While your lawn dies

If you’ve seen late-Forties side streets in this town, you’ve seen concrete cracks a block long in various shades of green, courtesy of the vegetation that’s been growing in them for the last few decades. Traffic, of course, cuts it down to size on a regular basis.

For a few months, there was an apparently immobile Volkswagen — and not one of the cute ones, either — hard against the curb up the street. The strange grasslike substance, now protected from traffic, just grew and grew and grew. A couple of days ago, it was tall enough to reach over the Vee Dub’s bumper.

The city ticketed the offending vehicle, which was removed sometime yesterday. (By what means I do not know, but I’d be very surprised if it departed under its own power.) I brought out the trusty garden shears, walked up the block, and scissored the weed at street level. This won’t kill it by any means, but it’s a matter of principle, dammit.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Perhaps I should check WTF

Nancy Friedman reports that there are currently eighty-five live trademarks registered with the US Patent and Trademark Office incorporating “OMG,” of which the earliest might be OMG Object Management Group, which dates to 1991, well before you sent your first SMS text.

Then there’s “omg!” Yahoo! uses this version, lower case plus exclamation point, for its celebrity subsite. And if there’s anything that needs lower case, it’s celebrity news. Despite this, all the feature links appear in VERY LARGE CAPS.

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I guess they just do

While tracking down the historical details for an earlier post, I tripped over this 1963 clip of yeh-yeh girls Les Gam’s, complete with apostrophe, doing a cute version à la française of “Why Do Lovers Break Each Others’ Hearts,” a spiffy Phil Spector/Ellie Greenwich/Tony Powers tune originally recorded by Bob B. Soxx and the Blue Jeans. Les Gam’s aren’t quite as marvelous as Darlene Love, but then who is?

Never you mind how I landed on this.

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Kilowatt or two

Jennifer is impressed with the savings she’s getting on time-of-use pricing of electricity:

According to our most recent statement, which arrived in the mail late last week, we saved more than $170 over the same billing period last year. We reduced our kilowatt hours by 1159.

This actually impresses me, since my total usage for the most recent period was 1251 kWh, versus 1542 one year ago, so I saved 291 kWh, and I’m not even on the program, though I do look at their weekly energy-use updates. I attribute this to running the A/C at 74 instead of 73, though in July I’m lucky if it gets down to 75 before bedtime.

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Sad commentary of the week

Possibly the year.

Adam Gurri’s Stories of Progress and Stagnation, which you should read even if it takes you all day, contains this wonderfully rueful sentence:

At Founder’s Fund, the venture capital firm at which [Peter] Thiel is a partner, they have a saying: “we wanted flying cars, and instead we got 140 characters.”

Feel free to tweet this.

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Now if it could only vacuum itself

Research. Is there anything (else) it can’t do?

Functional coatings, for example with highly water-resistant or antibacterial properties, have at their surface nano-sized molecular groups that provide these specific properties. But up to now, these molecular groups are easily and irreversibly damaged by minor contact with their surface (such as by scratching), quickly causing their properties to be lost. This has been a big limitation to the possible applications of these coatings. Researcher Catarina Esteves of the department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry at TU/e and her colleagues have now found a solution to this problem. They have done this by developing surfaces with special ‘stalks’ carrying the functional chemical groups at their ends, and mixing these through the coating. If the outer surface layer is removed by scratching, the ‘stalks’ in the underlying layer re-orient to the new surface, thereby restoring the function.

This development can be of great importance for many applications. For example it will be possible to make a self-cleaning car, with a highly water-resistant coating that keeps this self-cleaning property for long periods. The superficial scratches will be self-repaired and the water droplets simply roll off the car, taking dirt with them. An occasional rain shower is all that’s needed to keep the car clean.

Of course, it can’t work with really deep cuts through the coating, but you can’t have everything, can you? Dr Esteves says this process could be made production-ready in six to eight years.

(A Jack Baruth special at The Truth About Cars.)

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With August yet to come

Lileks wanders into the mall and encounters a time-displacement phenomenon. And he does not like it, no sirree, does not like it at all:

There were great sales on clothes, because July is when everyone starts thinking about wearing heavy brown stuff, right? Aren’t we all just itching to get into fall clothes? TO HELL WITH THAT. Target has school stuff up: TO HELL WITH THAT. There will come a day when something in the air, something in the angle of the sun, something in the quality of light through the leaves, makes me think: Oatmeal. Leaves. Nip in the air. Woodsmoke. Halloween delights. But on behalf of July, still standing, hand on the doorknob of the exit, TO HELL WITH THAT.

Although, you know, I won’t mind a whole lot if August moves along at high speed and gets out of the way. Apart from my daughter’s birthday, the only thing that happens in August is that I will be handed the worst electric bill of the year, which I don’t find particularly endearing.

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This is UTV

For you, the viewer!

