at something.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:23 PM to Table for One )
The young-prisoner hypothesis

Kent Hovind, evangelist and proprietor of Pensacola's Dinosaur Adventure Land creationist theme park, is facing 288 years in prison after conviction on 58 counts of tax fraud.

Hovind and his wife Jo, who could draw up to 225 years, had argued that they were working for God and that therefore their earnings, and those of their employees, were not subject to taxation. The park itself was closed in April because it had been built without a permit and because Escambia County authorities had never been allowed to inspect the premises. "Right now Caesar demands a building permit," quipped Mike Whitehead, chair of the County Commission.

Sentencing will be on the 9th of January.

(Via Secular Blasphemy.)

5 November 2006
Our world is blue

Paul Mauriat, the orchestra leader whose 1968 recording of "Love Is Blue" is, to these ears, the second-best French instrumental ever, has died in Perpignan, in southern France near the Spanish border.

Born in Marseille in 1925, Mauriat led his own band during the 1940s, subsequently working with Charles Aznavour and honing his own reputation as a classical pianist. Maintenance of that reputation perhaps led him to release his pop records, starting in 1957, under various pseudonyms; in 1962, as "Del Roma," he got his first hit as a composer, cowriting (with Franck Pourcel and lyricist Jacques Plante) "Chariot," a massive hit for Petula Clark. (The next year, an English-language version was a smash in the US for Little Peggy March, under the title "I Will Follow Him.")

You might figure from that particular example that Mauriat was an exponent of strong melodies, and let the words come in where they will, and you'd be correct. Pierre Cour's lyrics to "L'Amour est Bleu," first sung by Vicky Leandros at the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest — it placed fourth — were clearly secondary to André Popp's music, and when Mauriat recorded it in 1968, he cast it as a sort of neo-Baroque string piece with harpsichord accents. It sold zillions on the Continent and (as Philips 40495) made #1 in the States, the fifth-biggest instrumental, as Casey Kasem says, of the Rock Era. I'm on my third copy of the single.

Starting with Blooming Hits, the LP containing "Love Is Blue," the next few Mauriat album covers, at least in the US, could be described as Blatantly Sexy, peaking with the late-'68 Mauriat Magic, which produced two minor singles: "Même si tu revenais," otherwise known as "Love in Every Room," and a version of John Phillips' "San Francisco," which you remember with Scott McKenzie advising you to wear some flowers in your hair.

Mauriat also built a name for himself in the Far East, signing with the Japanese Pony Canyon label in 1994 and touring in Japan as late as 1998. His orchestra, still bearing his name, continues to perform. "Love Is Blue," to my knowledge, has never gone out of print, and Blooming Hits was just reissued on CD by Collectors' Choice Music.

And that first-best French instrumental? Right here.

Quote of the week

GMO Urban Ministries is an offshoot of Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church on Oklahoma City's largely-black northeast side. They've scheduled five public forums through the next year in an effort to "reconnect and revitalize" the black community. The first of them was Saturday, at which OU Black Studies instructor Kevin McPherson laid it on the line:

Why would you expect the very people who made you slaves to save you?

Okay, there's just a hint of Distrust Whitey in there, and it's not like I've haven't heard it before. Cue the Temptations' single "Ball of Confusion," as they rattle off sound bites from the incessant media blitz, and pick up on Eddie Kendricks: "Vote for me and I'll set you free!"

But I don't think Dr McPherson was baiting anyone, especially when you look at what he said in the context of, say, this:

Much of northeast Oklahoma City, formerly the geographic heart of the black community, is no longer owned by blacks, said John Pettis of the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency.

"Until we go back to owning this community, we can't determine its destination," Pettis said.

Or this:

Parents have to regain control of their families, discipline their children and instill character and morals, said Wayne Reid of the Eastside Capitol Gateway Main Street program.

"For so long, we've allowed the community to raise our children, then we wake up one morning, and we don't know who that person is in the house," Reid said.

So jump a couple years forward in the soundtrack of the city, to the point where James Brown says "I don't want nobody to give me nothing / Open up the door, I'll get it myself." Abject declarations of white guilt, however well they may play on the nightly news, don't mean a thing to the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. And I suspect Kevin McPherson doesn't want to hear them either: there's work to be done.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:21 AM to QOTW )
A price far above rubies (2)

A couple of years ago, with crude oil in the $52 range and my DeskJet at work demanding yet another ink cartridge, I sat down with a calculator and determined the price of HP ink per 42-gallon barrel. The results were predictable yet still amazing: $292,900, more than you'd pay for even Dom Perignon in this quantity.

Gizmodo is now reporting that HP ink costs even more than human blood: 71 cents per milliliter for the contents of an HP 45 cartridge, versus 40 cents for the claret, Barrett.

And actually, it's worse than they say, because they're comparing with the 45, a relatively old unit (I use them in my ancient 720C at home) that has less-predatory pricing than newer models. My work box takes the HP 56, which holds a mere 19 ml (versus 42 for the 45) and costs even more than $30. So 42nd and Treadmill has to fork over, not $0.71/ml, but $1.84.

Does this mean that nothing on earth costs more than HP ink? No, it does not.

(Observed at Scribal Terror.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:23 AM to PEBKAC )
Last-minute roundup

I've already posted my endorsements, such as they are; regular readers may have ascertained the level of enthusiasm from the context, and have certainly noticed that I didn't mention any party connections.

So here's the Shorter Version, with party designation included, and 1 through 5 to indicate the firmness of my support. (Something about which I don't care in the slightest would score zero, but then it wouldn't get an endorsement, would it?)

5th Congressional District: David Hunter (D) (3)
Governor: Brad Henry (D) (4)
Lieutenant Governor: Jari Askins (D) (4)
Corporation Commission: Bob Anthony (R) (5)
Treasurer: Scott Meacham (D) (3)
Labor Commissioner: Brenda Reneau (R) (3)
Attorney General: Drew Edmondson (D) (3)
Insurance Commissioner: Kim Holland (D) (4)
State Auditor: Jeff McMahan (D) (2)
District Attorney: David Prater (D) (2)
Senate 40: Cliff Branan (R) (4)
House 87: Dana Orwig (D) (4)
Assessor: Leonard Sullivan (R) (5)
District 1 Commisioner: Jim Roth (D) (5)

Of people not on my ballot, I like Andrew Rice (D, Senate 46), Fred Jordan (R, House 69), Jennifer Seal (D, House 85), Lance Cargill (R, House 96), John Trebilcock (R, House 98), and J. M. Branum (I, House 99).

State questions:
724: Yes (5)
725: Yes (1)
733: Yes (5)
734: Yes (4)

Rocket science

The revamped Houston Rockets are way better than they were last season, and the Hornets found that out early, falling behind in the first quarter, fighting back with a 16-2 run, and watching an 11-point lead evaporate in the second. But the Bees once again showed some serious D, and David West sank two free throws in the last five seconds to ice it, 96-90.

Chris Paul managed a double-double in the first half, scoring 10 and dishing 10 in 18 minutes; he wound up with 16 assists, tying a career high. Tyson Chandler swept 11 boards, and David West dropped in 22 points, raising his season average to an even 20. And Peja's mojo put in an appearance: Stojakovic hit five of eight treys. In fact, the Hornets shot better from beyond the arc (9 of 16, 56.3 percent) than from inside (33 of 70, 47.1 percent).

The Bees still can't hit consistently from the charity stripe: they improved markedly in the fourth quarter, yet still wound up at 60 percent. This is, notes Russ Eisenstein of the radio crew, only the second time the Hornets have started a season 3-0; they've never started 4-0. Will history be made this week? The Warriors will be coming to the Ford Center Tuesday, and it's probably not too much to hope that the Mavericks will thrash them the night before.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:52 PM to Net Proceeds )
6 November 2006
Strange search-engine queries (40)

And the stranger they are, the more likely they are to be cut out of Site Meter's list and posted here.

switch bodies with Cameron Diaz:  Something tells me this isn't Roseanne Barr's wish list.

aesthetic classics/oldsmobile/vodka:  It would take roughly half a bottle of Ketel One to make a late-Seventies Cutlass look good.

how do magicians saw someone in half:  Traditionally, with a saw, though modern three-way slicing techniques call for large panel-like blades.

short hair ohio bats:  During lake-effect snows they flee to Kentucky.

did southern belles wear makeup?  You'd never know it if they did.

blocking spam from senders with jumbled consonants:  You mean "zvtbhqxl@npltzjh.qzw" isn't a real email address?

how to firm slackened labia:  Two parts alum, one part Summer's Eve.

konqueror coding error icon illuminati:  Did you run the fnord job?

biting beaver "male sexuality":  It is considered bad form actually to bite it.

is yogurt colored with crushed red beetles:  Well, not the plain varieties.

ursula andress concave:  I remember her as being delightfully convex.

microsoft allegory:  It ends with Bill Gates saying "640k ought to be enough for anyone."

women nude in back yard:  Not in my back yard. I checked.

maids that do more than clean in okc:  You can't afford them.

magical quatrain to have a big bombshell breasted sexy wife:  "O spirits and powers / Grant this unto me / Adjust her rack outwards / No smaller than C."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:16 AM to You Asked For It )
Now this is tricky

If you believe the Independent, this is what's going to happen:

2050: The last drops of rain fall to earth

World hunt for food as India faces starvation after monsoon fails and harvests are doomed

2060: Tsunami horror hits Britain

Methane 'bubble' blamed for catastrophic seabed slide as wave wipes east coast off map

Well, it certainly can't have been because of water; it hasn't rained in ten whole years.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:34 AM to Weather or Not )
Display error

The idea seemed sane enough: if we (by which I mean "they," since this didn't happen to me) actually had a car here, we could sell more car stereos, since shoppers would be able to hear the equipment in its proper environment.

A deal was struck with an automaker, and as the new store began to take shape, the contractor was called in to remove one of the pillars near the entrance so that the car could be moved into the store.

He declined, and of course store staff wanted to know why:

"You don't have a car."

Patiently the staff explained the deal with the automaker and how everything was supposed to go.

"But you don't have a car."

"It will be here soon."

"Uh, no, it won't. It's on the bottom of the ocean."

Last I heard, salvage operations were continuing.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:06 AM to Dyssynergy )
Off Point

Former Sinclair Broadcast Group vice-president Mark Hyman, who has been delivering daily commentaries on Sinclair stations' news broadcasts, is giving up his slot at the end of the month, saying that he's "exhausted" and wants "to focus more on family activities."

Hyman's "The Point" was a regular feature of Sinclair's NewsCentral offerings, and was regularly applauded and/or excoriated for its distinct right-wing flavor. (Modest excoriation here.)

Sinclair CEO David Smith said that "The Point" has "invoked thoughtful discussions on many topics and across all demographics."

My own take, from January 2004:

Hyman leans decidedly right, which doesn't bother me; however, he has that patented Fox News snarkier-than-thou smirk, which does. (Note to television executives: If you're gonna rip off the Fox News Channel, rip off its most appealing feature: news babes in outfits that seem scantier than they really are.) I'm not sure how well this will play in markets less conservative than Oklahoma City, which is, well, almost all of them.

"The Point" airs locally on KOKH, a Fox affiliate.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:00 AM to Overmodulation )
Phrases I never want to hear again

No more of these, please:

  • Anything of the form "A B, C [something that rhymes with B]"
  • "But think about the children"
  • "Speak[ing] truth to power"
  • crescatsententia.org
  • "Anna Nicole Smith," unless followed by "was found dead"
  • Anything of the form "He was A before he was [something opposite to A]"
  • "Rosario Dawson's dong"
  • "It's the [noun], stupid"
  • "Our exclusive poll"
  • "I'm [name] and I approved this message"
  • Anything containing the word "Federline"

I would be so grateful.

Addendum, 8 February 2007: I regret to note that Anna Nicole Smith was ... never mind, it's just plain mean. Kevin Federline, you may want to know, is still alive.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:53 PM to Say What? )
A poll of unlikely voters

I suspect they'd sound like Deb:

[A]s for the argument that it's somehow un-American not to vote, I'd say it's un-American to shut up and do as you're told even if it makes you throw up a little. If you've got to hold your nose to even get near the ballot, maybe it's time to retain a little dignity and stay home.

Or, as Jim Hightower used to say, "If the gods had meant us to vote they would have given us candidates."

Update, Election Day: Jenn*fer rec*mmends th*s sh*rt.

Further update: This is probably what Deb means by holding one's nose.

Stuff received (Monday)

These constitute last-ditch attempts, and truth be told, I wouldn't be surprised to find some of these in the last ditch in the next couple of days.

Anyway, here's what we have:

  • An expanded version — with family photos, yet! — of basically the same Leonard Sullivan flyer received last week.

  • A sort-of-amusing GOP flyer with a picture of a tombstone and the caption: "The Democrat Controlled State Senate. Where good bills go to die." Which may even be true, though some of the ones they cited didn't strike me as all that good, and a couple of them date all the way back to 2003, which is a long time to carry a grudge. (And, pace Dwayne, enough with the "pro-values" tag. If I ever am insane enough to run for office, I promise to run on an Anti-Values platform.)

  • An actual phone call, which I did not answer and wouldn't have had I been here at the time it came in, from Sheriff John Whetsel, singing the praises of Jim Roth. It gets mentioned here because Whetsel was canny enough to make the entire spiel fit into the meager thirty seconds I allow on my machine.

The polls are open from 7 to 7 tomorrow. [Insert joke about "twelve-hour election" here.]

7 November 2006
A second look

Yale Hollander lives in St Louis these days, but he remembers Oklahoma City; he studied law at OCU back in the early 1990s. He came back through for the first time this past week, and posted some observations, from which I excerpt the following and throw in some commentary of my own:

When I was at the airport on Sunday (November 5), there were 23 flights scheduled between 2 and 5 p.m. None of the gate areas were crowded; there was virtually no line at security. It does appear that the existing concourse is not yet complete, so there should be plenty of room to handle present flight loads and even a healthy increase in flight volume should that situation arise. I see no reason whatsoever to go to the expense of building another concourse which will likely go underused or completely unused.

Barring the sudden disappearance of malefactors from the face of the earth, I don't see any huge upturn in air travel; I have never quite subscribed to the "If we build it, they will come" theory inasmuch as it applies to airports.

If OKC does aspire to host larger and more consistent convention business, there will probably need to be one more large scale, higher end hotel within proximity to the Cox Center. This might be the perfect opportunity for the Drury chain to break into the marketplace with a Drury Plaza.

Penn Square is clearly the marquee shopping mall in OKC. To put it politely, Fifty Penn is in terribly sad condition. There's essentially four operations driving that mall (Full Circle Books, Harold's, Balliet's and Belle Isle Brewery) and that's way too few to make the center a viable destination. One thought I have is to incorporate the three retailers into [a] possible mixed use center on Western.... A bookstore like Full Circle would do very well in such an environment and Harold's and Balliet's would certainly play well into the hands of the demographic that would work and/or live near there.

Full Circle, after starting out in what is now the Asian District, was actually on Western during the 1970s, in the old Veazey Drug. later VZD's. A fire at VZD's drove them out.

One thing I noticed while driving up and down NW Expressway and N. May as well was the proliferation of new or recently built strip malls within a stone's throw of abandoned ones. Some of the abandoned locations werenít even built when I last lived in the area — so they've gone up and gone bust in a mere 13 years and already been supplanted by new strips nearby! This just seems to make little sense to me and really clutters up the area. NW Expressway west of Independence and pretty much past Council Road is an absolute hodgepodge if not [an] outright mess in places. It'd be nice if the abandoned strips could be razed. And yes, I realize that there are a couple or three different municipalities responsible for the zoning in that area. Something needs to be done to clear the clutter.

Two municipalities. Warr Acres has a strip of the Distressway, roughly 5400 to 6000.

I don't see this area improving much over the next few years, since right now its most distinctive characteristic is horrendous traffic, not exactly a selling point for anything New and/or Different.

I donít think OKC's downtown is situated well for a true urban mall along the lines of an Indianapolis Circle Center nor do I feel like an urban arcade along the lines of what you see on Chicago's Michigan Avenue or even a 50 Penn style format would be very successful without full time high end residences in the area or a substantial, sustained retail tourist trade (again, highly unlikely outside of NY and Chicago). The raw infrastructure certainly seems to be plentiful to lure more office business to the area. And while Bricktown certainly seems to be a logical and attractive area to locate restaurants, it wouldn't hurt to land a couple of higher-end dining locales to the central business district of downtown. Notwithstanding Bricktown's relative proximity, it's not the same as having a Ruth's Chris within a block or two of the major office towers downtown for business lunches and dinners. Surely downtown can support a couple of these types of places.

Restaurants are spreading out away from Bricktown; I expect this trend to continue. And really, I envision Ruth's Chris somewhere along Western, in the manner of its Kansas City restaurant, which is on the Plaza, five miles south of downtown. Then again, I suspect we're not on their radar just yet.

I am firmly convinced that Bricktown needs a healthy mix of national and local operations to be a success. As much as it may be nice to be able to have a district that's exclusively "local flavor," you need name recognition in order to get a certain segment of out of towners to even consider the area. The addition of the area's second Cheesecake Factory together with something along the lines of a Houston's or Houlihan's would be a good infiltration of a nationally recognized brand to complement the local entities already present. Some street food vendors, especially ethnic ones, would also be a nice touch, especially during the warm weather months. I'm not sure retail is ever going to take hold in Bricktown and I'm not sure it needs to.

I can go along with this, though I'd prefer a Houston's to another Cheesecake Factory; if you're going to pitch a restaurant as a destination, it's more plausible if you only have the one.

Retail, I suspect, is more likely to materialize on Automobile Alley (which I see as having Restaurant Row potential) or in the to-be-cleared area between old and new I-40 alignments.

Back in the revived [Blazers] franchise's first season back (92-93) we were astounded by the reception the team got. It wasn't unusual to see crowds of nearly 10,000 on weeknights and packed houses of 13,000 on weekends when Tulsa was in town. We were both a little taken aback to witness crowds of what must have been about 3,000 to 4,000 on Friday night and Saturday afternoon — attendance was never announced.

According to the CHL, the Blazers averaged 7,154 for their first five home games, which is a little off pace: last year's season average was 8,609. (The Ford Center seats 18,036 for hockey, so it's usually going to be half empty, or half full, depending on your frame of reference.)

Politically risky suggestion #1 — do something about the liquor laws so that grocers can at least sell wine. If that restriction is modified I'd be willing to [bet] that Trader Joe's drops 2-4 stores into the area. Wine sales make up too much of their revenue to justify opening stores anywhere that they can't have a wine department. I think TJ's would be a great addition to the area and would certainly improve the present grocery landscape. Politically risky proposal #2 — open more businesses on Sundays and open the ones that do operate that day a little earlier. I was really surprised to see that Will's Coffee Shop was closed on Sundays. What better day to sit and relax with a coffee and the paper than Sunday? I wanted to grab a burger at Irma's before catching my plane out of town — no dice.

I'm firmly behind #1, though it will take some serious finagling to get such a measure through the Legislature. As for #2, we don't have much in the way of blue laws, so it's going to take some substantial increase in demand before the supply appears.

There's lots more in Mr Hollander's piece, which I suspect will be sliced and diced over at OKC Talk; inasmuch as there is almost no overlap between their readership and mine, I figured I'd post some of it here and see where the chips fall.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to City Scene )
Archie Bunker: SUV owner

Well, okay, no, he wasn't really. But there's one parked outside his house.

(Probably not a LaSalle, though. Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:46 AM to Almost Yogurt )
No parking for priest-driven ambulances

Mayor Cornett, some days back, tossed out the idea of renaming a couple of city streets for Vince Gill and Charlie Christian, and maybe a back alley in Bricktown for the Flaming Lips. The Oklahoman's Steve Lackmeyer has been getting mail on the subject, and apparently to his surprise, Lips fans worldwide have voiced their support for Flaming Lips Alley.

Lackmeyer notes:

Fans from around the world argued the alley is an appropriate honor for the band and noted The Flaming Lips' humility and roots in the underground music scene.

