Decidedly unparalleled

There are regular street grids, and there are street grids that are not so regular. An example of the latter:

Apparently 4th Street turns sharply northwestward from 6th Avenue, and eventually runs into 12th Street. Not neat, perhaps, but comprehensible from a map. Similarly, if not so dramatic, is the corner of NW 23rd Street and Meridian Avenue in Oklahoma City: crawling off to the southeast is NW 19th Street. This makes more sense in the grid context when (or if) you remember that 19th was a streetcar route back in the day.

Turn this premise several degrees, and you have the next scenario. The big blue dot represents 4900 Springdale Road, Austin, Texas:

Bing Maps segment from east Austin

This is, on first glance, perfectly sensible: were the grid extended this far east, 4900 would be about two blocks south of 51st. But Martin Luther King used to be 19th Street, and it’s practically on your doorstep: you can see segments of 16th and 12th, right where they’re supposed to be. From 4900 to 1200, it’s only a mile. But 1200 to 700 (at 7th Street, natch) is 1.8 miles, because the east Austin street grid is convoluted in such a way you almost wonder if those crazy New Yorkers had something to do with this.

For the record, I have bicycled the entire length of Springdale, which disappears into Manor Road near US 290, resumes on the far side of the freeway, and peters out into insignificance a couple miles farther north; I eventually threaded my way to Pflugerville, which in those halcyon days of 1970 had 550 people instead of its current 55,000.

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You didn’t teach that

And I reply, “Well, no, I assumed you would figure this out on your own.” And I was wrong:

Youth nowadays believe they don’t need to know anything, because they have what educational bureaucrats call “learning skills.” As long as they are capable of finding something with a Google search, what does it matter whether or not they ever actually do Google it? Their entire mental life is built around the idea expressed by every apathetic student taking a required course in college: “Is this going to be on the exam?”

So we have many millions of allegedly “educated” Americans, people with college degrees who haven’t opened a book since they received their diploma. They went to college in order to obtain a credential that would qualify them for an office job with a salary, benefits, paid vacation and everything else deemed necessary to middle-class life. Once they got the requisite credential, their interest in “education” ended, and so they spend their leisure watching Netflix or playing XBox or in some other amusement. Read a book? Why would anyone want to read a book?

Which explains why so many of them are upset at the fact that said credential hasn’t opened up the desired doors, leaving them, as the buzzword says, “underemployed,” serving up lattes and such to people they despise. It boils their fundaments that life might actually require work, and that their piece of sheepskin and their $73,000 in debt won’t magically produce a life of leisure.

I probably spent less time in a classroom than any post-adolescent you’re likely to meet. As a result, anything I’ve needed to know over the years, I’ve had to find out on my own. Fortunately, the one thing I did learn in those few classroom days is how to find things out. And if I’ve learned anything in non-classroom life, it’s that a test of some sort can come at any time, whether I’m prepared or not.

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The wrong side of something

KitsuneRisu is here talking about Singapore, but it’s almost a Universal Truth:

Everyone has a place like that in their town (or the entirety of your country if you live in Russia), where there’s a whole shopping strip which is pretty cool and suddenly there’s just this one area emitting a black cloud of fear from it, like vicious anger-breath from the lungs of an irate mongoose.

It’s as sketch as the result of a crying elderly woman’s attempt to recall her mugger to the local police district’s new profile artist who doesn’t have a degree in good sketching. It was kinda like the north part of the Strip in Las Vegas. The further up you go, the more uncomfortable things feel, and suddenly you realise you’re standing in Circus Circus and there’s 15 wrinkled slot-grannies staring at you over their cigars and liter-bottles of rum, and everything has this weird clown motif that doesn’t carry.

Especially true where I live: the character of a neighborhood can undergo half a dozen changes in a single mile.

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Wednesday, Thursday, Friday?

Quoth George Witzke: “Yeah, so the marketing director for this mega church … he’s fired.”

Questionable church banners spelling out WTF

I’m not so sure. This is clearly an inspiration to prayer, given that most people are going to see that and think “Oh, my God!”

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Strange search-engine queries (484)

So here we are again, sifting through the system logs in the hopes of finding something that will add a smile, or at least a bemused stare, to your Monday morning. Let’s see:

matthew riley macpherson mozilla:  This is evidently the Rule 63 version of Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout.

nudiarist tchec granny:  On the other hand, this doesn’t sound like Sarah at all.

