That’s some fine police work there, Mel

The police chief of Valley Brook, Oklahoma, a quarter-square-mile enclave within southeast Oklahoma City, is in moderately deep doo-doo with the law:

Melvin Martin Fisher Jr., 47, was arraigned [in Sapulpa] Tuesday on one charge of drug trafficking, two charges of unlawful possession of a controlled drug with intent to distribute and one charge of unlawful possession of drug paraphernalia, according to Creek County court records.

Fisher was released Monday on $31,000 bail from the Creek County jail, court records show.

“They are accusing him of being in possession of 20 grams of methamphetamine and some quantity of marijuana,” said Rob Henson, Fisher’s attorney.

Inasmuch as Valley Brook’s entire economy is based on traffic tickets and titty bars, I somehow had the feeling that Chief Fisher might not be your basic Ward Cleaver type.

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Semi-Swede

Lots of Volvos around this town have been fitted with a fake-Euro plate up front — Oklahoma doesn’t issue a front plate — that says “SWEDISH,” as though you couldn’t tell. Except, of course, that nowadays things are different:

For decades, Volvo wore its Swedishness on its sleeve, emphasizing the values that made Ikea, Abba and Swedish porn so popular in the US … even when it was an outpost of the Ford empire. And then the unthinkable happened: Chinese up-and-comer Li Shufu bought the brand and rolled it into his Geely empire. In the world of national-character-branding, being bought by a Chinese firm is something like hiring Casey Anthony as a brand ambassador.

Ouch. So what does Volvo do now to avoid the stereotype of Cheap Chinese Crap? CEO Stefan Jacoby floats this notion:

One weakness of Volvo cars is the exposure to the U.S. dollar, so we are investigating increasing our sourcing in North America. The utmost solution would be to have a North American industrial footprint. We haven’t made up our mind.

Sweden’s other automaker, assuming it’s still functioning at the time you read this, has never been able to afford to be picky; in recent years, some Saabs have been sourced from Japan (9-2X, a Subaru design), the US (9-7X, an artificially-Swedened Chevy TrailBlazer), and Mexico (9-4X, cousin to the Cadillac SRX). This may explain why I’ve never seen one of those “SWEDISH” tags on a Saab.

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Watchers watching on watch

Students mentoring students

The only thing that could be funnier about this would be if that byline belonged to a reporter working for a paper in, oh, let’s say, Mentor, Ohio. (Okay, it’s actually in Willoughby, but it’s on Mentor Avenue [US 20], and anyway she’s moved on.)

(From Criggo.com via Miss Cellania.)

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Choose your shoes

I have not gone to a whole lot of trouble trying to figure out any individual woman’s shoe-selection criteria, on the semi-sensible basis that a few weeks of observation will tell me everything I need to know. Then again, I’m not in a position to observe anyone on more than a part-time basis, which means I will consider myself fortunate to have run across someone who puts her criteria in writing:

  • No peep toe. My second toe is longer than the first and it gets squished out the peep hole. It’s not cute. Actually, it’s really hideous.
  • Must have platform. This is to provide a buffer between my feet and the marble floors at the Capitol.
  • The sides of the heel can’t come up too far because it will rub my ankle bones.
  • I like a strap across the front. Or a zip-up front. This keeps the shoe from falling off my foot when they get all sweaty.
  • If there are straps, I like them to have non-conspicuous elastic attached.
  • I like heels or wedges better because flats end up being just as uncomfortable and probably not looking as cute.

If this sounds like a lot, it’s way shorter than her list of requirements for a lot with a house on it (at the same link).

This is, of course, an attempt to stir up conversation.

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Even if we’re just dancing in the dark

Tim Pawlenty, you’ll remember, bowed out of the GOP presidential race, and subsequently threw his support to Mitt Romney. Robert Stacy McCain would like you to know that this was not technically an underhand throw:

Professional campaign operatives are all hired guns. I’m sure they have their ideals — don’t we all? — but idealism doesn’t pay the rent and, when push comes to shove, they work for whoever agrees to hire them. If some of Pawlenty’s former staffers eventually turn up on the staff of Mitt Romney, this is no more a judgment on the character of the ex-Pawlenty people than whatever damned fool notion made them think Tim Pawlenty ever had a ghost’s chance of winning the GOP nomination.

