A faint whiff of rodent

The city of Tulsa is suing the state of Oklahoma over this year’s House Bill 2359, which gives the Oklahoma Tax Commission the exclusive right to collect sales and use tax in the state.

We’ll jump right to the punchline:

State lawmakers passed HB 2359 on the final day of this year’s session, but before the governor signed it into law, the city of Tulsa had signed a contract with an Alabama firm to handle the collections.

To quote a NewsOK commenter on this story: “Wonder which politician is related to the owner(s) of that private firm…”

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Old school, new wheels

The message — um, “The Message” — is clear.

(Seen at Autoblog.)

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You’d think “warm” would be sufficient

But no, these days you’re expected to be hot. Hawt, even. Sometimes, though, the timing seems to be off:

I have an interesting history with hotness. It began by not being hot for a very, very long time. I was not a sexy teenager and I was not a sexy co-ed. As such, I never learned to depend on looks to get me ahead. Although I wasn’t an ugly duckling, I blossomed late. So, in the early 1990s when a coworker suggested to me that part of the reason I received a promotion and someone else didn’t was because I was better looking, I didn’t know whether laugh or be offended. And, to think I thought I’d been promoted because I knew the AP style guide frontwards and backwards and my competition couldn’t conjugate verbs. [Sigh]

Ultimately, ascending the ladder of relative hotness as others were descending it was a strange and uncomfortable experience. I embraced it for a time and had some fun with it, although I also learned that being sexy (it’s relative) has a colossal downside.

Which explains why I’m going nowhere on whatever ladder happens to be around, since I’ve never been so much as tepid, let alone hot, and besides, I get all my writing tips from the Fake AP Stylebook.

It does seem to be true, though, that people reach their peaks — and not just in terms of appearance — on wildly different schedules. As for my own, I’m currently wavering between “yet to come” and “it’s been downhill since I was twelve.”

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Do not look directly at the sign

The San Francisco Chronicle’s Paolo Lucchesi posed a question to the readership: “What’s the most unfortunate restaurant name in town?” Accompanying the article on SFGate was a shot of a drive-in called “Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet,” which sounds pretty dire, though perhaps preferable to Squat & Gobble. And Gott’s gets points from me for their call-in telephone number: 866-EAT-FOOD. (Hey, that’s an idea!)

Of course, once this went up on SFGate, the scope widened to worldwide. One perhaps expects strange eatery names where Engrish is spoken, but that’s not much of an excuse in north Texas, where you’ll find this august establishment:

Pho King Way logo

The Sofa King was not available for comment.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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Inclement by increments

When someone threatens to leave town (okay, it’s not my town, but still) because of the weather, you know things have gotten at least somewhat out of hand.

And the spirit of McMahon alighted upon me, and I spoke: “How hot is it?” I duly looked up the local climatology records, and noted that we were on pace for the third-warmest August on record, a Fahrenheit degree and a fraction below the worst of the Dust Bowl years. In fact, of the ten hottest Augusts — actually 11, due to ties — I’ve personally sweated through three.

This set off my “Oh, Christ, now we’re going to hear from the global-warming people” alarm. Then it hit me: records here go back 119 years. I’ve been around here 37 years. Which means that during the most recent 31 percent of climatological history, we’ve had 27 percent of the hottest Augusts, which in turn means — well, not a damned thing, actually.

I just wish I’d gotten to experience more than two of the coldest Augusts.

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Just so clothes-minded

Were I trying to persuade someone to accompany me to one of those clothing-optional vacation spots, I doubt that “Think what you’ll save on baggage charges!” would be much of a selling point:

“If more air travelers take a stand and a nakation in 2010, it could send a message to the airlines using checked and unchecked baggage fees as a way to charge the vacationing masses more money in this tight economy,” Erich Schuttauf, executive director of the American Association of Nude Recreation, told USA Today. “All you’ll need for the week (sunscreen, cap, sunglasses, shoes and toiletries) can fit in a small carry-on that will fit under the seat, avoiding even carry-on bag fees.”

But then you’d have to explain to them why you have a 10-day round-trip ticket and only one bag. And explaining things to airlines — or worse, explaining things to the Transportation Security Administration — will put you in a bad mood before you even take off, so to speak.

Oh, well. Carry on, my wayward sunworshippers.

(Via Fark.)

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I did see her, sort of

One of the problems with this whole Rule 5 scheme is that it’s so easy to fall back on the same names week after week. [Says the guy with the seemingly-inexhaustible supply of Zooey Deschanel pictures—ed.] I’ve had instances where not only the same person, but the same picture, had been through this particular mill.

