1 April 2008
As opposed to the plan from Uranus
In a lifetime of klutziness, I've broken lots of light bulbs, even a socket or two, usually with no ill effects other than finding that one last shard of glass three weeks later. Of course, those were normal light bulbs, as distinguished from the compact-fluorescent light bulbs (they're not even bulbous, fercrissake) that are being forced upon us. Truth be told, I've made my peace with the CFLs, and I have six of them installed at the palatial Surlywood estate. But sooner or later I'm going to break one, and let me tell you, that little trace bit of mercury is genuinely nasty stuff, so I'm trying my darnedest to be careful.
A man and woman in southern Oklahoma were hospitalized with mercury poisoning last week after engaging in what officials said is a rare and dangerous science experiment using mercury to pull gold from electronic equipment, apparently for profit.
Geez, and I thought I was a loose cannon in chem lab. Get a whiff of this:
Gold is found in small amounts in some electronic equipment. To isolate the gold in the circuit boards, the couple put the boards on a frying pan on their kitchen stove, said Eric Delgado, on-scene coordinator for the EPA. They poured mercury over the electronics. Mercury attached itself to the gold and helped the couple separate the precious metal from the circuit boards. The couple then heated the gold-mercury substance until the mercury evaporated, leaving only the gold behind.
And being a vapor, the stuff went straight up their noses, and they wound up in the hospital. As Darwin Award contestants go, these folks are pretty run-of-the-mill, although they might score difficulty points: this was a lot more mercury than you'll find in even half a dozen CFLs. As for their house, redoing the interior with lead paint might actually be an improvement.
Update: The man has died, and the house has been deemed "uninhabitable."
Not that I have anything against Twitter I don't but geez, I put out enough material in a day as it is without having to liveblog my entire life, as it were.
For people even less prolific than I appear to be, there is dawdlr. What's great about it is that there's no rush: updates are sent via snailmail (dawdler, 77 beak street, london W1F 9DB) and posted every six months.
So: what are you doing, generally?
The view from Lower Epsilon
John Hawkins, evidently because he's John Hawkins fercrissake, got six of the prettier members of the dextrosphere to comment on dating and such, which of course prompted a semi-rebuttal from Ace.
I wasn't going to weigh in on anything here I did once have dinner with Dawn Eden (no, we weren't dating), and I did get mentioned in her book, and not as a bad example either but I feel compelled to mention that the individual in Ace's 51st comment, by tachyonshuggy, is actually someone other than myself:
I have a very close friend who is a 100% beta, or perhaps another Greek letter further down the alphabet.
This man has not gotten laid since The Contract with America. He's a very smart guy with some crippling social problems (not jokey/confident, a homebody, watches Stargate Atlantis, etc.).
I know that I should have said/done something like ten years ago, but I don't know what to do. I'd be game for winging with him except that it would be like dragging a dead body.
How does the labouring ubernerd find love, and can I help?
I don't think I've ever watched Stargate Atlantis.
On the other hand, they might actually have Ethel the Aardvark Goes Quantity Surveying.
The First National Bank of Spitzer
Actually, I have no idea where the former governor of New York stashes his cash, nor do I care, but for some reason I got this from my bank today and I wonder if it's fallout from the Adventures of Client #9:
As part of our continued effort to enhance online security, we've changed the way we process online payments or transfers, and have updated our online terms and conditions to reflect those changes.
The updated terms and conditions will be available online and will take effect April 13, 2008.
Here's a summary of what we're changing:
We may delay or cancel a request to transfer or charge money back to the Pay From or other account at our discretion including if the payment:
Don't you be structuring, y'hear?
I'm starting to think these little redbud trees one of them is not so red, but so be it are eventually going to fuse themselves into one big tree.
They obviously didn't suffer much during the ice storm, though.
(Embiggened version at Flickr.)
2 April 2008
Alfa Romeo's tune
The handful of Alfisti who have been waiting with bated breath for the return of the Cross and Serpent to these shores are apparently going to be rewarded beyond their wildest dreams: not only is Alfa Romeo going to sell cars in the States again, but they might actually build them here.
A number of possibilities present themselves: acquisition of an existing plant that's been closed; expansion of one of Case/New Holland's tractor plants CNH, like Alfa, is a part of the humongous Fiat empire for automotive use; even a facility in Mexico has been considered.
Whatever the decision, you can credit it to, or blame it on, the weakness of the US dollar. Alfa isn't going to make any money over here by shipping us Eurocars at anything like the current exchange rate.
I should have thought of this
But since I didn't, here's the official word:
When preparing Quaker Oatmeal in the microwave, we recommend using a bowl with sides that slant outwards, such as a pasta or soup bowl. This will prevent the steam that develops when cooking the oatmeal from pushing it up and over the edge of the bowl.
Anyone got a bowl with sides that slant inwards? I see a Questionable Experiment suggesting itself.
Jones bounces back
Fire and ice make a deadly combination.
During the December ice storm, Jones High School was destroyed by a fire. Fighting that fire had been more difficult than usual: during the ice storm, electrical lines were down and water pressure was unusually low. Classes resumed in January, mostly in portable buildings on the edge of the campus.
Yesterday Jones school-district voters passed, 669-176, a $12 million bond issue to help rebuild the school on the original site, with construction to begin this fall. Superintendent Mike Steele is happy:
"It's gone from terrible to great," Steele said. "These students definitely needed a shot in the arm and this overwhelming support on this vote for the students is just going to do wonders for their morale and attitude."
Construction should be complete in 18 to 24 months.
Hobbes was fond of his Dram
Dram is a sandal for guys, by Reef, and it looks like, well, yet another flip-flop.
Until you notice this:
polyurethane encapsulated canteen in heel with screw cap opens with included exclusive Reef church key / fin key
Yep. You can store three ounces of liquid in the heel. Whether you'd want to drink it after that well, maybe they can sell it to a drunken fart like René Descartes.
"Dram" sells for $45 at retail.
Disclosure: Reef is a nominal sponsor of this site I run, or at least of the theme it uses.
