The man moves on

In which I attempt to sum up the life of my dearly-departed brother in somewhere around 900 words, not all of which are mine.

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Electrically rechanneled

The announcement by Los Angeles’ KCET that they will drop their affiliation with PBS as of the first of the year prompts this prediction by Doc Searls:

[T]he real story here is the death of TV as we knew it, and the birth of whatever follows.

Relatively few people actually watch TV from antennas any more. KCET, KOCE and KLCS are cable stations now. That means they’re just data streams with channel numbers, arriving at flat screens served by cable systems required to carry them.

And those channel numbers may or may not correspond to their actual television channels. (I checked: KCET’s does, the others don’t.) But those numbers are rapidly approaching irrelevancy anyway:

What makes a TV station local is now content and culture, not transmitter location and power. In fact, a station won’t even need a “channel” or “channels” after the next digital transition is done. That’s the transition from cable to Internet, at the end of which all video will be either a data stream or a file transfer, as with a podcast.

All that keeps cable coherent today is the continuing perception, substantiated only by combination of regulation and set-top box design, that “TV” still exists, and choices there are limited to “channels” and program schedules. All of those are anachronisms. Living fossils. And very doomed.

As always with profitable fossils, you can expect desperate attempts to prolong their lifespans, with the usual argument that “Our business model is clearly in the public service and must be preserved.” Members of the actual public prefer to vote with their pocketbooks, but it’s clearly in the fossils’ interest to limit the available choices.

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Somewhere it’s always June

Barbara Billingsley magazine spread

In memory of Barbara Billingsley, TV mom par excellence and legendary English-to-Jive translator, who died Saturday at ninety-four, definitely hard on the Beaver.

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The GOP seeks to GOTV

The Oklahoma Republican Party, at least in my county, has sent out a flyer to registered party members containing, in addition to the expected political boilerplate, two copies of the state absentee-voter application, which must be received by the appropriate County Election Board no later than the 27th of October.

Getting out the vote is an imperative for any political party, and this particular scheme looks pretty astute: it doesn’t cost the GOP any more than the usual flyer, and I have to figure that there are at least some area Republicans who might have thought of passing up going to the polls themselves, for whatever reason, who will take the party up on this deal. Then again, it’s a safe bet that a few of these flyers will fall into the hands of Democrats, but that’s the price to be paid for inattention to one’s voter database. (How do you think I got one?)

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The pentacle of success

From Marios Schwab’s spring collection:

Shoes by Marios Schwab

Tavi describes these astutely as “super average leather brown clunkers, but with pentacle-esque stitching. Like the Christine O’Donnell witch malarky, in shoe form.”

In fact, Schwab’s model seems to look a tad unearthly, which perhaps adds to the stereotypical witchyness. (And I’m thinking that O’Donnell should have exploited it to the hilt, by, say, threatening to turn opponent Chris Coons into Newt Gingrich, but that’s another matter entirely.)

If you ask me, I say it’s a fun and funky shoe, but it will probably cost as much as a storm shelter. And if you noticed that hemline, well, the economy is down.

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Well, this sounds familiar

Except it’s not happening in Oklahoma, but in New York:

It was just a few short weeks ago that we reported the long-running feud between the State of New York and the Native American tribes that inhabit “upstate”. New York Governor David Patterson was attempting to net millions in tax dollars by forcing the Indians to pay the prevailing state tax, which is close to five dollars per pack. The Indians took the case to federal district court (where they’ve won every time the state has attempted to tax them) and they’ve won again.

According to the New York Post, a federal judge in western New York indefinitely extended an order blocking the state from collecting taxes on some Indian cigarette sales, while noting he doesn’t believe the tribes have made the case that the taxation unconstitutionally violates their sovereignty.

But this being New York, there’s one additional factor:

The last time the state tried to collect the tax, in 1997, protesters lit tire fires and shut down a 30-mile stretch of the New York State Thruway that bisects Seneca land near the Pennsylvania line. New York State Troopers were involved in a huge standoff with hundreds of Indian tribesmen; more than one police cruiser was set on fire and there were reports of gunfire from several reliable sources.

