Municipal beautification

Costa Mesa mayor Eric Bever, concerned with the appearance of his city, has determined what he believes to be the source of a “huge negative impact” thereupon, and proposes to do something about it. Said Bever:

“My belief is that if we manage to put the soup kitchen out of business that will go a long way to addressing the attractiveness in our city that’s creating a huge negative impact.”

You know, Eric, ol’ pal, if these pesky poor people don’t look so great, perhaps you can talk that billion-dollar South Coast Plaza operation to donate some up-to-date outfits. And it’s not like the city government has to bear a whole lot of expense for either Someone Cares or Share Our Selves, both of which are long-established 501(c)(3) charities.

(Via Amy Alkon.)

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Another four-letter word

Or maybe, in this specific case, two of them in close proximity:

Our country, today, has a crisis with hard work. We don’t seem to have a good understanding of what it is. There is evidently a whole lot of loud, opinionated people running around, many of them nursing resentments, who see it as what could best be expressed as “suffering that pays something.” Dig a hole, dig another hole, take the dirt from the second hole and put it in the first hole, dig the first hole and put the dirt in the second hole … at the end & middle of the month you get a check.

This must be what they mean by “shovel-ready” projects. Or, you know, not:

Um, that’s not what work is supposed to be. It’s supposed to have something to do with objects changing states for some purpose to be served. Also, we have a problem with that check. You cash it and pay some bills, buy food, hopefully there’s enough left over to put in savings. Well that part is right … but there’s a massive neglect of human potential taking place here when so many think of it as THE bills. THE this-credit-card, THE that-credit-card, THE heating bill. It’s easy to fall into this trap. And I guess, as long as something makes it into savings, it doesn’t really matter … but it seems people forget the bills do not represent injury, they represent activity. The trap of “paycheck happy face, bills sad face” reduces human potential because it makes it untenable to seriously consider taking on a new bill.

Then again, some folks have had so much activity that it becomes injury, most easily spotted when THE bills outweigh the paycheck. And a few of us might be tempted to wonder if it’s worth stashing away $100, which in a year at present rates of return will grow to about $100.50, at which time it might be able to buy about $96 worth of stuff if we’re lucky.

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The hawk was watching

And what he saw made him forget all about those lazy circles:

Oh, what a beautiful morning.

(Point of origin.)

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SLAPP shtick

For the record, here’s a workable definition of SLAPP:

A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.

Our Exhibit A is a SLAPP that failed:

Here’s the news:

“A Los Angeles judge threw out a lawsuit against TheWrap News on Wednesday, ruling that an article about movie financier Elisabeth Thieriot was both accurate and ‘took pains’ in reporting on a production dispute with her co-producer. Judge Barbara M. Scheper of Los Angeles Superior Court sided with the news organization in granting an anti-SLAPP motion to dismiss Thieriot’s complaint on the grounds that it had no probability of success on its merits.”

Exhibit B, inevitably, is a SLAPP against a blog publishing Exhibit A.

Inasmuch as Judge Scheper’s ruling is rather easily verified by inspection — please note that the phrase “plaintiff has no probability of success on the merits” is right there on page 1 — I suspect that the second suit will be every bit as successful as the first, and that the Streisand effect is already manifesting itself.

Notes Bill Quick, conceivably the subject of an Exhibit C should this lesson continue to go unlearned by counsel for the plaintiff:

This almost never ends well for those who think lawyerly threats are the sovereign cure for blog-caused discomfort.

See also the First Rule of Holes.

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Bimmer bummer

A recall for the BMW M5 and M6 contains typical NHTSA officialese, but somehow it makes even less sense than usual:

“Separation of the [oil] pump’s driveshaft from the rotor could lead to a sudden loss of oil pressure causing the possibility of complete engine failure, resulting in an engine stall-like condition, increasing the risk of a vehicle crash.”

Yep. Apart from the $20,000 worth of damage, it’s exactly like an engine stall.

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Quote of the week

Smitty revisits the Debacle in Denver:

[M]aybe we need to recall that the Obama Administration is nothing if not the ultimate Vagina Monologue.

