1 March 2007
Where have all the goofballs gone?

I mean, the ones we didn't vote for. Nina wants to know, and she directs her query skyward:

Secretly, I wish I could be more like them. Shallow, self-serving and oblivious. As a woman, I wish I could just look at one, get turned on and have lots of meaningless sex. Why didn't you wire me this way, especially now? But noooo, you wired me to connect emotionally and then physically.

I don't get it and I certainly don't like it.

All I can do is trust you knew what you were doing, hope, pray and beg for a decent keeper somewhere to be found in the pack. Are there any good, non-creepy goofballs left and available?

There are, I am told, women who are wired like men. Are they any happier? I don't know, but I suspect they'd never admit it if they weren't.

And I can relate to this:

Could you give me some hope? Something to hold on to? Or why not take away my desire altogether?

I seem to have followed, quite unintentionally, Plan C: my libido is somewhere between vague and nonexistent. And since that's probably the only place where I can deal with it on a consistent basis — but never mind that.

Sometimes I think we're all just thrown into the ocean: mostly, we're ships that pass in the night, but some of us eventually drown.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:58 AM to Table for One )
The InstaPunk Challenge

It went like this:

I propose an exercise to be perfomed by those who have the software and expertise to carry it out. The exercise is this: Search six months' worth of content, posts and comments, of the 20 most popular blogs on the right and the left. The search criteria are George Carlin's infamous "7 Dirty Words."

I am absolutely certain that the left will far exceed the right in the number of usages of all these words, which will go a long way toward proving that it's the right which is still concerned with ideas while it's the left that's obsessed with the lowest kind of hateful invective.

His challenge was answered in less than a heartbeat, using far more than six months' worth of data:

So how much more does the Left use Carlin's "seven words" versus the Right? According to my calculations, try somewhere in the range of 18-to-1.

The methodology, while elegant, isn't perfect — it won't, for instance, separate some foulmouth from Camp A who trolls Camp B, and sheer verbosity isn't taken into account — but there's no reason to be surprised at the outcome.

(For the record, if you run a similar search on my site, you get 63 hits. Then again, this is not a popular blog.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:45 AM to Blogorrhea )
With a minimum of spin

The Oklahoman's Tricia Pemberton's daughters discover the Hula Hoop at Wal-Mart:

"Mom, look they're only $2.50. Can we get one pleeeease?"

Two dollars and 50 cents is cheap entertainment these days, so I said sure before they could beg for a movie or the latest CD.

On the way out of the store, Emmitt, a greeter, stopped us.

"I was working Phoenix, Arizona, in 1956 when the hula hoop first came in," he told us. "We sold about a thousand of those a day for four straight months."

Emmitt was a little off on his chronology — Wham-O (still the greatest corporate name in history) began selling the round plastic doomaflatchie in 1958 — but I suspect he understood its world-changing nature.

Unlike, for instance, the doofus board of Hudsucker Industries:

Board Member 1: What if you tire before it's done?
Board Member 2: Does it have rules?
Board Member 3: Can more than one play?
Board Member 4: What makes you think it's a game?
Board Member 3: Is it a game?
Board Member 5: Will it break?
Board Member 6: It better break eventually!
Board Member 2: Is there an object?
Board Member 1: What if you tire before it's done?
Board Member 5: Does it come with batteries?
Board Member 4: We could charge extra for them.
Board Member 7: Is it safe for toddlers?
Board Member 3: How can you tell when you're finished?
Board Member 2: How do you make it stop?
Board Member 6: Is that a boy's model?
Board Member 3: Can a parent assemble it?
Board Member 5: Is there a larger model for the obese?
Board Member 1: What if you tire before it's done?
Board Member 8: What the hell is it?

Geez. Even Alvin wanted one of them, and he was a farging chipmunk.

One other thing: Wham-O's original hoop, forty-nine years ago, sold for a buck ninety-eight. Adjusted for inflation, this should be $13.92 today. And they say Wal-Mart is bad for us.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:16 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Quote of the week

Jay Lamm, among other things the founder of the 24 Hours of LeMons road race, writes in the April (of course) Car and Driver about a revolutionary vehicle from Chinese-owned MG — the 2008 Long March:

The name, of course, refers both to the chaotic 1934-35 retreat of Communist forces and the later consolidation of power by Mao Tse-tung's cadres over the antirevolutionary Western-leaning Chiang Kai-shek. It also refers to the formidable hike that awaits all MG owners who try driving long distances. Based on the most recent MG TF, the Long March is mildly redesigned with narrower headlights, optional pagoda roof, and Supplemental Active Restraint System (SARS).

For power, the means of production is a 2.5-liter gang of four making 28,275 BDARCORFP (Brake Disgraced Anti-Revolutionary Cadres on Re-Education Farm Power) at 6800 CRPM (Cultural Revolutions per Minute). Lubrication is by the sweat of the masses, and sequential-shutoff injection ensures that each cylinder receives fuel according to its needs and generates power according to its abilities. As Nanjing eschews rubber cam belts, the top end has nothing to lose but its chains. Balance shafts were rejected as decadent and counterrevolutionary.

It goes on from there, working in just about every Communist cliché that ever was, which means inevitably that the narrative occasionally becomes Wobbly.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:40 PM to QOTW )

Sing it:

The telephone brings the news so easy from afar
If only progress could do more
But it only brings a reason to destroy the proper season
For a chapter in our lives to take its shape

(From "Two Three Two," written by Mike Wedgwood, on the 1973 album Air Cut by Curved Air.)

Since then, progress has done more: it's the Carnival of the Vanities #232, live at Silflay Hraka, and it brings the best of the blogs so easy from afar.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:49 PM to Blogorrhea )
2 March 2007
Get to the point

It was Billy Joel, I think, who addressed the issue most directly:

It was a beautiful song but it ran too long
If you're gonna have a hit, you gotta make it fit
So they cut it down to 3:05.

But that was 1974; in this era of InstaEverything, even 3:05 is an eternity. I once put together a compilation CD with no songs over two minutes, which if nothing else makes for rather more variety: 42 tracks in just under 80 minutes. Radio wouldn't dare do this.

Well, actually, they would. Enter Radio SASS (Short Attention Span System), which unapologetically edits your standard classic-rock tracks down to the essential stuff. Purists, of course, will be horrified. Stations, they say, should be delighted:

Records that were 2:00 — 3:00 minutes long have been replaced by repetitive epics. It's not unusual for today's recordings to regularly cross the four or five minute mark. The immediacy of radio has ground to a musical dawdle. While TV, newspapers, movies and other media have sped up, radio has fallen out of pace with today's rapid lifestyle. Button pushing listeners and competition from new media is fierce. TSL is down.

A return to shorter songs is essential. Will listeners object? The answer is no. Several focus groups conducted by Harker Research show that most people don't even notice. When a song begins, the average radio listeners pays attention to the beginning then makes a snap judgment. Do I know this? Do I like it? Then it's punch or play. They seldom reflect on the song as it ends. Most people use radio as wallpaper, a background to their daily activity.

I sampled some SASS, and I think I'd notice that they'd boiled down Manfred Mann's take on Springsteen's "Blinded by the Light," which runs around 7:05 in its LP incarnation and 3:48 as a single, to a startling 1:45 — but it would take probably half a minute for it to sink in, and by then they're a third of the way through the next song.

So I'm inclined to think this would work better than you'd think. Try to imagine Iron Butterfly's infamous psychotrope "In-a-Gadda-da-Vida" in two minutes flat. I did.

Wonder where the yellow went?

Either traffic is worse across town, or I'm unusually lucky these days:

It is a fact of life that once you hit a red light, it is inevitable that you will then hit a red light at 90% of the lights thereafter.

The morning commute runs eastbound on Northwest Distressway from Linn (2600 block West). If the light at Villa (2500) catches me, the one at Penn (2100) generally doesn't, and of the next three (mall entrances, Belle Isle, Blackwelder), I am seldom snagged by more than one. The last one is at the former Classen Circle (1400), and it almost always gets me — but from there I proceed onto I-44, where the only lights I need fear are shaped like gumballs and are usually mounted to the tops of Ford Crowns Victoria.

Conversely, or perhaps perversely, I get caught at every light going back the other way, without fail. Must be a timing issue.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:11 AM to Driver's Seat )
The cat in the borsalino hat

"You could kill him on the train,
You could kill him on a plane.
You could kill him here or there,
You could kill him anywhere!"

Sorry. It's impossible not to think in these terms when you're dealing with this recent revelation:

It seems that Dr. Seuss (aka Theodor Seuss Geisel) and seminal mystery author Raymond Chandler were friends and drinking buddies when both authors lived in La Jolla, California.

One canít help but wonder what they talked about or, really, what they drank. (Scotch for Chandler. Ooblek for Seuss?) Did they share stories about agents? Editors? Sequels? Or how about their respective concerns around plot and deadlines and story pacing? Did Chandler sometimes say stuff like, "You know, Doc, I really love that elephant character, Horton. But you had him sitting on a whateveritwas for that whole damned book. Readers are fickle, they get bored. You gotta shake things up. See, it's like this: next time out, let Horton pack some heat. That oughta spice things up. You need the danger; the uncertainty. And see if you can't weave a rhyme around 'gams'."

On the flipside, of course, there's the possibility that Seuss offered up some tips for Chandler: telling him how he could brighten up his stark prose with the addition of a few carefully chosen rhymes.

Bartholomew Cubbins knew all this, of course, but he kept it under his hat.

(Via Bill Peschel.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:42 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Home of the Reek Squad

And some weasels, apparently:

Have you ever found a deal at Best Buy's website only to travel to the store and find that the "sale" is over? Did the Best Buy employee show you "proof" on their "website"? It now seems that there are really TWO websites, and they're identical except for the prices. Here's the deal:
  • You walk into a Best Buy to purchase a sale item you saw on their site.

  • The employee tells you that the item is no longer on sale, and shows you what looks to be Best Buy's website, but it's really a secret intranet that Best Buy's corporate office denies exists. The price on the website shows that the sale is over.

  • You cry and leave, then at home you see that the sale isn't over at all. What happened?

This happened:

In the wake of an investigation launched by the Connecticut Attorney General's office, Best Buy has finally admitted that the now-infamous "secret intranet" (used to mislead in-store customers about BestBuy's online prices) exists. The website looks identical to BestBuy.com ... except for the prices.

The secret website was first revealed by George Gombossy of the Hartford Courant (Way to go, George!). While investigating a tip from a reader, George was shown the internal website. It was identical to BestBuy.com, but showed a higher price for the item he was interested in. George was misled by Best Buy employees to believe it was the "real" BestBuy.com. Eventually he found some Best Buy employees who admitted to the site's existence and even showed him how it worked.

I asked a Circuit City staffer about this sort of thing, and was told that they don't have a setup like that, and what's more, sometimes their Web site has lower prices than the stores and "it really pisses off the managers."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:37 PM to Wastes of Oxygen )

Which, you have to admit, is a better name than Lamp/Lamp.


(Via Popgadget.)

The Bulls and the Bees

First quarter, it looked like the Bulls were just going to walk away with it: they'd jumped out to a 15-point lead early. The Bees came back to tie it at the half; it was still tied at the end of the third. Then in the fourth, Chicago went on a 21-5 tear, and the Hornets never came back: the final was 104-93, the Bees' 20th loss in 29 road games. Basically, it was the old Third-Quarter Drought™ moved to the fourth quarter, which is no one's idea of an improvement: the Bees scored only 14 points in the last 12 minutes.

The Bulls had three players over 20 points: Ben Gordon with 27, Luol Deng with 24, and Kirk Hinrich with 22. Tyrus Thomas started in place of the ailing P. J. Brown, scored 10 and blocked three shots.

The Oklahoman ran a story this morning on how Tyson Chandler was still peeved at Bulls coach Scott Skiles long after being traded to the Hornets, and if Chandler thought he had something to prove, he did make a good showing: yet another double-double, with ten points and 13 rebounds. All the Hornets starters, in fact, were in double figures, as was reserve guard Bobby Jackson, but just barely: Chris Paul's 16 was the team high.

So this March starts like last March: with a loss. Let's hope it doesn't turn into the 3-11 debacle it was last year. Next game is Sunday evening at the Ford, against the Jazz. Unfortunately, the Jazz, at 38-19, are hot.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:07 PM to Net Proceeds )
3 March 2007
Bad deal of the year

Somebody sent this pitch to Consumer Reports, which tucked it into the annual Auto issue. A dealer was offering seemingly-astonishing trade-in values: "100% of original MSRP," they said, hoping you wouldn't notice the fine print, which indicated that they would subtract 55 cents per mile.

I saw that, remembered that my previous automobile cost me 59 cents per mile to operate, and concluded that this could not possibly be a good deal.

And then I sat down and actually did the math. Gwendolyn's sticker was $30,519; she has 94,210 miles, which at 55 cents each comes to $51,815.50; her trade-in value at this place would therefore be minus $21,296.50.

The disclosure forms would likely be hilarious.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:46 AM to Driver's Seat )
And there was no room in the inn

During World Tour '05, I scheduled a stop in Concord, New Hampshire. As per my usual practice, I didn't actually book a room until 48 hours before arrival, and it was somewhat offputting to hear that a fairly modest room that had run $80 or so when I was there three years earlier had zoomed up well into the triple digits.

The reason became apparent when I arrived: Concord is maybe fifteen miles from New Hampshire International Speedway, and I had come during a week when a major racing event was scheduled. Had I waited a few more hours, I'd have been out of luck altogether.

So I wasn't too surprised to hear that rooms in downtown Oklahoma City are very hard to come by this coming week, what with the Big 12 basketball tournament and all, and what few rooms there are will cost you. For example: the Courtyard by Marriott, 2 West Reno, is next door to the Ford Center; they're asking a minimum of $299 per night. (A more typical rate at the Courtyard is $189.) The Skirvin Hilton apparently has a couple of openings on Sunday for $329.

Just for the hell of it, I wandered over to the Web site of the Waldorf-Astoria in New York. Some rooms this week are quoted as low as $235.

For all of you who were wondering just how this supply-and-demand stuff works, now you know.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:50 AM to City Scene )
It's that new Sucking Up module

Venomous Kate blitches about a blatant plea for linkage:

Sure, sending a trackback linking me as (and I quote here) "the perfect woman: smart, sexy and perfectly capable of kicking your ass." I saw your trackback. I visited your blog. I smiled. But, really, perhaps you shouldn't have then written that you assume I'm too stuck up to add you to EV's blogroll.

(Aside: This is not all that far from my own definition of the "perfect woman," assuming she actually exists, an assumption I am not prepared to make at this time.)

About 98 percent of the TrackBacks I get around here are the usual zombified offers of drugs or gambling or washing-machine parts. Of course, I am neither smart nor sexy.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:02 PM to Blogorrhea )
We want the funk

AWG writes from Norman:

There's a popular slogan here in Norman that is along the lines of the old "Keep Austin Weird." It reads: "Don't Edmond My Norman." I love it! As some of you may not know, Edmond is a higher end suburb on OKC Metro's north side. Norman, however, being a college town, has a funkier feel to it. Not to say Edmond is dull or anything, it's just that Norman is, well, cooler.

And yet last I looked, Edmond was a college town: UCO isn't exactly one of those trade schools that advertises on The People's Court.

I think perhaps some of this is due to the fact that a lot of places with Edmond addresses aren't actually in Edmond; the Oklahoma City post office doesn't deliver north of 150th or so, and much of the "suburban sprawl" that is often decried in these parts is actually taking place within Oklahoma City limits, and a perusal of the real-estate ads will tell you that "Edmond," as a concept, is now just about everything north of Memorial Road and south of Guthrie.

Then again, if Sir Nose D'Voidoffunk were moving here, you know he ain't coming south of 122nd.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:07 PM to City Scene )
Saturday spottings (to the east side)

I've written before about Central Oklahoma Habitat for Humanity and board chairman Ann Felton, who has built this chapter of Habitat into one of the most active in the entire nation, and today seemed like a good day to see what they were up to.

Turnout was pretty impressive today for the very beginning of the biggest project they've ever had: a complete subdivision. Hope Crossing is just west of Kelley between Wilshire and Britton, and eventually it's going to provide housing for over 200 families. The First Presbyterian Church of Edmond is sponsoring the first house. This is the first time Habitat has had to assume responsibility for roads and utilities, and winter delays pushed back the start by a week, but I have faith in their ability to pull this off.

To get an idea of what Hope Crossing might look like when it's done, I drove out to Spencer to see Douglas Meadows, where Habitat built 51 homes over three years. The addition sits between NE 45th and 46th just west of Douglas Boulevard; Donna Lane, which marks the western boundary, has been renamed for Ann Felton. And it looked pretty much as I expected it to look: small but neat houses, single-car garages, low on clutter, high on sunshine. There's also a park with a playground, named for the late Habitat board member Keith Hickox, and maintained by the city of Spencer.

I've said before that topographically speaking, northeast Oklahoma City is the most attractive of the four quadrants; I'm always happy to see it getting a lift.

Closer to home, I got to see something truly hideous today: an actual 2007 Lincoln Navigator, Ford's attempt to outbling the overwrought Cadillac Escalade. But while the 'Slade is merely silly, the Nav is wondrous bad: the grille is in two sections, each trying to out-chrome the other, and the interior is exactly what you'd imagine for the 50th Anniversary Edsel. Lincoln will sell every one of these things they build, but they'll snicker every time one goes out the door.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:56 PM to City Scene )
4 March 2007
Try to see it my way

The Consumerist, generally a favorite around these parts, offers a roundup of the "top 10 worst gaffes, flops, and disasters in the history of American marketing and advertising", and indeed the cited items (including New Coke, the Edsel, and Calvin Klein's pubescent hotties) qualify as serious missteps. I take exception, though, to number 5 — the Beatles LP Yesterday and Today and its infamous "butcher" cover — not because I think the record is all that fab, or because I'm amused by the attempt to associate baby dolls with baby back ribs, but because of this offhand closing remark:

Yesterday and Today went on to become one of the only Beatles albums to actually lose money, thought this probably had less to do with its cover art than that it was a compilation album with no new material.

Depends on what your definition of "new" is. In the United Kingdom, Beatles albums generally contained 14 tracks; US releases usually had 11. Only six of these tracks had been released before in the States, and none on an album: "Yesterday" and "Act Naturally," a 45 containing two songs that were cut from the US version of Help! (we got bits from the score instead); another 45, "Nowhere Man" and "What Goes On," cut from Rubber Soul; a third single, "We Can Work It Out"/"Day Tripper." That left "Drive My Car" and "If I Needed Someone," also clipped from Rubber Soul, and "I'm Only Sleeping," "And Your Bird Can Sing" and "Doctor Robert," which hadn't yet been released on the UK version of Revolver, and which would not appear on the American release.

And it was this butchery by Capitol, EMI's US outpost, which was often cited as the motivation for the "butcher" cover, though in fact this same photo had been used already on a Beatles release: the UK single of "Paperback Writer."

I'd like to see them queen a pawn

Otherwise, this is neat: Edible Chess. One possible drawback: neither descriptive nor algebraic notation allows for nutrition information.

(Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

Not the Mayo Clinic

Even if McGehee were going to Tokyo, he probably wouldn't eat here.

(Via Troy Worman.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:14 PM to Worth a Fork )
Retrieved from the Death Star

I bought this batch of cordless phones during the last Woot-Off, and they do have their quirks.

Three handsets were provided; needing only two, I hooked up the base station and a single remote station, and discovered that the handsets are numbered 3 and 1 respectively. Number 2, I assume, is still in the box. The manual indicates that you can add a fourth, though it must go through a tedious "registration" process; the ones sold in the package have the numbers already built in. The numbers aren't of much use unless you plan to use the intercom function, and since I have no reason to call another room to see if I'm in there, I have no such plans.

