…already posted for the 2008 Okie Blog Awards. It’s a good mix of old-guard and up-and-comers — I’m a firm believer in “Let’s not always see the same hands” — and best of all, the competition points the way to a lot of high-grade reading material that you, or I, might otherwise have missed.
Congratulations to the winners, to the almost-winners, to those who at least got a traffic spike out of it — and as always, thanks to Mike for putting it all together.
The Army may be getting frickin’ Humvees with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin’ beds:
Boeing’s Direct Energy Systems project recently concluded a test in the New Mexico desert where the Humvee-mounted Laser Avenger system successfully shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a demonstration for U.S. Army officers.
The Laser Avenger was initially created to dispose of unexploded ordnance (bombs that didn’t detonate) lying on the ground, but given the proliferation of UAVs for both surveillance and weapons deployment, Boeing adapted the lasers to shoot the UAVs out of the sky. The benefit over shooting down the drones with guns or missiles — in startling contradiction to the red lines depicted in the old G.I. Joe cartoons — is that the enemy can’t see where the laser beam is coming from, thereby keeping the ground troops’ position secure. Pretty awesome, unless you’re a UAV. Fortunately UAVs are unmanned by definition, so what we’re looking at here is lasers shooting down flying robots.
Still pretty awesome, if you ask me.
(Title swiped from the late Harry Nilsson.)
Otherwise, this could happen to you:
A British graduate student was left “reeling” after his university threw out a bag of lizard excrement he had spent seven years collecting in the rainforests of the Philippines.
Daniel Bennett had collected 35kg of faeces of the rare butaan lizard during field work abroad, as part of his PhD research at Leeds University in northern England.
But he was devastated on returning from the Philippines to find that the bag, which was unmarked, had been thrown out with the rubbish in a clear-out of his laboratory.
“To some people it might have been just a bag of lizard s—,” he told Times Higher Education, which ran the story under the headline “Oh crap, there goes my work”.
“But to me it represented seven years of painstaking work searching the rainforest with a team of reformed poachers to find the faeces of one of the world’s largest, rarest and most mysterious lizards.
“Its loss left me reeling and altered the course of my life forever.”
A settlement has been offered and deemed inadequate:
The University has offered him £500 ($A1120) in compensation and an apology, after the student lodged an official complaint about the loss.
But Mr Bennett says this is not enough, and has vowed to “see them in court”.
Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix sees four Thunder players who could be on the market between now and the trade deadline on the 19th: Chris Wilcox, Nick Collison, Joe Smith and Earl Watson. His analysis:
Because interim coach Scott Brooks has done a good job settling players into their roles, a major shakeup is doubtful. But don’t expect GM Sam Presti to pass up a cost-cutting, draft-pick-returning deal for Watson or one of his big men.
Of the four, two — Wilcox and Smith — have expiring contracts. With Smith currently pulling more minutes than Wilcox, I have to figure Weezy is considered the more expendable. Watson’s contract runs through next season; Collison’s, the year after that.
Assuming, as I do, that the Thunder will re-sign Desmond Mason and will turn the remaining free agents loose, Oklahoma City will have about $45 million in salary next year, leaving $15-20 million in cap space. (The NBA trade rules are just this side of Byzantine.)
It’s been a frying pan over at the Oklahoma City Public Schools of late; the dust-up over Superintendent John Q. Porter ended in 2008 with the departures of both Porter and Board of Education chairman Cliff Hudson. Karl Springer, highly-regarded head of the suburban Mustang district, took over as Superintendent in September; former Mayor Kirk Humphreys succeeded Hudson as board chair.
On Tuesday, Humphreys seeks a full term; he is challenged by former Sen. Angela Monson. (I live in District 2, which is represented by Gail Vines; she drew no opponent.)
This is a tough call. I used to live in Monson’s Senate district, and her dedication to duty is, I think, pretty much unquestionable. Humphreys, who gave up his seat as Mayor to run for Senate — he lost to Tom Coburn — had previous school-board experience in the Putnam City district. The Oklahoman has endorsed Humphreys, citing a need for “continuity” on the board.
Two things concern me about Humphreys: his status as a Good Ol’ Boy at the Chamber of Commerce, and his manifest phobia regarding Teh Ghey. And Monson, unlike Humphreys and, well, me, is not a big fan of school-choice measures, though she concedes that expanded choice is the way of the future.
The perfect chairperson, I conclude, has yet to appear.
Snakes have always been the seducers of human beings. If you know the story of “The White Snake”, you will understand what I mean. In reality, Snake people are born charming and popular. Snakes are spotlight magnets, and they will not be ignored. Peer group attention and public recognition are the least of what he expects. Yet Snakes are never noisy or deliberately outspoken, and they have have excellent manners.
