News you can’t use

The problem with national media, apart from the fact that television looks pretty much identical whether you’re in Concord or Capistrano, is that they make for national causes and national haranguing on behalf of same. You could ignore the lot of them, I suppose — apart from the random afflictions on the set in the office breakroom, I watch basically nothing anymore except basketball and ponies — but the tube has insinuated itself so far into the culture that for all I know, I may be the last remaining outlier. (We all know people who say they “never” watch television; want to guess what’s in their Netflix queues?)

There’s probably no cure for this, either:

I could suggest that we start more locally-oriented papers, radio, and television stations, but such things have been made into guaranteed losing propositions: acts of civic charity that few persons will bother to read, listen to, or watch. Similarly, I could suggest that the civic-minded resolve to ignore the nationalized media, but in our era that’s like asking a man to hold his breath for a week. Now that all politics is national — sorry, Tip ol’ buddy — inattention to the national news would be catastrophic for such freedom-loving Americans as still remain. For now, all I can do is point at the cancer; I know of no tool capable of excising it.

The FCC destroyed “locally-oriented,” at least the over-the-air type. Consider these rules, in effect through the 1970s:

  • No entity could exceed the rules known familiarly as “7-7-7″: seven AM stations, seven FM stations, and seven TV stations (no more than five of which could be VHF — channels 2 through 13);
  • No owner of three VHF stations in the top 50 TV markets could purchase other such stations without a showing of compelling public interest;
  • Newspaper owners could not acquire radio or television stations in the same market;
  • No owner could operate more than one station of the same service in the same market.

“VHF,” of course, is meaningless today: the vast majority of stations claiming a channel between 2 and 13 are actually out in the same UHF cloud as their no-longer-lesser brethren. And the chances that these rules will be reinstated are essentially nil. But other than doing my part to encourage the wielding of the sword of bankruptcy, I don’t see any way to untie this particular knot.

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General Lee was not available for comment

This is, the government of Dubai informs us, a legitimate police vehicle:

Lamborghini Aventador police car

To explain:

The 700-horsepower [Lamborghini] Aventador has a starting price in the US of nearly $400,000 and can reach speeds up to 217 miles per hour. Reports, however, say that the Dubai police force won’t be using the car’s 0-60 performance of 3.9 seconds to catch any crooks, but rather that the supercar will be used in tourist areas to impress foreign travelers.

And there’s no back seat to accommodate the perps, anyway.

Still, given Dubai’s urge to splurge, this is probably a bit easier to justify than, say, faking the appearance of economy by rebadging a Mercedes as a Honda.

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Quote of the week

Jimmie Bise thinks it’s time we invested in stocks.

No, not those stocks. These stocks:

Once upon a time, we had a way to punish miscreants who broke minor laws or did something so amazingly stupid that the community felt a need to make a public example of them so that others would be less inclined to break the law or be quite so dumb.

Pillories. The stocks. Public shame for a short period of time, occasionally punctuated with the application of rotten fruit to or about the face of the shamed, and sanctioned by the community. Ruthless public mockery of the sort seen in Billy Madison, where the person being mocked has to stand there and take it.

Appropriately, he has several individuals deemed worthy of this treatment. And the advantage of so doing, apart from getting your vegetable crisper cleaned out, is simply this:

We wouldn’t put it on someone’s permanent record as we do a criminal conviction. After a few days, we’d largely forget it happened. But — and this is the important thing — the person who spent those hours with rotten tomato juice dripping from their forehead would not forget. They’d try very hard not to end up there again. We’d move on to the next person and do what we could to make sure we didn’t end up there one day.

Well, maybe there should be some permanent record — say, excerpts on YouTube.

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Peaceful upheaval

The last thing I would have predicted in a Thunder-Warriors game is garbage time, and even if I’d imagined it, I never would have figured on nearly six minutes of it. But OKC, up six at the half, ran that lead to nineteen after three, and they were still up nineteen six minutes later. (That 36-23 third quarter was almost — not quite — a thing of beauty.) Almost as unlikely: holding the Warriors under 110. But it happened: the Thunder got their 58th win, 116-97. and a half-game edge over the Spurs, and the Warriors dropped to half a game in front of the seventh-seeded (so far) Rockets.