1985 mazda f3a transmission racing upgrade:  The easiest thing to do here is to remove the bodywork and then shove an actual racing car under it.

hott pechar holye whod:  I’ll be sure to remember that at the next prayer breakfast.

tell my regrandings:  Tell them what?

a boy from coventry has become:  One of the few remaining Labour MPs.

stuart oswald a million little pieces:  Wonder if they make more sense than James Frey’s.

mark twain dog pearly gates:  Their arrivals were not greatly exaggerated.

george washington’s axe principle:  If you were wearing Axe aboard the boat crossing the Delaware, Washington would have thrown you overboard.

mazda 626 engine order of valve adjustment:  Start with the first, and continue until they’re all done.

banker ours:  You go right on thinking that, Mrs. Clinton.

4 girls clothes vanish in the library:  Did you look under 391? Or 687?

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And stripped of his tenure, no doubt

Mr. Pibb was not available for comment, though Wikipedia has a whole category of “Dr Pepper-flavored sodas.”

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A man of simple needs

Of all the songs in the much-mocked genre of Bro-Country, this may well be the Bro-est:

Get More:

The reviewer at Saving Country Music reckons it might be the worst country song ever:

“Girls On Bars” had 72 songwriters, 36 producers, a seven-figure budget, yet the thing just feels so hackneyed and trashy. It’s not as much sick as it is sad, like it’s a musical illustration of the onset of America’s torpid devolution. Even the video looks like it was made by a bunch of grabasstic high school stoners using 20-year-old deprecated public school media lab equipment rented from the public library as a stop gap solution to a local ISD’s budgetary shortfall. When the camera goes all POV and starts twirling round on the top of a bar, I thought I was suffering from motion sickness. Then I figured out that no, it’s just that this song really really blows to the point of causing debilitating gastrointestinal direst.

I think “72 songwriters” is probably an exaggeration.

I can’t say I’ve been paying much attention to the doings of Bret Michaels over the last few years aside from recognizing that he’s gone from someone who is famous for being a musician to someone famous for being famous. It’s a shame because laugh all you want, but when Poison was releasing singles like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” and “Something To Believe In” it opened the door for bands like The Black Crowes to resurrect rock and roll out of its hair metal doldrums. Hell I’d take either of those tunes in trade for this abominable turd.

Me? I’ve heard worse. But not much worse.

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Vintage charm

One thing you learn from this vintage advertisement is the proper pronunciation of the brand name:

Charmed Life from Kayser

Never underestimate the promotional value of a cheesy-sounding rhyme.

Julius Kayser first sold silk gloves in New York in 1880, and diversified into hosiery in 1908; the current Kayser company was incorporated in 1911 and became Kayser-Roth after a merger in 1958. Kayser-Roth has changed hands several times since then, and is currently owned by Golden Lady Company SpA of Italy.

This is obviously a British ad, what with the prices quoted in sterling. I am of course amused by the pricing: the low-end 1-2-3s were selling for 12/11, twelve shillings and eleven pence, because it sounds so much less than 13 shillings. This practice continued until the UK switched to decimal currency in 1971, after which they started pricing things in so many pounds and 99p.

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Nice or else

America’s small towns, according to legend, are full of the sort of Nice People you just don’t see in the Gigametroplexes that dominate both discussion and Census figures. The legend, however, does not attempt to tell you why. Turns out, it’s a self-defense measure:

On a purely logical level, let’s say you do or say something mean to someone who you believe has wronged you in some way. It’s a guarantee that that person is somehow related, by birth or marriage, to EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON, in the county. And word gets around. You want to destroy your reputation really fast? Treat Cousin Matilda rudely in line at Wal-Mart. Your child’s math teacher is married to Matilda’s nephew. She may not take off points unnecessarily on the next math test, but you can guarantee that during the parent-teacher conference, she will regard you with suspicion.

You’ll likely never see anything like this in the expanses of BosWash.

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You didn’t think that was your real diploma, did you?

[G]rades aren’t even due until Monday, and there might be some people not-actually graduating, and there’s not enough time to prepare the diplomas anyway. And this year everyone was all jumbled up — not in alphabetical order — so it would have been a nightmare to match the right diploma to the right student. The real ones are mailed in the summer.

Okay, if that wasn’t the actual diploma, what the heck was it?

The fake diploma is a photograph of the one fairly scenic building on campus (the library). I know I once opined that a picture of Rick Astley might also work, or maybe a mushroom-person saying, “Thank you, but your diploma is in another castle.” Then again, kids today might not get either of those jokes.

And there are parental units out there who would unwrap the document and promptly go ballistic. Not having to deal with them must be included among the goals of any self-respecting college.

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Reasons not to vote

Several have occurred to me over the years, including the fairly compelling “Why would I vote for any of these mooks?” And in this particular instance, there’s no arguing with Tam:

This was a municipal primary election: That is, where the members of the Republican and Democrat parties go and pick their candidates for the ballot in November’s general election. I am not a member of either party, and so I have no business weighing in on either party’s candidate selection process. Further (and I checked) there were no ballot questions such as “Do you want to get milked for more dough to support some useless project?” to which I could say “No.”

