Quote of the week

Theodore Dalrymple, in Taki’s, muses on a major deficiency of democracy:

Modern politicians, having been given the mandate of heaven (vox populi vox Dei), do not accept limitations of their authority or their moral competence, even if, in practice, only a third or even a quarter of the eligible voters have voted for them. Procedural correctness is all that is necessary for such a man to feel justified in pursuing his own moral enthusiasms at other people’s expense.

But the more firmly the politicians believe in their heavenly mandate, the more the political class is divided from the sacred people from whom that mandate allegedly derives. (I have noticed with astonishment recently how increasingly many of the potential candidates in the perpetual American presidential race are close relatives of previous candidates or at least of high-flying politicians.) Indeed, many a monarch and even dictator has been more physically accessible to the populace than modern democratic politicians, suggesting a deficiency of real rather than assumed or theoretical legitimacy. Democracy in the modern sense encourages monomania in the population, in which every citizen is viewed as, and many actually become, a potential assassin, from whom the democratic politician must be protected like gold in vaults. Where politics is the location of all virtue, politicians are the lightning conductors of all discontents.

They’ll make a monarchist of me yet.

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Lots of emptiness

Most cities have something resembling parking mandates, usually saying that there must be some formula-derived X number of spaces provided in a surface lot, based on the anticipated worst day of the year. About five years ago I quoted a member of the Tulsa Board of Adjustment on how these things tend to reinforce one another:

“A shopping center will have 10 different uses, and the zoning code looks at each use individually and applies the parking requirement on the assumption that each use could need its minimum parking at the same time… When it comes to parking, we look at every piece of property as if it’s on an island.”

Which is utterly ridiculous in a strip mall, even if there are people lazy enough to park near JCPenney at one end, shop, and then drive the 1500 feet to the T. J. Maxx at the other end, and unfortunately there are.

Tomorrow being among the worst days of the year, I figure this is an idea whose time has come.

Join us this Friday for #blackfridayparking, a nationwide event to draw attention to the ridiculousness of minimum parking requirements.

Minimum parking requirements are often justified by the notion that there needs to be enough parking for the peak shopping day. Under that theory, America’s businesses are required to set aside large amounts of land and make enormous capital investments in asphalt and concrete for the sake of a few hours each year. If the theory were true, parking minimums would still be a bizarre misallocation of resources. Unfortunately, our ability to predict peak parking demand is woefully inadequate.

What #blackfridayparking exposes is the systematic way in which cities across the country do harm to our businesses, our neighborhoods and our economy by enforcing arbitrary parking requirements. This practice needs to end.

If the next question is “But what if I have to walk?” feel free to give ’em the old sideways glare. It’s not a violation of your rights if you can’t park within 50 feet of your destination.

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Not related to Hugh Jass

This piece came from a TV station in central Florida, so I’m wondering who drew the short straw and had to read “Phuc Kieu charged with sexual battery in Gainesville”:

Police in Gainesville say a man tried to rob and rape another man Sunday.

According to police, the victim made a withdrawal from an ATM and was walking through the bank parking lot when a man identified by Gainesville police as Phuc X. Kieu allegedly grabbed the victim, punched him in the mouth then grabbed the victim’s money.

Police said Kieu, of Orlando, then pulled the victim into his vehicle, straddled him and attempted to undress him.

I think maybe I don’t want to know what the X is for.

Surprisingly, Heywood Jablome was not available for comment.


Pass the damn yams

When exactly did this become a thing?

There are, for some reason, a spate of articles at different web magazines about how to talk to relatives whose politics differ from yours, while you are required to be in close proximity to them during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Personally, I’m thinking that if the only time you talk to each other enough for politics to come up is when you’re at home for the holiday then you may have some other stuff going on besides political differences.

For myself, I’m just appalled that anyone would think it’s the least bit proper to desecrate what is, after all, a ceremonial meal, perhaps the most important one of the year, with the detritus of last week’s political talking points. If I get a dinner invitation, I do not bring along my soapbox, even if it looks like a booster chair from some angles. With the exception of a couple of cousins, I have no idea of the political leanings of family members, and since none of them read this stuff, I’m pretty sure that they’re not overly concerned with mine.

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Can’t wait

I hadn’t thought about this, but yes, it has the ring of truth:

Back in the old days (as recently as the 1970s), you’d write a letter or a postcard and mail it and figure, at the least, it would take three or four days to arrive. And, then, if the recipient was particularly conscientious, and responded fairly quickly, in a day or so, it would be another three or four days before you got your reply. Call it ten days from message to response. Ten whole days.

Today (drum roll) you send an email or you text a text and what? Are you patient? Do you expect to wait for as many as ten days for a reply? Heck no. In fact, if you don’t hear back in ten minutes, well… An hour, tops.

