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log entries
April 2002


 

Monday, 1 April 2002, 5:10 pm

Thirty-nine and zip! My congratulations to the University of Connecticut Huskies, who supposedly didn't look all that wonderful but still efficiently dispatched the Sooners of Oklahoma, 82-70, to win their third NCAA women's basketball title. Any team that can turn over the ball more than twenty times and still win by twelve points has to be considered the stuff of legend.

Before you ask: No, this is not a response to losing a bet, and the check is in the mail.)

It is, I think, a measure of the cynicism extant in IT departments that when our Big Blue Box (it's black, actually, but that's beside the point) signaled that it was in distress, the sysadmin thought it could conceivably be a prank woven into IBM's microcode, set to trigger on the first of April. Instead, it turned out to be a disk drive gone troppo. We lost nothing datawise, but there will be extra laundry this week.

The new link at the bottom of the righthand column [on the index page] is courtesy of BlogSnob. Each time the page is loaded, a link to a random BlogSnob member (there are about two thousand as of this writing) will appear for your browsing pleasure.

Tuesday, 2 April 2002, 6:30 pm

The local radio market is about to get shaken up again. Citadel Communications, which owns three FM outlets and an AM/FM combo here, spent $3.1 million to buy a tiny independent station on the far fringes of town, and then announced that they will shift the 6000-watt FM side of their popular Sports Animal station to the new frequency, despite metro coverage that can charitably be described as "marginal", and despite the fact that the existing FM draws two or three times the audience of the AM facility, which covers most of the state. It's no great loss to me — I can pick up the AM easily, except in my office, where AM is effectively blocked by miles of phone cable and Ethernet — but I still have to wonder just what sort of stuff they're going to inflict on us after the Sports Animal makes the move. The last time Citadel got hold of a 6-kw station, they wound up turning it into a horribly-compressed and extraordinarily uninteresting CHR/Rhythmic (read "hip-hop for white preteens") mess that nevertheless pulls big numbers in the Arbitrons. I am, let us say, not hopeful. On the other hand, at least it's not Clear Channel.

I drove home through the Crown Heights neighborhood today. Bad mistake. I love these old homes, and there isn't a chance in hell I'll ever get to live in one of them.

Wednesday, 3 April 2002, 7:00 pm

All in all, this was almost a textbook-perfect late-January day. What it's doing in the first week of April is anybody's guess.

When this site was set up almost six years ago, one of the goals I set for it was to denounce bitterly those ideas, persons or whatever who deserve, well, bitter denunciations. To some extent, I have succeeded, but there's always room for someone else in this league, especially someone with far more eloquence (and far less restraint) than I.

Her name is Page. Well, actually, it isn't, but that's not important. Her blog is called The Last Page, and while the entries vary greatly in perceived frivolity level, this is clearly one woman I don't want to annoy. (Actually, I don't particularly want to annoy any women, but that's another issue.) This week, Page dismembers a vapid dead-tree columnist who tossed off a half-assed dismissal of all bloggery in the manner of Dylan's Mr Jones with dyspepsia, and challenged some French revisionist jerque who is promoting the notion that the Pentagon was never actually attacked on the 11th of September. After reading both these pieces, it occurs to me that were I to become her target, merely being torn a new one would be distinctly more comfortable.

Those of you who suffer through the indignity of filtered access may not get to read what Page has to say, since she doesn't feel compelled to limit her vocabulary to words suitable for preschoolers. The rest of you have no excuse. Move along, now.

Thursday, 4 April 2002, 5:55 pm

Chip Kelley's www.100000watts.com reports that WWLS-FM, as mentioned here Tuesday, will be replacing the Sports Animal programming with a new (and as yet unannounced) format around mid-April. I have no idea what's being planned, but the format most conspicuous by its absence in this market is what the radio guys call Triple-A or Adult Album Alternative, which failed the last time it was offered here, mostly because it was offered by Clear Channel, from whom no one expects anything interesting. Surely it won't be tried again. The most likely possibility, I think, is Urban, which exists here currently on AM only.

The redoubtable Ken Layne has come up with a worthy solution to the Israeli/Palestinian mess. Next year in Cabo San Lucas, by gum.

Friday, 5 April 2002, 5:40 pm

Oil of Olathe Dept.: On Monday (the first of April, be it noted), the morning jocks at KQRC-FM in Kansas City let it be known that the water department of the city of Olathe, Kansas was pumping "high levels" of dihydrogen monoxide, a chemical which "causes increased urination, profuse sweating" and other unpleasant side effects. The city fathers were not amused — "It's a terrorist act as far as I'm concerned," said one such, according to The Kansas City Star — and plan to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission, which will, I hope, tell them to calm down and take a deep breath. Or a long drink.