We haven’t gotten to that state. Yet. Then again, repelling the taxman, to borrow a phrase from Eric Burdon, is an American dream (includes Indians too).

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Metaphor goeth before a fall

A curious paragraph from Charles Krauthammer’s WaPo column, describing a “rising star”:

Marco Rubio, soon-to-be senator from Florida. He has the ingredients of a young Obama — smart, inspirational, minority (Cuban American), great life story. Headed for a meteoric rise.

I’d bet Krauthammer has seen at least as many meteors as I have — but not one of them was likely to be rising at the time. Gravity, y’know.

This is the point, I suppose, where someone says: “Don’t get cocky, kid.” (Which, technically, is a misquote, but who cares?)

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Surf City x 3.5

Elyse Levesque (Stargate Universe), in the November Maxim, on the poor dating prospects — from her point of view, anyway — in the city where she lives:

“In Vancouver there’s a ratio of seven girls to one guy, so it’s super tough to meet men.”

I’d bet this isn’t the case back in Regina, where she was born.

(Yeah, I suppose I could have thrown in a picture, but I didn’t. Try these.)

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D is for dramatic

D is also for Dana Delany, and what prompted this outburst was a quote accompanying this Shoebunny report in which she’s sporting a pair of sandals by Gucci. Said Ms D:

“I’m not sure which would be a greater honor: the People’s Choice Award or Best Celebrity Legs … hmmmm … In any case, a vote for either would be appreciated and the show [presumably Desperate Housewives] can use whatever boost it can get. I think my legs can stand on their own.”

Dana Delany

They also do a pretty good job of sitting.

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Quote of the week

Farker “Knarf,” from a thread involving penalties against CVS for insufficient attention to the War On Drugs:

Meth is the key to getting America out of its curent economic funk. We just need to get hundreds of thousands of tweakers working on public works projects and green initiatives. Those people get stuff done super quick. How do we pay them? With government manufactured meth. Of course many workers shall die of fatigue and drug overdose. So in fifty years not only will there be no more tweakers, but we’ll also be riding solar powered bullet trains to work.

The very definition of win/win.

(WaPo report on the action against CVS.)

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Recoup de grace

Last fall, faced with a 35-percent increase in the insurance premium for the house, I decided to take my business elsewhere.

Then came the spring, and suddenly every insurance company from Mangum to Miami was paying out bazillions of dollars in claims; my new insurer forked over $7500 or so to replace my roof.

So I figure that I may as well eat this year’s 35-percent increase, because all those guys are going to have to reprice their policies, presumably making shopping around a waste of time. Besides, Current Insurer did a creditable job of handling my claim, and more than a few people in this state were sent cancellation notices instead of renewals. And if I’ve figured correctly, I have about a $200 surplus in the escrow account, which will cover almost all of the increase anyway.

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Writing off

When I was back there in secondary school, there were several persons who put forth the proposition that the student needs to write, and write a lot. (Lucky me, I got a typewriter when I was 14.) Apparently, though, all those persons have retired:

The National Association of Scholars (NAS) has published a long-buried study on the state of the history research paper in American high schools. The 2002 study sponsored by The Concord Review went unpublished when its benefactor, the Albert Shanker Institute, found the results unflattering to high school teachers.

I’m not entirely sure why the Shankeroids would believe so, unless they thought the general public would object to the idea of teachers having spare time.

95 percent of teachers surveyed believed that research papers are important, but 62 percent never assigned extended-length essays.

According to the report, the biggest barriers to teachers are time and class size. Most teachers said that grading papers took too much personal time, and that not enough time was provided for this in the school day. Teachers surveyed taught an average of 80 students each. Assigning a 20-page paper then means having 1,600 pages to grade.

Although it’s not mentioned in the executive summary, teachers also seemed to be frustrated with the level of plagiarism:

Unfortunately, teachers view plagiarism as a problem when it comes to history papers. More than one-third (35%) say that plagiarism occurs very often and nearly half (47%) say that plagiarism occurs sometimes. Only thirteen percent say that it doesn’t occur very often or at all.

