Possibly unseasoned

Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, on the current NBA impasse:

“If forced to take a side, I would side with the owners in this deal. If anyone believes commissioner [David] Stern or the owners want to start canceling games, I just can’t imagine where that line of thinking is coming from. That’s the last thing anybody wanted to do.

“They [owners] obviously are serious about getting a better business deal with the players. The players are going to have to see that the economics have changed, and they’re still getting a good deal, even if it is not as good as it was.”

Fourteen mayors of cities with NBA teams sent a letter to the league asking that Something Be Done; Cornett declined to participate.

I’m not sure what I think of that, even after having read the letter. I am, however, perplexed that I couldn’t find it anywhere on NewsOK.com, though the Oklahoman did print it in the sports section Thursday morning. (Any of you Black Tower guys who have a NewsOK link, feel free to chime in.)

Then again, I’m pretty sure it is less than swift to announce you’re not taking sides, and then take sides.

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Drink different

The city of Tulsa is contemplating, presumably for cost reasons, adopting the use of chloramine as a secondary disinfectant for the water system: it’s effective against microbial contamination, but unpleasant side effects might be waiting in the wings, and Michael Bates, generally the least-alarmist person in the state, says that “there may be reason to worry.”

One of the nastier by-products of chloramine use is n-nitrosodimethylamine, usually abbreviated to NDMA, which can play hell with one’s liver. The CDC’s Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has published some suitably scary information, with the admission that “the levels of NDMA in air, water, or food that result in health effects in people are unknown.” The EPA has no official standard for NDMA in water supplies, though they recommend lakes and streams be kept to below 0.00069 ppb, a distinctly tiny amount, because fish don’t function well in it.

Since Oklahoma City uses chloramine, I checked the current water-quality report [pdf], which states that current chloramine levels run about 10-12 percent below EPA’s Maximum Residual Disinfectant Level. Wikipedia reports that a California study found minimal, if nonzero, concentrations of NDMA in water systems using chloramine.

My thinking: Caution is indeed advisable. On the other hand, frying bacon can produce NDMA, and nobody’s giving that up. If there’s any good news here, it’s that NDMA has no particular tendency to accumulate in one’s body.

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It’s not easy selling green

OPI, which has vended slightly idiosyncratic nail-polish colors for a quarter-century, has issued a collection of Muppet-related colors in connection with the Muppet movie due out next month. The only actual green one is “Fresh Frog of Bel-Air”; you’ll also find “Warm & Fozzie,” “Divine Swine,” and nine more. You can see the lot at OPI.com.

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While waiting for Mr. Fusion

I certainly hope this doesn’t take a whole 1.21 gigawatts:

It was a revelation unlike any other in the history of the De Lorean Motor Company Friday evening, Oct. 14, when the company stunned the crowd by unexpectedly presenting a prototype that will catapult the iconic De Lorean cars into the future: the Electric De Lorean.

The car, which will not be called the DMC-12 Volt, will pack a 260-hp electric motor somewhere — presumably out back where the old 130-hp engine used to be — and will be capable of something like 125 mph.

This grandiose vehicle will presumably be assembled at De Lorean’s Humble facility.

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Tightropes to be walked

I read this piece three times and choked up every time I started to type something into the comment box. Since it won’t get out of my head, I decided to link to it here, hoping more than usual that you’ll Read The Whole Thing.

I grew up with a father who had a pretty dangerous job. This is the kind of job where you know that something bad could happen, but you just sort of choose to put that nasty little fact out of your head so you can actually function every day. You know, sort of like being a race car driver.

When he was doing this job there was no YouTube. The media didn’t play video of action movie-esque deaths over and over and over again. It was pre-9/11 and disaster porn was at a much more tolerable level, if there’s any such thing as a tolerable level of disaster porn.

And then, one evening, she met a race car driver.

So here I am, living that life again where you do your best to ignore the very real danger the man who’s your everything chooses to face to pay the mortgage. But now it’s a little different, because horrifying deaths play out on live TV and get replayed over and over and over and analyzed ad nauseam, and when you see it over and over it gets a lot harder to pretend it won’t happen to you.

We are none of us indestructible, at least so far as flesh goes; I think I’m starting to understand why my interest in All Things Gory has been declining so, as I round the turn on whatever lap this may be.

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Displayground in my mind

The Onion, eight years ago:

An Internet worm that disabled networks across the U.S. Monday and Tuesday temporarily thrust the nation into its most severe maelstrom of productivity since 1992.

