Porridger’s almanac

The current issue of Mental Floss has a full-page article on gruel, which if nothing else demonstrates that January/February is a rough time to sell magazines. (See also: Playboy’s Lindsay Lohan pictorial, or any Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.)

There’s a recipe attached, but it looked even less appetizing than you’re probably imagining, so I went elsewhere, and apparently rather a lot of folks, and not just SCA types, have developed their own gruels. Here’s Serle’s, from the Woodhouse Defense League:

Add one-fourth cup of cooked and mashed oats, one tablespoon flour and one-fourth teaspoon salt to one and one-half cups boiling water, let boil two minutes, then cook over hot water one hour.

Strain, bring to boiling point, and add milk or cream.

If you prefer something trendier, try polenta.

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That fracking stuff

The Railroad Commission of Texas (yes, really) has approved a disclosure rule for hydraulic fracturing, to apply to all new oil or gas wells drilled beginning the first of February.

In the meantime, Eric Siegmund gives us an idea of what sort of stuff is being shot into the ground:

The Berkley #6 is an oil well with a vertical depth of almost two miles. During the completion process, the formation was fractured using a solution of over 700,000 gallons of water (an Olympic-sized swimming pool holds only about 600,000 gallons), into which was mixed a combination of 27 additional substances, ranging from the mundane (citric acid) to the exotic (dodecylbenzenesulfonic acid, cyclohexene, and alkylaryl ethoxylate). Some of these substances comprised as little as .0005% of the total injected volume, or the equivalent of less than four gallons. I don’t know about you, but I really can’t assess whether this concentration of 2-butoxyethanol or sodium metaborate is a bad thing or not. This stuff is 10,000 feet underground, with several million (billion?) tons of rock on top of it. How can I assess the risk of having a chemical that, for all I know, occurs naturally elsewhere, pumped in relatively minute quantities into a deep hole in the ground?

The actual disclosure sheet for this particular well looks something like this [pdf]. Some of the ingredients are proprietary and described only in general terms, though none of them make up even as much as 0.01 percent of the fracking fluid, which is 90 percent water. And it’s probably a good thing that Texas is getting this stuff out in the open before the EPA gets its green panties in more of a wad.

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To hoon it may concern

The ancient stereotype notwithstanding, women drivers are statistically less likely to crash than men — it’s very seldom you’ll see a story like this about a woman — and women generally pay a smidgen less for auto insurance. The European Union, dedicated to a bureaucratic definition of equality, has ruled that this pricing is discriminatory, and as of next year, all else being equal (whatever that may mean in the insurance market), men and women must be charged the same premiums.

Insurance companies hate to be told how much they can charge, so this Reuters report should surprise no one:

Motor insurers seeking to get around a European ban on charging male drivers more than women are turning to innovative black box technology that could trigger an upheaval in the way car insurance is sold.

Britain’s biggest motor insurer, Royal Bank of Scotland, is among those testing the technology, which allows insurers to monitor customers through devices in their cars, and charge according to how riskily they drive.

Insurers, previously deterred by the high cost of so-called telematics insurance, now see it as their best hope for avoiding price hikes that could drive some customers away once the ban comes into force next year.

Specifically, they’re worried about female customers, who according to German research will be facing an average increase of 11 percent for their insurance.

And the cars are becoming readable:

The European Union’s “eCall” initiative, which aims to ensure that by 2015 car makers fit vehicles with devices that automatically dial for help in the event of a crash, could give telematics insurance a decisive boost by allowing it to piggy-back on a ready-made technological infrastructure.

The eCall black box, separate from those already fitted into motor vehicles, will dial 112 (the Continental emergency number) and transmit crash data and GPS coordinates to the authorities.

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Wrack and opinion

Usually an Oklahoman editorial flows off the front page of NewsOK.com after a day or two. (Hey, at least they’re not putting them on the front page of the actual paper, the way they used to.) But their preposterously early Presidential endorsement — what, do they think they have some clout in Des Moines? — has hung around for the better part of a week; in fact, they’ve built a whole subsection around it in the hopes of luring some of those social-media types.

