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 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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Advance warning

In the spring of 2012, Advance Publications announced that its New Orleans newspaper, the Times-Picayune, would cut its publication schedule to three days a week in an effort to cut costs, and staff would be commensurately reduced. That fall, the Advocate, a Baton Rouge paper still running seven days a week, added a New Orleans edition. Smarting at this intrusion into what was once their territory, the TP went back to a full schedule, sort of: the broadsheet version still comes out three times a week, but a newsstand-only tabloid edition appears on three other days. (How you count the Sunday paper, which first appears on Saturday, is up to you.)

Advance has now announced the imposition of a TP-like schedule on their Cleveland paper:

While [the Plain Dealer] will continue to publish a print edition daily, the paper will be home-delivered only on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Other Advance papers have adopted, or are about to adopt, similar schedules, the major exception for now being the Star-Ledger in New Jersey.

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That doesn’t love a wall

You may remember the 2008 film Role Models, starring Paul Rudd and Seann William Scott as a couple of energy-drink salesmen who end up having to perform community service in lieu of going to jail for a couple of auto-related misdemeanors.

The poster for the Stateside release was relatively mild-mannered, apart from what appears to be a nod to the cover of Who’s next:

Poster for Role Models

In France — though not in French-speaking Québec, where the title was simply translated into Des Gars Modèles — the film was retitled Les Grands Frères — “The Big Brothers” — and the poster focused on neither of them:

Read the rest of this entry »

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You may already be a Weiner

Vox Day, noting that all previous Fed chairmen have been male elite Jews, proposes an appropriate successor to Ben Bernanke:

Carlos Danger would be the perfect Fed Chairman. Set him up with a webcam, and internet connection and a Twitter account called @bigphatmoneymaker and he’ll happily spend his time at the office sending inflationary pictures to starstruck land whales instead of sending trillions of inflationary credit dollars to undercapitalized European banks. The global economy will be saved, the Lizard Queen’s reputation will no longer be sullied by association, and the women’s magazines will devote cover after cover to “The Glamorous Woman Behind the Fed”.

The bi-factional ruling party is happy. The media is happy. Hoi polloi is happy. Everybody wins.

In fact, I’m thinking this could justify using Weiner in any of a hundred different positions.

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The Number One question in the world

“What Would Happen If the Whole World Peed in the Ocean at Once?” Several things, in fact, though nothing really earthshaking.

1.  About the same proportion of water to salt, but more nitrogen:

Where the composition of a person’s urine strays a bit from that of seawater is with the components creatinine and urea. Both compounds are routes the body uses to get rid of nitrogen. Creatinine is a nitrogen-heavy cyclic compound that is a breakdown by-product of energy-laden molecules in muscle. It’s only present in the average person’s urine at about 0.7 g/L. Urea, on the other hand, is more concentrated: It’s present at about 9 g/L. Because it’s high in nitrogen, the molecule is frequently used as a fertilizer, but it’s also applied in topical creams as a moisturizing factor.

2.  Still, we’re talking relatively low volumes here:

There are 7 billion people on the planet. Let’s just say that all of them relieved themselves in the Atlantic Ocean at once (the Atlantic and its adjacent seas have a collective volume of 3.5 x 1020 L), there would be about 6 x 10-11 g/L of urea in that body of water. If you’re a chemist and you think in terms of moles, that’s about 1 picomolar urea, a pretty tiny concentration for a highly unlikely situation in only one of the oceans of the world.

3.  And the creatures who live there load up the joint even more assiduously than we do:

[A] fin whale (slender body, found in the North Atlantic, 16 times the length of a human on average) pees at a rate of 970 L/day and excretes amounts of sodium and chloride 23 times as high as do humans. Please feel free to use these fun facts as a conversation starter at your next cocktail party.

Which means that no matter how much we whiz off the pier, we’re never going to upset the existing equilibrium in the seas: we just don’t produce enough of the stuff. This does not mean, of course, that we can dump just any old thing in the oceans and expect no consequences, especially if there’s a whole lot of said thing.

(Via this Jennifer Ouellette tweet.)

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The centipedes hunt at night

Did I mention that they’re large and carnivorous? Brian J. did, and he had good reason to:

“I was climbing up to Devil’s Tea Table down near Kissee Mills and grabbed a stick to pull myself up,” [Jerry] Maynard recalled about his July 17 hiking trip. “This thing was on the back side of the stick and got me on my right index finger. It felt like someone had stuck a hot soldering iron under my skin.”

After that, of course, things got worse.

The arthropod in question appears to be Scolopendra heros. And I don’t mind telling you, if I’m going to see 21 or 23 pairs of legs, I’d much rather be looking at the Rockettes.

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And they’ll lay you down low and easy

Warner Bros. Records has announced a four-CD deluxe version of Van Morrison’s Moondance, including outtakes and other session material. This release is anxiously awaited by some fans, but not by Van the Man himself, who said:

“I did not endorse this, it is unauthorised and it has happened behind my back. My management company at that time gave this music away 42 years ago and now I feel as though it’s being stolen from me again.”

Personal note: No, I don’t think a 4-CD set from a single album is excessive. I actually own a 4-CD box of Pet Sounds.

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