Retrench mouth

No, you can’t have a Skydance Bridge. Not yours:

The Skydance Bridge, designed by Butzer SXL, was supposed to cost $3.3 million, which was great because the total amount the city was able to spend was $6.8 million. Then it went up to $5.22 million, eh … that’s okay, but hope the city didn’t count on the savings it looked like there might be on the project. And then the cost ballooned to $12.8 million and that is the most recent cost estimate.

There are, we are told, reasons for the cost overrun, apart from the fact that it was going to be downtown and everything seems to cost a whole lot more downtown. (Think “Crosstown Expressway,” which is now starting to look like, or at least cost like, Boston’s Big Dig.) What is going to bother most of us, though, is that this design is apparently dead in the water:

Proposal for Skydance Bridge

And it didn’t have to be.

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Conceal of approval

We’ve all seen models in almost exactly this pose; it’s popular, I suspect, because it’s a simple matter to create the illusion that said model is wearing nothing but a facial expression. (Think Jennifer Aniston in this bottled-water ad, only more so.)

So I had to snag this shot, in which it’s perfectly obvious that the model is (somewhat) dressed, nicely subverting that particular photographic convention.

Paola Oliveira

The demure young lady here is Brazilian actress Paola Oliveira.

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A voice made for magazines

Just the same, I’ll be grilled by Patrick of The Lost Ogle on their radio show on The Spy this weekend. I’m guessing that Non-Cardboard Jim Traber turned them down flat.

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Major issue finally settled

You put the seat down, and you close the lid over it. It’s probably not for the reason you expect, either.

Still undetermined: whether the paper should unroll from top or bottom.

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The rest of us could care less

Apparently all those years at eBay didn’t teach Meg Whitman anything much about statistics or syntax. Consider this quote from one of her TV campaign ads:

California is the 48th least business-friendly state.

Eric Baković of Language Log attempts a translation:

I know what she means, of course: of all 50 states, California is extremely unfriendly to business — near the bottom of the list, just two up from the absolute least business-friendly state (whatever that one is). But is that what “48th least business-friendly state” really means? For me it means there’s a list arranged from #1 least friendly to #50 least friendly, with #50 being the #1 most friendly. Under that conception, #48 is pretty damned good for business, isn’t it?

Assuming Whitman is using the 2010 Tax Foundation numbers, California is indeed #48 in business-friendliness, ahead of New York and New Jersey.

Still, in terms of imprecision, this particular construction doesn’t quite rank as high, or as low, as this:

According to Sramek, “The XRD4460 is the lowest power device incorporating this set of video functions available today, and power consumption is 30 to 200 percent lower than competitive solutions.”

I’d expect a 200-percent reduction in power consumption to spin my electric meter merrily in reverse.

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Second Assistant Deputy Lord of the Flies

Rather a lot of what’s wrong with everything today can be summed up by this one idiotic statement by some random Californicator who thought he needed to be heard in USA Today:

Think of our country as a society made up of children and a government made up of adults. It is up to the adults to weigh all the options and provide services in the best interests of the children.

Which explains why a lot of those children sit around and whine about the inadequacy of their allowance.

Seriously, this clod — I’m not going to repeat his name, but it’s no trick to find it — needs an immediate encounter with a high-velocity ClueBat™, stat.

You may have seen some of those “children” yourself:

[A]ny schmuck can take responsibility for himself. Those who don’t are easy to spot, just sit in on a day’s worth of arraignments down at your local courthouse… by and large, the docket is a hit parade of 30 year old adolescents. Those too impressed by their own fart-smell or the size of their Johnson to have a care in the world, or if they care, are too broken to be able to follow the rules without a post-hypnotic suggestion and a Quaalude.

Now if you aspire to have the government as your mommy, or even as your daddy — what the hell was wrong with good old Uncle Sam? — you are, pretty much by self-definition, a child, and at the very least, you should get off my lawn and go to your room.

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Small is the new big

So says HipHarpist Deborah Henson-Conant, and she should know:

The harp I have today has shrunk from an ornate 75lb, 6-foot tall musical edifice into an 11-pound carbon fibre powerhouse I can strap on with a simple harness.

