A degree of freedom

With the possible exception of Victoria Beckham, who presumably isn’t allowed to, we’re all guilty of the occasional fashion faux pas. (I include myself, of course, though technically just about every pas I attempt turns out faux.) I have to admit, though, this is as good a rationalization as I expect to see:

Yes, I wear socks with my Birkenstocks in the winter sometimes. I figure that once you earn a Ph.D., you are permitted at least one thing that might be considered a fashion “violation” in some circles.

I think I’d feel better if this privilege were extended to people with just a master’s degree, though it still wouldn’t apply to me.

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Von Hammersmark of excellence

The 15th of July is Diane Kruger’s birthday, as I discovered about the same time I came up with this post, and all the pictures I had on hand were either too revealing or not revealing enough.

Fortunately, there are always sources, and in no time at all I scored a shot of DK in an LBD:

Diane Kruger

As LBDs go, this is one of the L-est.

(Found at Go Fug Yourself, which also has a higher-res version, should you decide that this just isn’t enough. Title explained here.)

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Which one’s Beavis?

Wikipedia normally excises listings for people who are not “notable” — I remember King Kaufman, then writing for Salon, discovering that (1) he had an entry and (2) it was pending deletion for lack of notability — but a lot of weird things can happen before someone notices.

I was looking up July 15 births, with the intent of finding someone I could propose for Rule 5, and found this at the bottom of the section:

Wikipedia screen cap

I suspect these last two guys aren’t too notable, inasmuch as they have no other links within Wikipedia.

King Kaufman, incidentally, is now considered notable enough for an entry.

Addendum: The real Beavis returneth.

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A museum, virtually

Opening tomorrow:

Retro Metro OKC is pending 501(c)(3) organization whose goal is to create an online exhibit of thousands of photos and documents relating to our city’s history, culture and heritage. The website debuts with more than 1,200 such materials, and thanks to a cooperative effort with the Oklahoma Historical Society and other area historical organizations, we hope to be adding many more historical Oklahoma City images in the near future.

Retro Metro OKC operates differently from other organizations in that we have no museum, we have no physical collections, and in most instances the materials we display remain in private ownership. In a typical situation our volunteer crews go to a home or business to scan an owner’s collection and the owner participates in the project by sharing information about the photos and documents as they are being scanned. The materials never have to leave an owner’s possession — the owner is simply asked to sign a release that allows for the materials to be displayed online.

The owner of such materials is given a disc of the digitized images and documents — and copies also will be given to the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Metropolitan Library System to ensure they will be preserved for future generations.

What’s the bane of the historian’s existence? Right: useful material forever locked away in someone’s vault. I have to figure the owners will happily share if they don’t actually have to give up physical possession.

Retro Metro OKC’s founding members include historians, authors, planners, a preservation architect, a retired Greater Oklahoma City Chamber executive, a city councilman, a city clerk, business owners, graphic designers and filmmakers. Our common history is Oklahoma City history. Our youngest member is 17; our oldest members are in their 70s.

Somewhere in the middle of that range is Oklahoman reporter and occasional dustbury.com reader Steve Lackmeyer, who is president of the new organization.

Nobody, not even Doug Loudenback or Pendleton Woods, knows everything about what’s happened in this town; I’m hoping the hive mind can fill in a lot of the blanks.

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And they are mild

All hybrids are not created equal, notes Ezra Dyer in Automobile (August):

The Chevy Malibu Hybrid, for instance, doesn’t deserve the label. Calling that car a hybrid is like calling a woman with Lee Press-On Nails a cyborg.

Ezra’s column, incidentally, is called “Dyer Consequences.”

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New York muse

Anyone want to take a shot at explaining this?

I am not sure I fully understand the logic behind driving a convertible with the top down, parking said vehicle, and then rolling up the windows without putting the top up. Rolling up the windows in such a vehicle will stop a potential car thief for less time than it takes a Democratic politician to propose a tax increase and thus has little or no deterrent effect on the criminal classes. Nor will rolling up the windows and keeping the top down prevent sun, rain, wind, or the occasional incontinent bird from soiling your nice new leather seats. There must be a point to performing such an action, but clearly I am not grasping the Aristotelian depths of the logic involved and no one wants to explain it to me. I also find it impossible to detect the difference between minutes in New York and minutes in any other state, but I usually ascribe my ignorance to my limited knowledge of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which can, no doubt, explain all the mysteries of the universe, except, probably, why a man in a convertible would roll his windows up while leaving his top down.

