And in the end, it wasn’t even close

After dawdling a bit, City Council this morning finally got around to Ed Shadid’s proposal to extend the city’s nondiscrimination protection to gay employees and applicants; it passed 7-2.

There being eight actual members of Council, this means that Mayor Cornett must have voted in favor of the measure. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting him to:

On page 4 of Hard News Online’s Pride Guide [2006], there are welcome letters from Jim Roth (District 1 County Commissioner), John Whetsel (County Sheriff), Sam Bowman (Council Ward 2) and Ann Simank (Council Ward 6). Conspicuously absent: Mayor Cornett. Says an Editor’s Note: “Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett did not respond to Hard News Online’s request for a welcome letter to be included in this Pride Guide.”

Then again, Cornett was running for Congress at that time (he lost), and it is apparently de rigueur for Republican candidates in this state to exhibit some sort of nose-upturned aversion to Teh Ghey. Oklahoma City Council, however, is “nonpartisan,” kinda sorta.

Among the citizens at Council this morning was Steve Vineyard, pastor of Windsor Hills Baptist Church, who is quoted as saying that half of all murders in large cities are committed by gay people. Um, Reverend Steve, I hate to break it to you, but you don’t acquire expertise on the subject of homosexuality by pulling statistics out of your ass.

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This ain’t no catwalk

Despite my techie-sounding position at 42nd and Treadmill, I spend rather a lot of time vertically. This is probably a good thing, since too sedentary an existence has a definite tendency to allow me to channel my inner Jabba-the-Huttness, but I am also old and decrepit and have a lowish tolerance for discomfort.

Now I am a fan of New Balance shoes, and have been for several years. However, I must note that their idea of an insole seems a bit on the flimsy side, and it contributes little in the way of arch support. Last time I went shoe shopping, I picked up a couple of aftermarket insoles, and yesterday I put them to work in the newer pair of walkers.

Which was not perhaps the greatest idea I ever had. All that wonderfully-inflexible stuff on the back half of the insole pitched me forward about three degrees of arc and relocated my usual Discomfort Zones: my knees didn’t hurt as much, but hip motion seemed to be hampered a bit.

“Yeah, right,” say the women. “Try some high heels sometime.” Thanks, but I’ll pass. If half an inch throws me off this far, I’m not even thinking about elevator shoes.

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More grunt, fewer gears

Dodge is reviving the fabled Super Bee package on the Charger, with a matching Yellow Jacket Challenger, at the SRT-8 trim level. Unlike their six-cylinder brethren, who get a ZF-built 8-speed automatic, these two buzzbombs come either with a 6-speed stick (to be preferred) or the aging 5-speed automatic from the Daimler days. Jack Baruth offers three possible explanations for the absence of OctoTranny:

a) they don’t have enough of the transmissions available

b) they haven’t had time to complete testing

c) the HEMI 6.4 would turn the 8-speed into a magnesium box full of aluminum dust.

Baruth is betting on c), and there’s plenty of precedent for it. In the mid-70s, Mercedes-Benz decided to issue a sequel to the legendary 300SEL 6.3, and the only slushbox they had that could take the gaff from the 6.9 V8 they shoehorned under the nose of the 450SEL was a three-speed, even though other Benzes at the time routinely sported four. Similarly, the Porsche 911 Turbo of that era, known internally as 930, would apparently grenade the standard Stuttgart five-speed manual, and was duly fitted with four on its floor until its last model year.

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Bank shot

Why Ginormous Bank, N.A. (Member FDIC) seems to be acting so funny — not funny ha-ha, but funny indifferent — these days:

[T]imes are tough. Banks are having a hard time finding customers who look like they might actually be able to repay their loans. So they aren’t lending out so much money, which means they don’t need to borrow as much from the Fed, so they don’t need as much collateral in the form of deposits. Banks don’t really want customers. They are a nuisance. They come into the actual building, take up space, and take up teller’s time with their niggling little requests. The only reason they put up with customers is so they can get those deposits. But now they don’t need as much in the way of deposits, so they don’t need so many customers, so they came up with this scheme to drive them away. First by charging fees for things that used to be free, and second by goading / hiring some rabble rousers to make a big stink about it. The whole point is to drive away small, nit-picky customers, the ones who are liable to cost them more money than they are worth.

If you’re in the vaunted 99%, you’re lucky to be getting 0.1% on your bank account these days. (I’m not getting that much.)