This has, of course, nothing to do with Whitesnake. And while I insist that I don’t seek the limelight and don’t care a fig for fame, readers might point out that not only do I have a SiteMeter, but I actually pay for it.
I have been outspoken at times, occasionally even deliberately.
Most people are secretly or hopelessly in love with Snakes. Gather those frustrated folk you know and most likely, they are probably in love with a Snake. Irresistible as they seem, the Snake never wastes time in idle gossip. He thinks often and deeply. He is an intellectual, a philosopher, a cerebral person. Snake people rely heavily on first impressions, on their own feelings, on their sympathies, rather than on facts, on the advice and opinions on others. He seems to have a kind of sixth sense in this way.
If I seem to have a sixth sense, it’s because the other five aren’t working correctly, or something. And this description seems to conflict with my established INTJ status.
In money matters, the Snake has good luck: he doesn’t have to worry — he’ll always be able to lay his hand on money when he needs it. Generally, Snakes are careful but generous with friends and family. The Snake should stick to careers that won’t involve him in any risk — even the risk of working too hard, for to tell the truth, the Snake is a bit lazy.
I think I have all of $35 in my PayPal account. (I suppose I could stash a few more dollars in there, but I’m too lazy.)
In love, the Snake male is romantic and charming. He has a sense of humor and the female is usually beautiful and successful. but if a Snake chooses a partner, he’ll be jealous and possessive — even if he no longer loves her. Rejection is the worst blow his delicate ego can suffer. The Snake must be received, welcomed, accepted and approved by those with whom he comes in contact. They need a lot of security.
Hmpf. If it weren’t for rejection, I’d get no reaction from those beautiful and/or successful females at all.
As with real snakes, which hibernate in the cold season and come out when it’s warm, Snake people shine in the hot months. And the Snake born at midday in the heat of a tropical summer will be happier than one born in the middle of an icy night in winter. The destiny of those born under this sign is so sensitive to the inclemencies of climate that the almanac warns Snakes born on a stormy day that they will face danger throughout their lives.
Well, I do have a fairly-advanced case of Seasonal Affective Disorder. And I don’t recall what the weather was like the day I was born; I wasn’t allowed to go outside back then.
There’s a lot more to the description, but I think I can dismiss it with a hiss or two.
Proffered treatment for what allegedly ails me was, to be charitable, ineffective. At 3:30 this morning I finally fell asleep in the big chair in the living room, and after two and a half hours of fairly fitful slumber, if little thrash, I woke up dizzy and disoriented, and stumbled twice on the way to the bathroom.
As the phrase goes, I can’t go on living like this. In fact, this may be even more appropriate a description than I thought: while combing through the insurance materials online — I still haven’t received anything resembling a card from the bastards — I discovered that they will not cover my antihypertensives unless I throw away 120 days of my life experimenting with stuff that may or may not work, but which will cost less. It is precisely crap like that which will drive us into some form of government-inflicted health care; right now, the system we have is about as popular as Rod Blagojevich, and for many of the same reasons.
(Yeah, yeah, I know, I’m lucky to have anything in this day and age, especially this day and at my age. It’s probably just a matter of time before they put a bullet in my head, or someplace equally nasty, in the name of the Holy Bailout.)
We’ve seen it before: Oklahoma City jumps out to a huge lead — in this case, 60-40 at the half — and then the opponents whittle away at it. And the Trail Blazers have some serious whittlers: Brandon Roy got hot in the third quarter, Travis Outlaw in the fourth, and Portland managed to pull within eight. But that was as close as they’d get: the Thunder, for the first time in recorded history never trailing in a game, won it by nine, 102-93.
Two factors helped sink the Blazers: Greg Oden got into foul trouble early and only played sixteen minutes, and they missed rather a lot of free throws in the fourth quarter. Still, they made big shots, Roy finishing with 30 points, Outlaw with 20 off the bench, and LaMarcus Aldridge with 18.
But OKC had big numbers, even outrebounding the Blazers 43-37. Nick Collison got 13 of those boards and 21 points, one of two double-doubles for the Thunder. (The other: Earl Watson, with 12 points and 11 assists.) Kevin Durant knocked down 31 and Jeff Green 20. And OKC kept the turnovers down to twelve, six of which came from Russell Westbrook, who finished with 10 points.
If there was a signature moment, though, it was late in the third quarter, when Earl Watson did a no-look pass to Jeff Green, whose subsequent slam actually ripped the net away from the iron, delaying the game about ten minutes while the basket was repaired.
The homestand is now even at 1-1, with the Kings coming in Sunday.
In 1947, when the system of area codes was established, Oklahoma got one for the entire state: 405. (Florida had one; California had three.)
This proved to be not enough, and 918 was carved out of the northeast part of the state in 1953. A third code, 580, appeared in 1997, comprising areas in 405 beyond the Oklahoma City metro.
