Keeper of the eternal blame

Words of wisdom from Blogospheric Arbiter of Civility, Decorum and Multicultural Sensitivity Robert Stacy McCain:

As long as you can laugh at your problems, you’re probably going to be OK. You may be dead broke and living in a cardboard box under a freeway overpass, but if you can still laugh about it, at least you’re not totally crazy. And the most important thing to remember in that kind of situation is this: It’s all your fault.

The minute you start looking around for somebody else to blame for your problems, you’ve bought yourself a ticket on a one-way train to oblivion, and the next-to-last stop on that line is Crazyville.

See also Jimmy Buffett, wasted away in nearby Margaritaville, who ultimately conceded: “It’s my own damn fault.”

If you’d rather hear it from someone else, try P. J. O’Rourke:

“One of the annoying things about believing in free will and individual responsibility is the difficulty of finding somebody to blame your problems on. And when you do find somebody, it’s remarkable how often his picture turns up on your driver’s license.”

I’ve been to Crazyville, and I don’t mind telling you, it sucks.

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You want that building to go?

Because you certainly can’t eat it here. The city of Columbia, South Carolina wants to unload a 3700-square-foot office building on Devine Street east of Harden. And you can have it for nothing, provided you move it yourself:

This site was identified in a recent study as one of the top three sites for surface parking in Five Points. City officials would rather have someone relocate the two-story structure than demolish it.

If there are no takers, the building will be demolished.

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Strange search-engine queries (242)

Yet another pass through the server logs, looking for potential snarkage, and maybe just a hint of masturbation and/or witchcraft.

dreamt about my doctor’s shoes:  As long as it wasn’t Dr. Moreau. God knows where he’s been stepping.

which mazda has transmission problems:  The one you bought for $99 down and $99 a week.

“killed with a pickaxe” TX:  You kidding? That’s how they swat flies out there.

harassment “western farmers electric cooperative”:  What, did somebody get threatened with a pickaxe?

oklahoma city nudist neighborhood:  Better to be looking now than, say, in January.

Michelle Lombardo’s peeing on the toilet photo’s:  And to think people mock the furries.

is it normal for a man to get an erection during a brazilian bikini wax:  That depends. Is he the one getting the wax?

transsexual airline pilots:  I presume such exist, and we will entertain no “cockpit” jokes.

unsuspicious couple:  That’s the kind you really have to be careful around.

“when someone sees you naked”:  Nobody is impressed.

is there a prayer to make a wish come true:  Not in so many words. There are no guarantees in life.

rectal scale for bass speakers:  “Wow, this system has subwoofers out the ass!”

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Therefore I am, I think

In 1985, I made a conscious decision to become someone else for purposes of online communication. There were several motivations involved, one of which was the fact that at the time I was going through serious emotional churn: I didn’t realize it at the time, but most of what I’d thought of as My Life up to that point was about to be spaded over, and once the dirt was spread, the land would be sown with salt, much of it from my own tears.

Or some such overwrought nonsense. I may, however, have hastened my own downfall, since I could never have lived up to the persona I’d adopted. Most people, I surmise, don’t run this much risk.

And apparently there’s cultural precedent for this sort of thing. Timothy Burke writes that a byproduct of today’s social media is the massification of self-reinvention, at least for online consumption. Some of us may desire subtle shading, while others might seem to have greater ambition:

It’s not that we’ve been delivered into a brave new world of spectacularly predatory frauds and newly vulnerable victims, nor been gifted a utopian tool for social formation. Instead, it’s everyman a Lord Byron or George Eliot, if he or she wants to be. The crafting of gentler fictions of selfhood, performative shadings and experiments of our everyday personalities, through disseminated publication, is now a widely distributed possibility.

Wall Street being generally disdainful of Walmart, the spreading of a phenomenon from rarefied to routine will not be taken lightly:

[J]ust as in the rapid spread of mass consumption over a century ago, the rage and fear of many dismayed critics is as much about the displacement of their claim to social distinction as it is an analysis of the likely consequences of massification. If everyone can make a literary self or cultural avatar who stands in for them in the public sphere, then crafting a memorably exaggerated literary self like Norman Mailer or Mark Twain or Jonathan Franzen is not in itself anything remarkable. If millions are doing it, most of their inventions will be banal, confused or generic, but there will be enough whose reading of the zeitgeist leads to some memorable performative response so as to demonstrate that past literary lives were less special or extraordinary in their inventions than their celebrants have so often proclaimed.

