Speechless

Not in the literal sense, but there are times when the words just won’t come.

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Where does it end?

Jarrett Walker, in the midst of explaining how transit-ridership numbers can be misinterpreted, mentions this particular municipal phenomenon that can contribute to such misinterpretation:

City limits are a decent approximation of the core city in most of the northern tier of states, but in Southern California and Texas, for example, core cities are bizarre shapes that omit some dense inner city fabric and incorporate a lot of suburbia and exurbia. I have yet to meet anyone whose personal conception of “Los Angeles” ends at the bizarre Los Angeles city limits (thus including the San Fernando Valley and San Pedro, for example, but excluding West Hollywood, Santa Monica, and East LA). The exception, of course, would be City of Los Angeles leaders and employees. I’ve met many people in New York City, Seattle and San Francisco whose mental notion of their city matches the city limits pretty exactly.

This is pretty easy, I think. NYC has exactly five boroughs, and everyone knows more or less where they are. San Francisco is confined to the tip of the peninsula. And though King County has plenty of sprawl, Seattle itself is fairly compact.

At the other extreme, well, I’m soaking in it:

Oklahoma City by wards

The most startling aspect of this, in fact, is that Oklahoma City was once larger than its current 621 square miles. Local historian Doug Loudenback reports that in the middle 1980s, the city reached nearly 680 square miles, though areas in McClain and Logan Counties, and a substantial patch in northwest Oklahoma County, would eventually be deannexed. Still, the growth pattern is fairly clear: engulf, but fail to devour.

Personal note: The palatial estate at Surlywood is located in the southern portion of Ward 2.

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The green ones were a dead giveaway

From an Oklahoman story about the robbery of an Edmond drug store:

This is the second armed robbery of a pharmacy in Edmond in two years. There have been four burglaries of pharmacies in the same period. One pharmacist, tired of previous break-ins, replaced hydrocodone pills with M&M candy in four bottles that were stolen in a burglary earlier this month.

Police estimated the street value at more than $10.

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Scan this, pal

The TSA’s body scanners are getting a mixed review from the public. They’re very much faster than the traditional empty-your-pockets routine, at the cost of letting some low-level government official see you naked, or damned near. (Jeff Jarvis’ suggestion of flying naked does not seem to have caught on.)

So do you pass up the scan and waste valuable time, or do you submit to the device and trust that the operator is not actually a drooling perv? If you opt for the latter, there is now a small patch of defense: Flying Pasties, which despite their name don’t necessarily have to paste anywhere, but which will obscure your naughtier bits from view.

The Pasties take advantage of a known weakness in the scanning technology:

The scanners do a good job seeing under clothing but cannot see through plastic or rubber materials that resemble skin, said Peter Siegel, a senior scientist at the California Institute of Technology. “You probably could find very common materials that you could wrap around you that would effectively obscure things,” Siegel said.

So the Pasties are made from rubber, 2mm thick (and, I note, reusable), just enough to slip inside your unmentionables. I suppose these could be used by the Forces of Evil™ just as easily as by your mom, but of what technology is this not true?

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F TXT

Tam declines to respond to someone with a mere text message:

“If I am going to write to someone, I am going to write to them. In complete sentences. With punctuation. I am going to use the English language like Shakespeare and Milton by-gawd intended for it to be used, and I am damned well going to make it sit up and jump through little flaming hoops while I am at it! I am not going to be reduced to poking at buttons on a cell phone with my thumbs, turning out crap that looks like it was disgorged by an illiterate devolved protosimian fifth grader!”

This belongs in at least the Fifth Circle of Awesome.

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Unpaired despair

Start with a pool of six million women. Sounds like a lot? Well, Lincoln Adams just can’t beat the odds:

Since I won’t likely consider dating someone younger than 25, not just because of the creepy age difference, but also because someone that young will have a different and more naive perspective on life that would undoubtedly clash with my own sadder (but wiser) worldview, I’ve thus limited my options to within this age range [25-34].

I will concede only the “creepy age difference”; I’ve found naïveté from 8 to 80, and everywhere in between. (I can occasionally see it in my mirror, in fact.)

