An overly familiar Motown record

A former resident of Detroit explains why he left:

I could give you all the conventional reasons why you’d leave a Detroit, but, for the most part, those wouldn’t be mine. The reason I was eager to leave was that Detroit was proud to be stuck where it was. It knew it was having huge problems; but it was NOT going to change the way it was doing any thing. That’s not a good attitude to have when things are going well, and an even worse one to have when things are going badly. I knew a fighter pilot who had fought in Vietnam and I asked him what he would do if he spotted an enemy plane “in his six” (directly behind you). He said, “Anyway you go is better than the way you’re going now.” Detroit seemed to think it could stand being shot at better than it could change course. Why be proud of not changing? That isn’t it exactly, it’s rejection of how you’d perceive yourself in the course of changing. Detroiters (or is it Midwesterners generally? Discuss!) reject what they would perceive as the arrogance of EastCoasters and the flakiness of WestCoasters for a more “reasonable” view of the world. Even if that perception were even vaguely true, it forgets how virtues often degenerate into parodies of themselves. What was once steadfastness becomes calcified stubbornness, well past the point of being “reasonable.” Now they wake up, find themselves billions in the hole and thinking about selling everything that isn’t nailed down, and a lot that is. Maybe some arrogant flakiness would have been better when times were more flush.

But times are less flush today, and flaky arrogance is now the rule rather than the exception. Still, I side with the fighter pilot: the most unacceptable path is the current one.

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The undistinguished member

Sally Kern’s minivan has license plate “H 84.” This is not some sort of Wicked Disclosure I’m making; that’s the way this state identifies vehicles belonging to state legislators, “H 1″ through “H 101″ and “S 1″ through “S 48.” Whether these plates are intended to ratify some sort of legislative immunity while in transit, I couldn’t say.

Colorado legislators, on the other hand, enjoy a slightly different approach:

According to CBS Denver, the info for these particular license plates is never entered into the DMV database, so when some state senator goes zooming by a speed camera, he or she won’t get a ticket, because the camera system looks up the license plate number through the DMV. Since no info comes up, no ticket is given.

This appears to be true for parking tickets as well. See, even though a parking enforcement officer might leave a ticket on the car, cities like Denver that rely on the DMV for addresses of vehicle owners come up empty when they try to collect on those tickets.

And for all I know, Rep. Kern may have traded off that minivan by now, but the last time I saw her on the road, that’s what she was driving, and the plate would be transferable to a new vehicle. (Which is the opposite of the usual Oklahoma law, which requires that the tag stay with the car when it’s sold.)

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The true Smart Thermostat

It requires, as you see, a little bit of programming:

Thermostat with gratuitous Monty Python reference

This is, of course, from the Book of Temperaments, chapter 2, verses 9 through 21.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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Instant blame

It’s never occurred to me to yell “Hey, Lankford, this sucks!” every time I get stuck on the Broadway Distention — mostly because I have enough sense to stay off the Broadway Distention — but were I so inclined, there’s an app for that:

A new app will let you instantly alert your elected officials when your bus is late, the highway is backed up, or your plane is stuck on the tarmac.

The I’m Stuck app, from infrastructure advocacy group Building America’s Future, is designed to give commuters a platform to let public officials know when their infrastructure is failing them. It’s a new twist on an old planning strategy of counting the number of riders and drivers who use a particular route. But instead of sending that data to planners, I’m Stuck goes directly to the folks who decide whether a project is built or a service is expanded.

Who will then, of course, ignore it. Heck, when Ernest Istook was hanging around here, he was making damn sure that we weren’t soaking up Federal largesse that might otherwise go to Salt Lake City.

Still: “Hey, Lankford, this sucks!”

(Via Autoblog.)

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Shake it out

Florence Welch once described her on-stage style as “The Lady of Shalott meets Ophelia … mixed with scary gothic bat lady.” Off-stage?

