Keeping those ballots thin

Dr Edward Shadid, who is running as an Independent for House District 85, took out a full-page ad in the Gazette this week to grumble about this state’s excessively-cumbersome ballot access:

There are no other democracies in the world in which only two political parties compete and who so aggressively conspire to erect Herculean obstacles to participation by competing parties. Oklahoma has been widely described as having the most restrictive election and ballot access policies in the country. An alternative party would need 73,102 valid signatures to get on the ballot, and since many signatures are typically thrown out, in practical terms roughly 100,000 signatures would be required. Given an average petition cost of $1/signature, a party would need $100,000 for that election just to get on the ballot.

The numbers vary slightly from year to year, but this is basically the same noise I’ve been trying to make on this subject for several years now. The last time there was any legislative action on ballot access was last year’s HB 1072, which passed the House 86-5 and the Senate 46-0, and then mysteriously disappeared into a conference committee. The last mention of it on the legislative Web site was 23 February 2010:

Conference granted, SCs named Brogdon, Lamb, Reynolds, Burrage, Johnson (Mike), Schulz, Marlatt

The bill hasn’t been seen since.

Shadid, incidentally, is running as an Independent because he can’t run as a Green because the Greens can’t get on the ballot in this state.

District 85 incumbent David Dank, who ran for this seat after his wife Odilia ran up against the term-limits wall (stop me if you’ve heard this one), has drawn a GOP primary challenge from Aaron Kaspereit, who seems to be running slightly to Dank’s left but still to the right of center. Gail Vines, last seen embroiled in the Joe Quigley case at Oklahoma City Public Schools, is the Democratic opponent. I still think Dank wins this one, but there’s no reason he should just have it handed to him.

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Things go better with less Coke

So I’m looking at a two-liter bottle of Coca-Cola with the “Join the Global Celebration” indicia thereupon — yes, there’s a vuvuzela — and there’s the not-particularly-cryptic nutrition information, outside the Federally-approved data box: “8 servings per package / 100 calories per serving.”

So I duly turn the bottle 90 degrees to inspect the data box. Sure enough, one serving is 8 ounces (240 ml), 100 calories. Now this isn’t precisely accurate if this is really two liters, which would be eight servings of 250 ml, but it’s close enough for government work.

But now I’m perplexed. If I go to the machine and fetch a 12-ounce can, which has been one serving / 140 calories for all these years, am I now going to find that it really contains a serving and a half? I’ve seen those little sawed-off cans in the stores, but never in a vending machine. And if this is a ruse to make the product look like it’s packing fewer calories than before, in a sop to the Nanny State, how long before, say, Frito-Lay starts quoting calories per individual Dorito?

Addendum: The machine had no 12-ounce cans, but did offer 20-ounce bottles, which contained, yes, 2.5 8-ounce servings.

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Zombie tennis

This explains yesterday’s marathon at Wimbledon better than anything else:

9.25pm: Last thoughts before I ring me a hearse. That was beyond tennis. I think it was even beyond survival, because there is a strong suggestion (soon to be confirmed by doctors) that John Isner actually expired at about the 20-20 mark, and [Nicolas] Mahut went soon afterwards, and the remainder of the match was contested by Undead Zombies who ate the spectators during the change of ends (again, this is pending a police investigation).

Still, if you’re going to watch a pair of zombies go at each other for eleventy-billion hours, far into the night, it might as well be these zombies. They were incredible, astonishing, indefatigable. They fell over frequently but they never stayed down. My hat goes off to these zombies. Possibly my head goes off to them too.

Before play was suspended due to darkness, Isner and Mahut were deadlocked, so to speak, at 59. (If anyone cares, the first four sets went 4-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-7; Mahut, the higher seed, is listed first.)

Update: Isner takes it, 70-68.

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Not necessarily a SandRidge update

The Lost Ogle (well, Patrick, anyway) puts this on their list of 10 Things We Want To See Happen This Summer:

8. Steve Lackmeyer kidnaps Tom Ward and hides out in the India Temple Building.

You see, Steve Lackmeyer is a smart guy, and he knows that if he kidnaps Tom Ward, the last place anyone will look is in one of those old decrepit buildings in Downtown. Let’s just hope it doesn’t turn into a Cask of Amontillado experience.

