OG&E fail

I have come to grips with the reality of power outages: they happen, and they’ll continue to happen, so long as we have the twofold problem of (1) overhead wires and (2) insane weather. I’m not saying I’m okay with that, but I have learned to live with it.


Your automated outage-reporting system is deeply flawed, and no flaw is deeper than the one that’s kicking in when the automated voice says that there are several accounts associated with that number. No, there aren’t. This one account, this one number, for ten years. “Or the OG&E account number”? Yeah, right. It’s four in the morning and I’m sitting in the dark and you want me to find last month’s bill? This is stupidity on a governmental scale.

You want to know why I refuse to sign up for that “Smart Hours” crap? Because I figure if you don’t even know where the hell I live, I have no reason to trust the meter readings during those deadly 46-cent-per-kWh hours. For all I know, they could have been run up by someone who lived there 11 years ago — couldn’t they?

If you can’t do better than this, you don’t have any right to collect a franchise fee. Which, incidentally, is voted on now and again.

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The content scraper of tomorrow

He’s here today:

Please guys help me i have a website and there is no content in it please where can i copy content an paste on?

Reminds me of an old mid-Eighties cartoon, with an obviously Clooless Noob carrying a humongous computer box, and before he gets to the exit, he says to the salesperson: “Oh, I’m also going to need some data. Do you have that?”

Now why does this character even have a Web site? There are, I suspect, exactly two possibilities:

  • Someone told him it would be cool;
  • Someone told him it could make money.

The reality check is in the email.

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Sleeper unawake

Maureen Dowd, according to Doug Mataconis, is living in Aaron Sorkin’s fantasy universe:

Dowd has become enamored with the idealized New York-Washington corridor vision of politics epitomized by the movie she references in her column [The American President], and even more so by Sorkin’s classic television series The West Wing. According to this vision, the President is the all powerful leader of government who, with just a little bit of persuasion and a lot of political skill can bend Congress to his will. The problem is that this isn’t how American politics works, or at least not how it works in the real world. You can’t just solve problems by being a “strong leader” and giving nice speeches. If the political winds are blowing against you, then you’re not going to win. In the case of this gun control vote, the political winds were not blowing in Barack Obama’s favor, and that’s why he failed. Dowd’s dream that he could have been some fictional President that could enact the dream liberal agenda are just that, dreams and fantasies.

“But … but … 90 percent!”

Also a fantasy.

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Driving us Madhu

Madhu Shalini, twenty-three, grew up in Hyderabad and made several Telugu and Tamil films before being tapped last year for a Bollywood feature, Department, directed by Ram Gopal Varma. In Department, Shalini appears in various degrees of undress — the local ratings authority granted it an Adults Only certification — but she’s sort of demure here.

Madhu Shalini on promo tour for Department

Shalini, while not exactly plain, is certainly plain-spoken. Consider this 2008 interchange, while she was still doing Telugu films:

One would argue that most actresses in Tollywood look alike. Do you feel the same?

That’s because they all do! With all due respect to them, most directors still prefer a fair-skinned girl to a dusky one. They go to Bombay to scout for actresses. Everywhere else I get compliments for my dusky tone while here it’s the other way round. You always want what you don’t have.

Which is a concept you don’t have to be from India to understand, either.

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Long after the starting gun

On this date in 1889, the so-called “Unassigned Lands” in what is now central Oklahoma were opened to white settlement, the celebrated Oklahoma Land Run. The Native tribes, you may be sure, aren’t quite so enthusiastic about celebrating.

Just where were these Lands?