They also correctly pointed out the band is intensely loyal to Oklahoma City. The Grammy-winning band's lead singer, Wayne Coyne, still lives in Oklahoma City, and his band regularly calls attention to its Oklahoma ties.

For years, Oklahoma City has struggled to discover its place in the world — something "hip" that no other city can claim. If fans across the world are to be believed, The Flaming Lips may very well be a key to Oklahoma City expanding its image beyond cowboys, Indians and oil wells.

Wendy Castro from Sacramento, Calif., was one of dozens of fans who pledged to make "pilgrimages" to Flaming Lips Alley.

The proposed Flaming Lips Alley runs between the BNSF tracks and Central Avenue Vince Gill Avenue in Bricktown. Right now, it's pretty much Dumpster City, though I suspect that a sudden influx of national attention might be enough to spark cleanup efforts.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:38 AM to City Scene )
It's my party and I'll vote as I want to

Way back in 1997, in the blessed days of gridlock (in Vent #63, in fact), I said this:

Both the President and Congressional leadership routinely decry the other's tactics as "partisan politics", and call for a "bipartisan effort to solve the nation's problems" or something comparably high-minded. At the state level or below, things are little different.

"Bipartisan" is definitely all over the place politically, which makes me uneasy about its very ubiquity. Compared to its dictionary definition, its use in these contexts is accurate; a bipartisan accord, just as you might expect, becomes such when it is agreed to by both parties. Unspoken, but certainly implied by your favorite politico, is the notion that if both Democrats and Republicans can come to this particular agreement, it must therefore be a Good Thing. And farther down in the subtext is the notion that those two particular parties somehow manage to subsume the whole of American political belief: you got your Democrats, you got your Republicans, and what's left isn't worth a bucket of John Nance Garner's bodily fluids. As any registered Libertarian will tell you — in those states where the bipartisan efforts of Republicans and Democrats have somehow failed to make it impossible actually to be a registered Libertarian — this is a crock.

You might think from this that we may as well drop the damned veil and be partisan, and when we do, we'll find that Sean Gleeson is already there:

I am one of the only partisans in America, if you take everyone at his own word.

I know partisanship is out of fashion. Conservatives and liberals disown it, pundits and candidates denounce it. If I didn't know what 'partisan' meant, and had to guess at its meaning from reading modern political discourse, I would conclude it was a synonym of 'evil.' (For those of you who really don't know what partisan means, it means "supporting a party.")

Even partisans shrink from being partisans. A Google search on GOP.com turns up 3,000 results for 'partisan'.í The same search on Democrats.org finds 1,800 results. According to our two greatest partisan institutions, 'partisan' is always what the other party is. Our party isn't partisan at all, you see, because we have principles.

Tomorrow [this was written on Monday], I'm going to the polls, and voting the straight Republican ticket. The whole slate of GOP candidates, even the doofuses. Not because these candidates happen to be the best individuals on the ballot, but because they happen to be the Republican candidates.

My partisanship is a result of the Democratic Party's drift into "insanity," as Dan Lovejoy charitably calls it. The Democrats in their current incarnation are unsuited to govern this country. While Lovejoy sees this as a reason to boycott the Democrats in Congressional races, I see it as a reason to boycott them in all races.

I'm not entirely convinced it's a "drift"; I believe it was a deliberate move in an effort to — well, God only knows what they were thinking.

And really, Mr Gleeson's stance is no different from that of the classic yellow-dog Democrat, except for the party affiliation; if you're willing to complain about him, but not about them, you might want to see about having your Consistency Meter recalibrated.

What could persuade Sean Gleeson to vote for a Democrat? It would have to be a truly exceptional Democrat indeed, and even then it's not a certainty.

Are you ready for some turnout?

I arrived at the polling place at 4:55. No lines, really — two, maybe three people deep at the table at most — and no waiting for a booth. I cast ballot #993 for the precinct, and I wouldn't be surprised to hear that the pollwatchers had side bets on when they'd hit a thousand. Elapsed time: five minutes, twenty seconds, and yes, I did both sides of the ballot. Not too shabby, if I say so myself.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the Oklahoma voting system: you mark your ballot — a substantial piece of card stock — by filling in the center of an arrow pointing to the candidate or choice provided. You then take the ballot to an optical reader, which scans both sides as you slide it in, and flashes a green light if it finds no anomalies. If something's wrong, you get a red light, they hand it back to you, and if necessary give you a new ballot. A four-digit counter ticks over once for each good ballot. When the polls close at 7:00, the reader is disconnected, and the plastic box underneath it, where all the ballots have fallen, is sent, along with the appropriate register tape, to the county election board, which in turn is responsible for getting it to the state election board. Results are posted here starting at 7 pm and updated as new boxes are received. Seldom will you hear any horror stories about Oklahoma voting: it's fast, there's an actual paper trail, and it's relatively hard to screw up. In Presidential years there are longer lines, of course, but some people only come out every four years.

Return of the Kardiac Kids

Well, the Mavericks didn't dispatch the Warriors last night as anticipated, and Golden State wasn't even tired when they showed up at the Ford Center: the Hornets opened up leads as wide as 15, but still found themselves behind by 1 with five minutes left. It's probably a good thing I missed this game; I don't know if my old heart could take this sort of thing. The Bees prevailed, 97-93, and it was a lot closer than that sounds.

Issues: the Third-Quarter Drought™ persists; the bench wasn't quite as effective this time around. The starters, though, shone, with all five in double figures and three pulling down double-doubles: Chris Paul dropped 22 and dished up 11 assists; David West picked up 16 points and 11 rebounds; Tyson Chandler scored 10 and grabbed 14 boards.

And who would have figured that one week into the season, there'd be only two undefeated teams — and the Hornets would be one of them? Not me.

Thursday, it's a rematch, and this time it's on Golden State's court.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:33 PM to Net Proceeds )
8 November 2006
Ask Sam

Ward 2 Councilman Sam Bowman dropped into our Neighborhood Association meeting last night, and passed on some news of interest. Apparently they've shuffled a couple of jurisdictions at City Hall; used to be, Neighborhood Services could bust someone for high grass or weeds or debris in the front yard, but not for parking on the grass. This seemed like a dissipation of effort, so the Planning folks who were responsible for yard-parking complaints were moved over to Neighborhood Services, and now it's a one-stop shop; citations for parking in the yard doubled from the same month last year. That wasn't a major issue for me, but this is: NW 50th from Pennsylvania to May, one of the more wretched stretches of pavement in this town, will be scraped off and resurfaced in 2007.

One question that came up was the ongoing issue of city officials running for higher office while retaining their jobs. Mayor Cornett was mentioned, as was Ward 7's Willa Johnson. Nobody had anything good to say about it, but it's not illegal.

And I asked Bowman about Pete White's idea for increasing the Council to ten wards. Bowman pointed out, as White had, that the existing arrangement was perhaps insufficiently diverse, and suggested that it might be possible to redraw the lines to produce something resembling a majority-Hispanic ward and take some of the sheer vastness out of Pete White's Ward 4. There is, though, said Bowman, not much support for expanding the Council right now. If it's going to happen, I suspect it will be in 2011, after the new Census figures come out and they have to redraw the boundaries anyway.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to City Scene )
The view from here

Actually, it was a pretty good day to be an Oklahoma incumbent: of the statewide officeholders, only Labor Commissioner Brenda Reneau was sent packing. More interesting is the apparent 24-24 tie in the state Senate, in which case Lt. Governor-elect Jari Askins, a Democrat, will hold the balance of power. (Senator Nancy Riley, who switched to the Democrats earlier this year, might well congratulate herself on her prescience.) The GOP still holds the House, though.

All the State Questions passed, although the only one that was never in doubt was 724, which cuts off state pay to an officeholder in jail, and which passed with better than a 7-1 margin.

I've seen no recount requests yet. If there are no challenges, the State Election Board will certify the results (current totals here) next Wednesday.

All in all, I can't complain with any degree of conviction: most of the folks I voted for actually won, which is far better than my usual track record, and it looks like I can retire my Big Book of Thad Balkman Jokes.

(Oh, and my predictions? Not so close.)

Couch change

And a lot of change it is, too: Oklahoma City Manager Jim Couch is getting a raise to $192,500 a year — which, for a person overseeing an annual budget upwards of $750 million, doesn't strike me as an enormous sum of money.

(In case you were wondering: each member of City Council gets $12,000 a year; the Mayor is paid $24,000.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:33 AM to City Scene )
Tom Coburn on the election

Seen at the Instant Man's, and excerpted here:

Although this election represents a short-term setback for Republicans, it could be an important turning point for the Republican Party and, more importantly, the country. Every incumbent was reminded that the American people, not party establishments, hold the reins of government. Throughout our history, when the American people rise up and force change our country benefits. In our system, the wisdom of many individual voters still outweighs the wisdom of a few.

Many factors contributed to these election results. The American people obviously are concerned about the conduct of the war in Iraq. Members of both parties have an obligation to work together to offer creative and constructive solutions that will help our troops accomplish their mission.

The overriding theme of this election, however, is that voters are more interested in changing the culture in Washington than changing course in Washington, D.C. This election was not a rejection of conservative principles per se, but a rejection of corrupt, complacent and incompetent government.

I'll buy some of this, but not all of it. Clearly some voters, and not just in Blue-On-Blueland, have had it up to here with "conservative principles," and there's no point in denying it. On the other hand, it's equally clear that the GOP brought this on themselves — while they had no monopoly on either corruption or incompetence, they set the pace for both, and their complacency was utterly mind-boggling — and if it doesn't prove to be a learning experience for them, you can expect more Republicans to be turned out of office in 2008.

Note to a brain-dead customer

When you close your checking account, you cannot continue to use the debit card associated with it.

I realize that this is a difficult concept for you, but focus.

(And next time, go to the farging 7-Eleven and buy a money order, fercrissake.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:21 PM to Outgoing Mail )
Keep these out of your garage

After a few weeks of balloting, The Truth About Cars readers have selected the Ten Worst Automobiles Today, and the entire sorry lot is what Stuff magazine would characterize as "douche-y."

The truly horripilating aspect of this, of course, is that eight of these monstrosities bear domestic nameplates; the ninth is an import brand that's owned outright by a domestic manufacturer. Only the malignant Subaru B9 Tribeca has foreign origins — and even the Sube is built in the States.

You want to know why Detroit is in trouble? They approved 90 percent of these crapmobiles.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:44 PM to Driver's Seat )
9 November 2006
Now this is bipartisan

Right out of the paper, simply because I like the way this sounds:

Both [Senate Democratic Leader Mike] Morgan and Republican leader Glenn Coffee said it's too early to say how things will be done in the wake of Tuesdayís election, which resulted in Republicans and Democrats each having 24 members in the Senate.

Morgan, D-Stillwater, said, "I'm going to continue dialogue so we can find a way to make this work."

He said he and Coffee get along well. That was proven Wednesday when Morgan gave reporters a glimpse of his office where Coffee had pulled a practical joke.

A strip of tape was placed in the middle of Morganís desk, with a note designating one side of the desk as "Glenn's" and the other as "Mike's."

"Glenn gets the refrigerator, and I get the couch," Morgan said.

You want to know why I voted for Jari Askins for Lieutenant Governor and Tie-Breaker? Because Todd Hiett wouldn't have thought this was so damn funny.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 AM to Soonerland )
Voice your second choice

From 2005, Michael Bates explains Instant Runoff Voting:

Under IRV, voting is simple. Voters rank the candidates in order: I mark a 1 next to my favorite, then mark a 2 next to the name of the candidate who would be the my choice if my favorite weren't in the race, and so on down the list.

It's called instant runoff voting because it's equivalent to having a series of runoff elections, eliminating the low vote-getter each pass and choosing among the remaining candidates. The advantage of IRV over a series of runoff elections is that you only have to open the polls once. IRV is used to elect the President of Ireland, members of Parliament in Australia, and here in Tulsa it was used at the 1st District Republican Conventions of 2000 and 2004 to elect delegates and alternates to the Republican National Convention. I first experienced IRV in college — we used it in our fraternity to elect officers.

At the very least, Tulsa needs a runoff in special elections, but it would be better still to use IRV in all elections. As a charter city, Tulsa could choose to do that.

This week, voters in Minneapolis chose to use IRV in municipal elections, the result of a campaign by a "grassroots coalition of political parties, social justice and environmental groups, religious institutions, and others." (List here.) Admittedly, on the red/blue continuum, Minneapolis is just this side of indigo, but I have to believe that some of the handful of conservatives in town liked the idea. (If nothing else, there's the appeal to taxpayers: it saves the cost of runoffs when one candidate fails to win a majority. Maybe Lileks will weigh in one of these days.)

It would admittedly be tricky to adopt IRV to the Oklahoma optical-scan voting system, but surely it's not impossible.

(Via Swirlspice.)

Maybe they can sell them as "Plus Iron"

Perrigo Company, which makes store-brand equivalents of name-brand over-the-counter drugs, some of which I use, is recalling 11 million bottles of 500-mg acetaminophen caplets after discovering metal fragments in about 200 individual pills.

The company blames premature wear of its pill-stamping equipment. No injuries have so far been reported, and no severe injuries are expected.

Acetaminophen is the generic form of the drug sold as Tylenol®. No Tylenol-branded products are affected by the recall. The affected batches are listed here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:58 PM to Dyssynergy )
Governors recalled

Evidently I repeat myself on a cycle. From this week in 2004:

American drivers of a certain age will remember the Joan Claybrook Memorial Speedometer, inflicted on motor vehicles sold in the States around 1980: not only did it top out at a mundane 85 mph, but automakers were required to give special prominence to the national 55-mph speed limit. This was every bit as stupid as you think it was, and was eventually abandoned, as was the double-nickel itself. The thinking, and I use the term loosely, was that if the speedo only reads 85, everyone will assume that this is the maximum speed of the car and no one will drive faster than that. The far more common response, of course, was "Hmmm. Wonder what happens if I peg this baby?" The Law of Unintended Consequences at its finest.

Having hit 84 briefly during this morning's commute, I am still not impressed by 85 mph, but I have a certain respect for 130: everything I've read says that the 2000 Infiniti I30's top speed is limited to 130 mph, and Gwendolyn is whipping around town on H-rated tires, which are good to, yes, 130 mph, and it's never occurred to me to see what happens at 131.

Which means that I'll likely never catch up to Automobile's Jean Jennings, who, in the December 2006 issue, notes that according to Mazda, the pocket-rocket Mazdaspeed 3 runs into an electronic dead end at 155 mph. The following hilarity subsequently ensued on the A95 on the way to Munich:

I have to say that, in between watching the road ahead for errant Trabants and occasionally glancing at the speedo for the magic 250 kph (155 mph), I don't notice what I'm passing or what's moving out of my way, but I do notice that the Audi [A8] that was clamped on my ass has receded in the rearview mirror. Just as I spy the 120 circled in red on the sign ahead, I hit the 250 mark and then poke the brakes a good one, bringing us down to the speed limit. Yes! 155 mph.

I had two more good 250-kph runs before it occurred to me that I'd never felt a limiter. Well, I did what you would have done. I got back on it until I ran out of peripheral vision, I ran out of margin for error, and I hit 260 kph — 162 mph. No speed limiter. Those liars.

Hmmm. Maybe it's time I got some serious lead back into my foot.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:40 PM to Driver's Seat )
216

Back in the Pleistocene era, when I put up this goofy little Web site, rather a lot of people were insistent on using only "browser-safe" colors, of which there were 216.

And while we're on the subject, there have been 216 editions of the Carnival of the Vanities, each a week later than the last, and most of which have links from me whether I have anything to offer or not.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:29 PM to Blogorrhea )
10 November 2006
Broken on the fast break

"What cruelty is this?" I thought. "A West Coast game on a school night?" So I cranked up the radio, made it through the first quarter, noted with dismay that somehow the Hornets had managed to duplicate their infamous Third-Quarter Drought™ halfway through the second quarter, and pulled a blanket over my head.

As it turns out, it was just as well; the Bees were indeed outscored in both the second and third, and a late rally fell short as Golden State got its revenge for Tuesday night at the Ford. Final: Warriors 121, Hornets 116.

You might expect from those numbers that there was a lot of shooting, and there was: both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor, and 3-balls filled the air. The Warriors knocked down thirteen of them, four by Mickael Pietrus alone. But the big story was ex-Hornet guard Baron Davis versus current Hornet guard Chris Paul, and the two of them put on quite a show: by the time I drifted away, both of them were in double digits and running at top speed. Davis wound up with 36 points and dished up 9 assists; Paul scored 34 (a career high) with ten dimes.

All the Hornet starters scored double figures except Tyson Chandler, and he got 11 boards; Bobby Jackson added 12 off the bench. David West, still hovering around the 20-per-game mark, picked up 21. But ultimately what sealed the Bees' doom, it appears, was the dreaded turnover: 19 of them, while the Warriors gave up only ten.

Still, 4-1 is probably a game or two better than anyone expected at this point. The West Coast action continues at Portland tonight, where the Blazers aren't anywhere nearly as hapless as they were last year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:31 AM to Net Proceeds )
Meanwhile, Job waits for his rebate check

Under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, he who provides a "full warranty" (anything less is a "limited warranty") must include all of the following:

  • must, as a minimum, remedy the consumer product within a reasonable time and without charge;
  • may not impose any limitation on the duration of any implied warranty on the product;
  • may not exclude or limit consequential damages for a breach of any written or implied warranty on the product, unless the exclusion or limitation conspicuously appears on the face of the warranty; and
  • if the product, or a component part, contains a defect or malfunction, must permit the consumer to elect either a refund or replacement without charge, after a reasonable number of repair attempts.

I'm sure Frank Moss and Warren Magnuson, way back in 1975, never envisioned this:

The word "tithe" is derived from the Hebrew word maíaser and it literally means a tenth. Ten percent of everything belongs to the Lord. In Malachi 3:10-11, God says, "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in my house." The 'storehouse' is the Old Testament picture of the New Testament church. So as New Testament believers, we worship the Lord with the tithe; or the ten percent.

But giving away 10% of your income can be a big — and often frightening — commitment! That's why we created the Three-Month Tithing Challenge: a money-back guarantee of sorts. Essentially, it's a contract based on the promises of God in Malachi 3:10-11. We commit to you that if you tithe for three months and God doesn't hold true to His promises of blessings, we will refund 100% of your tithe. No questions asked.

"Good afternoon, One Brimstone Place." The voice was unusually dark.

"You're answering your own phone now?"

"It's hard to get good help these days. Was there something You wanted?"

The Lord God read the paragraphs above. "What do you think? I'm tempted to send a plague of toads."

The Prince of Darkness whistled. "That's some slick guarantee there. Maybe You should just sue them or something."

"Oh, right. Where am I supposed to find a lawyer?"

"Hey, I'm just doing my job," Satan complained. "There's always Google. I hear they're trying not to be evil these days."

"Thank you, Lucifer, you've been as much help as ever."

Click.

(Via Church Marketing Sucks.)

A pox upon them

I am normally not one to wish ill will upon an energy company — I live in the shadow of the oil patch, after all, and anything collected in Oklahoma Gross Production Tax is a sum the state won't ask me to pay — but after twenty-seven spams touting the over-the-counter stock of Cana Petroleum (symbol: CNPM), I can only hope that these people end up with dry holes, and not in a good way, either.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:45 AM to Dyssynergy )
Needle alert

I generally don't go poring over the legal notices in the newspapers; they're legitimate news, but hardly ever good news, and each and every five-pound notice is packed with ten pounds of Officially Mandated Boilerplate, which is not what makes for encouraging reading. To get my attention, a legal notice has to have something I've never seen before.

Something like this one, found in the Mid-City Advocate:

OKLAHOMA STATE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
NOTICE OF INTENTION TO APPLY FOR TATTOO ESTABLISHMENT LICENSE

In accordance with state laws and regulations, [name and address redacted], a corporation, hereby publishes notice of its intent to apply within sixty days from this date to the Oklahoma State Department of Health for a Tattoo Establishment License, under authority of and in compliance with state laws and regulations: That it intends, if granted such license, to operate as a tattoo and piercing studio with business premises located at [address redacted], in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma County, Oklahoma, under the business name of [name redacted].

