Bruise control

I am, of course, around this age:

When I was growing up, we had playgrounds and those playgrounds were made of galvanized steel pipe and surfaced variously with concrete, asphalt, gravel, or just plain dirt. By today’s standards these places were safety nightmares. Kids fell down and they bled, kids jumped, fell, or were pushed off these abominations and they broke bones, bruises and lacerations were so common we didn’t even think about them … and note: We usually only played at these playgrounds under adult supervision. Why, you may ask? Quite simply, by our standards of “fun” playgrounds were just plain boring.

I never broke a bone, but I accumulated quite a nice bunch of bruises over the years, due usually to bicycle mishaps or simple oafishness.

Should a kid make it to double digits without a scratch, you have to figure he’s spent the entire ten years in his room. Apparently some people think that’s a good idea:

Driving in to work today, I found myself stopped at a light next to a large step van belonging to TotTurf, which purports to supply “playground safety surfacing.”

It could be worse. Here’s how:

Turn your playground into a fun-ground!

Talkin’ TotTurf® sensors can trigger a variety of educational and fun-inspired sounds.

Note that these sounds aren’t actually fun, only “fun-inspired.” (A true fun sound would evoke the cutting of cheese, and I don’t mean Stilton.)

I mean, seriously, people, our kids have it bad enough already without having to be treated like toddlers until some time after they reach puberty.

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Ostrich mode

It sounds pretty good right about now, and not just to me:

Somebody please just tap my shoulder when the primaries are over. I’ll be the one with her head in the sand.

There are better sound insulators than sand, but few as inexpensive.

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Four horsemen replaced by six ponies

It’s the end of the world as he knows it, and the Curmudgeon Emeritus does not feel fine: among our current harbingers of doom he lists the (temporary) resurgence of Newt Gingrich, the apparent inability of Herman Cain to provide snappy answers to stupid questions — and the existence of, um, bronies.

Seriously. Bronies:

Significant numbers of teenaged boys are flocking into a cult around the old My Little Pony cartoon show.

I pointed out that it was, in fact, the new My Little Pony show, Friendship Is Magic, that’s drawing the guys, and while the Curmudgeon seems to be taking this in stride, the commenters seem greatly disturbed. If you ask me, Newt Gingrich is far greater a threat to the Republic than Rainbow Dash — so far as I know, Freddie Mac didn’t offer a dime to anyone in Ponyville or Canterlot — but then nobody asked me.

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Several Grand

El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles del Río de Porciúncula was first settled in 1781, and it’s pretty obvious what the primary language was.

When the Americans took over, they ordered a new map of the town, starting with Calle Principal — Main Street — and heading westward. (The east, located in a floodplain, was settled later.)

The next block is Calle Primavera/Spring Street, which is also still there. Which is not to say that all the names of downtown L.A. streets are translations from the original Spanish:

Going west to east were the three virtues: Faith, Hope and Charity. On the [1849] map, they are labeled Calle de las Flores (Faith had already morphed to Flower, supposedly due to the beautiful flowers on Elysian Hills visible from there), Calle de Esperanza (Hope Street) and Calle de Caridad. This last one, Charity Street, was a nonstarter. No one wanted to “live on Charity,” so it was renamed with the grand title of Grand Avenue.

Local OKC historians may remember that we used to have a Grand Avenue, the official dividing line between North and South. But before it was Grand Avenue, it was Clarke Street, and it was literally the dividing line between two distinct settlements, eventually merged. (For years and years, north-south streets had a “jog” at that point, because the two townships saw no reason to align their plats.) The Grand name eventually gave way to Sheridan, perhaps to avoid confusion with Grand Boulevard, which was supposed to circle the city well away from downtown.

(L. A. story via Nancy Friedman.)

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No thyme left for you

On your way to better things? Stop in at Midway Grocery and Market in Norman, where owner Bob Thompson says:

“If I get an award for anything, it’s having a restaurant in Oklahoma where nothing is deep-fried.”

Which is not to say that he deals in exotica:

“All of our food has a blue-collar goodness. We don’t use a lot of fancy seasonings and rubs to ‘chef it up.’ You’re not going to taste any frickin’ thyme.”

Basil and Rosemary were not available for comment.

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Engage this

Smitty proposes what he calls the Kill Switch Amendment:

Every Congress, in the 18th month thereof, shall require a confidence vote by at least two thirds of the legislatures of the States. Failure to meet this confidence threshold shall result in no member of that Congress being allowed to retain their seat after that seat is next up for election.

Term limits: not individual, but global. There is, of course, what some might consider a drawback:

Chemotherapy, sadly, wipes out a few good cells with the bad. But don’t let your love of good tissue trick you into tolerating cancer.

The most immediate result of this change, I predict, would be massive Federal block grants in the 17th month.

