Why there will always be newspapers

(Via Paul McNamara’s Buzzblog.)

Update: The video has been killed, and here’s why.

Comments off




More mad cyclists

After my mild rant about a guy on a bike in Oklahoma City, Felix Salmon has a slightly-less-mild rant about bikers in New York, based on the premise that J. Random Cyclist tends to think of himself as a faster pedestrian:

Bikes can and should behave much more like cars than pedestrians. They should ride on the road, not the sidewalk. They should stop at lights, and pedestrians should be able to trust them to do so. They should use lights at night. And — of course, duh — they should ride in the right direction on one-way streets. None of this is a question of being polite; it’s the law. But in stark contrast to motorists, nearly all of whom follow nearly all the rules, most cyclists seem to treat the rules of the road as strictly optional. They’re still in the human-powered mindset of pedestrians, who feel pretty much completely unconstrained by rules.

The result is decidedly suboptimal for all concerned, but mostly for the bicyclists themselves. New York needs to make a collective quantum leap, from treating bicyclists like pedestrians to treating bicyclists like motorists. And unless and until it does, bike relations will continue to be marked by hostility and mistrust.

If it seems like less of an issue here in the flyover zone, it’s because we’re still well short of a critical mass of bicycles, except in places like Austin, and Austin cyclists seem to be comparatively well-behaved, perhaps because it’s gotten up to a hundred and three outside and they no longer have the strength to do anything stupid. Then again, I admittedly usually arrive in summer; in other seasons, your mileage may vary.

(Via kottke.org.)

Comments (7)




And the day comes around again

Occasionally I fumble my way through the archives, just to see what I was thinking, and this is what I was thinking on the first anniversary of 9/11:

So far, things have been very quiet. The calm before the storm? Maybe, maybe not. But we’ve made it through storms before, and we’ll make it through this one.

In the meantime, this would be a fine time to turn away from the screen for a moment and turn toward someone you love.

And then say so.

Things haven’t been quite so quiet this year, but otherwise, I wouldn’t change a word of it.

Comments off




Where fanbois come from

Okay, it’s a fangirl this time, but the fundamental things apply:

Too loyal to the good ole days when each Tweet was followed by “via web” as opposed to “via some kind of new-fangled Steve Jobs application,” I never planned to posses any of these modern gadgets. Until my sister got a laptop, which came with a free iPod Touch, which went to me. I was immediately converted, and felt pride in the way I could slide the “unlock” button with such ease; the way my “To Do” lists suddenly looked so much more efficient. The pseudo-notebook paper on a screen gave them validity, while real life notebook paper was for people who were amateurs at, well, life. Suddenly, I didn’t just have to buy deodorant. I had to buy deodorant.

Based on these criteria, I have no future as a fanboi, since my tweets are generally via WordTwit or TweetDeck, neither of which is particularly platform-specific — TweetDeck runs on Adobe Air, which is odious only because it’s Adobe — and besides, I’m back to buying deodorant in bulk from the Avon Lady.

Comments (6)




The deed for speed

A few days ago, I brought up a scheme, proposed by a candidate for Governor of Nevada, to sell speeding permits; I didn’t sound too impressed with the idea as presented. By comparison, Ric Locke thinks it’s wholly inadequate, and suggests a limited-issue “Unlimited” license:

The driver and vehicle would be licensed to maintain a safe and reasonable speed according to road and traffic conditions. Yes, that means he or she could let the Countach out to its maximum on a lonely Western Interstate — but it also means dropping the heaviest hammer possible on a licensee who blows by traffic at 55 in the first misty rain for the last few months, because no combination of vehicle and driver can overcome the greasy combination of accumulated road oils and moisture, and DUI by a “U”-license holder should be a capital offense.

I need hardly point out that such licenses would be available only to superior drivers, trained by the best, operating superior vehicles, immaculately maintained.

Which will also be what keeps this idea from getting any traction, since it’s an American tradition that anyone over the age of consent (local laws may vary) is supposed to be able to get a driver’s license provided he promises to learn how to parallel-park some day. This situation is presumably exacerbated by circumstances described in a letter to Car and Driver this month: “Look at public schools: Uptight anti-car left-wingers teaching driver’s ed.” I suspect this is somewhat overgeneralized, but since I never took driver’s ed, I have no anecdotes to contribute in lieu of data.

Still, the idea ought to work, based on its most obvious antecedent:

[H]olders of concealed-carry licenses are overwhelmingly not involved in gun crime, because they know what they’re doing with the machine, including when and where using it is or is not appropriate. The same would be true of “Unlimited” driving licenses; they would overwhelmingly not be involved in accidents, high speed or otherwise, except where other drivers are either stupid or malicious.