For the love of God, Patrick!

Actually, he’s probably right: the most likely place they’ll look is at the Centennial Fountain in Bricktown, but only because the light’s better.

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Excess Heat

The Miami Heat, looking to make some big moves in the free-agent market, have been working diligently to free up cap space, and today they went on the “Sam, we owe you one” roster: they dealt their first-round draft pick (#18) and backup shooting guard Daequan Cook to Oklahoma City for a second-round pick, #32, which Thunder GM Sam Presti keeps handy for just such occasions.

This move does two things for Miami: it gets Cook’s salary (about $2.17 million) off the books, and with no first-round pick, the Heat won’t have to ante up any rookie money. (Number eighteen earns $1,237,500 this season.) Cook, who backed up Dwyane Wade at the two, has averaged 8.0 points per game in 22 minutes in his three years with the Heat; Sam Presti says “He will add depth and shooting to our backcourt.” Sam not being the sort to elaborate on things, I’ll speculate that the addition of Cook, assuming he’s not being slated for trade bait, will provide the occasional opportunity for Thabo Sefolosha or James Harden to slide over to the three. Besides, how often do you get a chance to sign a guy named “Daequan”?

“I don’t know how he does it,” says Daily Thunder’s Royce Young. “That’s right, a quality shooter and a top 20 pick for the 32nd pick. I don’t really have much commentary other than this is obviously a fantastic deal.” Call it, as I often do, Prestidigitation.

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Always the right Lane

I’m not entirely sure why Diane Lane is on the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of Jonah Hex, but hey: it’s Diane Lane in a Little Black Dress. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Diane Lane at the Jonah Hex premiere

It can, however, get bigger.

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They blanded her with science

Stereotypes, it appears, are imprinted early in life, and by “early” I mean, oh, fourth grade or so:

[We] were doing a pilot project in which we had three or four graduate students working with Sue Kirby’s fourth-grade class on circuits. We were planning a grant in which we wanted to study the impact of contact with real scientists on student images of science and scientists. The program to which we were writing had a goal of teaming graduate science and engineering students with K-12 teachers, so we had recruited a few graduate students — all of whom happened to be female — to come and work with the kids. We didn’t set out to get women students, those were just the students who were interested in participating. Our goal was to see what the students learned about the process of science in their quest to make a bulb light with just a battery, a bulb and a single piece of wire.

So far, so good. But then:

About halfway through the process, as I’m standing there watching with a smile as bulbs are lighting and students are saying “cool” and smiling about how they understand science, [my collaborator] approaches me.

“Guess what?” she asks. “The students don’t believe you’re scientists.”

She had been interviewing students out in the hallway and asking them questions I never would have thought to ask. Like “Who are these people helping you?”

And darned if the fourth grade students weren’t overwhelmingly positive that the women graduate students in the class could not possibly be scientists. Even with prompted with “could they be scientists?”, the kids had all sorts of reasons why they weren’t.

“They’re too pretty. Pretty women wouldn’t be scientists.”

“They smile too much.”

“They talk in ways we can understand.”

“They act like they want us to understand them.”

At least they got a paper out of it. Still, you can tell that they were not expecting this kind of response:

[W]e tried a bunch of things to reinforce the idea that the women were, in fact, scientists. We videotaped them in their labs explaining their experiments, we mandated that they be called “scientists” or “engineers” and not “graduate students” and we even bought a button machine and made them nametags with “Scientist” in big letters. I was outvoted in my idea to tattoo the word “Scientist” on their foreheads.

More worrisome, from my point of view anyway, is the idea that one of those fourth-graders, perhaps not right away but eventually, is going to be told by Some Older Person that “Oh, you don’t want to go into physics. You’re much too pretty for that sort of thing.” And the girl who might have found the Higgs boson, possibly with Higgs still attached to it, instead ends up reading the news on a TV station in Paducah. You can’t tell me this is a favorable outcome.