No. Wait a minute. This isn’t UTV. This is Me-TV, and it’s coming to OKC. From the press release:

Weigel Broadcasting Co. and Hearst Television announced today an affiliation agreement in which five additional Hearst markets will carry Me-TV. Those local stations will be WCVB, Boston; KCRA, Sacramento; WBAL, Baltimore; KOCO, Oklahoma City and WXII, Greensboro. This brings the total of Hearst’s Me-TV affiliates to 13. In addition, Hearst has extended its commitment to the network with the renewal of its existing Me-TV affiliate agreements to 2015. The launch date of the stations is TBD.

The Me-TV Network now clears more than 82% of the country, serving more than 128 affiliates.

I assume KOCO will slot this into channel 5.3, which would put it right next to This TV, co-owned by Weigel and MGM.

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From 1968, three French girls dressed like British birds model Austrian hosiery:

Ergee hosiery advertisement from 1968

Ergee, the brand, was founded in Saxony in 1901; underlings of the Soviet Union — the German Democratic Republic had not yet been proclaimed — confiscated their facilities in 1948, and they relocated, first to the southern tip of Bavaria, then to Austria. In 2008 they went broke, as did everyone else in the world, and were acquired by KiK, a German retailer of discount clothing known for its low prices and its oddly-shaped retail racks.

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In the year 9595

Or maybe 12,012, depending on how things go and who’s counting:

Presuming humans are still around — or some kind of intelligent-life successor to humans — 10,000 years hence, what will they be able to learn from OUR culture? Even with writing, so much of it is lost, or its meaning is (Have they completely deciphered Linear B? I know that was a particularly tough one). What will we leave to future peoples? (Or, as I think in my more pessimistic moods, will we all just wind up destroying ourselves and intelligent life, at least on Earth, cease to exist?)

I persist in thinking that we’ll leave. Period. As in “off the planet entirely.” The logistics of such an operation being what they are, only a comparative handful will actually be making the trek toward the stars; the rest, I think in my more pessimistic moods, will destroy one another once they discover that they’re not going to get to go.

That said, I don’t expect this ball of rock to be totally devoid of sentient life at that point, though the top of the food chain may not be what we think of these days as humanoid. Then again, if the only artifact surviving from this era is Fifty Shades of Grey, perhaps we deserved to die off.

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The last round up

Not that it’s unusual to miss the point after an atrocity mislabeled as a tragedy, which the Aurora moviehouse massacre certainly was, but as Jennifer points out, those scary 100-round magazines do actually serve a valuable purpose.

To wit, apparently they malfunction a hell of a lot:

They are heavy and cumbersome. Difficult to maneuver and unreliable. We should be hoping that every psychopath buys them by the pallet load. Funny that Sen Lautenberg should choose the shooter in Arizona as part of his argument. It was when his gun jammed also due to the high-capacity magazine that he was tackled and his attack brought to an end.

This is one reliable characteristic of psychopaths generally: they have an awfully high regard for their own competence, whether or not it’s the least bit justified.

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But hey, at least it’s expensive

Aaron Renn’s article “Why I Don’t Live in Indianapolis” is drawing rather a lot of heat — about 100 comments so far — for observations like this:

I cannot name another major city in the United States where the city’s own developer community (including Flaherty and Collins, the developer of this property), own architectural firms (including CSO Architects, who designed this) and own city government so consistently produce subpar development.

Including this block of tenements for the proletariat, which not only “sucks out loud” but earned an actual condemnation from the state Fire Marshal.

But this is the crux of the biscuit:

Indianapolis is the place where, as a rule, not good enough is more than good enough for most people, even community leadership.

Much as I hate to say so, it’s not the only such place.

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It hurts when I do this

The proper response — not just the funny one — is “Don’t do that”:

Pain is not a sign of gain, it’s a sign of damage.

I tried jumping rope the other day. The next morning the tendons in my ankles were playing an unhappy tune. I felt an unaccountable urge to “work through the pain.” Then I slapped myself (not hard enough to hurt) and said, “Okay, that’s it, no more jumping rope.” That pain has gone away.

Francis W. Porretto has issued a pain scale from 0 to 10; anything much above a 3, I’d say, should be taken as a warning. If you absolutely must “feel the burn,” you might try snuggling up to an arc welder.

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The man from Peaceable Mountain

Remembering the late Gene Stipe, who lived 85 years, spending 53 of them in the Oklahoma Legislature.

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First, the view

Sgt. Mom gives me some advice as I toil away on this goofy manuscript:

[T]the only response an author should make for a favorable, or even mildly critical review — and even if any response should be made is debatable among the cognoscenti — is, “Thank you for your consideration.” For a critical or scathing review — no response at all is best. There is no crying in baseball, and there should be no whining from authors; especially not to the extent of setting up a website to complain about being bullied. You put your stuff out there for everyone with the interest or the wherewithal to read it. Accept that there will be a number among them who will not like it, miss the point entirely, fail to grasp the whole point … well, grownups and professionals bleed about that silently and move on. Comfort yourself with those reviews and the appreciation of people who did get the point, and who loooooove it.

I’ve had something like fifty years to hone this particular skill, and if I’m not sharp enough by now, whose fault is that? Right.

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