Oh, that magic feeling

One should always know where to go. Back in February, I pointed you towards Abbey Road, and noted that in addition to the canonical English thoroughfare with the zebra crossing, there were streets of this name in The Village, about three miles from me, and in Syracuse, New York.

Be advised that there is also an Abbey Road in Fort Collins, Colorado.

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Meanwhile in Ward 9

Oh, wait: we don’t have a Ward 9. However, Oklahoma City has redrawn the existing eight wards to correspond to population growth and shifts, and a public meeting was held yesterday to gauge input.

Ward 4’s Pete White, as always, thinks we should be going to a 10-ward system, and he brought it up at the meeting. Brittany Novotny sent up a snapshot of White’s current thinking on the matter, which actually doesn’t look that much unlike the actual eight-ward map being proposed. Then again, it really couldn’t, given the shape of the city’s corporate limits, which suggests the sort of creature that might pester Beowulf — once.

Me, I think we’d be better served by twelve wards. That’s still nearly 50,000 people per ward. (Tulsa, with two-thirds the population of Oklahoma City, has nine wards.) Then again, you may remember what happened when I tossed this topic to former Ward 2 councilman Sam Bowman, five years ago:

Bowman pointed out, as [Pete] White had, that the existing arrangement was perhaps insufficiently diverse, and suggested that it might be possible to redraw the lines to produce something resembling a majority-Hispanic ward and take some of the sheer vastness out of White’s Ward 4. There is, though, said Bowman, not much support for expanding the Council right now. If it’s going to happen, I suspect it will be in 2011, after the new Census figures come out and they have to redraw the boundaries anyway.

Would you believe 2021?

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I, motor-noter

For 2012, Honda drops “Accord” from the name of its gilded-turd Crosstour. Had they been wise, they’d have dropped “Honda” also, and tried to pass off this misshapen monstrosity as the spawn of some lesser automaker. (I hear SsangYong is looking for product.) In the meantime, there are two new colors, neither of which will help, and some new buttons on the dash allegedly integrated into the existing fecalcomania. There’s also an optional rear-view camera, positioned in such a way that you’ll never see the look on your face as you realize that you just peeled off thirty-five large for the Pontiac Aztek’s kid brother.

(Actually, I have no particular axe to grind with this model; I’m just trying my hand at this little pastime.)

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Teenage != wasteland

In case you think I’ve been expending far too much time and space on modestly-talented adolescent singers of late, please allow me to (perhaps) introduce you to Jasmine van den Bogaerde, fifteen as of last May, who performs under the unassuming name “Birdy.” She’s put out a total of two singles so far, both covers, both lovely. This is the second:

For comparison, here’s the original by the xx.

Incidentally, you’ve heard of one other person with this surname: Derek Jules Gaspard Ulric Niven van den Bogaerde, better known as Dirk Bogarde, great-uncle to Birdy.

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Let us now unpraise famous men

Last month, playing off a New York Times obituary, I did a sendoff for designer Alex Steinweiss, credited as the inventor of the record-album cover.

Said credit may have been a tad premature. Appended to the JazzTimes obituary for Steinweiss:

According to two emails received by JazzTimes following the publication of this news item, from Cary Ginell and Michael Biel, Steinweiss did not actually invent the album cover. Wrote Biel, “There were some notable artistic jazz album covers prior to Steinweiss. Two albums by Lee Wiley, Willie the Lion Smith, Bessie Smith, Blackbirds revival cast, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Symposium of Swing, are just a few of the jazz albums with illustrated covers that came out before Steinweiss, let alone over a hundred others of all types.”

Biel declined to toot his own horn, but Ginell reported that Biel had made a presentation at last year’s Association for Recorded Sound Collections conference in New Orleans, in which he exhibited actual photographs of pre-Steinweiss cover art. (The conference abstract [pdf] contains Biel’s own executive summary.) Said Biel:

Record collectors and archivists know that this isn’t true, but the writers who are promoting these tales and elevating Steinweiss to mythical proportions are exclusively noncollectors or are limited to CDs and LPs.