So how hard did Sam Clemens have to work at being Mark Twain? It’s generally accepted that Pudd’nhead Wilson was a rush job, more than fifty thousand words in a single month, a desperate attempt to stay one step ahead of the creditors. As a schoolboy with severe writer’s block, I was duly impressed by Twain’s productivity, whatever his motivation. Now, as an old man with severe writer’s block, I am duly impressed by the thousands of people who are going to write novels of this length this November. I couldn’t tell you if most of them — any of them — have adopted special novel-writing personas for the occasion, but I suspect there’s no way you can turn out this much prose without being changed in some fashion or other.

Which, solipsist that I am, brings me back to me. I am no novelist, and I no longer go to the trouble of maintaining a fictionalized or exaggerated online self: my WYSIWYG conceals no bald spots. Yet I have to wonder if sheer volume has done the job for me; I’ve written millions of words on this site, and nearly a million on Twitter, fergoshsakes. I don’t feel any different; I don’t see myself bisected, a half that writes and a half that eats. But it’s impossible for me to see myself as I might have been had I not spent the last quarter-century online; nor, for that matter, am I possessed of the ability to see myself as others see me. I’d ask Bobby Burns, but he’s dealing with lice at the moment.

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Holy information leak!

On I-26 near Hendersonville, North Carolina:

Directions to Bat Cave

Incidentally, this is now Exit 49. I blame Commissioner Gordon.

(Sneaked out from under the watchful eye of Jeff Brokaw.)

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Ferris becomes a wheel

The Citadel/ABC Radio deal in 2007 originally required the sale of two Oklahoma City-area stations, KKWD and KINB, though eventually Citadel was allowed to reacquire KKWD. Ownership of KINB passed to a trust whose marching orders called for it to sell when someone wrote a check with enough digits on it.

Which someone has:

Spymedia LLC will pay $2M cash for the station in a deal filed almost a year after [Ferris O'Brien's] LMA of the Alternative outlet kicked off on 11/24/09.

You gotta love it. Two million American dollars for a 900-watt rimshooter. The Form 314 (Application for Assignment of License) has been accepted for filing. I should point out here that FCC approval of the transfer is not necessarily a foregone conclusion, but I really can’t see any reason why they’d turn it down: Ferris obviously knows how to run a radio station, and there’s family financial backing, which I’d bet is more solid than the sort most of us probably wouldn’t get from BigFarginBank, N.A.

If you haven’t heard the Spy, they’re at TheSpyFM.com.

(Seen here.)

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Damn chips control everything

Gwendolyn’s due in for a spa day later this month, and while the basic services aren’t particularly pricey — oil change, new filters all around, drop the pan and refresh the transmission fluid — there’s going to have to be some diagnostic work done, because one of those annoying dash lights won’t go away despite a total lack of symptoms. And I have yet to see an incident where this sort of thing didn’t cost me at least $500.

Then again, it could be a whole lot worse:

[A] BMW 335i owner recently found out the hard way that changing the radio prevented him from having his transmission serviced. How are these systems related? They aren’t, except the chassis computer wouldn’t let the transmission software be updated unless all systems were validated first. Lacking the original radio, that system couldn’t be validated, so the car couldn’t be fixed. Eventually, the owner found the original radio in a closet, but otherwise, he would have had to buy a new OEM radio to the tune of $700. He couldn’t use another used OEM radio because the OEM radio had to be uniquely paired to the car first, an operation that could only be performed once.

Even lowly Bluetooth can re-pair. Why the hell can’t BMW?

Oh. That’s why.

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Your 2010 State Questions

The fifth biennial roundup of ballot measures, eleven in all — plus a couple that actually aren’t on the ballot.

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You can’t do that

As a rule, you probably should not say this to someone who is actually doing it:

One night a guitarist friend from college stayed over. In the morning I found him sitting at my harp, pushing the pedals in a way that was distinctly non-harpistic. “Hey, check this out,” he said, “you said you couldn’t play a chromatic line here — but look, if you move these three pedals on this side and two on the other, you can do it.”

“But you can’t move three pedals on one side and two on the other,” I said. “It’s not possible on the harp.”

He looked at me for few seconds. “But I just did.”

This is the point where, if you’re wise, the light bulb — a traditional incandescent, none of this modern-day sacred-to-Gaia toxic-waste stuff — appears above your head with full illumination.

And eventually you discover that things like this are not only possible but actually come naturally to you:

Then again, you already know what I think about this particular artist.