The first popular usage of the term “Unassigned Lands” started in 1879 when mixed-blood Cherokee Elias C. Boudinot published an article in the Chicago Times describing lands in the central part of the Indian Territory that could, and in his opinion, should be settled by white people. The boundaries of his so-called “Unassigned Lands” had been established externally through a series of treaties with Indian tribes. The border on the north was the Cherokee Outlet, created by treaty in 1828. To the south was the Chickasaw Nation, established in 1837. To the west was the Cheyenne and Arapaho Reservation, established in 1867. And to the east were the reservations of the Potawatomi (1867), Shawnee (1867), Sac and Fox (1867), Pawnee (1881), and Iowa (1883). Altogether, the Unassigned Lands covered 1,887,796.47 acres, or approximately 2,950 square miles.

This description overlooks claims by the Creek and Seminole nations to the area, which were dealt with in the time-honored fashion. From Born Grown: An Oklahoma City History by Roy P. Stewart (Oklahoma City: Fidelity Bank, N.A., 1974), the terms of the deal:

In January 1889, negotiations were held to recover interests of those two tribes … Relinquishment gave those tribes $2,280,000 and $1,912,000 respectively. Thus the two tribes received a bit more than $2 an acre for land for which the United States paid France four cents an acre.

I note purely in passing that the site of Halvor Steanson’s farm, on a sliver of which the palatial estate at Surlywood is located, would now go for $100,000 an acre, were there any acres to sell.

The winners, of course, get to write the history books. Still, the idea of holding Land Run reenactments in the local schools smacks of Rubbing It In, and for several years now, members of various tribes have tried to get those events banned, or at least toned down. (Audio regarding a current effort [41 minutes].) Certainly the Land Run as an actual historic event needs to be covered in the curriculum; however, I can’t work up any enthusiasm for the reenactments, which boil down to “You guys won, and you guys lost.”

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Merch to be moved

Lileks is vending something called Tiny Lies, and this is what that something is all about:

Tiny Lies contains 150 + small ads from the back of old magazines and newspapers, annotated and commented upon with varying degrees of strained amusement. That’s right: less than a penny a page!

Provided you pay. If you don’t, there’s nothing I can do about that. This is an experiment, really.

Easily worth the equivalent of Daffy Duck’s quarterstaff. Hey, if it worked for Radiohead

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Strange search-engine queries (377)

This week’s collection of peculiar search strings, because it’s Monday and Mondays need all the help they can get.

bizet naked:  After the composer has decomposed long enough, such considerations become irrelevant.

what were the names of all the okla city public schools that were around klein area in oklahoma city during the 1920s + 1930s:  Um, there’s no distinct “Klein area.” The old Opportunity School was around 8th and Klein; the current OKCPS office is to its north.

asian men are polite:  Just don’t make fun of them.

itching powder rival:  Nothing truly rivals itching powder, though a case of shingles comes close.

im a bitch like the boldest person ever so ill go up to anybody:  You better home “anybody” isn’t carrying itching powder.

doodyful meaning:  Trust me, they hate you because you’re doodyful.

bruce’s unusual typing wizard background photo:  It’s Rainbow Dash, telling him that he needs to be, oh, about 20 percent faster.

opposite of date definition:  Whatever I was on, it was clearly the opposite of a date.

internet dating limbo:  Where you end up on the opposite of a date.

American dream is a phrase referring to the freedom that allows all citizens:  to tell the government to FOAD and quit interfering with the American dream.

googlenasty americans:  Those pursuing the America dream; they don’t appreciate your interference, or your inference.

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Rockets glared at

The catchphrase/hashtag tonight was #ShearTheBeard. It wasn’t quite that easy early on; in fact, this game might actually have been in doubt until maybe the last few minutes of the second quarter, when the Rockets came back from a double-digit deficit to tie it up at 38. After that, it became just another Number 1 thump of Number 8, with the Thunder taking a 60-47 lead at the half and pulling away to a 120-91 blowout.

The Beard did get at least somewhat trimmed: James Harden did come up with a team-high 20 points, though it took him 19 shots and seven free throws to get there, and only one of his six three-point attempts found the net. In fact, Houston’s long-distance prowess was conspicuously absent tonight, the Rockets throwing up 36 of them and cashing in on only eight. (The Thunder went 10-24.) If anyone was truly shorn, it was Jeremy Lin, who went 1-7 for a mere four points. The only other Rockets in double figures were reserves: Patrick Beverley, with 11, and Carlos Delfino, with 10. Houston overall shot an uninspiring 36.3 percent.