Dated this 31st day of October, 2006.

Signature follows. I suppose that either this is nothing new where you live, or you can't believe that the state actually regulates such things. But I've been here more than three decades (not all of it consecutive), and to me, this is news, and not bad news either.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:57 PM to City Scene )
Because it's the thought that counts

This will definitely make your Camaro more bitchin':

Skymaul catalog page

(Via Treehugger.)

Zacked

The Hornets were feeling pretty good in Portland. They were up a startling 38-13 after the first quarter, and Zack Randolph hadn't even made a shot yet.

Then things started to unravel. By the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Bees were up by four, 71-67, and even that lead wouldn't last. Tyson Chandler was gone — ejected in the third quarter after a particularly exasperating T — and Randolph owned the court. With four seconds left, Peja dropped a trey to tie it at 91, and with two seconds left, David West fouled out and sent Randolph to the line. Zack missed one of the two free throws, but it didn't matter: the Blazers won it, 92-91.

Randolph wound up with 31 points and 12 rebounds, all in the last 30 minutes of the game. None of the Hornets came close, though Desmond Mason and Peja Stojakovic were hovering around the 20-point mark and Bobby Jackson, the one bright spot on the bench the last couple of games, tossed in 15. David West, rebounding in Chandler's absence, pulled down a dozen boards to go with his 17 points.

Now off to Los Angeles, for a rare afternoon game against the Clippers on Sunday. The Hornets will return to the Ford Center on Tuesday to play Charlotte.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:40 PM to Net Proceeds )
11 November 2006
When "eat my shorts" is insufficient

It's a matched pair: candy bra and G-string.

I don't think I'll ever be able to eat Necco wafers again.

And if you must wear that, you might not want to wear this with it. Cognitive dissonance, doncha know.

(Both via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:58 AM to Worth a Fork )
Taking cuts

I'm starting to think Sarah is fed up:

Everyone tries to one-up each other, usually by professional sabotage. For some reason, making other people look bad is a way to make yourself look good. Projects are mismanaged; mistakes are blamed on coworkers. And Those In Power seem to be either ignorant of (or, even worse, going along with) the whole charade. The very worst of employees continue to get away with staggering incompetence. Meanwhile, more conscientious employees have to fix their mistakes, and are rewarded only by having even more work dumped on them because theyíre the only ones able to do it correctly.

If it wasnít for the prospect of a three-day weekend, I would be perilously close to slashing my wrists with the edge of a blank sheet of 8½ X 11 MultiPurpose Office Paper. A slow, painful death by paper cuts seems somehow poetic right now.

Trust me on this. You want to open a vein? Get one of these, feed something to it, and then try to clean up the debris. It's the next-best thing to adjusting a lawn-mower blade while it's running.

(My vantage point at the bottom of 42nd and Treadmill's org chart gives me, I think, a unique perspective on these matters.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:27 AM to PEBKAC )
One among many

I was standing on a mountaintop at the Edge of Nowhere, or so it seemed, staring into the face of the enemy, and I knew he was staring back.

Not that anything scary was about to happen. There was a rather large body of water between us, and even on the clearest of days I couldn't see him and he couldn't see me. Still, I knew he was there, and I assumed he knew I was there, and a few dozen other guys were making a list and checking it twice and delivering it to the commanding officer. They were doing their job, and I was doing mine.

And a few months later, that particular job came to an end; I left this post, a little older, maybe a little wiser, an unexpected medal added to my uniform, and after a few days of R&R — well, maybe some R, but not a whole lot of R, if you know what I mean — I reported back Stateside and was assigned to the Reserves for three more years.

This was before "Be all that you can be," and I've never been sure I was all that I could have been. But we had a mission, and I was part of it, and I'd like to think that I had something to do with the fact that the enemy no longer exists.

That enemy, anyway.

On this day of remembrance, there are millions more with their own stories to tell. You've already heard mine.

(Originally posted 11/11/2004.)

Finally, a truly universal law

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch engages in serious contemplation:

A 26 percent increase in Missouri's minimum wage to $6.50 an hour will hit urban and rural workers hardest because some may lose their jobs or not be hired as businesses adjust to hold down costs, some business owners and analysts say.

Got that? "Urban and rural workers" will be hit hardest.

That leaves — um, who else is there? The guys on the International Space Station?

(Via the presumably-urban Brian J. Noggle.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:21 PM to Say What? )
Our man in Ankara

They buried Bülent Ecevit today, and after a couple of minutes, I remembered where I'd heard that name before.

Ecevit was the Prime Minister of Turkey when I arrived there for a twelve-month tour of duty in the spring of 1974. He was a staunch secularist in this mostly-Muslim nation, and was generally considered friendly toward the US.

Things began to fall apart that year. In July, Archbishop Makarios, president of Cyprus, was deposed in a coup apparently sponsored by Greece; Turkey was opposed to the new Nikos Sampson regime, and Ecevit flew to London to enlist the help of the British, who had controlled the island before a treaty of independence was signed in 1959. The British declined to get involved, but the US, perhaps fearful for the future of NATO bases in Turkey, dispatched an envoy (Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Joseph J. Sisco) to the scene. Negotiations went nowhere, and Turkey invaded Cyprus, eventually gaining control over the northeastern third of the island. The US, upset, suspended arms shipments to Turkey; the Turks responded by curtailing US activities in Turkey that weren't specifically authorized by NATO. Our own base was covered by the NATO agreement, but some restrictions fell upon us anyway: we were barred from originating our own programming from our on-post radio station, and it seemed to take much longer to get approvals for surveillance flights. Ecevit suffered substantial political fallout from the invasion, and he was replaced as Prime Minister in November by Sadi Irmak.

Bülent Ecevit eventually returned to power, and in 1978 (I was long gone) Congress lifted the arms embargo. In 1979 he resigned again; following a coup in 1980 by the military, most political parties, including Ecevit's center-left Republican People's Party, were banned, and Ecevit was briefly imprisoned. In 1987, a referendum rescinded the ban, though Ecevit, then sixty-two, would never again have the influence he had had before.

Getting a grip on Ecevit's politics required a steady hand. While he favored greater participation in Western alliances and cultures, and firmly believed in the secular Turkey founded by Atatürk, his domestic policies tended toward the semi-socialist, occasionally perplexing Americans who were looking to open up Turkish markets. Some of us who were stationed in his country in those days tended to think rather highly of him, partly because he seemed to think rather highly of us, but perhaps also because we were overwhelmed by this utterly foreign yet somehow familiar land — the Turkish language, while obviously influenced by Arabic and Persian, is written, per Atatürk's instructions, in a Western-style alphabet — and we were inclined to cut everyone some slack.

Güle güle, sir.

Dreamy eyes

Gwendolyn, as befitting her status as Sort of Luxoboat, has these high-zoot headlights with just a hint of upward slant to the sides and sheetmetal to match, which you could argue is a sign of her Japanese heritage but which I have always figured was an homage to/a ripoff of [choose one] the middle-1990s Mercedes-Benz S-class lamps. (See for yourself.)

Plastic lenses, alas, tend to accumulate crud, which manifests itself as an off-white to almost-yellow haze, which is not attractive and which obstructs the very purpose of the lights. I noticed this in the dealer's lot, but assumed it would respond to standard cleaning techniques. It does not. I let it go for awhile, decided it was not going to get better (duh), and resolved to take action: I addressed myself to a nearby auto-parts outlet which, in classic ethnic-joke fashion, was staffed by a black guy, a white guy, and a Mexican guy. I figured I couldn't go wrong with this combination, and I was right.

And this is how it came to pass that I applied Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Plastic Polish #10 with an old dish towel (meets all your daily terrycloth requirements), and six years of discoloration vanished in something less than six minutes. Try that with Visine. There was even substantial change from my $10 bill. Add this to the list of Products I Swear By, and prepare yourself for Gwendolyn's steely stare while you sit there in the fast lane at 53 mph.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 PM to Driver's Seat )
We got too much at stake

Seen today in the supermarket parking lot: a red Chevy with the vanity plate NIHIL.

Simultaneous with the sighting, the song starting up from Gwendolyn's stereo: the Blues Magoos' "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet."

Anyone for weird Jungian (as distinguished from Stingian) synchronicity?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:12 PM to City Scene )
12 November 2006
Sanitized for your protection

"Women must not show their femininity in their social interactions."
       — Sayyed Muhammad Hussein Fadlullah, as quoted here

To further this goal, Snoopy the Goon unveils (so to speak) a true Pan-Islamic Gown. It provides the proper protections against that which is seductive, yet it is remarkably inexpensive.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:22 AM to Dyssynergy )
You know the drill

Best definition I've ever heard:

HACKSAW:  One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

I can also vouch for this one:

VISE-GRIPS:  Next generation Pliers. Also used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

A whole boxful of tools here.

(Via Tam.)

Update, 4 pm: pdb traces this list to the nonpareil Peter Egan.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 AM to Dyssynergy )
So this is where they all went

Floppy handbagSeen at Popgadget, the ideal gift for the geek girl in your life: a big, floppy bag made from real floppies. A dozen of them, in fact, mounted on a black vinyl liner, which contains various pockets on the inside and a removable magnetic latch on top. For those who read hangtags, here's what this one says: CARRY YOUR STUFF IN GEEK-CHIC STYLE WITH A PURSE MADE FROM TWELVE (12) GENUINE 1.44 MB COMPUTER DISKETTES. ALLOCATE INTERIOR POCKETS TO MANAGE INTERNAL FRAGMENTATION. TOTAL AVAILABLE MEMORY: 17.28 MB. Now all I need is a geek girl. [sigh]

Quote of the week

Hornets power forward David West, on the parsimony of backup Brandon Bass:

[T]he young guyís pretty bad about that. He was a second round pick, so he always uses that as an excuse when it comes to picking up the tab. And guys are always on him, you know, maybe heíll take care of one sooner or later. But Iím hoping this year he steps up his game at the dinner table.

Bass will earn $664,209 this season (the league minimum for a second-year player), up from $398,762 last year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:38 PM to Net Proceeds , QOTW )
Completely road-tripped

Three games on the West Coast, three losses. It's not like this has never happened before, but still it stings a bit.

The Hornets played better against the Clippers, but not well enough to win. No Third-Quarter Drought™ this time — the Bees actually outscored L.A. in the third, 22-15, to pull within four — but a truly craptacular fourth quarter (only twelve points) assured the Clippers of a near-blowout victory, 92-76.

And when they weren't missing shots, the Hornets were losing the ball; they had ten turnovers in the first quarter and 23 overall. They still can't hit free throws, missing seven of 19. And of 13 3-balls, only two found their way through the net. The Clippers, meanwhile, presented a reasonably-balanced attack, and while they didn't shoot especially well, they got lots of second and even third looks.

Numbers: Chris Paul got 20 points (and five fouls); Bobby Jackson had twelve; the rest were 11 or less. (Cedric Simmons, off the bench, pulled down 8, a record for the rookie.) Tyson Chandler was effective on the boards, pulling down 13 rebounds and scoring 8. The only double-double to be seen, though, belonged to L.A.'s Elton Brand, who scored 22 points and got 10 rebounds.

The Bobcats will come to the Ford Center Tuesday, and then two more road games: Wednesday at Detroit, then Saturday at Minnesota.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:03 PM to Net Proceeds )
We built this Citi

The Baseball Crank is okay with "CitiField" as the name for the Mets' new digs:

You get a new stadium, you get a new name. Let's have none of this "New Shea"/"Old Shea" nonsense. Shea Stadium is a place with its own identity and its own place in the history of the game and the hearts of Mets fans. You tear it down to build a new stadium, you get a new name.

Which the Chicago White Sox should have done with the "new" Comiskey, now the stirringly unresonant "U. S. Cellular Field." Not that there's anything particularly wrong with corporate names:

I don't, in principle, have a problem with corporate stadium names (ballparks have been named after companies, egomaniacal owners, or some combination of the two — see "Wrigley Field" and "Turner Field" for examples — as long as there have been ballparks). $20 million a year can make the Mets more competitive, and that is a good thing.

So long as the name stays put, anyway:

[W]ere I negotiating a stadium deal, I would add in a substantial premium and an escape clause for renaming rights. That's my big issue with naming stadiums after banks and phone companies, as well as new and unstable companies (see: "Enron Field"). But the First National City Bank of New York has been known as "City Bank" or Citibank for decades, and given its size and brand equity, should be for the forseeable future.

Southwestern Bell SBC AT&T Bricktown Ballpark please note.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:46 PM to Base Paths )
13 November 2006
Strange search-engine queries (41)

Yes, it's yet another sifting through the referrer logs, in the hopes of finding actual search strings to which I can make snarky responses after the fact.

what do men find unattractive about naked women:  When they're out of visual range.

are there "Benefits of Media Consolidation":  For the media, maybe; for the audience, maybe not.

what does a transmission cooler do?  Surprisingly, it cools the transmission, or at least its fluid.

What kind of organ did John Lennon have?  (1) A Hammond. (2) Uncircumcised. (Next time, be more specific.)

"size 0 is too big":  Have a sandwich already. Sheesh.

chaz i love you:  Obviously a case of mistaken identity.

crown market west hartford kosher antibiotics:  Try the rugelachomycin.

fortytwo hours cybered mom:  Was dad out of town?

Puns for Argon:  Sorry, all the chemical-element puns argon; someone staged a radon the storage box, and anyway it's none of your bismuth.

how long is a quarter of an hour:  Too short, according to your girlfriend.

infamous Hollywood pseudonym employed by movie directors who wish to have their credit removed from a below-par film:  "Michael Moore".

The impact of hissy fits in Primary Care:  Reduces waiting time by 10 to 20 percent.

stockings feel weird:  Be grateful she lets you feel them at all.

how do you burn hydrocarbons:  Turn the key and press down with the right foot.

Joe Garagiola used a cuss word:  Who gives a shit?

new jersey turnpike wee wee hours:  The service centers are open 24 hours a day.

amy mcree pictures:  I get this just about every freaking week. (McRee is a news anchor for KWTV.) For the benefit of the less-curious, this goes below the fold.

Babes in varying degrees of undress

Here. The one you seek is in the center. Now leave me alone.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 AM to You Asked For It )
The sign of true luxury

Toyota's Scion division sells relatively low-end vehicles aimed at younger drivers. How well this is working is unclear — most of the refrigerator-like xB models I see seem to be driven by soccer moms — but Toyota, anxious to maintain buzz, will limit sales next year to only 150,000, about a 20-percent drop from this year's numbers. (Automakers that are actually profitable can do this sort of thing, I guess.)

And while I may have my doubts about Scion marketing, Toyota doesn't; they have a MySpace page, fercryingoutloud, and they've opened a virtual showroom in Second Life. Obviously they're not expecting to lure Buick drivers.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:41 AM to Driver's Seat )
Forecast for today: blue

NewsOK.com usually has the weather radar at this link.

This morning, though, they had this.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to PEBKAC , Soonerland )
We want our mommy

Swiped from Better Living Through Blogging:

Contessa Brewer of MSNBC did a short profile on the number of women elected to statehouses and Congress, and was interviewing the communications director of Emily's List, which she described as the "largest grass-roots internet site devoted to electing Democrats." The conversation turned to motherhood, and Brewer mentioned that Nancy Pelosi has five children and Claire McCaskill is a single mother, which she then turned into one of the most ridiculous questions ever posed on cable news:

"So how does motherhood translate into nurturing the country?"

Sheesh. Do you think that anyone has ever asked how fatherhood translates into nurturing a country, or how fatherhood translates into Ö what, teaching a country how to catch a baseball?

Of course not. Men, after all, are expendable, and they have no lessons to teach today; the important thing today is to minimize their baleful influence, which has perpetrated such blights on the landscape as NASCAR, Promise Keepers, and, um, Western civilization.

Getting a green Peterbilt

Hybrid-vehicle owners have already figured out that they get better mileage in town, when the electrickery is working harder, than they do out on the highway. You might think, therefore, that there's no market for eighteen-wheeler hybrids, and so far there isn't.

On the other hand, local haulers and municipal works with smaller big rigs might find this useful:

Peterbilt, a division of PACCAR, will display a production-representative, hybrid-electric medium-duty truck — outfitted with a fully integrated bucket lift body — at the Hybrid Truck Users Forum (HTUF) National Meeting in San Diego next week.

The hybrid Model 335 is targeted for municipal and utility applications and will be in limited production in 2007.

The neatest thing about the 335 is that the power takeoff is integrated with the rest of the electrics; at full charge, the PTO can run on batteries alone for up to 25 minutes before restarting the diesel engine.

I wouldn't be surprised to see one of these snatching Big Blue up off the curb in the near future.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:11 PM to Family Joules )
Ever-increasingly complicated

I'm not sure it should technically be called a door ding: it's a teensy bit of pigment gap on the little plastic strip which is supposed to intercept door dings by sacrificing itself. Still, I didn't earn my reputation for being anal-retentive — which, by the way, has a hyphen — by ignoring little things like this, so I betook myself to the Infiniti store and asked for a tube of touch-up paint.

Not so fast, Bunky. There are two tubes. (For some reason I want to hear Jean-Luc Picard scream that at the top of his lungs: "THERE ARE TWO TUBES!") Number One (no, not you, Riker) contains the actual white stuff; Number Two is a clear coat. At fourteen bucks, this isn't exactly expensive, but I did have a brief period of yearning for the days when you could open the hood of a car, point to any part, and identify it correctly on the first try.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:22 PM to Driver's Seat )
14 November 2006
Steerage in the stratosphere

Me, about two years ago:

It's not that I'm suffering from Fear of Flying, which is more precisely described as Fear of Crashing; I've logged tens of thousands of miles over the years. (There was a brief period in my early twenties when I'd flown more miles than I had driven.) But I seldom bother these days. One reason is simple efficiency: except for the World Tours in the summertime, most of my destinations are fairly close by, and while flying is quicker, there's still the annoyance of lining up ground transportation at the destination point. Unless the fare is incredibly cheap — there once was a time when Southwest offered an occasional OKC-MCI (Kansas City) one-way fare for $19 plus tax — it's less of a hassle to drive.

And there's one other issue, which may be summed up as "Flying's just no fun anymore." Justin Bond (yes, this Justin Bond) may enjoy the Shortbus, but he draws the line at the Airbus:

These days you arrive in London, the south of France, or Shanghai feeling and looking like a dried-up piece of old toast. Not chic. Crabby flight attendants, screaming children, stinky diapers, and a lack of water make airplanes the modern-day equivalent of dodo birds circling the earth at 30,000 feet. I don't want to get on anything called an airbus! I'm not flying so I can take the bus. Give me a supple leather Hermès overnight bag, filled with unguents and potions, gently tucked into an overhead compartment. I want to be served by a lovely young man or woman gaily skipping down a spiral staircase in a cute little outfit designed by one of Halston's successors. Let them bring me a glass of champagne with a twinkle in their eyes. Where's my application for the mile-high club? I want to "fly the friendly skies" again.

This isn't exactly my vision of a successful flight, but it's a hell of a lot closer than any of us are likely to see any time soon; God forbid the TSA should find anyone bearing unguents. Where's Braniff when you need them?

(Found in The Out Traveler, Winter 2006.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 AM to Dyssynergy )
Too much too Zune

Engadget installs a Zune, and the word "suck" appears prominently:

[T]he reality of our experience with the first version of the Zune software this afternoon is much like that of many version 1 software experiences. It sucks.

Some of the individual inhalations:

Oh, ok, it's starting to install the Zune software. No install location options, just already going. Nevermind the fact that we put our applications on a different drive than our Windows install.

Oh, wait, see how that Next button is orange? That's because this is where the software crashes for the first time. So we have to start over from "make a connection" — but if your Zune is still plugged in, the software won't see it. So kill the process, unplug the Zune, restart the software, plug the Zune back in. Ok. We did this a couple more times before we learned our lesson.