Viewed through that tunnel, if you will, what you saw was the Longsuffering Black Man endure Yet Another Beating from the Usual Male Suspect of European Extraction… [Y]ou have to assume the lamb-like, sacrificial role, as you fearlessly stand for Progress and Prefixed Justice (racial-, reproductive-, class-, economic-, voting-, sexual-, it doesn’t matter). You have to turn Mitt into a preppy Pontius Pilate, out to crucify the Chicago Savior for being unable to overcome the sins of BeelzeBush the anti-Clinton.

“Give us Barackus”? Gimme a break.

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It had to come sometime

Before hitting the sack, I took one last look at Mesonet, and one of my two Most Dreaded Phrases showed up:

Screen shot from OK Mesonet

Yep. “Wind chill.” (The other Most Dreaded Phrase, of course, is “Heat index.”) The record earliest freeze for Oklahoma City was on the 9th of October, set in 2000; we may actually break that this year. How appropriate that this should happen in a year with the Hottest Damn Day Ever.

What did I say about the weather on 9 October 2000? This:

[W]e wound up with a textbook-perfect late-November day, a mere six weeks early. The sky is some shade of blue that exists only up above, and the occasional clouds look like they were pulled out of God’s own aspirin bottle. (No doubt we land-dwellers cause quite a bit of celestial headache.) There’s a bit too much wind, but there’s always a bit too much wind.

Ain’t that the truth. Today, however, isn’t much like that at all: the wind is there, but the cloud cover is vaguely menacing.

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It must run in the family

I have a list of Firefox bookmarks marked as “Possibly Usable,” and therein I found what I expected to be my daughter’s abandoned Pinterest page. Not so. In fact, she’s tacked up over 400 pins.

Amusingly, one pin, on a page labeled “Books Worth Reading,” is for a probably-apocryphal tome called People I Want to Punch in the Face. Seems awfully thin, too.

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No pushover

Rebecca Black on HLNOctober is, I discover, National Bullying Prevention Month, and Rebecca Black, having endured a few instances herself, is doing her part for the cause, having appeared on HLN’s Showbiz Tonight this past Thursday (screenshot by Debra Baum, no video available yet) and told her story to Entertainment Weekly’s Popwatch blog. From the latter, a possibly pertinent paragraph:

I got home from school one day, and I had gotten an email or something saying, “This is what’s going on on your video. Already there are a lot of negative comments.” So yeah, it was kind of an ongoing thing. But I guess you could say that I’m almost … [pause] I wouldn’t say used to it now, but I’m almost immune. When you see the same things so many times, you kind of don’t have a reaction anymore. Some girls and guys in school, it just gave them a reason to pick on me. But I don’t know, it was middle school. Middle school already is not the best time in your life.

She’s also designed a t-shirt for said cause.

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Don’t call us, we’ll … well, just don’t

Apparently this is a Thing now:

When the call came [Wednesday] morning, I assumed at first I was being trolled — it was just too perfect to be true. My phone showed only “Private Caller” and, when I answered out of curiosity, I was connected to “John,” a young man with a clear Indian accent who said he was calling from “Windows Technical Support.” My computer, he told me, had alerted him that it was infested with viruses. He wanted to show me the problem — then charge me to fix it.

This scam itself is a few years old now, but I had not personally received one of the calls until … the very day that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a major crackdown on such “boiler room” call center operations.

Difficulty: Planned scamee did not, in fact, have a computer running Windows on the premises.

All this and “un-deletable” viruses, too! Scammers like that should have their, um, Registry scrubbed.

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I suspect she didn’t like it

Frothing Mouse reviews Micro:

I’m a huge fan of Crichton and Preston and Preston/Child books. They all create lovely worlds of weirdness and action and thrills that rarely disappoint. This one is so poorly written — I mean, we’re talking about TAKS test narratives by fourth grade Texas students written — and so requiring of belief suspension with retarded segues and INSERTED plot devices — that it left my head spinning. It’s stunningly bad. And you know what? I still had to finish it just to find out that, yes, what I thought would happen, happened. I skimmed pages so bad that I was really just registering punctuation. And I knew what happened. It will be made into a movie for sure. It is HORRIBLE FUBAR EPIC FAIL.

“Retarded segues” is immediately going into my Arsenal of Critical Contumely.

Three other reviews at the same link, including a smallish disquisition on J. K. Rowling’s post-Potter plodder.