Given the usual quality of reader commentary at NewsOK — you have to wonder how these people have time to respond to every single item on the site and still meet their meth-delivery deadlines — this has the potential for truly epic, possibly even biblical, fail. It wouldn’t matter so much were the centerpiece stately and timeless. But, as Clark Matthews points out, it falls a bit short of that mark:

Look, I don’t mind that the paper endorsed Mitt Romney. As far as Republicans go, he’s my second favorite (after Jon Huntsman) of the field. I don’t even mind that they pretend President Obama is some all powerful divisive force instead of a middle-of-the-road pragmatist who pisses off the liberals in his party. What bothers me is they are journalists — purveyors of the truth — and the entire article reads like idiotic rantings of ill-informed internet trolls.

Especially compared with the Romney endorsement by the Washington Examiner, Opubco’s corporate sister. Perhaps the Black Tower believes — or has been instructed to believe — that a lack of coherent style will be perceived as honest and homespun. Surely nothing else explains a piece of hackwork like this:

Oklahomans knew Obama was a poor choice for president in 2008. Now the rest of the country knows it. But on Election Day next November, we won’t be checking “yes” or “no” beside the name of the incumbent. It is not a recall election. We will either check Obama’s name or that of another candidate. Romney is the name we must check.

That’s high-school level stuff, and not in the advanced-placement classes either.

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Palin comparison

Back in the spring, I noted that Julianne Moore had been signed to play Sarah Palin in HBO’s film Game Change, though I grumbled something incoherent about how there was no resemblance whatsoever.

Assuming Just Jared hasn’t been punk’d, I must now eat those words:

Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin

And for good measure, here’s a 50-second (more or less) video teaser:

If nothing else, this demonstrates the validity of the modified adage “The man who says it can’t be done should not interrupt the woman doing it.”

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Are there any more at home like you?

Fishersville Mike reports on a curious statistic:

The Pittsburgh Steelers are 10-4 on the season.

0-3 in games against John or Jim Harbaugh.

10-1 in games coached by someone not named Harbaugh.

You have to figure other NFL teams are hoping that John and Jim’s family will cough up a few more Harbaughs for their coaching slots.

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Spanning a lifetime, nearly

I was pretty happy with the Trent Reznor/Atticus Ross soundtrack to The Social Network, so it was a given that I’d go for their newest collaboration, the score for another David Fincher film: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This is a bigger package: thirty-nine tracks on three CDs for $14 plus shipping, or the same 39 tracks not on CDs for slightly less. I duly put in my preorder — release is scheduled for next Tuesday — and they sent me a batch of MP3s on the spot in a handy ZIP file.

I opened up the file in good ol’ WinZIP, sorted the contents by Date/Time Modified, and I think we can safely say that Reznor and Ross might be, in certain instances, ahead of their time:

Screenshot from WinZIP

Not all of them, though.

You can get your own copy here; there’s a 6-track sampler available.

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Let’s just say you’re on your own

Oh, that brand-new Saab sitting on the dealer’s lot? It’s out of warranty:

According to a leaked memo to Saab dealers obtained by Autoblog, the bankrupt automaker is ceasing all warranty coverage on its vehicles in North America.

The memo was sent out Monday following a Swedish court’s approval of Saab’s bankruptcy petition and — as we suspected — all new vehicles will be sold “as is.”

The North American branch of Saab also is suspending the payment of new car, powertrain, emissions and parts warranties, along with recall campaigns, certified pre-owned coverage and no-charge maintenance programs.

Which sounds like a good argument for a 9-4X at fire-sale prices: your local Caddy dealer might actually recognize it as a sister to his SRX, which means he might be able to fix it, albeit on your dime.

Not that anyone is going to buy one, though, until we find out whether this suspension has an expiration date.

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Mind the gap, but not very much

We’ve got some serious generation gap (a phrase that probably should have died in the 1960s) in play these days. First, Emily on her fellow Millenials:

My generation isn’t particularly easy to please. We’re cynical assholes with a penchant for aggrandizement and an inability to recognize the difference between global citizenship and self-promotion (no, read that. It’s amazing). Which might be part of the reason that the first Millennial to rise to power on Earth is a sociopathic 28-year-old North Korean dictator with his father’s fashion sense and nuclear capabilities.