Icing on the cake: restart after uninstall. No, sorry, the icing on the cake is the crash our computer took after we hit this, causing our RAID 5 array to crap out and spend a few hours rebuilding.

I remind you that "Zune" is a four-letter word.

(Gleefully pointed to by Lileks.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:50 AM to PEBKAC )
Be sure to bring your Voter ID

As it says here:

The Weblog Awards is the world's largest blog competition, with over 1 million votes cast in the last three years for nearly 1,000 blogs.

The master list of nomination posts can be found here, or you can use this entry to navigate to the nomination posts for the 46 categories.

The big change for 2006 is the addition of several new categories and the reduction in the number of finalists. Most categories will have only 10 finalists, as opposed to the 15 selected in 2005.

Incidentally, I support this reduction in finalists, since on those occasions when I am nominated (so far, only in odd-numbered years) I tend to finish between 11th and 15th.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:03 AM to Blogorrhea )
Things that make one go Hmmm

Clay Bennett and friends have been consistent in their insistence that their first priority is finding a place in or around Seattle for the Sonics and the Storm.

But maybe not consistent enough. Buried at the very bottom of this Seattle Times report is an indication that Bennett may have tipped his hand a trifle too soon:

[W]ith polls showing three of four Seattle voters against a subsidy for the Sonics, [Mayor Greg] Nickels and other political leaders did not campaign against the ballot measure. Even the new owners didn't spend a dime fighting I-91 — a sign, many believe, that the owners want to get out of town when their KeyArena lease expires in 2010.

Emphasis added.

Not so well played, guys.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:16 PM to Net Proceeds )
A pair of public transit meetings

This came in as "COORDINATED PLAN 2007 PUBLIC MEETINGS OCARTS AREA", and it's basically an announcement of a couple of public meetings ("hearings" suggests greater formality than this). Here's what's coming:

COTPA (Central Oklahoma Transportation and Parking Authority) requests your participation at a meeting listed below to help formulate the Coordinated Plan for federal funding. This includes three programs: 5310 (Elderly Individuals and Individuals with Disabilities), 5316 (Job Access and Reverse Commute, or JARC), and 5317 (New Freedom). The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) requires that projects selected for funding be derived from a locally developed, coordinated public transit-human services transportation plan ("coordinated plan") beginning in FY 2006 for JARC and in FY 2007 for the 5310 and New Freedom programs. Your input and suggestions are important in order to identify the transportation gaps in your area. In accordance with the federal law, COTPA will create the coordinated plan that takes into consideration the needs of elderly and low-income persons as well as persons with disabilities.

MEETINGS AND OTHER INPUT

Wednesday, November 15, 2:00 p.m.
The new History Center (NE 23rd and Laird by the Capitol) in Oklahoma City

Monday, November 20, 10:30 a.m.
ACOG, 21 E. Main Street, Bricktown District of Oklahoma City

You can also e-mail or mail comments by November 27 to diponker.mukherjee at okc.gov, or mail to him at the Union Station, 300 SW 7th St., Oklahoma City, OK 73109.

WHO SHOULD ATTEND
Virtually anyone within the OCARTS area (all of Oklahoma and Cleveland County as well as part of Canadian, Grady, Logan, and McClain County), as COTPA is seeking partners to help identify transportation gaps as well as to formulate projects in order to close those gaps. Human service agencies, public health advocates, public and private transportation providers, state and local elected officials, economic development and job training agencies, commuters, people with disabilities, business owners, social service agency staffs, advocates for older adults, and others may want to participate. People outside the OCARTS area are also welcome.

WHAT WILL THE COORDINATED PLAN INCLUDE?

  1. An assessment of available services;
  2. An assessment of needs;
  3. Strategies/projects to address gaps for target populations.

TIMELINE
October—November 2006: Gathering of information and assessment of transportation needs
December 2006: Preparation of the draft plan
January 2007: Review of the draft plan and submittal of final plan to ACOG with the TIP

OCARTS refers to the Oklahoma City Area Rapid Transit Study. A brief summary of SAFETEA-LU (may the person who came up with this backronym be covered with boils) is here. (Entire text of bill.)

Disclosure: This was sent to me by Tom Elmore of NATI, presumably in the expectation that I'd give it an airing. Which I did.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:02 PM to City Scene )
We thrive on serendipity

So the Cute Cartoon Reptile issued the new auto insurance bill, and despite a small increase in coverage, the premium has dropped by 16 percent.

I'm just as surprised as you are. I can only conclude that their opinion of my driving is at least as high as my opinion of my driving.

Stojakovictorious

David West is sidelined for a couple of games, and while losing your leading scorer always hurts, five minutes and 43 seconds into the game, the score was Peja Stojakovic 20, Charlotte Bobcats 17. Seriously. Peja knocked down the Hornets' first twenty points, and wound up with 22 for the first quarter, a team record. Despite this, the quarter ended deadlocked at 34, and the Bees couldn't open up a big lead: it was 55-52 at the half, and the Bobcats stayed close until the last couple of minutes, when the Hornets pulled away for a 94-85 win.

And it's a good thing Peja was showing those mad skillz — 42 points, a career high, and six boards — because the rest of the starters (Brandon Bass started in West's slot) weren't scoring much, though Chris Paul dished up ten assists and Tyson Chandler, before departing with two minutes left after taking an elbow to the jaw, had 15 rebounds. The Hornets' bench, a relatively quiet place the last few games, made some serious noise, pulling down 38 points: in fact, besides Peja, the only Hornets in double figures were Bobby Jackson (14) and Jannero Pargo (10).

The Bobcats were no slouches: Emeka Okafor snagged 25 points and pulled 16 boards; Sean May, off the bench, scored 18 and got 12 rebounds; rookie sensation Adam Morrison scored 21 for the second time in his brief career.

West won't make tomorrow's game at Detroit; Chandler, who suffered a mild concussion, is doubtful. The Bees are now 5-3.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:37 PM to Net Proceeds )
15 November 2006
Coming soon to your browser

Frosty Troy's Oklahoma Observer now has a Web site, and it looks pretty good, if a trifle short of content just yet. (This has to be Arnold Hamilton's idea.) Whether this will help Observer circulation, which has been sitting around 7500 for as long as I can remember, remains to be seen, but I'm sure it's worth the effort.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:16 AM to Soonerland )
Shed no tears for her

Ex-Rocketboom host Amanda Congdon has landed on her flexible feet: she's signed a development deal with HBO and will be making broadcast and Web appearances on ABC.

On t'other hand, Joanne Colan has come into her own as the face of Rocketboom, and she's bound to be just as much of a household word eventually.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:36 AM to Almost Yogurt )
A needle pulling thread

You hear the word "sweatshop," you automatically think of a humongous room full of miserable people sewing away, and you just know they'd dream about a place like this:

  • Eight-hour work days
  • Seamstresses earn two to three times as much as teachers and policemen
  • Child labor is unheard of
  • All overtime is paid
  • Free medical care on site
  • Three months paid maternity leave
  • Employers must give breast-feeding mothers unimpeded access to their infants
  • Forty-three paid vacation days per year

If only there were such a place ... oh, wait ... there is.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:36 AM to Rag Trade )
Next: the Mulching Shaver

McGehee tests the Hydra of razors, the five-blade Gillette Fusion, and does the cost-benefit analysis:

The question, then, will be whether throwing away a couple of disposables a week costs me as much as the supply of quintuple-blade cartridges I would go through if I adopted this gizmo as The Official Thatch-Scratcher of Yippee-Ki-Yay! World Headquarters.

On the face of it (no pun intended, but graciously accepted), the answer should be "no" — but the reason the disposables die off so quickly is that the tiny space between the blades fills up with stubble and canít be cleared. The blades themselves are rather wide, compared to the almost wire-like cutting surfaces of the Fusion. I can imagine the stubble problem virtually disappearing with this new thing. So Iíll have to give it a try.

Just not right now.

Which explains my ongoing loyalty to the Schick Super Twin, a disposable with a meager two edges — a Hyundai among the Benzes and Beemers of razordom — but with a little white tab which, when pushed, forces the accumulated stubbly bits out of their hiding place, giving this razor unmatched rinsability and, by extrapolation, substantial extra life. A bag of ten ($8 or so) will last me all year. (Your mileage, of course, may vary, especially if you have a beard like Fidel's or legs like [pick a name, I'm trying to concentrate here].)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:40 AM to Dyssynergy )
217

The largest number of seats you can have in the US House of Representatives and still not have a majority is 217.

The largest number of Things To Do you've seen in a while got in Kehaar's way, but no matter: Carnival of the Vanities #217 is up at Silflay Hraka, and more than a majority of the submissions got in: in fact, apparently all of them did.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:17 PM to Blogorrhea )
Hitting on all cylinders

The Hornets hadn't beaten the Pistons since the spring of '04 (an 82-81 squeaker in New Orleans), and you do not want to enter the Palace at Auburn Hills missing your leading scorer (David West) and your leading rebounder (Tyson Chandler).

But apparently being missing two starters concentrates the mind wonderfully. Seemingly Inexplicably, Chandler's spot was filled by rookie Hilton Armstrong, who had played a total of four minutes so far. And Armstrong, by gum, won this one; not only did he lead the team with nine rebounds, he sank the first of two free throws in the waning seconds, his 17th point of the night, and when he missed the second, he jumped up and tipped the ball out to Chris Paul, and the Hornets escaped with a 100-99 win.

Let us also say kind things about Brandon Bass, who in his second start in West's power-forward slot this season, scored 12 points, snagged seven boards, and blocked a shot. The Bees' bench did their share, picking up 33 points. Peja? Not a record-breaker tonight, but 14 points. And Chris Paul, who had an off-night last night, dropped in 20 points and provided 13 assists.

The deadly Detroit guards, Chauncey Billups and Rip Hamilton, lived up to their reputations, scoring 52 between them, but this time it wasn't quite enough.

This brief road trip concludes Saturday at Minnesota; the Hornets return to the Ford Center Tuesday to host the Miami Heat.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:12 PM to Net Proceeds )
16 November 2006
A Lott of nothing

Four years ago, I titled an item "The last, dear God, the last Trent Lott entry." Obviously I spoke too soon.

Chris Lawrence says it better than I:

Senate leadership positions on either side of the aisle arenít exactly hotbeds of political power (thanks largely to the fundamental institutional feature of the Senate — the filibuster — that distinguishes it from the House), so the substantive effect of Lott being in the formal leadership will be approximately zero, but in terms of symbolism I canít say I can conceive of a choice from the 49-member caucus that is worse than Lott. I mean, that would be like the Democrats appointing a former segregationist as president pro tempore of the Senate or something.

Not that either party is inclined to take advice from mere voters, after all.

A mighty mite

"Fiat" does not stand for "fuel injection and turbo", but their revival of the teensy Cinquecento has both of these things in small but serious abundance: a 900-cc two-cylinder engine turbocharged up to around 100 hp, which should turn the little Italian box (which will actually be built in Poland) into a screamer. Bigger engines, though not that much bigger, will be offered, and in addition to the cute little coupe, there will be a real live ragtop version.

Will we get these? Of course not. The crash-test dummies would be propelled into orbit. Then again, the same platform is being used for Ford's Ka minicar in Europe, so ... no, never mind. It will never happen.

As for that other explanation of "Fiat" — "Fix It Again, Tony" — well, that remains to be seen.

(Disclosure: I have gotten seat time in only one Fiat in my life: an early-Eighties Strada, which was the US name for the Ritmo. It weighed about 90 lb, or so it seemed, and was great fun to hurl around. Later I learned that if you kept the revs up, as one should do in Italian cars generally, you could actually avoid hearing it rust.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:56 AM to Driver's Seat )
A Colonel of truth

News Item: Colonel Sanders is shedding his white suit jacket for a cook's red apron. The smiling Colonel is featured against a red background that matches his red apron with the name "Kentucky Fried Chicken." KFC had dropped "fried" from its name and logo over a decade ago as it expanded its non-fried menu items to appeal to the health conscious.

Top Ten Other Expected Restaurant Changes:

  1. Taco Bell purchased by AT&T
  2. Sonic Drive-In moves headquarters from Oklahoma City to Seattle
  3. Federal Trade Commission rules that Long John Silver's is "not all that long"
  4. Carl's III spun off
  5. Union fails to organize Cheesecake Factory, dessert cart subsequently outsourced
  6. Burger King outed, was a queen all along
  7. New European Union rules prohibit Olive Garden from describing itself as "Italian"
  8. Chuck E. Cheese moves upscale, will now be known as Charles Edward Wensleydale
  9. Popeye's Chicken adds spinach to menu after nasty note from King Features Syndicate
  10. Donald Trump buys McDonald's, restaurants to be rebranded "The Donald's," new slogan: "I Deserve a Tax Break Today"

(Posted before lunch.)

B-1 out of mothballs

Ten years ago in Vent #9, I listed Republican alternatives to Bob Dole in order of increasing implausibility level:

Pat Buchanan or Benito Mussolini or a three-toed sloth or Bob Dornan.

Mussolini is out, being dead and all, the sloth presumably can't be bothered, but apparently Bob Dornan is back, reports the Union-Leader's Drew Cline:

I just got off the phone with former congressman and talk show host Bob Dornan, who is considering ... a run for President.

"I can't stand the thought of my party having as its three front-runners three open adulterers, Newt Gingrich, Giuliani, and McCain," Dornan said.

Cline doesn't think this will quite come off:

Somehow, I just don't foresee B-1 Bob leading the Republican Party back to its glory days on an anti-homosexual, anti-adultery platform. But he sure would make the 2008 [New Hampshire] primary a lot more fun, especially if his nemesis Newt decides to run. It'd be like Steel vs. Iron Man.

So ... anyone heard from Pat Buchanan lately?

(Via Wonkette.)

The dealership experience

Almost everyone I talk to hates the very idea of car-shopping, and while there are various alternatives for acquiring used pre-owned vehicles, if you want something new, you have to go to the dealership.

If you were wondering whose dealerships were the least heinous, J. D. Power (yes, him again) has something called the Sales Satisfaction Index Study, and in 2006, Jaguar buyers had the kindest things to say about their buying experiences.

In general, the more expensive the brand, the better the results, and there wasn't much difference between import and domestic marques: Cadillac and Lincoln took second and third respectively, and Saturn, Mercury and Buick all made the top ten. (I suppose I should wonder why it is that Mercury buyers were less happy than Lincoln buyers, since they shopped at the same stores. Maybe Steve Miller didn't buy a car this year.)

At the bottom? Well, let's just say there was a lot of Mitsubitching.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:26 PM to Driver's Seat )
17 November 2006
The cost of meth

In Europe, at least, you can see it with your own two eyes:

Users of the drug crystal methamphetamine may be causing euro banknotes to disintegrate, German police have told Der Spiegel magazine.

Sulphates used in the production of the drug could form sulphuric acid when mixed with human sweat, they say, causing banknotes to corrode.

Drug users sniff powdered crystals through rolled up banknotes.

About 1,500 banknotes have crumbled after being withdrawn from cash machines, German banking officials say.

Advantage: cocaine, which sticks to your currency without dissolving it.

(Via Lemuel Kolkava.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Dyssynergy )
Quote of the week

Time is going through this tedious "Person (formerly "Man") of the Year" exercise, and to no one's surprise, there have been the usual suggestions from the usual suspects.

At one of the Timese Machine's obligatory media gatherings, former Congressman Tom DeLay tossed out a curve ball:

"I think the real Person of the Year ought to be Nancy Pelosi, the new speaker of the House. She worked for years putting a strategy together, building a huge coalition. She held the Democrats together in the House like I have never seen before. She is going to change America!"

I have to assume that DeLay would not be pleased with some of those changes, and there's nothing in the accompanying article to indicate that he was simply being snarky, so I'm filing this under "Wary Respect," a couple of tabs behind, say, Reed Richards and Prince Namor.

(Via E. M. Zanotti's sidekick Thad.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:20 AM to QOTW )
Puff the magic Camel

Were I five instead of fiftysomething, if I were to mention today that both my parents smoked, I'd expect to see representatives of the State at the door within minutes, their jackboots temporarily replaced by "sensible" shoes, their court orders demanding my removal to a foster home angrily brandished, their Utter Horror undiluted and obvious.

So I tend to yawn at things like the Great American Smokeout. And I yawn further when I reflect on the tendency of present-day media to pretend that tobacco doesn't exist as an actual plant, only as an Evil Cartel, and to attempt to expunge any and all references to it that might possibly come into the field of vision of someone not yet old enough to vote.

A yawn, though, doesn't count for much, which is perhaps why artist Sean Gleeson is presenting a gallery of Great American Smokers. He explains the motivation thusly:

In our opinion, these American statesmen, scientists, artists, and heroes tower above the whiny quitters whom the [American Cancer Society] would have you take for role models.

Besides, it's cold outside, and as Al Gore reminds us, lighting up contributes to global warming.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:00 AM to Dyssynergy )
The year of living dangerously

Yes, I did bid on a PS3 on eBay today.

Rationalization: no way on God's green earth it will go for this price, and it will at least annoy the other bidders.

Outcome: Auction cancelled by eBay due to "violating one or more of our listing guidelines."

Original impetus:

"What kind of idiot bids that kind of money for a videogame system, fercryingoutloud?"

"Watch this."

Subsequent Fark headline: "Random Assclown bids $15,000 on every eBay PS3 auction."

Wasn't me.

Samaritan at work

Twelve or thirteen to five (not to be confused with "25 or 6 to 4"). The usual traffic snarl at Pennsylvania and the Northwest Distressway. A battered old station wagon starts the left turn onto northbound Penn, and gets three, four feet before it dies. A couple of horns, but not the cacophony you might expect. Two guys get out of the beater and start pushing it across the intersection. Eventually the left-turn signal goes red, and the driver caught by the light, a fellow in a white trucklike object, flashes his hazards, gets out of his vehicle, runs up to the wagon and provides some much-needed push power; the wagon, in a few seconds, is clear of the intersection.

No real place to go from that point, and my light (to southbound Penn) was turning; I'm assuming he got back to his truck, and the fellows with the wagon managed to make it to a Penn Square entrance.

There are parts of the world, we are led to believe — as the news guys say, if it bleeds, it leads — where this sort of situation would have turned out badly. With Thanksgiving coming up, I'd like to express some gratitude for the fact that I don't live there.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:21 PM to City Scene )
18 November 2006
No GST required

The Canadian Blog Awards are underway, and for a couple of moments the 49th parallel seemed to vanish: more than one of my votes went to sites that I didn't know, or had forgotten, were Canadian in origin. This says more about the Net as a whole than it does about Canada, I suspect, but inasmuch as my first-hand knowledge of the Great White North is decidedly limited, I'd just as soon not speculate further along those lines.

The awards themselves are interesting: they've got all the voting on a single page, and there are, in addition to all the usual categories, awards for Best Blog Post and Best Blog Post Series, which I think we ought to rip off for Lower 48 use.

Round 1 ends on the 21st, so you might want to get busy, eh?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:51 AM to Blogorrhea )
The Gas Game (follow-up)

Last fall, with natural gas prices on the rise, Oklahoma Natural Gas offered to lock in a fixed price for twelve months for any of its residential customers who'd sign on. Noting that said price was almost $2 per dekatherm higher than the price then current, I declined the offer, but for the next twelve months compared the bills I got to the bills I could have had, and wound up $62 and change in the hole. (Painful details here.)

The same sort of deal was offered this year, though prices were easing and the proffered fixed price was a buck more than last year. At the time, I wondered:

[I]f we're going to have $11 or $12 gas, I need to lock in this price. But are we going to have $11 or $12 gas? If I knew things like this, I could quit my job and live off the stock market.

Last year's peak price for those of us not on the lock was $12.012 per dekatherm; the 2006-07 fixed-price offer was for $9.25.