Florence Welch in New York City July 2013

Someone snagged this shot of Florence taking a walk through New York City earlier this week, and she’s anything but scary — though perhaps still heavy in your arms.

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The owner will never know

This, I am told, is the engine cover from a last-generation Hyundai Santa Fe:

Hyundai bogus engine cover

I suppose those shiny bits are intended to suggest the actual intake runners beneath. There’s just one minor detail: this engine is mounted transversely, so the cover, which suggests longitudinal mounting, is 90 (or maybe 270) degrees out of phase, completely and utterly bogus.

(Seen at Fourtitude.com; suggested here.)

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Some like it squat

I have long suspected our New Urbanist types of having a vertical bias: anything spread out horizontally, to them, smacks of the hated suburbs, and they’d cheer anything built on the old Stage Center site so long as it’s at least twenty stories.

Certainly short-ish and squat isn’t going to save the old Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago:

Prentice Women's Hospital building

A distinctive cloverleaf-shaped icon in Chicago, Prentice Women’s Hospital was designed by architect Bertrand Goldberg and opened to international acclaim in 1975. The hospital relocated in 2007, leaving the distinctive structure vacant. A strong coalition of preservation groups, architecture and design organizations, and internationally-recognized architects and engineers demonstrated several viable reuses for the groundbreaking Modernist treasure that made it the centerpiece of a cutting-edge Northwestern medical research facility. In spite of a unanimous vote of the Commission on Chicago Landmarks that Prentice met the criteria for a Chicago Landmark, the Commission ultimately sided with Northwestern University and cleared the way for demolition of one of Chicago’s most unique buildings.

Stage Center didn’t have “several viable reuses” proposed, and the wrecking ball is on its way. Will Prentice be saved? Not a chance. People want their tall, pointy stuff, and they’re going to get it.

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Both passive and aggressive

Rep. Mike Reynolds (R-OKC), one of the more reliably loose cannons on the State House floor, has set up a Web site to snipe at Speaker T. W. Shannon (R-Lawton), under the sneaky URL shannonforcongress.com. Reynolds, using solid mid-1990s HTML skills, does his best to raise questions about just about everything Shannon has done, and hasn’t done, since election to the House in 2006, and also complains about his claims to ethnicity. (Gee, Mike, the guy looks black to me.)

Then there’s this:

Sixth generation Oklahoman? Few people know where there [sic] grandparents lived, much less their great,great,great grandparents.

Define “few.” I knew where my grandparents lived, all the time they were alive.

This might be Reynolds’ last bid for the limelight — he was first elected in 2002, so term limits will send him home after next session — which likely means we can expect something of a shenaniganza between now and then.

(Via this tweet from Michael Cross of the KOSU Capitol Bureau.)

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Go east, young woman

Rebecca Black takes a trip to New York:

I wish I had a tenth of her sheer exuberance.

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The better half

Advice Goddess Amy Alkon, on the origin of the concept of “soulmates”:

The idea of soulmates actually traces back to Plato. He wrote about a “symposium” (ancient Greek for “kegger”) at which an apparently tanked Aristophanes claimed there were once three sexes — male, female, and this weird he/she thing, round like a soccer ball, with four hands, four feet, and two faces. According to Ari, humans got power-hungry and attacked the gods. The gods were pissed. They contemplated annihilating humanity with thunderbolts and then realized there’d be nobody left to leave them offerings. Zeus instead punished the humans by hacking the he/shes in two — male and female — and after Apollo reshaped them to look like we do now, the gods dispersed them, compelling them to forever be searching for their “other half.” Supposedly, those few who are lucky enough to find theirs spend the rest of their lives making googoo eyes at each other on a picnic blanket while all the other couples are taking turns sobbing into a pillow in marriage counseling or sex therapy.

Same old Zeus, trying his best to be a badass. Hera leads him around by the wang-dang-doodle, and everyone knows it.