Or, in my case, perhaps too willing to believe The New York Times.

(Shout-out to old CompuServe pal Jeff Tamarkin, who wrote — and then updated — the JazzTimes version of the Steinweiss obit.)

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Verbal phish

Someone claiming to be representing the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network — and how sweet it is to know that financial crimes are actually being enforced these days — sent out a laugher of an email. Sum allegedly being held: $3.5 million. Means of acquisition: call their 800 number.

Yes, really:

The number to call is 1-8009359935 (if you are outside United States dial +1 follow with the 10 digits). Listen to the instructions carefully and proceed with caution by pressing at every request button 1,# until you reach to the point where you are requested to punch in the Account Number punch in 001042940, this is the federation’s consolidated account accommodating your payment funds at the moment, the loans and grants balances (L&G.B). After this, you would be requested to punch in the access code number and lastly punch in carefully (access code: 00334000) by way of a voice reconfirmation of your account particulars. This simply means confirming you as the beneficiary of the said account that will permit us to complete payment to you accordingly.

And where is this account, exactly?

The aforementioned fund above is currently deposited with our United States Federation accounts with JP Morgan Chase Bank for security measures in order to secure fund from lost and avert any future transfer/payment delays such as those urgly experience you got your self-involved in the past years with representatives and some ghost bank officials in Africa.

Urgly, indeed.

This might have been slightly less implausible had it not clearly stated in the header that it was sent from test@zjvcc.edu.cn, an address that’s all over the Web as a source of Dubious Stuff.

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Even more jobs lost

Apparently the Mexican drug cartels are grabbing an increasing percentage of the methamphetamine market, and in so doing, they’re tearing at the Hyacinth Girl’s heartstrings:

I cannot help but feel terrible for the Mom & Pop meth labs that are no doubt getting evicted from their trailers as we speak. They can’t make the rent, kids. Our dependence on foreign meth is killing the industry. Thousands of white trash families will be forced to make legitimate welfare claims.

The humanity! Pock-marked, RAID-scented borderline schizophrenics will be holding up the line at the liquor store, using their EBT cards to buy some Wild Turkey to fill the void left by the demise of their meth manufacturing careers. Now they’ll be back to fixing screen doors and perfectly functional bikes at midnight, ’cause they ain’t gonna have nothin else to do.

Where is our compassion now?

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Better all the time

“Can’t get no worse,” sniffed Lennon, but then he wasn’t around to see this:

General Revenue Fund collections showed moderate growth in July, Office of State Finance Director Preston Doerflinger said Monday. He also announced that the deposit into the state’s Rainy Day Fund will be $30 million more than originally expected.

“A final reconciliation of all sources contributing to the General Revenue Fund raised the deposit into the Rainy Day Fund to $249.2 million, compared with last month’s estimate of approximately $219 million,” Doerflinger said.

Meanwhile, total GRF collections for the first month of the 2012 fiscal year came in at $385 million, more than enough for agencies to pay state bills for August.

Nothing quite as comforting as having almost a quarter-billion to spare. Then again, it wasn’t so long ago — 2009, specifically — that there was almost $600 million stashed away in what is officially called the Constitutional Reserve Fund. Unlike some other governments we could name, Oklahoma isn’t allowed to run a deficit, so the Fund was repeatedly raided, and the balance dropped to $2.03. That’s two dollars and three cents, which won’t get you so much as a footlong cheese coney from Sonic.

This does not mean we’re out of the woods exactly, and I’m not holding my breath waiting for Washington to borrow some more money to hand out in the guise of “stimulus,” but things look a lot less queasy this summer than they did last summer, not that we’re going to be awash in cash for FY 13 or anything like that.

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What 800 number?