For my own edification, I decided to take a look at the Constitution written for the short-lived Confederate States of America. As I expected, apart from various slavery provisions, it was very similar to the one drawn up for the USA; Article I, Section IX contains (verbatim) eight of the ten Amendments that make up the USA Bill of Rights, and the ninth and tenth appear in Article VI. What caught my eye, though, was this item in Article I, Section 8, which enumerates the powers of the Confederate Congress:

To establish post offices and post routes; but the expenses of the Post Office Department, after the 1st day of March in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and sixty-three, shall be paid out of its own revenues.

A notion far ahead of its time, to be sure. Let that be a lesson to those of you (you know who you are) for whom "backwards" and "Southerner" are one and inseparable.

Saturday, 6 April 2002, 12:00 pm

Jeff Jarvis says we're living in the Age of Emotions, and it's not good for anyone:

"This is now a country where politicians and artists and educators and business people who 'offend' can come under attack from anyone — leftie PC harpies or rightie fundamentalist loons — and lose their jobs."

And it's not just the United States, either. Much of the world seems to be going out of its way to apologize for Palestinians behaving badly; after all, they've suffered such a Terrible Injustice and all. Well, yeah, maybe. But most people who suffer Terrible Injustices don't respond by strapping plastic explosives to schoolchildren, either:

"Terrorism and murder and terrorists and murderers are permanently evil and they don't get time off that sentence because their feelings are hurt; they can't use that as an excuse to commit their evils."

Whatever the Palestinians' plight may have seemed to be in years gone by, their goal today isn't staking out a piece of land, as their apologists insist; it's forcing every last Jew in Israel into Exodus II: The Death March. They will fail, and deservedly so.

On a slightly brighter note: for those who wanted more background on the Olathe DHMO story from yesterday, here's a link to the AP story as carried by KMOV-TV in St Louis. (Muchas gracias: The Society for the Preservation of Clue.)

Sunday, 7 April 2002, 5:00 pm

In an effort to drum up interest in online filing of tax returns, the state of Oklahoma struck a deal with Intuit to allow Sooner taxpayers to file through Intuit's TurboTax for the Web without the usual fees. Far be it from me to pass up a freebie. Unfortunately, while the state has made some strides in the last couple of years, it still hasn't figured out how to offer a sensible way to pay the tax bill online, unless you're willing to go through a third party, pay a 2.5-percent fee to said third party, and charge it to some card other than Visa. If I owed a couple hundred dollars, this might seem like the screaming deal of the year, but I can't see jumping through these hoops to part with $8. The Feds, meanwhile, are sending me change slightly less chump, my first refund in over a decade. God only knows upon what Tom Daschle would prefer to have spent this piddling sum.

For an entirely other year, Greg Knauss posted tales from Dadhood at his Web site; they have now been collected into a small but pithy softcover volume called Rainy Day Fun And Games For Toddler And Total Bastard, published by So New Media. To sell the product, SNM has hit on the idea of a Virtual Book Tour, wherein each day one semipopular Web site will have a daily log entry replaced with plugola for RDFAGFTATB. Whether this was Ben Brown's idea or not, I don't know. This site being way short of semipopular, I'm not going to host the Tour, but having spent six bucks on the book, I figure the least I can do is to browbeat you into doing the same. Besides, you don't want to hear about the rain we've been having for the last 28 hours and expect for the next twenty.

Monday, 8 April 2002, 5:30 pm

Last week, Sony unleashed a Celine Dion recording on the European market which masqueraded as a Compact Disc but which, because of heavy copy-protection measures, was not playable on CD-ROM devices; in fact, it tended to crash user PCs. Just the same, it was easily available for download in a matter of hours. How many times do we have to repeat it? Any form of copy protection can, and will, be broken. In case you missed it, here it is again: Any form of copy protection can, and will, be broken.

Sony didn't include the Compact Disc logo on the package, a nod to co-developer Philips, which insists, quite properly, that discs that aren't playable on all Compact Disc-compatible players cannot be sold legitimately as Compact Discs, which suggests to me that the first thing I should look for in the store is the familiar CD logo, or no sale. Not that I would ever buy anything by Celine Dion, but you get the idea.