The federal government is investigating whether the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety violated the civil rights of Iranian immigrants by refusing to provide them with driver's license tests in their native Farsi language.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched the investigation in March after a complaint filed on behalf of two Iranian nationals living in Bartlesville accused the state agency of unlawful discrimination based on their national origin, according to a letter from the NHTSA to Public Safety Commissioner Kevin Ward.
One's immediate response might be "So they can't read? Where are they going to go?"
The complaint was filed on behalf of Fardha Sharifi and her husband, Alireza Sanghinmanesh, who immigrated to the United States with their young son, said Hassan Sharifi, Fardha Sharifi's cousin and a restaurant owner in Bartlesville. He said the couple wanted to get Oklahoma driver's licenses last year but did not understand English well enough to take the Oklahoma test.
"They wanted to go to work. And I had to drive them around almost everywhere they went," said Hassan Sharifi, who immigrated to the U.S. 30 years ago. "It seemed like my life was interrupted."
He said he contacted state driver's license officials to see if the test could be provided in the couple's native language, Farsi. "They didn't answer me," Hassan Sharifi said. "I feel bad. No one wants to take the responsibility."
Finally, the couple went to the neighboring state of Kansas, located less than 25 miles north of Bartlesville, where they each passed a Kansas exam that tested their driving skills using graphic symbols rather than language, Hassan Sharifi said.
The standard argument against this sort of thing is that it costs money, and of course it does. Rep. Randy Terrill (R-Moore) has his own idea: a bill that requires all state business be conducted in English. This, at least, is consistent with Terrill's standard Go Away stance. Let's see what he says after the investigation is completed.
3 April 2008
Some of this is distressingly familiar:
Not Good Enough. Ever feel that way? I know I do. Often. Too often. In fact, it is quite possibly the bane of my existence. Well, maybe not the bane of my existence but it is the thing that I have the hardest time shaking and always has been.
When that feeling hits me, I do a little internal search. Why? Why do I feel that way? Is there some deep, dark secret or a devastating buried memory that makes me feel that way? But then, logic never helps when it comes to things like that, does it? It seems the bad feelings, the feelings of inadequacy and non-deserving-ness (yes, I just made up a word) don’t come from a place of logic. They come from a place of feelings. Bad feelings.
Sometimes we're our own harshest critics: we fail to live up to some obscure, possibly subconscious, criterion, and suddenly we find ourselves ready to eat worms.
I am, I need hardly point out, no less susceptible to this sort of thing. I cope by compartmentalization: my inability to deal with things is not a fixed quantity, so I try to focus on the things I do comparatively well and distance myself from areas in which I perform poorly. One reason I've worked at the same job for so long is that it provides no support for an inferiority complex: should I find myself feeling vaguely inadequate to some particular task, all I need to do is wait a few minutes and I will be presented with an example of true, sometimes even spectacular, inadequacy. This generally doesn't help my mood of the moment the transition from self-pity to disgust is not the easiest to manage but it takes some of the strain off my sense of self.
I am at the age where the gap between where I am and where I thought I wanted to be is presumably at its widest. I console myself with the fact that I am not actually on my deathbed, and therefore things can change. "Go with the flow" is a notion utterly foreign to my nature, but there are times when I have to concede that it's easier to swim with the current. And then I remember that I don't swim that well anyway, and the cycle starts anew.
Once upon a time, for reasons long since forgotten, I engaged an astrologer to do a frighteningly-detailed natal chart for me. Early on, she explained some of the angular momentum, giving special attention to the square, superficially the most negative of all the aspects. "But people with no squares at all," she noted, "never have to struggle, never have to overcome obstacles, and often as not never amount to anything worthwhile. If you have a square or two, you're perfectly normal."
This was before she discovered I had eleven of them, but that's another matter.
I don't get it. Every other credit card I have, be it Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCPenney fercrissake, can process an online payment from my bank in 24 hours. But not Washington Mutual.
I'm at a loss to explain this. I paid three bills last night after closing time (8 pm). Two of them are noted as withdrawals effective 3 April for payments on 4 April. WaMu, paid at the same time, is effective 3 April for a payment on the seventh. (And it's not one of those situations where the bank has to cut a check and send it on: those take five days and are clearly identified as such.) This won't make me late or anything, but it's perplexing.
This week's Carnival of the Vanities is dubbed "Fools," no doubt after the first day of April, arguably the highlight of this week. I doubt seriously Mr Dodge was making reference to the fools who go zipping down US 277 (which is, at least in my neck of the woods, also US 62) in the dead of night at ridiculous speeds.
One way to make sure Trini reads this site is to throw in something about the Nissan GT-R, which is hitting dealerships even now at a price that will make your nose bleed. Car and Driver actually managed to hook up its test gear to one of Nissan's engineering mules, and they titled their review "Big, Heavy, and Incredible." I was reading over the spec sheet, and one number jumped out at me: 232 cubic inches (3.8 liters), within 2 cc of the Ford Essex V6 that had been dropped into my old Mercury Cougar. So how does today's oversized two-door compare to the oversized two-door of twenty-five years ago? We've got numbers:
Zero to sixty:
Price (2008 dollars):
Oh, well, you can't lose them all.
Atlanta has become Surf City
The raw Census numbers say that my home town has slightly more females than males, 51.1 to 48.9 percent. However, substantial percentages of both camps are Off The Market, so this one factoid doesn't really address the availability of datables.
Richard Florida, he who is constantly hawking the Creative Class as the solution to all our urban ills, has now done some figuring and calculated, or guessed, or something, the breakdown for singles 20-64, and the Big Breezy seems to have a deficit of eligible females, approximately equal to the surplus in Tulsa. (Remind me to send this to the Stroud Chamber of Commerce.) The West generally is a boyzone; girls proliferate in and around Boswash and other Eastern metropolises. Jan and Dean never anticipated this.
Yeah, I know: all you need is one, right?
I have no idea what that might mean, although I suspect there are those who are fulvier than I.