The same goes for what is still called “mail-order.” Back in the day, as I’m pretty sure they never said back in the day, the offering said “Allow 6 to 8 weeks for delivery.” Today, we’re hitting up the email every half-hour looking for a tracking number. And there’s this:

Shipping’s always $5, and free for VMP members. So yeah, we’re going to ship it the slowest and cheapest way we can possibly find. Usually that’s Smartpost or Surepost, which starts with FedEx or UPS and ends with the post office. It’ll probably be 2 weeks before you get it. And no you can’t get it any faster.

Still beats the heck out of 6 to 8.

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Hair apparent

Apparently this was quite the rage, circa 1904:

The Evans Vacuum Cap for baldness

Although I suspect that like many hair-restoration schemes, it sucked.

(Via Weird Vintage.)

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Easier listening

The second Jazz-Thunder meeting of the season was not quite like the semi-blowout in Salt Lake last week. For one thing, Oklahoma City did not go entirely to pieces in the second half; in fact, the biggest OKC lead, 20 points, was attained with 3:41 left. What’s more, the Thunder defense hung around for basically the entire game: after giving up 29 points to the Jazz in the first quarter, the screws were tightened, and Utah managed only 53 points the rest of the night. The final was 97-82, dropping the Jazz to 5-11 and pulling the Thunder up to 4-12.

There were lots of numbers screaming from the box score. Perhaps the most obvious: Kendrick Perkins outscored the entire Jazz bench, 4-3. In fact, the OKC reserves were good for 44 points, including a startling 21 from Jeremy Lamb in less than 24 minutes, limited only by Lamb’s tendency to reach in, which resulted in his fouling out. Anthony Morrow added 12; curiously, he was 4-9 from three, 0-2 from closer in. Among the starters, Reggie Jackson dropped in 22 points, Serge Ibaka 20 (including 4-4 shooting in the fourth quarter), and Steven Adams came up with six points and 11 rebounds. Lance Thomas inexplicably goose-egged, which I attribute to the strain of answering questions from the Oklahoman (see this morning’s sports page).

Also inexplicable: Gordon Hayward, who led all scorers with 24 points and a career 80-percent free-throw shooter, tossed up seven bricks from the stripe, exactly as many as he made. (Then again, if we mock Hayward’s 7-14, we must mock the Thunder’s aggregate 5-10, which, minus Lamb, leaves 1-9.) Utah had no talent for treys tonight, hitting only three of 16. Still, all five of their starters made it to double figures, leaving, um, three points for the bench, all by Dante Exum. And it’s always fun to watch Enes Kanter work: he was 6-13 for 16 points tonight, and he was the only Jazzman to come close to foul trouble.

The Knicks will be here Friday. Rumors persist that the mighty Russell Westbrook might actually be back. I’ll believe it when I see it — or when I don’t see Ish Smith.

Update: For “Ish Smith,” read “Sebastian Telfair.” Smith was the hardship-exception player; however, they’re keeping him and ditching Telfair.


Pray for snow, maybe

BC Clark Jewelers, founded (as every Oklahoman already knows) in 1892, instituted a program in 1998 called Pray for Rain:

When you buy your engagement ring from BC Clark Jewelers and it rains (or snows) an inch or more on your wedding day, BC Clark will refund you the price of your engagement ring up to $5,000. Just ask one of our 140+ Pray for Rain winning couples!

Five grand is a lot to have to cough up, but it’s nothing compared to this:

In what one Chicago-area Buick dealership is calling a “White Friday” sale, customers who buy any brand new Buick or GMC vehicle on Nov. 28 and 29 will have the chance to get all that money back come Christmas, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The catch is, it has to snow six inches or more on Christmas Day, a measurement that must be recorded at the O’Hare International Airport weather station.

Snow? In Chicago? Is that even possible?

The chances of getting any amount of snowfall in Chicago on that day are between 40% to 50%, according to the Illinois Climatologist office, much less an entire six inches.

Still, if the dealership had to fork over $32,000 — the average vehicle transaction price these days — for, say, 30 buyers, we’re up towards a million dollars. (Dr. Evil recommends taking out some insurance.)


It’s gotta be that damn kale

The correlation between health and happiness may not be what you thought it was, even for our herbivore friends:

Australian vegetarians might be healthier than meat-eaters but they are unhappier and more prone to mental health disorders, new research suggests.

The Alere Wellness Index shows vegetarians drink and smoke less and are more physically active than their carnivorous counterparts.

But they are also more likely to have depression and anxiety disorders, according to the Index made up of scores for nutrition, fitness, smoking, alcohol, psychological wellbeing, body mass and medical conditions.

Hmmm. Now how can this be?

Dr John Lang, who developed the wellness index for preventive healthcare company Alere, says the adoption of a vegetarian diet can sometimes follow the onset of mental disorders.