Said manual, incidentally, is labeled as "Part 2". Part 1, so far, is conspicuous by its absence; I'm guessing this was one of those "quick-start guides" that routinely get stuffed into new electronics packages these days, though this set I bought is a refurb (rox0rz!).

Things I learned today (10)

Life, said Joni Mitchell, is for learning, and who am I to argue with a Canadian farm girl with killer legs who rewrites Mingus?

More whenever, or something like that.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:27 PM to Blogorrhea )
Extremely sloppy play noted

There must be something about ESPN's cameras that spooks the Hornets. With a national television audience looking on, the Bees started out strong and then ground to a halt, while the Utah Jazz dominated the boards and the charity stripe, winning entirely too easily, 108-94.

The Hornets had opened up an 11-2 lead over the Jazz in the first quarter, but that didn't last, and while the Hornets were still up 19-15 after the first stanza, Utah opened the floodgates, winning the next three quarters and their 40th game of the year. Center Mehmet Okur dropped in 28 points; sophomore guard Deron Williams contributed 20, and Carlos Boozer added a double-double, 17 points and 12 boards. The Jazz outrebounded the Hornets, 47-37.

Tyson Chandler had a double-double before the first half ended; he wound up with 20 points and 19 boards. Chris Paul also DDed: 14 points, 10 assists. And all five starters scored in double figures, though once again it didn't much matter. The Hornets racked up 29 personal fouls; the Jazz got 31 points at the free-throw line, versus only 14 for the Bees.

And after this, things get harder: on the road, against the Nuggets, the Suns, and these same Jazz. ("This" same Jazz?)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:31 PM to Net Proceeds )
5 March 2007
Strange search-engine queries (57)

As has become customary on Monday morning, here's a variety of unusual searches that landed people somewhere within this domain.

photocell use in blister packaging:  I've always thought that the person who invented the blister pack was definitely in the dark.

coulter topless:  At least some of blogdom seems to want her beheaded, if that's close enough.

detect a girl pee in public:  I don't know about you, but if I detect a girl, I can't pee at all.

bdsm sites, in oklahoma city, oklahoma:  The State Capitol comes immediately to mind.

gm ford chrysler illuminati:  Um, that's "gm fnord chrysler illuminati."

What happens if a cop sees you mooning someone:  You spend a lunar month in the pokey.

what is the torque on a aspirin bottle?  My torque wrench keeps stumbling on those childproof caps.

"dwyane wade" tithe amount:  D-Wade makes $3,841,442 this season. Do the math. (Next year it's much more.)

is katie heigl naked in ZZYZX ROAD:  How should I know? I'm not one of the six people who saw it.

is that, those, this, these prepositions?  Them aren't.

does yogurt give you worms:  Not unless it had it to begin with.

how can i resent the OBD codes on a 2004 chrysler sebring:  Pay someone $75 to pull them.

are the characters in mozartballs actual people:  Indeed they are; I've met two of them.

sexual turn ons for sagittarius women of:  Of what? Not that I'd know anything that would turn them on, mind you.

wear pantyhose to renaissance festival:  If they're at least 400 years old.

cast of dukes of hastert:  John Boehner, Jack Abramoff, and a special appearance by Mark Foley.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:23 AM to You Asked For It )
We're naked and we vote

Last October, the community of Loxahatchee Groves, Florida voted to incorporate, and ten candidates for the town council have been meeting in local forums.

Well, mostly. One of the ten begged off last week from a forum held at Sunsport Gardens, a local naturist resort; she said that she'd be embarrassed to bring her children along, as she'd done in two previous gatherings. It may have cost her some votes.

Another candidate admitted to some nervousness beforehand, but pressed ahead:

"I've been in public speaking a while. This is new for me. Normally if I'm nervous I just picture my audience nude. I don't know what I'll do now."

I bet he did just fine.

The Jazz like it here

Well, yeah, they won last night, but there's more to it than that:

Jerry Sloan's opinion? Hurry back, NBA.

"It's a wonderful city. The people have been terrific here, the ones I deal with in the arena, and the people I run into on the street," the Jazz coach, a southern Illinois native, said of Oklahoma City. "It's a great basketball city.... A tremendous building, too."

There are no plans to relocate a franchise in time for next season, but Derek Fisher, president of the NBA players union, believes the city has proved itself during its two-season Katrina-prompted tryout.

"The NBA now has a feel for what it would be like to have a team here, because they've hosted well," the Jazz guard said.

Now all we have to do is, um, find an actual team.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:16 AM to Net Proceeds )
Do the meth

A rumor that's filtered into Consumerist:

I have no proof of this, but it comes from a reliable source (well, someone I consider reliable).

Home Depots in the South (specifically, Tulsa, OK) have a special "MethAmphetamine Lab" Section. Since all the Meth-Lab supplies are legal, they got sick of junkies coming in and pestering their staff for the whereabouts of dozens of supplies. Now they just point them to the designated aisle.

Actually, it's against the laws of this state to simplify matters for anyone who's even heard of meth labs. Ask your cousin with the head cold if you don't believe me.

(Besides, whoever came up with the idea that Home Depot might organize its stores by functionality? Not bloodly likely, bucko.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:38 PM to Soonerland )
Fine print, comb to match, assembly required

Last month one of the Evil Banks who owns the plastic-related segment of my soul sent me a notification to the effect that they were going to pile a few extra percentage points on some Visa card or other. I objected, and said so in return mail; they acknowledged the exception in what we will call Letter 1.

And then I opened Letter 2, which contained an explanation of why they did what they did, which surprised me very little until I noticed that they were referencing an account ending in, oh, let's call it 1234.

I have no accounts ending in the digits indicated, from them or from anyone else.

Best possible interpretation: they've conflated someone else's debt with mine.

The pertinent credit-reporting agency has been tapped for a fresh report. The bottom of this will be gotten to.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:21 PM to Common Cents )
6 March 2007
A question of balance

You've all seen them, and I'd bet you've made fun of them too: $500 cars with thousand-dollar stereos — and, lately, rims that sell for $3k or so.

I must point out, though, that similar outrages to sense and sensibility exist at other price points. Exhibit A: a $150,000 shift knob.

The real knob, of course, is the nudnik who buys the damn thing.

(Note: This isn't much better, but at least it's only $40.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:21 AM to Driver's Seat )
Indefinite articles

Agent is the Usenet client from Forté; I have used it for about a decade or so. According to their FAQ, individual newsgroup database files up to 8 GB are supported.

Since each file represents a single newsgroup, and I subscribe to 31 newsgroups, I might interpret this as allowing 248 GB worth of articles and binaries and whatnot. Not a good idea if you have, say, a 250-GB drive. (Really not a good idea if you have less than that.)

Anyway, I cleared out 9 GB last night — just shy of 696,000 individual items — and it took almost an hour. I don't think I should let the stuff go for so long next time.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:15 AM to PEBKAC )
The Hachette man cometh

News Item: Hachette Filipacchi Media U.S. pulled the plug on Premiere magazine today, announcing that the April issue will be its last.

The truly sad part, of course, is that this puts Libby Gelman-Waxner out of a job.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:38 PM to Dyssynergy )
Minor weirdnesses

Scripts today have been running either slightly faster or quite a bit slower than normal; I'm unable to determine exactly why for either condition. Also, my POP3 mail to this domain isn't running (though I can retrieve it through IMAP), so if you wrote me and you haven't heard back, this may be why.

Or it may not. Given the events of today, which in aggregate will be hard to beat for Worst Workday of the Year, I don't believe anyone's explanations for anything.

(Having shot off my mouth, I now discover that I can't get my IMAP mail either. Sheesh. What a day.)

Mile-high clubbing

The Hornets played even with the Nuggets for about 18 minutes, and then slowly, inexorably, turned into a team that couldn't buy a bucket. After winning the first quarter by a point, the Bees were down ten at the half, down twenty-three during the Third-Quarter Drought™, and managed to pull back to within eight halfway through the fourth quarter, only to see Denver start clicking again. Final: Nuggets 106, Hornets 91, Denver's first victory over the Bees this season.

Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony did their usual sparkling work, combining for 45 points. But the man who shook things up the most, I think, was Marcus Camby, who dropped in eight points, pulled down 11 boards, served up six assists, blocked six shots and grabbed four steals — about as close to everywhere as a player can be in this game.

The Hornets bench was busy tonight, contributing half the offense, but this was due mostly to comparative fecklessness on the part of the starters, although Tyson Chandler got his usual double-double (15 points, 18 rebounds, both team highs) and Chris Paul managed one of his own (13 points, 14 dimes). It was nice to see Rasual Butler hitting again: he led the bench with 11, including three of six treys.

This road trip just gets harder: Friday at Phoenix, Saturday at Utah. Next game at the Ford will be Tuesday against the Nets, and they won't be pushovers either.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:21 PM to Net Proceeds )
7 March 2007
Storage space: the final frontier

Every now and then, I remember the start screen of my old Commodore 64, which boasted "64K RAM SYSTEM" and "38911 BASIC BYTES FREE".

Stuff like this often serves as a trigger to that, um, memory:

[T]he supply of data technically outstrips the supply of places to put it.

IDC estimates that the world had 185 exabytes of storage available last year and will have 601 exabytes in 2010. But the amount of stuff generated is expected to jump from 161 exabytes last year to 988 exabytes (closing in on one zettabyte) in 2010.

An exabyte is one billion gigabytes, or what you'll need to install Windows 2012.

One question remains unanswered, and Terry brings it up:

No mention of what the amount would be if porn were subtracted.

Oh, a couple of gig, easily.

(And speaking of Commodore....)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:27 AM to PEBKAC )
Tales of the brown bunny

Well, okay, if you insist: cocoa Peeps.

Although I'm inclined to accept Sereena X's caveat:

They are utterly tasteless. But if you bite off the head, in dim light the body looks like a chicken nugget.

I hope that's enough.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to Worth a Fork )
Beethoven rolls over the dial

There was media rumble at the end of February about country music returning to the Los Angeles FM radio dial after a six-month absence, and it didn't occur to me to ask what it had replaced.

Now I know:

[T]he Los Angeles commercial classical music station KMZT-FM (105.1) — "K-Mozart" — switched its format to country music, bringing the latter genre back to FM radio in the Los Angeles-Orange County market.

The Los Angeles Times reports that KMZT (formerly 105.1 FM) has swapped names and formats with sister station KKGO (formerly 1260 AM) — billed as "Go Country."

The paper quotes owner Saul Levine, president of their parent company, Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters, as saying, "After 18 years of programming classical music, which I love, it's been an agonizing thing, something we haven't done on the spur of the moment. I really hope the classical music audience will be understanding. I sympathize with those who will be upset."

Two college stations will continue with classical formats on FM: KCSN (Cal State Northridge) and KUSC (University of Southern California).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:14 AM to Overmodulation )
50th anniversary of Goth

Dawn Eden traces it back to the spring of 1957. And she's posted a Beverage Alert, which strikes me as eminently sensible.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:04 PM to Almost Yogurt )

Apparently one (if one is young enough and dexterous enough, which lets me out) announces the existence of Best Friends Forever status by texting "233" to the BF in question; this is, of course, the set of numbered keys corresponding to the letters BFF.

I suppose I'm one of the oldest friends of the Carnival of the Vanities, having submitted a piece to the very first edition; now that the 233rd weekly compendium is up, I suppose I can admit that I sent something to this one too.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:06 PM to Blogorrhea )
No sadder phrase than this

"She would have been eleven today."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:42 PM to Next Generation )
8 March 2007
Memo to users

Courtesy of Vincent Ferrari, three tips for dealing with Fred in IT, and how they compare to dealing with my department:

Don't Demand Anything — Unless Fred reports directly to you, youíre not going to get anywhere if you crash into his Star-Wars-laden cubicle with guns drawn. The second you start getting pushy with old Fred, the second he'll "suddenly realize" that your problem is going to take 2-3 days to resolve. So, in short, be nice to Fred and let him steer the conversation. After all, he knows how the system works and you need his help — if anything, bring an extra Mountain Dew along with you to help grease the wheels.

I might also add that I've already prioritized all the corporate functions, and yours, Debbie Downer, are as close to the bottom as is humanly (or electronically) possible. If you need something today, the optimal time to ask for it is last week.

(Oh, and I prefer Coca-Cola for my deskside buzz, though Dr Pepper and RC are accepted gratefully.)

Don't Expect to be Coddled — Fred probably isn't going to hold your hand. He'll either fix the problem for you or give you some possible fixes that you should try out first. If he goes for the latter, your best bet here is to write it down. There's nothing that will annoy him more than you coming back 2 minutes later asking "What was I supposed to click again?". If it's a multi-step solution, jotting it down will further ensure you execute it correct (and you're likely to impress Fred in the process). If you can't follow instructions, expect resolution of your problem to come much slower than if you had. That actually segues nicely into the final point.

If you have an actual hardware issue, you're probably going to Trini, because (1) she's the official hardware person and (2) there's a reasonable chance she will not snap your head off. Still, this applies pretty much across the board, with the proviso that if, after scraping your machine down to the bare metal, a week later she finds the same adware whose excision demanded that scraping in the first place, she's going to compare you, intellectually, to an igneous rock, and you will come off second best. (Me, I assume sedimentary until proven otherwise.)

They Like it when You Listen — Fred isn't a magician. In fact, a good programmer is one of the most logical, analytical people you're likely to come across outside of NASA. So, while many of the details of his work may be Greek to you, his solution (and likely his explanation) are probably pretty logical.

As the BOFH, I do no substantial programming: I can write a quick and dirty database query, maybe, and I can tell you why your HTML looks like refried crap — for that matter, I can tell you why my HTML looks like refried crap — but you've got to go to the Code Warrior for the serious assaults on data. At some point he may tell you why you are wrong. And he will be correct.

These principles, I suspect, are extensible to an IT department of almost any size.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:53 AM to PEBKAC )
That "Definitive 200" list

It is, like all such lists, deeply flawed, and there's always the suspicion that there are criteria other than musical merit for the ranking. (There is, for example, no planet in this solar system where Pink Floyd and the Dixie Chicks have comparable musical importance.)

For those who asked, or will ask:

  • Number of these I have: 47
  • Number of the top 10 I have: 7
  • Earliest: Frank Sinatra, In the Wee Small Hours (1954)
  • Latest: Shania Twain, Come On Over (1997)
  • Most embarrassing revelation: I originally wrote down for "Latest" Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill (1995), then sorted the list by date to be sure, and: "Wait a minute. Do I have that damn Shania album?"

Also, anybody who prefers Sparkle to Young, Gifted and Black doesn't know squat about Aretha. I'm just saying.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:16 AM to Tongue and Groove )
High-five, hive mind

Just try to say that fast three times.

Normally I'd save this search-engine item for Monday's roundup, but time is apparently of the essence:

The Borg are coming to assimilate us on March 10th:  Yeah, yeah, resistance is futile, yadda, yadda. Just give me Seven of Nine's coordinates.

4 on the floor

Found at Slashdot, a couple of years ago fercryingoutloud:

Just for giggles is anybody reading this currently using NT4?

Um, not anymore. (Giggle.)

Addendum: The city utility bill contains a blurb about a Special Collection of Household Hazardous Waste, to be held Saturday morning, 28 April, at State Fair Park. Near as I can tell, an old NT 4.0 box, though it's not in the Household, certainly qualifies as both Waste and Hazardous.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:26 PM to PEBKAC )
Contenders for Number One

Way too many years ago, I suffered a severe brain fart during a Spanish-language vocabulary test: the word "baño" had evidently escaped me entirely, which is not something to be desired when you have to label the rooms in the house. Desperate for another word for "bathroom," I finally grat my teeth and penciled in "Juan." I need hardly point out that Sister Alfonso Bedoya was not amused.

You'd think that after a debacle of this magnitude, I'd find myself in the business of naming portable-toilet vendors. No such luck. Besides, I'd be hard-pressed to surpass these.

(Via adfreak.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:51 PM to Dyssynergy )
9 March 2007
A whole new U

An idea from Kurt Hochenauer (bottom of item):

Oklahoma City and the state should consider creating a new university or a branch of an existing university in the Bricktown area.

This would be a great boost to Bricktown, and it would also give OKC residents a centralized, public university location for its area residents. I envision it as a primarily online college that would also offer hybrid and traditional courses. I see this future university as the most technologically advanced college in the state. It could also supplement curriculum at all the state's other colleges and universities. This would support trends in current higher education in terms of online education.

Apparently some city leaders actually considered the idea, according to recent news reports, but found that it just wasn't feasible because of its impact on area universities.

I hope this isn't the end of the idea. By making the new university a branch of the University of Central Oklahoma, which is probably most suited to the task, or even the University of Oklahoma, the state's most important research college, costs could be reduced. The college would not duplicate; it would supplement, create better access, and provide technological opportunities.

I like this idea, with one reservation: if you ask me, there's really no reason to put it in Bricktown, where costs are high and space is more limited every day.

Assuming we're going to do this from the ground up, the most sensible place, I think, would be just south of the "boulevard" that's supposed to replace the Crosstown Expressway. It's still central enough — it wouldn't take much to get COTPA to run a shuttle line in and out — and there's plenty of space down there just screaming for something that vaguely resembles the fabled Groves of Academe.

And the important thing, as Doc Hoc notes, is that it should not duplicate offerings elsewhere. We have rather a lot of four-year institutions already in this state, and there's no point in cloning them.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:24 AM to Soonerland )
Ozymandias, line three, please

Dwayne wanders through the Great Banking Hall at the First National Center, and lives to tell.

It's been over twenty years since the First National Bank and Trust Company of Oklahoma City failed. It wasn't as spectacular a flameout as Penn Square Bank four years earlier, a crash which took down mighty $40-billion Continental Illinois, but in one way it was distinctly worse: FDIC actually had to pay Los Angeles-based First Interstate Bancorp some $72 million to take over the ruins. (First Interstate itself ran aground in the middle Nineties and was eventually absorbed by Wells Fargo.)

It's been over thirty years since I had any reason to go to the First National Center (at one time I had an account at the First, mostly because my dad did), but the mental images are well-nigh indelible: it's just so — so banky, if you will. (Hey, if Mr. Monday at the Oklahoman can describe Bricktown as "bricky," I should be allowed "banky.") There hasn't been an actual bank there in ages — Bank of America, which acquired Boatmen's Bank, which succeeded First Interstate at the First National Center, is a block away at Leadership Square, a classic middle-1980s Tallish Glass Box — and while many have had plans for the complex, hardly anything has actually been done. Perhaps this is a Good Thing, since the Great Banking Hall remains intact after all these years. What I'd hoped for, I suppose, was the possibility of one of the resurgent local banks taking over the place, but I suppose the overhead would cut down the resurgence.

And come to think of it, I seldom came in through the front door; I usually came in through the Conncourse Underground.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:35 AM to City Scene )

Around lunchtime (Whataburger, thank you very much), it finally dawned on me, and while the Fates (Bob and Wendy Fate, of Great Neck, New York) weren't addressing me directly, it sounded like their voices:

"Here's the deal. You've got your own house, you've got better wheels than some billionaires, and your waistline is diminishing week by week. Be content with that."

Which, when you get right down to it, is probably a hair kinder than "No, you can't have a girlfriend."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:49 PM to Table for One )
You can't spell "FUBAR" without U

A culprit confesses:

It appears that I, in a stroke of brilliance, mis-pasted the same IP addresses into both of our core routers. This caused an effective bridging loop as both of our routers fought for the IP address. This pegged their CPUs and the uplink between them.