But for one brief, shining moment, the term did sort of actually exist:
Coming soon: The Fast and the Fulvy-est.
Addendum: Just to prove I take pedantry very, very seriously, we present the LOL Fulvous Whistling Duck.
4 April 2008
Lessons from life (one in a series)
Never say "Bite me" to Ted Turner.
Quote of the week
I look at it this way: I don't belong there.
I never coached a [Catholic Youth Organization] team. I never hauled a group of wannabes in the back of a truck to Central Park and worked them out from dawn to dusk. I never took a kid home in my car and treated his athlete's [foot] in my house when I was in high school. I never did the 8 million hours of work that a student-manager/assistant coach did. I never did any of that stuff.
I was pushed through a door and a silver spoon was shoved in my mouth, that had Kareem and Magic and Worthy and McAdoo and Scott and Cooper and Nixon. I mean, that's how I got my start. And most of the guys that are in [the Hall] did it the other way. So that's how I look at it.
"Scott" is Byron Scott, currently coaching the New Orleans Hornets, and he begs to differ:
No matter what the team he was given, somebody still has to coach them, discipline them. Somebody has to still earn their respect, which he's done over the years.
Send in the clones
There are still a few people who get all bug-eyed when they see what I'm driving these days, and I endeavor to make them less impressed, usually by explaining that yeah, it's an Infiniti, but when you get right down to it, it's a Nissan with an overlay of glitz. Depending on how technical I want to get, I characterize this as either "badge engineering" or "platform sharing."
Which, of course, suggests a question: where's the line between the two? The infamous (and at the time ubiquitous) Chrysler K-cars were clearly badge-engineered: the difference between a Dodge Aries and a Plymouth Reliant was next to nil. On the other hand, there's not so much resemblance between the Lincoln MKZ (formerly Zephyr) and the Mazda6, generally accepted as an example of a shared platform. Somewhere in between, Gwendolyn has the same floorpan and powertrain as a Maxima, but different sheetmetal at each end the doors and roof are the same, I think and a more extensive array of gadgetry. (And five extra horsepower, due to a larger two-stage muffler. Big deal.)
Still, this isn't the sort of clear delineation I might have hoped for. Jonny Lieberman tossed out this question to TTAC readers, and this, I think, is the winner:
If my mom can tell that two related cars share parts, that's badge engineering. If only the lunatics who discuss cars on the interwebs can tell, that's platform sharing.
Of course, as one of the lunatics in question, I maintain that we don't need no stinkin' badges.
Somebody oughta clean Gaia's clock
What is it this time? Global slowing?
It has long been known that natural phenomena on Earth's surface, such as tides and winds, affect its rotation speed. Now scientists are investigating how events in a mineral layer at the core-mantle boundary, 1,615 miles (2,600 kilometers) deep, similarly affect the planet's spin.
"The length of a day … is changing due to the interaction between the mantle and the core in the very deep Earth," said study co-author Kei Hirose, a geoscientist at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan. "This is basically because the bottom of the mantle has very high electrical conductivity."
Finally, a reasonable argument for Daylight Saving.
(Via Scribal Terror.)
Building a female audience
Every day, I receive an email from a different male blogger, always with the same complaint, "No women ever read my blog. How do you get so many hot chicks to read Citizen of the Month?"
Men, take note. This is the most important post that you will ever read. My female readership is no accident. It took years of experimentation and market research. Most men make one major mistake when wooing a woman online: they act as if they are wooing themselves.
Actually, a reader emailed me once to suggest that I woo myself, though not exactly in those words.
I don't think my female readership is accidental either, though I'm darned if I know what the trick is. (Surely it can't be the occasional shoeblogging; there are plenty of people who do it better and/or more often.) My current best guess is that I appear to be able to distinguish between real life and beer commercials.
5 April 2008
Do we need a state rock song?
I'm still reeling over our state vegetable, so I shudder to think what would be considered an appropriate rock and/or roll number to celebrate at the Oklahoma History Center, and indeed my first look at the nominees list so far did nothing to ease the twitch.
So, prodded by Jason Bondy, I sent in the one and only song that makes sense to me in this context: Wanda Jackson's "Funnel of Love" (Capitol 4553, 1961), which offers not one, not two, but three connections to this state:
I hope someone on the committee at least has heard of it.
About one of every four vehicles on Oklahoma roads is uninsured, and there's not much that can be done to improve that, state officials say.
Oklahoma lawmakers have proposed and adopted a number of measures designed to punish uninsured motorists, but the state's rate of uninsured motorists has remained steady in recent years, said Lonnie Jarman, driver compliance director at the state Department of Public Safety. "In the 50 states and the District of Columbia, there is no one that has found the perfect solution," Jarman said.
Many motorists who fail to carry auto insurance do so because they can't afford it, Jarman said. "Most states have found regardless of what they try to do, it doesn't change that rate very much. The reason why that is, is because it's a social issue, the social issue being, 'I can't afford it'."
And this differs from health insurance how, exactly? Yet you don't see anyone calling for government-operated Universal Auto Coverage.
Meet the new look, same as the old look
Being considered for the Occasionally Asked Questions file: "How come this site looks exactly the same, year after year?"
The answer would be something like this:
[M]y favorite layout and color scheme ever and he's had the good sense to keep it for something like six or seven years.
Close enough. This particular template, slightly modified over the years, was implemented in August 2002. One reason I haven't jumped on the Movable Type 4 bandwagon is its lack of support for the pop-up comment box, which I prefer to the new-and-unimproved method of dropping you directly onto the individual archive page. The color scheme was originally sort of a lark: I resisted traditional black-on-white, which in some variations causes me eyestrain, and after twiddling with literally dozens of color schemes from various suggested palettes, I decided to select from the blandest possible colors that had names assigned by Netscape. (You remember Netscape, don't you?) The background color is something called "floralwhite." The 2000-2002 pre-MT pages were done in a shade called "antiquewhite." (Before 2000, there was neither rhyme nor reason nor any consistent design around here.)