Perhaps things will work out. Already women outnumber men in the nation’s colleges; assuming the trend continues, as one should when in doubt, eventually more of them will end up in the hard sciences and maybe even introduced to impressionable fourth-graders. To me, at least, this seems more plausible than trying to persuade Dolce & Gabbana to come out with a line of lab coats.

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Wheedling it out of Dad

Roxeanne de Luca finds the Administration’s ostensible “fatherhood” initiatives to be “patronising and statist” — what else could they be, really? — and sniffs out a motive other than merely being patronising and statist:

[T]here is something more insidious about the “fatherhood” endeavour. Delve into the “policy and research” subcategory, mosey through the statistics, and you’ll find this: a compilation of statistics on immigrant fathers.

These statistics, for some unfathomable reason, do not separate out the results for children of legal immigrant parents and illegal immigrant parents, so that the anchor baby of a drug-running Mexican is lumped in with the child of two Indian doctors. This blogger is willing to bet that Obama’s “fatherhood” initiative will turn into his weapon for amnesty for illegals: allow illegals to stay, because anchor babies need their daddies.

It certainly passes the cynicism test.

Then again, it’s long been an article of faith among open-borders types that the only difference between legal immigrants and illegal immigrants is a piece of paper, and if you go looking for qualitative differences, you must be some sort of racist. So it should surprise no one that the proffered research reflects this assumption.

My own modest proposal here is for some sort of balancing act: for an “undocumented” soul who’s here to work and support his family, wherever they may be, we issue one green card, and offset that by exiling someone who does have papers but who has proven himself unworthy. I would happily trade off eight Congressmen for the guys who redid my roof this month.

Disclosure: I have no idea as to the legal status of the actual guys who redid my roof this month. For the purpose of this argument, I really don’t care.

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And you thought oil companies sucked

Meet Bob Dinneen, president and CEO of the Renewable Fuels Association. This is his current whine:

News that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is further delaying a decision on approving the use of up to 15 percent ethanol blends is as much disappointing as it is a dereliction of duty, said the Renewable Fuels Association.

Adding insult to injury, EPA is preparing to approve E15 use for only model year 2007 and newer vehicles in September while waiting to approve E15 for model year 2001 and newer vehicles later this fall. The RFA has repeatedly challenged EPA to provide any justification for such a decision, but the agency has yet to do so. This proposed trifurcation would further and unnecessarily confuse the issue.

“EPA is dropping the ball, and for no scientifically justified reason,” said RFA President and CEO Bob Dinneen. “While initial plans to approve the use of E15 for only 2001 and newer vehicles were bad, this plan borders on shameful. Confusing the market as EPA seems intent upon doing likely will lead to little if any additional ethanol being sold.”

Shorter Bob Dinneen: “It’s the government’s responsibility to make sure we can sell every last drop of this goddamn stuff, whether it will break someone’s engine or not.”

You gonna buy a new engine for my 2000-and-older vehicle, Bob? No? Then kindly STFU. Because you’re going to create tremendous demand for E-frakking-zero, and no oil company, not even BP, is stupid enough to blow off its customer base just to save your ass.

Update: Senator Inhofe (R-OK) is crafting a bill to allow states to opt out of the ethanol mandate. Bless you, Jim.

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Jailarity fails to ensue

Now here’s an opening line for you: “Los Angeles has spent $74 million building a new jail — that we can’t afford to use.”

It appears that while coming up with the money four years ago to build the new Metropolitan Detention Center wasn’t all that difficult, today there’s no money in the city’s budget to hire any staff, so it sits empty.

For some of us, this would be an ideal opportunity for some California-bashing. Not for me. I still have my last California license plate hanging on the garage wall, so it’s not like I’d want to forget ever being there. And besides, Oklahoma has this little embarrassment:

In the wake of MAPS 3 Oklahoma County voters could be asked to approve another tax, this one to raise money for the Oklahoma County jail. Supporters said if the tax is not approved it could end up costing county residents more in the long run.