Diane is gonna love this, I know.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:16 PM to PEBKAC )
Sun burned

For a moment in the first quarter, it looked like Phoenix was going to run away with it; the Suns scored 34 points in 12 minutes, and 21 of them came from 3-balls. But the Hornets stuck close, trailing by one at the half and briefly taking the lead a couple of times after that. Finally, with 3.5 seconds to go, the Hornets, down one, got a stop, and after a timeout, the timing of which was questioned by the Suns, tried one last shot. Didn't go, and that's how it ended: Suns 104, Hornets 103.

This was one of those rare games where everybody who played scored, but nobody scored a whole lot. Leandro Barbosa, off the bench, was high man for the Suns with 19, and Amare Stoudemire picked up the double-double with 18 points and 11 boards. Captain America Steve Nash dropped in 15. For the night, the Suns tried 35 treys, and connected on 14; Raja Bell got five of them.

David West and Devin Brown had 19 points each to lead the Bees; Tyson Chandler got his 14th straight double-double (12 points, 11 rebounds). Weird statistic: both Hornets and Suns starters scored 70 points. (Jannero Pargo led the Hornet bench with 15.)

Minnesota obligingly lost tonight, so the Bees, 0-4 in March, remain in 10th place in the conference. The last meeting with the Jazz is tomorrow night.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:19 PM to Net Proceeds )
10 March 2007
Even gets AM

Not everyone loves Bose audio: one common snort is "No highs, no lows: must be Bose." And indeed you can find flatter and/or more extended frequency response elsewhere, probably for less money. ("Paper cones," sniffs Trini, expressing a preference for Kevlar.) Still, Gwendolyn has a Bose system — head unit built by Clarion under license, so far as I can tell — and the impressive aspect of the sound is the space, if you will: it's a highly-reflective ambient soundfield that is probably seriously sub-optimal for techno and such but works nicely on the classical stuff I've been known to listen to on the road, though I dialed the subwoofer back a couple of dB to keep it from rattling itself off the rear deck.

Whatever my reservations about Bose, though, I still covet this. To quote the guys at Autoblog:

The new Bose Media System features customized 5.1-channel surround sound, an AM/FM/XM satellite radio tuner that can be accessed by genre, a 200 hours hard drive, navigation system, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity with access through the system's display and a USB 2.0 input.

Oh, and it has an industry-first multi-format disc player. It can read and play virtually any type of disc you feed into it: CDs, DVD audio discs, DVD video discs, Super Audio CDs, MP3s, AAC and practically every other format available on recordable CDs and DVDs. It even has the Bose uMusic intelligent playback system that uses tags to identify listener "moods" and calls up similar songs from the hard drive.

I bet I could screw up that "moods" business big time in a matter of miles.

Still, you won't be seeing this in my car, unless someone bestows upon me the gift of a Ferrari Scaglietti 612, which costs Ä210,000. Besides, the Ferrari makes some grand sounds of its own without any audio system at all, and anyway Trini prefers Sirius to XM.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:35 AM to Driver's Seat )
Use with compact fluorescents only

It's, well, um, it's a chandelier made of Gummi Bears.

"I wouldn't sit under that," insisted Damocles.

Latham gets off, as it were

T Town Tommy follows up on the Lonnie Latham case, which ended this week with the Southern Baptist pastor's acquittal on charges on offering to engage in an act of lewdness.

Earlier, Lachlan had observed:

[I]f no money was offered, and a simple proposition was made, then I fail to see how this case ever got to trial.

Which was at the core of Latham's ultimately-successful defense. Tommy notes:

In an odd karma like paradox Pastor Lathamís arrest and subsequent trial has been beneficial in further establishing gay rights in Oklahoma against police harassment and unfair judicial actions.

Tommy also links to Latham's Wikipedia page, which is mostly fairly sensible, though this howler got through:

This was not Latham's first visit to the area. Public records show that on December 2, 1998, at about 11:30 p.m., Latham was issued a traffic ticket for "failure to stop for a stop sign" at NW 39th and Frankford. This intersection is only blocks from where Latham was arrested and serves as rear access to the Habanna [sic] Inn."

"Rear access"? Real cute. And it's wrong: 39th and Frankford is almost a mile west of the Habana. Besides, December 1998 was seven years before Latham's arrest, and what's more, the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma headquarters is on May between 37th and 38th; Frankford is the next street east of May. Admittedly, they usually don't stay up until midnight, but this connection is tenuous at best.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:17 AM to Soonerland )
This doesn't quite add up

From the Oklahoman's Real Estate page this morning, this curious item announced by Price Edwards & Co.:

Whole Foods leased 3,553 square feet of retail space in Walnut Square Shopping Center, 7301 S Pennsylvania Ave. Susan Brinkley handled the transaction.

This makes one's eyes bug out. Whole Foods? The Whole Foods? Doesn't seem likely. For one thing, their average store is 31,000 square feet, and the company is working on 50,000-square-foot locations in the near future. And Walnut Square is okay, I guess, but hardly the place you'd put a Whole Foods — especially since the city has been trying to land a store like that for downtown.

Very, very curious.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:29 AM to City Scene )
Anyone have Obi-Wan's ZIP code?

Star Wars mailbox"I've mailed information vital to the survival of the rebellion through this R2 unit." Apparently these are legit: for the 30th anniversary of Star Wars, the US Postal Service has come up with a commemorative mailbox. This is a bit disturbing, I suppose, though no more than, say, if C-3PO were doing Old Navy ads. (Idea for a sure-fire hit: a piñata in the form of Jar Jar Binks.) What's most likely to happen to one of these boxes: someone hauls it away from the Post Office in the dead of night, then (1) faces ten years for theft of government property and (2) ends up on Fark.

Instant rematch

In Oklahoma City earlier this week, the Jazz easily dispatched the Hornets; tonight in Salt Lake City it wasn't quite so easy, but the results were much the same, (no) thanks to the Third-Quarter Drought™, in which the Bees picked up a mere 16 points in 12 minutes, going from a two-point lead after two to a ten-point deficit after three. Final was 96-86, and the Hornets are now 0-5 in March.

Blame Mehmet Okur. The electric Turk hit five treys in seven tries, racking up 29 points. Carlos Boozer added 20 (and 13 boards), and Deron Williams dropped in 10 (with 13 assists). The Jazz outrebounded the Hornets 44-32; Boozer alone had seven offensive rebounds, more than the entire Hornet squad, which explains why the Bees got so few second-chance points.

Two double-doubles on the Hornet side: David West (13 points, 10 rebounds), Chris Paul (12 points, 11 assists). Jannero Pargo had 15 off the bench. Tyson Chandler had only six boards tonight, but he blocked six shots.

The Bees now have to finish 10-9 to come up to last year's 38-44 record. March is going to be a long, long month.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:26 PM to Net Proceeds )
11 March 2007
Latest. Sunrise. Ever.

Even in the dead of winter, we could count on the sun coming up no later than 7:40 am, and in late March when the semi-annual Screw-With-The-Clocks-Fest kicked in, we'd still have sunrise by 7:30 or so.

Not today. In the interest of saving some infinitesimal amount of energy — about as significant as, say, if Al Gore blew a circuit breaker — we get to sit in the dark until 7:48.

As someone who tends to get to work around 6:45, I can't work up any enthusiasm for this maneuver at all.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:27 AM to Weather or Not )
Micrometer of the beholder

I persist in believing that some things simply cannot be quantified — too many intangibles — but who listens to me? Not these folks:

The researchers, from the University of Gdansk in Poland, studied the vital statistics of 24 finalists in a national beauty competition, together with those of 115 other women. They said that while weight, height and hip ratio were normally used to assess female attractiveness, these might not throw up crucial differences between the super-attractive and others.

For men, scientists said height, BMI, waist-to-hip and waist-to-chest ratios were key measures.

Super-attractive women had a thigh-to-height ratio some 12 per cent lower than other women, giving them a more slender look. Skinfold tests on the calf showed 15mm of fat compared with 18mm in other women.

The study also showed that the average super-attractive height was 5ft 9in, with the waist 76 per cent of the size of the chest, and 70 per cent of the size of the hips. Models built like Naomi Campbell came closest to the ideal.

"Attractiveness of a woman's body is one of the most important factors in mate selection, and the question what are the physical cues for the assessment of attractiveness is fundamental to evolutionary psychology," said Leszek Pokrywka, who led the study.

Well, okay. I will stipulate, for the purpose of argument, that Naomi Campbell looks good. These are the criteria, say the researchers:

  • Body mass index 20.85
  • Bust girth to height 49.3%
  • Waist-chest ratio 1.4
  • Leg-to-body ratio 1.4
  • Calf girth to height 19.5%
  • Height 175cm
  • Thigh girth to height 29.7%

So: just under 5-foot-9, somewhere around 34-24-35, legs that go on for hours, if not necessarily days.

Not that I would look askance at someone meeting these criteria, but I'd like to think I am slightly less superficial than that, and unlike, say, your average Stuff reader, I do not presume that I am somehow entitled to someone with supermodel looks. Of course, if Naomi calls, all bets are off.

Your perfect guy is a Christian Bale type:

  • Body mass index 26.5
  • Waist-chest ratio 0.6
  • Leg-to-body ratio 1
  • Height 188cm

I match one of these, anyway.

(Via Fark.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:00 AM to Table for One )
Spreading a bad idea

I woke up this morning at a wretched hour, noted that there'd been about a quarter-inch of rain, and decided that this, by Freya's bodice, would be the day I would get around to doing something about the front lawn. There had been no sign of greening, except where patches of horrid weedage were poking their way through, and, well, the first words on the back of a sack of Turf Teaser, or whatever the hell it's called, are FOR BEST RESULTS APPLY TO WET LAWN.

So I went back to sleep for an hour or two, remembered my pledge, duly rolled out the El Cheapo spreader, which has two settings (Not Enough and Overkill), dumped about 10 kg of the mystery crystals into its box, and ventured forth.

Not a wise decision. For where there is neither grass nor weed, rather a lot of area inasmuch as the old elm out front tends to suck up all the available moisture and we've been running about an inch below normal rainfall this year, there is a phenomenon called Mud, and we're talking industrial-strength, sink-up-to-here, spawn of Harcourt Fenton-type mud. Add to this one further brilliant idea — "It's not cold out, and it will be easier to clean up if I wear the ol' sport sandals" — and, well, were there any Bigfoot sightings in the neighborhood, 'twas probably I.

Had I bothered to go back to the weather statistics, I might actually have seen that that quarter-inch of rain had tripled between initial decision and actual action.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:22 PM to Surlywood )
A brave little toaster

Le grille pain-four
In point of fact, I can't vouch for its courage, but it's certainly intimidating at first glance. According to the blurb, you push a button and the little basket begins to spin, slowly but inexorably, while toaster-level heat is directed at your old stale croissants or muffins or whatever for up to 15 minutes. Of course, this will also warm up your kitchen; whether this be blessing or curse depends on the conditions prevailing right before you hit the button. I briefly entertained the idea of getting one of these, just to see what it would do with a blueberry (unfrosted) Pop-Tart, but sixty euros (including Ä 0.25 to support some arcane European Union environmental mandate, and not including whatever horrid sum it would take to ship out here to the New World) seemed like an awfully high price to pay for a brief moment of amusement, though I'm sure there exist call girls whose profession demands that they disagree with this viewpoint. Still, this gizmo has high-enough WTF factor to justify its appearance here.

(With thanks to Emalyse, who saw it first.)

The return of Circle K

A reader expressed some surprise that I hadn't mentioned this:

The Canadian parent company of Circle K Stores Inc. announced today it has signed an agreement to acquire 53 Oklahoma City Star Fuel Marts Inc. stores.

Expected to close in April, Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. said the convenience stores' total 2006 sales amounted to about $215 million. The company did not disclose the purchase price.

I'd like to say that this was a desperate attempt to avoid Couche-Tard jokes, but actually, it's simply that I spend next to no time on the inside of C-stores; I drive up, shove my card into the reader, fill up Gwendolyn's tank, and vanish into traffic.

It seems remarkable, though, that these 53 stores grossed $215 million last year: that's just over $4 million per store. I can see why the Canadians might be interested.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:14 PM to City Scene )
We make it up in volume

Bill Belew has compiled a list of the 100 most prolific bloggers, and it contains exactly seven blogs with which I'm familiar.

Which is fair: hardly anyone reads me, and I'd fit into the number-four slot right now. Obviously there are people who have written far more than I have who should be on this list above me, but they'll have to send in their credentials themselves.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:21 PM to Blogorrhea )
12 March 2007
Strange search-engine queries (58)

Once again, we go poking through the referrer logs for the last week to see what's snarkworthy.

relationships + what is the average length of time for a man to propose marriage:  Actual proposal (four words): six seconds. Time it takes to get him to utter those four words: could be years.

stylish gonad clothing:  Now there's one runway you don't want to see. *

why say when your cat die?  Aren't you grief-stricken at the loss of your friend? Or at the very least, that you've got this one last bag of litter that you'll never use up?

Why did women in world war II stop wearing panty hose?  Silk and nylon were deemed more essential for parachutes than for stockings. (And pantyhose weren't invented until 1959.)

paranoia, sadness with lortab:  Maybe you're not taking enough.

surgeon breast implant "reasonably competent"  I should hope so.

nudist you have a penis:  Maybe half of them do.

lotus notes animated gif in signature:  Oh, please. Like Lotus Notes isn't slow enough already.

"people who don't date":  They blog about it, ad nauseam.

do you take off your underwear when you get a bikini wax:  Look at it this way. Do you shave your underarms while wearing a T-shirt?

can you put aspirin on bikini wax:  Maybe if you keep your underwear on.

what do women think of autofellatio:  Probably that it saves them some work.

maureen dowd come-hither pumps:  To hear her talk, it takes more than that.

paranoid, overachiever, angry outbursts, narcissistic:  Who the hell's been saying I was an overachiever?

* Addendum: Not related to this.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:29 AM to You Asked For It )
Strings attached

Nice writeup in the San Fernando Valley Sun papers [link goes to PDF file] about classical guitar maker — and actual dustbury.com reader — Greg Brandt, who's been doing this sort of thing for the last quarter-century or so and now has a colossal reputation among Los Angeles-area luthiers.

Brandt keeps no inventory: each instrument is custom-built, and he has some pretty respectable clients. (The name of the late Tommy Tedesco, who played on tons of L.A. sessions, including Phil Spector's, and sustained a solo career as a jazz guitarist, was the first to jump out at me.) Just think: Greg's doing something he finds endlessly fascinating, and he's getting paid for it. Now that's living.

It's alright Ma, I'm only tanning

Dylan once came up with a line about "Even the President of the United States sometimes must have to stand naked." This hasn't caught on in D.C., for reasons I'd just as soon not imagine, but Nudist Day reports that things may be different in Madrid:

Spanish President José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, he of the socialist PSOE party, has purchased a 440 thousand Euro summer home located in Vera, Almeria. The house was purchased in his wife's name, Sonsoles Espinosa, and is in a coastal area famous for its important naturist population.

Of course, this doesn't mean that Zapatero himself is necessarily going to be getting his Vitamin D in this fashion, but how likely is it that he doesn't know about the nude use along Vera Playa?

Not the bonus essay question

Actually, this, in and of itself, doesn't strike me as an unreasonable thing to ask a student:

Write a paragraph comparing two pieces of work in your portfolio that are alike in some way. For example, you can compare two labs or your solutions to two problems you solved. One piece should be new and one should be from the beginning of the year. Use these questions to help you write your paragraph:

Which two pieces did you choose to compare?

How are they alike? How are they different?

Do you see any improvement in the newest piece of work as compared to the older work? Explain.

If you could redo the older piece of work, how would you improve it?

How could you improve the newer piece of work?

But why would a student be asked this in a fifth-grade math textbook, of all places? Developing metacognition is wonderful, I suppose, but the first order of business at this level is to get to the point where you can balance a checkbook.

(Via Joanne Jacobs.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:47 AM to Say What? )
Let's not get snippy here

File this under "Who knew?"

Arriving in Arkansas on I-40, one sees many billboards offering vasectomies. After Hope, Arkansas, home of Bill Clinton, the billboards turn to vasectomy reversals. Hmmm ....

Feel free to write your own joke.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:30 PM to Dyssynergy )
Life takes Visa

This tagline has been running in the print ads for some time now, but never quite so literally as here:

The latest edition of "THE GAME OF LIFE" will switch from paper currency to plastic this summer. VISA and game maker Hasbro have signed a deal to add VISA cards to the latest version of "THE GAME OF LIFE — Twists & Turns Edition." Players of the new edition, due to be released in August, will receive a VISA card at the start of the game and will use an electronic banking unit to store each player's financial data as well as their status in the game. The new electronic "LIFEPod" will replace the spin wheel from the classic game.

I'm waiting for a version of Candy Land with a glucose meter.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:53 PM to Common Cents )
13 March 2007
Once again, trailing all the cool kids

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:28 AM to Screaming Memes )
Fish enjoys bicycling, film at eleven

Let it be said at the top that I'm inclined to believe that there may be at least as many definitions of "feminism" as there are women, and I don't feel qualified to cough up one of my own, what with (1) this Y chromosome of mine and (2) the fact that I have spent very little of my adult life in the company of women and therefore have scant experience upon which to draw.

That said, I'm wondering if there's an answer for this:

Being in love is awesome. Being married is awesome. Sharing a bed with a man means cuddles, sex, backrubs, back scratches, someone to wake you from your nightmares, or commisserate when the alarm clock goes off. Being in a relationship means you have someone you can count on to hold you when you cry, take care of you when youíre sick, run errands and do chores with — and you enjoy doing the same for them. A husband is an ally to make long term plans with. Being coupled makes everything else in life better. It's the frosting on the cupcake.

How does any of the above make me not a feminist? How does the desire for and enjoyment of male companionship somehow make me opposed to women's equal legal rights, control of our own bodies, economic advancement, and general well-being?

Okay, it doesn't sound, you know, independent, but how many of us are really in a position to provide for all of our own needs?

And no, I'm not upset with anyone; I'm just playing darts.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:42 AM to Table for One )
Thought, word and deeds

Earlier this year, Francis W. Porretto caught some flak for suggesting that one's home is not the gold-plated asset it's made out to be, in terms as unambiguous as this:

[A] house must be regarded as a consumption expense, not an investment. For young persons overwhelmingly likely to need (or want) to move within a decade of the purchase, it's a particularly bad deal.

The Wall Street Journal has now weighed in with a similar argument, plenty of which was quoted by Burbed.com, as follows:

For the grasshoppers, there's nothing quite as stupid as paying off your 2002 trip to Orlando in 2032, when you finally settle up your refinanced "cash out" 30-year mortgage. And for the ants, economic studies have demonstrated over and over that houses (1) cost more than most people make when they sell and (2) rarely match the long-term returns of stocks or other investments.

It may be late for a lot of homeowners to read this, but here it goes anyway: It's risky and bad planning to have too much of your net worth in your principal residence. No prudent stock-market player would put 60% or 70% of a portfolio in just one stock, but millions will hold that much or more of their total net worth in just one house.

(Disclosure: At the moment, I fall into this bracket. On the other hand, no one has accused me of being a prudent stock-market player, and anyway, the rest of the portfolio is going up faster.)

And, yes, there's this:

When most homeowners figure their returns, they donít do much more than subtract the price they paid from the price they received. Then they come up with a really big return because they paid only a 10% or 20% down payment. So they figure they made a huge "profit."

But they didn't. Thatís because the costs of owning a home — buying it with a long-term mortgage and then paying taxes on it, insuring it, repairing it, renovating it — sap most of what most homeowners think they make in price appreciation.