Beyond speculating that the guy’s never had a car stolen before, I have no idea what might have been going through his head: force of habit makes sense if you believe that he didn’t realize he had the top down.

On the question of the New York minute, here’s a letter on the subject I received back in the summer of 2001:

“Funny how people say New York Minute, meaning a minute that is somehow shorter than a real minute. If you’ve ever been to NYC, the phrase to find out the time isn’t ‘What time is it?’ or even ‘Do you know what time it is?’ The phrase that pays is ‘Do you have the correct time?’ People in Manhattan are anal about this ‘correct time’ business… If anything, the 60 second New York minute is normal, and everyone else has 90 or 120 second minutes.”

So that’s how it works.

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Shaken bake

Finally, what I’ve been waiting for all summer: commentary on the tanning tax, from E. M. Zanotti:

[A]side from the fact that I, too, oppose the tanning tax — though on an admittedly principled basis only (my legs could blind someone) — last I heard the sun was still a free source of healthy, skin-frying UV rays and will prove just as much of an efficient vehicle to skin cancer.

On the other hand, I’d be most amused if someone managed to get this thing zapped by reason of disparate impact.

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Besides, they don’t like immersion

Why you should not try to baptize a cat:

I think that if you tried to baptize a cat, it would probably burst into flame as soon as it touched the holy water font. Cats are pure, concentrated, fur-covered evil. Satan’s oven mitts, one and all. I’d be surprised if they could pass the threshold of a church without spontaneously combusting.

Not to mention the fact that they appropriate all your base:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Afflictions not entirely random

The weekend, generally, is two days out of seven: not quite 29 percent of the average week.

Which doesn’t explain in the slightest why it is that major appliances and such seem so much more likely to fail during that tiny sliver of time:

Why this always happens on a weekend is beyond me. Do appliances know that they can make your life miserable if they shoot craps on a Sunday? Is Sky Net giving them orders already?

I’ve had the guys out to repair (as distinguished from “maintain”) the A/C twice in seven years. So far, the score is: Weekend 1, Non-Weekend 1.

At least around here they’ll come out on weekends, and make you pay only slightly dearly for the privilege. There are some parts of the world where you have to schedule your emergency services, or some such nonsense.

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Zombie development

No, we’re not actually developing zombies here in the Big Breezy. (And if we are, I don’t know about it, okay?) But Steve Lackmeyer is classifying downtown projects as living, dead, or undead, the latter being defined as “seemingly not alive, but not willing to die.” An example of same:

Developer Chuck Wiggin’s proposal to build a [109-condo] complex valued at $62 million was chosen for the old Mercy Hospital site controlled by Urban Renewal. Wiggin said he hopes to see his development contract with Urban Renewal extended. JoeVan Bullard, director of the Urban Renewal Authority, says talks with Wiggin have indicated “it’s not realistic” to continue to have the project on hold another year.

Who would have thought that JoeVan Bullard would ever be in a hurry?

This is a prime zone, too: 12th to 13th, Walker to Dewey. You want to see something there, but not if it’s going to die a horrible death in the marketplace when the New Depression ghouls get their next ration of fanservice.

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Your girlfriend wants steak

Zooey Deschanel is abandoning the whole vegetarian thing:

[She] gave up meat some years ago but recently turned her back on her vegetarian and non-dairy regimen after discovering she couldn’t eat soy or wheat products.

She tells Bust magazine, “I gave it a good try, but sometimes you just need a little something, a little meat.”

Last I heard, husband Ben Gibbard, leader of Death Crab Cab for Cutie, would eat seafood, but nothing mammalian.

(Via Fark. You may have seen me tweet this earlier.)

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Pushing the Want buttons

Trini sent me this with the tag “Is it wrong of me to want one of these?”

Of course, she’s the type who would carry a soldering iron.

(More on Make.)