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Turn around, bright eyes

Derpy Hooves drawn by crackedvinylWarning: Much heavier-than-usual My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic content to follow. I am not making this up. You have been warned.

We begin here:

I’m almost done crocheting another Pony. This one this time is a grey Pegasus with yellow hair, who goes (alternatively, depending on the show vs. fanfics) by the name of Ditzy Doo, or Derpy, or Bright Eyes.

It’s actually kind of interesting — does it sound too precious to say, “sociologically”? — to see how different fans relate to this pony that has no real backstory in the show, who was really just a one-off joke by an animator (giving a background pony “derpy” eyes — making her look sort of wall-eyed). Some fans see her as “challenged” in some way (there’s actually a very, very sad fanfiction called “Bubbles” that addresses this). Others seem to treat her like she’s a little bit crazy. Still others — and I think this is the camp I fall into — see her as basically “OK,” or at least not messed-up in a clinical sense, but maybe a little scatterbrained and absent-minded and clumsy. (We can all be a little “derpy” at times). It’s funny, there does seem to be much fan love for her — and the writers of the show have put her in the background of a number of episodes and even apparently named her Ditzy Doo.

At this point, I deemed it necessary to read that fanfic. (Warning: “very, very sad” understates the case. And for Equestria’s sake, don’t eat muffins while reading it.)

Of course, fanfic is not canon. (Here’s something closer to the “actual” origins of Derpy.) Still, I find it somehow heartening that she gets so much fan love. Now if only our less-than-perfect humans — which, technically, means every last one of us — could somehow tap into this well of appreciation.

(Derpy picture by “crackedvinyl”; original on deviantArt.)

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Cuoco and marshmallows

Kaley Cuoco on crutchesActress Kaley Cuoco, shown here in a shot from last fall following an actual, um, fall — ’twas a horse-riding accident, in which she broke her leg and missed a couple of episodes of The Big Bang Theory — gets the 20Q treatment in the December Playboy. (And, yes, there’s a far sexier picture of her in the magazine, though nothing untoward, and nothing so compelling that I need to fire up the scanner for it.) The first question they (“they” being Stephen Rebello, who does a lot of these for Hef) was whether art imitates BBT, in terms of her ability to melt the hearts of geeky guys. What she said was this:

“From what I’ve been told and what I’ve observed, men seem to be intimidated by me. So I have to take the reins. I’m a bitch — like, the boldest person ever — so I’ll go up to anybody and say, ‘You’re absolutely friggin’ adorable. Let’s go out.’ They usually look at me with giant scared Ren and Stimpy eyes. But what’s the worst that can happen if I ask them? I have to be honest. I don’t think they’re going to say no.”

Ren and Stimpy with giant scared eyesI am told that I do this look to perfection, though it will win me no Brownie points, and anyway it doesn’t matter all that much, since I don’t come to within a parsec and a half of “absolutely friggin’ adorable” and I have no reason to expect that I’ll be asked anything more complicated than the time. Still, you have to give the girl credit for going after what she wants, or at least for having gone after what she wanted, since after the magazine went to press, she announced her engagement to Josh Resnik, an “addiction specialist” — I guess he has a staff position at a rehab clinic — who at various times in his life has played bass for Danzig.

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Raise the Cain back up

The suggestion that Herman Cain’s Presidential campaign has been temporarily, perhaps permanently, derailed (as mentioned, for instance, here) does not sit well with KingShamus:

Look, if Herman Cain truly is a serial sexual creep, then it’s over for him. But so far what evidence do we have here? His accusers just aren’t credible. Their stories don’t make sense. We’re left with unsubstantiated crap that should be at the bottom of Jonathan Martin’s garbage can instead of on the front page of Politico.

I await the ultimate explanation of the differences, if any, between Politico and Martin’s trash bin.

Meanwhile, says KS, this is not exactly an opportunity for the also-rans to move up:

Nobody is expecting Santorum supporters or Huntsman fans or anybody else to switch sides. If you support another candidate, feel free to continue to do so. But if you think you can build your dude up by using a left-wing hit job to tear Cain down, you’re just the guy feeding your buddies to an alligator in the hopes that the predator eats you last.

Like the gator is gonna forget about you after you gave him all that free food. Fat chance of that.

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I am he as you are he as you are me and EMI is shattered

Or perhaps shuttered, depending on how this particular story unwinds:

EMI, the venerable music company that is home to the Beatles, the Beach Boys and the Motown song catalog, has been sold for $4.1 billion through a pair of deals that usher in a new wave of consolidation in the music industry.