And woe betide those who live in housing markets in decline.

Says the Burbed fellow, perhaps tongue-in-cheek:

If you don't have a mortgage, you're not driving up property prices. And if you're not driving up property prices, you're hurting your neighbors by preventing them from extracting equity to pay for college for their children.

Why do you hate our children, WSJ?

I'd call this "food for thought," but I'd probably never get back the investment in the kitchen remodel.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:08 AM to Common Cents )
More tribulations, fewer trials

News Item: Court TV is changing its name, look and logo as part of a network overhaul planned for later this year. The network, acquired by Time Warner and folded into its Turner division during 2006, will no longer be called Court TV as of Jan. 1, 2008, and will revamp its daytime trial coverage and add in prime several new reality series (or, as the network and others, like A&E, prefer to call them, "real-life series").

Top Ten Proposed New Names for Court TV:

  1. OJTV
  2. The Thug Channel
  3. Disembodied Headline News
  4. F!
  5. The Repellent Will Please Rise
  6. American Idolatry
  7. Xtreme News
  8. The Anna Nicole Memorial
  9. TCM (Turner Classic Madmen)
  10. Fox Family

(Seen at Gawker.)

We got your dead zone right here

As of right now, they're still looking things over, but apparently just before 4 pm, somebody crossed over the grass median in the middle of I-44 just east of Kelley and smashed into oncoming traffic: one person is reported dead, the number of those injured has not been released, and westbound lanes are closed at Martin Luther King. (Eastbound traffic is reportedly down to one lane; as I had to exit at MLK, I didn't get to look at it, and frankly, I wasn't inclined to double back and take a look.)

So I took 50th home, or at least as far as Western, and spotted something I wasn't expecting: a car parked at Sleepy Hollow, which closed some months back. Dare I hope?

Update, 7 pm: The Oklahoman reports:

About 4 p.m. today, a sports car traveling eastbound on Interstate 44 crossed the median near Kelley Avenue and collided with a westbound pickup truck hauling a flatbed trailer, Oklahoma Highway Patrol trooper Kera Phillipi said.

The car's driver died at the scene. The victim's name wasn't immediately available. The truck's driver was taken to a local hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries, Phillipi said.

That phrasing seems awkward: how do you threaten nonlife?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:39 PM to City Scene )
The porpoise-filled life

With the Nets in town, I was looking for a fish-related title, but my big worry was that the Hornets, who have been floundering for five games, would put up minnowmum resistance in the presence of all those New Jersey mussels. ("Knock it off, you're giving me a haddock." — Ed.) Didn't happen: the Bees put up some serious offense and outrebounded the Nets, tying the score at 104-104 with 1:04 to play. Buckets were exchanged. Then Tyson Chandler (6 points, 11 boards) fouled out with 22 seconds left; Vince Carter, who hadn't been doing so well at the line, came up with two free throws, and the Nets never trailed again, winning 112-108.

Richard Jefferson, after an injury, is indeed back: he dropped in 26 points to lead all scorers. Vince Carter had 21; Jason Kidd scored 18 and dealt 12 assists; ex-Hornet Bostjan Nachbar hit up his old teammates for three treys and 12 points from the bench.

With the exception of Chandler, all the starting Hornets scored in double figures. Chris Paul had 25 and served up 12 dimes; David West had 24. Linton Johnson and Marc Jackson, former Nets, got 12 between them.

This weekend the Bees are on the road: Friday at New York, Saturday at Washington. Both of these, for the moment, are playoff teams, though the Knicks have only a one-game edge over New Jersey. Monday, it's back to the Ford Center to play the Celtics.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:44 PM to Net Proceeds )
14 March 2007
Roll out the blue carpet

From the very last issue of Premiere magazine — their Web site continues — the startling revelation that Marge Simpson sleeps in the nude:

According to Simpsons creator Matt Groening, the show's animators will occasionally slip in nude drawings of Marge during a bed scene and cover her with a blanket animated cel. Groening admitted, "She is surprisingly voluptuous given the way she looks in that shapeless dress."

"Mmmm ... shapeless ...."

Hang up and drive, dammit

There have been, I admit, times when I gazed longingly at another driver out here in the Teeming Milieu, but no way am I going to mess with this:

Delta Meridian Inc announced today it is now beta testing its new network called SameLane which enables riders in vehicles on any roadway to make social cell phone calls to riders in other vehicles by simply calling a premium charge phone line and entering the license plate of the vehicle in view they wish to contact.

A unique feature of the SameLane system is its ability to connect cell phone calls between vehicle riders without either party knowing the other's cell phone number. In a social call environment on any roadway vehicle riders will now be able to chat to each other, much the same way they might do while sitting on a plane to pass the time of day, without having to reveal each otherís identity unless they choose to do so in conversation.

Then again, unless you're the pilot, sitting on a plane doesn't require the level of concentration demanded of a driver.

I suppose this might work if you're stuck on an L.A. freeway for the better part of an afternoon, but here in the Okay City, where Mayor Cornett once bragged that it was possible to get a speeding ticket during rush hour, this is a Bad Idea.

(Via Lachlan, who doesn't like it either.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:32 AM to Driver's Seat )

Well, I'm sorry, but that's how "Arkansas's" looks like it ought to be pronounced.

Addendum, 18 March: Matt Barr advises: "When confused about style and grammar, I often consult people who ran for and got elected to state office."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:27 AM to Say What? )

The German submarine U-234 sailed from Kiel in March 1945, bound for Japan. Part of its cargo, interestingly enough, was U-235 — fissionable uranium, with which the Japanese hoped to build some nuclear weapons using German technology. The delivery was never made: U-234 surrendered on 9 May 1945, and two Japanese passengers aboard committed suicide rather than turn themselves over to the Allies. For them, it was personal.

What's more, Carnival of the Vanities #234, says Kehaar, is personal, in that he's tied his own commentary to some of the posts received. I recommend it to any persons reading.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:11 PM to Blogorrhea )
Besides, who needs all those trees?

The telephone-directory market around here has generally consisted of two players: AT&T SBC AT&T and Feist/Yellow Book. Today a third party landed a book somewhere near my porch, and I duly gave it the once-over.

The User-Friendly Phone Book, and that is its name, is not too dissimilar from competing products, but it does offer a smidgen larger print — useful for those of us with questionable vision — and the pages are cut to allow for seven tabs: business listings, "Easy Info," community stuff, maps, menus, coupons, and finally Yellow Pages, which in turn have painted (not cut) tabs for each letter of the alphabet.

This is User-Friendly's ninth year; they already have directories in Bartlesville and Tulsa. Some of their directories — Beaumont, Texas; Shreveport, Louisiana; and various areas in Northeast Ohio — are readable on the Web, and I hope they port over the Oklahoma City book eventually. (After all, Firefox already has tabs and resizable text.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:28 PM to Dyssynergy )
15 March 2007
Oh, come on, just a peak

Bruce Sterling, speaking at SXSW, says the days of blogs are numbered:

I don't think there will be that many of them around in 10 years. I think they are a passing thing.

Ten years? Cool. Can I quit now?

(Eleventh anniversary coming up 9 April. Be there or be totally L7. Or B9. Or something.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:01 AM to Blogorrhea )
I don't think so

Someone left a spam comment here a few minutes ago, using the name "George Soros." Whatever you may think of Mr Soros, you have no reason to think he'd resort to that sort of thing. The offending item has been deleted.

(The title should be spoken with inflections that convey a certain irritated disdain; I recommend the way LL Cool J says it in "Going Back to Cali.")

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:48 AM to Scams and Spams )
What? A beautiful drink?

New Coke did the Amazing El Foldo with such prodigious speed that you'd think the Coca-Cola Company would be reluctant to reposition any product line ever again.

Wrong-O, Buffalo Bob. (Hmmm. Seems like I've used this phrase before.) Tab (I refuse to render it as "TaB"), once a diet soda, is now, with minor changes, an "energy drink," and Lawren seems to like it:

I'm on a Tab Energy drink kick. They are seriously amazing. They taste like a cherry Jolly Rancher (unlike Red Bull, which tastes like carbonated pixy stick water with a funktastic aftertaste). And, you really should try one w/ vodka the next time you're out. I just wish bars would start carrying it — I'd never order a vodka and Red Bull again. Who knew a brand as vintage as Tab could come up with something new for the young hipsters?

I'm still reeling from the idea of carbonating Pixy Stix. But there's something weirdly appealing about the idea of pouring a stream of Belvedere ("a lovely marriage of velvet and freon," says Lileks) into a Tab. Maybe I'll work up the nerve to request this at one of my semiannual bar stops. Not that anyone will accuse me of being a young hipster or anything.

(Title explained here.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:24 AM to Worth a Fork )
Lorem? I hardly know 'em

Lorem ipsum is not the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest, but a standard piece of boilerplate for evaluating printed-copy design — or even non-printed-copy design, as anyone who's looked over WordPress themes lately can tell you. It goes back to the sixteenth century:

Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

Under no circumstances does it mean "FastAttach Safety System".

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:40 AM to Say What? )
Which is a problem only if people vote

SOE Software of Tampa was hired to develop a Web site for the Elections Office of Palm Beach County, Florida, at a cost that would make your (or at least my) nose bleed.

How did they do in the recent municipal elections? Not so great:

In an effort to give the Web site a "more crisp" appearance, a column for vote totals was inadvertently made too narrow to handle four-digit numbers and cut off the crucial digit in the thousands place, said Marc Fratello, chief executive officer of SOE.

I'm in favor of improving crispness levels: one way might be to roast these people on a spit.

Note that the actual election returns were not affected:

Elections Supervisor Arthur Anderson said the problem, which was fixed by 10:30 p.m. Tuesday, affected the way information was presented on the Web site but not the integrity of the actual election results.

Although incorrect figures were posted on the Web site, correct totals later appeared on county government Channel 20 and on a handout given to reporters at about 10:15 p.m. at the county elections office.

The bad Web figures led West Palm Beach mayoral challenger Al Zucaro and his supporters to briefly celebrate what they thought was a victory over incumbent Mayor Lois Frankel by the extraordinarily low vote total of 721 to 518.

A few minutes later, the Web site was updated to show Frankel winning handily with 6,518 votes to Zucaro's 4,721.

Then again, what's 10,000 votes in Palm Beach County?

(Via Purple Avenger.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:24 PM to PEBKAC )
Technology for bloodsuckers

I dread getting bloodwork: it's not so much that I swoon at the sight of bodily fluids (though I will happily look at the opposite wall when given the opportunity), but that it's so darn hard to find a convenient vein. Most of the time, it takes two tries; more than once it's taken three.

The VeinViewer from Luminetx was invented a couple of years ago to address this issue, and it's now available to healthcare professionals at retail. Using near-infrared light to spot the blood vessels and a computer-assisted imaging system to project the locations directly on the patient's skin, it's the next best thing to X-ray vision: it shows exactly where the veins are located, saving both time and unnecessary sticks. I'm sort of hoping my doctor reads this, and sort of surprised I didn't call this "You're So Vein" or something similarly silly.

(Via Popgadget.)

16 March 2007
Quote of the week

Rebels without a clue? Martin's analysis:

Whenever some teenage wannabe anarchist revolutionary type goes out and protests against "capitalists" and "corporations" and "globalization", all while sleeping safely at night in the shelter of his parent's 4 bedroom home, he's engaging in a particularly safe kind of "rebellion."

He can "rage against the machine" all he wants, knowing, at least on a subconscious level, that the "machine" is what gives him the affluence and the free time to do all his "raging." And also knowing that despite all his "raging", the "machine" not only considers him less bothersome than a fly, but that the "machine" will still be there after graduation when he cuts his hair, takes out his piercings, covers up his tatoos, puts on a suit and goes straight to "the machine" for his 50k management trainee job.

And all the while, as he's doing his "raging" he can posture as a dashing and dangerous revolutionary hero-of-the-people (and score some primo hippie-girl poontang while he's at it).

I suspect this can be codified as a metalaw: anything worth doing (and, not surprisingly, anything not worth doing) will sooner or later be overrun by poseurs.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:27 AM to QOTW )
Quote of the week (reserve)

Of course, should the original Quote of the Week be unable to fulfill its duties, said duties will devolve upon this one.

Steph Waller, researching box wines:

I'm darned tired of wine snobbery. Wine should taste good. It's that simple. You don't need to know how to swirl a glass, or inhale the vapors as the wine sits on your tongue (that little pantomime makes you look like a demented fish, anyway). All you need to know is, do you like it? If not, it's a bad wine. If so, it's a good wine. And who the hell cares how much it costs?

Waller is working on a book on this very subject.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:31 AM to QOTW )
Sino the times

For some inscrutable reason, this site is not banned in China.

Should I complain? And if so, to whom?

(Via Overtaken by Events.)

Addendum: I tried three other domains I own: two of them were blocked.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:46 AM to Blogorrhea )
Tails of mystery and imagination

Adam Gurri is working up an essay on the Internet as Attention Economy, and somewhere in mid-research he found Mister Snitch's late-2005 overview of blogging styles, in which yours truly loomed large (and, I contend, undeservingly so). Mr Gurri's examination of the Long Tail, a fairly flexible term for those of us who are household words in only a few discriminating households, merits some comment here.

On the one hand, there are people who value blogging more than they value the other activities they could spend that time on. On the other hand, the longer that they post, on any subject, the more likely that their blog will be found through search engines.

So even if a blog is relatively unnoticed or attracts no substantial amount of regular readers, it will in all likelihood experience a steady increase in traffic over the extreme long term.

Only 24 hours are available in any given day (with two exceptions, one in the spring, one in the fall, which nonetheless average out to 24), obviously something has to be given up to make room for all this bloggage, and in my case, that something was television: my viewing is down from a not-especially-high ten hours a week in 2000, when I started doing daily updates to this site, to — well, I have yet to accumulate ten hours this year, and we're halfway through March already.

Traffic has dropped off slightly here since Snitch declared I was "approaching 1000 unique visits a day"; it's currently closer to 700. Still, this is a fairly substantial number, especially since 700 was a good monthly figure here as late as 2001.

Then again, I am persistent, a characteristic which doesn't describe everyone in blogdom:

Not all of the returns one gets from investing one's time in blogging can be summarized by a desire for readers. Yet it is highly likely that there exists people for whom blogging is only valuable enough to spend time on if their readership is above a certain minimum. The fact that the proportion of blogs to the proportion of time people are willing to spend reading is huge means that most blogs will only get a tiny fraction of the overall readership. Considering these two ideas — the fact that most blogs will have a small readership, and that many people may have a minimum level of readership to give enough value to their blogging — and we may have isolated an important cause for the large number of abandoned [blogs].

In April of 2006, for instance, Technorati stated that 55% of all blogs were still active 3 months after they were created. Flipping that around, it means that 45% of blogs at that point in time were not even making it past their third month.

We may fancy ourselves voices crying in the wilderness; but if no one hears us, do we make a sound? The dynamic of blogdom pretty much assures that most of us will never get anywhere near the audience of a Kos, an Atrios, an Instapundit; but it also assures that a few of us will — though probably not within three months.

Of course, subject matter does matter:

What you blog about is usually a function of what your interests are, which is just another way of saying what it is that you value. How much people value readers varies from person to person — for some people, getting too many readers can be undesirable, if it results either in having to pay for more bandwidth or a constant stream of reader e-mails.

The wonderful thing about the long tail of blogging is that it means that people like me, for whom large readership is only of marginal importance, I can write about as many obscure topics as I wish, as infrequently as I feel like, and if I make sure to do it continually over time, I can still look forward to an increase in readership. Yet even during those months where readership is particularly low, I come back to this blog because it I enjoy a number of things about writing through this medium.

I've said before that I'd keep up this soapbox even if no one were reading. As the saying goes, it is unwise to argue with someone who buys ink by the gallon, and while I don't go through a whole lot of ink myself, I have boatloads of pixels in reserve.

But I do have readers, with motivations of their own. Some people come here to see me turn a phrase, or fail to turn one. Some people just wonder what the heck is going through my head. A few wait for an opportunity to deliver a Gotcha! (In the terminology of Eric Berne's Games People Play, these individuals are playing a version of NIGYSOB.)

And a lot of this is Rick Blaine Syndrome: of all the sites on all the servers in all the world, somehow someone walks into mine. I still marvel at this, eleven years into my Web presence.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:06 PM to Blogorrhea )
Gnome on the range

Let's see if I have this straight:

  1. Buy girlfriend lots of underpants and such online.
  2. ????
  3. Debit!

That's how it looks to me, anyway.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:17 PM to Table for One )
New York's a lonely town

Certainly the Hornets had trouble getting acquainted with Madison Square Garden's baskets: after 12 minutes, the Bees were shooting an appalling 18 percent and the Knicks were up 29-15. Things improved in the second quarter, with Rasual Butler knocking down eight points in a couple minutes with only three shots, and the Bees trailed by six at the half. Both sides enjoyed, if that's the word, a Third-Quarter Drought™; with a couple of minutes left, the Hornets actually got the lead. With 14 seconds left, it was Hornets 92, Knicks 90, and New York got four last shots — yet somehow missed them all.

The Knicks still outshot the Hornets, 48 percent to 43, and had fewer turnovers (12 versus 16). But the Bees owned the boards, and it was second-chance points that made the difference.

Well, that and Rasual Butler, who made five treys in five tries, leading the bench with 17 points. There was a double-double — from David West, who scored 18 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Chris Paul, despite some niggling physical problems, dropped in 20 and managed 8 assists.

Steve Francis led all scorers with 21, and served up 10 assists. Channing Frye was good for 20; Eddy Curry got 18. Isiah Thomas played only nine men, and the New York bench scored 21 points. (The Hornets' second unit picked up 31.)

Possibly pertinent quote: "Fear is the darkroom where the devil develops his negatives," said Gerry V. Perhaps finally winning a game halfway through the month will give these guys some confidence tomorrow night against the Wizards.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:59 PM to Net Proceeds )
17 March 2007
Why clues are precious

This has got to be an early April Fool joke:

Are you saying that this linux can run on a computer without windows underneath it, at all ? As in, without a boot disk, without any drivers, and without any services ?

That sounds preposterous to me.

If it were true (and I doubt it), then companies would be selling computers without a windows. This clearly is not happening, so there must be some error in your calculations. I hope you realise that windows is more than just Office ? Its a whole system that runs the computer from start to finish, and that is a very difficult thing to acheive. A lot of people dont realise this.

The old rule about "when you're in a hole, quit digging" never occurred to this guy:

Microsoft just spent $9 billion and many years to create Vista, so it does not sound reasonable that some new alternative could just snap into existence overnight like that. It would take billions of dollars and a massive effort to achieve. IBM tried, and spent a huge amount of money developing OS/2 but could never keep up with Windows. Apple tried to create their own system for years, but finally gave up recently and moved to Intel and Microsoft.

Its just not possible that a freeware like the Linux could be extended to the point where it runs the entire computer fron start to finish, without using some of the more critical parts of windows. Not possible.

Either Steve Ballmer wrote that under the influence of a large hammer to the forehead, or this is the most clueless individual ever to scream at a technician at a computer store.

Mike adds:

Even my dad laughed at the article, and he has limited knowledge of computers. It's incredible that people can use computers, but not even be aware of the existence of alternatives.

(Via Doc Searls.)

Update, 18 March: By gum, it was a joke. Whew.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:14 AM to PEBKAC )
Perfunctory holiday content

Your assignment: to rid the Emerald Isle of snakes. Who will do the better job for you: St. Patrick, who has divine intervention somewhere in his portfolio, or Samuel L. Jackson, who operates on sheer mothersomething fury?