The Thunder ruled the box score: 53 percent scoring, 46-39 advantage on the glass, 28-17 advantage in assists, nine steals and nine blocked shots versus six and one. Kevin Durant bagged 24 points; Russell Westbrook approached triple-double status, with 19 points, 10 dimes and eight boards. Kevin Martin, as he should, led the bench with 16. About the only thing Scott Brooks is going to have to complain about was DeAndre Liggins missing three foul shots in a row late in the fourth, and it was over long before that.

The series resumes Wednesday at the ‘Peake.

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Further comment would be superfluous

The Crimson Reach:

I haven’t really seen much of anyone whose first, instinctive reaction to the Boston bombing was to admonish the rest of us that the bombing just shows that We Should Ask Ourselves Why They Hate Us. Sadly, that feels like progress.


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Loan extension

So I’m wandering into the Belle Isle Library on Saturday afternoon, and there’s a sign at the door to the effect that this facility will be closed for a couple of weeks for recarpeting. Which is a good thing, since the low-pile stuff they put down back in the Eisenhower administration is down to no-pile.

And then I calculated that given the usual two-week loan, the items I checked out that day would be due smack-dab (or at least smack-dab-ish) in the middle of that couple-of-weeks period. Do I drop them in the slot on the library wall? Don’t have to, said the staffer on duty at checkout: they’ll be due the Monday after they reopen, effectively giving me 23 days instead of 14.

Yeah, I know, but I had to ask.

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About three-fifths full of it

When someone tells you that we need a “conversation” on something, invariably it turns out that what this someone really wants is a lecture on that something, of which you are expected to be the docile, nodding recipient.

And maybe that wouldn’t be so bad, if they actually knew what they were talking about. But what are the chances of that? A quote from a would-be “conversation” maker:

Michael Hallett, chairman of [the University of North Florida]’s criminology department, who is white: “We have more African-Americans in jail today than we had as slaves. It’s a new Jim Crow.”

Now perhaps you could make a reasonable case that we haven’t sufficiently expunged the old Jim Crow, but you couldn’t do it using Hallett’s imaginary numbers:

In 2008, according to ABC News, the nation’s prison and jail population was 2.3 million people. By 2010, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, it had fallen to 1.6 million, but let’s stick with the 2008 data because the NAACP’s Criminal Justice Fact Sheet also used the data from that year in its statement that “African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million incarcerated population.”

1 million is a big number, apparently too big to be handled by the chairman of the criminology department at the University of North Florida, who is white, but it is not bigger than 3,950,546, the total slave population of the U.S. in 1860.

Perhaps we need to have a “conversation” on innumeracy.

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Barsooming nothing goes wrong

If this proves to be the reality show that ends all reality shows, it will be worth it for that reason alone:

A Netherlands-based non-profit group called Mars One is seeking video applications from pioneers willing to take a one-way trip to Mars and become stars in a new interplanetary reality show.

Oh, yes, they’re quite serious:

Mars One wants to send four hardy souls to the Red Planet in 2023 using hardware from Elon Musk’s SpaceX company. It plans to land a Curiosity-style rover by 2018 to scout out locations for the settlement and then fire out food, equipment, power generation and life-support systems using SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy lifter and Dragon capsule.

And they’re going to pay for this — how, exactly?

Mars One estimates that the TV rights for the landing alone would come to several billion dollars, and once there, the colonists will be constantly covered by cameras that will stream back live footage of life on Mars.

Well, at least it’s not Real Housewives of Deimos. Not yet, anyway. Then again:

Interestingly, the first four colonists will be selected by popular vote of the general public. As a card-carrying member of the general public, I’ve got a list of people I believe should be shot into space, never to come back.