There are times, alas, when I look at our Wobegon roads and conclude that all of our drivers — myself included, on occasion — are below average.

Comments (3)




Unwestern uncivilization

You’ve seen ‘em, I’ve seen ‘em, and Julie has seen more than enough of ‘em:

Few things are as excruciating as reading and suffering through an interview of an artist or writer or performer of some sort who has unwittingly come to believe he or she has something valuable to say about broad, abstract things, filling intellectual magazines printed on heavy paper stock with a matte finish and an over-abundance of solitary photos of urban blight. There are moments when I think such written interviews, or even interviews on public radio, are little more than tear sheets for grant applications.

Of course, “urban blight” is something to which they must point when they feel like denouncing Man’s Inhumanity to Man, though actual cases of inhumanity — for instance, crashing a hijacked aircraft into a skyscraper — tend to go unnoticed in such screeds.

But the grantsmanship angle, I think, is worth noting, since pretty much every one of those sacred-though-secular causes highlighted in those publications depends on prying money out of either foundations or government treasuries. (It’s also de rigueur to scoff at the profit motive, despite the fact that neither foundations nor government treasuries would have much in the way of disbursable funds were it not for people actually making some money.)

Still, I suppose these folks have to do something with their time, and this sort of activity presumably keeps them off the streets and/or patios.

Comments (1)




I blame Rodgers and Hammerstein

Well, Hammerstein anyway, since he was the lyricist. “Once you have found her, never let her go…”

So here’s the hypothetical for the moment:

The next time you meet a graceful, shapely, six-figure-siren who has a white shoe pedigree and lights up a room with her sparkly, charming wit, instead of running in the other direction to your man-cave of insecurities (or more likely, to your unemployed hook-up buddy in Astoria), take a deep breath and realize that this untouchable legal goddess probably has IBS, cries herself to sleep at least once a week and wonders how much of this year’s bonus she should use to freeze her eggs. In other words, go get her champ! Trust me, you have nothing to lose.

I don’t have a hook-up buddy, but I have enough insecurities, at least in matters of the heart and related organs, to fill the Albert Hall.

I mean, really, is it so impossible to believe that a cute, successful woman would be interested in a cute, not-as-successful man?

Not being cute, I don’t have any frame of reference. So when I see such a stranger across a crowded room, I shrug. (As a rule, I don’t burst into tears until I get home.)

Comments (2)




Kilobytes of Rahm

One of these days I’m going to have to come up with a “Why We Love E. M. Zanotti” category. This time, she cracks wise on a Next Mayor of Chicago poll in which Rahm Emanuel is the front-runner. Pointing to a Chicago Tribune reference to Emanuel’s days as a ballet dancer, she declares:

If you have a picture of him in tights, I’ll trade you a dozen cupcakes for it. It’s a good deal. I make f***ing awesome cupcakes.

Judging by the subsequent update to her post, I’m guessing she spent part of last night baking.

Comments (1)




390

This week, Andrew Ian Dodge is “CoTVing to St Louis” for the 390th edition of Carnival of the Vanities.

Developer Paul McKee has proposed a multi-billion-dollar project on that city’s Northside; a circuit judge, however, has thrown out McKee’s request for $390 million in tax increment financing.

Comments off




A unit of force

I first saw Thandie Newton in John Duigan’s Flirting, a wonderful bit of Australian social commentary masquerading as a teenage-romance movie. Newton was, you should pardon the expression, the black sheep of a school for girls: she was a bit on the willful side, and they were not happy to find out she’d ventured across the lake to meet up with a lad from the boys’ school on the other side. I found this story fascinating for several reasons, not least of which was the fact that the boy in question (Noah Taylor, who’d played the same character in Duigan’s The Year My Voice Broke) was easily a match for me in dweebishness, and yet he landed a girl several locations above his station. And Duigan, unlike American vendors of adolescent fantasy, didn’t go out of his way to make you think “How lovely she is!”

Eventually, of course, someone would:

Thandie Newton

This shot dates from around the time of Crash, when Newton was being talked up as a potential Vesper Lynd for Casino Royale. (The role eventually went to Eva Green.)

Addendum: This is more recent, but perhaps more disturbing.

Comments (3)




Bless you, Energy Taliban

Some of you may have seen this yesterday:

I am about ready to rip this allegedly-programmable thermostat off the wall. No amount of dubious “energy savings” is worth this grief.

No way I could fit an explanation into 140 further characters, given the number of expletives I wanted to use at the time, so you get a marginally-calmer followup here.

