Take me to your liter

For the most part, the US has resisted the metric system, perhaps, I suspect, to avoid looking like a seven-stone weakling on the world stage when the conversion inevitably takes place. (Which it will; future politicians will be keen to curry favor with the rest of the world, inasmuch as current politicians have been busily reducing their capacity to exert any meaningful force.) One aspect of metrification I hadn’t considered, however, is its potential effect on prose: once the population is assimilated, dozens of formerly standard idioms would perforce require either footnotes or inline translation.

Francis W. Porretto takes it one step further, because that’s what he does:

Millions of books already in print are lousy with Imperial units. Consider especially the horror that would be “metrified porn”: “Deftly he slid his twenty-five-centimeter joystick into her welcoming love tunnel, buried his face in her velvety hundred-centimeter bosom, and began to newton away.” Unthinkable!

Note: The liter, as seen in the title, is not a proper SI unit: they’d prefer you referred to cubic meters, each of which contains 1000 liters. Also, they’d prefer you spelled those words “litre” and “metre.”

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Also available in HD

Which, often as not, stands for “Horrible Detail.” Did you ever notice that A&E, for instance, has very little E and nothing resembling A? This is how it happens:

Maybe there’s some kind of evolutionary arms-race thing in there: a channel starts out with high intentions, it’s going to show smart programming. But then, to get ad-revenue dollars, they find they have to get eyeballs. And by and large in our culture, the way to get eyeballs is either to have really good programming (which is hard to do and expensive, and often really good programming doesn’t capture audience) or to have something sensationalistic — either the aforementioned freak show, or a show with lots of people shouting at each other and barely-bleeped four-letter-words. And so, the channel goes, “Okay. We’ll put on a show following this particular subculture and see how it does. Maybe we can even claim it’s ‘educational,’ seeing as people mostly don’t know about this subculture…” and so on. And then they decide they need a show about tattoo artists. And one about the Amish. And one involving either a pawn shop or antiques pickers. And a weird medical show. And a cooking competition show. And a show about the supernatural. And slowly, this channel that once planned on being different becomes oh, so much the same as the others.

I thought we got cable to have diversity of programming?

As in most areas of the culture, “diversity” is primarily a numbers racket: if you have 106 channels, hey, it’s got to be diverse, right? In the cable context, “diversity” means that on each “topic” you have four largely indistinguishable channels, usually one owned by NBC Universal, one by Disney, one by Viacom, and one by Fox. Smaller players occasionally bob to the surface, but are quickly slapped back down. And since the bigger players control the largest number of eyeballs, they can enforce their will: if you want Obscure Disney Toons, you have to take at least three flavors of ESPN.

Fortunately, this is the sort of thing that can’t go on forever, and, as Herb Stein assures us, it won’t.

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SLAPPed around

SLAPP is a term we hear entirely too often, simply because the procedure it describes is used entirely too often. Let Michael Bates explain:

In a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, a plaintiff seeks to punish the defendant for expressing his opinion or stating a fact he doesn’t like aired publicly by subjecting him to a costly legal process. The SLAPP plaintiff can achieve his objective — silencing criticism — even if he ultimately loses his case in court. The cost in time, money, and anxiety of defending the lawsuit will deter the defendant from future criticism and may also deter others from speaking out.

This sort of behavior is intolerable, and we can expect more of it — in some of those other states, maybe. Oklahoma, meanwhile, is discouraging it:

The Oklahoma Citizens Participation Act authorizes a special motion to dismiss to be filed and heard early in the process. The motion must be filed within 60 days after the suit is filed, and discovery is suspended until the court rules on the motion. The hearing on the motion must be held within 60 days of its filing, (The time may be extended to 90 or 120 days under special circumstances, but 120 days is the limit.) After the hearing, the court has 30 days to rule.

The defendant must first establish that the suit is based on, relates to, or is in response to his exercise of his freedom of speech, freedom to petition government, or freedom of association.

In response, the plaintiff must establish “by clear and specific evidence a prima facie case for each essential element of the claim in question.” The defendant can obtain dismissal of the case if he can establish “by a preponderance of the evidence each essential element of a valid defense” to the plaintiff’s claim.

What makes this different from an ordinary motion to dismiss is that the judge can go beyond “the four corners” of the complaint. The court doesn’t have to take the plaintiff’s charges at face value.

