Ground floor, please

So you think the Devon Energy Center, aka The Big Drill Bit in the Sky, is a big deal at 850 feet? Hmpf. The Mexicans are planning a structure that’s minus 980 feet.

Yes, that’s minus 980 feet:

Architects have designed an incredible 65-storey ‘earth-scraper’ which plunges 300 metres below ground.

The stunning upside down pyramid in the middle of Mexico City is designed to get around height limits on new buildings in the capital.

The subterranean building will have 10 storeys each for homes, shops and a museum, as well as 35 storeys for offices.

The concept looks something like this:

Inverted pyramid proposed for Mexico City

Esteban Suarez, from BNKR Arquitectura, whence comes the model, explains:

New infrastructure, office, retail and living space are required in the city but no empty plots are available.

Federal and local laws prohibit demolishing historic buildings and even if this was so, height regulations limit new structures to eight storeys.

The city’s historic centre is in desperate need of a makeover but we have nowhere to put it, this means the only way to go is down.

The Bayou Renaissance Man sees a whole different sort of “makeover” on the horizon:

Mexico City is sitting right smack bang in the middle of a highly active earthquake zone. A major earthquake in 1985 killed at least 10,000 residents and caused massive damage to the city. Knowing that, would you really want to be living several hundred feet underground when the next major quake hits?

I dunno. When I think earthquakes, I think California — it’s where I felt my first non-trivial quake — and they don’t seem too worried. Heck, they build subways there:

Subways throughout the world have excellent records of withstanding major earthquakes over the last 25 years. They have performed well during earthquakes with no damage or service interruptions, including after the Northridge earthquake in 1994. The Metro Red Line tunnels cross the Hollywood fault north of the Hollywood & Highland Station.

Then again, subways, if reasonably undamaged, can move away at an angle to a quake. In this inverted pyramid, you’d better hope you can still go up and down.

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Knit picking

Fillyjonk admits to having a huge … stash of yarn:

[T]here is a sort of funny psychological quirk among some knitters and quilters, to want to deny that they keep a stash. And there are some people who just DON’T, and that’s fine — there are people who only buy supplies as they need them for projects. (They are also usually the lucky sorts who have multiple sources of supply within their town). And there are some who either are, or pretend to be, actively disgusted by the idea of other people having a stash of yarn or fabric — that it represents a sort of materialism and greed, I guess. I don’t know. I cringe a little when I read the occasional blog-post or Ravelry post criticizing someone for keeping a lot of yarn or fabric on hand. (Of course, I also cringe — even harder — at the comparisons to the people on those “hoarders” shows. Actually, I think it’s a matter of degree — I’m sure to someone who lives in one of those sterile stylish boxes of an apartment, I look like a tacky, hoarder-type with my little cottage with its brightly-painted walls and lots of pictures up and lots of books on the shelves, and stacks of Rubbermaid tubs of yarn in my storage closet.)

If they complain about that, surely they’ll complain about my three socket sets or my four copies of Pet Sounds (two vinyl, two CD), and God only knows what I’d do without those.

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The number that matters

After all that “99%” talk in recent weeks, we’re happy to show you someone who is 100 percent 99:

Barbara Feldon pre-Get Smart

You’re looking at Barbara Feldon, in a picture from her modeling days before she signed on as Agent 99 in the classic TV series Get Smart. For one thing, they’d never have been able to build a phone into those sandals.

(Via, would you believe,

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A matter of policy

You may remember this from two years ago:

We brag a lot in Oklahoma about our lowish cost of living, but there’s one item that costs a bundle: insurance for the home, which runs a good 10-20 percent above the national average, no thanks to our too-often-nasty weather.

And then there’s mine, which is going up 35 percent next year, to over $1200, on a $100k house.

For “10-20 percent,” read “30-40 percent”: various sources around town are now quoting the state average at somewhere in the $1400-1500 range. Mine has gone over $1600 for next year. Then again, I have about an average-priced house with slightly better-than-average coverages, and you have to figure that every underwriter who does business out here is sweating wildfires. Besides, I have had demonstrably good service from these guys, and I stand to gain little if anything by shopping around.

Oh, well. Nobody said it would be cheap to live in a Neighborhood of the Year nominee.

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All the live-long day

Working on the railroad isn’t as easy as it looks — and it doesn’t look easy at all:

The [tamping] machine rode the rails, had hydraulic jacks and retractable tamping plates. It could raise the rail and tamp the ballast (rock) that surrounded the rail. As it tamped, somebody had to keep supplying rock to the machine. That’s where I came in, I shoveled rock and tried to keep up with the machine. After about a week, we finally finished, which was about four days past what I wanted.