This is, says McCain, part of what makes people cynical about politics, but the bottom line is this:

[I]f you’re not cynical about politics, it’s only because you don’t actually know anything about politics.

Which is a quote I don’t mind passing on, although it will probably never be as popular as, say, “Hit the freaking tip jar.”

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It all depends on Batman

Tulsa voters evidently are severely pissed off.

New lineup for Tulsa City CouncilTuesday night, four of the nine members of the Tulsa City Council were primaried right out of their seats. What’s more, three of the incumbent Councilors, perhaps seeing the writing on the wall, chose not to seek re-election, meaning that at an absolute maximum, there will be a total of two Councilors returning to City Hall after the general election. Returning District 1 Councilor Jack Henderson, a Democrat, won his primary, and is therefore elected, since he drew no Republican opposition in November.

(Graphic table courtesy of the Tulsa World.)

That’s one. The second could be District 9 incumbent G. T. Bynum, who defeated three Republican-primary opponents. However, he must now face Batman.

Mike Batman for City Council

Bynum has the advantages of incumbency and a well-known name, but one should never underestimate Batman.

(Batmobile photo via Jalopnik.)

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Hairy pranksters

This was not the package the customer paid for:

A Christian songwriter says Blessing Recording Studios put “odious” and “extremely offensive” titles on his songs, “depicting, among other things, homosexual rape,” and published his CD before he could stop it, defaming him and ruining an album he paid thousands of dollars to record.

Jose Principe sued Tabernáculo Internacional and Luis Aviles dba Blessing Recording Studios, in Palm Beach County Court.

The songs themselves were not messed with, but the titles, says Principe, were affixed by the defendants with malice aforethought:

The false titles included “Me Rescaron Las Bolas” [sic: recte, Rascaron] (“They Scratched My Balls”); “Por Que Tenía El Bicho Pelu” (“Because I Had a Hairy Cock”); “Pero Lo Tengo Chiquito” (“But It’s a Small One”); “En El Piso Me Clavaron” (“They Nailed Me to the Floor”); and “Dolía Pero Me Gustó” (“It Hurt But I Liked It”).

(Googlebait? Who, me?)

The aggrieved musician might (or might not) be comforted by the fact that Mozart had a pronounced interest in Feelthy Leerics.

(From LezGetReal via Fark.)

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Sunset 1, British Empire 0

Her Majesty’s Government has apparently been screwing around with the once-sacrosanct HP Sauce:

[T]he age-old recipe has been secretly altered at the request of Government health chiefs.

Heinz, the American company which bought the famous British brand in 2005, has changed the celebrated concoction that includes tomatoes, malt vinegar, molasses, dates, tamarind and secret spices to reduce the salt content.

The previous version of the brown sauce, which has become synonymous with fry-up breakfasts and bacon sandwiches, used to contain 2.1g of salt per 100g. The new version contains just 1.3g.

This is a far more grievous offence (as they say over there) than moving HP production to the freaking Netherlands. And of course, there’s a punchline:

Health experts claim this measure will save the NHS £46 million a year within three years and prevent more than 4,000 premature deaths a year.

But as a result of the decrease in salt in the old sauce, the new line has more calories and carbohydrates.

And there goes a healthy — so to speak — percentage of claimed savings and of allegedly-averted “premature deaths.” (What, you didn’t think they were going to cut the salt and do nothing else, did you?) So much for the “health experts.” It’s probably too late for Britain, but I’ll happily support this Constitutional amendment on our side of the pond:

Section 1. The right of an American citizen to eat whatever he goddamn well pleases shall not be infringed.

Section 2. What the hell do you need a Section 2 for?

(Based on a more subtle rant by Bayou Renaissance Man.)

Addendum: Sodium!

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So much for His and Hers closets

There was some minor dustup a couple of years back over whether Barack Obama was wearing “mom jeans”; my thinking at the time was along the lines of “What the hell, at least Michelle isn’t wearing ‘em.”

Justin Bieber, on the other hand, is:

The Biebs told Life&Style in NYC Saturday night at Dolce and Gabbana’s Fashion’s Night Out that it just works the best for him.

“I’ve worn women’s jeans before because they fit me. It’s not a trend; it’s just, whatever works, works.”

And it doesn’t hurt that he totally looks like Ellen Page.