“So the diet isn’t the cause but rather the symptom,” he said. “If you think of people that are committed to being a vegetarian it’s a fairly significant commitment and it picks up people at the fringe of the obsessive-compulsive spectrum.”

Vitamin OCD! The mind boggles. Still, grinding up pork rinds over their quinoa seems unkind, if not downright treacherous.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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And appropriately so

The Internet Movie Database has millions of viewer ratings for hundreds of thousands of motion pictures, all on the standard 1 to 10 scale — with one exception:

Screenshot of IMDb entry for This Is Spinal Tap

Unfortunately, I couldn’t figure out any way to rate the film 11, even using my ten-year-old long-forgotten login. (The average is 8.0, though there are more 10s than 8s.) Apparently the 11 is for decoration only. Still: well played, IMDb.

(From BuzzFeed via Virginia Postrel.)


Evidently Wank was taken

Something about this announcement seems a trifle off:

Girl, a digital men’s lifestyle magazine, is launching in January 2015. Published by commercial modeling agency Girl Management, the magazine will be aimed at men aged 18-30, and will cover topics including film, music, tech and games, cars, sports and fashion. It will be available as a free app for tablets and smartphones.

No other response makes sense:

I’m guessing that this is where the idea came from:

Lads’ mag publisher Loaded has announced the acquisition of modelling agency Girl Management and will retain the services of its creative director Lucy Pinder and director Adam Sutherland.

The agency has previously worked with brands such as Puma, Boots, EA Games and Ann Summers, supplying models to the TV and film industry.

Paul Chaplin, owner of Loaded, said: “This is the perfect fit for the Loaded brand. Not only do we have men’s lifestyle magazines, we have digital platforms, Loaded TV and Loaded Radio, which will be launched later this year. We will be the one stop shop for glamour models.”

The agreement between Girl Management will also see Loaded take a stake in the Frank White picture archive.

This will end well, or at least quickly. How many such apps can one guy be expected to tote around?

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Degrees of discomfort

Lifted in its entirety from Morgan Freeberg’s Facebook wall:

Furnace just came on. I’m going to go get myself another beer and shut off the furnace.

An idea for an invention that will pay for the seven-building mansion: A secure electronic lock you put on the thermostat, that can only be unlocked with a SCROTUM. Let’s just face it, okay? This time of year, every married man North of Tijuana who pays bills, wishes for something like that.

And if she wants it to be 72 degrees all-the-time-everywhere so badly she’s ready to chop off your balls, you probably weren’t going to keep ’em anyway.

This is probably not the time to note that I keep my house around 74 unless the HVAC is audibly straining to maintain that temperature.

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That crap is dangerous

The year I started grade school, my poor choice of base-running options during a game of kickball landed me about waist-deep in a metal can of raw sewage. I suppose it’s a good thing that at almost seven, I hadn’t started smoking or anything:

A cesspool filled with excrement exploded in a central Chinese city, injuring 15 residents and toppling a building on Saturday, police said.

Police in Zhangjiajie city, Hunan Province, believed it was an accident when a man surnamed Ding was burning waste outside his derelict house and near the cesspool at about 5 p.m.

Police said the fire ignited the methane emanated from the pit and caused the blast. The house has been abandoned since 2006.

Fortunately, China’s sterling environmental record insures that incidents of this sort are few and far between.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Time your shopping accordingly

Lynn perhaps dreads doing the routine shopping for this particular week:

Today I need to go to the store and I’m in a bit of a panic about what to get and about remembering everything I need for the whole week so I won’t have to go back out on the day before Thanksgiving, or worse, the day after. Although, the grocery stores shouldn’t be too bad on Black Friday? Also, I’ve noticed in previous years when we drove past Walmart later in the afternoon on Black Friday that the parking lot is almost deserted so I guess all the craziness happens early in the morning then everyone goes home and passes out or something.

I generally avoid anything that smacks of retail on Black Friday myself, but then that’s just me.


All this and Superman too

By general assent, the number-one pinup among GIs in World War II was Betty Grable; you could make a pretty good case, though, for Noel Neill as Number Two, especially if you had these pix lying around:

Noel Neill smiles for the camera, circa 1944

Noel Neill smiles for the camera, circa 1945

This latter shot came from Paramount’s publicity mill, inasmuch as the studio had just signed her to a contract:

Noel Neill in a Paramount publicity still, circa 1941

She had a brief nonspeaking appearance in An American in Paris in 1951, but she is best remembered these days as Lois Lane, the spunky Daily Planet reporter who never could quite figure out that Kent fellow. She did two Superman serials; Phyllis Coates played the first year of the Adventures of Superman TV series, but had already made other commitments before anyone knew there’d be a second year, so Neill returned to the role. There is, as there should be, a statue of her in Metropolis. Today is her 95th birthday.

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It’s a year, a number of years, and a time to reflect that there may actually be some crying in baseball — and some laughs, too.

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