Come 2011, there will be a new number in the northeast, which may be 539, 572, 578, or something else entirely. There are two ways to handle these changes today: a split, in which part of the existing area is given the new number and the remainder of the area retains the old one, as 580 was split from 405. There’s also the possibility of an overlay, in which two (or more) codes exist in the same area: nobody has to change numbers, but everyone has to dial 10 digits instead of seven.
Before you ask: 666 is not available at this time.
I have spoken to a lot of people who have migraines and who have suffered from this illness for months or years. After having seen doctors who prescribe medications that don’t work on a consistent basis migraneurs begin to get disheartened. If you see the wrong doctor, or the wrong type of doctor, or just too many doctors who don’t know what they are talking about — eventually this begins to cause a feeling of despair to emerge. Your perspective changes from “Well one day I will get the right medication and this pain will finally end” to “Well, I suppose this is my life, so I had just better learn to deal with being in pain all the time”. The realization that you are probably going to be in pain for the rest of your life is staggering. You think of all the days ahead of you and wonder what the point is if you are just going to get up and be in pain every day. Why bother? May as well just stay in bed. You can’t really enjoy anything, food has no flavour and you worry that you will throw it up anyway. You can’t go out and socialize anymore and slowly your network of friends shrinks until there is no one left. If you have a really really bad day at work, you can’t just come home and have a glass of wine to unwind if you choose to, because now it may no longer be a choice. One glass (or even half of one) may be enough to trigger a migraine that could last for weeks. It is an extremely isolating feeling.
What’s scary is how close this is to traditional depression — except for the blinding pain. “And if all I have to look forward to is more of the same, then the best I can hope for is not having to live through it,” said I; add to that the incessant pound, pound, pound, and I’d be almost ready to look through the PDR to see if I had the right combination of ingredients on hand to put myself out of my misery.
I have a tip for any adult heterosexual male Americans who might be reading this. Go get your taxes done at Jackson Hewitt. For the past three years the woman who did our taxes (a different woman every year) has had a fine big pair of boobs, prominently displayed either in a tight sweater or a low cut blouse. This year’s young female tax preparer had a somewhat smaller pair but still nicely displayed in a tight white sweater. And she had on a blue bra.
It’s not that I go around noticing such things all the time but when you’re sitting there for fifteen minutes or so with nothing to do but watch someone typing and that person has gone to the trouble of making it so obvious, you can’t help but notice. And what is it with Jackson Hewitt anyway. I don’t notice this anywhere else. I go to Wal-mart or the grocery store or any other store and the female employees are almost always dressed modestly. This is the Bible Belt after all so that’s what I normally expect but for some reason Jackson Hewitt consistently, year after year, hires women who are not shy about displaying what God gave them.
As a matter of course, I have dashed off a letter to Awash in Bailout Funds Bank and Trust Company (Member FDIC), protesting their actions.
It goes like this:
I see you’ve given me the old Bailout Haircut: trimming [this credit line] because some magical formula told you to. While there’s no question that you can do that legally — so far as I can tell, the agreement lets you do anything this side of poisoning my dog with no recourse — I’m going to ask you to reconsider this action … for the following Not All That Bad Reasons:
- You’ve never gotten a payment late;
- I was hoping to be able to go on some sort of vacation this summer;
- This action makes me wonder whether it’s worth keeping the checking account I’ve had open for thirty-four years, which you acquired more than a decade ago.
Of course, it may well be that nowadays you can’t be bothered with anyone with a New Improved FICO under 800, and you’d hardly be alone in that; it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of us smaller account-holders don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world, as the phrase goes. Just the same, I’d like to see some of the enthusiasm with which your staff originally issued and activated these cards applied to the fine art of customer relations: I know you can do it — I’ve been dealing with [bank name] since the [previous bank name] days — and I’d like to think you haven’t forgotten how.
I estimate the probability of success at one in three, which is below my current batting average but probably appropriate for these Desperate Times.
Incidentally, I don’t have a dog.
In the course of constructing a short story, Spider Robinson once observed, “If a person who indulges in gluttony is a glutton, and a person who commits a felony is a felon, then God is an iron.”
Roger Scruton finds Biblical antecedent for just such a premise:
There is already a developing streak of irony in the Hebrew Bible, one that the Talmud amplifies. But a new kind of irony dominates Christ’s judgments and parables, which look on the spectacle of human folly and wryly show us how to live with it. A telling example is Christ’s verdict in the case of the woman taken in adultery: “Let he who is without fault cast the first stone.” In other words: “Come off it; haven’t you wanted to do what she did, and already done it in your hearts?” Some have suggested that this story is a later insertion — one of many that the early Christians culled from the store of inherited wisdom attributed to the Redeemer after his death. Even if that is true, however, it merely confirms the view that the Christian religion has made irony central to its message. It was a troubled, post-Enlightenment Christian, Søren Kierkegaard, who pointed to irony as the virtue that united Socrates and Christ.