I also won’t consider anyone with kids either, not merely because of the inherent risks that comes with raising someone else’s children (and the fact that I would be playing second fiddle to the kids right from the start), but also because Mommy would hurt me really badly if I ever brought home a girl cradling Junior and Juniorette on each arm.

I have no experience in this realm, so I toss no brickbat here, though a couple of them suggest themselves.

So, according to stats I found elsewhere, 34% of women who have never married have kids. That winnows down the list to less than 4 million.

Since subjective traits such as personality, etc. can’t be measured in statistics, I’ll use the voting record to at least filter out those with incompatible political views. Since I’m conservative that would rule out the 70% of women who voted for Obama, which leaves me with less than 1.5 million eligible women.

See, for instance, me: “[F]or a long-term relationship, it’s better if the couple is somewhere within the same chapter, if not necessarily on the same page.” Still, bringing up the topic, unless a couple routinely discusses political matters, is a guaranteed trip to Awkward City.

Even now that still fails to take into consideration physical chemistry, common personality traits, religion, etc. (and also hoping she is of a sound enough mind without the need for mind altering drugs to keep her from going batpoopie insane.) Using all these factor it would be a MIRACLE if there were even 500,000 women left, but I’ll be generous though and presume even accounting for all these additional factors, there are still 1 million girls left that I can sample like a tasty free snack at the local supermarket. ["naughty" smiley in original] 1 million though only is 0.33% of the entire United States population. Less than one third of one percent. Gees.

Still, a pool of 500,000 is pretty substantial if all you need is one. I figure even a pool of 1,238 ought to suffice if you’re industrious enough, which I’m not.

Then again, do you know 1,238 women? Neither do I. And therefore:

Even if I stayed within the states, just traveling everywhere I can and as much as I can would at least boost the odds that I’ll come across one of the 1 million decent girls who might be … THE ONE. Heck even traveling just 150 miles into Pennsylvania opened up a few opportunities for me. One thing’s for sure, I’ve been stuck here in New York for 30 something years and I have not come any iota closer to finding anyone. There really may be nothing for me here, so maybe it’s time to see what’s out there instead.

Alternatively, Dan Collins tweets: “Have you tried mail order?”

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Now you be careful with that little Fokker

Amateur pilot Dave Stephens, when he’s not flying planes, has been known to build planes; his second completed effort is a replica of the World War I-era Fokker Eindecker.

It’s not an exact duplicate: it’s about three-quarter scale, and hundred-year-old radial engines aren’t easily come by, so Stephens adapted a lawn-mower engine. The final product flies at a maximum of 50 mph, while the original 99-hp Eindeckers could do about 75.

I have to hope, though, that this feature is intact:

“The gun on the front had a synchronisation cable so that it wouldn’t fire when the propeller blade was in the way. This meant it could effectively shoot straight through the whirling blades, so the pilot could just point his plane at the other plane, pull the trigger and shoot it down. British planes, meanwhile, had the guns pointing out of the back or over the top of the wings — so they couldn’t aim so easily.”

Damned ingenious. The Brits were sitting ducks, “Fokker fodder.”

As appropriate for the time, the new Eindecker bears the Maltese cross. Stephens got permission from the German embassy to use the insignia, though they warned him that certain WWII indicia would get him barred from German air space.

Stephens has one other replica fighter plane: a American P-51 Mustang.

Personal note: Only once have I been aboard a Fokker aircraft: in spring 1975, on a THY flight from the old Samsun Samair airport to Istanbul (not Constantinople). An F27 turboprop, if I remember correctly.

(Via Fark.)

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A regular expense

Good thing it isn’t premium:

Texas truck

(Via, obviously, That Will Buff Out.)

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The truth of the matter

You might have seen this on the Broadway Distention at Memorial earlier today:

Lamar digital billboard

The distortions imposed by the lens actually serve as a pretty accurate indicator of how bleary-eyed I was at the time.

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Not that I expect anyone to do this

Many sites have a FAQ file, for those frequently-asked questions. (Being on a lower plane of existence, I have a collection of occasionally-asked questions.) Once in a while, though, I have to fake up answer a question that was never asked at all, such as this:

“How can I get myself into one of your ____paloozas?”