Not quite a pocket-sized baby grand, but close enough, right? And she’s confident that this will push the instrument in a whole new direction:

My vision of the instrument had been so strong from the beginning that now that I finally have it, it seems self-evident to me. It’s taken other people to point out that I’m in the midst of an historical moment with this instrument. It’s like living through the ’40s when Les Paul made the first electric guitar — only this is the first commercially produced carbon fibre electric harp.

Not that she’s comparing herself to Les Paul or anything. And there were electric guitars before Paul; it’s just that they were basically acoustic guitars with pickups, which presented problems with feedback and couldn’t do anything resembling sustain. Alan Stivell made a Paul-esque solid-body electric harp some twenty years ago, but it didn’t really fit into his traditional Celtic/Breton repertoire. French harpmaker Camac took up the cause, and they’re offering a signature Deborah Henson-Conant model. Think of it as the harp equivalent of the Gibson Les Paul.

(If you wonder how I happened upon this lady and her music, read this.)

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By these marks

In which you get a peek into my secret ballot; or, “Elections, of course, endorse, endorse.”

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American motors

From the “Baby, you can drive my car” files, a very young Sarah Heath (later Palin) in front of the family’s 1967 Rambler:

Sarah and the Sedan

Note the scratched-up forearm, perhaps from wrestling with caribou.

(Via The Truth About Cars, which extracted this photo, plus one of an older Sarah in front of an early-Seventies Mustang, from an MSNBC slidehow, prompting the following thought: “Can Sarah Palin drive a stick?” Shows you where my mind is at.)

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Strange search-engine queries (247)

What we do here is to sort through about four thousand lines of server logs and snip out anything resembling a search string that might elicit a few cheap laffs. Please note that at no point in this process is Juan Williams consulted.

september 2001: scientist disappears after inventing invisibility formula:  People get rather irate if you test this stuff on animals, for some reason.

joan blondell breasts wobbled:  Well, of course. They were real.

“starship troopers” “brain sucking” story fetish:  As usual with such concepts, the operative word is “sucking.”

japanese enormous melons:  Somehow I have a feeling this guy wasn’t looking for information on Pacific Rim produce.

ultra-slut-body-detergent:  Not everything comes clean with a washing.

andy rooney on pork rinds:  This is a serving suggestion only. Personally, I think a bed of rice and a handful of Brussels sprouts might be more appropriate.

cliches disguised as a “guy questions his sexuality”:  Current practice calls for the clichés to go undisguised, so as to make a Teachable Moment out of the experience.

2002 maxima spark plugs 600 dollars:  Um, no. Spark plugs run $12 each. Now if they changed out your ignition coils, they’re $100 each, and you have six of them.

cars for douche bags:  Test #1: Did you pay $600 for spark plugs?

streetwalkers in Tulsa,ok:  You kidding me? Everybody in Tulsa drives.

kathy lee gifford and preparation h:  I think we’re talking about entirely different pains, albeit a common location.

charles hill golden girls:  Please note that Bea Arthur was much taller than I.

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Annual out-forking

This is the time of year when we start anticipating our property-tax bills and the Trepidation Meter starts deflecting rightward. We already know what we’re going to be taxed on — the Assessor publishes the taxable values in the spring — but the actual tax rate isn’t determined until fall.

And while they haven’t published the rate yet, a little down-digging into the Assessor’s Web site turns up a place where the new rate is already in use, and in my district it’s 114.33, up from 113.44 last year. This will increase the taxes on the palatial estate at Surlywood by $18.40.

Since I’ve been here, the market value of the house has risen by a third; the tax rate has bobbed up and down, and while 114.33 is the highest it’s been, the lowest (for 2008) was 106.08, so we’re talking a fairly-narrow range here. The Assessor’s online records go back to 1983, at which time the tax rate was 83.63; the tax rate has therefore risen 37 percent in 37 years. Market values, of course, have risen faster, especially considering that the local real-estate market in the early 1980s was in a deep, dark hole.

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Bin fully laden

I decided yesterday to pitch out about three years’ worth of old magazines, and rather than toss them into the trash, I opted to haul them to the nearest Paper Retriever, a large green (of course) bin located at various schools and churches around town. The idea is that a recycler (specifically, these guys) will come and pick up the detritus and pay the organization for collecting it.

Last time I’d done this, I’d gone to Sequoyah School on 36th, but I noticed on the commute home this past week that St. Stephen’s, a Presbyterian church on 50th, had installed a Retriever, and they’re closer to me, so I headed out to their parking lot.