The Oklahoman reports this morning that there's no general consensus as to where prices will end up:

"It will make a little difference in the later part of winter if prices drop, but utilities have bought and stored a lot of gas at $6 or $7 or higher," [local gas marketer Tony] Say said. "I don't think consumers will see $10 or $12 gas this winter, but I don't think they'll pay much less than $7 or $8."

Bruce Bell of the Mid-Continent Oil and Gas Association sees things going higher:

"I think we're liable to see prices head up from where they are now. I have a tendency to think we've had a couple of fairly easy winters and are more liable to have a colder winter."

Of course, if you have the correct political stance, you simply accuse everyone of price manipulation, and you don't have to worry about stuff like this.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:09 AM to Family Joules )
Pictures of silly

Even though they've been legal for two and a half weeks now, I have not felt compelled to run out and get a tattoo; while under certain circumstances they can be attractive — there's a nice little ankh-like design near one ankle on the second-nicest pair of legs I've ever seen — there's still something a trifle off-putting about the whole concept.

Steph Waller, as usual, puts it more aptly:

I'm probably just an old fart, but I don't like tattoos. They look dirty to me because they're usually the same color as the grease that gets trapped under the fingernails of auto mechanics.

And on me, regardless of color, it would create the image that the Goodyear Blimp is subletting advertising space.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:41 AM to Almost Yogurt )
TrackBack mountain

Since restarting the database in September, I've picked up 209 pings, though only 37 of them were legitimate; all the rest were spam of some sort. And while Movable Type's spam tools are good — not one of those 172 bogus TrackBacks ever made it to the actual site pages — they're also relatively inflexible, and occasional real pings got caught in the Junk filter for arcane reasons. (If it seems like an awful long time elapsed between your ping and its appearance on the pinged item, it's because I don't look in the Junk box all that often.)

On the other end of the spectrum is Diane, who can't get a ping even when she wants one. What used to be a relatively simple process is now become a pain in the neck, and, well, nobody this side of Vlad the Impaler likes neck pain.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:58 PM to Blogorrhea )
Bring on the Bringers

Trini and I were talking about Gustav Holst's infamous suite The Planets yesterday — apparently she'd played about three-sevenths of it in band, back in the day — and last night, rummaging through a box of tapes, I found a Deutsche Grammophon cassette, circa 1981, with Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic.

And it was perfectly dreadful: Karajan's tempi struck me as either too fast or too slow, the orchestra sounded disconnected, and DG's recording, though identified as "digital," was below par. For a moment, I wondered if maybe I'd overestimated this piece all these years.

So today I went back to my record rack, where I turned up a 1967 LP by Sir Adrian Boult (Angel S 36420, for those keeping score) with the New Philharmonia, and I remembered why I'd been so fond of The Planets when first I'd heard it in the early Seventies. Boult recorded the suite five times, if I remember correctly, and this was his fourth; in the 1990s, when I looked for it on CD, what I usually found was his 1978 recording (when Sir Adrian was 90 years old), which had slightly better sonics but ultimately less impact.

It occurs to me that this would be a nice workout for Gwendolyn's vaunted Bose stereo, which does seem to be more impressive with classical music than with pop-rock stuff, so I'm wondering if there might be even better recordings of The Planets out there. I am not considering any post-2000 recording which incorporates Colin Matthews' add-on eighth movement ("Pluto: The Renewer"), not because of any particular animus toward Pluto, which I think got screwed out of its planetary status, but because I think Holst's original "Neptune" ending, with the instruments fading and the choir diminuendo, is just about perfect as is.

Of course, should EMI choose to reissue the 1967 Boult, the decision is made. (And yes, I could rip my original LP, and it would sound fairly decent, occasional crackles notwithstanding, but given the amount of time it takes me to do a really good vinyl rip, even a full-price CD starts to look pretty darn inexpensive.)

Saturday spottings (early withdrawal)

Almost all ATMs around these parts are designed for auto, not foot, traffic, though I'm not above walking through a drive-through lane. The one I usually walk through, though, managed to escape my attention today at the supermarket — it's on a pad in the parking lot, and I didn't park particularly close by — which meant that I found myself down to $13 with raffle tickets to buy. 42nd and Treadmill, you see, is having a charity fundraiser, proceeds to go to a needy family, in which the one actual prize to be won is a paid vacation day. Dinner was likely to run $7 or $8 (wound up at $8.12), so padding out the wallet was something I had to do this weekend.

One reason I walk through those lanes is the placement of those ghastly yellow pillars that are supposed to keep you from driving into the machinery: if you clear them sufficiently to avoid shearing off your outside mirrors, you'd better have the reach of Yao Ming, or you're never going to reach the buttons. Most of my Evil Downtown Bank's machines are so designed, and I take a 34 sleeve, so I had to plan this trip carefully. Eventually it occurred to me that I'd never used one of the Evil Downtown Bank's machines located downtown, so off I went to the middle of things, where I discovered, to my delight, a nice, wide lane and easy access and no one in front of me making six futile efforts to talk the cruel, heartless bastard of a machine out of a lousy twenty bucks, fercrissake. I will have to use this machine more often, since I can almost always think up some excuse to go downtown.

Northeast 3rd Street is closed just east of E. K. Gaylord; you can get to Untitled (Artspace) and an auto-repair shop in the first block, but that's it. Beyond the barriers lies a construction zone, where the Brownstones at Maywood Park are going up. This is the first phase of development in the area unofficially known as the Triangle District; the Brownstones will fill in the space from NE 2nd to NE 4th, between the elevated BNSF tracks and Walnut. (The actual Maywood "Park" will be right in the middle, at NE 3rd and Oklahoma.) I noticed a sign promoting BuildBlock, which turns out to be an insulating concrete form, hollow foam blocks stacked up in the appropriate wall form, reinforced with steel rebar, and then filled with concrete. This system is being pitched as "earth-friendly", and it certainly looks impressive on paper.

The original Maywood addition dates back to the earliest days of Oklahoma City, and includes the little circle now known as Founders' Plaza at Stiles Park. Today's I-235 slashes diagonally through the middle of Maywood, which no doubt inspired the Triangle name. The Brownstones have three floor plans, each named for a city father: the, um, budget version is the Shartel, which is 2½ stories and covers just under 2400 square feet. This is way more room than I need, but it's about as small as you can get and still attract actual families (actual families who can afford a $600k home, anyway) these days.

More modest activity is going on in Midtown, where Greg Banta and company have started work on their newly-acquired properties on NW 10th. These should be pretty sharp when they're finished, and perhaps will be affordable by mere mortals.

I wondered, taking I-40 west out of downtown, if maybe, with the massive changes that have taken place in the city over the last decade or so, we're getting a trifle impatient: there's so much still to come. Perhaps we're forgetting how far we've come. (I was going to do a review of the new Steve Lackmeyer/Jack Money book, OKC Second Time Around, which remembers the Bad Old Days in great detail, but Doug Loudenback has already made a compelling case for it.) But I'm still persuaded that, with the possible exception of the actual 1889 Land Run itself, this is the most exciting time ever in Oklahoma City, and if a few things don't quite fall according to schedule, well, we'll get over it.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:30 PM to City Scene )
Nailbiter Express

And I mean it. With 24 seconds left, the Hornets led the Timberwolves 94-93, and Minnesota tried their darnedest to get a shot. The Bees thought otherwise, and the Wolves fouled Chris Paul during the stop. Paul hit two from the charity stripe, and the Hornets were up by three. Minnesota, with three seconds left, answered with a Mike James trey, to tie it at 96. The Wolves, expecting a drive to the rim, zealously guarded the basket; Peja Stojakovic fired a 3-pointer from far away, putting the Bees up 99-96, and that's how it ended.

In fact, there were lots of 3-balls tonight: the Wolves made 5 of 14 — Troy Hudson, who scored 20 off the Minnesota bench, got four of them — and the Hornets sank 4 out of 10. The Wolves outrebounded the Bees, 50-37, but what killed them was the dynamic duo of CP3 and Peja, who took control of matters halfway through the fourth. Stojakovic wound up with 20 points; Paul hit 12 of 18 from the floor, including a trey, and 10 of 11 from the line for a personal-best 35 points. The only other Hornet in double figures was Desmond Mason, who picked up 10 points; rookie Cedric Simmons led the rebounders with 9.

Kevin Garnett still amazes me. He pulled down 22 points tonight, and was seemingly everywhere at once, grabbing 17 boards. Turning 30 obviously hasn't slowed him down in the slightest. I expect him to be a major threat when the Wolves visit the Ford Center next Friday.

Next game in Oklahoma City: Tuesday, against the Shaq-less Miami Heat.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:53 PM to Net Proceeds )
19 November 2006
Zillow: approaching plausibility?

The palatial Surlywood estate now carries a Zestimate of $93,730, which might even be reasonable. (I've been saying that somewhere in the middle 90s was plausible, more or less ever since they came up with the startling sum of $117,695 back in the summer, a figure which, I felt, couldn't possibly be justified.)

Not that I'm particularly upset; it's just a number, and I'm not planning to sell anyway. Others might take umbrage, and some actually have: the National Community Reinvestment Coalition has filed a complaint about Zillow.com with the Federal Trade Commission. Says NCRC:

Washington, DC — October 26, 2006 — Today, the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) filed a consumer protection complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging Internet financial services and real estate provider Zillow.com is misleading consumers, real estate professionals and financial service providers in on-line home valuations.

According to NCRC, Zillow.com — who represents to offer unbiased valuations to over 67 million homes across the country — knowingly uses an automated valuation model (AVM) that is highly inaccurate and misleading.

"Zillow is placing the American dream of homeownership at risk for countless working families," says John Taylor, NCRC President and CEO. "For a company that represents to consumers that they are the 'Kelley Blue Book of Homes,' this is a very dangerous situation. We call upon the FTC to intervene and ensure that Americans receive accurate appraisals and valuation information to protect the single most important investment of their lives: their home."

Curbed.com's San Francisco blog finds this a trifle amusing:

It's an interesting dilemma. Zillow exists to bring real estate information to the consumer. It's also an entertainment site (baby, are you still zillowing? Come to bed...) Are dishonest appraisers ... using the notoriously (hilariously, even) unreliable Zestimates to cheat black, immigrant and unsophisticated homeowners?

I dunno. I've never met any dishonest appraisers, but obviously this doesn't mean that they don't exist. I suspect, though, that more people are using Zillow as a get-a-load-of-this site than as an actual valuation oracle. Certainly I've done my part to encourage this sort of thing.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:52 AM to Dyssynergy , Surlywood )
Redefining Black Friday

It now starts on Thursday:

[E]lectronics retailer CompUSA is opening its doors on Thanksgiving night to give holiday shoppers a head-start on Black Friday madness.

Most of the chain's stores plan to open from 9 p.m. until midnight, then send shoppers home for a quick nap before the doors reopen at 5 a.m. on Friday.

"Some customers aren't interested in waking up at the crack of dawn to go shopping at 5 a.m.," said Brian Woods, CompUSA Inc.'s executive vice president of merchandising. "We're giving them more options."

Woods said he's not worried about overlapping with Thanksgiving celebrations. He figures that by 9 p.m., most people are done eating turkey and would welcome a shopping trip as their entertainment for the evening.

Last year, CompUSA opened its doors at midnight, and Woods said the crowds outside averaged 600 to 700, and sales were strong. But after the initial rush, he said, traffic thinned out until about 5 a.m., which seems to when consumers expect stores to open on Black Friday. It's also when rival Best Buy plans to open its stores, a spokesman said.

I figure by 2010, if not sooner, Black Friday will begin Wednesday at 6 pm.

(Via The Consumerist.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:43 AM to Common Cents )
Where the yellow went

I had reason to consult Gwendolyn's manual last night, and while I was at it, I thought I'd take a look at the obligatory "Custom Care & Lemon Law Information" booklet that came with it. (There is a third booklet, which contains warranty information.)

There is a Lemon Law entry for each state, which reflects the substantial differences among state lemon laws. And one of those differences became instantly obvious: the pages for Maine and Massachusetts were printed on yellow paper. (This took some doing, since the states are in alphabetical order, and Maryland, which falls between, got a prosaic white page.)

Apparently this tint was indeed part of those state laws in 2000. I still have the manuals from my previous car, also a 2000 model, and sure enough, Maine and Massachusetts are on yellow paper.

Okay, fine. Still unclear to me, though, is why these two states would make such a requirement. Three possibilities suggest themselves:

  1. Legislators thought it would be wicked cool to have colored paper.
  2. Legislators thought it would be a subtle way to express their feelings about automakers by forcing additional rules upon them.
  3. Legislators thought that their constituents wouldn't connect the legal description to the state's lemon law unless the description itself somehow resembled a lemon.

None of these, incidentally, casts a favorable light, yellow or otherwise, on said legislators.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:30 AM to Driver's Seat )
A Wii bit of gougery

Sandisk, vendor of fine SD flash-memory cards, has announced "special edition" SD cards for Nintendo's Wii game system, in sizes from 512 MB to 2 GB.

The half-gigger lists for $35, or only slightly less than I paid for a full 1 GB card for my digital camera, before rebate (which, incidentally, has never arrived). On the other hand, the card for my camera doesn't say "Wii" on it.

(Via Engadget.)

Update, 26 November: There are entirely too many people with Wii puns of mass distraction.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:41 AM to TANSTAAFL )
Thought while opening a $6.99 DVD

When did "full" become the opposite of "wide"?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:17 PM to Dyssynergy )
Downright inCitious

Last week I said something about the Mets' new park, to be called CitiField.

Well, technically it isn't. It's two separate words: Citi Field.

For some reason, this called to mind an early episode of Futurama in which the Planet Express crew warn the Mayor of New New York that a giant ball of spaceborne garbage (sent into orbit from the old New York 948 years before) is heading straight for the city.

The building where the Mayor has his office has a sign that looks something like this:

Citihall

Yes, I do miss that show. Why do you ask?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:47 PM to Base Paths )
20 November 2006
Strange search-engine queries (42)

People search the world over for the secrets of Life, The Universe, And Everything, and somehow they manage to wind up here, where they become grist for my snark mill.

what kind of car is tsuru:  It's a Nissan compact which is sold in the US as the Sentra, except on the Upper East Side of New York, where it's called the Tsuris.

are dust particles included in the life support system of living things:  Only the ones that breathe.

when is man ready to propose marriage?  She'll let him know.

miracle whip is solvents:  So that's why it soaks through the bread.

can sodium hydroxide mask cocaine in urine test:  But ... but that would be a lye.

southwest airline pilot stacy sexual reassignment surgery:  Insert "cockpit" joke here.

totally nude aerobics by ron harris:  After about three jumping jacks, he'll wish he had a cup on.

what does a pre-catalytic converter do:  Cost you twelve hundred dollars when it fails.

Penis Size Desired By Women:  I assume so, yes.

"maureen dowd makes":  No compelling argument for TimesSelect.

affordable mansions to rent in nj:  If it's affordable, it's not really a mansion, is it?

what are simmons steak knives worth:  Only $19.95. But wait! There's more!

a good slogan for berkelium:  "Despite our name, we're in the middle of the periodic table."

vendetta typeface substitution:  Verdana would work, but Trebuchet has the belligerent quality you're looking for.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:15 AM to You Asked For It )
Instantaneous Bonding

One of the lifers here (nearly 20 years) at 42nd and Treadmill is considered, mostly by default, to be the expert on Hot Guys, and I made a point of staying out of Casino Royale until she pronounced her verdict on Daniel Craig, especially since I had expressed minor reservations about the fellow. (I tend to trust her judgment on men, since she's never shown the slightest interest in me.)

Not to worry, she assures me; at some point they sprayed him down with Wuss-B-Gone, and he comes off as credible, and credibly studly, an important characteristic for Double-O operatives.

Which, of course, got me thinking: M, these days, is a woman (Dame Judi Dench). And I don't claim to understand all of the M.O. over at Universal Exports, but it seems only logical to me that one does not become M without serious field experience. So at some point there may have been a Bond — Jane Bond.

With this in mind, I point you to this AfterEllen compilation of ideas for a female Bond, largely from a lesbian point of view; after all, at least part of the appeal of the series has been the steady procession of "Bond girls." (Via Swirlspice.)

And with none of this in mind, Eric Siegmund reviews Casino Royale.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:41 AM to Almost Yogurt )
The reinvention of downtown

We're going through it here, as some of you may have noticed. Meanwhile, Lileks looks at the prospects in Minneapolis:

A new plan for downtown will — well, as usual, the new plan attempts to undo the damage of the last plan, thereby giving urban designers something new to fix in 20 years. Theyíre going to make some streets two-way again, which is bad for traffic but good for The Street, in some nebulous way. If all the cars go one way it tends to enervate the life of the street, we're told. On one hand I understand; a rushing stream of metal and plastic heading in one direction does seem to pull some strange energy away with it, and cars moving in the opposite direction creates a contrast that's more interesting. Whether it's worth the congestion to provide psychic balm for the pedestrians, I donít know.

I love streetcars. I do. I would love to walk outside, hop on a trolley, roll downtown while reading the paper, doff my boater to the ladies who came on, then hop off six hours later at my destination. I would love to do it once. The rest of the time, I would drive.

We're rethinking one-way streets here also, though it's to benefit bewildered visitors from other towns who can't make heads or tails of our half-grid-half-maze downtown streets. (Want a name for the new parkway to be fabricated out of the old I-40 alignment? "Minotaur Road" works for me.)

And I suspect that a lot of people around here who are big fans of local rail will, should it actually arrive despite the best efforts of various forces to kill it, will indeed ride it. Once.

[I]f they could have propped it up for 15 years and rehabbed it, downtown would be a different place. But wrecking balls and sleek featureless skyscrapers had an erotic appeal to the technocrats, so out with the flophouses and bum-bars, and in with a phalanx of noble, logical, rational towers. Or, in the case of Minneapolis, a handful of smaller buildings surrounded by acres of parking lots.

If we want to go back to the city of 1946, then jackhammer the freeways and chop down every building over 30 stories tall. I will put my sense of soggy, uninformed nostalgia up against anyone's, incidentally; I would love, in a sense, for downtown to be what it was before the suburbs and the freeways, but only if we could manage that while also having suburbs and freeways. But you canít.

Tom Wolfe, in From Bauhaus to Our House:

O Beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, has there ever been another place on earth where so many people of wealth and power have paid for and put up with so much architecture they detested as within thy blessed borders today?

The one building in downtown Oklahoma City I hope they dynamite is the old Downtown Library at 131 Dean A. McGee, a 1950 barracks for the proletariat that replaced a perfectly lovely Carnegie facility. (Compare and contrast.)

For "smaller buildings surrounded by acres of parking lots," see Tulsa.

Back to Lileks:

[T]he big office tower model for downtown is dead around here. People in the exurbs want to work in the suburbs, and who can blame them? I much prefer a penthouse view, I get allergic smelling hay, etc., but I also understand the attraction of living in the woods away from the airplanes and the gunfire.

When there are enough people downtown, it'll have the vitality it did before. Not until. And when it's newly revitalized, it'll be different. It has to be.

Which is why I keep harping on residential development in the central city. Architecture is just architecture; a city is, first and foremost, where people live. And if all of Kerr-McGee Center goes condo, it's just fine with me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:49 AM to City Scene )
Feels like the first time

I'd never gotten a real, live computer virus before, and this wasn't it: it was an exploit hiding inside a Java applet, inflicted on me by a message board which reportedly had been hacked and to which I may never return. Still, the discovery produced some major discomfiture, and I cleaned out all my in-house Java stuff just to be sure.

(Possible tip-off: same Microsoft update — for Flash, of all things — refuses to install after three tries.)

Update, 8:40 pm: I rescanned my Java directory, which came up clean. To my amazement, there were 31,406 files in there after the purge. (Total on the entire box is just shy of a quarter-million.)

Update, 10 pm: The Windows Update issue is apparently not related to the buggy Java stuff; Microsoft may be misreading the Flash version installed here (9.0.28.0). Further investigation is warranted.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:08 PM to PEBKAC )
Snakes on a bike

That is to say, bicycle locks in serpent form, which probably won't scare off malingerers but which do add some reptilian, or optionally non-reptilian, color to the Bicycling Experience.