Iraq says it will quit pumping oil for 30 days, which strikes me as odd in view of its ongoing complaint that restrictions on the sale of Iraqi oil are causing great harm to Iraqi families. "Just a few weeks ago," muses InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds, "we were supposed to be killing Iraqi children by not letting Iraq export enough oil. Now Saddam isn't letting them export any." Question to George Bush, both père and fils: Why does Saddam still have a job?

Tuesday, 9 April 2002, 6:05 pm

There isn't a lot to say today except "thank you" to the dozens of people who have visited this site during the past six years.

To give you an idea of how it used to be, here's a screen shot of Version 4.5, from some time in late 1998. Don't look at it during dinner.

Wednesday, 10 April 2002, 6:00 pm

About once a year, presumably due to the efforts of the Democratic Party in Oklahoma, which occasionally rouses itself from its torpor to rent its voter-registration list, I get a copy of something called The Progressive Populist, a semimonthly tabloid billed as "A Journal from America's Heartland". Some of it makes sense — I've been railing for some time now about the Supreme Court's 1886 decision that conferred personhood on corporations despite an utter lack of human qualities — and some of it is the usual "Woe, woe, what are we Democrats to do?" stuff. The best thing in the entire twenty-four pages, as it happens, is a one-liner from one of Jim Hightower's radio shows, in which professional scold Bill Bennett is dismissed as "a toothache of a man." Mental floss, anyone?

We were promised two dry days this week, and we got them. Tomorrow we go back to weather suitable for growing backyard coral. I wonder if all this climatological chaos is causing these three-quarter-scale migraines I've been getting lately.

Thursday, 11 April 2002, 7:00 pm

Are we being played for suckers? Citadel Communications debuted its new format on the station formerly known as WWLS-FM (see entries for the second and fourth of the month), and it's...country. Like three other stations in this market with ratings ranging from stagnant to damn near free-fall. The new "K-Bull" is promising, at least at first, twenty songs in a row.

Of course, this can't possibly last: when your average song is four minutes long, a sequence of twenty means no commercials for over an hour. Not even NPR stations can stand to remain promoless that long. This suggests that Citadel intends for this station to be relatively faceless, compared with the personality-driven competition...but wait! Suppose this isn't the real format? What if this is just a ruse, a red herring to lull the competition into a false sense of security, and after a weekend of industry snickering, the K-Bull business (I notice that no call-letter changes have been filed with the FCC yet) will disappear in favor of something completely different? Of course, it couldn't be too different — this is Oklahoma, after all — but I remain unconvinced that this is really what Citadel has in mind. And if it is, they deserve the ignominy of the lowly 2.5 share they're going to get; the Sports Animal usually pulled around 3.0, not counting the AM simulcast. I note with amusement that Shamrock killed off its classical station in Tulsa for failing to score numbers better than this, and its replacement, "Tulsa's Soft Oldies", is doing every bit as poorly.

I've whined about the rain lately, which will impress no one in the drought-stricken Northeast. Last night I talked with a chap who lives by the side of Lake Winnipesaukee, and he reports that while New Hampshire doesn't exactly resemble the Negev just yet, if there isn't a substantial upsurge (downsurge?) in precipitation fairly quickly, things may get tricky as the tourists start to arrive.

Friday, 12 April 2002, 5:30 pm

United Auto Workers vice-president Ron Gettelfinger is on a "Buy American" kick, to the extent that he littered Ford parking lots in Dearborn with letters urging Ford employees to purchase actual US-made Ford products, rather than vehicles manufactured by foreign subsidiaries of Ford, such as Jaguar and Volvo. Even Ford's own Focus ZX3 and ZX5 drew Gettelfinger's wrath, since they're assembled at a Ford facility in Hermosillo, Mexico, outside the UAW's purview. I assume he wouldn't complain about my Mazda 626, which is built in Flat Rock, Michigan at a UAW plant, but two things occur to me:

  1. The likelihood that bigwigs at Ford are going to pass up the chance to buy Jags and Range Rovers and such at a discount is next to nil;
     
  2. If everyone at Ford were to drive, say, Lincoln Town Cars, sooner or later every Ford vehicle is going to be at least vaguely reminiscent of the Town Car, which is not ideal for selling cars to an increasingly fragmented and diverse (and not particularly sedentary, either) public.

Wonder what Gettelfinger would think if Chryslers and Cadillacs started showing up in those Dearborn parking lots?

Saturday, 13 April 2002, 1:15 pm

The estimable Doctor Weevil weighs in with perfectly understandable reasons for not wanting to own a Mazda Millenia.