I did, for a brief period, swap the left and right columns, but that didn't last.
The cover story in the paper's Real Estate section today begins this way:
Metropolitan Home magazine took a rare trip into the heartland for its April issue "Renovation Goes Green & Gorgeous!" and landed at the home of Cara and Robert Barnes in Oklahoma City.
The Barnes' mid-century home at 2532 Pembroke Terrace garnered eight glossy pages in the prestigious chronicle of modern design.
George Seminoff, just out of OSU's School of Architecture, designed this house in 1957, and it's just undergone a golden-anniversary facelift. A classic ranch, roughly 2700 square feet, this house shows that Seminoff was a major Frank Lloyd Wright fan but open to a wide range of influences. The rooms aren't the least bit square: 30- and 60-degree angles are everywhere. There's what was described as the True In-Law plan: a wing with a bedroom, a bath, and an actual kitchenette (since removed). One place we dared not venture was into the library, which has cork wallpaper (!) and a leather floor (!!). Look up in the living room, and there are redwood beams; the cabinetry is ash. The walls are Venetian plaster and utterly gorgeous. And for fans of sunshine, as I am, there are new floor-to-ceiling Arcadia glass windows along the back of the house (a great view of the pool).
Bill Quick would probably love this place.
Things I learned today (18)
Keeping in mind, of course, that "today" is at least as open to interpretation as "and the evening and the morning were the first day."
6 April 2008
A mighty road car is our Ford
Coming soon to eastern Kansas, the Mustang Church of America:
Charles Ales loves Mustangs and doing good to others, so he's putting it all together and starting the Mustang Church of America and Museum.
"There's not another one like it in the world," said Ales, lifelong car collector. "I've been around car nuts all my adult life. You can mess with their wives, you can mess with their dogs, but you can't mess with their cars. It borders on a religion with them, so I built them a church."
So far, the only automaker actually named after a god is Mazda.
Top Ten new religious movements of an automotive nature:
Jesus, we may assume, was partial to Hondas; in Acts 2, the disciples managed to get to the first Pentecost in one Accord.
(Via the heretics at Autoblog.)
With a sprinkling of croutons
Back in the pre-industrial days when I studied the concept of "word salad," it was considered to be a possible byproduct of schizophrenia, depending on who was doing the analysis at that particular instant. Its application to spam came much, much later.
Since just about anything that can be done in spam can also be done in blog, it was inevitable that I would happen across something like this spectacular example of complete and utter nonsense which inadvertently contains some tiny shards of reality amidst its links to similarly-bogus bloggage. One paragraph is quite enough:
The most common cantonese ringtone remains to have male plug on cable, and female socket mounted in a piece of equipment, which was original intention of design. It would be cantonese ringtone to specify a new ripping location, too, so ripped song doesn't end up dirty hippo ringtone in rest of your collection.
[One link under "dirty hippo ringtone" removed from original.]
Maybe someday Google Almighty will figure out a way to shred this stuff before it gets shoveled at you from under the sneeze bar.
Somebody's doing it wrong
This Valleywag piece describes the OkCupid user base as "the Web's most normal pool of singles," a dubious claim to the extent that said pool includes me. (Then again, as just one among a million or so, I figure I'm not doing much damage.) I'll be the second to tell you, though, that the system has its drawbacks. Here's the first:
Married Guy was looking for a little adventure with or without his wife, who had approved the whole thing. He signed up at OkCupid, and got a teaser email with photos and opening profile quotes of a few available women in his area. He recognized one as Single Girl, a professional colleague of his wife. Out of curiosity, he clicked Single Girl's profile.
What he didn't realize was OkCupid notifies its members as to which other members have checked out their profiles. Single Girl, unbeknownst to Married Guy, found his profile in her inbox and realized omigod he's cheating on his wife what do I say to her? She had specified "no married men" in her preferences, so she presumed he had listed himself as single. He, on the other hand, presumed she was into married guys, since OkCupid sent him her profile. Cue mutual embarrassment.
I've explained how this system is supposed to work once before.
Left unsaid in this whole semi-sordid saga is whether Mrs Married Guy also has a profile on the site.
I mention in passing that those folks who look me up are either around my age or very much younger: a lot of fifties, a lot of twenties, and not much in between. I have no idea what to make of this. (Is this pattern at all representative of the user base? And if so, can it truly be called the "most normal"?) Twentysomethings had no use for me when I was their age, fercryingoutloud. And should they be seeking sugar daddies, you'd think they'd be looking for somebody with, you know, money.
Blogging ourselves to death
Twelve years into this little technological exercise, and maybe I'm not getting enough exercise:
Two weeks ago in North Lauderdale, Fla., funeral services were held for Russell Shaw, a prolific blogger on technology subjects who died at 60 of a heart attack. In December, another tech blogger, Marc Orchant, died at 50 of a massive coronary. A third, Om Malik, 41, survived a heart attack in December.
Other bloggers complain of weight loss or gain, sleep disorders, exhaustion and other maladies born of the nonstop strain of producing for a news and information cycle that is as always-on as the Internet.
To be sure, there is no official diagnosis of death by blogging, and the premature demise of two people obviously does not qualify as an epidemic. There is also no certainty that the stress of the work contributed to their deaths. But friends and family of the deceased, and fellow information workers, say those deaths have them thinking about the dangers of their work style.
If I get to the point where this seems too much like work, I am out of here faster than [fill in name of distasteful waste product] through a [conduit for same].
I'm pretty sure you could take a random sample of most white-, blue-, and no-collar occupations and find three middle-aged men who had heart attacks since December, not to mention members who have gained weight. I say most because there's not a lot of 50-y-o men teaching preschool.
And if not, so what? If you work in the mines, you know you're going to get black lung. If you flip burgers, you know you're going to get acne. If you build skyscrapers, you know you could plummet 30 stories to your death. If you blog, you might not get enough exercise. Whoop.
Hey, I had acne before I ever flipped burgers.