Which, inevitably, means “How can I look like Zooey Deschanel?” The answer is here.

(Passed to me by the vacationing Uncapped in Uxbridge. Purely by coincidence, when the link arrived here, I was listening to She & Him.)

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What goes around, and so forth

Yours truly, from August 2002:

The election of county commissioners — there are three in each of Oklahoma’s 77 counties — would seem to be No Big Deal. Then again, about twenty years ago it was discovered that more than half of the state’s 231 commissioners had gotten their fingers into some very rich pies. The Legislature responded by requiring independent boards to oversee county budgets. Still, the position of commissioner carries considerable clout, and apparently Shirley Darrell, who used to be in charge of District 1 in Oklahoma County, would like to have her job back.

To do that, Darrell will have to beat former OKC council member Beverly Hodges, who defeated Darrell four years ago. But there’s a primary next Tuesday, and Darrell is being challenged by one of her former deputies, Jim Roth, who has mounted a fairly high-dollar direct-mail campaign. How high? He’s sent me seven postcards, roughly 7.5 by 10 inches, each with two-color art and a different pitch. It was the seventh of those cards in which Roth came out swinging against his old boss, complete with what purported to be a copy of a warrant for Darrell’s arrest on charges of racketeering, bribery, perjury, and other Bad Things. And indeed, Darrell was charged with all these at one time or another, but as anyone this side of Bill Clinton can tell you, a charge does not equal a conviction.

Jim Roth won that election, and eventually found himself on the Corporation Commission. Meanwhile, Shirley Darrell, who used to be in charge of District 1 in Oklahoma County, would like to have her job back. Again.

And Willa Johnson, the current incumbent, has come up with a campaign mailer along the same lines as Roth’s: in a mere 5½ x 8½ space, there are images of no fewer than ten Oklahoman headlines dating back to the original Days O’ Scandal, some of which mention Darrell directly, plus one grainy photo of Darrell and her attorney entering a Not Guilty plea to “charges of bribery and racketeering.” Johnson’s surname isn’t mentioned anywhere on the card, though there is a reference to the Friends of Willa Campaign. And the pitch: “Do You Want To Go Back To This?”

I have a feeling this one is going to be close, Johnson’s incumbency notwithstanding.

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They’re all right, Jack

Some thoughts from Marcel on what passes for employment these days:

Ideally, each of us would do honest work that needed to be done, and would earn enough at it to raise a family. (See Good Work and Good Works, by C.S. Lewis.) But just as we don’t have smallpox anymore, we don’t live in a rural village anymore, and we aren’t born into our father’s trade (lucky me). The work that needs to be done is more complex and varied than farming and smithing. Nobody’s grandfather was a Java programmer. The market is the best mechanism we’ve found to connect people who need work with work that needs to be done. Central planning doesn’t work, and leads to repression, misery, corruption, and death.

Then again, you can have that without central planning:

Rational profit maximization isn’t some kind of universal human paradigm. Doctors who are in it for the money should go do something else. Lawyers should go do something else. Teachers shouldn’t be compensated for teaching, they should be paid so they can teach. If you’re so miserable teaching you have to be compensated for it, or if you’re only doing it for the money, go and be a prison guard like everyone else. What? Oh, right. Never mind.

I don’t know anybody who teaches just for the money: the big bucks, of course, come in administration. On the other hand, I can think of lots of lawyers who should go do something else, just on general principle.

A lot of work that’s done for big profits shouldn’t be done at all. I’ve heard the US is the largest producer and exporter of pornography.

And the Department of Labor is doing its damnedest to keep it that way.

Besides the pornographers there are way too many lawyers (that juxtaposition is just a coincidence of course). It strikes me that our nation would be better off if Harvard suspended all admissions for twenty years. Most lawyers and financiers are simply parasites, doing no productive work themselves, interfering with those who are trying to accomplish something, and using their position and education to enrich themselves. That ambulance chasing or the more arcane forms of arbitrage are market-based makes the practitioners no less contemptible, but of course these creatures are long since dead to shame, and everybody takes their money and shakes their hands just as if they were honorable men. The idea of anyone being unable to appear in society out of shame for his conduct is incomprehensible today.