Which is one reason for the following still of Hindi actress Vipasha Agarwal, who has, per the IMDb, exactly one screen credit: the 2006 Bollywood feature I See You. As it happens, I’ve seen I See YouI reviewed it here — and I remember her quite well.

Vipasha Agarwal

But then, I would.

(Photo courtesy of sulekha.com.)

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How to identify the Truly Wicked

Easy: they’re the ones who wish to force something on you, at your expense, whether you like it or not. See, for instance, “Obamacare.”

See also the National Association of Broadcasters and the Recording Industry Association of America:

Music labels and radio broadcasters can’t agree on much, including whether radio should be forced to turn over hundreds of millions of dollars a year to pay for the music it plays. But the two sides can agree on this: Congress should mandate that FM radio receivers be built into cell phones, PDAs, and other portable electronics.

Disturbingly enough, that’s considered a compromise:

A bill percolating in Congress, the Performance Rights Act, would rationalize performance rights in the US; satellite radio and webcasters currently pay full performance fees to labels or artists, but radio does not, thanks to a longstanding exemption in copyright law.

The bill has already passed out of committee in both the House and Senate, but it is vigorously opposed by the broadcasters; they argue that radio provides valuable promotion to artists and shouldn’t have to pay. Congress tried to force two of the main lobbying groups, the National Association of Broadcasters and musicFIRST (RIAA is a member), to hash out a solution last November. None was forthcoming, but talks have continued since then and are now close to completion.

The two sides hope to strike a grand bargain: radio would agree to pay around $100 million a year (less than it feared), but in return it would get access to a larger market through the mandated FM radio chips in portable devices.

So we’re caught in the middle of their pissing contest. Is it too much to ask that they keep their filthy liquids out of my personal business?

Probably. It’s definitely too much to ask that they keep them away from Congress, which routinely basks in golden showers of attention, and which never met a mandate it didn’t like.

Oh, and why only FM? It couldn’t be because people who listen to those horrid talk shows on AM would immediately recognize this as a classic piece of rent-seeking, could it?

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Drink more Scotch

Scottish drivers are counting on you:

A new whisky biofuel that can be used to power cars has been developed by scientists in Edinburgh.

They combined so-called pot ale — the liquid from the copper stills distillery equipment — and the spent grains used to make whisky, also known as draff, to produce butanol.

This form of alcohol can then be used as fuel to drive a vehicle, much like ethanol. However, the Scottish scientists said butanol was superior to ethanol — with 25% more energy per unit volume.

I’m sure we can get used to looking for 101 proof instead of 91 octane.

(Via The Truth About Cars.)

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Lions and tigers and fines

Oh, my:

A private zoo in Taiwan has become the first on the island to see the birth of “ligers,” hybrids of lions and tigresses, with the owner facing a fine for violating wildlife rules, officials said Monday.

The operator of the zoo, Huang Kuo-Nan, said he was not expecting the Spanish inquisition this sort of behavior:

“The pregnancy of the tigress caught me totally unprepared,” Huang said. “The lion and the tigress have been kept in the same cage since they were cubs more than six years ago, and nothing happened.”

Um, something happened.

(Via Fark.)

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Trick or trout

I can think of a carp or two I wanted to strangle — at this very location, in fact — but apparently it’s the trout who are having trouble breathing:

Cold water pouring through power-generating turbines at Table Rock Dam frequently lacks enough oxygen in late summer and fall to keep the trout healthy in downstream Lake Taneycomo.

Because of the low oxygen levels, Lake Taneycomo has been declared an “impaired waterway” since 2008. The problem threatens Taneycomo’s multimillion dollar trout fishery, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency now wants Missouri to do something about it.

Last week, the Missouri Department of Natural Resources began seeking public comment on ways to get more oxygen into the trout habitat.

To me, this seems pretty obvious: redesign the turbines to mix more air, hence more oxygen, into the water. It will cost a ton of money up front, but it’s a more-or-less permanent solution, until the fish evolve to such an extent that they start phoning the surface and asking for snorkels.

What they’ll propose, however, is probably something suboptimal, tinged with enough government-inflicted green to incur the wrath of Brian J. Noggle:

Please, someone tell me how the needs of the trout outweigh the needs of the people who use power. For example, how many trout balance against the need of a single ventilator for a human? That’s determining balance, brothers and sisters. On one side of the scale, some number of fish and on the other side of the scale, people.

