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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 m