(Googlebait? Who, me?)

Disclosure: I used to be married, many years and several kilograms ago, and for a while we wore the same size jeans. Did we swap? Well, an attempt was made, but apparently I couldn’t handle the mirror-image fly with any degree of finesse.

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Thievy wonder

Honda’s mid-sized Accord has been among the nation’s most popular cars for many years now, which may be a factor in this unpleasant statistic: more than 150 of them have been stolen in OKC this year, more than any other single model. And the Accord’s little sister, the Civic, comes in second, followed by a trio of trucks.

Then again, auto theft in general is high in this town, partly because there are so many ways out of town — that whole “three Interstates” thing — and partly because of the continuing demand for OEM parts at parking-lot-at-midnight prices. According to insurancequotes.org, in 2010, the OKC metro ranked 25th in auto theft, recording 4,951 jackings, an average of just under 4 per 1,000 population. Half a percentage point sounds relatively harmless, but after twenty-odd years of parking on the street or in dismal open lots, I am much happier having my own garage, where I can keep my ride uptight and out of sight.

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Some slide easier than others

A Person of Size is suing a Vendor of Burgers:

A devoted, 290-pound White Castle fan is steaming mad at the fast-food chain, which he says repeatedly broke promises to make the booths in his local eatery bigger.

All stockbroker Martin Kessman wants is a place at the table. But when the 64-year-old walked into the White Castle in Nanuet back in April 2009 for his usual No. 2 combo meal, he got an unpleasant surprise.

“They’re stationary booths,” he told The Post. “I’m not humongous, [but] I’m a big guy. I could not wedge myself in.”

And on what basis is he suing? You guessed it:

The Rockland County man says the chain’s uncomfortable booths violate the civil rights of fat people.

The Americans with Disabilities Act is “applicable, not only to me, but to pregnant women and to handicapped people,” he said.

“I just want to sit down like a normal person,” said Kessman, who is suing for bigger chairs and unspecified damages.

As a practicing Chubby McChubberson in my own right, I must point out that this is why God — or Jack in the Box, or whoever — invented the drive-through window.

Neither Harold nor Kumar was available for comment, though we did get a statement from the Ladmo Trio.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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Secrets are dangerous things

A reputedly-random observation from Will Truman:

I happened to start watching a couple of episodes of Twin Peaks. The population sign reads 50,000 or so. I read somewhere that it was supposed to be 5,000. Having lived in towns of each size, I have to say that the latter is far more correct. It looks and acts much more like a town of 5,000 than 50,000. I didn’t really believe this until recently. I wondered if a town of 5,000 would have the sorts of things that Twin Peaks does. It depends on the town, but yeah, even towns of 5,000 have lodges, active Chambers of Commerce, and so on.

Yep. I brought it up here, pointing to this FAQ:

The population sign that’s shown on TV indicates 51,201. According to “Twin Peaks Behind the Scenes: An Unofficial Guide to Twin Peaks,” by Mark Altman, Lynch/Frost originally conceived of it as 5,201, but ABC insisted on increasing it.

This has resulted in mixed cues within the show. For instance, Twin Peaks doesn’t have a resident circuit court judge, which any town of 51,000 in the US would; it has a Sheriff’s department but no police department (Sheriff is usually a county rather than a city office). On the other hand, it does have its own hospital, a fancy department store, and a large hotel.

How to reconcile these cues? The FAQ goes on:

The book, “Welcome to Twin Peaks: Access Guide to the Town” tries to resolve the issue by saying the population sign is a misprint, and it should be 5,120.1.

Point one? Well, that explains everything.

See also Eerie, Indiana, population 16,661.

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Paltrow excuse

Gwyneth Paltrow not wearing a whole lotScott Chaffin put up a larger version of this shot of Gwyneth Paltrow and slapped my name on it, on the basis that I am supposedly some sort of connoisseur of feminine stemware and/or wacky footwear and would therefore have something to say about it.

I did, as it happens, but it wasn’t particularly positive, citing those unnecessarily-clumpy shoes, a Givenchy creation from spring/summer ’10 dubbed prosaically “Woven Zip Flats,” which have a sort of stumpefying effect on Gwynnie: cutting her off at the ankles, if you will. (Full comment here.) They’d be okay with proper pants, I suppose, but perhaps not so much with short shorts. (Your mileage, I need hardly point out, may vary.)