Subsequent jobs, he would discover, would tap rather heavily into his personal sweat-equity account.

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Otherwise occupied

From around the world, across the nation, and up your street, it’s these folks.

(Yes, that is a Carlinism.)

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Sour prospects

I’d skimmed through this story by Kate Bolick earlier — the Instant Man had thrown it a link — but I really didn’t sit down to read it until the actual magazine showed up, and this paragraph halfway through jumped out at me:

When I was a little girl, my mother and I went for a walk and ran into her friend Regina. They talked for a few minutes, caught up. I gleaned from their conversation that Regina wasn’t married, and as soon as we made our goodbyes, I bombarded my mother with questions. “No husband? How could that be? She’s a grown-up! Grown-ups have husbands!” My mother explained that not all grown-ups get married. “Then who opens the pickle jar?”

It didn’t help that the same weekend that the magazine arrived, I received official word that my son’s marriage had gone down the chute. (I’d figured as much from monitoring Facebook, but I chose to refrain from making any specific comment, there or here, until I’d actually talked to him. One does not admit to being stalky.)

There are times when I think we, as a society, have given up on marriage. Even those ardent Defenders of Marriage who’ve dedicated their time to making sure that gay couples don’t get a trip to the altar seem to have changed their tune somewhat: I’m hearing “What do you want to do that for?” at least as often as “The Lord shall smite thee.” (Your Humble Narrator was griping about the Defense of Marriage Act way back in 1996.)

Along those lines:

Perhaps true to conservative fears, the rise of gay marriage has helped heterosexuals think more creatively about their own conventions. News stories about polyamory, “ethical nonmonogamy,” and the like pop up with increasing frequency. Gay men have traditionally had a more permissive attitude toward infidelity; how will this influence the straight world? [Social historian Stephanie] Coontz points out that two of the hallmarks of contemporary marriage are demands for monogamy on an equal basis, and candor. “Throughout history, there was a fairly high tolerance of [men’s] extramarital flings, with women expected to look the other way,” she said. “Now we have to ask: Can we be more monogamous? Or understand that flings happen?”

I’d point out that thinking differently and thinking “creatively” are not necessarily synonymous, but other than “Geez, people, you’ve got to take these damn vows seriously,” I got nothing. Infidelity was not a factor in the failure of my own marriage, nor of my son’s. As for candor — well, I presume he inherited my tendency to say Exactly The Wrong Thing.

This would be easier to take, I suspect, if I weren’t still ridden with all kinds of romantic delusions. (In earlier times, I would have said flatly that thinking the subject had anything to do with me was the biggest delusion of them all.) I have basically come to the conclusion that my heart is brain-dead, and any noises it emits can safely be ignored. Unfortunately, that’s the organ that occasionally craves the pickles — and who will open the jar?

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The fix is, um, out

Apparently you don’t have to be in Chicago to experience Illinois-style justice:

St. Clair County Sheriff’s Department records clerk Joann Reed wanted a speeding ticket for the son of a deputy dismissed, but she didn’t go to a judge or jury in traffic court.

Instead, Reed faxed a copy of the Centreville Police Department’s ticket from the Sheriff’s Department’s fax machine to Centreville village attorney Carmen Durso, with a handwritten message: “Dismiss this case.”

Except, of course, that she didn’t:

The problem is, she didn’t fax the ticket to Durso. Reed accidentally faxed it to the News-Democrat’s newsroom.

Mr Durso said he can’t dismiss violations of state law, but added: “I get calls like these all the time. I don’t think it’s unusual or strange.”

More’s the pity.

(Via Autoblog.)

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You can’t spell “feces” without “fees”

An aggrieved reader asks Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic to explain his bank’s $18 fee for paying a different fee by check. Says Goldberg, it goes like this:

[T]he first 52 cents goes to the actual cost of processing the check; $5.70 covers shipping and handling; $2.90 pays the universal connectivity charge; $4.27 goes toward exotic dancers; $1.25 is for a new pole for the exotic dancers; 75 cents pays for chlamydia-detection kits; 40 cents is for baggage fees; and $2.21 goes into an escrow fund that will be devoted to recruiting unqualified bor­rowers as soon as the government for­gets what happened the last time lend­ers recruited unqualified borrowers.

Dick Durbin was not available for comment.