It was not a good night for starting big men, with both Kendrick Perkins and Andrew Bogut exiting early. And Golden State’s two-guard knockout punch was running at barely 50-percent efficiency: Stephen Curry came up with a better-than-decent 22, but Klay Thompson was bottled up all night and went 2-10 for six points. David Lee struggled a bit at times, though not enough to keep him out of a double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds), and both Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry hit double figures in reserve.

Still, there’s a Telltale Statistic. The Warriors went 7-16 from deep space, which isn’t bad percentagewise, but you tend to expect them to put up twenty or thirty. Maybe forty. (OKC went 12-27 from out there.) Kevin Durant once again finished just shy of a triple-double, bagging 31 points, ten boards and eight assists; just as exciting, Kevin Martin was on the beam, 8-10 for 23. Russell Westbrook fumbled the rock rather a lot in the first half, only once in the second, and finished at 18. I did lose a side bet, predicting that Hasheem Thabeet would foul out in 18 minutes. (Got the minutes right, but The Dream kept his fouls down to five.)

Tomorrow night: last road game of the regular season, against the Trail Blazers. Will they be swept? One can only hope. Weird things have happened before in the Rose Garden, although the Blazers losing their tenth in a row seems unlikely. Then again, I also thought the Warriors would score about 110 tonight.

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Something besides 206th Street

The city of Edmond is getting a new subdivision called Thunder Canyon, which I suspect is probably about 50 percent accurate — I’m pretty sure you can hear thunder up there now and then. This is, of course, in character for this part of the world:

In the 1970s a subdivision went in west of Ski Island called “Canyon North,” and threading down the middle of it is something called Basswood Canyon Road. Quite apart from the fact that we’re not exactly overrun (underrun?) with canyons in that part of town, basswood doesn’t grow here: it tends to show up in the Midwest and points east, also places not known for canyons.

More surprising is that it’s in Edmond and no trees are mentioned:

The city of Edmond, on the other hand, likes trees. Loves trees. The joke a few years ago was that there was a City Council motion to ban all further street or subdivision names that contained any mention of “oak”, before the entire population wound up living on Something Oak Drive. At least, I think it was a joke.

Coming back down Covell Road, I happened upon a subdivision that probably should have been called Ashford Oaks, but was in fact called “Asheforde Oaks”, with a double helping of that Olde Englishe Codswallope that presumably impels people with ancestors named Martinez (such as, well, yours truly) to look elsewhere for housing.

But give them this. At least they’re not being blatant about that “Thunder” business:

There will be no Durant Drive, Rumble Lane, Westbrook Pass or Collison Court in Thunder Canyon, Edmond’s new housing development on the east side of the city.

The project with 188 lots near Covell Road and Midwest Boulevard will not have any ties to Oklahoma City’s professional basketball team.

There’s a Harden Drive just south of Nichols Hills, but I’m not going there either.

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What’s that hitting the fan?

It was 80-ish a couple of days ago, and we had a freeze warning this morning, so obviously one of you has been screwing with the Global Thermostat again:

I guess there is not much in Science that is fixed in stone.

Except the temperature. The only thing that Science knows for sure is that the temperature was exactly right about 100 years ago. Now of course, the temperature is almost a little hotter and we’re all going to die. But thank goodness civilization lived long enough to find that one exactly right temperature. I hope Mr Obama chisels the number into some sort of monument so that, should humans evolve again from the wreckage, they won’t have to waste their energy determining The Proper Temperature and they can get right down to blaming each other about just who is responsible for ruining everything this time.

Fortunately, Mr Obama has at his disposal an entire battalion of chiselers.

(Via Monday Evening.)

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Even finer print

Bill Quick proposes a Constitutional amendment:

Anything we have to pass in order to find out what it is … should not be passed.

