Quote of the week

Several years ago, the normblog profile of yours truly disclosed the following High Truth:

I keep changing my mind on the death penalty. At the moment, I favour it, but this is subject to change at any given moment.

Now Roberta X gives me a moment:

What’s with this notion of the death penalty as “punishment,” anyway? What, so they’ll act nicer in the next world? That’s not really our department. If they are killed, they don’t learn anything. Some people are, after a fair trial, determined to be too dangerous to have around. The State kills them or locks them up forever; I favor the latter, as it is usually cheaper and if it turns out the results at trial were in error, they can be (to some degree) corrected.

And maybe I have this sense that in our new Drone Utopia, sentencing will become rather, um, detached.

Yes, yes, I know: deterrent value. At least it deters the individual who gets it. Beyond that?

Comments (8)




Keys to the world

From our perhaps-jaded post-Soviet perspective, we might be tempted to describe Van Cliburn, who died yesterday at his home in Fort Worth, as some sort of Cold Warrior. Not so, as this PBS news clip makes clear:

I mean, the judges at that first International Tchaikovsky Competition were faced with having to give the top prize to an American, and worse, an American who’d just gotten eight minutes’ worth of standing ovation from delighted Muscovites. What to do? They asked Khrushchev, and Khrushchev said “Is he the best? Then give him the prize.”

He earned rather a lot of prizes after that.

Comments (2)




Joined at the waste

The irony is strong with this one:

A Finnish anti-piracy group has copied the design of The Pirate Bay website for their latest anti-piracy campaign. The Pirate Bay is outraged by this move and says it will sue the group for breaking their site policy, which clearly states that organizations are not permitted to steal the site design for nefarious purposes. “People must understand what is right and wrong,” The Pirate Bay says.

Quick (yes!) summary by Bill Quick:

So the people aiding copyright “infringement” want it enforced for their “intellectual property”, and the people allegedly enforcing copyrights are violating it as well as, it appears, other laws.

Think of it as a pair of conjoined twins, picking each other’s pocket.

Comments (2)




Someone call Bernanke

A review of my bank statement turns up the unexpected news that I am now earning twice last year’s interest rate on my savings account.

I was hunting around for a suitable term, and the one that seems to fit best is “semi-meager.” I suppose I have the grim satisfaction of knowing that it’s not likely to push me into a higher tax bracket.

Comments off




The first-born unicorn

Had she lived, 1980 Playmate of the Year Dorothy Stratten would have been fifty-three today, and I suspect she’d still look good standing next to a custom Firebird:

Dorothy Stratten and a 1980 Pontiac Firebird by George Barris

This shot comes from a photoshoot by William LaChasse. (You can see rather a lot more of it at Autoculture.) Remember when 60-series tires seemed to have proportions as improbable as Dorothy’s?

(Title is an example of Californication.)

Comments (3)




Put it on their bill

The New Orleans Hornets will be the New Orleans Pelicans next season. This season, they’re sitting ducks. I mean, 119-74? Okay, Anthony Davis was unwell, and Eric Gordon hasn’t been doing the second night of back-to-backs lately as a precautionary measure, but still, this has to be viewed as a debacle in the Big Easy. Monty Williams had said that if the Bees didn’t bring their A-game, they could be “embarrassed”; give the man points for prescience.

And actually, New Orleans was in it for the first 20 minutes or so, having cut a double-digit Thunder lead down to four. Then the OKC Dominance Mode kicked in: the Thunder ran that lead back to seventeen at halftime, to thirty-six after three, and after that you had to wonder if the third string might be pulled to give the Thunder Girls a chance to play. As it was, we got to see the New Guys: Derek Fisher (now wearing #6 before they’d had a chance to finish Eric Maynor’s laundry) sent up four long-range bricks, but did the playmaker thing pretty well, and Ronnie Brewer pulled down four boards in twelve minutes. And we got to see Russell Westbrook dominate things early on and finish with a nice 29 points, while Kevin Durant tossed up his third triple-double (18 points/11 rebounds/10 assists) and Serge Ibaka asserted himself as a shooter (9-11 for 18). Let the record show that Reggie Jackson got one minute more than Fisher, and scored 14, tied with Kevin Martin for bench high — and with the Hornets’ Ryan Anderson, the only New Orleans player to finish in double figures at all. You have to figure that the Hornets are glad this series is over.