So apparently Hoosierville has a closed-primary system, which is fine with me; I lack the Machiavellian tendency to want to screw around with Those Other Guys when the primary is open. And I suppose there’s something to be said for the idea that even if you can’t vote for, you can always vote against.

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Too old for this

In which I bewail the state of the world while quoting both Karl Marx and Danny Glover. It’s a nasty job, but somebody has to do it.

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Fizziologically speaking

The marketing blunder to end all marketing blunders may end up on the big screen:

Paul Wernick & Rhett Reese, the scribes behind Zombieland and the X-Men spinoff Deadpool, next will craft a movie about the disastrous launch of New Coke, perhaps the worst product introduction since the Edsel. Last [month] marked the 30th anniversary of when Coca-Cola veered from the secret formula that had been around since the 1890s to unveil what the company hoped would be a new and improved drink for a younger generation. It went so flat it imperiled its venerable market-leading soft drink.

See if you can find a theater whose concession stand serves Pepsi.

(Via Laura’s Miscellaneous Musings.)

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Pike that tsukahara

Nadia Comăneci is not as old as this Cadillac:

Nadia Comaneci on a 1958 Cadillac

Three years younger, in fact. But both gymnast and car enjoy Classic status today. Of course, what you remember of Nadia was this:

Nadia Comaneci victorious in 1976

The Summer Olympics, Montréal 1976; Nadia Comăneci was not yet 15. Seven times during her routines she scored a perfect 10, bringing the number of perfect 10s in the history of the modern games to, um, seven.

In 1989, while Romania was gearing up for revolution, she defected, settling in Montréal. Two years later, she met up once again with American gymnast Bart Conner, whom she’d first encountered at the Americas Cup in New York before her Olympic victory. He suggested, ever so slightly, that she might be happier in some place like Oklahoma. (Conner, you should know, graduated from the University of Oklahoma in Norman.) And he was very persuasive: in 1996, they were wed in Bucharest, and came back to settle, yes, in Oklahoma. The Bart Conner Gymnastics Academy is running strong in Norman; in June 2006, their first child, Dylan Paul Conner, was born. And Nadia really has that Mom look to her:

Nadia Comaneci settles in

Oh, a tsukahara is a half (sometimes a quarter) turn off the springboard onto the vault table, followed by a push backwards. Nadia, in the early days, would shift from there into a piked somersault.

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Where all the blights are light

Jack Baruth here is talking about Columbus, Ohio, but some of this could apply to any capital of a state beginning with O:

These people have used the force and power that comes with money to have their dirty work done for them. Via the proxies of developers and city officials, they’ve eminent-domained hundreds of acres and forcibly displaced the people who lived there. They’ve torn down hundreds of homes and businesses to re-create the “Short North” in the image of Williamsburg. (Brooklyn, of course.) They’ve paid for this dirty work to be done and they are unhappy when it’s not done to their complete satisfaction. They want their Disney World, a “downtown” filled exclusively with high-net-worth individuals and a fascinating variety of shopping opportunities staffed by people who vanish into the ether when their shifts finish, and nothing less than perfection is acceptable.

It’s easy to hate them, easy to despise the unthinking, callous way in which they assume that the mere fact of their willingness to pay $500 a square foot for downtown condo space should remove all barriers, human or otherwise, to the SoHo lifestyle. But the real problem is that there aren’t enough of them and that they aren’t parents. The existence of a large group of successful young parents in downtown Columbus would improve everything from the streets to the schools, and those improvements would be shared with the people who live there now.

Unfortunately for that plan, most people with any sense, and certainly most people with any combination of sense and children, wouldn’t move into downtown Columbus if the housing were free. You get all the inconvenience of living in Manhattan with none of the benefits. You can’t park your car anywhere but there’s also no grocery to which you can walk. It’s noisy at night but there’s not a single jazz or blues club open. Most of the shops close at seven or before.

In some regards, we’re doing better: most new downtown housing is $300 a square foot or less, there’s something of a club scene, and there’s the John Rex School. The Native Roots Market in Deep Deuce is smallish as grocery stores go, but it’s close by, and it’s open most nights until 10 pm.

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Quote of the week

There are times when reality doesn’t seem all that real:

I’m beginning to have suspicions that the universe or what we call reality is actually some kind of cosmic computer program, and it has become unstable due to lack of updates.

Some morning I fully expect to walk out of my house, look up at the sky, and see a BSOD.

Given this week’s heavy stormage, I’ll settle for almost anything blue up there.

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