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The First Church of Bob Dole

And may Bob Dole have mercy on our heathen souls:

The Scottish Episcopal Church has denied charges that its use of gender neutral language in its revisions to the 1982 Eucharistic liturgy marks a change in the church’s view on the nature of God. Inclusive language, the church said on Sept 6, merely reflected current speech patterns, and implied no theological changes.

It further stated that changes such as “God is love and we are his children” found in the Confession and Absolution to “God is love and we are God’s children” were drafted “in a way that reflects everyday speech and writing.”

Well, yeah, if you’re Bob Dole.

Times have changed, the SEC said, and since the 1982 liturgy was drafted “conventions have changed concerning the use of words which express gender, and the Church is merely seeking to reflect these in its worship. No change in our understanding of God is taking place.”

And you know, it could be worse. We could be talking about Jedi Knights trying to sound like Yoda.

(Via Christopher Johnson, this is.)

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Mary Sue and her sisters

Steph Mineart on Woody Allen:

His films are one big Mary Sue about how he’d like women to respond to him, and how much he hates women for not responding that way, and how he recruits men that women actually are attracted to in that way to treat the women badly, punishing them for not responding to Woody Allen in the way they respond to the more attractive men.

Which makes sense, given this description by Paula Smith:

[T]he truest mark of a Mary Sue is not how she’s described or what she does, but the effect the sheer fact of her existence in the story has on the other characters in the story. If program characters start worrying endlessly about her, or go all gooey because she’s just so darn cute or smart …

And Paula Smith knows her Mary Sues: she invented the term, in a Star Trek fan-fiction sendup she did back in the Seventies, while Woody Allen was still actually funny.

Me, I’m siding with that space alien in Stardust Memories: if Woody wanted to do mankind a real service, he’d tell funnier jokes.

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On the wings of a light-green bat

As reported here, fall 2005:

Chevrolet has put out a little twelve-page booklet which I found glued to the inside of one of the car mags this month. It’s called MEN, WOMEN AND THE TRUCK, subtitled A RELATIONSHIP HANDBOOK, and the bow-tie boys have managed to work in just about any vehicle-related sexual stereotype you can think of. I mean, here’s the opening: GIRLS PLAY WITH DOLLS. BOYS PLAY WITH TRUCKS. LET’S START THERE.

Here’s one they missed — or maybe were saving up for this year:

Rear view, 1959 Chevrolet

I’m pretty sure Manny, Moe and Jack had something to keep your beverage in place in 1959, even if you had a front bench seat.

On the Blatant Sexism scale, this ranks as exceedingly minor, but you’d think Government Motors would be wanting to avoid even the slightest appearance of such, at least until the stock offering is done.

(Via I See Invisible People.)

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Noms de spew

Bob (not her real name) argues that “authenticity,” whatever that is online, is not a function of whether you’re signing your material with your “real” name:

Some people argue that using a pen name is inauthentic and cowardly. Under some anonymous handle, a person would feel the freedom to say anything — including flinging vitriol like a souped-up Linda Blair — without repercussion. This, I think, is patently authentic rather than the other way around.

There’s certainly a tradition, at least in this country, of the Anonymous Pamphleteer, doing a hit-and-run on the powers that be. And unfortunately, there’s certainly a tradition, at least in this country, of the powers that be doing their best to silence their unknown assailant.

I have never bought into the idea that you can’t be taken seriously as a writer/blogger/whatever unless the name on your text matches the name on your birth certificate; while I’ve mostly eschewed pseudonyms in recent years, I had a fistful of them back in the 1980s and early 1990s, and I don’t think I’ve necessarily become any more responsible — or, depending on your point of view, any less irresponsible — by putting my John Hancock (not my real name) on my stuff.

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Behold the power of cheesecake

There have been a few somewhat-arguable photos on this site from time to time, though I don’t think I’ve ever quite stooped to this:

I’ve come across another internet tendency that really irritates me: blogs that use photos of a woman’s lower torso and legs, or just the legs, with a pair of panties or thongs down around her ankles as illustrations or headers on their blogs when the subject of those blogs is not “how to keep the elastic in my underwear from failing at a crucial moment.”

Although I have to admit this: upon reading that paragraph, I thought about raiding Lileks’ Art Frahm collection and putting up a blog on that very subject, though WordPress.com was not exactly keen on the idea of “howtokeeptheelasticinmyunderwearfromfailing.wordpress.com,” and I’d have to do a custom header, which means I’d spend more time than I wanted to spend reviewing the handful of themes that they permit. (I do keep my backup blog over there, albeit with stock artwork — with one exception, of course.)

