Is it time, finally, to get rid of the whole idea of telephone numbers?

No matter how you arrange to have telephone service, you have to have a telephone number — unless you go with something proprietary like Skype, which is really just glorified chat anyway. And getting a telephone number means going through a telephone company.

Yet when we want email, while we can and many do go through a major provider such as Gmail, the option exists to essentially be your own email access retailer. Thanks to my hosting account I can give myself any address I want on any one of three domains I own — with none of the restrictions imposed by Gmail (which, for example, won’t let me use my ham callsign as a username because it has only five characters and Gmail requires at least six). No one else has the same email address as me. A message depending on my email address to find me will find me. Even if I’m away from my computer, thanks to 3G.

Okay. So how would this model work, exactly?

[O]ne’s wireless device would register with a cell tower, not by its assigned number, but by the user’s unique email address. Or however many email addresses that user might be using with that device. The carrier would then remotely bill for bandwidth his device uses — the user himself for access through a personal address, or his employer when a work address is used. With direct autopay as an option, or going through a Paypal-type service, there’s no reason this shouldn’t work.

Alternatively, carriers could offer smartphone accounts without voice plans altogether but with true unlimited data access. The user would then be solely responsible for arranging for voice service with a VoIP carrier.

Already concepts like “area codes” are essentially meaningless: I know people here in town who have numbers not even slightly 405-ish.

But stipulating that the landline, as a concept, is pretty much dead — even AT&T, the poster child for ancient business models, says so — how long would this transition take? Five, ten years? And how much is it going to cost me?

(Title, of course, originally from here.)

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Y so Cyrus?

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Despite 500 miles of left turns

In 2000, Congress directed the Army to look into sponsoring motorsports as a recruiting tool; the Army now spends about $7 million a year on a NASCAR sponsorship, which, says the pertinent public-information officer, resulted in some 46,000 recruiting leads.

Speaking of tools, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) tossed up a gratuitous amendment to end the Army’s sponsorship deal, arguing it did nothing for military readiness; the House ran over it, 241-148.

In addition to the Army, the National Guard and the Air Force have sponsorship deals; the Marines had had one at a lower budget level, but didn’t find comparable recruiting success and dropped it.

(Via Autoblog.)

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No, this is not a Carnival of the Vanities announcement. That was back here in ought-five, though the following comment was added to it by a reader:

Wikipedia places the value of the Sommerfield fine-structure constant at 137.03599911.

Speaking of which, Ric Locke pointed out this past weekend:

There’s no discernible reason it should have that value; scientists have been looking for the “why” ever since it was first defined, with no tiniest glimmer of a way to find a clue, much less actual evidence — but if it were different we wouldn’t be here, because many processes go the way they go because of that value.

The anthropic principle doesn’t say the fine structure constant has that value because we’re here; it says we’re here because the fine structure constant is what it is — if it were different it would still be what it was, but there wouldn’t be any physicists to calculate it. It answers the “many worlds” and “multiverse” hypotheses by saying, in effect, “So the f* what? Pay attention, people!”

Similarly, Richard P. Feynman (source):

It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up on their wall and worry about it. Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to pi or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It’s one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the “hand of God” wrote that number, and “we don’t know how He pushed His pencil.”

I will say this: Construct a circle. Divide it by two radii to form the golden ratio. The smaller of the two sectors will be close to — but not exactly — 137 degrees.

And unwilling to be exclusionary, I’ll add this: Physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who was one of the worriers described by Feynman, died of pancreatic cancer in 1958 in a hospital in Zurich — in room 137.

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Drop dead, Fred

The anonymous group known as Anonymous issues a warning to the Westboro Baptist Church:

Your demonstrations and your unrelenting cascade of disparaging slurs, unfounded judgments, and prejudicial innuendos, which apparently apply to every individual numbered amongst the race of Man — except for yourselves — has frequently crossed the line which separates Freedom of Speech from deliberately utilizing the same tactics and methods of intimidation and mental & emotional abuse that have been previously exploited and employed by tyrants and dictators, fascists and terrorist organizations throughout history.