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Strange search-engine queries (298)

Spring was sprung, fall has fell, Monday’s here, so what the hell?

new version of cars with gearbox that have 1 or 2 or 3:  Instead of those cars that have, for instance, W or T or F.

naked newscaster on air + 18:  Damn. We don’t get channel 18 here.

Is Mark Cuban an INTJ?  If he’s not, surely he thinks he is.

cornstarch to whiten amstaff:  Must be a Halloween prank: Ghost of the Pit Bull.

500 miles of left turns:  Either one afternoon at Nascar, or a weekend in downtown Oklahoma City during Project 180.

crossdresser honey nut cheerio commercial:  Oh, that’s just Buzz the bee getting in touch with his queen side.

pictures of male transvestite sluts in women’s underthings:  Is it okay if they’re bees?

before stereo we had mono:  And when we had mono, we were bedridden for a week.

whangdoozle:  Still sounds better than “Nickelback.”

one in seven chance that you’ll do this at a grocery store:  Saying “This was only one ninety-nine last week!”

queue to leave:  As Mr Barnum used to say, “This way to the egress!”

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Stick a cupcake in her eye

Poodle glommed up to look like My Little Pony

Original caption:

A poodle clippered and dyed to look like My Little Pony is pictured at a creative dog grooming event in Swanley, Kent. The Dog Creative Stylist of the Year competition showcases the creative skills of Britain’s top pooch groomers. The range of colours are produced by safe, washable vegetable dyes.

My first reaction: “You blockhead! Pinkie Pie’s cutie mark is balloons!” The only pony I can think of with three hearts is Lemon Hearts, and, well, she isn’t pink.

(Photo credit: Steve Collins / Barcroft Media. Via TYWKIWDBI.)

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Speaking of flight attendants

This is what you can expect in our wonderful 21st century:

So as we entered the doorway we were greeted by a short, stout, jolly pockmarked gent who looked like Captain Kangaroo. No. Really. Thick orange hair. Glinting maniacal eyes. Crooked smile. This was the flight attendant. Mr. Froth turned back to me and I kept a stoic demeanor. I did. And then we looked into the plane and I swear it was three feet wide and DARK.

Suddenly, short women with tattoos don’t seem so awful.

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Highly disqualified

Friday night I mumbled something about how Christina Ricci, star of ABC’s Pan Am, couldn’t have gotten hired at the real Pan Am because she was too short or something.

This drew me a ping from Celebrity HQ Pics, which had posted some Ricci material from a Pan Am promotional photoshoot by Bob D’Amico; I have a tendency to look at things that throw me links, so I looked over the offerings, which were housed on a popular Russian server, and found them, um, interesting.

I also found something else that would likely have kept Ricci out of the aisle back then:

Christina Ricci from here down

Really, I’m surprised no one thought to cover up that little bit of body art.

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Quote of the week

User “Just the facts” at OKCTalk predicts that the Deep Deuce apartments will go condo within five years or so:

By then they will have made back most of the construction cost and by selling them they can escape the long-term maintenance costs. The buyers then pick up a unit with a great location at a reasonable price. This is how it works in an urban environment. The reason it doesn’t work out on Penn and 150th is because the location sucks. That is why apartments and subdivision built on the outer fringe look like bombs went off after 15 to 20 years. The whole concept of sprawl is nothing more than operation Rolling Ghetto. When you build towards the center you run out of expansion room so properties don’t fall into disrepair.

I’m not so sure about that last sentence, but nothing guarantees that a “good” neighborhood will stay that way: if you flee to Point B because Point A was going down the tubes, odds are you’ll be packing up and heading for Point C before too long. (In the context of Oklahoma City, Penn and 150th is about Point D-point-five.)

This is perhaps another manifestation of the Urban Donut Hypothesis, as discussed here a couple of years ago.

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The antisocial network

An aside from Advice Goddess Amy Alkon:

[M]y boyfriend, who’s not exactly a people person, claims he’s starting a nihilistic social network called “Quitter.” (Posts are zero characters, and you’re asked not to join.)

Sign me up. Or, rather, don’t sign me up.

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A marvel of design

London’s Design Museum is relocating from an old produce warehouse on the Thames to more spacious quarters at the former home of the Commonwealth Institute in Kensington, which of course requires a gala event of the sort where wearing something like this is not unheard of:

Rosario Dawson at Design Museum - photo by Getty Images

We will ignore, for the moment, the Daily Mail’s snickering commentary about Rosario Dawson; I’m not even going to replace it with some of my own.

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