Rated V for Variable
How are people affected by really ferocious videogames? Perhaps not quite the way you thought:
People who play violent videogames online generally feel more relaxed and less angry after they have played, according to a new study by psychologists at Middlesex University.
The psychologists studied 292 male and female online gamers playing World of Warcraft. They found that overall the gamers, aged between 12 and 83, were more likely to feel calm or tired after playing, although there were differences depending on sex, age and personality.
"There were actually higher levels of relaxation before and after playing the game as opposed to experiencing anger but this did very much depend on personality type," said Middlesex University’s Jane Barnett, who is also an International Game Developers Association committee member. "This will help us to develop an emotion and gaming questionnaire to help distinguish the type of gamer who is likely to transfer their online aggression into everyday life."
Got that? Some gamers might transfer their online aggression into everyday life, if they have the personality for it, but the majority of them don't, and won't. Activist cranks like Jack Thompson will be apoplectic. But we'll probably never be able to exterminate this sort of media malfeasance:
Talent agency Star Now has advertised for people to submit, for "hundreds of pounds," stories about how playing videogames turned them bad and ruined their lives.
Assuming that Star Now is responding to an explicit call for such content from newspaper editors, this is a remarkably circular proposition. Desperately trying to peddle a story without a single piece of anecdotal evidence to put meat on the bone, the media, or some unctuous part of it, is actually asking the public to both supply and consume its own meat, just so a few bigots can choke with rage on it.
The saddest part is, the only people honestly eligible for the hundreds of pounds on offer are violent lunatics with a retarded sense of personal responsibility. "Did computer games make you turn to a life of crime?"
Of course, if they do have a retarded sense of personal responsibility, they may have bright futures in the Moral Crusader biz, or in its media annex.
7 April 2008
Strange search-engine queries (114)
If you're just joining us, here's what's happening: hundreds of people every week arrive at this site because of something they entered into a search engine, and most of the time I can find a dozen or so who entered something sufficiently bizarre to warrant making fun of it in public.
Sexual relationships with doctors: Because being screwed by your insurance company just isn't enough.
invisibility developments: Haven't seen any.
"texas law" "free beer": Don't you wish.
Satan is hitting me in my groin. Oil mw down and: And what? Don't leave us, um, hanging.
what makes oxygen go away: A political debate. Sucks it right out of the room, every time.
oklahoma is deeply conservative: In some particulars, we're shallowly conservative.
"roommate wanted" naked: Laundry room locked up over the weekend again?
if you get fat will you quit menstruating: Probably not, and put down that jelly roll already.
fetal homicide law unfair to men: On the other hand, fetal homicide is really unfair to fetuses.
stocking secretaries: In practice, you can keep on hand a 10-day supply at best.
IQ Testing Is No Fucking Good: "Hey, Jenna, we found the guy who punched all the holes in the answer sheet!"
Lowest I.Q. ever achieved by a human: See previous item.
do teenagers desire to be emos or juggalos to defy parents: Honestly? They'd be Presbyterians if they thought it would piss off the parental units.
a 2 years old ho is leavening in a tiny flat and damp what is the consequences: Um, a yeast infection?
last time you laughed in 3 words: Reading this post.
Thank you, John
Conservative Grapevine has named dustbury.com "website of the day" for some reason or other. If you need me, I'll be in the other room looking for a hat to tip to John Hawkins.
No, you may not help me
Back in the Big Band era when I started reading the comic strip Cathy, I decided early on that the most irritating character, apart from boyfriend (now spouse) Irving, was that know-it-all salesperson at the department store whose advice always fell somewhere on the curve between questionable and downright lethal. I comforted myself, though, with the notion that this was the clever manipulation of a stereotype, and no such person truly existed.
One thing I hate about shopping in public is that there are people around. Like salespeople. But at least they leave you alone when you tell them, "No thanks." Then there are the other shoppers. Sure, there are the crazy people who get in your way, but they're nowhere near as annoying as those shoppers who think the store is a social free-for-all. Take, for instance, the lady who kept following me around, giving me unsolicited advice when all I wanted was to get a pair of jeans to replace the worn out ones that I do have.
I've been known to talk to shoppers, but I avoid giving advice unless it's empirically verifiable (e.g. $5 for 9 ounces is, in fact, $8.89 a pound). I do not, however, sink to these depths:
If an expert decides to tell me how to best run an experiment or some random person tells me how to eat some food without it getting on my shirt, that's terrific. But pants with elastic waistbands? Please. I might be the untrendiest twenty-something in the pacific northwest, but there is no way in hell I'm taking fashion advice from a middle-aged, frumpy hausfrau in a tracksuit.
Most of the untrendy twentysomethings I know look just fine in jeans not that they'd want to hear that from me.
One question about the Toyota Prius, and by extension other vehicles using hybrid technology, has never quite died down: "How long can these things actually last?" The battery pack is one of the most expensive components in the car, and even though warranty coverage is extensive, the replacement cost must be considered discouraging.
Some answers: One '01 Prius, in service as a Vancouver taxicab, has rolled up 410,000 km, over a quarter of a million miles, with only minor maintenance issues. And this isn't the outside limit, either, reports a hybrid-specialist independent garage:
Luscious Garage has the distinct pleasure of servicing several high mileage Prius, including this one in a courier capacity, now topping 270,000 miles.
This car has needed very little attention up to now, with the first high dollar repair affecting the air conditioning system.
The compressor was toast. Total cost of the replacement (second-hand but in good shape), including new refrigerant: $870. Not bad at all.
Missed me by this much
(Via the very contemporary Rachel.)
8 April 2008
Maybe it won't come off
[A]ccording to a newspaper report, the Ostfriesische Luftransport air carrier has gone back on their pledge to provide one of their airplanes for the flight.
"The carrier apparently got cold feet due to the intense public interest," Enrico Hess from OssiUrlaub.de told the Ostthüringer Zeitung newspaper.
A spokesperson for the air carrier, however, said they get hundreds of requests daily for charter flights and a special contract for a nudist trip was never negotiated.