We may never know for sure. But if you complete the exercise, treat yourself to a green beer — and a Quarter Pounder with cheese.

(From the files of Miss Cellania.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:50 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Slack to be cut, at least somewhere

I knew that the Planning Commission was getting fussy about historic districts and such, but I had no idea that this provision was in place:

For each structure, the roofing materials visible from the street shall be clay tiles; the exterior of the wall of each building shall be finished in white stucco, the appropriate shades of color to be determined by the Historical Preservation and Landmark Commission.

This applies to everything along the Paseo, the one-time Spanish-flavored shopping district currently being reinvented as an arts and entertainment zone. The Planning Commission has since proposed the deletion of the "white stucco" provision, and will hold a public hearing on the matter. I've never thought the Paseo looked particularly homogeneous, although this may be a function of the twisty topography rather than of architectural variations; it will be interesting to see who jumps up to do a radical makeover once the provision is stricken.

Speaking of architectural variations, is it too much to ask that the CVS store that will replace the Mayfair Market at 50th and May look at least something like the rest of the Mayfair Village complex? It's bad enough that we lose a neighborhood grocery to the ongoing CVS/Walgreens pissing contest — why in the name of Merck the Mighty is it necessary for these chains to chase each other all over the city? — but if this is going to look like the usual soulless Super Pharmacy, I'll just have one more reason never to set foot in the place. (I gave up Eckerd's, which CVS displaced by merger, after they botched up a prescription for one of my maintenance drugs; my one experience with Walgreens was sufficiently annoying to guarantee I'll never go back to them.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:06 PM to City Scene )
Squirrel porn

That's right, squirrel porn.

At least there's no indication that they're on crack. Where are the Beastly Boys when you need them?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:20 PM to Dyssynergy )
Selling out

Another house on my street is being offered for sale. The owners live in Edmond, and have leased the place out for the last three years or so; perhaps they're tired of playing landlord.

Description, from when it was first offered for rent:

What you get: Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, central heat and air, washer/dryer connections, 1550 square feet of space by whatever arcane mathematics they use to determine such things, decently huge back yard, the dubious privilege of living next door to me.

What you don't get: A garage (this one has been converted to actual living space), much of a view.

The claimed size is now 1569 square feet; I think it's closer to 1500, but I haven't been inside with a tape measure, so don't take my word for it. (The Assessor says 1075, but I don't think he's figuring the garage conversion into the total.) The place was seriously remodeled in 2002, and still looked pretty good the last time I was over there. A quarter of a bathroom has apparently vanished: they now claim 1¾.

Asking price is $95,000. The Assessor's notice this year says the place is worth $104,461; Zillow's Zestimate is $104,353. Property taxes run a little over a thousand a year. (I'll have some tax talk later, inasmuch as I just got my own notice.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 2:37 PM to Surlywood )
From the Verizon Shooting Gallery

Well, at least something moves quickly in the District of Columbia: the Wizards and the Hornets rolled up a total of 120 points in 24 minutes. Unfortunately for the Bees, they had only 55 of them. Sixty more points were scored in the third, split 30-30, leaving Washington up 95-85. You might infer from this that there wasn't a whole lot of defense in evidence, and you would be correct — until the fourth quarter, when the Wizards went on a 20-4 tear and simply ran away with it. The final: 125-103.

And Washington did all this without Caron Butler; Andray Blatche started, and Antawn Jamison (21 points) helped take up the slack. Darius Songaila, off the bench, took six shots and made them all. And there was this fellow named Arenas who got 30 points and 11 assists. The Hornets shot a decent 49 percent, but the Wizards stayed around 60 percent for almost the entire game, and what's more, Washington dominated the boards, outrebounding the Bees 42-31.

Still, 103 points, even in a losing battle, suggests some serious offense. Chris Paul, ignoring that stress issue, rolled up 21 points; David West had 17; the bench was good for 44, led by the Jacksons (Bobby and Marc), with 10 each. And they missed only two free throws out of 22, though three-balls were hard to come by (5 of 19).

This is, if I remember correctly, the seventh time in a row that a Wizards-Hornets game was won by the home team. The Bees will be back at the Ford on Monday night to take on the Celtics; whatever Beantown's problems in recent years, they've not had much trouble thrashing the Hornets, so it would not be wise to take them lightly.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:24 PM to Net Proceeds )
18 March 2007
When the levy brakes

First, a reprint from 2005:

Under the 5-percent cap law, the assessed value can go up by a maximum of 5 percent per year, regardless of actual market value, unless there is a change in ownership or a substantial change in the property itself. And the market value, they estimate, has risen a little more than 11 percent this year; however, the assessed value has risen by — wait for it — 4.998 percent. (Remind me to hire these people next time I need hairs split.)

For this year, read 9.19 and 4.999 percent.

You might think — and you would be correct — that the longer a property remains under the cap, the greater the disparity between the market value and the taxable market value. This year, the difference is about 9.4 percent.

The actual tax rate, which is not subject to the cap, will be determined in the fall; last year it went up 0.84 percent.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:17 AM to Surlywood )
I know! We'll scare some domain owners!

Not one but two faxes came in this weekend from something styling itself "Domain Registry Support," demanding a reply within 24 hours. (Cleverly, they sent the faxes 24 hours and 9 minutes apart.) Rather than type in all that crap, I'll point you to Flyte's encounter with these guys from a couple years back. They weren't impressed either:

What this company is doing certainly isn't illegal ... just misleading. They see a company's new domain registration the way street hustlers see fresh-faced teens getting off the bus in Los Angeles ... fresh meat.

Once you've registered your domain (i.e., yourdomain.com,) you'll get an official looking fax from them titled: FINAL NOTICE OF DOMAIN EXTENSION. (Ah, if only it was the final notice.) They tell you that yourdomain.us "has now become available for registration. Consequently the possibility of conflicting domain name registrations may occur." (My emphases, not theirs.)

With phrases scattered throughout like: REGARDING: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY NOTIFICATION PROCESS and IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE UNITED STATES LEGAL CODE and "You are required to advice the notification processor of your intent to license this domain name ..." it's no wonder why it scares the bejeezuz out of many people.

This is not a business plan! This is a business scam!

There is no service being provided here. There's no value-added item. This is just flood insurance for the north pole. If you do want to tie up other versions of your domain, worry about .org, .net and .biz long before you worry about .us. I mean, who uses .us?

Well, I have a few .us sites on Ye Olde Blogroll, but I daresay I'm not particularly worried about squatters, and the .com domain here is registered through the spring of 2011. (And yes, my Whois information is public; all else being equal, I prefer to hide in plain sight.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:57 AM to Wastes of Oxygen )
Saussy recollections

It wasn't that long ago that I got around to writing this:

Despite the grandiose name, the Neon Philharmonic was basically a one-man show with a second man out front. The man at the microphone was Nashville mainstay Don Gant, of the Acuff-Rose publishing empire, who'd maybe sung a demo or two in his day but had never had a hit single on his own. Behind him was composer/musician/advertising executive Tupper Saussy, who would one day describe his style as "standards that no one has ever heard before." Warner Bros., which had never heard anything quite like the Gant/Saussy demos, signed them to a two-LP deal. "Morning Girl," the single from The Moth Confesses, is light and breezy and beautifully orchestrated and blessedly short, which means you don't have time to notice that Saussy's lyric, sung by Gant, deals with the morning after the seduction of a young woman by some aging cad. The second album, The Neon Philharmonic, was even less conventional: it opens with the five-minute-plus "Are You Old Enough to Remember Dresden?", arguably the first visit on record to a No-Spin Zone. It didn't sell, and only one other single (the non-LP "Heighdy-Ho Princess") made the Hot 100. Gant and Saussy turned their attentions elsewhere, Gant as a Nashville producer, Saussy as a painter and tax protester; for the latter, Saussy served fourteen months in Club Fed.

Don Gant died in 1987; Tupper Saussy made it all the way to this month. (It's reported that he was found yesterday slumped over in front of his computer after being unreachable for a day or so, which is precisely the way I expect to go.)

Last year he cut a new track, "I Think I See," which I think you can see here.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:40 AM to Tongue and Groove )
Besides, plastic is cold

If you're a merchant in Florida's Osceola or Pasco counties, the person who just handed you a stack of two-dollar bills for his purchase will be dressed — temporarily:

The nudist resorts bring in more than 100,000 tourists a year. Now they want to flex their economic muscles.

"I think they wanna show the economic impact they have on the local community, that they are here spending a lot of money and, you know, they buy their gas, they eat in restaurants, they buy their food and they want people to know that," said Kathy Dunkley, Pasco County Chamber of Commerce.

The nudists will use only two-dollar bills for everything they buy.

"Oh, we got tremendous feedback, absolutely incredible feedback. They said, `Wow, you people spent a lot of money.' Yes, we did," Foster said.

They hope the two-dollar gimmick will expose just how much money they bring into the Florida economy.

Of course, once a boatload of $2 bills gets into general circulation in Florida, some unsuspecting snowbird from Schenectady is going to get a couple of them in change, she'll fly back home, and months later, this same story will be back up at Fark and her friends will just naturally Assume The Worst. Which isn't The Worst at all, really, but some people are not prepared to deal with this sort of thing.

Addendum, 19 March: A clothed resident has a plan:

As it happens my temporary residence is no more than ten minutes from Paradise Lakes, the crown jewel of area clothing-optional resorts. That certainly means I'll be steering away from my usual check card use and making lots of small purchases with bigger bills, if only as an opportunity to ask people behind the register how much of the Jeffersons they've seen.

That also certainly means the potential for awkward exchanges between uninformed customers armed with the rare bills and informed merchants. After the customer manages to convince the merchant that they see clothing as very much required, they'll likely rush to the bank to trade in the insinuating cash.

And thus, the economic impact is covered up.

I wouldn't think it too likely that a merchant in mid-sale would give the customer a wink and say, "Oh, you're one of them, are you?" Keep in mind, though, that I have never had any retail transactions in Florida, unless you count a stop at a Burger King in Bradenton.

1080p in 2008

A perhaps-unexpected factor in the Presidential election, a mere twenty months away: HDTV. Jane Galt's thinking:

Just as the introduction of television famously altered voter perceptions of the candidates in the 1960 election (those who listened to the debate thought that Nixon had won, but those who saw it on television overwhelmingly favoured the more telegenic Kennedy), HDTV could skew who we nominate and/or elect.

For example, though I've never met him, my understanding from those who have is that McCain's image of vitality is very carefully projected, and that when you actually meet him up close, he looks pretty frail. Will that come out on HDTV? How about Hillary? HDTV is least kind to older women; I'd bet it puts at least ten years on her. I suspect that Obama is the only candidate who will actually look good on HDTV; he's younger, and even light black skin ages better than caucasian.

Incidentally, all analog TV is supposed to end in this country by 17 February 2009, a month after the inaugural address. I question the timing.

The strong, silent type

There's an old joke about a child who never speaks. He cried a bit when he was a baby, but they all do that; once he got over it, he never said a word.

Somewhere around age five, the family was having dinner, and suddenly he spoke up: "Mom, the turkey is dry."

The parents — well, you can pretty well imagine. After they calmed down, Mom asked: "You can talk??"

"Of course I can."

She gave him That Look (you know the one) and asked, "How come you never said anything before?"

"Up to now, everything was okay," he explained.

I'll bet almost anything Drake Esmay knows that joke.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:20 PM to Next Generation )
19 March 2007
Strange search-engine queries (59)

I suspect that if I didn't post anything for seven whole days, I'd still have enough material to stock this little weekly trip through the logs.

i'd rather have my daughter be a pole dancer than my son become an architect:  Of course you would. The architect has to finish his degree first.

"love funny guys":  Of course you do. This is why women will always snub Ioan Gruffudd for a shot at Gilbert Gottfried.

unattractive women, nude:  Picky, picky, picky.

oklahoma "richard morrissette" illegal:  So far as I can tell, Rep. Morrissette is in fact legal in Oklahoma.

Who sang Frankie Fontaine (King of Genital Rock):  MacLean and MacLean. In that order.

Dentyne ice international shipping via usps:  Let me understand this. You're ordering gum from overseas?

is it illegal to pay someone to clean there [sic] house in the nude:  Probably not as illegal as it is if you don't pay them after they clean.

naked pictures of employees from the pennsylvania renaissance faire:  If they stayed in costume, obviously they weren't naked, and if they didn't stay in costume, they probably got fired, in which case they were no longer employees.

i would be suitable for the position of restaurant manager because:  Um, you have no fear of grease traps?

comic sans use in business:  Not if you want to stay in business.

men pics from catalogs used by scammers on okcupid:  What? Guys being deceitful on a dating site? Whoever heard of such a thing?

i ate expired pillsbury biscuits:  How sad. How are the survivors holding up?

salons in hattiesburg that do brazilian wax:  Just once I'd like to see a salon in Brazil offering a Hattiesburg wax.

what is the government doing against low wages:  Giving itself a raise.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:26 AM to You Asked For It )
A tip of the salary cap

The children get an unexpected lesson in the natural order of things:

In class today we were talking about George Washington when one of my students asked me how much the president made a year. When I told the class what he makes [$400k a year], a number of jaws hit the floor. We began talking about how much the president earns and I tried to put it in perspective for them.

I asked them to picture the 12th man on the Sacramento Kings. You know, the guy who has no chance of seeing any playing time, riding the bench the whole season. I told them that guy earns $1 million a year, more than double that of the leader of the free world.

The Kings have 13 on their roster; with Maurice Taylor ($1.07 million) having been waived, the most likely "12th man" would be reserve center Vitaly Potapenko, who has played all of 9 minutes this year. He's making $3,674,584, though this is largely due to sheer longevity: Potapenko has spent ten seasons in the NBA. The classic story of this sort involves Babe Ruth, whose salary demand in 1931 was a whopping $80,000. It was pointed out to him that the President (Herbert Hoover) only drew $75,000; Ruth replied, "I had a better year than he did." And indeed, the Kings are only two games out of a playoff spot.

Or you could look at it another way: Members of Congress receive $168,500 a year. This year's NBA salary cap is $53,135,000. In other words, for what it costs to stock an NBA team (few teams are actually below the cap), you could buy 315 Congressmen and have enough left over for a small party on K Street.

Poorhouse, next exit

BagsofCrap.com has predicted a Woot-Off for a week from Monday.

I predict that Avaricious Bank and Trust Company (Member FDIC), where I keep my accounts, will not be delighted.

Imaginary lover

A reader, not of this site, writes to Aunt Fugly:

I have this great wife — she's smart, she's exotic, she likes to talk about really obscure books while walking around the house naked, and she enjoys traveling and drinking beer. All my friends think she sounds fantastic but because she lives in a different part of the state for work, they haven't met her. But they're doubling the pressure lately for me to introduce them. There's just one problem: She doesn't exist. I totally made her up and it's been three years now, including a successful stint in couples counseling that I couldn't stop talking about, and I'm worried it might be a little bit too late to confess to my friends that she's fake. Apparently I am kind of a douchebag. What should I do? Should I admit to my friends that I lied? ... No, really, give me an actual good idea.

Aunt Fugly's response is here, and there's really nothing that I can add to it, except this: should this mythical spouse turn out to exist after all, consider this a call of dibs.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:14 PM to Table for One )
Daddy never sleeps at night

Mama's been playing Accordion Hero II.

Disclosure: I had no idea there had been an Accordion Hero I.

The Boston tea party

Very high WTF levels tonight. The Celtics connected on their first nine shots and led 31-26 after the first quarter; in the second quarter they missed their first nine shots, and then two more. At the half, the Hornets were up 57-40, which means that the Bosstown bunch scored a whole 9 points in the quarter. The gap widened in the third as the Hornets started making shots, and most of the fourth was garbage time. Final: Bees 106, Celtics 88.

It's worth noting that Boston outrebounded the Hornets, 39-36, and Paul Pierce was far and away the leading scorer, dropping in 28 points. But by any standards their play in the last 36 minutes was ragged, and Doc Rivers can't be happy with the results.

Meanwhile, the Hornets got some numbers of their own; they shot 53.3 percent, and a startling 62.5 percent from beyond the arc. (Rasual Butler, now on a roll, hit five of six treys and scored 18 points, more than any of the starters.) Tyson Chandler, after a few misses, was back in the double-double column, with 16 points and 11 boards.

A quick flight to Memphis, where the Grizzlies await; after that, things start to get, um, hairy.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:25 PM to Net Proceeds )
20 March 2007
Morning blues (part one)

Those of us who have had them in the past know all too well that something utterly insignificant in the grand order of things can launch a low-level — sometimes not so low — panic attack.

For some reason, one of these hit me in the shower this morning, while I was reflecting on the contents of my wallet, such as they are. And while I was running down the list, inevitably I came to "driver's license," and, hmmm, when does it expire? "July '07," I said to myself.

Came back a voice from nowhere: "Are you sure?"

I wasn't sure. I cut the ablutions short by about a minute, toweled off, and dashed into the bedroom to see when in fact the license expires.

Which is, of course, July '07.

I spent the next few minutes alternating between getting dressed and berating myself for being such a [fill in suitable pejorative noun].

Morning blues (part two)

What got me out of that particular funk was a premise that had once or twice before caused an attitude adjustment: "You think you've got it bad?"

And I remembered Cathy Seipp, just now finishing out her term on earth, and the very last paragraph of the very last item she'd posted:

Amazing what can traumatize people these days. For me once it might have been the $7,000 plumbing bill I discovered today I need to pay. But really, all things considered, what's the point of being traumatized by something like that?

What, indeed?

Thank you, Cathy, and Godspeed.

So pricey, these intarwebs

In the middle 1980s, when I started making a nuisance of myself online, I paid dearly for the privilege. Local dialups were free, assuming they were local calls. But I also had an account at CompuServe, which charged a variable rate per hour based upon your connection speed: 300 bps was $6 an hour, 1200 bps $12, and if you could find a node that offered 2400 bps, the tab was $22 an hour. Add to that an account at Dow Jones News/Retrieval, which during daylight hours (when they were busiest) charged over a buck a minute. (I used it only to check my stock portfolio, such as it was, which made the charges deductible, taxwise.) Besides this, I had two boxes at MCI Mail, which cost $35 a year and 50 cents per message.

Eventually these prices started to drop. I found in my archives last night my CompuServe bill from May 1997, when CIS was forced by market pressure (mostly from the likes of — gasp! — AOL) to abandon connect-time charges in favor of a fixed monthly rate. For April, I had paid $9.95, plus $3.50 for ZiffNet access (now ZDNet), plus $54.04 in connect time, apparently billed at $2.95 per hour. Connection speed was a spiffy 28800 bps.

Ten years later, I'm trying to avoid griping about my $42 monthly broadband (7 Mbps) bill, hence this little reminder of The Way It Used To Be.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:25 AM to PEBKAC )
You say you want a revolution?

Nikz at the Top, the revolving restaurant atop Founders Tower, is closing its doors today; a lawsuit filed by the owner says that new developers, busy turning the former office tower into condominiums, have failed to live up to a commitment to minimize the impact of construction on the restaurant, and just incidentally have doubled the rent. "It's destroyed his business," says the owner's attorney.

Meanwhile, 59 of the 68 condos have reportedly been sold; the first residents will move in this summer. Restoration of the 1960s-vintage building cost a reported $30 million.

Presumably Nikz will not seek to relocate: where else can you put a revolving restaurant? I suspect, though, that the space will be filled in a year or two.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:24 AM to City Scene )
Muzzle velocity

Geez. BushCo fumbles another one:

A NASA scientist who said the Bush administration muzzled him because of his belief in global warming yesterday acknowledged to Congress that he'd done more than 1,400 on-the-job [media] interviews in recent years.