(I have probably been reading too many blogs lately; I caught myself this morning ripping off a statement from one blog for comments on another. Like I don't have enough trouble coming up with stuff to write here.)

Continuing with things vaguely automotive, the staff at Town Hall, the message-board area at Edmunds.com, is busily trying to stamp out the word "rice" insofar as it refers to tricked-out Asian vehicles. Apparently it is considered to be offensive in this day and age. I'll keep that in mind next time Uncle Ben and I drive to San Francisco for the legendary local culinary specialty, Whatever-A-Roni.

Actually, Ben and I probably shouldn't waste our time; it's already been done for us. Way back in 1996, NPR's Bob Mondello made a pilgrimage to Baghdad-by-the-Bay to try the San Francisco Treat on its home grounds, and was shocked, shocked, to find that not one of the city's restaurants would admit to ever having served a plate of the stuff. Ah, marketing.

Sunday, 14 April 2002, 1:45 pm

I started to say something yesterday about "reading too many blogs", and it wound up being a Vent. Of course, the topic drifted rather a lot under the influence of all that wind.

The OKCityRadio.com site has posted the new logo for K-Bull 104.9, a station discussed ad nauseam on this page in recent days. Should we get through tomorrow and they're still playing the same stuff, I will have to concede that this is apparently what the station ownership has in mind — although I still think they're out of their tiny little minds.

For some reason unknown to either me or to their tech-support people, the local nodes for the Prodigy service no longer answer when I call. (Curiously, I have no trouble connecting to nodes in eastern Kansas.) I'm guessing, for now, that this has something to do with V.92, which is ostensibly supported by my modem but which seems to be problematic at best; what's more, USR seems to provide no simple way to bypass V.92 and do the usual V.90 handshaking. I will need this service during the summer for World Tour support, since it has a nationwide network, but if I can't connect to it, I'll have to look for alternatives.

Sunday, 14 April 2002, 9:50 pm

Today's blog discovery is Daddy Warblogs, who writes about six times better than I do. (The average for my Big List O'Blogs is about 2.3; then again, like 45.8 percent of all statistics, this is obviously made up.) Besides, I have to admire a man who can title a piece Noli me tangere.

We're still not done with Congressional redistricting, despite the fact that one of our six Representatives is retiring, which would leave five incumbents for the new array of five seats. Needless to say, protection of those incumbents is uppermost in the Legislature's mind. The Republicans have recommended one plan, the Democrats two variations on another plan, and while the stalemate continues, lawsuits have been filed in two counties to bring the state judiciary into the proceedings. Having looked at both plans, I find them less than ideal, though the GOP proposal has the merit of dividing up Oklahoma County, the state's largest, into only two segments, while both Democratic maps show three districts getting a piece of the county. On the other hand, the Republicans move the 3rd District into the northwest, 180 degrees away from where it's been. My major personal concern is not having my area of Oklahoma County (slightly southeast of center) falling into the 4th District, home of that mountebank J. C. Watts.

One new item under Chaziana: 50 Factoids that you may not have known about Your Humble Narrator.

Monday, 15 April 2002, 6:40 pm

That's One For You, 19 For Me Dept.: On this most horrific of spring days, when we are reminded that taxation with representation isn't so damned wonderful either, Tom W. Bell points out that there may be less incentive to clean up the nation's inordinately-complex income-tax system, now that there is industrial-strength software to do the dirty interpretational and computational work. A sample:

"Special interests have already loaded the tax code with carrots and sticks. Because tax preparation software reduces voters' costs of complying with such meddlesome details, it makes them more politically attractive."

Something else to stew over while you wait in line to see Henry and/or Richard.

The complex that houses 42nd and Treadmill sits on the edge of a flood plain, mostly because it was really cheap to build out there back in the Pleistocene era. In recent weeks, my Cube of the Damned had been spared the sort of flooding that torments other departments. Not this time. Surprisingly, the mildew that holds the carpeting together hadn't washed away, but things were distastefully squishy just the same.

Tuesday, 16 April 2002, 6:55 pm

Support Your Local Blogger Dept.: Over the past couple of months, I've scattered maybe sixty, seventy dollars in various online tip jars, and I expect to continue this practice so long as the budget permits (it's under Reading Material, which outranks, say, Entertainment), but there are times when I feel I must do more. Taking my lead from James Lileks, whose pages contain an icon labeled "Buy The Darn Book", I have bought the darn book, which is a nicely-hardcovered edition of The Gallery of Regrettable Food, an extension of Lileks' Institute of Official Cheer. It is, of course, a hoot. Also arriving today, courtesy of Virginia Postrel, is The Future And Its Enemies; since Postrel's blog is labeled as an Online Companion to the book, it seems only sensible that I should at least read the book.