One thing I learned in high school was how to rewrite a source. Nowadays, of course, I just blockquote.

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You may have worked at a place like that

The NewsOK guys probably didn’t think this Oklahoman headline was all that funny, so they fixed it in the Web version, meaning I had to dust off the scanner. Then again, I’m of the opinion that knowing what a word means doesn’t kill the joke:

Chesapeake exec takes job at fracking company

Especially, you know, if you read it out loud.

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Party like it’s 18.99

When we say “one for you, nineteen for me,” we mean it, dammit:

We have a tax profession in the UK that in far too many cases is deeply antagonistic to the state, to HM Revenue & Customs and to society at large. That profession seems utterly unable to comprehend the benefits that tax provides, and instead sets out to undermine society at every opportunity. Through its promotion of tax avoidance (and yes, it does openly promote that abuse) it seeks to undermine the mandate of democratically elected governments and their mandate to deliver services the public wants. But most of all, the perverse logic of economic maximisation has been interpreted, on the basis of very little knowledge by many in the profession as equating to tax minimisation — which they do, yet again, on the basis of very little knowledge and no small amount of risk to reduce tax bills whether or not it is legally appropriate to do so, with the consequence the [National Audit Office] have seen.

Apparently those dastardly tax professionals in the UK are coming up with schemes which enable their customers to — of all the nerve! — pay less tax. Not that there’s anything wrong with that:

Legal tax avoidance is not an abuse, and never has been. In the United States (and this holds true for the U.K. as well). What any taxpayer is required to pay is the legal minimum he owes in taxes and nothing more. Legal tax avoidance — tax minimization — is just that: Legal. What is not legal is tax evasion. Tax evasion is illegal tax avoidance. That’s Tax 101 stuff.

Apparently the New Guard has forgotten the thousands of tax exiles created as a result of the actions of the Old Guard: there’s a reason the Rolling Stones’ post-Decca recordings are owned by a holding company in the Netherlands. No one in his right mind will argue that a British subject — or, for that matter, an American citizen — is required to arrange his finances in such a manner as to maximize his contributions to the national treasury. And you can be absolutely certain that Tim Geithner doesn’t file the short form.

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Red Army conquered

CSKA Moscow came to the Deforded Center tonight, the second of three games the perennial Russian contenders are playing in the States this year, and the Thunder gave them a fair, if not exactly severe, thrashing, 97-89, while radio guy Matt Pinto struggled with names like Dmitri Sokolov and, um, Jamont Gordon.

The Russians definitely know how to play this game; FIBA rules are a little different, but not that different. Patience seems to be a virtue to them, which makes sense for a team that can deploy the seven-foot-three (maybe 7’4″) Boban Marjanović at center, where all he has to do is swat away shots. (Sokolov, the backup big, was actually their leading scorer; the Russian bench outscored their starters. Again, patience.)

Scott Brooks decided to give the starting five a few more minutes tonight: Kevin Durant was actually out there for 34 minutes. Still, there was time to look at the guys invited to training camp, with both Elijah Millsap and Tweety Carter getting a chance to show off. Poor shooting, a problem for OKC earlier in the preseason, subsided a bit, with the Thunder hitting 60.7 percent from the floor. Now if they could quit missing the freebies, they could rule the world, or at least the Northwest Division.

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Good heavens, Andrew Ian Dodge is “CoTVing into a Nor’easter”, a scary prospect for the 395th edition of the Carnival of the Vanities.

Nor'easter by Ferro WeathervanesI’ve seldom had to deal with the Nor’easter — in my life I’ve spent less than four years in the areas generally affected by these fearsome storms — but I can appreciate the value of an experienced weather eye, like this guy here. Ferro Weathervanes by David Ferro, based in Rhode Island, will render that fellow’s image for you in copper on top of a traditional wind indicator for a mere $395 plus shipping; other metals (and lots more designs) are available.

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