This is, incidentally, not the thermostat I use at home, which is a simple, proper, fairly indestructible Honeywell eyeball. Somehow, a couple of years ago, the one in my office managed to frag itself — or the HVAC guy managed to convince the powers that be that it managed to frag itself — and it was replaced with a fiendishly-complicated device about which I said this:

Note to self: Do not buy a programmable thermostat that has the programs already set up and running in firmware. (And if they’re all like that, simplify this to “Don’t buy one.”)

When the office A/C failed yesterday — I run the server farm, which has its own dedicated unit — it was suggested that maybe the long stretches of continuous operation might be wearing it out, and maybe we should think about getting that industrial-strength thermostat to do what they paid that absurd amount of money to have it do. (I’ve been running it in bypass mode all this time.)

So I pulled out the instructions one more time. The path of least resistance would of course be using the factory defaults, but the factory defaults are inconsistent with the office mission. (Eighty-five degrees at high noon? You’re buying me a six-figure tower, Buster.) Unfortunately, you can’t just change the ones you don’t like: you have to change all twelve. (You must have twelve cycles per week. It’s required. By whom, I have no idea, but I suspect Al Gore.) And no, you can’t just key in a time and a temperature: that would be too easy.

After a period of fumbling, I laid down as much law as I dared, which was enough to include “I want this effing thing off the wall. I want something that will turn it up to 76 late at night and back it down to 70 right before I arrive in the morning. Is that too much to ask?”

I have been assured that no, it isn’t too much, and anyway, the current HVAC guy will be out again next week to see if he can figure out who’s drinking all the refrigerant.

Comments (7)




Quote of the week

From each according to his needs, to each according to his, um, MasterCard limit. The evaporation of the middle class, by Amba:

[I]t is cruel — in a social-Darwinian way — to make survival itself contingent on success. Success is something different from the willingness to work hard; it’s an amalgam of many ingredients, fused by an ineffable alchemy. If you’re lazy you’ll most likely miss the gold ring, but missing the gold ring doesn’t mean you’re lazy. Even if everyone tried their best to be a successful entrepreneur or inventor, entertainment star, or bestselling author, relatively few would succeed. Yet we are moving toward this sort of jackpot economy where not even years of education or experience — only some kind of freak fame or empire-building — can lift us above a hand-to-mouth existence. For a while, in the industrial era, there was this thing called a “job” that was a pretty decent fit for a man’s needs, whether or not it fully tapped his abilities (gendered language intended). Now, we’re left with our orphaned abilities flapping uselessly in the breeze as we struggle desperately to stay ahead of our needs.

Possibly related, this:

Emotional well-being also rises with … income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of ∼$75,000. Low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone. We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.

Also possibly related, this:

“Rich” is a relative term (except for my relatives, none of whom are rich). I hope only for positive cash flow.

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp — and it would, too, were it not for the scoundrels who earn their keep by pushing everything away, and the blackguards who earn theirs by the manipulation of avarice.

Comments (6)




The almost-sixty-minute man

Now if you remember the song, you’ll recall that ol’ Dan was actually subdividing his activity into four discrete segments of 15 minutes apiece.

And he might have been a bit on the chubby side:

Fat men last longer in bed, while lean gym jocks are prone to premature ejaculation, a new study has found.

The scientific research, from Erciyes University in Turkey, found that men with excess body fat develop more female sex hormones that influence their sexual performance.

Men with high fat levels were found to have higher levels of the female sex hormone oestradiol, which disrupts the chemical balance in their body, making them last longer during sex.

Note to spammers: Screw the little blue pills. Send me donuts.

(Via Instapundit, and let’s leave it at that.)

Comments off




More items from my Wish List

And no, you can’t buy them for me. At least, I don’t think you can.

Comments off




Let’s hope they get the code correct

Otherwise, who knows what might happen?

Enter your email to recieve your Text Code

(Seen at Go Fug Yourself. It wasn’t their fault.)

Comments off




The legs are the last to go

Florence Henderson in Dancing with the StarsI’ve been saying so for years, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Consider the case of Florence Henderson, now seventy-six. On her talk show for Retirement Living TV, she’s usually sporting some mom-like trousers, but Dancing with the Stars this fall is going to require some sort of dress — and oh, what a dress! [Insert gratuitous Mike Brady reference here.] It’s not exactly a mini, the insistence of People magazine notwithstanding, but … dayum. And she’s gonna dance! I hope I’m still able to stand up when I turn seventy-six (which is a mere 19 years away, if you’re keeping score). Maybe I need to start hitting the Wesson Oil, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Yeah, yeah, I know: Photoshop. But if they use it on everyone, which of course they do, it’s all pretty much a wash, isn’t it?

Disclosure: Barry Williams is about my age. See also Basic Instinct: the Brady Bunch Interpretation.

Comments (1)