This doesn't mean, of course, that I'm abandoning booksellers, brick-and-mortar or online, to concentrate on blog material — heck, I bought Regrettable Food from amazon.com using Lileks' affiliate link, so he'll presumably make a few extra cents on the deal — but it demonstrates pretty clearly that the stuff I read off the screen is becoming as important to me as the stuff I take off the shelf.

Wednesday, 17 April 2002, 5:30 pm

Something styling itself <BulkEmailService@yahoo.com> (yeah, right) spammed me with the following pitch:

Bulletproof POP3 mailbox rentals only $200 month.
Use this mailbox for all your bulk email campaigns or for
anything you want. It will not be shut down.(very hard to find).

It requires a higher level of gullibility than I have to believe that, but then again, spammers do have an amazing capacity for self-delusion. Feel free to write this one at <dcm123@btamail.net.cn> and see for yourself. And if you know someone with a Chinese email address who isn't a spammer, please let me know, just so I'll know that such a person actually exists.

One of the sure signs that it's getting warmer around here is the failure of my air-conditioning system, which was dead on Sunday, reported to the landlord on Monday morning, and which will be fixed, they tell me, sometime Friday, after the next cold front comes in. One of the sure signs that my life is a complete and utter failure is the fact that I have to spend nine or ten or twelve hours a day dealing with one group of incompetents and then come home to deal with another. And the really annoying aspect of this, of course, is that if I ditch them all, I'll wind up with a fresh new set of morons to endure.

Thursday, 18 April 2002, 6:55 pm

One of the landlord's minions was sticking up notices for $100 referral bonuses, and it was probably not wise to stick one up on my door, since I have relatively few friends and one of the surest ways to lose one, I reckon, is to persuade him to move into one of these ticky-tacky boxes.

There has been a lot of handwringing about the Supreme Court's insistence that the banning of child pornography is restricted to materials which portray, well, actual children. Which is, of course, as it should be; the heinous thing about kiddie porn is the sexual misuse of the child portrayed, not the mere capture of the image. The whimperers, from John Ashcroft on down, evidently figure that pictures are the moral equivalent of actions, a proposition I'd hate to have to defend with a straight face. As usual, Steven Den Beste explains it all, far more eloquently than I.

For some weird reason, installing new Microsoft security updates (there are always new Microsoft security updates) obliterated one of my TweakUI settings, and now I have to endure those tedious little arrows on my desktop shortcuts again. Reinstalling TweakUI didn't help, nor did the logical next step, which was to delete the ShellIconCache file and make TweakUI restore the icons. Thank you, Chairman Bill. I'm still not buying XP.

Friday, 19 April 2002, 6:30 pm

Well, it's official: KQBL is the new call for Citadel's nascent country station. I still think it's doomed, but we shall see.

The cooler air arrived on schedule, but the HVAC guy didn't. And, this being Friday, one of the Days of Hell at 42nd and Treadmill, I had to work late, so when I got home and discovered that he was conspicuous by his absence, the myrmidons of the property owner had already bailed out for the weekend, leaving me with no one to scream at over the phone. I suppose I could Googlebomb the bastards, on the off-chance that someone is looking for information about a place called Courtyard Village, but that's not my style. Besides, to pull off a successful Googlebomb, one needs links, and there's only one good one.

And one of my regular readers (I am always startled to be reminded that I have regular readers) offered a solution to my TweakUI problem from yesterday: ditch it and get FreshUI from FreshDesigns, which offers all the Tweaks and more besides. Works like a charm. (Thanks, Mike.)

Saturday, 20 April 2002, 6:00 pm

Every day, it gets harder and harder to get out of bed, and I'm not entirely sure why. Admittedly, I'm in a fairly blah physical state these days, and my mental state barely creeps above a medium level of despondency most of the time, but you'd think a simple task like prying myself loose from a bed that isn't all that incredibly comfortable in the first place (although it's better than some I've had over the years) wouldn't require tremendous effort.

Kevin Werbach, whose Bare Bones Guide to HTML has occupied a place at my desk for the past six years, now has a personal Web log, inevitably dubbed "Werblog". (Muchas gracias: Doc Searls.)

