The plot sickens

For those of you just tuning in, a paragraph of background:

“It is absolutely, absolutely unacceptable to shoot indiscriminately. Target only politicians and their staff and leave regular citizens alone.”

A bit of gallows humor from Travis J. I. Corcoran, proprietor of TJIC.com, recently 403ed into silence for reasons possibly having to do with this:

A blog threatening members of Congress in the wake of the Tucson, Arizona shooting has prompted Arlington police to temporarily suspend the firearms license of an Arlington man.

It was the headline “1 down and 534 to go” that caught the attention. “One” refers to Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in the rampage, while 534 refers to the other members of the U.S. House and Senate.

Police are investigating the “suitability” of 39-year-old Travis Corcoran to have a firearms license.

Which is rather like having mice investigating the suitability of your pantry, but that’s not what I wanted to bring up.

Rather, I’m wondering if The Powers That Be are trying to gin up a news blackout. As noted, tjic.com is 403ed for the moment; Mark Alger put up a post about Corcoran’s plight, which I noticed first as a Facebook link from NetworkedBlogs, which I vowed to go back to when I had some free time. That link is gone, though Alger’s actual post is intact, and Guy S., who posted something similar, noted at Alger’s place:

Mark, my post was also “deleted” on [Facebook], via the Networked Blogs app. However, the WordPress app, which does the same thing, is still showing the post.

Sounds suspicious to me. Perhaps WordPress doesn’t have an political agenda — or if they do, they keep it to themselves, thank you very much.

(Update: Guy S. says it’s not a scheme by NetworkedBlogs. See comments.)

In the meantime, there’s this:

It’s not like there isn’t a ton of case law on how the First Amendment applies to threats of political violence. Arlington will lose this, if it ever gets to trial. Post Heller and McDonald, they’ll lose even worse. Idiots.

But this is, as JayG points out, an attack not only on the First Amendment, but on the Second as well. An attack of this sort — groundless in logic, and arguably mendacious in nature — is an attack on all.

Corcoran’s one mistake, if you ask me, was not titling it 2 down and 533 to go, thereby giving them a wild goose to chase. I’m told they’re quite good at that in Taxachusetts.

But the exasperating aspect of it all is this:

We live in a world where a significant proportion of the population thinks speech that makes them uncomfortable is the same thing as shouting “fire” in a crowded theatre.

Nor is there any cure on the horizon, unless you want to herd them into a theatre and burn it down, which strikes me as ultimately counterproductive.

And one other thing: “firearms license”? Isn’t that just a hair incompatible with “shall not be infringed”?

If it can happen to one guy in New England, it can happen to any of us, anywhere.

Spartacus updated

“There ought to be one day — just one — when there is open season on senators.” — Will Rogers (1879-1935)

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All the retro-cute you could want

Yeah, her again. He’s there too.

I trust this requires no explanation.

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409

Poor Andrew Ian Dodge. I don’t even want to know what led him to title the 409th Carnival of the Vanities “Colon Clear.”

Allow me to divert the discussion, then, to an overhead shot of 409 Colon Street, Staten Island, New York, as swiped from Zillow:

Aerial view of a portion of Staten Island

Further diversion: A joke from my grade-school days:

Q. Name four islands whose names are questions.

A. Hawaii?; Samoa?; Jamaica?; and Staten Island?

I suppose you had to not be there.

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Stabbed by one’s own CMS

An unfortunate juxtaposition of headlines at NewsOK.com earlier today:

NewsOK screenshot

The usual write-your-own-joke rules prevail.

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T minus 27 years

Well, 27 years less one day:

The year 2038 problem (also known as Unix Millennium Bug, Y2K38, Y2.038K or S2G by analogy to the Y2K problem) may cause some computer software to fail before, in the year 2038 or after. The problem affects all software and systems that both store system time as a signed 32-bit integer, and interpret this number as the number of seconds since 00:00:00 UTC on Thursday, 1 January 1970. The furthest time that can be represented this way is 03:14:07 UTC on Tuesday, 19 January 2038. Times beyond this moment will “wrap around” and be stored internally as a negative number, which these systems will interpret as a date in 1901 rather than 2038. This is caused by integer overflow.