The late Richard Rorty saw irony as a state of mind intimately connected with the postmodern worldview — a withdrawal from judgment that nevertheless aims at a kind of consensus, a shared agreement not to judge. The ironic temperament, however, is better understood as a virtue — a disposition aimed at a kind of practical fulfillment and moral success. Venturing a definition of this virtue, I would describe it as a habit of acknowledging the otherness of everything, including oneself. However convinced you are of the rightness of your actions and the truth of your views, look on them as the actions and the views of someone else and rephrase them accordingly. So defined, irony is quite distinct from sarcasm: it is a mode of acceptance rather than a mode of rejection. It also points both ways: through irony, I learn to accept both the other on whom I turn my gaze, and also myself, the one who is gazing. Pace Rorty, irony is not free from judgment: it simply recognizes that the one who judges is also judged, and judged by himself.
For the sake of semi-completeness, here’s Rorty’s definition of the “ironist” (from Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity, 1989):
(1) [The ironist] has radical and continuing doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses, because she has been impressed by other vocabularies, vocabularies taken as final by people or books she has encountered; (2) she realizes that argument phrased in her present vocabulary can neither underwrite nor dissolve these doubts; (3) insofar as she philosophizes about her situation, she does not think that her vocabulary is closer to reality than others, that it is in touch with a power not herself.
I note that neither Scruton nor Rorty has anything to say about Alanis Morrissette.
Officials with KFOR, KWTV, KOCO, KOKH and OETA in Oklahoma City and KSWO in Lawton said the switch from analog to digital signals is ready and will occur as planned.
As KOKH goes, so goes co-owned KOCB; KFOR will presumably switch over KAUT as well. (The KSWO move is important to OKC, because KOCO will be on channel 7, the channel being vacated by KSWO.)
Tulsa, maybe not so much:
Griffin Communications owns KOTV in Tulsa and KWTV in Oklahoma City. Griffin President David Griffin says he’s filed a request with the FCC to switch [KOTV] — but says he could change his mind if all the stations don’t agree.
KJRH general manager Mike Vrabac says station officials have met to discuss a date to make the switch at the same time but haven’t met since yesterday’s vote in Congress.
Last I looked, KTUL was carrying the same wire story, but nothing else.
There might be someone in this town who’s happy with the local transit system, but it’s not Steve Lackmeyer, who poses several questions to its administration, including this zinger:
When you meet Jane Jenkins, the new incoming president of Downtown Oklahoma City Inc., you will brag about:
A. Downtown trolley service that is ridiculed and deemed unreliable by downtown residents.
B. Largely vacant retail space in most of the downtown garages run by COTPA.
C. Downtown trolley information signs that no longer provide route information to locals and visitors.
D. A board that includes no major downtown leaders as trustees.
Well, there’s Mayor Mick Cornett and City Manager Jim Couch, but they more or less have to be there.
Is it possible that this agency, tasked with both transit and parking — plus managing retail space in those parking garages — is simply out of its depth?
The stimulus package, says Nick Gillespie, is “a classic Washington two-step”:
Propose something costing a bazillion dollars. Your opponent offers a “realistic” and “principled” objection and counters with something costing a bazillion dollars minus $X. You both agree, reluctantly of course, to something that ends up costing a bazillion dollars minus $X, plus $Y so that the price tag comes [in] lower than your original bid but higher than your opponent’s. Net result: Taxpayers are still out close to a bazillion dollars.
And as Ev Dirksen may or may not have said, a bazillion here, a bazillion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.
Andrew Ian Dodge reports that we are CoTVing into Feb. with the new Carnival of the Vanities, the 320th in the series.
Biggest 320 around, of course, is the Airbus 320; here’s what fishing one out of the Hudson River looks like.
It’s got to be true. I mean, take a look at this:
The very next day, with exactly the same chance for precipitation but two degrees warmer — and look how different things are!
(Found here between 10:30 and 11 am CST.)
In South Korea their favorite toothpaste, Bukwang, tastes exactly like Dr. Pepper. When some Korean friends of mine visited the US for the first time, they tried Dr. Pepper. They wondered if I was insulting them or playing with them by giving them toothpaste-flavored soda to drink. It took a while to explain but we have had a good laugh ever since then. But they will not drink Dr. Pepper. I do not blame them.
The score was subsequently evened, you may be sure:
They paid me back by having me eat Korean foods that would burn off the roof of my mouth. It is the differences between cultures that make life so enjoyable.
I note for reference that the last tube of Pepsodent I used contained no detectable traces of Pepsi.