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To heighten your dudgeon, press 2

Widge suggests a couple of flags that should be affixed to your cable account and mine, though perhaps not someone else’s:

You need a “Not An Asshat” flag. I used to work at a tech support help desk, I used to run a tech support help desk, and I used to train tech support help desks. Am I saying this to impress you that I am some kind of tech support guru? No, I’m a shmoe. But I am a shmoe that appreciates what tech support people have to go through: namely, those lovely folks that call in and want to unload on whoever works for the company. So I try to be nice and calm and collected, no matter what’s going on. I want to be the best, most easy going call they have that day. However, it doesn’t make me feel good to hear the dead voice of a tech support person who’s Taken Too Many Calls on the other end of the line. Flag my account to show that it’s safe to talk to me like a human. Save the defensiveness for people who deserve it. That would be nice.

It’s not often, but when I venture into the realm of rectal millinery, you can be sure that the situation has gotten to at least DEFCON 3.

Then again, if it’s reached that point, it might be because either the intake person or the robot voice pretending to be the intake person has decided, on the basis of God knows what, that I’m the sort of clueless git who needs to start the script at “Is it plugged in?” In which case:

You need a “Not An Idiot” flag. Again, I’m no tech genius, but I do know how to unplug a modem and do basic problem determination. I’m reminded of the time that I could not seem to get it through the head of the person I was talking to that if I had bypassed my entire apartment and plugged into the line coming in from outside then they didn’t actually need to test the wiring in my apartment. So I don’t expect you to believe everything I say or skip to the end or anything, but just find a level and work with me on it. And then flag my account that I’m slightly savvy. I promise the call will go faster.

An extension of this latter point:

PLEASE DON’T CUT-AND-PASTE ME A BUNCH OF CRAP I CAN READ ON YOUR SITE ALREADY. And of course the very first response to my contact was nothing but cut-and-pasted crap I could read on their site already.

I’ve done customer service. I once took a pay cut to get out of it. If you’re still doing it, I have no overwhelming desire to make your life a living hell. But there are more important things in life than sticking to the script, no matter what the Big Book O’ Metrics says. And yes, it also helps if you speak English like a native.

(Another Consumerist suggestion.)

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Biggus Diggus

The price tag on the Crosstown Expressway seems to go up every other week: once a hundred million dollars or so, it’s now closer to five hundred million, and insiders suggest that when all is said and done, this little strip of freeway is going to run somewhere around $1 billion.

Which is nothing compared to what Seattle is planning to do to itself:

On a Monday between now and the middle of August, the Seattle City Council is likely to approve a contract that gives the State of Washington permission to dig a 54-foot-wide tunnel under downtown Seattle. It will be the widest deep-bore tunnel attempted anywhere, ever.

It will cost an estimated $4.2 billion to replace the dilapidated Alaskan Way Viaduct on Seattle’s waterfront, making this underground highway the most expensive megaproject in state history. The state has committed up to $2.8 billion, the city has pledged $937 million, and the Port of Seattle is supposed to pay $300 million. The single most expensive element, the tunnel portion itself, will cost about $1.9 billion.

Geez. You could buy a whole bunch of NBA teams for that kind of money.

But this is where it gets scary:

A state law passed in 2009 says Seattle property owners must bear the expense of any cost overruns on the state’s project. This is unprecedented. “The cost overruns on a state highway should not be borne by the citizens of Seattle,” says state senator Ed Murray, whose district includes Capitol Hill and parts of downtown. “We have never done that to any other jurisdiction in the state.” The law also says, unequivocally, that the state won’t pay more than $2.8 billion. We simply have no plan for who will pay cost overruns. Under the current rules, if something goes wrong, Seattle taxpayers are on the hook for cost overruns.

And what are the chances that everything will come in on budget? Right.

The Viaduct, moreover, is junk: it was already outdated when it was damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, and the alternatives aren’t that much less expensive. Still, I remember a Barney Frank quip regarding Boston’s Big Dig, the model (and not necessarily in a good way) for all such projects: “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to raise the city than depress the artery?”

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Consider it floored

The Professor admits to this one burst of speed: “A shade over 135, on U.S. 50 in Nevada, back before I had any dependents. . . .”

He’s got me beat. While I’ve had a few moments over 110 — not many — the fastest speed I’ve sustained for several minutes is 102.5 mph, assuming the speedometer was accurate, which is a lot to assume on a ’70s Japanese sport coupe.