Using a signed 64-bit integer would allow for dates up to 290 billion years in the future, useful in case you’re maintaining a Keith Richards archive.

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Gassed accommodations

While most cars and trucks can be converted, at not-inconsiderable cost, to run on compressed natural gas, which sells for a buck-forty per gallon-equivalent at the nearest CNG station to me, you don’t have a lot of choices among new cars:

Currently, the only natural gas light-duty vehicle manufactured in the U.S. is the Honda Civic GX. (While Toyota introduced a CNG Camry at the Los Angeles Auto Show in November 2008, it has yet to announce any production plans for the vehicle.) Not surprisingly, the Civic is in high demand.

Outside of purchasing a Civic, American consumers have two other options: pursuing one of the limited makes and models available from the EPA-certified conversion system manufacturers, or purchasing from a government auction of pre-owned fleet vehicles.

From the email bag comes word that this is not the case in Europe, and that Mercedes-Benz has a couple of models that can run on natural gas, dubbed NGT. The neat thing: they’ll also run on premium gasoline. There are two separate tanks, and a switch on the dash to choose your fuel. Says my correspondent:

MB are talking about possibly selling the newest E-Class NGT in the states next year. I understand the bigwigs at Chesapeake are lobbying hard to get them to sell it in OK.

I wouldn’t blame them. If you’d been shying away from CNG-fueled cars because you didn’t think you could take them on road trips, you may have just lost your major excuse, though “How in the bloody hell am I supposed to be able to afford a Mercedes?” will presumably still apply.

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Lisboetic justice

What do Dylan, Hendrix and Nirvana have in common?

Answer: They’re on the list of baby names forbidden by the Portuguese government, along with “Kathleen,” “Olaf” and, for some reason, “Allan Brett.”

The list runs 80 pages in PDF format (you can get it here), from Aarão to Zuzidine.

Allan Brett, I assume, was unavailable for comment.

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Different grid, same smartening

The frost hadn’t even started to accumulate on my brand-new “smart” electric meter when the Us Too! letter arrived from the gas company:

Oklahoma Natural Gas Company will begin installing an Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system in your neighborhood within the next two weeks. The technology, designed to improve your service, uses a device on your meter that allows us to remotely obtain your meter reading using radio signals. An Oklahoma Natural Gas Company vehicle driving nearby picks up the signal and reads your gas meter.

This is an order of magnitude less smart than OG&E’s smart meters, which can phone home as easily as E.T. On the other hand, it’s going to cost rather a lot less, especially since they may not be upgrading all the hardware:

In some cases, the installer will attach an AMR device to your existing meter. In other instances, the entire meter will need to be replaced and your gas service will be temporarily interrupted.

Just what I needed to hear in the middle of winter.

The existing meter was relocated from the far north end of the yard to up against the back of the house in the fall of 2007, the same time a leaky gas line was replaced. It’s distinctly old-school in appearance, so I suspect its days are numbered.

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Humid Kitty

Old pal (and occasional commenter) Mel sends along this not-exactly-towering presence:

Hello Kitty humidifier

Target.com sells this humidifier on its Web site, but it’s apparently not available at Target stores. You’re looking at $39.99, maybe $5 of which, I’d guess, went to Kittyfication.

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Melo/drama

Radio guy Matt Pinto was showing signs of strain towards the end of this game, and so were the tattered remains of the Thunder defense, which couldn’t stop the Nuggets from closing things out in Denver, 112-107, evening the season series at 1-1.

Perhaps the most heartening thing about this game, even though it was a loss, is the idea that Carmelo Anthony, who’s been the subject of absolutely insane levels of speculation of late — should he stay or should he go? — apparently decided to quit paying attention to the press; the apparently undistracted ‘Melo dropped in 35 points and hauled in seven rebounds. Chauncey Billups and Nene added sixteen each; Denver shot a creditable 51.2 percent, though they were a blah 4-16 from beyond the arc.