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Quote of the week

Ken White at Popehat, on how the film Fruitvale Station subverts the current version of the social compact:

Society has a stake in depicting people like Oscar Grant — people who have gone to prison, people who have committed crimes — as all one thing. Society has a reason to get anxious, as [Variety critic Geoff] Berkshire seems to, when the Oscar Grants of the world are depicted as people like us with good and bad parts, people to whom we can relate. Society runs on treating many people as less than human. Society depends on the social compact not falling apart when a young man is shot to death as he lays prone and unarmed on the pavement. Society depends on us accepting the fact that we jail people at a greater rate than anyone on the planet. Society depends on us accepting, as we are more and more enthusiastic about jailing people, that we are less and less interested in paying for adequate legal representation or adequate jail conditions. Society depends on us shrugging at brutality. Society relies on us not recognizing the essential humanity of the targets of the state’s power. Depicting people who commit crimes as one-dimensional criminals supports that social compact; depicting them as people — people more like us than unlike us — threatens it.

Society can’t function as presently constituted if we recognize the Oscar Grants of the world (or for that matter the Johannes Mehserles) as human beings, and act accordingly. Fruitvale Station is not subversive because it suggests Oscar Grant’s death was a grave injustice; it’s subversive because it suggests his life had value in the first place.

Johannes Mehserle is the BART officer who shot Oscar Grant on the first day of 2009.

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Panic button is working

Paranoia strikes deep:

Is it true that you can no longer purchase aftermarket parts for a 97 lexus es300 from an auto parts store

Now why would he ask “a few mechanic shops” and then assume all of them are giving him the brush-off?

I’m resisting the idea of telling him “Boo-frickin-hoo, you wanted a Lexus, now live with it,” because I don’t know the status of the parts pipeline for the similar Toyota Camry V6. I will say, though, that every independent tech I’ve talked to has known that my Infiniti is, at heart, a Nissan Maxima. Maybe it’s considered unkind to tell Lexus owners such things.

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Cycles of scum

Back in March, I sympathized with bloggers on other platforms who were being hit hard with illicit bogus crap in the guise of comments; I had only 19 that month, but what goes around has this irritating tendency to come back around, and I figured my time was coming.

Which it did. We’re barely into August, and already there have been over a hundred fifty intrusions from purveyors of fake Chinese crap and other miscreants. As a practicing ant, I can only hope that the proverbial fate of the grasshoppers will befall them — quickly.

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Ponzi takes one in the rib cage

Francis W. Porretto comes up with a scheme to put Social Security out of its misery once and for all:

  • Mandatory first step: Abolish the Social Security payroll tax, both on employee and employer. This “ends the contract” that makes Americans believe they have a stake in perpetuating the system.
  • Statutorily recompense anyone who has paid the payroll tax but has not yet collected benefits, on a constant-dollar calculation, over a period not to exceed five years. That compensation would free the federal government from any as-yet-uninvoked claims for Social Security benefits.
  • Now offer cash buyouts to current recipients of Social Security payments, based on actuarial figures and “present-value” calculations. Many will accept, believing they can do better with cash-in-hand than with time payments whose amount and regularity cannot be guaranteed.

Which ultimately is far kinder, especially to the erstwhile participants, than the oft-proposed double whammy of raising taxes and cutting benefits, or simply letting the whole operation drown in a sea of red ink.

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Night passages in treacherous waters

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Each and every day of the year

Kevin Walsh of Forgotten New York once said that this was the greatest music video in history, and I duly pass it on to you:

I am, of course, a Neil Sedaka fan from way back, though I admit that one of the first things I noticed was the dire presence of a Friday the 13th during that particular March — which couldn’t have been in 1961, when “Calendar Girl” was a hit, because 13 March 1961 was a Monday. I conclude, therefore, that the calendar on display is purely decorative.

This is probably an original Scopitone film, with subtitled lyrics after the fact.

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