The state of Oklahoma, friend to neither sex nor free enterprise, has stiffened the prostitution laws: under Senate Bill 1502, passed by the legislature and signed by Frank "I'm Outta Here" Keating, there's no more release on one's own recognizance, a first offense now draws a $2500 fine, and the offense becomes a felony if it takes place within 1000 feet of a church or a school. I was unable to find any provision in SB 1502 that increases the penalties if the act takes place within 1000 feet of the Capitol.

Sunday, 21 April 2002, 12:45 pm

Of course I'm happy that the city of New York is getting a new daily newspaper, bringing the total back up to five. I'd be happier if the city of Oklahoma City were getting a new daily newspaper, bringing the total back up to two, but I suppose you can't have everything. At the moment, you can't even have Web stories from that New York paper, which I find slightly distressing.

Bryan Preston, proprietor of the JunkYardBlog, has decided that it's more important to keep writing than to worry about how many times the little meter in the corner clicks, a lesson he learned a heck of a lot faster than I did.

And Vent #290 is up; it asserts, vaguely, that the left wing's infatuation with the Palestinians constitutes one more step along their long journey to irrelevance.

Sunday, 21 April 2002, 3:00 pm

Far be it from me to try to find a pattern in any of this, but...let's pause a moment and take the following test.

  1. In 1972 at the Munich Olympics, athletes were kidnapped and massacred by:
    1. Olga Korbut
    2. Sitting Bull
    3. Arnold Schwarzenegger
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  2. In 1979, the U.S. embassy in Iran was taken over by:
    1. Lost Norwegians
    2. Elvis
    3. A tour bus full of 80-year-old women
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  3. During the 1980s a number of Americans were kidnapped in Lebanon by:
    1. John Dillinger
    2. The King of Sweden
    3. The Boy Scouts
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  4. In 1983, the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut was blown up by:
    1. A pizza delivery boy
    2. Pee Wee Herman
    3. Geraldo Rivera making up for a slow news day
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  5. In 1985 the cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked, and a 70-year-old Jewish American passenger was murdered and thrown overboard by:
    1. The Smurfs
    2. Davy Jones
    3. The Little Mermaid
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  6. In 1985 TWA flight 847 was hijacked at Athens, and a U.S. Navy diver was murdered by:
    1. Captain Kidd
    2. Charles Lindbergh
    3. Mother Teresa
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  7. In 1988, Pan Am Flight 103 was bombed by:
    1. Scooby Doo
    2. The Tooth Fairy
    3. Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, who had a few sticks of dynamite left over from the train job
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  8. In 1993 the World Trade Center was bombed the first time by:
    1. Richard Simmons
    2. Grandma Moses
    3. Michael Jordan
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  9. In 1998, the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania were bombed by:
    1. Mr. Rogers
    2. Hillary, to distract attention from Wild Bill's women problems
    3. The World Wrestling Federation, to promote its villain "Mustafa the Merciless"
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  10. On 9/11/01, four airliners were hijacked and destroyed and thousands of people were killed by:
    1. Bugs Bunny, Wile E. Coyote, Daffy Duck, and Elmer Fudd
    2. The Supreme Court of Florida
    3. Mr. Bean
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  11. In 2002 the United States fought a war in Afghanistan against:
    1. Enron
    2. The Lutheran Church
    3. The NFL
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

  12. In 2002 reporter Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered by:
    1. Bonnie and Clyde
    2. Captain Kangaroo
    3. Billy Graham
    4. Muslim male extremists mostly between the ages of 17 and 40

(Muchas gracias: Sasha "La Blogatrice" Castel.)

Monday, 22 April 2002, 5:30 pm

It happens, as reliably as anything that happens in my life, every spring.

So far as I know, she didn't see me. She was about fifteen feet ahead, bearing north by northeast, and she walked with the sort of jauntiness that comes with being fairly young and fairly lovely, and I had no business even being aware of her existence, but it was spring and she was beautiful and I was stupid. And nearing the end of the walkway, she turned to the left, and shamed that my wandering eye might have given me away, I made a quick turn of my own and plowed into an empty kiosk.

And the next day it was a different someone at a different place and I was loaded down with parcels and paying not the slightest attention to where I was going. She spoke, though not to me, and I froze, knowing the game was up, and started off in another direction where I couldn't see a thing, and the thing I couldn't see barked at me with distinct annoyance.

And so I lurch from incident to incident, playing the voyeur, maybe innocently, definitely ineptly, never quite gaining my footing or my equilibrium, tripped up yet again by a brain which has no right to yearn and a heart which has no choice.