Not that my demographic cohort is all that damned wonderful:

What the Boomers as a generation missed (there were, of course and thankfully, many honorable individual exceptions) was the core set of values that every generation must discover to make a successful transition to real adulthood: maturity. Collectively the Boomers continued to follow ideals they associated with youth and individualism: fulfillment and “creativity” rather than endurance and commitment. Boomer spouses dropped families because relationships with spouses or children or mortgage payments no longer “fulfilled” them; Boomer society tolerated the most selfish and immature behavior in its public and cultural leaders out of the classically youthful and immature belief that intolerance and hypocrisy are greater sins than the dereliction of duty. That the greatest and most effective political leader the Baby Boom produced was William Jefferson Clinton tells you all you need to know.

“Mea culpa,” said the narrator, admitting to having helped the Big He into the White House.

All we need now is a Gen X representative to denounce both upper and lower slices of the sandwich. Then again, obsessive media hand-wringing notwithstanding, I suspect none of this really qualifies as “news,” that inter-generational resentment likely has existed as long as man has had generations; there’s got to be a centenarian out there somewhere who’s still bitter because his grandparents were somehow complicit in the Panic of 1873.

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A little short of actual revenge

Yeah, yeah, we know: preseason. Doesn’t mean squat. Still, there’s a certain amusement value in a game where Daequan Cook misses ten of eleven from beyond the arc and it doesn’t matter; the Thunder were up 74-53 after three quarters, and the bench held on to dispatch the pesky Dallas reserves, 87-83. It’s good to beat the champs.

Much of what we saw Sunday, we saw again: dominance on the boards (51-39) and too many turnovers (17, though the Mavs gave up just as many). Both Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki showed up for this one, though neither did much damage (nine points between them). OKC ran out to a 23-point lead before letting things get a little too lax, and you know Scott Brooks is going to be drilling on Finishing The Damn Game for much of the week — especially since the season opens on Christmas against the Magic, who aren’t exactly pushovers. Yet. (Depends on whether Dwight Howard vanishes from the roster between now and then.) Still, disposing of the league champions twice in a row, even in the preseason, has got to be good for morale. It’s certainly good for mine.

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Deep space it isn’t

Apparently the old-school hip-hop tune was wrong: white lines do do it, especially if they’re scribed on a pricey piece of asphalt.

Like, say, 14 East Main in Bricktown, which is up for sale for a startling five million dollars. Or maybe not so startling, given this description:

This is perhaps the most important parking lot in Bricktown. The lot, which is situated in the center of one of Bricktown’s most vibrant blocks, is invaluable as it services a number of surrounding buildings and accomodates hundreds of customers seeking event parking. While the lot boasts great income today, it could be redeveloped to accommodate a much needed parking garage that could potentially even have apartments on top of it. Bricktown has long had a reputation of being parking deficient.

I have indeed parked in this lot several times, and it’s a handy location, though I’ve never felt that Bricktown, or any particular location in and around downtown, was actually lacking in parking space. On the other hand, I’m not one of those hypersuburban types who feels that a space within 30 feet of the front door is his birthright. (Several such are floating in front of the Belle Isle Walmart even as we speak.)

And the price tag isn’t as ominous as it looks, judging by the comps: the parking lot on the Canal (100 East California) changed hands five years ago for just shy of $4.9 million. Not bad for five-eighths of an acre.

I just wonder how much it would cost to slap a parking garage on top of this slab — and whether anyone would willingly live over it.

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Occasional titters

The Mystery Lady in the previous post said “I have a great sense of humor. I know when to be serious and when to have fun.”

The late Christopher Hitchens would have told you that women were simply not funny, but this was, suggests the lady known as neo-neocon, mostly an effort to provoke:

Hitchens was well aware that there are a number of female humorists who are very funny indeed, but he correctly observed that, in general, it’s men who are more inclined to create humor than women are. Hitchens’ explanation was that it’s mainly because men are trying to appeal to women through humor, and women have no need to appeal to men that way because they’re already plenty appealing in other ways.

A Google search for “women can’t tell jokes” promises 77,000 results, though obviously there’s more to having a sense of humor than merely telling jokes. Again, neo-neocon:

Expressive humor, so often a potent aphrodisiac for a woman when she perceives it in a man (a fact that Hitchens exploited to his great lifelong pleasure, because he was a very witty man), doesn’t tend to enhance her love life if she possesses the trait, unless she happens upon the uncommon man who finds it a turn-on (and there are such men), or unless she uses her gift sparingly. I’ve pondered why that might be so, and I’ve decided that humor is a decidedly aggressive act, even though it’s often a somewhat masked and de-fanged sort of aggression. It can be gentle or more barbed, but all humor has something of an edge, and as such is perceived in the gut as somewhat masculine.