I’d like to see a constitutional amendment mandating that every bill except for declarations of war must undergo a waiting period of at least one day for every page of the bill prior to any final vote on it.

There’s something vaguely karmic here: all the lunkheads who used every typographical trick in the book to make a “five-page paper” out of maybe 2.3 pages of text all of a sudden would be calling for six-point type and margins no wider than a gnat’s ass.

The sideways approach — elect a President who will veto anything it takes longer than fifteen minutes to read — is probably not going to happen either.

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Taller than a kitten heel

It’s a poodle heel:

Poodle heel platform sandal by Charlotte Olympia

This sandal by Charlotte Olympia is guaranteed to be noticed, not just for its vaguely canine underpinnings, but for the little charm that hangs over the top of your foot. (It’s a golden heart that says LA VIE EN ROSE.)

The ever-tasteful Nancy Friedman, who tweeted the existence of this shoe in my general direction, says: “Maybe at 50% off…” At Neiman’s, that would be $847.50.

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Some of his best friends, and so forth

A grabber of an opening paragraph:

I am not a misogynist, but… Of course, if I say that, immediately you think either the next words out of my keyboard will be, or that I am learning the proper obsequiescence of a Sensitive Nineties Man (SNM) too late for it to do any good for the nineties, but I am not a misogynist; I think women are one of the top two genders in the world.

One of the earliest posts by Brian J. Noggle, who hoisted his blog banner ten years ago this week.

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Counting for much

Shortly after the 2008 election, I complained that “actual knowledge of mathematical concepts is inimical to political success.” If one assumes that we get the government we deserve, it’s no trick to conclude that the Great Unwashed are utterly immune to arithmetic.

Not too similarly, from Roger:

There are people who actually don’t understand that math is everywhere. The old recipe book says that I require 10 32 ounce cans for a bunch of lasagna I’m making. But they don’t make 32-ounce cans anymore, they only make 28 ounce cans. How many cans will I need?

Ah, the ever-popular Grocery Shrink Ray, which is used on things other than groceries; in 2007 I bought a replacement for my 30-gallon water heater, which holds, um, 28 gallons despite being almost exactly the same size.

And Roger needs twelve cans, though he’ll use less than half of the last one. After a brief flirtation with online operations, I do my tax returns by hand, though I suspect I may be one of a dying breed.

Isaac Asimov was available for comment.

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Let there be slight

Screenshot from Oklahoma MesonetThis is, by no small margin, the nastiest 10th of April since they started keeping weather records in 1891, and it appears that the Spirit of Nasty hath caused much confusion at the Oklahoma Mesonet, which was displaying that forecast graphic this afternoon. To borrow a phrase, they keep using that word; I do not believe it means what they think it means.

(The mercury struggled to get up to 45 degrees on this date in 1958, a mere two dozen or so below average; we will fall short of that today by about eight.)

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Hilarity ends suit

Women, men are routinely told, are looking for partners with a sense of humor, which prompted this outburst from me many years ago:

[This] undoubtedly explains all the girlfriends Gilbert Gottfried has stolen away from Eric Bana.

The Advice Goddess tries to enlighten a reader on this very subject:

You’re unlikely to score a second date by pelting her with jokes and one-liners, which suggests you prepared for the evening by memorizing the joke book on the back of the toilet.

Which is exactly where most joke books should be kept, if you ask me.

What impresses a woman are shows of wit — spontaneous expressions of humor in response to something she says or something around you. Wit reflects intelligence while communicating your worldview — telling her who you are far more interestingly than droning on about your major and your dream to someday get your boss to assign you a better parking space.

Some majors today won’t even get you a parking space to begin with, but that’s neither here nor there. (Okay, it’s there. Happy now?)

And really, you’ve got to have more than one arrow in your quiver: if a pocketful of wry is all you have, you shouldn’t expect anything more than the occasional necessity to vacuum out the crumbs.