Too bad; it would take something this outrageous to get me up in a plane again. (Driving without any clothes on is problematic, and besides, my car has leather seats.)
Oil together now
Money, your parents told you, doesn't grow on trees. But they didn't say anything about diesel fuel:
In the wet tropical region of North Queensland, Australian farmers have bought over 20,000 diesel trees with the intention that in 15 or so years, they’ll have an oil mine growing on their farmland. The Brazilian Copaifera langsdorfii can be tapped just like rubber trees, but instead of rubbery latex, this tree ... gives up a natural diesel.
"One hectare will yield about 12,000 litres annually," says the nurseryman selling the trees.
This is upward of 1200 gallons per acre, and a single tree will produce for decades. As with most biodiesel, you'll have to filter it before it gets into your tank. Not that it's going into your tank: the tree doesn't flourish outside tropical zones (like, say, North Queensland or Brazil).
(Via Scribal Terror.)
Who wears short shorts?
Although there are scoffers, the hemline theory of market fluctuation has always been remarkably accurate. In the twenties and sixties skirts were high, and so was the economy. In the thirties and forties, as women tripped over their dresses, the market was in the tank, and the economy sputtered in slow motion.
And evidently we haven't learned:
This year long dresses are all over Milan, Paris, New York and London. Mid-calf skirts and floor skimmers are definitely the trend. And short shorts are far and few between.
This won't necessarily actually work, of course correlation and causation have only a passing acquaintance with one another but it couldn't hurt, could it? Besides, our leading
One hundred gallons per person, per day, that's it:
A small town in Central Florida is considering forcing a 100-gallon-per-person daily limit on water for its residents.
Some residents in Oakland, which is located south of Apopka, are outraged over the proposed limit on water and said the rapid growth in the area must stop until there is no longer a shortage.
How short are they?
Orange County Mayor Rich Crotty said that if the county does not have a 40 percent reduction in water use, the aquifer will not have enough water to sustain the county.
Similar to surrounding cities, water bills in Oakland order "no watering on any day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. or face a $500 fine."
Local 6 reported that an average resident can use up to 90 gallons of water before leaving the house for the day.
Florida, along with several other southern states hit hard by the recent droughts, are actually thinking of creating desalinization plants, something they KNOW will take power away from local governments because if they have one less fear to hold over peoples heads they become less powerful.
Of course desalinization should have been tried decades ago, but holding millions of people hostage was simply loads more fun. Towns continue to grow, local authorities rake in the cash from "impact fees" and pray that the newcomers are minorities so that they can then beg the Feds for more handouts.
Meanwhile, Orange County, California is running a Groundwater Replenishment System, which captures and purifies water from the county's sewage system, bringing it up to beyond drinking-water quality, and then injects it into the aquifer underneath. Jennifer Barone reports in Discover (May) that "desalinating seawater, another option that had been under consideration, would be considerably more expensive than recycling from 50 percent to 400 percent more so." These numbers may vary in Florida, of course.
And I note from my own water bill, just arrived on Saturday, that in only four of the last twelve months did I use as much as 3,000 gallons a month a hundred gallons a day.
9 April 2008
I'm still trying to figure out how this Web site lasted longer than my marriage, longer than all but one of my jobs, longer than most of the cars I've owned.
Some largely-recycled thoughts on the matter here.
Because you can't get enough weather
At least, that's the general opinion here in Tornado Alley.
KOCO-TV, the local ABC affiliate, has been running a Weather Blog for a couple of years now; I noticed tonight that they're airing a separate all-weather subchannel. (I don't know if this is 7.1 or whatever; it comes in at 222 on Cox Digital Cable, and we cheapskates who still have analog cable hooked up to our HD sets can get it on QAM at
Now admittedly this is not Los Angeles, where Harris K. Telemacher can prerecord a week's worth of forecasts at a time, but I'm wondering just how far can we go before we cross the threshold of overkill. (Cell phones, you say? NWS is already there.)
A truly slick idea
For those of us for whom "winter" is more than a theoretical construct, half a foot of snow on the roads can be shrugged off, but half an inch of ice will kill us deader than Chris Dodd's Presidential campaign. And the scariest variation on this theme is dubbed "black ice": you can't see it on the pavement, but it's there, waiting to send you skidding into the median. Gwendolyn is good about reporting the temperature outside, but she can't tell how the roads are with a mere sensor.
Enter the French. The research firm Eurovia is testing a varnish which changes color from white to pink when the surface temperature drops below freezing. Stripe a road with this stuff, and you won't have to wonder if it's just wet or actually frozen.
Obviously the aforementioned half a foot of snow will cover up the stripes, but then you can see half a foot of snow. In the Dakotas, or some other place where they measure annual snowfall in yards, this might not be so useful. But down here, where freezing rain strikes fear into the driver's heart on a regular basis, it's bound to be at least something of a boon, provided it actually works.
Unanimous it isn't
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he'll vote against the Seattle SuperSonics' relocation to Oklahoma City:
"My preference is the Sonics stay in Seattle. My prejudice is against having a Dustbowl Division in this part of the country because I don't think in the big picture that helps the NBA and I think the bigger market helps the NBA."
Cuban points out, sensibly, that the Sonics draw from far beyond King County, Washington:
"Once you've got an established fan base for a city that's been around as long as Seattle, there's more value to the NBA that just the 13,000 showing up in Seattle [for games]," he said. "They actually go to road games. You see people here wearing Sonics jerseys. The other thing I don't [think] people realize is you guys pull from Vancouver, you guys pull from different parts of Canada, it's just a short drive."
Dallas is 200 miles from Oklahoma City. By the standards of this part of the country, it's just a short drive. You think maybe Cuban thinks the Oklahoma City [fill in name of team] might cut into the Mavs fan base?
Still, Cuban doesn't think his view will prevail:
"[L]ike everything else in the NBA, [the vote] will be 29-1."
I'm thinking 28-2 myself.