You want to complain, complain on Facebook:

“Based on what I’ve seen in 90 days, I can realize that this is something we are going to have to deal with in the future. As opposed to operators or help desks just waiting for a customer to complain, we need to have a Facebook presence to solve issues before they get bigger, and take a more proactive role in identifying consumer issues or question.”

So saith Erich Marx, director of Marketing Communications for Nissan North America, who apparently has a staff of 15 who do nothing but watch social media all day and/or all of the night.

I have my doubts. I do read the Infiniti page on Facebook, and it’s largely filled with concept-car teases and low-level market research; I can’t see bringing them into the picture if I’m stuck by the side of the road. (Then again, I’m not above sending off a tweet if I have a bar’s worth of cell service.)

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Moguls of mercy

Capitalism isn’t compassionate? Damn right it isn’t, says Ric Locke:

Capitalism contains not one atom of compassion. That’s the whole f*ing point.

The Universe isn’t compassionate. If the Sun should produce a massive solar flare, wiping out all life on Earth and Harry Reid, it would be because some particle zigged when we would have preferred it to zag. The particle wouldn’t give a damn because it doesn’t have a damn to give; neither it nor the gazillions that follow it to produce a disaster (for us) would have any compassion, because they don’t have anything to be compassionate with. The flare would propagate through interplanetary space as directed by conditions as existing without exhibiting or encountering a scintilla of thought, let alone compassion, and would wash over the planet according to the inexorable Laws of the Universe.

Now if we actually had some of that, instead of an incessant flow of rent-seekers pestering Washington on behalf of the undeserving — and I mean everyone from General Electric to J. Random Crackhead — we might actually be better off.

There are, admittedly, a few areas I’d just as soon not see turned over to the market: see, for instance, Debra Satz, Why Some Things Should Not Be For Sale: The Moral Limits of Markets (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010), in which “noxious” markets are defined and, I think, reasonably condemned. Some of the “noxious” list: child labor, organ trafficking, and indentured servitude.

But beyond controlling these outliers, having the government’s thumb on the scale for every transaction down to and including lemonade stands doesn’t come close to anyone’s definition of capitalism or of compassion.

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Stoking that star-making machinery

For no reason I can fathom, I got an email from a member of this band, who sent me a YouTube link. “We’re trying to play decent pop music,” he said, “not some of the garbage that is being put out right now.”

Well, one man’s garbage is another man’s garland, but what the hell. Here’s Whos On Third with “I’m Under You”:

Not much in the way of visuals yet, since they’re unsigned and don’t have a budget for a video even, but this song is pleasantly bouncy, sort of a heavier take on the Hudson Brothers’ “Rendezvous,” which is overdue for a revival, even an oblique one.

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The weather up there

Elaine Dove, height 1.75 meters, on this peculiar condition they call “tallness”:

In our culture, tallness equates in the eyes of many with social dominance. Tall men are the guys that seemingly everyone wants to either be or be with in both gay and straight world. Whether we consciously do so or not, we turn to tall men as some kind of symbol of competence, masculinity, protectiveness and confidence.

But tall women? Where do we fit into that? Are we less feminine because we tower, less approachable because our natural sight line is over the heads of many? Can I get away with the same assertive behavior a shorter woman would display without being regarded as bitchy, overly aggressive, demanding? I’ve noticed that my shorter female friends often get complimented by being called “cute” or “adorable.” As I can best recall, the only men who ever described me this way were all 6’4 or taller. Leaving aside the question of whether “cute” is even a desirable way to be described, I wonder if my cuteness occurs in a pretty predictable ratio to the height differential between myself and a man. I’ve also noticed that men 6’4 and over tend to make a beeline for me in social situations where we could meet one another. Maybe they’re tired of displacing discs in their necks to kiss a woman.

As we’ve seen before, “cute” tends to imply “childlike” and yes, even “adorable,” neither of which you can easily stick to your taller folk unless you’re actually trying to mock them, which as a rule will not enhance your chance of dating them. (See also “feisty,” which, as the phrase goes, has never been applied to anyone over six feet except in the National Basketball Association.)