Of course, this is presumably a candid shot from somewhere, which implies that she’s not trying to impress any of us, and that’s fine with me: nobody should be “on” twenty-four/seven. But Paltrow dresses up better than most, and the shot below — from the April 2010 Harper’s Bazaar — is much easier on my eyes:

Gwyneth Paltrow in Harper's Bazaar

These sandals, from Valentino’s Garavani line, are decidedly more flattering, while still preserving something of the traditional gladiator “How many straps can you stand?” style. (The gown is also Valentino. The man does know his accessories.)

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Meanwhile at the Water Works

Last year, on the subject of water bills, Mayor Cornett observed that “people seemed to prefer to have a smaller increase each year rather than a large increase every three or four years.” The new rates starting in October are not out yet, but I anticipate an increase of about a buck. Meanwhile, the September bill, which is fairly typical of my usage, runs as follows: customer charge = $9.75, 3000 gallons at $2.35/thousand = $7.05, total $16.80. (This does not include sewer or trash service, opt-in on the local ambulance service, or the infamous “Drainage Fee.”) I’m figuring, therefore, about $18 a month just for water.

The new rates in drought-ridden Austin [pdf] are a little bit more onerous, but for now, only a little, at least at my consumption level. For the same 3000 gallons:

  • Customer account charge: $4.83
  • Equivalent meter charge: $1.79
  • Fire protection component: $0.60
  • Water sustainability fee: $6.00
  • First 2000 gallons at $1.11: $2.22
  • 1000 gallons at $2.93: $2.93

Total $18.37. Beyond the two usage tiers you see here, there are three higher ones; beyond 25,000 gallons the price per thousand is a stiff $11.59, so watch that sprinkler.

That “sustainability fee” calls for a second look [pdf]:

More than 80 percent of the water utility costs are fixed but the revenue is volatile due to the recent successes of water conservation, extreme weather patterns, and the downturn in the economy. Austin Water faced a revenue loss of over $50 million last year alone. We remain committed to conservation, but we need to change our business model for the water utility to remain sustainable.

Austin Water is proposing a water sustainability fee which is a fixed fee charged to all customers that will fund conservation programs while helping to stabilize Austin Water revenues.

Note that “successes of water conservation” cost them money.

On the new pricing generally, the Austin Contrarian notes:

More price increases will be necessary if this drought continues. But we know that price is an effective way to ration water, more effective than mandatory conservation (and oodles more effective than voluntary conservation). While demand for water is inelastic, it is not perfectly so.

Oklahoma City can tell you that voluntary conservation didn’t do much of anything this summer, and reservoir levels are down: Hefner about nine feet, Overholser about eight, and Stanley Draper nearly thirty. Then again, Austin’s Lake Travis is down 48 feet, though Lake Austin is pretty close to normal.

Austin anticipates that between 2011 and 2016, the average water bill will rise 61.2 percent [pdf], though their average user uses quite a bit more than I do. If nothing else, this demonstrates that water isn’t going to get any cheaper, even on those rare occasions of late when it actually falls out of the sky.

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Unangry bird

Hello Kitty dresses up as a turkey:

Hello Kitty 8-inch Plush Turkey

Sanrio is selling this little plush Kitty with the bird suit for a mere $19.50, presumably just in time for Thanksgiving. (And heck, the grocery stores are full of Halloween stuff, so it’s just a matter of lead time.) She’s eight inches tall, so mark her down as a single serving.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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The things one finds on eBay

And by “things,” I mean this:

Genuine StarTribune Moist Towelette signed by James LileksThis is a one-of-a-kind item, obtained directly from the Minneapolis StarTribune writer, James Lileks, at the 2011 Minnesota State Fair. Lileks, a locally acclaimed satirist and cultural commentator, signed the moist towelette at 12:15, September 2, at the StarTribune state fair booth and presented it to me, an avid fan, in exchange for a pandering testimonial to his writing prowess. Alas, I must part with it, due to financial difficulties, but be assured, it is not easy to do so. This is the real thing, and your only chance to obtain such an article.

You were expecting maybe Juanita’s Fajitas?

Incidentally, Lileks himself vouched for its authenticity, which surely added something to the winning bid.

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