Also available: a bird that collects paper clips.

(Slithery items seen at Popgadget).

21 November 2006
The Jazz do some syncopation

The Delta Center is no more. Oh, the arena is still there in Salt Lake City all right, but now it's the EnergySolutions Arena, and that's the way it's punctuated: Solutions is in italics.

The firm itself, which paid Jazz owner Larry Miller an undisclosed sum for the naming rights for the next ten years, specializes in nuclear-waste processing and disposal. And since the Jazz right now have the best record in the NBA, I'm wondering if maybe they're lining Jerry Sloan's shorts with plutonium.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Net Proceeds )
There's no base like chrome

While I was digging around in the archives for that Karajan version of The Planets, I happened upon an unsolicited mix tape I had done for someone back in 2001 but never actually got around to sending out.

There was a completed J-card in the box, identifying it as one of mine; I figured it had been played once, for quality-control purposes, then stuck away on a shelf, from which it was swept into a box, packed away, and completely forgotten.

I resolved not to read the track listings on the card, and schlepped the tape out to the car, where it's being played during the daily commute this week. After hearing about half of it so far, I have to tell you, I made some pretty damned good mix tapes in those days, and this one, on a good Type II tape with 70µs equalization and Dolby B, clearly lived up to my standards.

To heed the need for speed

The surfer dudes who rent me server space were in a good mood last night and stuffed some more RAM into the machine that feeds these very pages; they didn't say so directly, but I got the impression that its BIOS got flashed as well.

This won't affect database operations, which are on a separate machine, but if you're just reading, you may (or may not; I haven't so far) get things served to you just a hair faster.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:25 AM to Blogorrhea )
Early holiday break, the hard way

Students at Choctaw High School, 14300 NE 10th Street, were evacuated this morning after a handwritten threat note was found in a classroom. No specific target was named in the note; Choctaw police have been searching the buildings for explosive devices.

Students will not return until Monday, as Wednesday was previously scheduled as a day off.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:33 AM to City Scene )
Not buying

Just received from the subscription-fulfillment house:

Our records indicate that your last issue of Harper's Magazine has just been mailed to you.

However, you can still guarantee uninterrupted service of your subscription by renewing today. There's no need to send payment now, we'll be glad to bill you later.

No, you were right the first time: my last issue of Harper's Magazine has just been mailed to me.

The decision was made some months ago when literary editor Ben Metcalf went into paroxysms over the sheer delight of strangling George W. Bush with his bare hands. Even Lewis H. Lapham, who wrote a piece about what he'd heard at the 2004 Republican National Convention before the convention actually took place, never sank to this level.

Mother Jones (another lefty magazine to which I subscribe) doesn't pull crap like that. Yes, they're over the top now and then — I expect that from a publication with a political bent, and the angle of the bend doesn't matter — but they're not in the habit of going out of their way to be stupidly offensive. If I need literary criticism, I can read the Atlantic; if I need fatuous explanations of why Bush! Is! Evil!, I can read Vanity Fair. (I've discovered, incidentally, that V.F. is improved markedly if you rip out Wolcott's pages beforehand.)

So Harper's is gone after the next issue. I figure they've survived for 156 years; they don't need my twenty bucks, or whatever fire-sale price they're offering. (Single copies are a startling $6.95.) Maybe I'll use it to renew Stuff.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:30 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Jacking point

Notice: This is not the approved method for towing.

Well, maybe for a Volvo.

Heat adjustments

"If Dwyane Wade's head fell off," said Gerry V, "he could still play."

There were times when I thought rather a lot of heads had been misplaced, what with indifferent shooting on both sides for 36 minutes, the Bees missing half their free throws, and a brief encounter between Alonzo Mourning (replacing Shaquille O'Neal) and Marc Jackson (replacing David West) halfway through the fourth, resulting in both players being ejected. With just under three minutes left, Pat Riley cleared his bench; thirty seconds later, Byron Scott cleared his; and the Hornets got a fairly unattractive win, but still a win, 101-86.

What actually worked tonight: Dwyane Wade, who scored 29 points; the Hornets' bench, who ran a four-point lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter to 15 points; the ever-reliable Chris Paul, with another double-double (11 points, 10 assists); Tyson Chandler, who pulled down 18 boards; Bobby Jackson, who picked up three treys, one more than he'd had in the preceding ten games combined.

What didn't work: the Hornets still can't make free throws. In fact, the Bees were better from beyond the arc (58 percent) than from the line (50 percent).

Despite that, they're 8-3, and facing the Suns in Phoenix tomorrow.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:30 PM to Net Proceeds )
22 November 2006
Apache fog

There have been literally dozens of unusually-distasteful spams this past week, promoting forced sexual activity, something I'd just as soon not take part in promoting. (The actual text string is redacted to keep the pervs slightly less pervasive.) None of these made it past the spam traps, and MTAutoBan killed a number of offending IPs, but reasoning that ZombieNet will sooner or later cough up the same crap from new sources, I decided to tack on a line or two in the .htaccess file on the Apache server.

Not so wise. I got said lines out of sequence, and every subsequent http access drew a 403 Forbidden.

The fix, via FTP, was easy enough, but it was a tad scary for a couple of moments around here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:19 AM to PEBKAC )
218

In 2003, a nonprofit group called Turning Point began administration of a new Glasgow facility for women in the Scottish criminal-justice system. The facility was called "218", after its street address.

The current edition of Carnival of the Vanities is called "218" because, well, there have been 217 previous editions. Kehaar is your Carnival barker, and he would like you to know that HTML exports to Microsoft Word leave a great deal to be desired.

(Disclosure: There's something of mine in 218. The Carnival, I mean.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:35 AM to Blogorrhea )
A light behind the rainbow

I drove past Keith Smith's house yesterday, which is nothing unusual, since it's near my house. At the time, I had no idea that he wasn't there.

Turns out that Smith, one of the founders of Central Oklahoma's Stonewall Democrats, and the party's first openly-gay delegate to the national Democratic convention, had died Monday night, a victim of pneumonia, at Integris Baptist Medical Center. The Smith Group, which he headed, had established itself as a major player in Oklahoma's progressive politics: Smith represented many left-of-center groups, not all of them GLBT-related.

Family services will be in Smith's hometown of Alva; there will be a memorial at the Capitol on the first of December.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:30 AM to Soonerland )
Paper Chase

Sean Gleeson discovers, to his dismay, that the connection between JPMorgan Chase Bank in New York and JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA, Oklahoma is tenuous indeed:

The Check was drawn on Chase Bank, in New York. But "Chase Bank," in Oklahoma City, refused to honor it! The teller said, "No sir, we canít cash this, itís from the New York Chase Bank."

"But this is Chase Bank, isnít it?"

"Yes, but our system isnít connected with theirs."

Oh. Sure. Makes perfect sense, really. Why would I have thought that the "Chase Bank" system was in any way connected with Chase Bank?

Two observations:

  1. The ATMs do work systemwide; on the other hand, I'd be reluctant to stash a check big enough to be called "The Check" in an ATM, and rather a lot of Chase ATMs don't take deposits anyway.

  2. As their statewide market share suggests, everything's going to BOk.

Oh, there's a Paperless Chase, too.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:43 AM to Common Cents )
Not exactly beaming

A couple of weeks ago, I recommended Meguiar's Mirror Glaze Plastic Polish #10, which easily removed rather a lot of accumulated scuzz from Gwendolyn's exterior lights, and was happy to pass on this recommendation to friends who don't read this daily verbiage. One such was an Office Babe whose spouse, she said, was considering actually replacing the dirty lenses, at a cost too close to $200 for comfort.

This morning I got a look at the results from across the lot, and the experiment must be reckoned a success: the improvement was easily noticeable from 25 feet away. I duly reported same to her.

In retrospect, it probably would have gone better had I not opened the conversation with "Nice headlights."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:08 PM to Driver's Seat )
Young doctors in love

Young doctors, claims a Miami physician in The New York Times, are dressing inappropriately:

Among older and middle-aged physicians (like myself), tales of salacious and sloppy trainee attire abound. One colleague commented that a particularly statuesque student "must have thought all her male patients were having strokes" when she walked in their exam room wearing a low-cut top and a miniskirt. Another complained about a male student who came to class unshaven, even though he hadnít been on call the night before. One Midwestern medical school dean reported that her school instituted a formal dress policy after administrators noticed students revealing too much flesh while sunbathing on a small patch of grass outside the school building, directly below patientsí hospital room windows.

Patients and colleagues may dismiss a young doctorís skills and knowledge or feel their concerns aren't being taken seriously when the doctor is dressed in a manner more suitable for the gym or a night on the town. There are also hygiene considerations: open-toed shoes donít protect against the spills that commonly occur in patient care, and long, flowing hair can potentially carry harmful bacteria.

Well, okay. Dr Pamela A Rowland, director of the Office of Professional Development at Dartmouth Medical School, says that it can also affect the outcome of oral exams for board certification:

"You donít want to look too attractive to be serious," she said, adding that "a certain amount of the nerd factor" can help a doctorís performance.

As a rule, I shy away from That Which Is Medical, and therefore I have little anecdotal evidence to cite here, though I did once (okay, more than once) avail myself of the services of a dentist who seemed to fulfill the Texas Babe stereotype: slender and rangy, moderately-big blonde hair, endless legs. However, it must be pointed out that, at the office anyway, she dressed more like Lubbock than Dallas — no effort to be trendy — and she didn't go out of her way to dazzle you with any of that Dr McLusciousness stuff.

Meanwhile, Lindsay Beyerstein has her doubts:

It's always newsworthy when someone claims that an unexpected group of women is dressing wantonly: six-year-olds, pro bowlers, physicians.... It's the sort of thing the public needs to know about right away. You don't necessarily have time to establish whether one person's anecdotes [are] representative, or even plausible.

Unfortunately, the NYT couldn't find any of these scantily-clad doctors in time, so the editors had to make do with a more impressionistic illustration.

And indeed, the Times illustration reeks of stockphotohood; I don't know any physicians who look like that, and if I did, the first thing I'd want to know is "Is she in our network?"

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:34 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Suns of the desert

Byron Scott tweaked the starting lineup tonight: second-string point guard Bobby Jackson started at shooting guard, Peja Stojakovic moved to small forward, and Desmond Mason shifted to power forward. It didn't make a whole lot of difference in the first half, with Phoenix jumping out to a 51-46 lead, and just to make it uninteresting, the Hornets revived the old and unlamented Third-Quarter Drought™, scoring a meager thirteen. Thirteen is also the number of treys they attempted before hitting one.

The Bees remembered they had a defense in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to make up for an evening of fairly lousy shooting, and the Suns won it, 92-83, dropping the Hornets to 8-4.

The bench wasn't much help tonight, contributing only 8 points, six of which came from Jannero Pargo. The starters, however, performed respectably, with both D-Mase and Peja scoring 21 and Chris Paul adding 19; Tyson Chandler swept away 16 rebounds. Top honors, though, go to Steve Nash: the Phoenix point guard dropped in 24 points.

Friday, it's back at the Ford, for a rematch with the Timberwolves.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:17 PM to Net Proceeds )
23 November 2006
Pre-tryptophan open thread

I trust we all have something for which to be thankful; I am thankful that my list of such things seems to be a bit longer than it used to be.

Feel free to mention your own items in Comments.

Puget? I've never even seen it

It's been a while since I posted a dream up here, and perhaps that's just as well; rather a lot of my dreams are distinctly uncomfortable to endure, and most of them don't have the sort of entertaining narrative I'd like to pretend I'm capable of creating.

I have noticed, though, that the better ones seem to come after I've gotten up, shrugged, and gone back to bed, so if there's an actual pattern — but never mind; these things never work if you try to force them.

So I'm bicycling through Seattle. Since I've never actually been to Seattle, I have no idea where I'm going, let alone why I'm there in the first place, but two things strike me early on: this is a spectacularly gorgeous place — I'm assuming that the dramatic shadows overhead and the prodigious amounts of greenery actually exist in some parts of town — and while I get rained on for ten or twenty minutes, I don't seem to get really wet.

My most obvious connection to Seattle, of course, is the fact that guys who live in Oklahoma City now own the Sonics and the Storm. Somewhere by the side of the road, I find what looks like a periscope, sticking two or three feet out of the ground, with a Sonics logo on it. Up close, the lens turns out to be a very shiny bolt; on an impulse, I loosen it a couple of turns. Nothing happens and I ride on; a few minutes later I decide that this was a Bad Idea, and reverse my path toward the mysterious structure, which I never again find.

Random sightings: a person claiming to be the Invisible Man, and certainly he looked the part, though the orange jacket didn't help; an outdoor lesbian café (and what makes for an outdoor lesbian, anyway?); a very large gas station which, despite its size, had only two pumps.

I am loath to affix any meaning to this other than that I had a rough night — mattress and box spring, when I woke up, were offset fifteen degrees.

What about Bob?

In the last couple of weeks, KQOB, aka Bob FM, has revamped its morning show and gone to Christmas music 24/7. The Rumor Mill™ seized upon this as an indication that there's a format change coming around the first of the year.

I'll throw a few cups of kerosene on the fire:

  • After a steady 3.5-to-5 share for some time, Bob dropped to a 2.9 in the summer ratings book.
  • The Bob format, as played here, sort of splits the difference between classic rock and Jack FM, and this is a particularly strong classic-rock market — just ask the guys at KRXO, who have run this format for nineteen years.
  • Bob is the odd duck in the local Citadel Broadcasting portfolio, since they don't actually own it: they program it under an agreement with the real owner, Chisholm Trail Broadcasting of Enid.
  • Bob is licensed to Enid/Oklahoma City; its tower is located near Crescent, and its signal vanishes quickly south of Oklahoma City, creating openings for Jack FM (KOJK Blanchard) and Kool 105.5 (KWCO Chickasha), both of which vend some variation on the Variety Hits theme.

According to Lou Pickney, who keeps track of these matters, the Next Big Thing is "Movin", a sort of Rhythmic Adult Contemporary format that targets women 25-44. The rationale makes sense:

The Movin™ target is that segment of 28-40 year-old women who feel too old for hip-hop, but are bored with rock-based Hot AC and not ready for traditional AC.

I can certainly understand someone being bored with rock-based Hot AC, like Citadel's KYIS (KISS) FM.

What is Bob to do? The reflexive action is to go see what's happening in a hipper town, which some of us may define as "a place where the top two radio stations aren't both country," and rip them off follow their example. The nearest generally-acknowledged hotbed of hipness is Austin, Texas, and — whoops: the top two radio stations are both country and, what's more, both owned by Clear Channel. (If you were wondering why CC doesn't flip either KXY or the Twister, now you know.)

There are three possible options I could sort of endorse, none of which I expect to take place:

  1. Bring back smooth jazz. (It's failed here once.)
  2. Switch to Triple A. (Of the three, this is the one I prefer, but the least likely.)
  3. Move the regional-Mexican "La Indomable" to Bob's slot, rename it WKY-FM to match the AM, and bring back the Spy on 105.3.

(Disclosure: Arbitron, the firm which produces the standard industry ratings, has been pestering me for two weeks to start keeping a diary as part of their local survey. I have declined.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:05 PM to Overmodulation )
Obligatory Pilgrim story

One of the first things on the agenda after the arrival at Plymouth was the establishment of the Parish Church, and as we are reminded today, its membership was a fairly strait-laced bunch.

That church exists today: as a Unitarian Universalist congregation. No one is likely to accuse them of being strait-laced, and Alexandra suggests how things might have changed over four centuries or so:

The UU's are now the most liberal of the Judeo-Christian religions, welcoming Christians, Pagans, Buddhists, Jews and everyone in between into their congregations. And yet the church in Plymouth was founded by people we have always considered to be one of the most straight-laced, narrow-minded and rigid sects in Christianity. How did this happen?

It's actually not so far-fetched. The Separatists came over here because they wanted the freedom to worship in their own way. In that is the seed of liberal religion. Yes, they believed their way was the only way, but over the years, they grew and their ideas on religion expanded. It may have started with letting a Methodist join, and then perhaps a Baptist, then learning that the Unitarians had some good ideas, so they officially became Unitarians (believing in unity of a singular God, as opposed to Trinitarians, who believe God appears in three forms). Universalists believe that everyone will receive God's grace, that there are no "chosen ones." Unitarian Universalism in its present state was not born until 1961, when the Unitarians officially merged with the Universalists.

Were I in the mood to be snarky, I might characterize this as "evolution in action," but not today.

24 November 2006
The bird is the word

I expected a slow traffic day yesterday, and I got one, except that for some reason I picked up more than 120 Googlers looking for "digitus impudicus," the Latin term for a common gesture involving one hand (upraised) and one finger (really upraised). The vast majority of them, curiously, came from Germany, where, I was amused to discover, this same gesture is often referred to as "Stinkefinger". [Photo at link possibly NSFW.]

As happens too often, I was unable to ascertain just what caused this, um, Birdalanche; I'm guessing that someone tossed off the Latin phrase and didn't proffer an explanation. (I am #8 on Google.de for this phrase, for this item.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:54 AM to Blogorrhea )
To an unsuspecting company

Sent by me this morning to support at infermed.com:

I have received several (let's say "dozens") of spams identified as from your user "kterefe". A sample link below:

http://www.infermed.com/Members/kterefe/Document.2006-11-20.2275556059/

(S)he is not actually using your facilities to send the spam — they come from a variety of IPs, probably hijacked and turned into zombie machines — but all the links therein point to one of kterefe's "Members" pages, such as the one above.

I trust that this will be a simple matter for you to take care of, and I thank you for listening.

cgh

Regular readers will note that this is a kinder, gentler treatment than that which I would actually prefer.

Welcome to Splitsville

Is there sentiment for separating the northern counties of Virginia from the rest of the state? Kevin thinks there is:

It's time Northern Virginians finally got something they so richly deserve: their own state. This website will advocate on behalf of all Northern Virginians who want to move forward and prosper under their own state government, separate and apart from the Comm[on]wealth of Virginia.

If you have a sense of déjà vu about this, dating back to, oh, 1863 or so, well, you're not alone:

Been there. Done that. Wound up with Democrats controlling the state Legislature for 74 76 years, as well as the state Supreme Court and the Governor's Mansion for 56 of those 76 years.

Be careful what you wish for ...

Which, of course, is very likely what Kevin and friends have in mind.

Personally, I think it makes more sense for Northern Virginia to be annexed by the District of Columbia, since it presumably prefers direction from Washington to direction from Richmond.

1892 and all that

File this under Historical Inevitability: you can now get the B. C. Clark jingle on iTunes.

What's more, Oklahoma's Oldest Jeweler is presenting a collection of versions from the last thirty-odd years, including the original unexpurgated version. (Old Clarkies will remember that there used to be one extra line in the song, snipped when 30-second spots became the rule rather than the exception.)

The original jingle dates back to 1956, which means it's been around longer than "Jingle Bell Rock" ('57), the Chipmunk Song ('58) or "The Little Drummer Boy" ('58, though its Czech ancestor dates back to WWII).

Mercifully, no one recorded this version for posterity.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:25 AM to Fileophile , Soonerland )
And McDonald's can buy Denver

The Seattle SuperSonics of Bellevue? Art Thiel of the Post-Intelligencer figures the next step is this:

Since pro sports increasingly is of, by and for corporations, with increasingly less geographic connection to the original city, why not be intellectually honest about the enterprise?

Microsoft Sonics. Amazon Sonics. Boeing Sonics.

Works for pro teams in Japan, China and throughout Asia. Works for teams in Europe. Works for teams in Central and South America.

If naming rights can be sold to publicly funded sports buildings, what's the big deal about the team name itself?

Unless the Seattle Sonics of Bellevue really sings to you, at a public price tag of $200 million-plus.

Amazon and Boeing I could believe, just maybe, but if Microsoft had an NBA team:

  • New version of the National Anthem, complete with DRM and DMCA protection.

  • Upgrading your season tickets would cost more than having bought season tickets in the better location in the first place.