“In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Price Stern Sloan system administrator Andrew Walton, whose effort to restore web service to his company’s network was repeatedly hampered by employees busily working at their computers.

Last week, near the Persian Gulf:

A dramatic fall in traffic accidents this week has been directly linked to the three-day disruption in BlackBerry services.

In Dubai, traffic accidents fell 20 per cent from average rates on the days BlackBerry users were unable to use its messaging service. In Abu Dhabi, the number of accidents this week fell 40 per cent and there were no fatal accidents.

What can we learn from this?

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Déjà spew

I spend way too much library time wandering through 817 (American literature in English: Satire & humor), which is undoubtedly how I happened upon Laurie Notaro’s The Idiot Girl and the Flaming Tantrum of Death. A jacket blurb (from The Plain Dealer) describes the author as “a scream, the freak-magnet of a girlfriend you can’t wait to meet for a drink to hear her latest story.”

About thirty pages in, I had reached two conclusions: “Wow, this is what LeeAnn would sound like if she were a hell of a lot more longwinded,” followed immediately by “Wait a minute. Haven’t I read something by this person before?”

A search through my own haphazard stacks turned up an earlier Notaro title, We Thought You Would Be Prettier: True Tales of the Dorkiest Girl Alive. I popped open a page at random, and the eyeballs fell on this passage:

The plus sizes? An eight was a plus size? Okay, sure, my size dress requires more material than, say, a dress for an Olsen twin, but come on, it’s not the size of a car! I suppose you can never be too careful, though: put a size-fourteen dress on a rack, and who would really be surprised if the whole fixture was just ripped right out of the wall and took an entire building with it?

This is not, incidentally, from the chapter titled “That’s Not Pudding.”

Oh, and her 2010 novel Spooky Little Girl has a very strange trailer. And Villard/Random House thinks Idiot Girl should be under 814.6 (American essays in English, 21st century).

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My own past history demands close scrutiny

Daily Writing Tips has a list of 50 redundant and/or superfluous phrases to avoid, as, for example, “as for example”:

“As” implies that an example is being provided, so omit “an example.”

I demur in one instance — “false pretenses” — on the basis that it has a specific legal definition, redundancy notwithstanding. Then again, the United Kingdom abandoned “false pretences” in favor of the simpler “deception,” which was later replaced by “fraud”.

(After bouncing around the Twitterverse, this item got to me via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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No sense thinking small

It’s probably about time for the Next Zuckerberg, though I’m reasonably certain it won’t be this chap:

What is a good website idea to accumulate 1 billion users within 12 months?

I want to hear from the consumer (you). I’m starting a new website (company) and would love to hear your opinions on what kind of website I could build to accumulate 1 billion users within 12 months? I want to break the record for having the most users… and do it in stylish fashion.

I can think of only one possible service that might garner that level of usage: a plug-in for your current VoIP that tracks down robocallers and disables their hardware. Suggestions?

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See under “goofs”

Usually when I grumble at the Internet Movie Database, it’s because it doesn’t have some particular factoid — or, sometimes, a link to a trailer — that I was looking for. It never occurred to me that IMDb might be giving away too much information:

An actress is suing Amazon.com in federal court in Seattle for more than $1 million for revealing her age on its Internet Movie Database website and refusing to remove the reference when asked.

The actress is not named in the lawsuit filed Thursday that refers to her as Jane Doe. It says she lives in Texas and is of Asian descent and has an Americanized stage name.

Damages are being sought for this reason:

“If one is perceived to be ‘over-the-hill,’ i.e., approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up-and-coming actress, such as the plaintiff, to get work as she is thought to have less of an ‘upside,’ therefore, casting directors, producers, directors, agents-manager, etc. do not give her the same opportunities, regardless of her appearance or talent,” the lawsuit states.

At least now we know the location of that hill some of us are supposed to be over.

(Via this Costa Tsiokos tweet.)

Update, 7 January 2012: She coughs up the name.

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Ground floor, please

So you think the Devon Energy Center, aka The Big Drill Bit in the Sky, is a big deal at 850 feet? Hmpf. The Mexicans are planning a structure that’s minus 980 feet.

Yes, that’s minus 980 feet:

Architects have designed an incredible 65-storey ‘earth-scraper’ which plunges 300 metres below ground.

The stunning upside down pyramid in the middle of Mexico City is designed to get around height limits on new buildings in the capital.