Emphasis added.

My lawyer did lots of productive work this year, and I have the bills to prove it. On the other hand, he’s not in Washington.

I concede, however, that there’s something disquieting about the remarkable ability of these folks to replicate themselves endlessly, when what we really need is someone to fix the air conditioner.

And we’ve been in the Post-Shame Era for several decades now, with no signs of anything resembling emergence. Then again, the parasite never, ever apologizes to the host.

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383

Raindrops keep falling on Andrew Ian Dodge: the 383rd Carnival of the Vanities, “CoTVing out of a Thunderstorm”, like its two predecessors, implies a damp meteorological phenomenon.

If you prefer a different sort of thunder, Argentine firearms manufacturer Bersa used to sell a Model 383 pistol, chambered in .380 ACP, which isn’t exactly a thunderous round, but one which can rain on an assailant’s parade.

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Another wet blanket

This would be Scott Blake Harris, general counsel for the Department of Energy, who lately is gunning for the makers of showerheads:

In May … Harris fined four showerhead makers $165,104 in civil penalties, alleging they failed to demonstrate compliance for some devices.

Manufacturers and retailers say the new rules affect not just upscale systems but also those with hand-held sprays used by the elderly and disabled. Multiple showerheads often found in shower rooms at schools or gyms could also be at risk, manufacturers say. Customers will be disgruntled because of limited product range, they add.

Actually, these aren’t new rules; the DOE has decided to reinterpret the 1992 law in a more restrictive manner.

“Did Congress limit consumer choice? Absolutely,” the DOE’s Mr. Harris says. “When you waste water, you waste energy.” Each multi-head shower fixture uses an extra 40 to 80 thermal units of energy per year, equivalent to 50 gallons of gasoline, or one barrel of oil, he says.

One whole barrel? Add this guy to the list of people who need to stop producing carbon dioxide. The greater good, doncha know.

(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)

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Okay, okay, don’t get testy


Addendum: I’m impressed. They had this cleared off the site before noon.

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We should probably assume we’re next

This particular Storm O’ Dung originates in Canberra:

The federal government has censored approximately 90 per cent of a secret document outlining its controversial plans to snoop on Australians’ web surfing, obtained under freedom of information (FoI) laws, out of fear the document could cause “premature unnecessary debate”.

The government has been consulting with the internet industry over the proposal, which would require ISPs to store certain internet activities of all Australians — regardless of whether they have been suspected of wrongdoing — for law-enforcement agencies to access.

Industry sources have claimed that the controversial regime could go as far as collecting the individual web browsing history of every Australian internet user, a claim denied by the spokesman for Attorney-General Robert McClelland.

Ninety percent of the document is censored? What’s left? A, and and the?

Claudia Hernandez of the AG’s office, in explaining why Australians are being kept in the dark, came up with doublespeak worthy of Oceania:

[She] wrote in her decision in releasing the highly censored document that the release of some sections of it “may lead to premature unnecessary debate and could potentially prejudice and impede government decision making”.

Hernandez said that the material in question related to information the department was “currently weighing up and evaluating in relation to competing considerations that may have a bearing on a particular course of action or decision”.

“More specifically, it is information concerning the development of government policy which has not been finalised, and there is a strong possibility that the policy will be amended prior to public consultation,” she wrote.

Further, she said that although she had acknowledged the public’s right to “participate in and influence the processes of government decision making and policy formulation … the premature release of the proposal could, more than likely, create a confusing and misleading impression”.

“In addition, as the matters are not settled and proposed recommendations may not necessarily be adopted, release of such documents would not make a valuable contribution to public debate.”

Shorter version: “We don’t want to look that bad this early.”

Not being an Australian myself, I could shrug this off, but I can’t; the major problem is that Washington, like Canberra, has no shortage of wicked little scumballs to whom a proposal like that would look peachy keen, and they might get the idea to implement such a thing before the general public has an opportunity to apply the time-tested methods of Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether.

“Unnecessary debate.” Sheesh. Who does she think she is? Nancy Pelosi?

(Via Fark.)

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