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Introducing Schedule FB

The IRS routinely looks at your W-2 and that fistful of 1099s. And now they’re reading your social-media accounts:

New reports brought to light by one privacy and data security expert suggest that this tax filing season the Internal Revenue Service may be monitoring social media for any clues of tax cheats.

According to Kristen Mathews, a partner attorney at law firm Proskauer Rose LLP who specializes in privacy and data security, there are reports that the IRS will be checking into individual Facebook and Twitter accounts for improprieties.

Though the agency says that it will only conduct such monitoring if a tax form raises a red flag, it is somewhat unclear to what extent it will be capable of delving into social media accounts.

You think maybe that drunken debauch in Dayton you plastered (while plastered) all over Facebook might get your expenses disallowed?

(Via this Jules Shapiro tweet.)

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Making it up in volume

This Vi Hart video evidently went over a lot of heads:

It cost her a few subscribers, leading her to muse:

Most of YouTube seems to be going for having 10 million subscribers and leeching a few cents out of each. If I can just keep making bad videos that refine my subscriber base into increasingly smaller and more invested groups, I can aspire to someday have just one subscriber, who is willing to pay one million dollars for my videos, and then I will be more successful! So there! :D

I, of course, immediately subscribed.

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Alert spoilers

About an hour and a half before tipoff, I found myself with a vaguely defeatist outlook, based on the notion that hey, if the Jazz win, that makes things so much more difficult for the Lakers, and there’s a lot to be said for making things more difficult for the Lakers. The Jazz, however, did not win, the Thunder once again cranking up the fourth-quarter defense and taking a 14-point lead, though Utah rattled down the next seven points to slice that lead in half, and inside the 25-second mark they’d pulled to within four. In response, Kevin Durant knocked down a pair of free throws; then Russell Westbrook swiped a Jazz inbound pass and delivered it to the bucket, drew a foul, and knocked down two free throws of his own to ice it, 90-80.

It was not a particularly good night for either bench: 14 points for OKC, 11 for Utah. Nor did either side shoot well: OKC 39.5 percent, Utah 39.2. The Jazz did land four of five starters in double figures, led by Mo Williams with 19, and big Al Jefferson banged his way to a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds). The Thunder, meanwhile, landed four of five starters in double figures, led by Russell Westbrook with 25; slightly less big Kevin Durant just missed a triple-double (21 points, 12 boards, nine assists.) If this sounds like it was pretty close, well, it was; the Jazz were never really out of it, but they didn’t ever catch up either.

And allow me to say a few words about the much-misunderstood Jamaal Tinsley, whose seven years with Indiana ended with his being epoxied to the pine while the Pacers begged for some team to take him off their hands. The Grizzlies flirted with him for a while, but at the beginning of the 2011-12 season he was down in the D-League. The Jazz watched him play, signed him, and this year gave him a one-year contract extension. He missed his only shot tonight, but in ten minutes he came up with three boards and four dimes. Not a bad comeback for a 35-year-old.

The OKC road trip ends in a flurry: Thursday at Golden State, Friday at Portland. Games 81 and 82 are back at home: the Kings on Monday, the Bucks on Wednesday.

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He was touching his device

A section of the California Vehicle Code:

“A person shall not drive a motor vehicle while using a wireless telephone unless that telephone is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free listening and talking, and is used in that manner while driving.”

What if you’re neither listening nor talking? This was the pitch made by a defendant, who said that he was looking up something on Google Maps.

Not so fast, says the court:

“Our review of the statute’s plain language leads us to conclude that the primary evil sought to be avoided is the distraction the driver faces when using his or her hands to operate the phone. That distraction would be present whether the wireless telephone was being used as a telephone, a GPS navigator, a clock, or a device for sending and receiving text messages and e-mails.”

(Full text of decision [pdf].)

But then there’s this:

[A] new law went into effect during January 2013 that allows hands-free voice calls and texting. In order to accomplish this, the driver must use voice-operated applications that allow them to dictate, send and listen to wireless communication while driving.

So you’ll be slightly less distracted. Yay.

(Via Autoblog.)

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