Now things get complicated. Western powers must be dealt with on their home courts: the Nuggets Friday night, the Clippers Sunday afternoon. And then, just for fun, the Lakers will be coming to the ‘Peake. Here’s to a little inhospitality.

Comments off




Sixty-one dollars per sneeze

This week’s health-care buzzword — we’re going to have them on a regular basis until the entire system drops to its artificial knees, or a week from Thursday, whichever comes first — is “fee for health,” as distinguished from “fee for service.” It doesn’t sound too distinguished to the Crimson Reach, though:

Quick doctors/hospitals, who wants to get to administer time-consuming experimental or at least palliative care to this incurably-diseased patient on a ‘fee for health’ basis? Don’t all raise your hands at once.

And besides:

[W]hat would ‘fee for health’ even mean? Someone appears to have forgotten that actual healthy people mostly aren’t even seeing a doctor, for anything, in the first place. That’s part of the definition of ‘healthy’. Isn’t it?

Then again, some of us old codgers have the preposterous notion that health care ought to have something to do with health. The Discordable Care Act destroyed that idea forever.

Comments (2)




Pretty little budget liars

Now if you ask me, this is the definitive word on the Dread Sequester:

[T]he Sequester has become the high school drama queen of budget cuts. Instead of working the problem out rationally, making strategic cuts to bloated, ineffective or, even better, non-existent government programs, the Sequester levies 2.3% cuts across the board to useful and non-useful programs without critical distinction, tears its $200 prom dress to shreds, pulls out its hair extensions by the roots, locks itself in the bathroom, takes six days worth of Vitamin D caplets and claims to be thiiiis close to killing itself over the toilet unless you extend its curfew by one hour. You want budget cuts, fine. Consider yourself to have one less budget to cut.

And what do the perennial adolescents in the Congress do? Exactly what you’d think:

Republicans are responding to this in typical Republican fashion. You want to slice up the federal government and make us fly coach where we don’t get free alcohol and those fluffy fleece blankets? Fine. I hope your Medicaid patients who will determine the public relations results of this disaster starve to death in the streets. The Democrats, on the other hand, have taken to scaring the sh*t out of Americans. First, the government was going to shut down. Then, everyone’s paychecks were going to be late.

After living for nearly three years with a 32.3-percent budget cut, I figure I’m overqualified for Congress. Then again, I have a conscience, which makes me fundamentally unfit for the job anyway.

Comments (2)




Same state, more swing

I seem to recall mentioning once upon a time that northeast Ohio, at least in the summertime, is a pretty decent place to drive:

[D]espite a nonexistent road-repair budget, a baffling grid — 18th and Euclid [in Cleveland] to 81st and Euclid (which I actually drove one evening) is less than 2.5 miles — and the presence of money-grubbing enclaves like Linndale, driving through northeast Ohio was always a breeze for me.

And now Linndale is about to cease grubbing:

After March 22, motorists driving along Interstate 71 near Cleveland will have a little more breathing room. That’s because new state legislation will be shutting down eight of the mayor’s courts in Ohio, including one in Linndale, the state’s most notorious and controversial speed trap city. According to The Cleveland Leader, Linndale has but one exit and a quarter-mile section of the interstate inside its borders, yet “in 2011, Linndale police issued 4,000 traffic tickets, which accounted for over $400,000 in revenue.”

Not bad for a town of 180.

Linndale’s predecessor as Most Egregious Buckeye Speed Trap, the village of New Rome, west of Columbus, fared far worse: the municipality was dissolved altogether, slightly before I went to see it.

Comments off




A man among men

A rich, full, and most of all discriminating life:

SHUCHMAN — Amos, of New York, on February 1, 2013. Beloved and caring husband of Alice Shuchman for 51 years, father of Daniel (Lori Lesser) and Nina (Brian Roth), grandfather of Jacob, Sarah, Aaron and Ariela. Born in Tel Aviv in 1928, fought bravely in the Haganah. Loved his family, his birth and adopted countries, finance, skiing, opera, ballet and biking in Central Park. Loved everything about NYC, except the New York Times. Services at Beth El Cemetery (Or Zarua section), Paramus, NJ, Sunday at 11am. Memorial contributions to a charity of your choice. His fearless heart still beats within all of us. Shalom, Saba.

(From The New York Times, earlier this month. Via this Megan McArdle tweet.)

Comments off




Tibial pursuit

Eventually, Joe Tex had to admit it: “Shut up, fool! I don’t want no woman with no skinny legs.”