In a complex sale brokered by Citigroup, the Universal Music Group, a division of the French conglomerate Vivendi, will absorb EMI’s recorded music operations for $1.9 billion, while EMI’s music publishing division will be sold for $2.2 billion to a consortium of investors led by Sony, the companies announced on Friday.

Assuming all the regulatory hurdles are met, this means there are only three “major” labels left — or perhaps two and a half, since number-three Warner Music Group is much smaller than either Universal or Sony. (Think GM/Ford/Chrysler.)

Background:

EMI, a British company with roots dating to 1887, has been in financial turmoil since 2007 when Terra Firma, a private equity firm, bought it for $8.4 billion using the $5.5 billion loan from Citi. The bank seized EMI in February after the label defaulted on the loan.

Conventional wisdom holds that the music industry is in dire straits these days, so I have to figure that Citi was happy to get $4.1 billion out of this mess.

The music-publishing deal is not so straightforward as the record-label deal:

Sony’s bid was financed by a hodgepodge of investors including Blackstone’s GSO Capital Partners unit; Mubadala, the investment arm of Abu Dhabi; Jynwel Capital, from Malaysia; and the media mogul David Geffen. The group was corralled by Robert Wiesenthal, chief financial officer of the Sony Corporation of America.

I have to believe Wiesenthal when he says:

“It has been a long process, but something that people have viewed as difficult — the problems in the financial markets — ended up accruing to our benefit. We found long-term investors, who are not just looking at the short-term returns typical of private equity.”

And music publishing is definitely a long-term operation, with copyrights lasting decades and royalties mandated by statute.

The one hypermogul in the bunch, David Geffen, now has history with all three companies: in addition to his unspecified portion of EMI Music Publishing, to be run by Sony, his Asylum imprint belongs to Warner, and the Geffen/DGC labels were sold to Universal.

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Strange search-engine queries (302)

There are those who say that Google has poised itself to take over the world. I’d argue that Google is only as strong as its user base, and the evidence gathered here weekly indicates that some of those users have an awful lot of varnish in their carburetors, if you know what I mean.

buick electra 62 skirts:  Didn’t work worth a darn if you paid extra for the wire wheels.

“cookie fascist”:  Evidently the Occupy Sesame Street movement is getting personal.

involuntary celibacy and castration:  “Name two things preferable to getting involved with the Kardashians.”

Weak point Mazda 626 Transmission:  Usually it’s the owner who never looks at the fluid.

what’s with all this retro cuteness:  We remember younger, happier, sweeter times, before credit default swaps and qualitative easing.

people who must die:  Technically, all of them, though some of them I will not mourn so much.

pluck the dirty birds:  I’d be content just to keep the filthy so-and-sos from crapping on my car.

define: unintended reinforcement:  “So you went back with another stick and poked that wasps’ nest again?”

Part of George Washington’s body replaced with:  Folger’s Crystals, but it was done secretly.

Blecher Blecher and Lowball Attorneys Tulsa:  Inquire discreetly around the corner from Mayor Bartlett’s office.

barely 140 iq:  “What would you get if you combined all the brainpower in the President’s cabinet?”

reality show with a fart meter tnn:  Well, they certainly wouldn’t put it on Lifetime.

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Just back away from the computer

If you recognize more than a handful of these references, you’ve spent too much time at the screen.

As I have, I suppose I should admit.

(Discovered at FAIL Blog’s WIN!)

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Oh, and by the way, hi-ho

It wasn’t enough to find a real-life Miss Havisham? How would you like a real-life Snow White?

Margarete moved out of Waldeck when she was about 17 years old, headed for Brussels. When she got there, her beauty attracted the attention of Philip II of Spain. Apparently someone didn’t care for the idea of Philip marrying Margarete, and she fell gravely ill. Most people thought she was poisoned.

Or, alternatively:

Maria grew up in a castle in Lohr, Germany. The castle is a museum today, and if you visit, you’ll be able to look into a certain famous mirror. It’s believed that Maria’s father, Prince Philipp Christoph von Erthal, gave the looking glass to his second wife as a gift.

Okay, maybe if you fused the two together. Waldeck, incidentally, was a mining town, and children worked in those mines, and children tend to be, um, not so tall.

(Via the fairest of them all, Miss Cellania.)