ANONYMOUS cannot abide this behavior any longer. The time for us to be idle spectators in your inhumane treatment of fellow Man has reached its apex, and we shall now be moved to action.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

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Strange search-engine queries (264)

Every seven days or so, we empty out the logs and go looking for search strings that land here, mostly because — well, it’s Monday morning, and it’s not like I can go hide out somewhere in Illinois for the duration.

for the past ten years, your logistics and services company has wanted to develop lucrative south american oil reserves for it exploration, drilling, refining, and transport division:  When you finish school and don’t have to rely on search engines to do your homework anymore, perhaps you’ll understand. But I’m not holding my breath.

why do some whites resents celebrating mlk day:  I can’t speak for them, but I resent any Federal holiday on which I have to work.

doppelgang wank:  “Damn, I had no idea I looked that good.” (Google’s UK branch, faced with this string, asks: “Did you mean: doppleganger week,” which I suppose is eventually going to be one of those holidays on which I have to work.)

edmond north underperforming:  Hadn’t heard that, though it would be really cool to build an Underperforming Arts Center on the campus.

are unfrosted blueberry pop tarts less fattening:  Not enough to matter, believe me.

aol huffington mergerville:  Spending all of the cash in the vault / Some people say that it’s that woman to blame / But I think it’s somehow Google’s fault.

is al gore penis uncut:  As a rule, liberals prefer to cut defense before anything else.

Chihuahua Vanderpool Damon:  The family having produced no male heirs for several generations, in desperation they decided to extend the name to the family pets.

unflatulent relation:  “Pick you up some Taco Bell on the way home? Sure thing, honey. Not a problem.”

is there a nude picture of me on the internet:  Well, it looks kind of like you, but it’s hard to be sure.

meredith vieira wearing ankle strap heels:  Apparently this is not a common sight; a review of a couple of years of Today Show screenshots suggests that this is not her preferred look. On the other hand, you’re not going to see this on the set either:

Meredith Vieira in repose

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Buy this man an extra Sharpie

The subject of Serge Ibaka came up in the Twitterverse last night, and to dazzle everyone with some obscure statistic, as is my wont, I wandered over to, which knows all and tells most.

And, says the site, this was the Serge Protector’s full name at birth: Sergeballu LaMu Sayonga Loom Walahas Jonas Hugo Ibaka.

I was too stunned even to tweet this. Surely it can’t be true.

Update, 18 March 2012: Apparently it’s not.

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Bookmobile up on blocks

Miriam has personal experience with Governmental Bloat:

There are lots of small towns in New Jersey — I forget the exact number. There were 60 in our library consortium alone. Each had a chief of police, a recreation director, a social worker, a judge, a court clerk, and innumerable persons who were not at their desks because they had gone outdoors for a smoke. Each one had a desk, a computer, health insurance, paid vacation, and a pension plan. They all used up their share of oxygen and then some.

Meanwhile, in the library consortium itself:

[W]e had part-timers who filled the roles of adjunct faculty in colleges and of slaves in the Roman Empire. They got no health insurance or paid vacation, had to share a desk and a computer with someone else, and did a great many of the humble tasks that makes the place go on ticking. These are the people the axe falls on when there is a financial crisis. Their hours are cut, causing the library doors to be locked at the most inconvenient times.

Meanwhile the director of cheer-leading development or karaoke education gets an annual raise.

More than this, deponent saith not, except to note that he’s never, ever done karaoke outside the borders of New Jersey.

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As always, I’m late to the party

Back in 2005, I quoted the late Allan Sherman, circa 1973, on the subject of brassiere removal:

Women’s brassiere-latches in 1940 America looked like innocent little pink satin rosebuds, but each one secretly contained a special spring-loaded delayed-action guillotine, ready to snap off unwelcome boyfingers at the slightest movement of the concealed hair trigger.

Things improved only slightly in subsequent years, until the invention of the Clap-Off Bra , which I regret to inform you — actually, I regret to inform me — has not caught on as a national trend. (It was not especially well-received, for instance, at Hawtness.)

And I still tremble a bit at the word “underwire.”

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Glad Men

After looking at this Facebook thread several times, I decided to reproduce it here, though the identities of the participants have been obscured to the point of invisibility:

Christina Hendricks discussion on Facebook

Maybe I should be watching this damn show.

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The coming Broadband Crisis

Perlhaqr, over at Tam’s place, sees the writing on the screen:

[F]ifteen years ago 100% of American households lacked broadband internet access.