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I shall still call him Brian

Whether that’s his name or not:

News stories noted U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin’s absence from some campaign events where her gubernatorial opponents were appearing, and Tulsan Brian Bates is concerned that the day after one missed event, an opponent claimed she was meeting with lobbyists. “Fallin may feel she has to avoid head-to-head comparisons between herself and (Randy) Brogdon to hold on to her lead and win the primary. Brogdon comes across as knowledgeable, passionate, positive, and personable. Fallin seems distant, detached, almost robotic at times,” Bates wrote. “We’ve had to fight against special interests influencing Republican local officials, trying to raise our taxes and cut special deals. Thanks to his tax problems, we were able to dump Lance Cargill before he could do too much damage to the Republican brand, with accusations of a pay-to-play operation being run out of the speaker’s office. A state government run by the lobbyists and special interests is no better with Republicans in charge than with Democrats. As a matter of fact, it’s worse, because Republicans ought to know better than to sacrifice the general welfare of the people they were elected to serve in favor of the interests of a favored few.”

Um, the Tulsan in question was Michael Bates. Brian Bates runs JohnTV.com in Oklahoma City. Whoever is running the op-ed page in the Oklahoman needs to get with the program.

And yes, this is a repeat from March.

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A veritable word machine

Murray Rothbard, apparently, could turn out eight pages of more-or-less final-version text in one hour, a level of productivity that makes me even gloomier as I sit here staring at a blank editor screen waiting for some actual words to materialize.

And I suppose I’d feel even worse had Rothbard been blogging:

Granting that the 8 pages per hour were double spaced, will translate the roughly 300 words per page to 2,400 words per hour. According to marketing research, the average blog is less than 249 words.

Therefore, at 249 words per blog and 2400 words per hour, Murray Rothbard would post about 10 blog entries for every hour he wrote.

I take exception to the conflation of “blog” and “blog post,” but I’m still startled at the numbers. (The average post here is about 222 words; I manage five or six a day, maybe.)

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Take this, Jobs, and shove it

Apple’s explanation for the signal-degradation issue on the iPhone 4:

We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula… We have gone back to our labs and retested everything, and the results are the same — the iPhone 4′s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped.

Consumer Reports begs to disagree:

[O]ur test engineers connected the phones to our base-station emulator, a device that simulates carrier cell towers (see video: IPhone 4 Design Defect Confirmed). We also tested several other AT&T phones the same way, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre. None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4.

Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4′s signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that “mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength.”

(Seen at The Consumerist, which, like CR, is a Consumers Union operation. Title courtesy of Alfred E. Neuman.)

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That old Cleveland plantation

Understandably miffed at not having been consulted on the deal, Jesse Jackson decided to make his presence known while the LeBronathon goes on:

[Dan Gilbert] speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” the reverend said in a release from his Chicago-based civil rights group, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship — between business partners — and LeBron honored his contract.”

After which Jackson retreated to his Chicago compound for further contemplation of his ultimate goal: to get his name added to the Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday in January.

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Well, maybe she’ll like my car

Women won’t date a guy unless he has a hot ride? Not true, says the Booth Babe:

Yes, there are some gold diggers and Polly Prissy Pants who won’t get into anything that costs less than $60K, but most of us aren’t total douchettes. Our desires for your vehicle are as follows: It is clean. It doesn’t smell. It doesn’t belong to your mom. It is representative of your station in life.

That latter deserves some further exposition:

If you’re CIO of a major tech firm (and yes, we Googled you to make sure you weren’t lying) and you roll up in an old rusted out VW Rabbit, we know you’re cheap. I don’t have a problem buying my own dinner, but I would have a major problem living with a miser who splits two-ply toilet paper into one. That is the first image in our minds when you pull up in a cheap old car far below your pay scale.

On the other end of the spectrum, please don’t think you can trick us by rolling up to the club in a Bentley. A man’s shoes and/or watch always give him away. We can tell in an instant if you’re really a baller or if you’re a $30,000 “millionaire” that rented a car for the night to try to score some chicks. Pretending to be someone you’re not will get you no love.

On the upside, neither the Rabbit nor the Bentley is likely to belong to the guy’s mom.

Disclosure: I drive a $30,000 car (for which I paid $13,000) and wear a $30 watch (for which I paid $30).

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