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Think of the monograms

I admit to finding this a bit surprising:

[M]ost women still take their husband’s last name upon marriage. While no national statistics exist, some recent studies suggest that women keeping their own name is actually becoming less popular. And a recent nationally representative survey found that half of Americans support women being legally required to take their husband’s name upon marriage. These traditional attitudes persist even as divorce, remarriage, gay marriage and blended families make naming more complex.

Now when I was dealing with this matter, way back in the last century, the argument was made that keeping one surname, preferably his, was done primarily for the benefit of the children, though if you pressed officials on the matter, they’d tell you that there was a lot to be said for minimizing paperwork, and if everyone just took the defaults it would make life easier for everyone.

But I’m not going to be arbitrary about this. I believe in all that “till-death-us-do-part” business, but I can’t work up any enthusiasm for legally requiring her to adopt his last name. We don’t have coverture anymore; the legal system in general no longer requires all the legal rights of a couple to be vested in the husband, though I suspect there are still some sticky points here and there.

I will note that my ex went on to a second spouse with initials similar to mine, and explained it, somewhat teasingly, as being made necessary by all the existing monogrammed stuff; this way, she said, she didn’t have to change anything. By the time Number Three rolled around, this statement was evidently inoperative.

(Via Glenn Reynolds.)

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Scenes from what was a marriage

The story does not begin here:

In the morning she presented her divorce conditions: she didn’t want anything from me, but needed a month’s notice before the divorce. She requested that in that one month we both struggle to live as normal a life as possible. Her reasons were simple: our son had his exams in a month’s time and she didn’t want to disrupt him with our broken marriage.

I’m not going to tell you how it ends.

(Via Rebecca Black. Seriously.)

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With room for shovels and rakes

This is, you’ll remember, a Volkswagen Type 2, referred to by some of us as a Microbus.

A 2012 VW Microbus, mind you.

2012 VW Type 2

We’re not getting them here, of course, but they will be offered for sale in the Netherlands:

[W]hile the buses went out of production a long time ago in Europe and the states, South Americans have been enjoying unfettered access to the Type 2 (currently sold there as the Kombi) for decades. The Type 2s slated for the streets of Holland will be built in Brazil with their South American-market counterparts and then shipped to the Dutch market.

It’s not entirely the same as it ever was — the engine, a whole 1.4 liters in displacement, still has four cylinders, though now it’s water-cooled, and top speed is a whopping 81 mph — but the Brazilians have been building some form of the Type 2 since 1950. An unsourced report claims that new safety regulations in Brazil will make the Kombi unsalable there, so exporting them to Europe may be VW’s only way to keep the production line going.

Inasmuch as I learned to drive in one of these contraptions — a 1969 Type 2 that looked very much like this, minus the camper paraphernalia and the sort-of-grille — I have a certain sentimental fondness for these old Teutonic death traps.

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Probing analysis

Robert Stacy McCain, having made it to the thriving semi-metropolis of Spartanburg, South Carolina, noted in passing that he’s in an “econo-rental (a black Ford Probe, $86 for the weekend)”.

I must inform you that he didn’t go down there to take advantage of BMW Performance Center Delivery on a brand-spanking-new Bimmer. More’s the pity.

What’s remarkable here, I think, is that someone is still renting Ford Probes, which haven’t been made since 1997. They weren’t wretchedly built or anything — I had a ’93 Mazda 626, which was built off the same platform at the same UAW plant in Michigan — but no one thought of these cars as being exactly heirlooms, if you know what I mean; at the very least, I have to figure that by now the paint has oxidized and the valve-cover gasket has sprung at least one leak.

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Debt retirement

Once again seemingly out of step with the rest of the nation, Oklahoma has reduced its unfunded pension liability:

Pension reforms implemented earlier this year have reduced the state’s pension debt by $5.5 billion. This is the largest single-year debt reduction in Oklahoma history, lawmakers were informed [Thursday].

Thanks to recently enacted reforms, the unfunded liability of all the state pension plans has fallen from over $16 billion to $10.6 billion, officials announced.

This works out to an 11-percentage-point gain, from 56 percent funded to 67.

And what might those reforms be?

The reforms enacted this year included House Bill 2132, which requires a funding source before cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) can be granted, and several acts that increased the retirement age for future employees.

It’s probably unreasonable to expect another 11-point gain next year — for one thing, this would require investment results at least as good as the state’s asset managers got this year — but it’s clearly a step in the right direction, and it was done without declaring war on state employees.

(Grabbed from The McCarville Report.)

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