Indeed, why stop at four?

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Just try to get a buggy whip these days

“The disruption economy,” Dave Schuler calls it, and he has plenty of examples to cite:

[I]magine a world in which not just individual businesses or even industries and trades vanish but in which complete business models, groups of industries, are failing and being replaced by new ones practically on a daily basis.

He cites Aereo, a multi-antenna television service that delivers over-the-air channels to subscribers for about one-fifth what cable companies charge, which has a couple of networks threatening to drop their local signals in response. But that’s hardly the only one:

[H]igher education’s business model is not long for this world. The big law firms’ business model has already changed and there are hundreds or thousands of young lawyers standing dazed in the wreckage. One of the insufficiently remarked-on aspects of the PPACA is how much it changes physicians’ business model.

Retail has been in ferment for decades. Soon there will only be online sales as exemplified by Amazon.com, boutiques (which are mainly a hobby business), and Walmart. J. C. Penney’s problems, still being covered in the business pages, are that there is no room for yet another commodity retailer.

And why do you think your favorite magazines, or for that matter the ones you can’t stand, are so assiduously courting tablet owners?

Thirty years from now, the business landscape will be unrecognizable. (And so will I, but that’s another matter entirely.)

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Big Bezos is watching

Earlier this week, I bought a pair of shoes from Zappos. It was not the first pair I’d looked at; in fact, I’d gone to Amazon earlier, and looked at a New Balance slide. Apparently the Amazon Multi-Brain II remembered this — Zappos is, of course, now under the Amazon umbrella — and for the next several days, visits to Fark brought me an Amazon ad featuring exactly that same slide.

It’s not like I’d never seen that phenomenon before. A few days earlier, I’d done a feature on a Charlotte Olympia sandal with a “poodle heel”, sold at Neiman-Marcus, and for several days any Neiman’s ad I saw contained a line of shoes, starting with that very one: obviously they’d remembered that I’d been to neimanmarcus.com to look at it.

Finding $27 a bit easier to pry out of the budget than $1,695, I returned to Amazon and bought that damn slide. The Fark ads quit almost immediately. So this is the new paradigm for online advertising: nag, nag, nag.

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They’ll manage somehow

Everyone complains about work now and then. (Okay, there may be a few people whose complaint might be actually having to do some work, but the statement stands.) That said, some workplaces are demonstrably worse than others:

Bregna is actually a former employer of mine. They are infamous in the Colosse area for being the employer that cycles through IT people at a very quick clip. The average employee lasts less than four months. On employee satisfaction surveys, they are one of the five worst employers in the entire nation. Which sounds crazy. Crazy like a fox, I’ve determined. You see, Bregna was ever in search for a very particular kind of employee. And I’ve become convinced that the bullcrud they put you through was essentially a test to see whether or not you were Bregna material. Are you the kind of guy that doesn’t mind your restroom breaks being monitored for duration and frequency? Are you the kind of guy who wants every room, hallway, and restroom you enter logged into a system so they can give you advice on how to be more efficient? Do you think it signals your company cares when they tell you that you need to get a new roommate because your current roommate left the company? If so, then you are who Bregna wants. When I left, and they told me that they were sorry to see me go, I didn’t know whether to be proud of the deception or horrified that I could pose as an android so successfully.

I’ve done time at places like that, though not exactly that place, and not recently.

Note: “Bregna” is a pseudonym, as if you hadn’t figured that out already.

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What goes around sometimes stays around

They say that once something’s on the Internet, it’s there forever, no matter what you do. Not that everyone realizes that or anything:

I put my essay on her for revision help and really need it deleted before my teacher finds it by running it through plagiarism software and thinks I stole it I already deleted the questions now I just need them to be permanently gone from the internet, because when I search in google I can still track my essay, although when I click the link it says question has been deleted however it can still be found

I didn’t have the heart to tell her that some of my deleted-in-1999 pages are still in the Wayback Machine.

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