Besides, it’s the men you have to worry about, descending-clothing-wise.

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Branded R

“Look! The cool kids have a new logo! What are we going to do about it?”

And the Grand Old Party thought about it for a moment, took another sip of salty water — good for the gums, you know — and brought forth this:

Not the new Republican Party logo

Magoo Rove, you’ve done it again.

(Inspired by Queens of the Stone Age.)

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Quote of the week

From a purely-philosophical standpoint, Tam hates the very idea of voting:

The fact that there are basic human rights that have been left to the the vagaries of snout-counting strikes me as a very basic flaw in our entire system of government. November should consist of a few dull Cincinnati dragged unwillingly to the meanest of public service by a handful of loyal followers, whereupon they will look out their office windows for a term and pine for the day when they can get back to doing something meaningful with their lives.

Of course, what we get are candidates who loudly proclaim the desire to “make a difference”; eleven or twelve dozen times out of a hundred they end up as an object lesson in Townshend’s Theory of the New Boss.

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391

“Still buzzing from StL,” reports Andrew Ian Dodge as he presents the 391st Carnival of the Vanities.

The following isn’t exactly buzzworthy, but I’ll do what I can. In Trask v. Maguire (85 US 391, 1873), the successor to the St. Louis and Iron Mountain Railroad, incorporated under the same name after the original railroad company was declared in default and was temporarily placed under the control of the State of Missouri, claimed the right to the same tax exemptions as had been granted to the original railroad, despite the changes in ownership and a subsequent Missouri statute which made the granting of such exemptions illegal. The court found for Maguire, the St. Louis tax collector; the judgment was affirmed upon appeal.

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Born under a bad URL

My youngest child is pushing 30, which means that these considerations never came up when he was born:

I’m sure people have always had long contested discussions with their partners and friends about naming, but I can’t help but laugh at the role that the Internet is playing in these conversations today. I clearly live in a tech-centric world so it shouldn’t be surprising that SEO and domain name availability are part of the conversation.

Now we’ve always heard that names, to the extent possible, should be “distinctive,” but “distinctive,” I submit, does not necessarily equal “first page of Google”; otherwise, we’d be awash in John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidts and such.

Besides, the kid might not want that kind of attention:

Sure, we all want our kids to be successful, but what if they’re not? And what if they don’t want to stand out? I always thought it was horrific when parents would name their kids ridiculous names that were destined for torturous middle school nicknames, but what does it mean to take it to the next level such that they stick out like sore thumbs online? It’s a lot easier to live down middle school than to live down a persistent digital identity.

If the Lord had meant us all to be in Wikipedia, we’d have all been born with a disambiguation page.

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Not a hollow star

You might remember Alexis Bledel from the Gilmore Girls TV series, which ran seven years on The WB and The CW. (Parenthetical note: What’s with the “The” on these networks? Also, why say “Parenthetical note” when it’s obviously in parentheses?)

Anyway, it’s her 29th birthday today, and I had this photo lying around, so…

Alexis Bledel

Besides, she’s not wearing those damned Traveling Pants.

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All right, get ‘em up

No, I didn’t mean your hands, mister:

The Minnesota Court of Appeals [Tuesday] upheld the conviction of a motorist whose pants fell down after he was ordered to put his hands up. Judge Kevin Ross noted on behalf of the three-judge panel considering the case that previous courts had never considered a search quite like the one conducted on Frank Irving Wiggins as he was ordered out of his car in the parking lot of a St. Paul White Castle in November 2008.

You know, if this happened in a movie, people would be jeering about the lack of realism:

Officer Kara Breci had seen Wiggins in his idling vehicle and assumed he was involved in a drug deal since he was not eating. Breci investigated. After she saw a rear-seat passenger with a bag that looked like it contained marijuana, she ordered Wiggins and two passengers out of the car with hands on their head. The loose-fitting jeans Wiggins had been wearing immediately fell to the ground. As Breci pulled up Wiggins’s pants, she felt an object that turned out to be a .380 pistol in his pocket. Because of his prior convictions, Wiggins was arrested and convicted by a district court for unlawful possession of a firearm.

Stoners at White Castle? Whoever heard of such a thing?

Anyway, it is the finding of the court that contrary to Wiggins’ argument, Officer Breci’s search did not actually begin until after she made the adjustment to Wiggins’ pants.

Mental note: You know, I haven’t bought a new belt in over two years.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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