  • Four words: Blue Scoreboard of Death.

  • After two years, the valve on the ball would mysteriously no longer accept the inflation needle.

  • The team jet would crash on every other road trip and no one would say a word.

Still, if we're going to hang a corporate name on the Sonics, the perfect one is — dare I say it? — in Oklahoma City.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:42 PM to Net Proceeds )
Meanwhile on those WP blogs

I have two other blogs which run WordPress (currently 2.0.4); after an influx of Evil Farging Spammers, I devoted some time this evening to installing Dr Dave's Spam Karma 2. Nothing has actually been sneaking onto the sites without my knowledge, but, well, I'd like to thwart the bastards at an earlier stage if at all possible.

Incredible rim shrinkage, or something

Well, the Hornets worked on their free throws, but they couldn't hit from the floor, and the Timberwolves, with payback for last week on their minds, dealt the Bees an 86-79 loss.

The Big Ticket loomed as big as ever — Kevin Garnett got the game's only double-double, with 18 points and 16 boards — and Ricky Davis dropped in 23 as the Wolves shot 48 percent.

Meanwhile, the Hornets couldn't beg for a basket: they shot 33 percent. CP3 managed 18 points; both Bobby Jackson and Jannero Pargo scored 13 off the bench; Peja had a major off-night, hitting 3 of 15 for 8 points, though he swept 9 boards; Tyson cleared 10 rebounds. (Then again, they missed only 4 of 26 free throws, way better than they've been doing.)

All of this wouldn't be so bad except that the Hornets have to go to Dallas tomorrow, and the last time they beat the Mavericks in the regular season, the year started with a 1.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:39 PM to Net Proceeds )
25 November 2006
Old jokes

Top Ten Advantages of Turning Fifty-Three:

  1. Not dead yet
  2. Age and year of birth ('53) actually match, sort of
  3. Nobody says a word if you go to bed at 10 pm
  4. Mid-life crisis should be over and done with by now
  5. "Distinguished" to "dorky" ratio goes up a couple of percentage points
  6. Still likely to get a few bucks from Social Security before it goes completely broke
  7. Ability to feign maturity improving all the time
  8. Younger women will speak to you, so long as you don't actually try to date them or anything
  9. Can shut off cell phone without worrying about missing something
  10. Almost to the point where being carded might bring discounts

Not all of these will apply next year.

Always high prices

From Oklahoma Statutes, title 15, section 598.3:

It is hereby declared that any advertising, offer to sell, or sale of any merchandise, either by retailers or wholesalers, at less than cost as defined in this act with the intent and purpose of inducing the purchase of other merchandise or of unfairly diverting trade from a competitor or otherwise injuring a competitor, impair and prevent fair competition, injure public welfare, are unfair competition and contrary to public policy and the policy of this act, where the result of such advertising, offer or sale is to tend to deceive any purchaser or prospective purchaser, or to substantially lessen competition, or to unreasonably restrain trade, or to tend to create a monopoly in any line of commerce.

And how is "cost" defined in this act? See the previous section:

When used in this act, the term "cost to the retailer" shall mean the invoice cost of the merchandise to the retailer or the replacement cost of the merchandise to the retailer, whichever is the lower; less all trade discounts except customary discounts for cash; to which shall be added (1) freight charges not otherwise included in the invoice cost or the replacement cost of the merchandise as herein set forth, and (2) cartage to the retail outlet if done or paid for the retailer, which cartage cost, in the absence of proof of a lesser cost, shall be deemed to be three-fourths of one percent (3/4 of 1%) of the cost to the retailer as herein defined after adding thereto freight charges but before adding thereto cartage, and taxes, (3) all State and Federal taxes not heretofore added to the cost as such, and (4) a markup to cover a proportionate part of the cost of doing business, which markup, in the absence of proof of a lesser cost, shall be six percent (6%) of the cost of the retailer as herein set forth after adding thereto freight charges and cartage but before adding thereto a markup.

Which explains how it is that a woman from an Oklahoma town, having seen a national Wal-Mart ad for an RCA 52-inch TV for $474, was told that she'd have to pay $699 for it — or, alternatively, take a drive up to Missouri, which has no such law.

It's such a comfort to know that the state cares enough to protect you from the horror of excessively-low prices.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:51 AM to Soonerland )
Wet ones of ass production

Expiring European patent: "A device for collecting flatus gas from a human or animal subject, the device comprising a gas-tight collecting tube ... for insertion into the rectum of the subject and retaining means comprising a pair of O rings ... locatable in the subject's inter-sphincter groove...."

I don't know about the rest of you, but this is not this old fart's idea of "in the groove." Maybe you can sell it to Jumpin' Jack Flash.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:40 PM to Dyssynergy )
Shannon Thomas needs a drummer

That's what it says on her MySpace Music page.

One thing she has in abundance, though, is perspective. I found this on her MySpace blog:

Here's the kind of stuff I'm constantly hearing:
  1. "Why did my favorite band have to get so popular & successful?!?! Waaahhhh!"

  2. "I don't like her 'pop' songs - I really only like her 'dark' tracks." (aka: Ew! Pop - EW!!!)

  3. "I can't believe (whatever artist) is working with (whatever popular producer who is known for their hits)! That must mean they're selling out."

  4. "(Insert any hit song here) is my guilty pleasure."

PEOPLE!! What are you guilty of?? Enjoying yourself?

You should know that it's totally possible to write a song that's meaningful AND catchy. In my opinion, that's what makes a song GREAT!

I should point out here that I didn't see this until after I'd bought Shannon's self-released CD Brainstorms, which contains 11 songs that are at least slightly meaningful and definitely catchy. And she would have won me over just from the chorus of "Don't Be Beautiful":

And since I can't have you, don't be beautiful
And if I can't love you, don't be so right
And if I can't see you, don't be beautiful, no
Please don't haunt me if I can't hide

It probably doesn't help her cause that she lives "a drama-free, abnormally normal life," which is seriously déclassé these days: a surprisingly-large number of people seem to crave All Angst, All The Time. Not I. Shannon Thomas is way young — I probably have dinnerware older than she is — but she's made a fan of me.

(Oh, and on Brainstorms, the sticks — and the other instrumentation, except for Shannon's piano — are wielded by John Conrad of Self-Titled Entertainment in Tulsa. And Conrad plays a pretty good drum, even if it's digital.)

Saturday spottings (fast and furry-less)

I suspect that it might have been actually safe to go to Heritage Park Mall in Midwest City on Black Friday; the day after, it was drearier than a pub with no beer. Will this be the last holiday season at HPM? Right now, I'm guessing 50/50. And if/when the place closes, I'm going to have to find another shop to do what's left of my hair. (The turnover is probably ferocious: only twice in the last two years have I drawn the same stylist.)

I rounded the edge of town and headed back toward 240 Penn Park, a strip development that replaced (and then some) an old Wal-Mart near I-240 and Pennsylvania. When I lived on the southside back in the Pleistocene era, I thought that having an exit every half a mile along 240 was the very definition of coolness; now, decades later, it's a whole string of accidents waiting to happen. There were definitely crowds on hand; I can't swear that there were more people along Penn Park then there were at Crossroads Mall, three miles to the east, but stories of gang activity in the area certainly discourage me from setting foot in there.

And the circle 'round the city took me past no fewer than three of those Value Place "extended-stay economy hotels," which aren't what anyone would call upscale, but which, from the look of them, are a couple of orders of magnitude better than the places we used to call "flophouses," a few of which I've flopped at over the years, and the price, starting at $169 a week, isn't exactly harsh.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:42 PM to City Scene )
Some days the bear eats you

The Mavericks definitely had their way with the Hornets, and there's no other way to describe it: it was a blowout from the first jump. The first quarter started with a 21-3 Dallas run and ended with Dallas up 35-16; the Hornets actually outscored the Mavs in the second, 20-16, but in the third Bobby Jackson drew a foul, questioned the call, drew a technical, questioned the technical, drew a second technical and was sent to the showers, and it took three Bees to get him off the court. (At this writing, it is not clear whether Jackson would be suspended.) At the end of the third, it was 70-53 Dallas.

Things got worse. David West and Peja Stojakovic were already out with injuries; with Jackson ejected and the fourth quarter starting badly — Linton Johnson picked up a T — Byron Scott threw up his hands in despair and put rookie Marcus Vinicius, who had played zero minutes this season, into the game. (Marquinhos got one rebound and three fouls, but did not score.) It didn't even matter that Dallas didn't hit a single field goal for the first half of the quarter, and that the Bees finished with an 8-0 run. The Mavericks let the dance team play, or something, and won it 85-73, their ninth straight win after opening with four losses.

"Dallas," said Sean Kelley, "will want to burn this game tape. The Hornets will find many uses for it." The major use will be "See this? Don't do this." The bench scored 34 points, though this was due mostly to the fecklessness of the starters; of those 34, Jannero Pargo accounted for 19. Bobby Jackson, before The Incident, had scored 10; he'd also missed five of six free throws. Desmond Mason, Hilton Armstrong and Tyson Chandler picked up eight rebounds each. The Mavericks were led as usual by Dirk Nowitzki, who scored 28 and got 9 boards.

There's a definite pattern here: win four, lose three, win four, lose three. If this holds up, the Bees should trounce the Raptors and the Bulls at the Ford Center next week, and then beat the Lakers and the Sonics on the road the following week. I wouldn't risk the mortgage payment on it, though.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:03 PM to Net Proceeds )
26 November 2006
No feed? Begone!

Is the feed an irreducible element of the blog? Wesley Fryer thinks so:

A website without an RSS or ATOM feed ... is not a blog! You can call it a blog by putting that title at the top, you can even update it every day, but if it doesn't have a feed — it's not a blog!

Called on this by a commenter, he backpedaled a little:

My feeling in not finding an RSS feed is really more one of regret, since that means I can't "pull" their information into my RSS aggregator (bloglines) to access their content more easily.

I think we can stipulate that the presence of a feed makes life easier for a growing number of readers, and since most blog software now includes templates for RSS and/or Atom feeds, I presume that the majority of blogs have a feed of some sort — even if the blogger has absolutely no idea about such things.

Then again, who doesn't have a feed? Mr Fryer mentions Media Literacy: Frank's Blog. Lileks doesn't have one; neither does Colby Cosh. Rocksnobs, which doesn't look like a blog, doesn't have one either. But that's all I can think of without going down through the entire blogroll.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:15 AM to Blogorrhea )
Coming soon to an artery near you

The Heart Attack Grill in Tempe, Arizona (they're looking to franchise) offers the ultimate in Not Especially Healthy Cuisine: single, double, triple, even quadruple Bypass Burgers, served up with Flatliner Fries (real lard, so no trans fats!), soda or beer, and even, if you're so inclined, a pack of smokes. If you opt for at least the Triple (1½ pounds, plus trimmings), you can get full Wheelchair Service.

Maybe they'll come here some day, but to tell the truth, I'd love to see them announce a new location in the City of New York, just to see Mayor Bloomberg, um, soil himself.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:10 AM to Worth a Fork )
More than mere masonry

The Oklahoman (presumably business writer Steve Lackmeyer) talked to developer and Criterion Group vice-president Marva Ellard last week, resulting in this interesting revelation:

When we first got the Sieber [Hotel] in 1998 and a friend of mine told me there are still Siebers in Oklahoma, every year since then I've been in contact with them. It's important to me and important to my partners that the Siebers are informed and pleased with what is going on. It's their legacy, not my legacy.

I think that's something in preservation people sometimes miss. It's not just the building. A building to most people is an inanimate object. People built that building. People had livelihoods and careers and families in that building. That personal part gets separated from the steel and wood and bricks of the building. But to me, you can't separate that. You can't separate William Skirvin from the Skirvin. You can't separate the Siebers from the Sieber.

The six-story Sieber Hotel at 12th and Hudson, built in 1928, closed and was boarded up in the 1980s during the Great Oil Bust. Ellard and her partners took over in 1998, but securing the financing for the $8.5-million rehabilitation (including a two-story building next door, once a grocery) proved to be a long, arduous process; the last increment, from Oklahoma City's Community Development Block Grant funds, came early in 2006. Construction began in the summer. While the ground floor is reserved for retail and a restaurant, the upper floors will be subdivided into apartments. And, oh, yes, the property will still be called the Sieber, and as of 2005, it's on the National Register of Historic Places.

(How it looked right before reconstruction: photo by Jason B.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:07 PM to City Scene )
Actually, this is sort of accurate
This Is My Life, Rated
Life: 4.8
Mind: 6.2
Body: 3.7
Spirit: 7.1
Friends/Family: 4.1
Love: 0.8
Finance: 7.5
Take the Rate My Life Quiz

Though I kind of wonder about that Finance bit. Okay, the creditors aren't banging on the door or anything, but that seems a little high.

A long-tail business with a tan

The travel business generates something like half a trillion dollars worldwide, so the $400 million or so spent on nude recreation each year is a drop in the bucket, and a small drop at that. One reason might be relative inaccessibility:

The incredible thing about the size of nudism, in my opinion, is that it manages to bring in that much cash despite the fact that significant barriers still remain which prevent any money at all from being spent on nudism. Nudist resorts still tend to exist in very rural, out of the way places, and are usually completely inaccessible by any form of public transportation. Basically, if you live in an urban or suburban area, you're not going to get to one without owning a car and making a several hours drive. Exceptions to this exist in Florida and certain parts of California — but for anyone who lives outside of those states, getting to one of those resorts represents a significant investment of both time and money. These resorts also tend to be more upscale and are priced accordingly, as well as necessitating flying to reach them, adding the cost of a plane ticket to your trip as well as planning to stay long enough to justify the travel time. Yet despite the fact that these resorts are expensive and hard to get to, the numbers show that there's still considerable demand for them.

And because they're expensive and hard to get to, it logically follows that there's a lot of latent demand that they're not meeting. The problem with these resorts being the only outlets for social nudism is that they're inaccessible to 90% of the population. We've taken advantage the internet by getting the information about the lifestyle out there; the barriers to learning about nudism are mostly gone, but the barriers to actually trying it out in a social setting are still significant. People can learn that our product exists, but there's no easy way for them to go from knowing about it to actually trying it out.

We need to get to the point where someone can try (social) nudism with an investment of only a few hours and a few dollars, rather than requiring several days and several thousands of dollars.

AANR (Southwest Region) lists exactly two facilities in Oklahoma, and they're decidedly off the beaten path.

And there's the matter of Arkansas, where it's illegal to advertise any such activities, let alone establish a facility where they can take place. (And you thought Oklahoma's tattoo ban was a trifle arbitrary.)

Before you ask: no, I haven't. The obvious reason: it takes a certain amount of time to work up the nerve. The not-so-obvious reason: barring a sudden change in status, I'd have to go alone, and you should not be surprised to hear that guys of the single persuasion aren't exactly highly-valued in this subculture. (Now that's a barrier.)

Still, I have to agree that the demand is there: even one percent of the travel business is a heck of a lot of business, and, you should pardon the expression, the end is not in sight.

Not that kind of girl

Stirring new storyline, or desperate grab for viewers? You make the call:

ABCís All My Children this week will introduce a transgender character who is beginning to make the transition from a man into a woman.

The character, a flamboyant rock star known as Zarf, kisses the lesbian character Bianca and much drama ensues. The storyline begins with Thursdayís episode of the daytime drama.

The only transitioning character I can remember seeing on series television was Cindy McCauliff, played by Lisa Edelstein early in the fourth season of Ally McBeal. She was far enough along in transition to refuse to take a corporate physical, got fired for it, and is suing the employer. In the midst of things, she and attorney Mark Albert (James LeGros) wind up dating — he's not working on her case, so he doesn't know, and no one is in a rush to tell him — and the unveiling, as it were, is not pretty:

Richard: You know, these things happen, Mark.

Mark: What do you mean, "these things happen"? My girlfriend has a penis! These things don't "happen."

Odd that I should remember this. Or maybe not so odd; Edelstein, as I recall, was kinda hot. And the writers botched this badly: early in the first episode of the arc, Cindy admits to being a "man," which I can't believe any self-respecting M2F would say out loud.

I suspect AMC will handle this, so to speak, with no greater sensitivity. Not that I'm a big fan of sensitivity or anything.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:00 PM to Almost Yogurt )
27 November 2006
Strange search-engine queries (43)

If you're just joining us, this is a weekly (or so it's turned out to be) list of some of the wackier requests posted at search engines that somehow landed the searcher on this site. I reproduce them here because it's a lot easier than coming up with 300 words of my own early on a Monday morning.

I want to marry an hispanic:  Shouldn't be too hard to find. (Note: This search came from the Mexican version of Google, so I stand by my statement.)

Are the Professions meritocracies?  I think of them as a labor union where everyone is shop-steward or higher.

disappearing bikini:  I wish you'd asked this of Ms Dewey. (Later: I did.)

what should i do if i accidentally consumed expired pamprin:  Buy a fresh bottle within 28 days.

invisible and i know you can't see me:  Well, that is what the word means.

official new york state reptile:  Surprisingly, it's not Chuck Schumer.

Kraft Cool Whip contains insulation:  It just tastes like it.

i live in a town with no diversity:  Not to worry. The New York Times will be along shortly.

What sex was triple crown winner Secretariat:  I actually got to see Secretariat — at Saratoga in 1973 — and, well, he was hung like a horse.

get naked and take my five inch penis:  Okay, who lent the laptop to Mark Foley?

Why Is Chicken Fighting Illegal in Kentucky:  The losers end up in the Colonel's Famous Bowls.

what goes on your permanent record:  Everything. So watch it.

advice what do women think of men wearing pantyhose:  Probably "Better you than me."

okc radio station with bob as call letters:  I may be going out on a limb here, but I have a feeling it's Bob FM.

can men and women be just friends:  Yes. Dammit.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:50 AM to You Asked For It )
I, Blockhead

Lileks speculates on what happened to the Peanuts gang:

I'd guess they all ended up happy, or as happy as can be expected. Schroeder is an audio engineer, Lucy is a lawyer and living with Peppermint Patty and raising a boy, Linus got tenure, and Charlie Brown has a nice living maintaining legacy systems for IBM.

Given the lifespan of dogs in general, you have to assume that Snoopy shuffled off this mortal collar years ago; still, I see him and the Baron hoisting a couple of root beers in the Great Repository of War Clichés in the Sky. (For the holidays, of course.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:10 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Tolls for thee

Seattle has been experimenting with virtual toll roads, with the following results:

For about eight months, drivers in 275 Seattle-area households agreed to pay for something the rest of us get for free: The right to drive on the region's freeways and streets.

They were guinea pigs in a pioneering study that explored how motorists' behavior might change if they had to pay tolls — not just on a few bridges or highways, but on almost every road with a yellow center line.

Researchers established virtual tolls ranging from a nickel to 50 cents a mile. They gave participants pre-paid accounts of between $600 and $3,000, and told them they could keep whatever the tolls didn't eat up.

The experiment ended in February. Preliminary results, released this month, suggest that if such so-called "road pricing" were widespread, it could make a significant dent in traffic.

Sensibly, the "tolls" were set by time and day. On weekdays, freeway miles were 40 cents during the morning rush, 50 during the afternoon drive, but only 10 or 15 the rest of the day, and zero late at night. Weekend tolls maxed out at 20 cents.

In real life, of course, you would have a slightly different incentive: to minimize what you paid out, rather than maximize what you get to keep. Still, optimization works pretty much the same either way.

How well a real toll system of this sort would be received by the general public remains to be seen, though I suspect that it would not fare well in Oklahoma, which is awash in toll roads already. I think the most likely use we'd find for it here would be for "high-speed" (by which is meant "limited-access") lanes, separated from the rest of the freeway, which would be billed via PikePass based on the time you entered. A 3-to-1 ratio between rush hour and other periods would be reasonable, and maybe they can turn off the sensors at night.

As for the existing toll roads, I don't think they need modification at this time: they don't carry that much traffic even during rush periods. Then again, the surest way to boost traffic on the Kilpatrick would be to let traffic get worse on Memorial Road. I am told this is theoretically possible.