Tuesday, 23 April 2002, 5:50 pm

If you're looking in for the first time from JunkYardBlog or Cut on the Bias, welcome, and please allow me to introduce myself: I'm a man of neither wealth nor taste. I do, however, score points for sheer longevity.

Apparently the defunct Brill's Content sold what remained of its subscription list to Mother Jones, which somehow strikes me as an odd choice, given Steven Brill's insistence that he was just as neutral as could be. Not a problem for yours truly — I've always liked reading MJ, whether or not I bought the premise they were trying to sell — but I rather expect some level of outrage to materialize.

Wednesday, 24 April 2002, 5:10 pm

Susanna Cornett would like you to know that "many women can be both an I[ntellectual] E[gghead] F[reak] and quite lovely," and cites Virginia Postrel as an example. She'll get no argument from me, either over the premise or the example.

The semiannual NPR pledge drive is on, absorbing roughly twenty percent of the broadcast day, a figure which tends to stir up all sorts of negative feelings out here in the old Teeming Milieu: can you imagine a commercial station sucking up this much time for nonprogram material? Actually, it's worse, and the television numbers are every bit as bad. Still, somebody has to pay the bills, even at NPR; I suggest they hit up the Palestinian Authority.

And here in Dustbury, it gets more complicated, since once this drive ends, another one begins, this one at the local classical station. I suspect that when they get around to the tedious business of inventorying my estate, they're going to have a heck of a time counting up the coffee mugs and other such schwag.

Thursday, 25 April 2002, 7:20 pm

Start the clock when the first droplets fall, and this is what you will find:

The most inspiring moment during a spring rain is at approximately T plus two and a half minutes. This is the point where you learn if you're going to get a genuine downpour or just some random spattering. This is also the point where if you take a deep breath, you'll get a whiff of largely-desmogged air, faintly redolent of damp vegetation, a scent once considered by deodorant-soap manufacturers to be the Holy Grail until they discovered they could sell Strawberry-Daiquiri-with-Antibiotics in volumes even greater.

The least inspiring moment during a spring rain is at approximately T plus four and a half hours. This is the point when you (or at least I) start whining, "When is it gonna stop already?"

And on an unrelated note, I yield to no one in my admiration for the classic Little Black Dress, but there's a lot to be said for green.

Friday, 26 April 2002, 7:45 pm

I'd like to think that the President leaned back in his chair, whistled a couple of notes, and then said to Crown Prince Abdullah, "You know, Prince — may I call you Prince? — I can appreciate your concerns and all, but you know, you probably should have thought about that kind of thing before you started financing terrorists and stuff. And I know enough about the oil bidness to know that you can't just sit on what you got and expect to be able to pay your bills." Maybe I'm dreaming, but it sounds good to me.

Chip Kelley, after years of hard work, is about to retire from 100000watts.com, his all-inclusive American AM/FM/TV directory. I'll definitely miss the guy, and I hope he's found someone to take over the site.

The writer formerly known as Regina Rouge has misgivings about the romantic-comedy genre:

"Now, I'm a hugely romantic person. No, really. I am. I AM. Shut up. I love flowers for no reason, spontaneous poorly-made-but-heartfelt candlelit dinners, little trinkets given to me by someone who cares, surprising items on my pillow, odd and brilliant emails, stolen glances, touches on the small of the back, the occasional goofy love note or bad poem — I'm a sucker for all that stuff. I'm a sucker because I want it desperately BUT I'VE NEVER HAD IT. Which, now that I think about it, is probably why I want it so desperately in the first place. But that's not the point. The point is, Serendipity is all about chance meetings and destiny and fate and, when it was finally over, I toyed with the idea of ripping the disc from the DVD player, grabbing a butcher knife and scratching 'CROCK O' SHIT' all over its shiny perky little surface."

For some reason, this reminds me of the time I was caught in a weepy state after, God help me, Somewhere in Time, which wasn't a comedy at all, though parts of it, in retrospect, might seem laughable. Not that I care.

Saturday, 27 April 2002, 7:30 pm

This being spring, therefore thunderstorm season, power glitches in the general vicinity of my desk are far too frequent, a circumstance which sent me to the computer store this morning for an uninterruptible (more or less) power supply. I disconnected my old wall-mounted surge protector, rerouted all the power cables as needed, plugged in the mysterious black box and — nothing. Not even the telltale power-low beep.

After switching out a few more cords, I arrived at the truth of the matter: the outlet itself is delivering no juice. I suspect that the weight of the previous surge protector plus cords damaged its internals. The management must, of course, be told; given the dubious job they did on the air conditioning, I anticipate a three-day wait, following which they will present me with an extension cord and a bill.