If the court dismisses the case, the court is required to award court costs, reasonable attorney fees, and legal expenses as well as sanctions “sufficient to deter the party who brought the legal action from bringing similar actions.”

If the motion to dismiss is “frivolous or solely intended to delay,” the court may award costs to the plaintiff.

The Act was signed into law by Governor Fallin last week, after passing both houses with not a single Nay vote. Typically for Oklahoma legislation, it goes into effect on the first of November.

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Paint it, black

Some time before the second half, the Fox Sports Oklahoma feed on Cox Cable turned to utter darkness, which was assumed to be a technical problem. After dialing around for a moment, I decided otherwise, and said so:

Me, I rely on radio guy Matt Pinto, so I had no problems keeping up — unlike the Thunder, who trailed from the start and fell behind by 20 late in the third quarter, just about at the moment when FS Oklahoma returned. (This was also just about the moment that the Clippers/Warriors game got underway on the Left Coast, reinforcing my belief.) Those who were watching got to see a 13-0 Thunder run. And with 6:35 left, OKC got its first lead of the night, 79-78 on a Kevin Durant trey. It would be their last in regulation: the Thunder, down 87-82 with 3:39 left, burned their last timeout. Somehow they managed another four-point play, Zach Randolph fouling Caron Butler on a trey; at :04, Russell Westbrook took the ball away from Mike Conley and dunked, tying it up at 90; Z-Bo’s last-second dunk came too late, and, yes, boys and girls, it’s overtime again.

The overtime began ominously: a Mike Miller trey, a Durant two-pointer, another Miller trey, another Durant two-pointer. The Griz were up 100-98 with 39 seconds left; Durant hit one of two free throws to bring the Thunder within one, yet another Miller trey went awry; OKC got the ball back with 2.9 left, Durant missed a fadeaway, and a Serge Ibaka stickback was just a hair too late. Memphis 100, Oklahoma City 99, and the series moves back to Grizville for Game 6.

Somehow I thought Westbrook would pull out another miracle. Despite 10-31 (!) shooting, Russ collected a triple-double for the night: 30 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds. Durant finished with 26 points; Ibaka wound up with 15 points and 12 boards. Reggie Jackson wasn’t a non-factor, exactly, but he wasn’t making any headlines with six points, five rebounds and five turnovers. Caron Butler led the bench with 15, including 4 of 8 from beyond the arc; minus Butler, the Thunder were 8-23 on treys.

The aforementioned Mike Miller led all Memphis scorers with 21; Randolph had 20 with ten boards, Conley 17, Marc Gasol 11 with 15 boards. Here’s the number I noticed: the Griz had 11 steals — Miller and Tony Allen had three each — while the Thunder pulled off only two.

Thursday night in Memphis. About the only thing I’m certain of is that it will go to overtime.

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The real thing

Today would have been Tammi Terrell’s 69th birthday. She’d long suffered from migraines and such, but the truth wouldn’t come out until a fall-1967 concert appearance with Marvin Gaye: she buckled on stage, he caught her, and doctors eventually found a brain tumor.

Tammi Terrell at her smiling best

She’d recorded with little success for several labels, usually as “Tammy Montgomery” — her birth name was Thomasina — before Berry Gordy signed her to Motown (on this date in 1965, in fact) and came up with a new name. (Hey, it worked for Stevie Wonder, didn’t it?) She cut a few singles, most notably “I Can’t Believe You Love Me,” and in early 1967 became Marvin Gaye’s new duet partner, though they were never actually in the same studio at the same time for “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

In 1969, Motown issued a solo album by Tammi, eleven sides, most of which dated to her early days at the label before becoming paired with Gaye.

Irresistible LP by Tammi Terrell

By then she was too ill for a tour; she began 1970 in a wheelchair, ended January in a coma, and died in April. There exist a few live solo recordings, ultimately collected on Come On and See Me: The Complete Solo Collection, which includes this version of “I Can’t Believe You Love Me.”

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A semitonic for the troops

Not that I’m going to turn it down or anything — what, are you nuts? — but I’m just not the kind of guy who jumps up and down yelling “Tax cut! Tax cut!”

Not for this pittance, anyway:

Senate Bill 1246 will gradually lower Oklahoma’s top income tax rate from 5.25 percent to 4.85 percent over several years. The cuts are dependent on revenue triggers, meaning general revenue in Oklahoma must see an increase before the cuts take effect.