Update, 18 April: Since Bennett presumably isn't allowed to vote on the relocation, it will be 28-1 if Cuban is the lone holdout. I still think there will be at least one more, which would make it 27-2.
This never seems to happen in Regina
If those damned vandals don't knock it off, we may have to change the name of the village altogether:
Residents living in a graffiti-plagued village in Merseyside are being asked to consider changing its name to tackle vandals who alter signs in the village.
Lunt, which dates back to Medieval times, has been repeatedly targeted by vandals who change the "L" to a "C".
Not everyone is pushing for the change, though:
David Roughley, whose family has farmed in Lunt since 1851, added: "At the end of the day we live in Lunt and we don't want to change because of a few yobs. It is the vandals who should change, not the village."
The proposed new name is "Launt," with no change in pronunciation.
A reader asked for the QAM channels in Oklahoma City. I posted these once to a QAM wiki, but it seems to have disappeared, and there have been changes anyway, so here we go:
69-25 KOKH-HD (Fox) 69-34 KOCB-HD (The CW) 72-9 KSBI-DT 72-24 KOCM-DT (Daystar) 73-3 KFOR-DT (NBC) 73-5 KTUZ-DT (Telemundo) 73-8 KOCO-DT (ABC) 73-10 KWTV-DT (CBS) 73-11 KOCB-DT (The CW) 73-12 KOKH-DT (Fox) 73-16 KAUT-DT (MyNetwork TV) 73-17 KOPX-DT (i) 73-19 C-SPAN2 73-68 C-SPAN 83-100 KOHC-DT (Azteca) 84-4 KFOR-HD (NBC) 84-5 KOCO-HD (ABC) 84-222 KOCO Weather 88-7 Cox Channel 88-14 KETA-DT (PBS) 94-22 GoScout Homes 98-4 TV Guide Channel 98-13 QVC 98-18 OKC-ETC 98-20 City Channel 20 98-21 Univision Oklahoma 98-23 KTBO-DT (Trinity) 98-69 HSN 98-116 Jewelry TV 98-118 ONTV4U 98-119 TV Superstore 101-70 Superstation WGN 101-71 GoScout Autos 101-910 ShopNBC 102-112 OETA Okla 105-113 OETA Create 105-114 OETA Kids 106-9 KWTV-HD (CBS) 106-13 OETA HD 109-59 NBC Weather Plus
These are subject to change without notice. If my channel scan didn't pick it up, it's not here; additions and supplemental information will be welcomed.
Update, 10 May: All the HD channels seem to have vanished, but no: they've simply moved around a bit. I had an explanation for this earlier, but it didn't seem to correspond to the facts.
10 April 2008
Notes for a summer's eve
To quote Rachel Lucas:
I just want to say that Richard Warman is a giant douchebag who is simply itching for a butthurtin'.
Fond as I am of Ms Lucas, she may not be 100 percent accurate in this instance. I went so far as to check the lesser-known facts about Mr Warman, and nowhere therein is it suggested that he is substantially above average in height.
Although this tidbit perhaps seems relevant:
[L]et's just say that if he had a blog it would be named "3 Inches of Fury."
So maybe a little editing is called for in this instance. "Overbearing"? Certainly. "Self-aggrandizing"? No doubt about it. "Enemy of free speech"? Demonstrably so. But "giant"? Maybe not so much.
"Spring is here?" Andrew Ian Dodge asks as he presents this week's Carnival of the Vanities. I'm pretty sure it is here: not only is my office flooded to a depth of 2 cm (again), but we're starting to see more dogs, in and out of costumes, around town. (If this latter concept does not disturb you, here are 278 of them.)
Citibank might want to apologize for this last apology:
Dear CHARLES G HILL,
On Wednesday, April 9th you received an email with the subject line "Get $25 From Citibank". We recently discovered that the email we sent to you incorrectly contained the salutation "Dear Donna Robinson" rather than "Dear CHARLES G HILL".
Inasmuch as I hadn't read it anyway, I didn't take umbrage. I did, however, fish the offending email out of the spam trap, and guess what? No mention of "Donna Robinson" anywhere in the text.
At the far end of the stove is a back-burner story outline about an invisible woman; she has a name already, but I'm tempted to run the old search-and-replace and turn her into Donna Robinson, just for the sheer heck of it.
On the other hand, if Citibank wants to send Donna twenty-five bucks, I'll see to it that it's disposed of in a non-wasteful manner.
Longoria in excelsis
I've heard lots of arguments against HB 1804, but this one is new to me:
Hispanics are freakin' hot.
Seriously, have you seen Eva Longoria or Wilmer Valderrama?
Their naturally golden skin, dark eyes and dark hair.
I'd point out here that most of our local Latinos don't look like Eva or Wilmer just like most of our local Caucasians don't look like [insert names of two white hotties] and if we're going to enforce aesthetics at the state level, I should probably start packing now before that telltale knock at the door.
Still, I jump-start my heart five days a week with the babes of Telemundo's Cada Día, so I'm not going to take serious exception to this plan.
And the number of cylinders shall be four
Hybrids, schmybrids: cash-strapped consumers are flocking to conventional four-cylinder cars in this age of pricey fuelstuffs. And it's mainly because the hybrids still cost a lot:
Despite the increasing popularity of the Prius by Toyota Motor Corp., hybrids made up only 3% of the overall market for new cars last year. The sales gap between the relatively new technology and the smallest conventional engines is actually growing.
"For now, the easiest, cheapest way for new-car shoppers to get better mileage is to choose a model with a conventional four-cylinder engine. And they are," said J.D. Power and Associates' Jason Rothkop. He added in a conference call that it's getting more difficult for hybrids to command a premium of up to $5,000 when customers are counting every penny.
Another J. D. Power factoid:
The four-cylinder engine now holds 37% of the U.S. market, up from 30% just three years ago when gas last averaged less than $2 a gallon.
Well, you could have had a V-8, but:
[Standard & Poor's] said that over the past three years, vehicles equipped with eight-cylinder engines saw their market share drop to 18% from 28%. V-8 engines command an $8,000 premium per vehicle over the V-6 models, while the four-cylinder models offer a $4,000 discount, on average.