One of the earliest pages on this site was Hef 13, Chaz 0, a lament about my ongoing inability to predict Playboy's Playmate of the Year despite research which can be described only as, um, intense. As the years passed, the "13" was updated, and stood at 18 last night, until an actual Playmate (yes, they do read this stuff, evidently, since this is the second one from whom I've heard) tipped me off that I'd blown it yet again. Sure enough, the mailbox yielded up the June issue today, and now my losing streak has reached the rarefied heights (depths?) of Susan Lucci's or Randy Newman's. Worse, unlike theirs, mine is still going on. Admittedly, Playmates play a relatively minor role in what's left of my fantasy life, possibly affecting the quality of my judgment, so to speak, but dammit, I've got to get one of these right eventually.

On Interstate 40 just west of downtown Oklahoma City is a billboard for Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues. What surprises me about this is not that it's actually being staged here — contrary to popular belief, theatre out here isn't all Ado Annie — but that there's an actual billboard about it. Or maybe they figure that most of the people who will recognize the V word are from out of state anyway.

As I figure things, there are three possible levels of positive response to a CD being played for you by a friend:

  1. "That's nice."
  2. "That's nice. Would you burn me a copy?"
  3. "That's nice. Can I borrow your computer? I want to go order this."

On this scale, Shake These Blues, by Pinkie and the SnakeShakers, Oklahoma City's best blues band, scores a solid 3. Now if the phrase "Oklahoma City's best blues band" sounds as incongruous to you as, say, "Latvia's best deep-dish pizza", think again. This is Tom Joad country, after all. And their sound — Joplin without the harshness, Big Brother without the duff notes — fits nicely into your favorite blues mix. Grab it before they become famous and you forget where you heard about them.

Sunday, 28 April 2002, 12:15 pm

As the Catholic Church descends into Tabloid Hell, everyone (except me, and I have my reasons, and no, they're not the ones you think) is weighing in with a commentary on how the Holy See has had a failure of vision, or some other such strained metaphor. The grinding of axes can be heard from every corner, but what I've really wanted to hear was a statement from a newly-minted Catholic, a recent convert to the Church, someone whose fledgling faith would be sorely tested by the ongoing scandal.

Comes now John Mark Butterworth, author of Brightness Springs, writing in his Sunny Days in Heaven blog, and he cuts to the chase in his first sentence:

"What is a Catholic to do when he discovers that the hierarchy of his religion can never be trusted to behave as Christians?"

You really need to read the entire piece, but if you have to have an Executive Summary, this will serve:

"I have no problem accepting other humans as imperfect and prone to error and sin. I cannot accept that such humans shall never be accountable on earth...."

(Muchas gracias: Bryan Preston at JunkYardBlog.)

Meanwhile, here at your favorite D-list site, an exceedingly minor facelift today, barely enough to justify incrementing the version number by 0.01.

Monday, 29 April 2002, 6:25 pm

Margaret Carlson, on CNN's Capital Gang yesterday, with what might be the last word on the so-called gender gap in American politics:

"Republicans like women individually. Democrats only like them as a group."

(We pause here briefly to await the disappearance of an unpleasant visual in which Tom Daschle plays a, um, pivotal role.)

Maintenance reported that they'd fixed my electrical outlet today. Well, if "fixed" is defined as "installed a new faceplate", then yes, they did. I'm beginning to think they want me to leave.

And the ever-quotable Page, expressing annoyance at having to pick out a dress for a friend's wedding:

"Basically I'm looking for anything that is pink or lavender and says, 'humiliation,' 'degradation,' or 'no independent thought'!"

I have a feeling this is not the sort of person who drives a pickup truck the color of a baby blanket.

Tuesday, 30 April 2002, 5:30 pm

Lucky me. I got a fundraising letter from Rep. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), and in a section called "An Alternative Vision" he describes some of his agenda. Pretty standard Naderite on the face of it, but a couple of bits jumped out at me, and I reproduce them for your consideration.

"Every American worker who works 40 hours a week must earn enough to live above the poverty line. That's why I have introduced legislation which would raise the minimum wage to $8.15 an hour."

And in the very next paragraph:

"It is absurd to force American workers to compete against Chinese workers who earn 20 cents an hour, or Mexican workers who make 80 cents an hour."

No problem, Bernie: at $8.15 an hour, they probably won't be competing at all.

 


 | Copyright © 2002 by Charles G. Hill

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