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A gift for understatement

Jake Tapper for ABC News, on the First Lady’s upcoming appearance at a Sprint Cup event:

Generally, Michelle Obama’s name has not been connected to NASCAR.

Um, yeah. You might say that.

Now there’s a Good Cause involved, the sort of thing that traditionally draws First Ladies, but some of us might be just a hair cynical about the matter:

The only reason she’s even considering this appearance is because if Barack were to show up, he’d be pelted with rotten arugula. Or he’d burn in the sunlight after being exposed to all of that corporate sponsorship. The worst that can happen with Michelle in attendance is a rash of tofu dogs.

This not being my area of expertise, I ask: “How can you tell if arugula is rotten?”

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The edge of glorious

Under the heading of Sights You Don’t See Every Day — in fact, once might be pushing it for some of us — we find Lady Gaga, outside a London hotel, looking for all the world like a normal person:

Lady Gaga in London November 12 2011

Okay, an expensively dressed normal person, but still, it’s the principle of the thing.

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Less bass, more snare

Calgary has been playing with a device which, they say, can pick an excessively noisy motor vehicle out of the pack:

[T]he Noise Snare will pop a picture of noisy cars and mail owners the ticket.

Electrical engineer Mark Nesdoly invented the snare after a loud motorcycle awoke his sleeping daughter one night.

The gizmo costs $112,500 Canadian, or 563 tickets at $200 each. While Calgary got this one free for testing purposes, they may not actually have to buy another one: the box is portable and can be set up just about anywhere.

However, nobody seems to have mentioned what sort of noises can be Snared: is it just exhaust burble (or worse), or can it also spot [alleged musician you can’t stand]?

(Via Autoblog.)

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The dreaded double whammy

We may not have an NBA season this season, and in announcing that unpleasant fact yesterday, the Oklahoman gave us fair warning:

Screenshot from the Oklahoman 11-15-11

Your assignment, should you decide to accept it, is to determine which is worse:

  • The harsh realities of the big leagues
  • More coverage

I mean, that’s a lot to hit us with, doncha think?

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Dispersing the ghosts of Mississippi

“A bullet from the back of a bush took Medgar Evers’ blood,” as Bob Dylan tells it in “Only a Pawn in Their Game,” and while Evers certainly hasn’t been forgotten since he was gunned down in Mississippi in 1963, he’s hardly a household name.

This probably won’t make him any more of one, but it makes a whole lot of sense:

Medgar Evers was back in the news over the weekend with the U.S. Navy’s christening, at San Diego, of the USNS Medgar Evers, a 689-foot, $500 million new dry cargo/ammunition ship. There were remarks by the secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, a former governor of Mississippi. And by Medgar Evers’s widow, Myrlie, who said, “I will not have to go to bed ever again wondering whether anyone will remember who Medgar Evers is.”

To some it may seem incongruous to name a warship after a slain civil rights leader. But the more one learns about Evers, the more sense it makes. As Adam Nossiter writes in his book Of Long Memory: Mississippi and the Murder of Medgar Evers, Evers earned medals for his World War II Army service in the Normandy invasion and the campaign in Northern France, and he was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Your basic all-American hero, who died trying to make sure that the blessings of America were passed on to all Americans. Perfectly logical to me that they should name a great ship for him; now the rest of the world will see his name, and remember.

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Bubbly scrubbing

I bought my first CD player in 1987 from Linda Soundtrak herself. (She sold me a receiver to match. She was good.)

Shortly thereafter I spent some long-forgotten sum on a Compact Disc Laser Lens Cleaner, made in Taiwan by Bib Audio/Video Products Limited. At the time, it struck me as ingenious: it looked just like a regular CD, but half a dozen little brushes protruded from the surface, which would presumably scrub the frickin’ laser while the disc was turning.

There was also one music track. The idea was to run the disc for the length of the music, which was sixty seconds flat. (Audacity says 1:00.08 and change, which is close enough.) The track cuts off abruptly, indicating that it was sourced from somewhere else, but I haven’t a clue as to where that might be, beyond the Pacific Rim generally.

For the sheer hell of it, I’ve dropped it here so you can give it a listen. (MP3, VBR, 2.0 megabytes.)

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More of the best-unlaid plans

That chap from “Boycott American Women” has now made his way over to Christopher Johnson’s place, with the results you might expect:

[W]hen Tough Guy asserts that American women are “generally immature, selfish, extremely arrogant and self-centered, mentally unstable, irresponsible, and highly unchaste,” what he really means is that they have opinions of their own and don’t feel the need to change them just because some man’s in the immediate vicinity.

Most of us recognize that as a feature rather than a bug.

And, from the Wish I’d Said That Department:

More than once I’ve mentioned in this space that most of you have personally seen more comets than I’ve had dates.

If I do end up saying that, at least now it’s sourced.

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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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