My own perception is not particularly reliable. I can usually suss out four foot nine, having once dated someone of that height; however, I tend to read anyone 5’10” or taller as being taller than I am. (Tallest woman I ever met admitted to 6’2″, and may have been taller than that; she could definitely look me in the bald spot. She did not, however, seem lacking in femininity.)

Being tall doesn’t necessarily make me more confident, though I’ve learned that others perceive me that way regardless of how I’m feeling on the inside. Let’s face it, the discussion about tallness is often not the easiest one for women to have — especially with men.

It’s apparently not easy for the adolescent girl, either, given the number of message-board postings that boil down to “HELP! I’m freakishly tall! When does it stop?”

Still, I can’t help but think that anyone at either end of any bell curve you care to name is going to be at least a little bit self-conscious about being there.

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Ten years after

So I’m looking through the very first posts by Glenn Reynolds, who’s been at the Instapundit soapbox for ten years now, presumably taking time out for meals, though I’m damned if I can figure where he finds the opportunity, and I wonder: “What was I saying back then?”

Apparently this:

Thumbs up to this moderately-newfangled chip-repair service for automotive windshields. As World Tour fans will recall, I caught a meteorite or something while passing between the Carolinas on I-95. A Charleston glass shop balked at repairing the hole, saying that it was too close to the line of sight; South Carolina law is apparently fairly finicky about repairable and non-repairable zones. I balked at replacing the windshield, reasoning that I had a couple thousand miles to go, and what’s to prevent me from catching another freaking projectile? There were no further falling rocks, and I resolved to ignore the little dent — until today, when I watched a repair job being performed on a coworker’s vehicle, and I was sufficiently impressed to ask the young lady doing the deed if she could make time for my car next. She could, and all that remains is a faint semicircle surrounding a tiny zit, low enough on the glass that I actually have to look for it to see it. A shorter driver might not be so lucky, but while I’ve lost an inch or two off my waist, I’m not likely to lose that much off my height, so that’s not my problem.

Thumbs down to whatever demons are automagically summoned when you have to install a HP DeskJet on an IBM ThinkPad, especially if it’s going to be running through a USB port. (No, it’s not a Windows 95 box, but thanks for asking.) I am sorely tempted to blow off this USB stuff and make the end user deal with a parallel port, the way God (or at least Centronics) intended.

Oh, and there was Vent #256 that week.

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Font of every blessing

Okay, not every blessing, but this works for me:

Zooey Deschanel and Katy Perry

(From meme-meme.org. Previous my-don’t-they-look-alike coverage here.)

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You could call it an analogy

TurboTax Timmy doth inspire us all, it seems:

April 19th, 2011 — “Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said Tuesday there is ‘no risk’ the U.S. will lose its top credit rating amid a new analysis that revised its outlook on American debt to ‘negative’.”

In another similar risk-free move, I decided to go without the condom. The way I figure it, when will I be in Haiti again?

If I’d issued KingShamus a MasterCard, I’d be raising his limit right about now, just for that.

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Slenderize your soda

The Coca-Cola Company, citing its 125th anniversary, has introduced a new 1.25-liter bottle, complete with traditional Coke waistline, which showed up on my local store shelves this week.

Coca-Cola says:

The perfect take-home size for smaller households, the 1.25-liter bottle, which will be available for less than $1.00, extends the growing stable of Coca-Cola packages designed to provide people with more ways to enjoy the beverages they love.

“Less than $1.00″ = what, 99 cents? Actually, the local store in question had the new-style bottle for 98 cents, which is twice as much of a discount as I might have expected. Then again, shelf space inevitably being limited, the 1.25-liter bottles were shoved in hard against their 2-liter brethren — which were being sold for a buck and a quarter.

The three-liter bottle has been missing in action for several years.

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