This isn't as egregious as, say, the time the Dixie Chicks were imprisoned underneath a nuclear-fuel storage facility for questioning the Iraq war and still managed to make another album, but so long as the Bush administration is flailing about, making desperate and manifestly inadequate attempts at damage control, we can expect more stories like this.

(Via Wizbang!)

Alberto, you've done a heckuva job

He is so gone.

They don't give up

So much for the Grizzlies' haplessness: Memphis still seems to have a supply of hap. It was 30-30 after the first quarter, Mike Miller having dropped in 13 points on 5 of 7 shooting including three treys. At the half it was still tied, 61-61; Miller was still at 13, but Pau Gasol had zoomed up to 20. The Hornets finally opened it up in the third quarter, jumping out front 92-81, and ran the lead up to 20 points at one point. With 90 seconds left, Memphis had closed to within 9: "You're not good enough to take teams for granted," warned Gerry V. The final: Hornets 114, Grizzlies 103, and Miller was still at 13.

Much of the slack was taken up by Gasol, who finished with 28 points and 10 rebounds. The Griz shot an above-average 51.3 percent, and hit 17 of 19 free throws. But the Bees were better, shooting an unheard-of (for them) 60 percent, 50 percent from beyond the arc, and making 23 of 26 from the charity stripe.

David West led the Hornets with 26 points. Chris Paul had 23 (including 11 of 11 from the line), and dished up nine dimes. Tyson Chandler chalked up another double-double: 16 points, 11 boards. Byron Scott played only eight tonight — Bobby Jackson was ailing — and the three from the bench dropped in 30 points, half of which came from the resurgent Rasual Butler.

The next four games will be crucial: against the Lakers in New Orleans on Friday; against the Rockets at the Ford on Sunday, followed by the Mavericks on Tuesday; and then a trip to San Antonio.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:23 PM to Net Proceeds )
21 March 2007
M dashed

BMW for many years has affixed the letter M to its highest-performance cars, and they probably didn't pay much attention when Nissan's Infiniti division begat M35 and M45 sedans: the Bimmers, after all, had labels like M5 and M6, and anyway Infiniti had had an M30 way back when, which no one would have confused with anything Bavarian. It was probably not a good idea, though, for Infiniti to refer to the M35/M45 collectively as the "M." And then Infiniti came up with the idea of an M6 sport package for the Canadian-market G35, and BMW drew a line in the legal sand.

A Canadian court has now ruled that BMW owns the M mark. The ruling:

[The defendant is] liable, in damages to be determined ... for the use of the letter M and the descriptor M6, as trademarks for automobiles, parts and accessories, which caused a likelihood of confusion between the sources of its wares and of BMW's.

The defendant is also ordered to deliver to the plaintiffs or to destroy under oath, all literature, invoices, packaging, signs, advertisements, promotional or marketing material, printed or otherwise recorded, in the possession, custody or control of the defendant which may be considered to offend the injunction now granted.

It's unclear whether BMW USA would prevail in a similar suit; here, as in Canada, Infiniti has been using "M" in both print and television ads for the M35/M45, but the US-issue G is offered with two sport packages, called "Sport" and "Sport 6MT," neither of which seems particularly Bimmeresque.

Disclosure: I drive an Infiniti I30, which is not to be confused with the European Hyundai i30.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:59 AM to Driver's Seat )
All your installs are belong to us

Hey, Bill? Activate this:

According to the customer service rep and his supervisor (Bill Gates was unable to come to the phone), [Microsoft's] policy is not to activate preinstalled versions of Windows, regardless of the circumstances. I asked him what would happen if I had fried a motherboard (which requires activation), to which he replied that it would be a warranty issue with Gateway. I asked what if the warranty is expired, he told me that, in that scenario, the license dies with the computer.

[insert Macintosh-related comment here]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:14 AM to PEBKAC )
The Wilsonian approach, maybe

In this morning's email was an offer: "Woodrow — Viagra for you!"

I suppose I should be grateful it wasn't addressed to Woody.

(There was also an item from, allegedly, "Hung Short," but I couldn't bring myself to read it.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:02 AM to Scams and Spams )
Leto shuffle

Admit it: wouldn't you rather hear this than that damn José Feliciano thing every farging Yule?

Kwizatz Haderach!
Kwizatz Haderach!
Kwizatz Haderach! We're breeding
Superman to be our god!

Don't wanna be a religious leader,
Manipulated to be a breeder,
Although revenge for my dad is sweeter
Than a planet full of spice.

Don't wanna have me a terrible purpose,
Just wanna kill Harkonnen usurpers,
And then my Fremen'll shed their berkas
And we'll make Dune paradise!

(Alternate title: Raising Arrakis.)

Blame it on the Worcestershire sauce

You may be on a low-calorie diet, but the machine says you've been drinking:

Researchers at Sweden's Karolinska University Hospital were approached by a 59-year old non-drinker after he registered positive for alcohol when blowing into an in-car ignition interlocking device that would not allow him to drive. As a glider pilot who supervised private aviation, the man had been surprised and upset about the positive result, which occurred while he was undergoing a weight loss program involving a very low calorie diet.

Researchers found the positive test to be the result of a chemical reaction that took place when fat was broken down at a fast rate. When this happened, ketone bodies (acetone, acetoacetate and beta-hydroxybutyrate) were produced, which could then be converted to a secondary alcohol known as isopropanol, said the lead researcher, Wayne Jones, who is also on Sweden's National Board of Forensic Medicine.

At least in Australia, this phenomenon won't get you busted:

Edward Ogden, clinical forensic scientist and senior research fellow at Melbourne's Swinburne University, said it was possible that sober people could blow a false-positive test, however they would not be charged with drunk driving. Alcohol ignition interlock devices and roadside random breath testing units measure alcohol on the breath using fuel cells, which cannot distinguish between ethanol and isopropanol.

"But with any random breath test, the police would then invite you to the booze bus for a second test using an evidential instrument which measures the presence of alcohol on the breath in three different ways, including the use of infra-red at two different wavelengths," Dr Ogden said.

The real problem, apparently, is for people with the interlock devices, which have yet to be put to any significant use here in the States.

(Via Autoblog.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:00 PM to Driver's Seat )

Interstate 235 runs along the east side of downtown Oklahoma City. (There being only so many three-digit numbers, you'll see it again in Wichita and Des Moines.) It stretches from the I-35/I-40 junction north to I-44; the freeway continues north from I-44 but is not considered part of 235.

Officially, this section of 235 runs a bit less than 5.5 miles, making it one of the shorter Interstates around. Similarly, Carnival of the Vanities #235 is one of the shorter Carnivals around; still, like an Interstate spur, it's a handy thing to have.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:01 PM to Blogorrhea )
22 March 2007
The pen is flightier than the sword

By the time I'd gotten to third grade, my penmanship had improved from Utterly Godawful to Below Average, and it continued to get better for the next few years; by the time I was given a Social Security number — yes, children, there was a time when they didn't make you get one the day you were born — I was able to sign the little card in clear, flowing, legible strokes.

Then I got one of these:

Royal Safari

Actually, the machine I had bore the Singer (as in "sewing machine") name, but it was obviously a rebadged Royal Safari; just the same, my penmanship has pretty much stunk ever since.

And apparently I'm not alone:

In high school, everything was typed. Homework, reports, college applications, essays for scholarships, you name it and it was typed. The influx of easily typed documents have caused the entire population's handwriting skills to diminish so thoroughly that many canít even remember how to form some of the cursive letters. Personally, if I write a cursive G, it looks like a kindergartener trying to scribble.

Merchants have looked askance at my signature before; I assure them, "If you can actually read it, it's a forgery." The numbers were the last to go: until a couple of years ago, I could still do reasonably-readable digits, but even those are getting a bit difficult.

(My second typewriter was one of these; my third is one of those soulless electronic models. Still, it gets used on a regular basis, for things that are just too short to justify firing up the word processor.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:47 AM to The Way We Were )
Attention diverted for the duration

Woot-Off! The red ink flows, dear.

(Last one ran three whole days.)

NFL drops ball, as it were

When last we heard from Wendy Seltzer, she had snipped a copy of the NFL's copyright notice and posted it to YouTube, claiming fair use. The NFL was not amused, and sent the usual nastygram to YouTube.

It gets better:

Seltzer, law professor by day, is also staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) by night and founder of Chilling Effects, a web site dedicated to educating the public about online rights. Very well aware of her own rights under DMCA, she promptly sent a counter-notification to YouTube (generated by the Chilling Effects counter-notice generator, no less), citing Section 512 of the DMCA saying that YouTube must replace the material if they receive a counter-notification asserting "good faith belief" that the material removal was a mistake.

The clip was reinstated; the NFL came back with another complaint.

This is where the saga starts to get messy. Seltzer's counter-notification — which was forwarded to the NFL from YouTube — clearly described her use of the clip as fair use: "an educational excerpt featuring the NFL's overreaching copyright warning aired during the Super Bowl." As Seltzer outlines in her blog post, the NFL's only option in response to her counter-claim would be to force her to remove the clip via court proceedings. This obviously did not happen, and instead, the NFL chose to ignore her claims completely. After receiving her counter-notification claiming fair use, sending another takedown notice over the same content is considered a knowing misrepresentation that the clip is infringing, according to DMCA section 512(f)(1). Under the DMCA, the NFL would be liable for all legal fees incurred by the alleged infringer, along with damages.

Essentially, the NFL is now in violation of the same law that it is using to try to protect its own content. And, instead of following the proper procedures outlined in the DMCA, the NFL appears to be choosing to beat her over the head with takedown requests.

You can read the complete story from Seltzer's blog at this link. The question of whether "proper procedures" and "DMCA" can be used in the same sentence — well, that's another story entirely.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:44 AM to Dyssynergy )
Doing the financial shang-a-lang

The Bay City Rollers are suing Sony BMG, proprietors of the dormant Arista label, for an unspecified amount of unpaid back royalties.

According to the suit, the band has received a total of $254,000 in the last twenty-five years; the Rollers' last US chart single ("The Way I Feel Tonight," Arista 0272) was released at the end of 1977, but Rollers tracks have been repeatedly repackaged since then, and yes, there are Rollers fans still. Besides, they're Scottish, and if it's not Scottish, it's crap.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:32 PM to Dyssynergy )
Not quite down for the count

Elizabeth Edwards is going to have to go back on the offensive against cancer: this time it seems to have spread to a rib.

Rather than throw in some third-baked (two-thirds of "half-baked") commentary here, I shall simply wish her well; I hope she can keep fighting for a good, long time.

This meme is just three words long

And it's swiped from Melessa, if you're keeping score. Obviously, as the inventor of 3WC (see sidebar of main page), I couldn't pass this up.

  1. Where is your cell phone? In the kitchen.
  2. Boyfriend/girlfriend? Does not apply.
  3. Hair? Thin and grey.
  4. Your mother? Gone thirty years.
  5. Your father? Gone two months.
  6. Your favorite item(s)? Keyboards are involved.
  7. Your dream last night? Slept through it.
  8. Your favorite drink? Coca-Cola, frosty.
  9. Your dream guy/girl? Probably doesn't exist.
  10. The room you are in? Uninspired office simulation.
  11. Your fear? Insurance paying off.
  12. What do you want to be in 10 years? Not dead yet.
  13. Who did you hang out with last night? All alone again.
  14. What are you not? Rolling in dough.
  15. Are you in love? Let's hope not.
  16. One of your wish list items? Complete Monty Python.
  17. What time is it? Half past five.
  18. The last thing you did? Set alarm clock.
  19. What are you wearing? Nothing of significance.
  20. Your favorite book? Title too long.
  21. The last thing you ate? Frozen Mexican dinner.
  22. Your life? Longer than anticipated.
  23. Your mood? Not too jumpy.
  24. Your friends? Read this stuff.
  25. What are you thinking about right now? Where weeds grow.
  26. Your car? Japanese "luxury" sedan.
  27. What are you doing at this moment? This here meme.
  28. Your summer? Out of town.
  29. Your relationship status? Divorced, two children.
  30. What is on your TV screen? Lots of dust.
  31. When is the last time you laughed? While leaving work.
  32. Last time you cried? On last birthday.
  33. School? Many years ago.

I trust this meets the requirements as stated.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:30 PM to Screaming Memes )
Now where did these come from?

An urgent plea from Donna:

Take a note, hosiery manufacturers! Think about taking a class in branding. It is important that you put a tag in the pantyhose themselves that gives the name of the brand. This way, at the end of the day, when I see that the pair I am wearing have no runs or holes and I can wash them and wear again, I can check the tag and make a note to buy more pairs like it. As it is now, I desperately try to remember the brand, fail, and end up buying whatever brand is on sale at CVS that day.

Don't think of it as an extra three cents per pair; think of it as a contribution to urban aesthetics.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:07 PM to Rag Trade )
23 March 2007
Quote of the week

What is expected of a dealer in firearms, as described by Tamara K.:

When I walk up to your counter and say "Good sir, I would like to see that Euroshooter 55," I don't want to hear "Damn, honey, you don't want one of those. We had those in the 'Nam, and they got all of us killed. Why, I was killed five times because my Euroshooter jammed, plus the bullets just bounced off Charlie and actually made him stronger when you hit him. They're crap. You want you one of these here Thunderzappers! That there's a real gun!" Aside from the fact that calling me "honey" causes me to have to fight down the urge to shoot you in the kneecap, if the Euroshooter is such a crappy gun, then what in the hell is it doing in your showcase? Does your employer know about your scintillating sales pitch? I know that if I heard that in my shop, you'd be out checking to see if Wal-Mart had any greeter's slots open within the hour.

I need hardly add that gun shops aren't the only offender of this type.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:27 AM to QOTW )
Otherwise I'd have to write something myself

And besides, how many opportunities will I have to link to something that mentions oxidative phosphorylation?

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:48 AM to Blogorrhea )
Seed money

To borrow a phrase, I fought the lawn, and the lawn won. It is my policy to have neither the best lawn on the block nor the worst, but I've dropped too close for comfort to the low end of the scale, and while the leading (trailing?) contenders have just enough physical proximity to make me look slightly better, I can't count on this continuing, especially with changes in ownership in the offing.

It was therefore clearly time to call for reinforcements, so I dialed up a vendor, and was presented the next day with an audit of what they'd found.

The lawn was characterized as "fair," in the sense that you would characterize the Antarctic as "cool." They consider eleven weed types to be controllable; I had five of them. Of ten potential lawn diseases, three were recognized. On the upside, I had acceptable thatch, and truly, how many of us can say that?

This is, I must point out, not my first choice for a counterattack. There are small creatures in the neighborhood, a legitimate cause for concern, and all else being equal, I'd rather be dealing out mass quantities of something that is less likely to be hazardous to their little systems. But that's for later, after the Unwanted Botanicals are under control; right now, I need something strong enough to take down low-flying aircraft.

(Oh, and while this should be obvious, it somehow didn't occur to me: price quotes tend to be based on the dimensions of the areas to be treated — typically, 5000 square feet. This will not work well at Surlywood, where the back yard alone is nearly 6000 square feet. No wonder it takes so long to mow.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:27 AM to Surlywood )
#53 works for me

A Michael Iva manifesto: 100 Ways to Kill a Concept: Why Most Ideas Get Shot Down. [Link to PDF file.]

I liked this bit:

Creativity is a lot like gunpowder. It is comprised of benign elements that do nothing, until they are combined.

And this, an update of Schopenhauer:

A great concept passes through three stages when it is new: First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

(Via Church Marketing Sucks.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:11 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Hence the word "crapshoot"

I don't know if this is the smartest guy on Woot, but this observation of the Woot-Off process is spot-on:

People want to believe in the Blinged-Out Cabbage. They sincerely WANT to fight for the chance to get a box, in which is a bag, in which is some spectacu ... crudly ... er ... well ... p-o-o-p. Oh, yes, and one person in 4500 gets something neat. Which is like a lottery, except here at least you can get a kazoo or something for your $3.

Frankly, it's the best marketing tactic EVER. It makes many people here glue themselves to the woot-off, and everyone is literally DROOLING when the bar finally makes it down to zero and the "Sold Out" sign flashes.

Sad, isn't it? But, there you go. We're all crazy people, waiting for a chance to spin the wheel ... gamble $8, and get ... nothing. Not much different than Vegas if you think about it for a sec.

Except for the fact that I don't actually drool (at least, not on these occasions), there's scarcely a word here I'd change.

Villagers subdued

Hornets radio guy Sean Kelley observed tonight that "it takes a village to guard Kobe Bryant," and the way things went, it might have taken the whole darn county. The Hornets actually led by one at the half, but the combination of Third-Quarter Drought™ and a warmed-up Kobe proved to be disastrous: the Lakers were up 12 after the third, and they didn't miss a free throw until well into the fourth. Final: Lakers 111, Hornets 105.

How dominant was Bryant? Chris Paul had 28 points (and 10 assists), Tyson Chandler (!) had 22 points (and 21 rebounds), but no one noticed: Kobe scored 50 (by coincidence, 28 plus 22). It was his fourth consecutive game with 50 points or more, a trick not seen since Wilt the Stilt. Bryant made 16 of 29 field goals and all 16 of his free throws.

Oh, there was a double-double for the Lakers, too — Lamar Odom had 15 points and 10 boards — but no one noticed that either.

Next for the Bees: a three-game plague of Texans.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:29 PM to Net Proceeds )
24 March 2007
Bring on the eyebleach

Back in the early days of the Web, there was general agreement that this was the nastiest-looking piece of HTML abuse on planet Earth.

Now I'm not so sure. (Warning: Readers have reported browser malfunctions while loading this page.)

(She saw it before I did; be kind to her.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:59 AM to PEBKAC )
So where's Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.?

Just received: Amy Winehouse's Back to Black, arguably the niftiest melding of Sarah Vaughan and Martha Reeves available on CD. If you actually buy the CD, though, be advised that an absurd amount of jewel-case (and disc-surface) real estate is taken up by a fatuous "FBI Warning," an attempt by the RIAA to appear badass. (As always with organizations of this size, they are at best half right.)

I suppose, though, it's a good thing it's the FBI and not the CIA; you let the Agency in on this sort of thing and one day, out of the blue, your iPod playlist shows up in The New York Times.

Found in the fine print

Once again, a perusal of the Oklahoman's Saturday business section turns up something of interest:

Abel-Whitehouse LLC paid $1,235,500 to Greg and Gwen Kaiser for a 7,984-square-foot office building at 900 NE 63. Johnathan Russell with Land Run Commercial and David Huffman with Wiggin Properties LLC handled the sale.

900 NE 63rd StAll of these things are true, but none of them really tell the whole story. This is the one-time home of city leader Harvey Everest, who built this mansion way out in the boondocks back in 1931. (Now, of course, it's practically inner-city.) Most people, I suspect, remember it as the White House restaurant; certainly attorney Ed Abel, the buyer, remembers it that way, judging by the name of his corporate entity, though I expect he'll use it for his law office rather than as an eatery, especially in view of the fact that the Kaisers, who bought it in 2000 for around $800k, had already begun the process of converting the property to office space.

This stretch of 63rd, from MLK west to about Lincoln, is one of my favorite parts of town. (There's a small office building I particularly admire at 630 NE 63rd; at one time I entertained the fantasy of buying it and actually living there.) The White House (I still call it that) has tremendous visibility in this area — you can't miss it, even at 70 mph on I-44 — and it will be nice to see it actually serving a purpose again.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:02 AM to City Scene )
Holding up the Speaker

Around the first of the year, someone put in a search-engine query for "nancy pelosi leg photos," to which I responded with a comment to the effect that nobody ever asked for anything like that from Dennis Hastert. What the searcher was led to was Vent #398, "Dressed for the party," in which I scanned some photos from Harper's Bazaar that accompanied a goofy piece by Maureen Dowd (who else?) on the dodgy subject of whether Democrats or Republicans dress "better," in the Bazaar sense of course. On the basis of evidence presented, I declared a draw.