It’s just like all the arguments for pretty much any amount of socialisation in healthcare, at the basic level. “Something has been invented, therefore I deserve it even if I can’t pay for it myself.”

And really, I strongly doubt that 1/3rd of the US truly lies in areas absolutely unavailable to high speed internet. It may be really expensive high speed internet, but there’s almost nowhere that the little satellite dishes can’t get you ‘net.

So it’s not even “I can’t get this” it’s “I don’t want to pay as much as it would cost to get this, so someone else should buy it for me.”

The politics of envy, writ small, though clearly not small enough.

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Affordable housing, as it were

Sonic Charmer overhears someone not entirely clear on the concept:

“Have you heard about the administration’s new housing plan? Basically nobody’s going to be able to buy a house. Unless, you know, they can afford it.”

Um well yeah. That’s kind of how Buying Things Or Not was always supposed to work.

Having gone from subprime to really subprime myself, I will consider myself fortunate to have gotten in when I did.

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In which I bow to the expert

While I rather freely admit to a peripheral interest in women’s shoes, I really can’t claim any particular expertise in the subject: I observe, I comment, and then I go and observe some more, but that’s about the extent of it. Certainly I am not so much as a patch on this guy:

Vintage high heels collector David Childs steps through the past 100 years of heel history. Childs has “a fascination” for the aesthetic appeal of high heels, and has turned his passion into a museum exhibit of 600 pairs of shoes. (And that’s just half his collection.) The heels will be on display at the Yakima Valley Museum for the rest of this year.

Video, just under four minutes, narrated by Childs, at the link. I am amused to note that his least-favorite decade seems to be the 1970s.

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Stalking the wild Woodbury Voter

Sarah Palin shows up at a conference of the Long Island Association, and not only does she not ask if there are any shorter islands around, she shows up wearing this:

Sarah Palin on Lawn Guyland

Of course, what I want to know is whether there was an actual leopard involved with those shoes, and if so, whether she shot it herself. Jezebel says no: these are from the Taryn Rose line, and they can be had on eBay for $79.95 plus shipping, if you happen to wear a size 6. I’ve liked most of the Taryn Rose shoes I’ve seen, but somehow these rub me the wrong way, so to speak; I will console myself with the knowledge that Sarah’s wearing neither Crocs nor Uggs.

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Live with 5

My children, over the years, have generally driven cheap disposable domestics or might-as-well-be domestics, acquired at third hand; the epitome of such would be my daughter’s early-80s Ford Escort, Muff the Tragic Wagon, which the last time I saw it, some time around the turn of the century, had semi-inoperative turn signals. (The circuitry was functional, but the actual lever had fallen on the floor.)

Of late, though, they’ve tried to break out of that particular mold: a couple years ago, she splurged on a VW Jetta, and this week I am informed that my son has ditched a Buick in favor of a ten-year-old Bimmer.

Now what I know about BMWs would fit between pages 67 and 68 of the owner’s manual, but I am reasonably certain that Teutonic sleds of this sort do not take kindly to the sort of haphazard maintenance that these youngsters have been used to providing. (Same goes for the Jetta, really.) In case he drops some weird issue in my lap, though, I figure I’d better brush up on the E39 5-series.

Interestingly, the specs on his car and mine are almost identical, though the Bimmer of course is driven by the correct pair of wheels. And the time to get such a car, apparently, is after — not before — a Kansas City winter.

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Quick-fried to a crackly crunch

A man sacrifices his life for the right to volts:

An Indianapolis man was killed Thursday morning after being electrocuted. Metro Police say he was trying to steal copper wiring from a rooftop transformer.

According to police, Jeffrey Reynolds, 31, was electrocuted while he was stealing copper wire from the roof of Circle City Industrial Complex, an industrial building on Massachusetts Avenue near downtown.

A 220 line, this isn’t. WTF was he thinking?

“He lost his job and didn’t have nothing, found out he had a baby on the way. He was trying to provide like any other … father would have done,” said Penny McGowan, the victim’s aunt.

I think we can safely call this “impaired judgment,” though I find Roberta X’s summation more to the point:

I guess if I was truly soft-hearted I’d feel bad for him but sheesh: say Hi to Mr. Darwin for me!

And both you and I know dads in a bad way who still wouldn’t try to steal stuff.

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