Whether S&P is including inline sixes with the V-6s, I couldn't tell you. And there are threes and fives and tens and twelves out there. (If you're considering the sixteen-cylinder Bugatti Veyron, you're probably not worried about the price tag.)
Me? I've owned six cars, three with four-bangers, three with sixes.
(Via The Truth About Cars.)
11 April 2008
Me gotta go
This being "Louie Louie" Day, it is incumbent upon me as an advocate of the "three chords, no waiting" school of music to give you something to celebrate with.
Which means this:
Richard Berry, who wrote this tune back in 1957 (and who would have been seventy-three today), made this appearance at a "Louie Louie" parade in San Francisco in 1988, a fundraiser for the Leukemia Society of America. The band is local surf outfit The Shockwaves.
Eric Predoehl, who produced this video, notes:
Those that know the history of Richard Berry know that he had physical disabilities due to some childhood injuries. He took up music partially because of his disabilities. In this video, you can see him DANCING, and that's a wonderful thing!
And if you never quite figured out the words, now's your chance.
(Suggested by Jennifer.)
Round it goes
An online vendor of wedding bands lists some of the things they've been asked to engrave inside those bands. Some of them stir the soul: "The other half of me is you" sounds like something I wish I'd had the opportunity (and the reason) to say. And then there's the stuff that makes me cringe:
If you should prefer the sublime to the ridiculous, somebody said simply "Ruth 1:16-17," which, you may remember, King James' translators rendered this way:
And Ruth said, Intreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God: where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: the LORD do so to me, and more also, if ought but death part thee and me.
Which is the whole point, right?
(Seen at Pop Culture Junk Mail.)
I'm just as shocked as you are: G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936) has a Bacon number of 4.
"The comedy of man survives the tragedy of man," said Chesterton, though not about this.
(Via Dawn Eden, who, as an uncredited extra in Planes, Trains and Automobiles, presumably has a Bacon number of
Quote of the week
I've had five decades and more to embrace my inner pessimist, and I think I've done a pretty good job of it. But I'm a piker next to the Doomsday Industry as described by Arthur St. Antoine in the May Motor Trend:
How homo sapiens managed to claim the top of the food chain mystifies me, for no other creature on earth with the possible exception of the manicured French poodle exhibits such unrelenting silliness. Never in all of recorded history has life been so good for so many, yet all humans can do is bite their nails with worry about the gloomy future that awaits us all. Best-selling books, the nightly news, and countless Web sites stoke the fire of fear: Life is awful and getting worse.
Really? Let me throw out a few facts. In 1900, the average life expectancy for an American was 47 years. In 2004, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, it was 78. In 1900, Americans devoted 50 percent of their incomes to putting food on the table. In the late 1990s, that figure had dropped to 10 percent. By the end of the 20th century, despite a fivefold increase in the U.S. population, forests continued to cover one-third of our land space (the world's forests have actually increased in size since the 1940s). Americans have three times more leisure hours over their lifetimes than did their ancestors in the late 19th century. I could go on and on.
"What's this doing in a car magazine?" you might ask.
Because the same Armageddon mentality now runs rampant in the auto world. People talk about alternative fuels and smaller cars and "the end of a golden age" as if it's all downhill from here. Bull hockey.
And a reminder:
The progress wrought by human ingenuity knows no bounds. Sure, there'll be blips, short-term downs, but the long-term trend is decidedly up.
Or, as Tamara K. points out:
Once we were freezing to death in caves, worried about becoming lion chow, and now we have so thoroughly conquered the needs of food, shelter, and safety that we are free to lounge about and think "You know, I think life would be about perfect if only my poop chute were a whiter shade of pale."
Speaking of assholes, entirely too many of our ostensible leaders got to their semi-lofty positions by trying to persuade us that things suck. Even I, a long-time chronicler of suckage, know better than that:
The thing to remember is that pessimism is a tool: you can sit around and fondle it all day, or you can put it to work. I get some serious mileage out of mine. Project due in two weeks? I'll tell you it can't be done for three and make both of us believe it, and then finish on day nine. Impossible to recreate this file? Here's the backup copy. Woman of my dreams coming down the hallway? I'll make sure I'm awake, just in case.
Our movers and shakers, alas, tend to be fondlers.
Still a Croc
There are brand extensions, and then there's this: Crocs with a three-inch heel. It's called Cyprus, and it's available in half a dozen plasticky-looking color schemes. "Fashion fused with comfort for the ultimate summer style," they say, and well, I hope it's comfy, because it looks about as fashionable as a Nehru suit, if a smidgen more contemporary. Shoewawa gave it "Ugly Shoe of the Week," a pretty brazen award given the sheer fugliness of some of the shoes they've recently reviewed. Me, I've seen worse, and perhaps so have you.
12 April 2008
Lessons from life (another in a series)
Thirty-six hours after a three-inch rainfall is way too soon to bring out the lawn mower.
Belief versus bucks
We open with Matthew 6:19-21 (English Standard Version):
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Dr. Lisa Keister has now discovered that religious conservatives tend to take this seriously:
According to data analyzed by Keister, a Duke University sociologist, the median net worth for conservative Protestants in 2000 was $26,000, compared to the national median of $66,200.
This really shouldn't surprise anyone, though:
[C]onservative Protestants tend to have lower levels of education and begin large families at younger ages, with fewer women working outside the home. These factors make it difficult for many conservative Protestant families to save money or accumulate wealth.
But the bottom line is purely Biblical. Think "faithful steward":
"The one big difference is the conservative Protestants' assumption that God is the owner of money, and people are managers of it," Keister said. "They are doing with their money what God wants them to do with it, so that does mean that it is not sitting in their bank accounts."
Not to mention their unwillingness to render it unto Caesar.
Dropping like flies
There are times when I think that every airline in America except for the Big Dinosaur Carriers will be gone in 90 days.
But then I figure that there will always be a market for an airline with something special to offer.