“This is a responsible, measured tax cut that will make Oklahoma more economically competitive while providing much needed tax relief to working families,” said Fallin. “If Oklahoma wants to attract and retain good jobs — rather than losing them to neighboring states — we must improve our tax climate. I am proud that the Legislature has taken action to do so and I am happy to sign this bill into law.

“This tax cut will put more than $200 million annually into the economy and make Oklahoma a better place to do business, meaning more opportunities and jobs for Oklahoma families and more revenue for core government services.”

You know who’s going to be most impressed by this? Characters who can’t afford to move from where they are but still fantasize about packing their bags, and who spend several hours a day looking at infographics and other crap in an effort to find the Absolute Best Place that they’re never actually going to live.

Oh, and Grover Norquist.

My usual complaint about the state income tax follows:

SB 1246 affects Oklahoma’s top income tax bracket, which applies to individuals earning more than $8,700 a year or couples earning more than $15,000 a year.

No way on God’s semi-green earth should someone making a quarter over minimum wage be in the top bracket.

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Oh, those saintly poor people

Much is made of the presumed perfidy of the One Percent who ostensibly control all our lives and own a putatively disproportionate share of the national wealth.

But as of right now, no member of the One Percent has ever done anything to me other than fark up my tax return, while several 99-percenters last night took it upon themselves to improve their financial condition by swiping the outside air-conditioning units on this block.

Rogue financiers, at least, have just enough of a moral sense to submit themselves for appropriate punishment. Common street thugs, lacking even this sliver of conscience, will go on as they had before, knowing the government, who needs their electoral support, has their back.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some Gun-Free Zone signs to pull down.

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Save the world on your own time

I’m sure none of the journalists who read this site — you know who you are — need this little reminder. Just the same, it bears repeating:

I just read a story online that started more or less like this (I’m paraphrasing): “The rules of journalism state that I should do X, but I’m not going to do X, because it’s hard and I don’t wanna.”

If you can’t adhere to the ethics of journalism — or, worse, you never learned them — then you can’t rightfully call yourself a journalist. If you can’t report fairly and leave your reader to make up his or her own mind, what you’re doing isn’t reporting — it’s punditry and should be identified as such.

KWTV used to promote its news department as “Making a Difference.” I semi-humbly propose that without the truth, nothing makes any difference.

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So usual; very spam

Spam from dating services fell below the dime-a-dozen threshold years ago. The only reason I looked at this one — “Want to meet singles over 50? See photos!” — was because of the URL buried in the links, a subdomain of DogeUsedWow.com, which actually exists. (I suppose there’s bonus levity in the fact that Whois points to a contact person with an aol.com address.)

Maybe they’ll offer to set me up with the Queen of Shiba.

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Three to get ready

And it shouldn’t take you three with these spiffy sandals:

Loeffler Randall Lillit Kitten Heel Sandal

Officially, this is Loeffler Randall’s “Lillit” kitten-heel sandal, though 2.75 inches strikes me as an awfully tall kitten. The upper is blue nubuck suede. (Yes, folks, it’s another blue suede shoe. Don’t step on it.) List price is $295.

The whimsical display is courtesy of Heirloom Shoe on Oklahoma City’s Western Avenue, which will, I assume, happily sell you this shoe.

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Truth is such a drag

I don’t believe this guy has thought things through:

I want to get a loan but they only give out auto loans to cars 2010 or newer. They car I want is year 2000. What if I lied to the bank and said it was a year 2010?

Because of course the bank is going to take your word over what the actual title says. Sheesh.

On the upside, Franklin Wickstrom, if that is your real name, you may have found your calling as a political operative.

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And now your mom can read your Facebook wall

Something called “firstSTREET” — their slogan is “For Boomers and Beyond” — occupied the back cover of Parade yesterday with a pitch for something called the WOW! Computer, and being almost beyond booming myself, I figure I’d check its papers, though of course I hate the name.

Most of the higher-tech stuff in the WOW! is built into the 21.5-inch touchscreen with 1920 x 1080 resolution. The CPU is a modest Intel Celeron 1037U dual-core on the decidedly meh Ivy Bridge microarchitecture with graphics processor, running at 1.8 GHz. You get 2 GB of DDR3 RAM and a 500 GB SATA II drive. Operating system is a modified Linux to which, they say, you can’t add anything:

The WOW! Computer is designed as a family or personal computer. We pre-install a broad set of popular and necessary applications including Email, Web Browsing, Photos, Video Phone, Games, Music & Video Playing and a Digital Picture Frame Screensaver. Better still, we include free software updates for life at no extra cost. Our goal is to provide a truly easy, hassle-free computer that is simple to use and maintain. That goal simply isn’t possible if we allow thousands of different applications to be installed as with standard computers.