And the bin, as tall as I and even wider, was full. My normal procedure is to insert the container (usually a copy-paper box) into the opening, turn it 135 degrees, and then withdraw the container. There wasn’t enough room for the box; I barely managed to cram the contents of a single grocery bag into the space remaining. Either the Retriever hasn’t retrieved here lately, or there’s been a sudden upsurge in paper recycling in these parts.

So I drove off to Sequoyah, where the remaining paper (two boxes, three bags) was consigned to the bin.

Tangential arachnid story: When I went out to the car to load up all this stuff, there was a small black spider crawling across the spoiler. I generally prefer not to bother spiders, but this was work, dammit, so up came the trunk lid. It took me three trips to finish the job. I pulled down the lid, and there was the spider, still doing its slow crawl.

And despite occasional raindrops and 25-mph winds, the spider was still there when I got to St. Stephen’s, though at some point during the unloading attempt it departed.

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Kitty going mobile

“Eve never pleases me,” sang the Brothers Gibb, “and Kitty can.”

In fact, Kitty will even let you drive:

smart fortwo with Hello Kitty package

In an effort to boost sales, the importers of the smart car have introduced various “Expressions” packages, including custom paint and vehicle wraps. Among the latter are Hello Kitty designs licensed by Sanrio and reproduced on 3M vinyl. Pricing starts at $1,700.

I suppose an Eve package would have completely unadorned body panels.

(Via Jezebel.)

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Subprime time

A plastic bag containing the following was left at my door, and presumably elsewhere in the neighborhood:

  • A flyer for Western Union’s brand of prepaid Visa and/or MasterCard, in English and in Spanish.
  • A Western Union flyer explaining how to avoid consumer fraud.
  • A flyer for another brand of prepaid Visa and/or MasterCard, again in English and in Spanish. (The terms are somewhat different from Western Union’s.)
  • A flyer for one of these phone-company resellers that target low-income users with the so-called Lifeline plan.
  • A flyer for the organization that presumably assembled this package in the first place: a payday-loan joint about a mile and three-quarters up the road. Also, a balloon with their name on it.

I’m guessing that they’re trying to build up some clientele before Walmart takes over the entire “unbanked” market.

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Situation wanted

As the Todd Seavey Incident circulates its way through the tubes, Stacy McCain points out the grievous mistake Seavey made before he ever went off on his ex-girlfriend during that C-Span panel discussion:

Join the French Foreign Legion or a convent or throw yourself off a bridge, but don’t ever post a personal ad. Or answer one.

It’s creepy and/or desperate and/or delusional.

If you are single and have trouble meeting people in real life, who are you going to meet via a personal ad, except other people who have trouble meeting people in real life?

And what kind of people have trouble meeting people in real life? Losers, that’s who.

Here’s where the delusional part comes in: These are losers trying to convince themselves (and other people) that they’re not actually losers. They suffer from the delusion that they’re undiscovered winners.

All the losing they’ve done? Just a streak of bad luck. People (that is to say, people who actually know them) don’t recognize their true wonderfulness, and so they figure they’ll have better luck impressing complete strangers who don’t know what total losers they actually are.

I’m trying to decide whether this seems unduly harsh. In general, I’m persuaded that at some point, interpersonal chemistry can actually trump the perception of loserdom, though real-life examples of same, especially in my real life, are vanishingly few.

Besides, there are lots of factors contributing to having “trouble meeting people” other than lack of desirability. Scheduling is one: if I work my fingers to the bone, and I do, it’s hardly surprising that I don’t meet any bony-fingers fans. And while I’m not overly shy — instead of clamming up in the canonical fashion, I speak up and promptly piss away 30 IQ points — I’ve known people who might well be perfectly charming but who couldn’t break the ice if you spotted them two flamethrowers and a pickax. It’s easier to dismiss them as “losers,” I suppose.

And if Frank farging Sinatra can be faced with the possibility of the French Foreign Legion, what chance do the rest of us have?

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Won’t someone please buy this house?

It’s a couple of blocks from me; the owners are setting forth on a New Adventure, or some such business, back east, and the old house can’t very well go with them.

(Warning: Embedded noises that approximate musicality, plus the dreaded Flash Babe at the opening.)

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