A bit of egalitarianism might serve us guys well here. I didn’t start out in such a state — more’s the pity — but eventually I figured out that were I a member of an actual couple, it wasn’t at all necessary for me to be, or even to pretend to be, the chancellor of the combined exchequer, the decider of all difficult questions, or the raconteur at the Jones party up the street.

(Title goes back, oh, 35 years or so.)

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This should have been sent to Billy Shears

The latest spam from a member of the Lonely Hearts Club:

Happy lady wants more happiness!

I hope to share this with my future man! Are you there? I’m looking for someone who is sociable, kind, manly, with real feelings maybe a little romantic in certain circumstances, and realist.

Are you not perfect? Are you charming? Do you want to love and be loved? If yes call me.

What can I say about myself? I’m a girl that is both attractive in body and soul.

I love the mountains, autumn, cars, stars, sport, my city.

I have a great sense of humor. I know when to be serious and when to have fun.

I’m about as little romantic as they come, I suppose.

But I’ll award a couple of points for ingenuity: the obligatory fake email address might actually exist at Hearst Magazines, which entity is on my whitelist because I subscribe to one of their publications.

Aside: A search for “Billy Shears” on Wikipedia redirects to a Sgt. Pepper’s page.

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And it’s $15 for a towel

It was Jeff Jarvis who first suggested flying nude as a security measure in the wake of 9/11. The suggestion may or may not have been tongue-in-cheek; little did he know that the TSA was going to inspect people’s naughty bits on a regular basis.

There is, however, another argument in favor of boarding in the buff:

Toilets in jumbos are so small that anyone larger than a jockey needs the skills of a contortionist to unzip, unbuckle, unbutton and remove clothing.

It takes a six-point turn just to wash your hands — if you can work out how to use the taps — and then you’ve got to do it all in reverse. All while worrying about the queue forming outside the door.

How many people would actually go for such a thing? Not many, I suspect, though the number is certainly nonzero:

In an entirely unscientific survey conducted by Trip Advisor, nearly four in five of the 22,091 respondents said they were willing to get their gear off when high in the sky, if it meant that other people on the flight would also be under-dressed.

The upsides include reduced plane weight, no-fuss body scans and plenty of good visual amusement when your flight is delayed.

There is, of course, a downside:

[Y]ou’d want to hope there’s no turbulence while the hostie is waving a pot of piping hot coffee above your jewels.

Even now, readers are wondering what the hell airline is it that actually serves hot coffee these days.

(Via this nudiarist tweet.)

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The glamorous life of the lexicographer

For one thing, there’s that whole business about how “glamour” seems to lose its U when the “-ous” suffix is hung on it. And remarkably, this is not the stuff of daydreams:

Let’s be perfectly clear here: all the glamour and intrigue that most people attach to lexicography is a fiction. Samuel Johnson, in his great dictionary of 1755, defined “lexicographer” as “a writer of dictionaries; a harmless drudge,” and he is not lying. My day consists of sifting through citations of words in context and puzzling over how to succinctly describe the glob of dust and crud that makes up a dust bunny. (I settled on “aggregate.”) Lexicographers do not sit in sleek conference rooms and make your language. That’s what you — the reading, writing, speaking public — do. Language is democratic, not oligarchic. That’s where the real glamour is.

L’Académie Française might beg to differ, but unlike the sons and daughters of Webster, they actually seek to make the language. Sometimes they even succeed.

(Via this tweet by the authoritatively glamorous [or was that “glamorously authoritative”?] Nancy Friedman.)

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Kicked-up pumps

So where do you find the perfect black pump? Some thoughts on the matter:

My perfect black pump would have a ½-inch platform, smooth leather, a 3 inch heel, an almond toe and, at most, a $200-300 price tag. I don’t want any annoying spikes or studs. I have had my fill of them.

The readership here tends toward a somewhat lower price point, so I expanded the criteria a bit, and turned up this Nine West offering:

Rocha by Nine West

“Rocha” is a little bit too tall — 3¾ inches, only a quarter-inch platform — but it’s only $79, and at this writing Peltz has it on sale. There’s also a distressed-taupe version, which ought to fill the bill for so-called “nude” colors.

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