Don’t be silly. Fish have scales of their own.

I suspect that this can be solved without jeopardizing either the power plant or the hatchery, but first we can expect to hear some Really Bad Proposals. It’s simply the way these things work.

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It’s a Mr Satan, calling about the heat

Here’s one ticket to Eat Pray Love that will go unsold:

Not unless I was dead, buried, had a stake driven through my vampiric, blood-lusting heart and was buried again in earth sewn with garlic could you get me in a theater to see this movie. And even then I’d figure out a way to haunt you and drive you stark raving mad as my revenge.

This sounds about 1.6 times as severe as “when hell freezes over.”

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Making it up as I go along

I have never had any particular gift for fiction: I run out of gas somewhere around a thousand words, and if you believe the old yarn about there being only seven basic plots, you’d probably wonder if I’d ever seen the other six. Clearly I have no business trying to write a novel.

Stacy McCain also declines to participate, for the following reason:

One reason I’ve never tried to write a novel is because, sooner or later, you’ve got to have a sex scene. There’s this gnawing fear that (a) the scene would be interpreted as the writer’s own personal fantasy or a roman à clef and (b) the results might be ridiculous.

There is no shortage of examples of (c) all of the above, either.

Then again, maybe it’s just imagination I lack. Cintra Wilson has an article in the current Out about a couple of straight females writing gay romance novels. Yes, there are sex scenes. Says one of the authors in question:

I hope she wasn’t too disappointed to be sent to write an article about writers of gay porn for women and come across me instead. I hope she believed me when I said that that was not what I thought I was doing, and that one or two sex scenes in a book full of other stuff does not automatically make that book porn.

I suppose this is where I’m supposed to insist that “I am not a prude,” despite the fact that I tend to get a trifle antsy during sex scenes, even of the sort George Carlin once described as “good old-fashioned American man-on-top get-it-over-with-quick.” Besides, there are probably a hundred contemporary synonyms for “penis,” and 98 of them tend to make me giggle. (I blame Mike Judge.) I should definitely steer clear of those M/M stories.

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The dreaded Worship From Afar mode

I normally don’t like to pick on commenters on other blogs, but this guy baffles me. To a piece by the Booth Babe, he says:

I am not trying to be sexist or anything of the sort, only complimentary when I say that I just went to Do you Come With The Car and the heading has literally the prettiest pair of legs I have seen in ages, if not ever. Please take that as a compliment from one of the few gentlemen you would encounter.

In approximately this order, what went through my mind upon reading that:

  • I suspect she meets more gentlemen than he thinks; it’s just that the people who fail to qualify as such make for better, or at least snarkier, blogfodder.
  • Not to mention tweetables: “Only 1 guy tried to grab my tits today. That’s what I call a successful event.”
  • Um, that heading is a drawing. A good one, I think, but still a drawing. We have no way of knowing if the artist has ever even seen the Booth Babe.

Then again, it would be unsporting of me to pour cold water over this poor fellow’s fantasies, so maybe I won’t post this.

Update: Hah!

Further update: Okay, it’s not a drawing. See TBB’s comment below.

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Post-local for post-yokels

There was at one time a certain provincialism in American newspapers, and one fairly common manifestation of it was what Dick Stanley calls the “200-Mile Rule”:

That’s what they used to call it at a certain Dallas newspaper that is no more. Meaning when the story was beyond 200 miles being extra careful about the facts became, essentially, unnecessary. Because nobody out thataway was likely to be reading it.

The late, perhaps-lamented Dallas Times Herald, I suspect.

This is a Texas-size radius, so your mileage may vary:

In New York City, and New Jersey, when I worked in NJ in the 70s, it was more like the 50-mile rule.

Today, when you or I have access to more stuff than the Associated Press ever dreamed of back then, this sort of “Screw it, it’s way the hell out there in Lower Rubevania” business simply won’t fly anymore. And worse yet, the Rubes have become disinclined to maintain proper obeisance to their superiors in the press.

Doncha just love it?

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Carnival of the Vanities proprietor Andrew Ian Dodge seems to have the Mid-August Blues, if you believe the title on the 386th CoTV.

I’m inclined to believe him, since I’m suffering from a heat-related version of same, which caused me to fail to get this post out in a timely manner. I will be lucky if I can keep the summer’s cumulative electric bill down to a mere $386.

(To all of you who were just waiting for a CPU-related item here: Nyah.)

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