In the "competition," Pelosi was matched up against then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and I said this:

Two cases of, if not wardrobe malfunction, certainly misjudgment. Condi's white blouse, black jacket and belted trousers qualify as conservative, perhaps even self-effacing. Nancy's in a summery red California two-piece suit that pushes her waistline higher than it should and ends far enough below the knee to make her look more bottom-heavy than she might like.

Had Rice shown up that day in this dress, I suspect my judgment might have differed just a little — though Pelosi too has come off better recently.

Maybe I just need a new scanner.

Attendance by primates is encouraged

Jane Goodall is coming to town next month. From the Oklahoma City University announcement:

Dr. Jane Goodall has accepted an invitation from the Distinguished Speakers Series to come to OCU on Tuesday evening, April 17, 2007. She will speak at 8 p.m. in the Henry J. Freede Wellness and Activity Center and will hold a booksigning afterward.

Contact person at OCU is Mary Benner (mbenner-at-okcu.edu), 405-208-5270.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:08 PM to City Scene )
A complete and utter history of blogging

And I was there, remember?

History of blogging

(Via Vincent Ferrari, who claims to have stolen it from Veronica. Blatantly, yet.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:25 PM to Blogorrhea )
25 March 2007
Going against the flow

One particular flavor of dementia may be linked to vasectomy:

A recent study by Northwestern University researchers revealed that men with a rare kind of dementia are more likely to have had a vasectomy than those who do not have cognitive problems. Called Primary Progressive Aphasia, or PPA, this dementia affects an individual's ability to express himself, impairing word recall and ability to understand words. The research was published in Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology.

Current theory:

A blood-testes barrier exists, just like a blood-brain barrier exists. Post-vasectomy, that protective blood-testes barrier is broken, and semen enters the blood. "Sixty to 70 percent of men will develop antibodies which try to kill the sperm," [Dr Sandra] Weintraub explained, as the immune system views the sperm as foreign agents. "The question is whether these antibodies are somehow interacting with the brain, too," thus creating damage resulting in PPA.

I suppose what I really want to know is how long it takes for all this to happen, inasmuch as I had my snip job twenty-six years ago and I am way saner now than I was then.

Come to think of it, I've had a few dates who viewed sperm as invasive, but that's another issue.

(Via Jay from Blogblivion.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:40 AM to Dyssynergy )
Less than entranced

You're watching an old Warner Bros. crime drama at about 1:30 in the morning, and inevitably, there is a scene where one of the cops, the sort of guy you see playing NFL nose guard these days, puts his best shoulder into play and one, two, three, busts through the door. And you say to your significant other, nodding off behind the Chee-tos, "I don't believe that's possible."

I am here to tell you that it is.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:54 AM to Surlywood )
Dead-girl chic

This is entirely too creepy:

America's Next Top Model is doing dead girls.

No, really:

You can see the full gallery at Zap2It.

Not that you'd want to, necessarily:

The lithe lot of 'em are arrayed in awkward, broken poses, splayed out in cold concrete corridors, lifeless limbs positioned bloodily, just so, at the bottom of staircases, bathtubs and back alleys, mimicking their demise via stabbing, shooting, electrocution, drowning, poisoning, strangulation, decapitation and organ theft (!), to judges' comments of "Gorgeous!" "Fantastic!" "Amazing!" "Absolutely beautiful!" and, of my favorite, "Death becomes you, young lady!"

I suppose this could be listed as a skill on one's C.V., especially if one hopes to work for Quentin Tarantino some day, but there's something fundamentally askew about simulating brutal violence against women (they'd never do this to men) to show you how "beautiful" it is. It is not.

Aside: About twenty years ago, I played a Dead Guy. Sort of. We had been doing an online soap opera in text form, and somebody got the idea of putting some of the scenes on video. So we shot a "murder" one night in Kerr Park, drawing some unscripted attention from the OCPD — which, of course, made the tape that much more entertaining. (The police, for their part, seemed mostly relieved that it wasn't a real killing they'd have to investigate, though they did mention something about permits.) You can be sure that no one remarked on how lovely I looked as a victim.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:34 AM to Dyssynergy )
With enthusiasm

No way any American airline would dare make a pitch like this:

Spurt billboard

British environmentalists, unlike our dour domestic scolds, seem to have retained a sense of humour.

(Via Autoblog Green.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:53 PM to Family Joules )
On the warm side

March 2007 bids fair to become the third warmest March on record in Oklahoma City; so far the monthly average has been 59 degrees, well above 1938 (57.4) and a tad below second-place 1907 (59.5). It's not that the days have been so warm, it's that the nights haven't been cold: the last freeze was on the 5th (more typically, it's around the 29th or 30th), and the temperature hasn't dropped below 60 in a week. No wonder the voice of the lawn mower is heard in the land.

This warm March follows an average February, an average January, and a slightly-warmer-than-average December — and we're still about an inch above normal for snowfall despite not having had any since mid-February.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:49 PM to Weather or Not )
Rocketing to oblivion

This game was on ABC's national television schedule, but was dumped, no doubt because they felt it wouldn't be much of a game, with the Rockets generally healthy and the Hornets in a March slump. After the first quarter, I might have believed them; the Bees were down 30-20. After the second, it was 52-44. One good Third-Quarter Drought™ would have killed it.

But it didn't die: the Hornets found some D and some buckets, and went into the fourth leading 75-73. The Rockets regained their shooting prowess in the fourth, but the Bees were on a roll, and broke it open in the last couple of minutes, winning by twelve, 106-94. "ABC blew it," observed Sean Kelley, and he wasn't the only one who thought so.

The Rockets' primary offensive weapon, the Yao Ming/Tracy McGrady axis, was good for 47 points; but Yao's shooting was off — he made only 7 of 22 — and McGrady, who almost never misses free throws, missed three free throws, and hit only one of four treys. (Rafer Alston was the three-point threat, hitting four of nine.)

Desmond Mason had a good night, with 19 points, and you have to figure that 19 points for your third-leading scorer is good indeed. Chris Paul racked up 28, including four of five 3-balls, and David West added 23. The Hornets shot 50 percent and dropped in 16 of 18 free throws. Tyson? Oh, yeah, another double-double: 14 points, 10 boards.

The Hornets have now beaten the Rockets three straight. Unfortunately, they must next play the Mavericks, a team they last beat some time during the Spanish-American War.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:24 PM to Net Proceeds )
26 March 2007
Strange search-engine queries (60)

It's the ever-popular Monday-morning wrap-up of all the weird questions asked by your friends and neighbors Tuesday through Saturday. (Well, not all of them, obviously.)

fifty year old jokes:  When Berle told them, they were already fifty years old.

who is taking ownership of crossroads mall oklahoma city:  Teenagers, sometimes armed.

Pepsi can masturbation:  I assume you don't just pop one out of the fridge.

halle berry perfect stranger masturbate:  Why, is she carrying a Pepsi can?

what accident did meatloaf have 20 years ago:  He ran into Jim Steinman's ego.

where can i get laid in tulsa:  The Doubletree has always worked for me.

enema search engines:  Is there one called Ass.com?

zyzzyx scrabble:  Rotsa ruck. First, it's a proper noun; second, you'll have to use both blanks, which means you're scoring a maximum of 26 points unless you hit a Premium Square.

babes in varying degrees of undress:  Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to reduce the variation.

funtionally illiterate survey:  Oh, look, there's some now.

leg-to-body ratio:  In most humanoids, two to one.

racket pin steering:  Yeah, I used to have a car like that.

suitable clothing to birthday:  You mean, something other than one's birthday suit?

outraging public decency Oklahoma City:  Hey, I try my best.

"a never-ending stream of the third-rate":  Hey, I try my best.

can putting yogurt in your virginia help your yeast infection:  Only if applied south of Charlottesville.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:23 AM to You Asked For It )
That Tab A, Slot B stuff

Kimber An calls them "Standard Issue Sex Scenes", and she's not impressed:

The author feels the pressure of sales numbers to write a sex scene. She's uncomfortable with that. It's not her style and it doesn't flow well with the story. Wanting to sell her novel, she labors away at it anyway. The result is a Standard Issue Sex Scene.

The progress of the relationship up to that point is ... irrelevant. The hero is always highly skilled (regardless of experience) and selflessly concerned (even if he's only one step up from a Neanderthal) with pleasing the heroine who is always fantastically pleased. No matter how skillfully written, I'm jarred right out of the story and I toss it over my shoulder.

And that's the real issue: not the sex scene per se, but how well it fits into the story. Even a fairly-inept description can be forgiven, I think, if it's a logical progression from what has gone before, but I don't want to find myself wondering "How the hell did they wind up in bed? Weren't they just rolling down the New Jersey Turnpike?"

And this applies also to motion pictures, although jump cuts in film are somewhat less disconcerting.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:10 AM to Almost Yogurt )
If the shoe fits, it's unsightly

Angi describes the creative process for one particular pair:

Design a shoe that will A) look slightly better than house-slippers and B) cost more than $100.

Parameters set, and apparently met. On the other hand (on the other foot?), they can't possibly be as bad as these.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:46 AM to Rag Trade )
Also available in melon

Benefit Cosmetics of San Francisco sells something called Benetint, which is:

The sexiest flush you can get from a bottle. Innocent yet provocative, our ruby-tinted cheek and lip stain is kiss-proof color that looks naturally sheer and radiant.

Innocuous enough. But New York magazine's Beth Landman has apparently seen a different pitch for the product:

In just one more sign of the stripperization of the Everywoman, Benefit's Benetint, conceived in the seventies for an exotic dancer to color lips and cheeks, is now also being sold at Sephora and elsewhere as a "kiss-proof and water-resistant" nipple tint. "Women want nipples to be pert and fresh-looking, and this shade makes them appear that way," Benefit spokeswoman Alison Haljun says. "For a long time, the idea of a ripe, rosy nipple has been considered appealing and alluring." But aren't the nipples usually undisplayed? "Even if you don't show it off, you know they're rosier and more perky," she says.

I dunno. There's a lot to be said for self-confidence, assuming you can get this sort of thing from a $28 bottle of stuff, but most of the guys I know are grateful to see any nipples at all, tinted or otherwise. Thumbs up, or something, for "kiss-proof," though.

(Courtesy of Tom Mulhall.) [probably NSFW]

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:50 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Get back to where we once belonged

Up until 1948, all records were singles: 78-rpm discs, ten or twelve inches across. Once in a while you'd see a set of five or six of them bound together in one very thick package, which was called an "album."

CBS, which in 1948 began selling a 33⅓ rpm disc which could contain the contents of five or six 78s, eschewed the term "album" in favor of "LP," or more precisely "Lp," which they registered as a trademark. The customers, even then not willing to take their marching orders from record companies, persisted in calling them "albums."

And they still bought singles: from RCA Victor, also in 1948, came a 45-rpm disc, a mere seven inches across, which duplicated the format of the 78 — the hit and the B-side. RCA also developed a 45-rpm record changer that plugged into your RCA television using — yes! — an RCA plug. And despite the higher profit margin on CBS's LPs and such, the record industry learned pretty quickly that there was no way to generate those profits, except in minority formats like classical and jazz, without coming up with some hit singles once in a while. This was the way of the world, and the 45 ruled that world.

So this should surprise no one:

Last year, digital singles outsold plastic CD's for the first time. So far this year, sales of digital songs have risen 54 percent, to roughly 189 million units, according to data from Nielsen SoundScan. Digital album sales are rising at a slightly faster pace, but buyers of digital music are purchasing singles over albums by a margin of 19 to 1.

Because of this shift in listener preferences — a trend reflected everywhere from blogs posting select MP3s to reviews of singles in Rolling Stone — record labels are coming to grips with the loss of the album as their main product and chief moneymaker.

Which, again, should surprise no one:

I distinctly remember recognizing that it was a pure ripoff to plunk down several dollars for an 8-12 track album, when all I wanted was the one or two songs that were hits. I adopted a three-song minimum as a requirement for buying an album; if youíre at all familiar with the past twenty-five years of pop music, you can make a pretty accurate guess as to the paltry number of albums I wound up purchasing.

I realize I was in the minority. Plenty of my peers scooped up those albums, and justified it as the only way to get at the popular tunes. The potential bonus was the discovery of an unpromoted gem in the album's filler tracks; realistically, that was usually just wishful thinking. But for me, it turned me off on developing any sort of music-buying habit.

Further complication: musicians had long been hiding some good stuff, not on the inner tracks of their LPs, but on the B-sides of 45s, where presumably the truest of fans would find them. In 1966, Dylan had sneaked a live version of "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" onto the back of "I Want You," a track you simply couldn't get anywhere else. Even Simon and by-gosh Garfunkel did this, dropping the irritable "You Don't Know Where Your Interest Lies," never issued on an LP, underneath "Fakin' It." ("You Don't Know..." didn't even make it to the S&G Collected Works CD box.)

Is there a future for the "album"? It might be something like this:

I think albums can revert back to what they were in the '50s and '60s: Less concept packages and more like compilations of proven hit singles, released after they made their noise. That dynamic's already made a comeback today, with the proliferation of "greatest hits" albums from artists that had barely three or four notable singles releases.

The Beatles, who recorded their singles and their album tracks as wholly separate entities (though their US label tended to mess up their scheme) were very much anomalies in the couple-of-hits-plus-filler milieu, and when Led Zeppelin, for whatever reason, refused to allow "Stairway to Heaven" to go out as a 45 — a few white-label promos were pressed, but no store stock — radio stations treated it as a hit single anyway. The circle, I'm tempted to say, is complete.

Space considerations

The garage (one-car) at the palatial Surlywood estate measures, according to the authorities, 290 square feet.

I mention that in case you felt like looking at this.

Admittedly, my garage does not look particularly comfy.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:49 PM to Dyssynergy , Surlywood )
27 March 2007
Results of a good combing

Flashback to the 5th:

Last month one of the Evil Banks who owns the plastic-related segment of my soul sent me a notification to the effect that they were going to pile a few extra percentage points on some Visa card or other. I objected, and said so in return mail; they acknowledged the exception in what we will call Letter 1.

And then I opened Letter 2, which contained an explanation of why they did what they did, which surprised me very little until I noticed that they were referencing an account ending in, oh, let's call it 1234.

I have no accounts ending in the digits indicated, from them or from anyone else.

At the time, I vowed that "the bottom of this will be gotten to."

The bank has now sent the following explanation:

Your original ... account number was [number ending in what I was used to]. Due to the merger [of us and someone else], system changes necessitated account number updates. Your new account number is [something ending in 1234]. This will be reflected on your card when it comes up for expiration and is reissued.

Of course, having rejected their terms on this account, I will cut up any new card they send me, but I am satisfied with this explanation.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:30 AM to Common Cents )

Oklahomans Taken for a Ride is a brief (24 minutes) documentary about rail service in Oklahoma, how it could be expanded, and who would prefer that it not be. It's posted at vocallocals.net, a community Web site in Cleveland County (click on the PROJECTS button).

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:10 AM to Soonerland )
The lines will not be blurred

Amazon.com is pushing "context links," yet another attempt to "monetize" blogging, and McGehee isn't buying:

When I see a link in the substantive, non-advertising content of a site, especially a blog, I think I have a right to expect that the link is related to the content, and isn't just a twisted form of product-placement advertising.

I could say the same here, except that it might require me to claim that I have, you know, content.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:30 AM to Blogorrhea )
Unsullied by intelligence

Remember the 19th century? It refuses to go away:

I work at a bookstore. I was cashiering today when a woman and her two kids (a boy and a girl, both somewhere between 13-15) came up to the register. The mom was buying 2 celeb gossip magazines, and the boy put down a book. The girl then walked up and set down the newest volume of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series.

The mom says "You can't buy that."

Girl: Why?
Mom: Because it's too big.
Girl: [Brother] is buying a book that big. It's not very expensive.
Mom: [Brother] is a boy. You're a girl. And girls shouldn't read big books like that. It's too thick. Boys don't like girls who read thick books. You want boys to like you, don't you?

The girl went and put the book away.

In hardcover, Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood runs 400 pages, maybe two-thirds the length of Harry Potter stories, and no one complains about their thickness.

The horror, though, is that this sort of notion is still being bandied about in two thousand seven, fercrissake. As Syaffolee, who can probably turn 400 pages by breakfast, says:

[A]s for guys who don't like girls reading big books, well, those guys are probably not worth knowing anyway.

And they probably don't even read the celeb gossip mags.

A surprisingly-complicated goodbye

Country singer Henson Cargill has died in Oklahoma City from complications following surgery. He was 66.

Cargill graduated from Northwest Classen, studied law and served as a deputy sheriff in these parts before trying his hand at music. In the late 1960s, he was recording for Monument, and in 1967 he cut a track called "A Very Well-Traveled Man." It was not a hit. But on the other side of the disc, someone noticed "Skip a Rope," a casual-sounding but deadly-serious denunciation of adult hypocrisy and its effect on children, and put it on the air. "Skip a Rope" jumped to the very top of the country charts, stayed there over a month, and crossed over to pop stations, reaching #25 on Billboard's pop chart.

"Skip a Rope" sounded like something Cargill's friend Johnny Cash would do, and indeed Cash had contemplated cutting the song, but Cargill and record producer Don Law had a deal with the publishers that gave them first crack at it. It was put on the B-side, I suppose, because its hard-hitting lyrics might have upset the legendarily-hidebound Nashville establishment.

Cargill had other country hits, though he never hit the pop charts again; his last Top 20, a track from his album Uncomplicated, was titled "The Most Uncomplicated Goodbye I've Ever Heard." In the 1980s he owned Henson's, a country-music venue in Oklahoma City that regularly drew top stars; he also appeared on the Reno/Las Vegas casino circuit. A long-overdue Cargill compilation was issued a couple of years ago, and I still have my original 45 of "Skip a Rope": it, too, is well-traveled.

(Note: It is the nature of MP3s to be ephemeral.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:10 PM to Tongue and Groove )
21st verse, same as the first

Well, this makes two towns in which the Dallas Mavericks have never lost a regular-season game: New Orleans and Oklahoma City. The Hornets haven't beaten the Mavs, in fact, since the fall of 1999, when Chris Paul was still in ninth grade.

Facing a trip to San Antonio tonight to take on the Spurs tomorrow, Byron Scott pulled the starters early. It didn't matter: the Bees had a lead halfway through the second quarter, yet the Mavs were up 12 at the half (56-44) and up 25 after three (84-59). Much of the sellout crowd (the tenth at the Ford Center this year) bailed out early, missing an opportunity to see the Hornets' bench outplay the Mavericks' bench, but the score was largely irrelevant. (For the sake of completeness: Mavs 105, Bees 89.)

I meant that about the bench. The Hornets' leading scorer was backup guard Jannero Pargo, who got 23 points in 36 minutes, including four of five 3-balls. The bench in aggregate — everyone but Linton Johnson got minutes — scored 46, versus 43 for the starters, led by Tyson Chandler with 13. And, hey, how often do we get to see Brandon Bass? (He scored 5 in a smidgen over five minutes.)

The Bees did a decent job of tying up Dirk Nowitzki, who was held to 15, but in so doing, they left Josh Howard (25 points, 10 boards) and Jason Terry (19 points) too many openings. And reserve center DeSagana Diop snagged eight rebounds before fouling out.