James Joyner sees one additional issue:

The problem with a pay-per-mile system, though, aside from issues of privacy, is that tolls have a variable impact on behavior depending on affluence. The very wealthy won't think twice about driving whenever they please; the very poor may simply not be able to afford driving at all. Intrinsically, there's no problem with that. There are all manner of things the well-off can buy that the less fortunate can not. Still, Americans have long considered the ability to use the roads a birthright. Charging for it will be seen as taking away a basic freedom. That will not go over well, regardless of whether it makes practical sense.

I suppose it would be possible to tweak the PikePass system to allow for varying rates based upon the estimated value of a car: the most immediate effect, I expect, would be that you'd make sure you showed up to pick up your new PikePass, not in your Lexus, but in your daughter's battered old Ford Tempo. Certainly the PikePass isn't going to know in which vehicle it's mounted.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:48 AM to Driver's Seat )
Batteries included

David Hermance, Toyota's head of Advanced Technology Vehicles — the Prius is essentially his baby — was killed over the weekend when his private plane crashed off the California coast.

I fear Tam may be right:

Fifty rounds of .22LR ammunition to the first person to spot a thread on Moonbat HQ Democratic Underground pinning the blame on BushCo/Big Oil.

(Offer made by Tamara K., Knoxville, TN. Not valid in places where ownership of ammunition is prohibited, but if you live in such a place, for God's sake move!)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:24 AM to Dyssynergy )
SimShitty

Or, in other words, a poverty simulation, and not on screen either:

We were assigned an identity and given a summary of our current life situation. Stations were set up to represent the utility company, the mortgage company, a pawn shop, check cashing loan store, grocery store, and public assistance. During the simulation, I became a 19 year old, unemployed, high school dropout, single mother with a live-in boyfriend. Our bills totaled $555 per month including a mortgage on our mobile home, lot rent, utilities, food, and a car title loan that we had taken out. We also had to give transportation passes at every stop to account for the gas or the bus to get us there. Our monthly take home pay was $794.00 per month including $234 in TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) benefits and $120 in food stamps. That left us with $239 per month for everything else. Trust me $60 per week for a family of three for everything else (such as gasoline for the car, medicine, car repairs, diapers, toiletries, and other items) does not go far. Just to make it interesting we were also given several items of value to pawn if we got desperate.

This test subject, in real life, actually counsels on financial issues. And said counsel, she discovered, is offtimes easier said than done:

In a matter of minutes I transformed from the calm budgeting expert who had it all figured out to someone who was just living in survival mode. Much of my reason and logic went out the window. I could not pay the mortgage first as planned because we only took home $110 per week from my boyfriendís job. It was 3 weeks before we had enough to pay the mortgage. In real life, I tell people to pay their mortgage first since we want them to avoid homelessness. In the simulation, we paid the mortgage next to last and had been evicted by the time we came up with enough money to pay it.

In real life I advise people to avoid paying high fees for services such as check cashing and to stay away from the pawn shop. Logic would tell you that it is much cheaper to open a checking account at the local bank or credit union than to pay fees for check cashing services. In the simulation, we did not have a bank account and could not obtain one. In order to cash my boyfriendís check to get money to pay the bills, we had to pay a $10.00 fee for every check we cashed. When we got a cut off notice for the utilities, I found myself in line at the pawn shop to hock my stereo. I took the money from hocking the stereo to pay the gas bill just before they cut it off. I also had to stand in a long line at the public assistance office just to confirm my TANF benefits. I had to take my baby with me since I could not afford daycare. I stood in line for so long that the office closed and I had to come back the next day.

This isn't exactly the situation for which the term "vicious circle" was invented, but it's close enough.

If nothing else, this exercise demonstrates one Hard Fact: things look different on the other side of the desk.

(Seen at Satellite Sky.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:52 PM to Common Cents )
I don't think this is catching on

And by "this" I mean this:

Job hunters may commit their share of online gaffes and blunders, but an equal number are using the Web to their advantage with tools such as "thlogs," branded bios, and icons.

The immediate question, of course, is "WTF is a thlog?"

As chief executive officer of Leader Brand Strategists, [Vicki] Kunkel helps professionals create their Web-based images. She says her clients generally get hired in higher-paying positions than the average job hunter and many end up realizing their dreams after attracting an employer who was a good fit.

For instance, one of Kunkel's clients has great communication skills and loves children. Her dream is to give a voice to children on certain advocacy issues.

This client started her search by creating what Kunkel calls a "thlog," which is simply a blog that advocates a position and sticks with it. A thlog is not about reacting to others' views. Instead, it offers original, visionary thoughts on a position.

Obviously I'm not running a thlog here.

And as of this morning, a Google search for "thlog" produces this:

Screenshot

I'd thay "thlog" ith a long way from being added to your lith of houthhold wordth.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:06 PM to Blogorrhea )
28 November 2006
Looks like fun

Here's how it works: Google the phrase "['your name'] looks like" and find the best one from the first page of results. Don't forget to put it in quotes, otherwise it won't work. Then come back here and leave it in the comments.

Very first one on the page: "Charles looks like he's ready to fail a sobriety test, but you would do well to cut the guy some slack."

Number 9: "Charles looks like he's about to lay the smack down on some fanboy who butchered an imitation of Mario, visually and probably auditorially."

Hard to pick between them, if you ask me.

(Via Steph Waller, who "looks like a couple of kilometers of bad road.")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:20 AM to Screaming Memes )
From the Department of Great Truths

"Can't nag with your mouth full."

I'll have to take her word for it.

(And that of Little Miss Attila, from whom I snagged this link. There is at least a measurable possibility that this may not be safe for work.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:46 AM to Table for One )
This is a joke

At least, so far it is:

The [Motion Picture Association of America] is lobbying Congress to push through a new bill that would make unauthorized home theaters illegal. The group feels that all theaters should be sanctioned, whether they be commercial settings or at home.

MPAA head Dan Glickman says this needs to be regulated before things start getting too far out of control, "We didn't act early enough with the online sharing of our copyrighted content. This time we're not making the same mistake. We have a right to know what's showing in a theater."

The bill would require that any hardware manufactured in the future contain technology that tells the MPAA directly of what is being shown and specific details on the audience. The data would be gathered using various motion sensors and biometric technology.

The MPAA defines a home theater as any home with a television larger than 29" with stereo sound and at least two comfortable chairs, couch, or futon. Anyone with a home theater would need to pay a $50 registration fee with the MPAA or face fines up to $500,000 per movie shown.

Again: this is a joke.

Glickman is probably even now kicking himself for not thinking of it first.

(Someone submitted this to Fark not suspecting that it was, in fact, a joke.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:04 AM to Bogus History )
Vacant aisle

Marriage — at least the old-fashioned, one man/one woman thing — is apparently dead, suggests Moxie:

[T]here is little reason for any man or woman to get married or date in this day and age.

Liberals and feminists have made it easy and acceptable for people NOT to get married. I could adopt or have a child on my own. I could marry a woman if I leaned that way. I can abort a child I decide I don't want, maybe soon after it has been born, after Nancy Pelosi takes over. Men can get the benefit of marriage from any drunk feminist at a bar.

Perhaps, if I spent days thinking about it, I could find one substantive reason to date men who no longer have a good reason to marry any woman on earth.

Most men in my age bracket are so superficial and selfish, the only reason for marriage and the prerequisite dating, is to preserve conservative values. And there aren't many men around who appreciate that, thanks to Bill Clinton, the nitwit who made it ok to cheat on the ole thick-ankled ball and chain, and made it seem "uncool" to be moral (conservative).

I demur slightly here. Men have been looking for excuses since long before there ever was an Oval Office.

About a year ago, the last really special and promising guy I dated rejected me because I'm a Republican. He wasn't a typical liberal, he was British, living here on a work visa, brainwashed by Jon Stewart and CNN. And in about a month, I'll be one of the few, single, old chicks NOT looking for a date — and instead seeking 7 more cats to complete my collection.

While I may feel awful that my incredible and worthy Parents won't ever have grandkids — the fact that I won't have to deal with divorce, lawyers, deadbeat Dads and joint custody is a reason in and of itself to throw a $40,000 family celebration and wear an expensive designer dress.

Which is probably cheaper in the long run.

I should point out here that while I do have something of a conservative bent, I have no reason to think myself any less selfish and/or superficial than the next guy. (It's that whole humility thing, and I am persuaded that, as Francis W. Porretto once noted, it's "the virtue least practiced or appreciated in our time." God forbid anything should interfere with the propping up of one's self-esteem, I suppose.)

Besides, the Mox is gorgeous and smart, which means that I wouldn't have much of a shot at her even if she lived around the corner instead of across the country. I mention these things in the unlikely event that anyone should think I'm trying to position myself as a Potential Partner.

Update, 8 pm, 29 November: The aforementioned Mr Porretto tells me to get off my ass.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:49 AM to Table for One )
Oops, I did it again, and Creon is so mad

Christie's is selling a junior-high paper by Britney Spears on Sophocles' Antigone, handwritten on lined paper, which they expect to bring $500 to $700.

She got an 88, which isn't too shabby, though I still think I trust her judgment more on semiconductor junctions than on Greek tragedy.

(Via Salon.com's The Fix.)

A large Canadian low

Which, as Al Sleet, your hippy-dippy weatherman, will note, is not to be confused with a Mexican high.

We're still Peja-less and West-deprived, and tonight Byron Scott tapped Rasual Butler to fill in for the Mad Serb. No doubt Scott pointed out that the Raptors were only one game out of first place, carefully not mentioning that first place in the Atlantic before tonight required only a 5-8 record.

Didn't matter. Toronto played it close when they had to, and then opened it up when they didn't. The ever-unpopular Third-Quarter Drought™ turned a four-point halftime deficit into a thirteen-point hole in a mere twelve minutes, and things actually deteriorated after that. Final: Raptors 94, Hornets 77.

Andrea Bargnani, the Raptors' hotly-hyped rookie, justified the hype. Okay, he did pull four fouls, but he scored 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting.

On the upside, Marcus Vinicius took his first shot — a trey — and sank it. Not much of an upside, but we'll take what we can get. Tyson Chandler is earning his keep as a rebounder: he got 17 boards. And Chris Paul did manage a double-double (16 points, 11 assists). But 40-percent shooting wins no games against a fast-break team like Toronto. "A regular industrial-strength tail-kicking," said the ever-polite Russ Eisenstein.

No game until Saturday Friday, when the Bulls come to town, but a scary road trip starts next Wednesday, and it's followed by a scary homestand.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:17 PM to Net Proceeds )
29 November 2006
It came from out of the sky

It doesn't happen too often — air masses don't always move quickly — but now and then, if you pay attention, you can actually see a front coming through.

For that matter, you can hear it too. I was standing in my driveway about six-thirty this morning. The temperature was around 62 degrees, with a not-quite-brisk southerly wind keeping it way warmer than average. And above all the city noises there was this indefinable roar, seemingly from out of nowhere.

The trees, mostly bare by now, stopped quivering in the breeze. The roar grew louder, and louder still. A handful of leaves along the curb began rattling. More joined in. The trees started up again, this time faster. And a shot of cold Canadian air hit me square in the back, reminding me that I'd be well-advised to go get a jacket.

The temperature has dropped about 25 degrees in the hour since, and rain has started. They tell us that eventually that rain will mutate into something nasty and frozen. None of this is unusual, particularly; but unless you're a storm spotter or a major weather geek (I'm a few clicks short of the latter, I think), you simply shrug and go on, knowing that whatever is about to happen, you can't do anything about it anyway.

219

The first of January will mark the fourth anniversary of the founding of New Orleans-based blues label 219 Records.

Of course, every edition of the Carnival of the Vanities sets a record — for sheer longevity. The 219th weekly compendium of bloggy goodness is yours for the browsing at Silflay Hraka, where it all began (a little more than) four years ago.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:07 AM to Blogorrhea )
The Bringers are brung

From earlier this month, regarding Gustav Holst's suite The Planets:

[S]hould EMI choose to reissue the 1967 Boult, the decision is made.

Trini poked around the Web for a while, then pointed me to a vendor offering a discontinued 1998 EMI disc (66934) which contained Holst's Egdon Heath and his ballet from The Perfect Fool, conducted by Previn — and a complete Boult Planets. The 1967 Boult Planets. Link was sent, Visa was proffered, disc was shipped.

When I opened up the bag yesterday, I stared at it in disbelief: it's not the Holy Grail, exactly, but what do you say when what you've always wanted suddenly shows up out of the blue?

Besides that, I mean.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:17 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Sing a song of door dings

John Estus notes at the Oklahoman's blog:

City code says parking spaces must be at least 8½ feet wide. That's the standard size for a compact car spot, but city planners recommend all parking spots be at least 10 feet wide. The minimum size of parking spaces changes slightly depending on the angle of the space, but 8½ feet is pretty much the norm.

It seems to me that parking spaces are getting narrower. Gwendolyn insists it's not her fault, that she's less than one inch wider than her predecessor. (I had to look this up twice, because frankly I didn't believe it the first time.) But inasmuch as half the cars sold in this country aren't cars at all — they're SUVs, pickups and vans — I'm guessing our vehicles are getting wider. Then again, so are we.

And none of this matters at Penn Square, where there are no parking spaces anyway. I'll check some time around the 27th of December.

Thereby cornering the market

If you, like me, suspect that the best part of the brownie is the very edge of it, here's a pan that produces, well, more edges. Not only is it a geometric delight, it reduces the dreaded Soggy In The Center Syndrome that affects too many of your (or at least my) baked goods.

I may actually need this contraption. And I figure it can't be much harder to clean than my existing pans.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:55 PM to Worth a Fork )
30 November 2006
The new erratica

You know, it's probably a good thing that the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies guys never did any serious smut, or they might have come up with something like this:

... a commotion of grunts and squeaks, flashing unconnected images and explosions of a million little particles....

Duck amuck, indeed. But no, it's Iain Hollingshead, in his debut novel Twenty Something, which has won the annual Bad Sex in Fiction Award presented by Britain's Literary Review. Said the judges:

Because Hollingshead is a first-time writer, we wished to discourage him from further attempts. Heavyweights like Thomas Pynchon and Will Self are beyond help at this point.

Tyrone Slothrop was unavailable for comment.

On the sleet where you live

I approach all Winter Weather Events with trepidation, just on general principle, especially since the forecast seems to change hourly. (If you were wondering why we have so many climate-change skeptics here in the middle of the country, it's simple: we've learned to expect the unexpected, although not the unexpected we expected.) *

Further apprehension arises when I note that this will be the first time on slick and nasty stuff with my overpriced semi-luxury sled. It's up to the turn-of-the-century standards that prevailed for that model year, but I have no reason to believe that it in any way advances the state of the art.

One thing that helps is that the freezing drizzle we were told to expect either didn't materialize or never made it to the ground, so while there were a few slick patches around the neighborhood, it was nothing to worry about.

Things got worse heading eastward, though I-44 was passable at 45-50 mph and I-35, with much more traffic, moved along in the lower 40s. The sleet, which was just starting to fall when I left home, was coming down briskly by the time I got to 42nd and Treadmill. For now, they've scaled back the 3-to-7-inches prediction to about half that, though they've added another inch after dark, when things were supposed to be tapering off.

And I'd rather drive on snow than on little ice pellets anyday.

* Yes, I suppose this is rather Rumsfeldian.

And in the middle of negotiations

I figured that the bad blood, or juice, between Steve Jobs' Apple and the Beatles' Apple was a permanent state of affairs, at least since the introduction of the iTunes Store, which would seem, on the face of it, to violate a deal between the two in which basically Jobs was allowed to keep using the name so long as he stayed out of the music business. This spring, a judge ruled that the iTunes Store was a data-transmission service and therefore not in violation of the agreement; of course, that agreement, which was reached in 1991, never anticipated digital music downloads and such.

But apparently Jobs and Apple Corps rep Neil Aspinall have decided to let it be: Fortune says that an agreement to put Beatles material exclusively online at iTunes is on the way.

Costa Tsiokos has one concern:

I have a sinking feeling that, even if this comes off, part of the conditions will be to sell Beatles songs in the dreaded "album only" blocs that various rightsholders (notably for movie soundtracks) demand. So even if you want to pay only 99 cents just for "Taxman", youíll have to pony up $9.99 (or more?) for the entire Revolver album.

I wouldn't be surprised if this turned out to be the case, though it won't give me any grief: with the notable exception of the modern-day mashup Love, I have just about everything the band ever released, and a fair number of things they didn't, so there's no particular reason for me to want to spend money for the third time (first there was vinyl, then there was Compact Disc) on these tracks.

(Rejected titles for this piece: "Got to get you into my 'Pod"; "Come together, right now, over $"; "The one after .99"; "Why don't we do it on the Net?")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:55 AM to Fileophile )
The B-word

The Forecast Discussion on weather.gov is always fascinating, because it's so much more informal than the actual forecast itself; they will explain why they came up with this part of the forecast, or what models they were using to predict it, or the rationale for issuing, say, a warning instead of an advisory.

The current FD for the NWS branch in Norman is here. I excerpt the following from the just-before-noon edition:

THE MAJORITY OF OUR EFFORT THIS MORNING WAS TO REFINE OUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THE AFTERNOON AND EVENING PERIODS. WHAT STANDS OUT MOST IS THE STRONG WIND GUSTS WELL OVER 40 MPH THROUGHOUT NORTH CENTRAL AND WEST CENTRAL OKLAHOMA. THIS GREATLY INCREASES THE POTENTIAL FOR WHITE OUT CONDITIONS WHEN HEAVY SNOW IS FALLING. THIS PROMPTED THE UPGRADE TO A BLIZZARD WARNING FOR NORTH CENTRAL OKLAHOMA ... WHERE THE MOST PROLONGED PERIOD OF HEAVY SNOW IS EXPECTED THIS AFTERNOON. ON THE PERIPHERY OF THE BLIZZARD WARNING ... HOWEVER...THERE ARE PARTS OF WESTERN AND CENTRAL OKLAHOMA ... INCLUDING THE INTERSTATE 40 CORRIDOR FROM CLINTON THROUGH OKLAHOMA CITY ... WHERE NEAR BLIZZARD CONDITIONS MAY OCCUR AT TIMES.

I do dislike that word "blizzard," especially since I no longer have a Dairy Queen nearby.

For the first time in recent memory, 42nd and Treadmill shut down early, and I got to play in the road snow, which is always a thrill, in the sense that throwing yourself off a cliff is a thrill for the first 90 percent of the trip. I did follow my normal snow-travel protocol, which involves staying in third gear as much as possible on the freeway and second gear on surface streets. Gwendolyn, bless her little Japanese heart, was unexpectedly sure-footed, and even made it up the rather steep slope of the driveway to Surlywood on the first try with minimal wheelspin, something my last car didn't do so well. Travel time for the normally-18-minute run was only 28 minutes, which I consider a moral victory.

Of course, it's going to be worse tomorrow, at least until the sun comes out, and the predicted high is barely above freezing.

Shot out of a Canon

In 1979, the Musical Heritage Society (remember them?), then at 1991 Broadway in New York, issued an LP (MHS 1060, licensed from the French label Erato) with not one, but three, pieces by Johann Pachelbel (1653-1706).

I bring this up because while I have to agree with Rob Pavonian's premise here, I'm not quite sure the "one-hit wonder" tag is appropriate, since there are plenty of recordings of Pachelbel's Musicalische Ergötzung out there.

Then again, I preferred Zager and Evans' "Mr. Turnkey" to "In the Year 2525," so have your grains of salt handy.

(Via I See Invisible People.)

Snow is just a four-letter word

And it's deep, too:

Snow stuff

That lantern is on the northwest corner of my flower bed; it hangs just over the Wall O' Bricks that surrounds and defines the bed. (Those little green pointy things are the last vestiges of this year's irises.) And the ruler is buried up to just shy of the four-inch mark. Supposedly we're more than halfway through this mess, but you couldn't prove it by me.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:44 PM to Surlywood )
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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