He is not alone:

Skinny calves are trouble. There’s very little you can do to exert yourself, that doesn’t have something to do with the calf area. When a woman has PVC pipe calves it means she’s spending a lot of time sitting on the couch, watching teevee, and it’s probably not good teevee either. Reality teevee crap, maybe some home-shopping network, and tons and tons of “Lifetime” and “Oxygen Network” programming. Ordering her boyfriend to go out and bring her things. And probably owns a tiny dog. A really loud, annoying one. That she carries in a purse. My son brings home a prospective daughter-in-law for me and she doesn’t have calves, he & I are going to go off and have some serious conversations about things.

I dunno. Doesn’t sitting on the couch watching teevee usually widen body parts?

Comments (4)




Low-speed spam

Not all scammers send you email:

Saturday I got a hand addressed/hand stamped envelope at home telling me I won 2 airline tickets. The letterhead was clearly photocopied (it was a major airline) and I was instructed to call an 877 number. A quick Google search failed to find the owner of the phone number. The letter came from Arizona. I am seriously thinking about taking it to the Post Office for mail fraud.

Or maybe not so seriously:

No one can seem to stop those sons of slug farts from calling me ten times a day regarding lower interest rates on my credit cards, so I doubt these amateur frauds will get much attention. Besides, when it takes eight days to send a letter 73 miles*, I suspect the Postal Inspectors will get to this in about 2018.

* Yes, I could walk the distance faster than the US Post Office can send it via truck.

Let’s see if “sons of slug farts” can get any traction as a Newfangled Pejorative.

Comments (4)




On our own

When I posted the nifty video “Epic Wub Time: Musicians of Ponyville,” I said:

The amazing thing is that this little bit of goofiness was made entirely outside Official Channels — and yet it’s arguably good enough to be in the show.

At that time, I had no idea that the Great and Powerful Hasbro might ever consent to the production of a full-length episode by fans.

And yet:

Color me flabbergasted.

Comments off




Dried cell

Back in the fall of ought-seven, I related a tale of woe that began with the failure of the backup battery in the Surlywood security system. I ended up with two batteries, one purchased locally at Batteries Plus, one dispatched from the monitoring service’s secret headquarters, and Tatyana asked, reasonably enough: “So your back-up back-up will have to wait for 6 years to be installed? What is its shelf-life?”

Answer: five years, three months, based upon the events of the past weekend.

Comments (2)




As the World turns

Michael Bates contemplates the future of the deLortonized Tulsa World:

The Tulsa World announced [yesterday] that BH Media Group, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, will buy the newspaper from the Lorton family, with the sale expected to close in March.

A sale to Berkshire Hathaway is good news for the employees of the World, at least those involved directly in producing content. It has long been Warren Buffett’s policy to let an acquired company’s management continue to run things without interference from Omaha… As part of a multi-newspaper group, the World may also be able to cut costs by taking advantage of central purchasing and central administration, perhaps to include IT support and web development. So the news may not be so good for the administrative and support staff at the paper.

I think we can assume that Mr Bates approves the sale: not once did he refer to the paper as the “Whirled.”

Still, it’s rather disconcerting that the two largest papers in the state all of a sudden have out-of-state ownership. (In late 2011, Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz acquired the Oklahoman.)

Comments (1)




Not too damned good

Bad Catholic lists several reasons why so-called “Christian music” ought to be put out of its misery. This is just one of them:

Isn’t all singing about Jesus inherently valuable?

No. Love covers a multitude of sins, but a cliched refrain of his Most Holy Name will not cover the fact that your melody, chord progression, and overworked synth track are recycled versions of Nickelback’s last single.

Oh, it gets harsher:

If the reality of Christianity is that which is expressed in the majority of “Christian” songs — and that which K-Love takes as their guiding principle — than I would much prefer to be an atheist. K-Love plays “positive” music. (Don’t get me started on the “cutting-edge.”) Every Christian radio station in existence gives the bizarre assurance before every song they play that they are in fact “positive”, “encouraging”, or “family friendly”. (It seems they could replace it all with “We are about to give you a song that sounds like a blanket on top of a kitten.”)

I know exactly what he’s talking about, so here’s a kitten with a blanket on top:

kitten under blanket

Determining the exact sound of the song is left as an exercise for the student.

(Via this Jeff Quinton tweet.)

Comments (8)