This can legitimately be viewed as an advantage, depending on your parents’ nerd skills and/or tendency to click on strange links. (After all, malware has to install itself, and it’s not getting anywhere on a Linux box that forbids running installs.)

Downside: $1079, plus $10 a month for “VIP Support,” plus whatever high-speed Internet service happens to be available. (No dial-ups.)

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Not a high-beam in sight

We are told, over and over and over again, that women are being objectified to sell us stuff. The proper response to this, I submit, is “You’re just now noticing?”

From 1919, an ad, illustrated by the redoubtable Coles Phillips, intended to move automotive electrical equipment:

1919 advertisement by Coles Phllips for Autolite

Careful, mister, you wouldn’t want to hurt that sweet young thing in the short(ish) dress.

Coles Phillips (1880-1927) is probably best known for his negative-space illustrations. This isn’t one of them. Autolite (now a single word with a single capital) today makes spark plugs and wires under the auspices of Fram.

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Strange search-engine queries (430)

Once again, we take a peek into who’s been visiting, and why, and should the why have amusement potential, we blow it out of proportion. Because Monday.

for emily wherever i may find her emily dickinson:  Paul Simon says it wasn’t her. Then again, he was supposedly a Robert Frost fan, if you believe conversations that dangle.

naturally stoned 1968:  Some have yet to emerge from that state.

summary of if you ask me: spellbound by libby gelman-waxner in new york:  Obviously you need to read this; Libby can be spellbound anywhere from Beverly Hills-adjacent to Burkino Faso, without so much as wrinkling that chenille skirt she got from a Junior League fundraiser.

1 june 2004 watchtower:  Ask the nearest Witness, coming up your street right this instant.

csaba csere testifies dealership service fraud:  Which is not at all applicable to your situation: you bought that hunk of crap for twice its value without checking it out.

christy brinkley getting out of limo:  Keep in mind, first you have to get her into the limo.

what does the solenoid in the transmission for the mazda 626 do:  You wouldn’t ask this if it were still doing it.

angie dickinson million dollar legs:  $735,600 after depreciation.

what high mileage ATF anyone use for cd4e:  Nobody knows: if you believe the message boards, no one’s ever gotten a CD4E to “high mileage.”

I am a nymphomaniac of the heart:  Not a transferable skill, I am told.

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It was nice while it lasted

But evolution, at least to the extent that it affects our species, has been effectively thwarted:

For most of human history, making it to adulthood was a big deal. Even into relatively docile times like the middle ages, women lost a third of their off-spring by adulthood. Into the industrial age, losing a kid or two was not unusual, therefore, the least physically fit rarely made it long enough to breed. Even then, not having some value to society was a good way to remain a bachelor. In other words, for men at least, you had to have some status in order to pass on your DNA to the next generation.

Not any more:

It’s not that the stupid are breeding. It’s that a basket full of traits antithetical to human progress are celebrated in a way that turns natural selection on its head. If you are a woman adept at turning generosity into a vice by scamming the welfare system, you can have ten kids and live well. If you are a male with high violence capital and a complete lack of social intelligence, you rise in status and therefore breed like a rabbit.

If you want a glimpse of the future, head on down to Diversity Street and imagine the folks you see wandering around your town, wearing Google Glass or whatever wearable device emerges in the next decade. That’s the future. Millions of jabbering nitwits doing nothing more than planning their next crime or their next opportunity to breed new nitwits.

The powers that be, of course, don’t worry about such things: they have several layers of insulation, including an entire generation of small-j journalists, to protect them from the wandering Morlocks. But then, the powers that be aren’t making any evolutionary progress either: they’re still spouting 19th-century fantasies and passing them off as political thought.

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Wondrous piece of snark from The Bullseye in Entertainment Weekly #1309, 5/2/14:

Miley delays tour after an allergic reaction to antibiotics. Doctors say her body was unprepared for a sudden dose of legal substances.

Bullseye, lately, has been outsnarking even Dan Snierson’s Hit List, and Snierson’s been on my radar for over a decade.

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