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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395

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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Your friendly neighborhood gumshoe

The gum appears to be similar to Dubble Bubble:

Chewing Gum heels by Kobi Levi

Perhaps frighteningly, this is not the weirdest shoe ever designed by Kobi Levi.

(Via Gizmodo; tip of the sombrero to Rob O’Hara.)

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When the very ground shakes

Yesterday’s earthquake rattled my office a bit, though I assumed it was someone doing the Heavy Machinery Hokey-Pokey one or two doors down; the eventual news alert contained the truth of the matter, along with the number everyone wanted to hear: 4.5. For Oklahoma, that’s one heck of a temblor.

And then it wasn’t 4.5 anymore, but 5.1. I opined at the shop that maybe this was due to folks emigrating from California; like Tom Joad in reverse, they brought everything they could, including a fault line or two.

But I couldn’t remember a five-point-anything here in Soonerland, and apparently I was right: the majorest major quake in the state struck in 1952, a time at which I hadn’t even been thought of. (Amateur grammarians are welcome to reword that in such a way as to avoid ending the sentence with a preposition.) I remember a larger quake from a brief stay in California, mostly because of where I was when it started: standing next to a two-story plate-glass window. Such things tend to stick in the mind.

Update: Back to a 4.7.

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And suddenly it was over

The phone call came at about ten.

The last time I saw him, he was pretty much out of it; he didn’t so much as flinch when I barked out the command to drop and give me twenty.

But dammit, he was still breathing.

I pass along to you the advice he passed along to me yesterday, the words of the Welshman, words you already know, but words he took to heart:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

His last act, I must report, qualified as “rage, rage”: he ripped the mouthpiece off the ventilator. (Not fixable.) This is how I know I’ll miss him: he always walked the walk.

Paul Dudley Hill
31 October 1957 — 13 October 2010
Requiescat in pace

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God’s Fort Dix

There’s no way you can feel anything but useless in a hospital room. The tech is simultaneously amazingly high (monitoring devices beyond anything we ever had on a moon shot) and disturbingly low (think “bedpan”). And you don’t feel competent to function at either end of the spectrum, either: you sit, and you watch, and you fidget, and you watch some more.

Not that the patient is having such a wonderful time, either, of course. It’s as though he’s awaiting his next assignment, but in the meantime, he’s got to do this stretch of time in a tiny little room with a panoply of gadgets and a cold, antiseptic atmosphere.

We will not, for the moment, entertain the idea of a feeling of relief. (I believe this is the part of the process commonly referred to as “denial.”)

I just hope that when my time comes, as it must, someone might spend a few minutes in the chair, sitting, watching, and maybe even fidgeting.

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Three weeks away

On the networks, and in the papers, the lying peaks tonight.

(And remains constant for the next twenty days, I suspect.)

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Phase 2 inaction

That last item roused my curiosity as to what the Booth Babe was up to, and she’s offering what should be considered useful advice:

If you are going to take off your panties at the auto show, please keep them in your purse until you get home.

It is unfortunately necessary to specify this, because someone thought it was appropriate to leave a pair of panties in the door pocket today. Nice ones, too — a black satin thong.

She offers several possible explanations, though this is my favorite: “There is some sort of panty geocaching event going on of which we were not made aware”.

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