If 4-16 is blah, though, what is 3-15? Oklahoma City still can’t buy a long ball, and while the Thunder did manage to outrebound the Nuggets, 46-39, Kevin Durant had an off night (22 points, 6-18 from the floor), and while Russell Westbrook did his best to hold up his end (28 points, 10 assists), nobody else’s line really shone, except maybe Serge Ibaka’s (16 points, 9 rebounds).

Back to the Quarter-Mile-High City for one game — Saturday against the Knicks, who thrashed the Thunder at the Garden earlier this season — and then Monday in New Orleans.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Doody now for the future

Whatever weird crap you might be able to think up, Stacy McCain is not only ahead of you, he’s already planned to monetize it:

If there’s ever a scandal involving “Justin Bieber” and “box of dildos” — and I think the odds aren’t bad — I’ll get all that Google traffic!

And believe me, I know from Google traffic.

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Just back away from the scalpel

Lindsay Lohan is twenty-four, though apparently you wouldn’t know it to look at her:

She had a forehead so taut and shiny it looked like an iPhone 4. Her lips were inflated to the size of a melting Twix, and her cheekbones looked as if they were climbing her jaw in order to dive to their death. Each change to her then 23-year-old face seemed to nod towards youth, but in fact imply age. This isn’t to say she looked old — as she bounced down the catwalk, her hair streaming behind her, she seemed to have transcended age — she looked like lamb dressed as mutton dressed as duck.

Now I would never presume to tell someone that no, you can’t have cosmetic surgery: decrees of that sort are well beyond my pay grade. But if I, with my less-than-perfect vision and perhaps-questionable aesthetic criteria, can see it, I daresay you’ve had too much of it.

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The grid slightly undumbened

A couple of months ago, OG&E advised that the Smart Grid was coming some time in “the next few months.”

My own little node has been established: they swapped out the Stupid Meter some time yesterday and left a note on the door, which I didn’t read until after I’d puzzled over how come the power had glitched and I had to reset clocks again. The new box contains the word “CLOSED,” for now; presumably it’s not reporting to the hive mind yet. And it dutifully informed me that I’d used 1 kwh since it was installed, because, yes, my refrigerator is running.

The note on the door mentions that the new gizmo “contains no personal information about you.” I suppose that depends on one’s definition of “personal”; each of us by now knows someone who’s more than happy to harangue us for our profligate power use, and by “profligate” I mean “running the A/C below 80 in August.”

To address a couple of concerns in the comments to that original post: I’m not hearing any stray noises, and the Surlywood Wi-Fi seems unaffected for now.

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An overdue idea for saving libraries

Ryne Douglas Pearson comes up with an alternative funding mechanism for an institution too often running short of money:

I have an idea. It’s crazy. It takes giants like Amazon and Barnes & Noble and eBook distributors to partner with willing authors, and it goes something like this: bring your Kindle, your Nook, your iPad, your eReader of any kind and purchase your books using the WiFi of your favorite library. You’ll save 10% off the top from the advertised price, and another 10% of your purchase will go directly to THAT library. You get your book, Amazon and its kind get their sale, the author gets a reduced cut, and the library suddenly has a revenue stream.

This would take all kinds of machinations to work. Maybe the biggest would be the author agreeing to take a 20% cut, or the distributor and author splitting that. But what comes from that is a helping hand to help nurture the next generation of voracious readers.

Not being an author, I can’t tell you how well this would go over with people who actually (try to) make a living at it, though I remember a Big Record Company practically giving away prime tracks four decades ago:

We can get away with that low price because these celebrated artists and this benevolent record company have agreed not to make a profit on this venture. We (and they) feel it’s more important that these samples of musical joy be heard.

Said venture, which began in the late 1960s, survived into the early 1980s, though the “low price” wasn’t quite as low towards the end.

Still, the musicians gave up rather a lot more for those records than the authors presumably would be giving up for these libraries.

(Via this @ScrewyDecimal tweet.)

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And here she is

First photos, filched from my ex’s Facebook page because it was faster.

Allison on Day 2

Above, the little lady gets carried about the room; below, big brother Nick marvels at what has happened.

Allison on Day 2

And watch it: he’s big enough to kick your hindquarters if you give his little sister any guff.

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