The subterranean building will have 10 storeys each for homes, shops and a museum, as well as 35 storeys for offices.

The concept looks something like this:

Inverted pyramid proposed for Mexico City

Esteban Suarez, from BNKR Arquitectura, whence comes the model, explains:

New infrastructure, office, retail and living space are required in the city but no empty plots are available.

Federal and local laws prohibit demolishing historic buildings and even if this was so, height regulations limit new structures to eight storeys.

The city’s historic centre is in desperate need of a makeover but we have nowhere to put it, this means the only way to go is down.

The Bayou Renaissance Man sees a whole different sort of “makeover” on the horizon:

Mexico City is sitting right smack bang in the middle of a highly active earthquake zone. A major earthquake in 1985 killed at least 10,000 residents and caused massive damage to the city. Knowing that, would you really want to be living several hundred feet underground when the next major quake hits?

I dunno. When I think earthquakes, I think California — it’s where I felt my first non-trivial quake — and they don’t seem too worried. Heck, they build subways there:

Subways throughout the world have excellent records of withstanding major earthquakes over the last 25 years. They have performed well during earthquakes with no damage or service interruptions, including after the Northridge earthquake in 1994. The Metro Red Line tunnels cross the Hollywood fault north of the Hollywood & Highland Station.

Then again, subways, if reasonably undamaged, can move away at an angle to a quake. In this inverted pyramid, you’d better hope you can still go up and down.

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Knit picking

Fillyjonk admits to having a huge … stash of yarn:

[T]here is a sort of funny psychological quirk among some knitters and quilters, to want to deny that they keep a stash. And there are some people who just DON’T, and that’s fine — there are people who only buy supplies as they need them for projects. (They are also usually the lucky sorts who have multiple sources of supply within their town). And there are some who either are, or pretend to be, actively disgusted by the idea of other people having a stash of yarn or fabric — that it represents a sort of materialism and greed, I guess. I don’t know. I cringe a little when I read the occasional blog-post or Ravelry post criticizing someone for keeping a lot of yarn or fabric on hand. (Of course, I also cringe — even harder — at the comparisons to the people on those “hoarders” shows. Actually, I think it’s a matter of degree — I’m sure to someone who lives in one of those sterile stylish boxes of an apartment, I look like a tacky, hoarder-type with my little cottage with its brightly-painted walls and lots of pictures up and lots of books on the shelves, and stacks of Rubbermaid tubs of yarn in my storage closet.)

If they complain about that, surely they’ll complain about my three socket sets or my four copies of Pet Sounds (two vinyl, two CD), and God only knows what I’d do without those.

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The number that matters

After all that “99%” talk in recent weeks, we’re happy to show you someone who is 100 percent 99:

Barbara Feldon pre-Get Smart

You’re looking at Barbara Feldon, in a picture from her modeling days before she signed on as Agent 99 in the classic TV series Get Smart. For one thing, they’d never have been able to build a phone into those sandals.

(Via, would you believe, WouldYouBelieve.com?)

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A matter of policy

You may remember this from two years ago:

We brag a lot in Oklahoma about our lowish cost of living, but there’s one item that costs a bundle: insurance for the home, which runs a good 10-20 percent above the national average, no thanks to our too-often-nasty weather.

And then there’s mine, which is going up 35 percent next year, to over $1200, on a $100k house.

For “10-20 percent,” read “30-40 percent”: various sources around town are now quoting the state average at somewhere in the $1400-1500 range. Mine has gone over $1600 for next year. Then again, I have about an average-priced house with slightly better-than-average coverages, and you have to figure that every underwriter who does business out here is sweating wildfires. Besides, I have had demonstrably good service from these guys, and I stand to gain little if anything by shopping around.

Oh, well. Nobody said it would be cheap to live in a Neighborhood of the Year nominee.

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All the live-long day

Working on the railroad isn’t as easy as it looks — and it doesn’t look easy at all:

The [tamping] machine rode the rails, had hydraulic jacks and retractable tamping plates. It could raise the rail and tamp the ballast (rock) that surrounded the rail. As it tamped, somebody had to keep supplying rock to the machine. That’s where I came in, I shoveled rock and tried to keep up with the machine. After about a week, we finally finished, which was about four days past what I wanted.

Subsequent jobs, he would discover, would tap rather heavily into his personal sweat-equity account.

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Otherwise occupied

From around the world, across the nation, and up your street, it’s these folks.

(Yes, that is a Carlinism.)

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