The second half of the Back-to-Back from Hell awaits.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:22 PM to Net Proceeds )
28 March 2007
A new CEO Challenge

We open here with a flashback:

I remember [Michael Moore's] television series TV Nation, which had an interest in snark at least as high as my own, and which featured briefly something called the CEO Corporate Challenge, in which the chairmen would be pulled out of the boardroom long enough to demonstrate some actual familiarity with the products vended by the firms they ran. One of the CEOs targeted was Ford boss Alexander Trotman: Moore met him in Dearborn and challenged him to change the oil in a Ford truck. Trotman, to Moore's surprise, was a pretty fair shadetree mechanic, and finished up the task in less time than your local Spee-D-Loob; Moore, to his credit, left the segment in, and announced that Trotman had indeed passed the CEO Corporate Challenge.

At the end of this, I tossed up a remark about how "I certainly can't imagine Bill Ford changing his own oil."

On the other hand, apparently new Ford CEO Alan Mulally can actually sell cars:

[H]e sold three cars in just 40 minutes on the floor, with a fourth sale that's still pending. In one case, he talked Nancy Miner from Liverpool, NY into a Fusion that she was cross-shopping with a Camry. If you remember, Mulally's own garage was filled with all manner of Toyota and Lexus cars before he came to Ford, so the CEO was well situated to present the case for his own Fusion to Ms. Miner. She ended up buying the Fusion and driving it back to New York.

Which is quite a drive, since Mulally was holding court at a Ford store in, yes, Dearborn, Michigan.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:09 AM to Driver's Seat )
No Chinese British sports cars for you

National Public Radio is reporting that China's Nanjing Automotive is abandoning plans to assemble the MG automobile in Ardmore, Oklahoma, even as the first Chinese-built MGs are coming off the line.

Possibly supporting this story is this quote from Nanjing MG general manager Zhang Xin:

Despite high expectations on the Chinese domestic market, Mr Zhang says the priority is the British and European market. "British people like their own brands, and people in other European countries and the Commonwealth know MG's performance well," he says. "Nanjing MG will provide them with the same or better driving experience. We will make the best MG cars ever."

No mention of North American sales at all. Then there's this:

Duke Hale, the chief executive of Nanjing's U.S. business, which was to assemble MG TF roadsters from kits, left the company this month, reportedly being disappointed that the Chinese company had scaled back its planned production and sales operations in the U.S. — plans elaborated by Mr. Hale rather than by the Chinese company.

There is also a suggestion that tweaking the MG designs to meet US standards might have proven more difficult than anticipated.

Duke Hale had had big plans for MG, but if there's one thing certain in the auto industry, it's that nothing is certain.

Update, 1:45 pm: The Oklahoman reports:

"My understanding is that there is no more plans with the Oklahoma plant," MG's Paul Stowe told NPR. "We are discussing possible ventures in America in the future, but I don't believe there's anything on the table at the moment with Oklahoma."

British media reports have identified Stowe as quality director for Nanjing's MG division. He relocated to China from MG's former factory in Longbridge near Birmingham, England.

A joint statement from state and local officials in Oklahoma said Stowe was not speaking on behalf of the company.

"This individual is not a senior member of the team working with Oklahoma Global Motors and is not currently involved in moving the project forward," the statement said. "Representatives from ... MG in the U.K. have confirmed that his statement was not an official announcement by the company and reflected his own opinion and not that of management."

Officials said the deal was a complicated project "with individuals and companies on three continents, a foreign government and a former company in bankruptcy."

The statement was issued by the state, Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce, the City of Oklahoma City and the Ardmore Development Authority.

See "Nothing is certain," supra.

Addendum, 7 pm: Statement by Richard Rush of the State Chamber, with audio, denying the NPR story.

Scanning well

Brian J. Noggle has retrieved from his archives a sonnet which does not quite compare thee to a summer's day. I'd quote it here, but how much of a fourteen-line poem can you extract without getting into copyright difficulties?

I will, however, quote this:

[R]egardless of my merit in structured poetry, much of my free verse is crap. Which is par for that form.

My free verse, historically, has been so called because I obviously can't sell it to anyone.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:33 AM to Almost Yogurt )
Sniff, then scratch

Mark Alger gets one of those International Lottery spams, and wonders:

If a lottery is a tax on the innumerate, how much more stupid would you have to be to buy a ticket from a complete stranger approaching you at random on the Internet? (And probably without any way to contact him included in the email.)

But then, people are people and grifts work for that very reason. I suppose an appeal to greed will never go unanswered.

Then again, truth will not always be denied, as Eric Siegmund discovers:

I see the newly enacted "Truth in Spam Labeling" legislation is beginning to pay dividends. I just got an email entitled "Worldwide Lootery Agent."

Which reminds us that after all, there is greed on both sides of this transaction.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 3:02 PM to Scams and Spams )
Geniuses at work

News Item: Circuit City Stores Inc. unveiled further details of its restructuring plan on Wednesday, including cutting about 3,400 store associate jobs. The cuts, which are occurring today, focused on associates whom Circuit City said "were paid well above the market-based salary range for their role." New associates will be hired for these positions and compensated at the current market range for the job, the company said.

Now that's brilliant: sack all the experienced people and replace them with newbies. The only possible explanation is that Circuit City CEO Philip Schoonover, after just over a year on the job, is bucking for a position in what remains of the Bush administration.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 5:34 PM to Dyssynergy )
Spurs that jingle, jangle, jingle

Some jangled nerves at the AT&T Center, presumably, as the Hornets jumped out to a six-point lead at the half, running it to nine points after the third. But after that, the Spurs got seriously jingly, opening the fourth quarter with an 11-2 run, including three treys by Brent Barry, erasing the lead entirely. With 17 seconds to go, Barry sank yet another long ball, putting San Antonio up 90-88, and that was it: the Hornets were unable to come back with a basket, Chris Paul fouled out with a bit more than a second left, and Jacque Vaughn dropped in two free throws to ice the deal at 92-88.

Tim Duncan was his usual efficient self, scoring 31 points; Brent Barry had five treys in all for 15; Manu Ginobili got few shots from the floor but delivered 7 of 8 from the charity stripe for 12.

In addition to six fouls, Chris Paul produced 20 points and 9 assists; Tyson Chandler scored 10 and rebounded 12. The Bees are getting free throws to fall these days: tonight they were 18 of 20. But they also gave up 18 turnovers, and you can't do that against a team like the Spurs.

The Hornets are now 32-40 with ten to play, and they must win seven to improve on last year's 38-44 mark — and going 7-3 won't guarantee them a spot in the playoffs. The last game at the Ford Center will be Friday the 13th (!) against the Nuggets. Between now and then, well, we start with the Knicks on Saturday.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:30 PM to Net Proceeds )
29 March 2007

In the summer of 2001, Air Transat Flight 236, out of Toronto, bound for Lisbon, ran out of fuel somewhere over the Atlantic — a fuel leak in the #2 engine, caused by a bit of clumsy maintenance on the ground — and managed to come down in the Azores with no loss of life and only minor injuries to eighteen of the three hundred on board.

If you were thinking that after 236 editions, the Carnival of the Vanities might be out of gas, you might want to think again.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:28 AM to Blogorrhea )
Foggy Bottom Blues

Well, it's not a song exactly, but the potential is there. An outline from Lileks:

I'm starting to think that you could put Godzilla in charge of State, and in two months he'd be four feet tall, breathing perfume, and proposing a Tokyo-reconstruction loan program and a six-point program for getting Mothra to sit down with Gamera.

Gamera, at least, is really neat.

Curse you, Infiniti!

Do you think I want to see this thing staring at me from across the lot while Gwendolyn gets her 105,000-mile service?

2008 Infiniti EX
I suppose, if I'm going to be suffering from Vehicle Lust, better it should be over a vehicle that costs around $36,000 than over one that costs around $46,000, but still ....

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:09 AM to Driver's Seat )
No time for stoners

We start with Exodus 12:20:

Ye shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall ye eat unleavened bread. [KJV]

The Jews have a term, hametz, to denote leavened items, which are barred during Passover. The applicable law requires that you get rid of them before the official beginning of Pesach: they're not allowed anywhere on the premises.

What determines hametz status is whether the presence of water enables fermentation of the grain. The list, which is fairly long, includes wheat, barley, rye — and hemp:

Cannabis is among the substances Jews are forbidden to consume during the week-long festival, which begins Monday, said Michelle Levine, a spokeswoman for [Israel's] Green Leaf party.

Biblical laws prohibit eating leavened foods during Passover, replacing bread with flat crackers called matza. Later injunctions by European rabbis extended those rules to forbid other foods like beans and corn, and more recent rulings have further expanded the ban to include hemp seeds, which today are found in some health oils — and in marijuana.

Passover begins at sundown on the second of April, so you have until that morning to dispose of your stash.

(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:10 PM to Almost Yogurt )
As if

Just received while I wait out the stormage: something titled "Internet Explorer 7 Downloads," claiming to be from admin@microsoft.com.

Yeah, right.

For the record, I have gotten one email from Microsoft since ever: a followup to see if I'd gotten the XP Service Pack 2 CD I had ordered. Assuming, of course, even that was from Microsoft, which is a lot to assume.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 4:30 PM to Scams and Spams )

Can we just retire that "chick car" business once and for all?

[D]eep down, most women are car enthusiasts. Like any teenage boy, they start off excited about the intoxicating freedom of driving and scan their automotosphere for the chariot best suited to fleeing the nest and impressing the rest. They may not talk about horsepower and torque, but they "get it."

And then they grow to dislike cars, if only because the cars they drive are so fundamentally unlikeable. The minivan, the family sedan, the average domestic transplant — these are the daily drivers of the women I know. Is it any wonder they loathe all things automotive?

It's the association with drudgery that kills the spirit, I think, though it doesn't help that most of the vehicles represented as suitable for Mom's Taxi duty are designed for maximum yawn and don't lend themselves to serious hoonage.

Still, the combination of a shapely leg and a lead foot will almost always cause my heart to tach up. (Trini, bless her, covets a Nissan Sentra SE-R Spec V.)

Permalink to this item ( posted at 7:24 PM to Driver's Seat )
30 March 2007
Quote of the week

Veronica Nichols, on the asininity of "blog wars":

Disagreeing in text form with something someone else has typed is not "silencing." To pretend that's the case is pretty much the same thing as belittling actual instances of silencing — ya know? The kind where tyrannical governments murder people and destroy evidence?

Look, y'all. The internet is broken down as follows: 70% porn, 10% pictures of cats, 9% MySpace, 5% YouTube, 5% useful information, and 1% blogs.

That, my friends, is not the make up of a battlefield.

On the other hand, there really are a few seriously sick jokers out there, and sometimes the power of Total Global Humiliation seems insufficient to deal with them, so be sure to keep your powder dry.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 6:28 AM to QOTW )
Best. Obituary. Ever.

Well, the first sentence, anyway:

Sara Katherine Petterson Brouillard, 55, passed peacefully Wednesday March 21, 2007, at a Bangor hospital, after a brief, courageous battle with cancer and a long and aggravating marriage to Paul Brouillard.

I think I miss her already.

(From Slublog via Electric Venom.)

Just because of the title

"No Blood for Mohel."

Permalink to this item ( posted at 8:41 AM to Blogorrhea )
Keeping you properly advised

Because we're going to need it again very soon: the Gary England Drinking Game.

You really need to go through the whole thing, but I'll quote this one section:

Take two drinks every time Gary says the following: "Baseball-sized hail" | "Waterloo Road" | "Pottawatomie County" | "Deer Creek High School" (How many times has that high school been hit anyway?!?)

You kidding? Storms come here from Baja looking for Deer Creek.

If you follow this plan as assiduously as I know you will, you should be gloriously swacked long before Gary loses contact with Val.

OPUBCO and Griffin file for divorce

The Oklahoma Publishing Company has bought out Griffin Communications' share of NewsOK.com, which eventually will be operated solely by, and as a supplement to, the Oklahoman.

The phrase that pays is here:

"NewsOK.com has been a great strategic alliance for both companies for five-and-one-half years," said [David] Griffin. "But the opportunities online are changing rapidly and our business models must change accordingly."

No argument from his counterpart:

"Together, our staffs have built an award winning Web site that more Oklahomans use than any other media site in the state," [Oklahoman publisher] Thompson said. "But, the Internet has become more central to our core businesses and we realize that each of our strong brands need autonomy."

Certainly NewsOK.com was anomalous: you seldom see media joint ventures of this sort. (More common, but only slightly so, is the case of rival newspapers under a Joint Operating Agreement who have a common Web site, such as NWsource, run by the Seattle Times "representing the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.")

And I have to wonder if maybe KWTV was chafing a bit, given the heavy Web emphasis coming from the competition. At least they've retained the kwtv.com domain, which currently redirects to NewsOK; their new site will be launched next year.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 11:42 AM to Soonerland )
Only sixteen

A curveball from Scott Adams:

I've observed that everyone has a permanent age that appears to be set at birth. For example, I've always been 42 years old. I was ill-suited for being a little kid, and didn't enjoy most kid activities. By first grade I knew I wanted to be an adult, with an established career, car, house and a decent tennis game. I didn't care for my awkward and unsettled twenties. And I'm not looking forward to the rocking chair. If I could be one age forever, it would be 42.

When I ask people about their permanent age, they usually beg it off by saying they don't have one. But if you press, you always get an answer. And the age they pick won't surprise you. Some people are kids all their lives. They will admit they are 12 years old. Other people have always had senior citizen interests and perspectives. If you're 30 years old in nominal terms, but you love bingo and you think kids should stop wearing those big baggy pants and listening to hip-hop music, your permanent age might be 60.

The number for me, I think, is 16. It's not that I feel the passions of youth rushing through me, or that I'm energetic to the point of being indefatigable, at the expense of taking care of business: it's simply that I have never quite gotten out of the mindset that everything that has happened up to now is merely prologue, and that "real life," whatever that may be, is still somewhere in the ill-defined future, despite the fact that I have an actual job and an actual mortgage and two children quite a bit older than sixteen.

That said, though, I'm secure enough in my teenaged self to tell those damn kids to get off my lawn.

(Via gorgeous "older woman" Jane Galt.)

I made it through the rain

Well, sort of. NW 50th west of Pennsylvania is flooded to a depth of half a foot, maybe more; it improves a bit once you reach Villa, but there are still lots of stranded cars.

I figured I'd get no stray water up here at Surlywood. I was in error, although only slightly: the water on the patio was high enough to seep into the garage, so I have a rather damp stretch of carpet along the north end, which isn't going to dry any time soon. Fortunately, once into the garage, gravity demands that the liquid head southward, under the door and down the driveway, so it's not going to accumulate. Much.

Other than that, it's been a rotten day.

Addendum, 10 pm: Weather records here go back to 1891, and not once has there been a March day with this much rain — until now.

31 March 2007
We saw your house on the computer

The Oklahoman's Richard Mize has a story this morning on something I probably should have anticipated, but didn't: Real-estate listings on YouTube.

And it's not like no one's been doing video of homes for sale — Cox Cable has a whole channel of such — but what's the first place you look for video? Yep.

Still, I don't think a lot of buyers, at least at first, are going to use YouTube as their first search tool. Doesn't mean it won't work, though: last time (and I emphasize last time) I bought a house, the Expert I had engaged emailed me links to MLS listings that looked promising, and adding YouTube links to such mailings is a simple matter of cut-and-paste.

Here's a sampling of YouTubed listings, which you may find interesting:

These run generally three to four minutes, though the Edmond listing runs about nine.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:59 AM to Entirely Too Cool )
Porter's Premise

It goes something like this:

If a human community has the ability and opportunity to collect, harvest, consume an unlimited amount of anything, it will always do so on the basis that no proof exists that doing so is bad. The result will inevitably be one or more negative consequences which were not anticipated at all when the decision was made.

I take minor exception here — with the exception of BS, nothing is available in truly "unlimited" amounts — but otherwise, this seems to be beyond cavil.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 12:38 PM to Almost Yogurt )
Above all, love

The official rainfall at Will Rogers World Airport yesterday was 3.50 inches, a record for the date, indeed a record for the month, and at some point in the frustration I muttered some vague contumely against anyone who had been praying for rain. (And, inasmuch as we're still technically in a drought, presumably someone was.)

After sleeping on it, I reconsidered, and more or less simultaneously remembered B. C. Clark's "Pray for Rain" promotion, which goes like this:

The original purchaser of a diamond engagement ring from B.C. Clark Jewelers is entitled to a full refund (excluding sales tax) of the purchase price of that ring, up to a maximum of five thousand dollars ($5,000) if rainfall on the wedding day for which the ring was purchased measures one inch or more at either of our official locations of measurement. Rainfall will be measured at News 9 and Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City by the National Weather Service during the twenty-four hour period of midnight to midnight the day of the wedding.

And did they have a winner? Indeed they did.

Note: NWS figures are based on standard time year 'round, so when DST is in effect, the 24-hour period begins (and ends) at 1 am.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 1:22 PM to Weather or Not )
I should have such a mismatch

Jeff Jarvis embeds a YouTube appearance by Elizabeth Kucinich, spouse of Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, and describes her as "[Kucinich's] magnificently mismatched wife."

Um, what?

Is there some compelling reason why in 2005 Kucinich, then 58, should not have married Elizabeth Harper, then about 27? I mean, yeah, I'm sure I'd creep out women in their twenties were I to express any interest, but far be it from me to snicker at May-December romances. And Jarvis is younger than I am, fercryingoutloud. Scratch a Web 2.0 pioneer, find an old fogy at heart.

It just takes a little longer

The Knicks and the Hornets started the night needing to pick up some ground to get into the playoffs, and obviously only one of them would. It wasn't obvious who would, though, even during the 48th minute, when the Knicks took a one-point lead after trailing by as many as 15; the Bees got some clutch free throws and took a 3-point lead; New York came back with a 3-ball, and suddenly it was 92-92, followed by overtime.

And the Bees are at their best in these little five-minute spurts: they haven't lost an overtime game all season, and they held the Knicks to a meager two points, pulling out a 103-94 win.

Bobby Jackson was back tonight, and he made sure everyone knew it: he came up with 12 points. David West led the Bees with 20; Desmond Mason dropped in 19; Chris Paul, who dominated the overtime period, finished with 16; and Tyson Chandler, who played six minutes with five fouls, was in double-double land again, with 13 points and 13 boards.

Still, nobody could do much about Eddy Curry: the New York center scored 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. It is probably a good thing that Steve Franchise Francis was left at home this time.

The Milwaukee game from January, postponed because the Hornets' charter flight couldn't get out of an Oklahoma City snowstorm, will be made up Tuesday night.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 9:47 PM to Net Proceeds )
And it wasn't even April first yet

So I read this little bit of Bad News:

It has been determined that you have violated the EULA and posting privileges for this site, and any further participation here is not welcome. Consider this message as a formal notice that we will no longer grant you the privilege or license to participate here. Any attempts to access this site using masked or additional resources will be logged and reported to your Internet Service Provider via a formal complaint. Depending on the jurisdiction, we may report your activities to the proper authorities. If you are using your employer's computers, we will contact your employer.

The simplest way to prevent further problems for you is for you to simply cease and desist from using this site.

Of course, it was a hack job, in several senses of the word, and the host was already working on finding the culprit and whacking his pee-pee. Still, that's pretty decent boilerplate, and I suspect I'll see it again, if only as an indication of plagiarism: few of these weasels have much to say on their own.

Update, 5 pm, 1 April: Oh, it gets better.

Permalink to this item ( posted at 10:52 PM to Blogorrhea )
The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

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