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A rial catastrophe

Take budget deficits, add Western sanctions, stir briskly, and watch for the currency to fall:

In a sign of the multi-layered theories swirling in Iran, some economists and experts have accused the government of trying to devalue its currency in order to meet its own budget deficit.

The government earns more than 90 percent of Iran’s overall foreign exchange revenues as a result of oil sales. Higher dollar rates bring more rials into the treasury to pay salaries and fund state programs, such as guarantee stipends to compensate for the withdrawal of fuel and food subsidies last year.

[Shamseddin] Hosseini, the economy minister, challenged the government’s critics to provide more than just claims. “We are not after devaluating rial,” the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Hosseini as saying. “Those who make such claims better offer evidence.”

Devaluing a currency to pay government debts? Whoever heard of such a thing? And does this curve look familiar?

Just incidentally, last week a US dollar bought 24,000 rials. This week it fetches 35,000. The smallest banknote is the 100-rial note, though Wikipedia notes, presumably unironically: “The 100, 200 and 500 rial banknotes are becoming increasingly uncommon; shopkeepers habitually give out small packages of gum in lieu of the last 500 rials of change.”

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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“Data wants to be free,” says Doc Searls, “but value wants to be paid for,” and there’s no better illustration of this than the flap over Apple’s inept iOS6 Maps application:

I’d rather see Google offer Google Maps for sale, at a fair price, in the Apple Apps store. And I’d like to see Apple approve that product for sale, pronto.

Trust me: plenty of customers will pay. Google will not only drive home the real value of its Maps app (and all the good work behind it), but get some long-overdue practice at doing real customer service. Google’s high dependence on a single source of revenue — advertising — is a vulnerability that can only be reduced by broadening the company’s businesses. The future of selling direct has been looming at Google for a long time. There is a great opportunity, right now, to do that in a big way with Google Maps.

Meanwhile, Apple, which does sell direct, managed to stick it to its own customers while trying to stick it to Google. And what did they get for their trouble? This:

Twilight Sparkle reads a map

When ponies turn their backs on you, you’ve got problems.

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Appreciation schedule

Three years ago, a Texas man trying to avoid a pelican dunked his million-dollar-plus Bugatti Veyron into three feet of water, the sort of situation for which the phrase “total loss” was invented.

Or, you know, not:

Philadelphia Insurers say that Andy House is attempting to commit insurance fraud by filing his $2.2 million claim for the wrecked vehicle, and they say they have some powerful evidence.

A passenger in a nearby car happened to be taking footage of the luxury sports car speeding down a service road along Interstate 45 in Houston. No pelican is visible in the video, and the car seems to make a more gradual approach into the La Marque lagoon.

For a while, said video was actually up on the Web, but seems to have vanished. (Discovery?)

And anyway, a new Veyron might be $2.2 million, exchange rates being what they are — the price, when it’s quoted at all, is generally quoted in euros — but the Bugatti getting the dunk treatment back in ’09 was an ’06 model that sold for about a third less than that.

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From the If Only files

Steve Sailer, perhaps to stir the pot a little bit, has imagined two different scenarios in which we’d already had a black President:

  • Walter Mondale picks Tom Bradley for the Veep slot in 1984, manages to beat a rattled-in-the-debates Ronald Reagan, and is killed when Air Force One crashes;
  • Colin Powell, urged on by Mrs Powell, defeats Bob Dole, then Bill Clinton, in 1996.

Given either one of these scenarios, Sailer asks:

In either alternative history, does Barack Obama become the second black President? If there had already been a first black president, would anyone have ever even considered Obama to be Presidential Timber? Would you have ever even heard of Obama?

Sailer’s commentariat, at the moment, seems to be evenly split among Yes, No, and Blame the Jews. I figure we have fewer axes to grind here, so I’ve imported the question. (I lean towards No, but I’m willing to be shown the error of my ways, if such it be.)

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Zooeypalooza 16!

Just to clear up a lingering matter: I am not out of pictures of Zooey Deschanel. And to prove it:

Zooeypalooza 16!

That which is shrunk will grow with a little bit of mouse attention.

Paloozas of the past: ZP 1, ZP 2, ZP 3, ZP 4, ZP 5, ZP 6, ZP 7, ZP 8, ZP 9, ZP 10, ZP 11, ZP 12, ZP 13, ZP 14, ZP 15.

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