The estimates are as much as $400 million to fix the problems the Department of Justice cited. What is unclear now is whether a new jail will be built or if the old one will be fixed. A report released by the DOJ last year said conditions inside the Oklahoma County jail were so bad it removed 160 federal inmates and placed them in nearby facilities.

At the very least, we should be sending someone to Los Angeles to find out how to build a proper jail for a mere $74 million. Round it up to $100 million to allow for inflation, and we’d still be way ahead of the game.

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Somewhere a dog barked

In fact, damn near everywhere, a dog barked:

Having heard the dog’s call, it seemed like I couldn’t find a book without one. Not The Death of Ivan Ilyich. Not Shadow Country. Not Ulysses. Not Robert Penn Warren’s All The King’s Men, or Monica Ali’s Alentejo Blue, or Stephen King’s It or Christine. Not Jodi Picoult’s House Rules. If novelists share anything, it’s a distant-dog impulse.

Of course, with a claim like this, you have to check its papers:

I was skeptical of this claim, so I decided to do a quickie search with the one novel I’m currently reading: Bret Easton Ellis’ Imperial Bedrooms. Even better, I have the ebook edition, which is fully text-searchable via the Kindle iPhone App I’m reading it on. Sure enough, a search for “dog” brought up a reference to “dogs barking in the distance.”

About the only counterexample that comes immediately to mind is Silver Blaze, a Sherlock Holmes story by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in which a dog’s failing to bark is a major plot point.

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And you thought they just sliced birds

I am a big fan of wind energy (which requires big fans, after all), but I’m not quite goofy enough to think it can meet all, or even most, of our needs. On the other hand, we seem to be dealing with its deficiencies more deftly in the States than they are in the United Kingdom:

Energy firms will receive thousands of pounds a day per wind farm to turn off their turbines because the National Grid cannot use the power they are producing.

Critics of wind farms have seized on the revelation as evidence of the unsuitability of turbines to meet the UK’s energy needs in the future. They claim that the ‘intermittent’ nature of wind makes such farms unreliable providers of electricity.

The National Grid fears that on breezy summer nights, wind farms could actually cause a surge in the electricity supply which is not met by demand from businesses and households. The electricity cannot be stored, so one solution — known as the ‘balancing mechanism’ — is to switch off or reduce the power supplied.

Now of course you can “balance” gas-fired plants, coal-fired plants, even nuclear plants, in much the same way. But none of them have this specific drawback:

When wind turbines are turned off, owners are being deprived not only of money for the electricity they would have generated but also lucrative ‘green’ subsidies for that electricity.

The first successful test shut down of wind farms took place three weeks ago. Scottish Power received £13,000 for closing down two farms for a little over an hour on 30 May at about five in the morning.

Whereas coal and gas power stations often pay the National Grid £15 to £20 per megawatt hour they do not supply, Scottish Power was paid £180 per megawatt hour during the test to switch off its turbines.

It raises the prospect of hugely profitable electricity suppliers receiving large sums of money from the National Grid just for switching off wind turbines.

Carbon offsets, anyone?

We don’t really have a National Grid here, although California has an Independent System Operator that handles most of the state’s power at the wholesale level. And the ISO, at least, was prescient enough to realize they’d need a program to cover intermittent resources like wind.

Disclosure: “Big fan,” as pertains to me in the first paragraph, means “I have arranged to draw 600 kWh per month from one of OG&E’s wind farms, and to pay the additional expense if any.” Call it money/mouth co-location.

(Via Commonsense & Wonder.)

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Yes, we have no more nylon

From a 1942 Spiegel catalog:

Spiegel catalog page

Text of that Important Notice About Nylon Hose:

Due to the tremendous volume of sales, our original stock of the Nylon hosiery listed on page 104 of our big Fall and Winter Spiegel catalog is now completely sold out. We will be unable to get any more for our customers for the duration because all Nylon has been taken over by the government for military purposes. However, we are sure you can fill all your hosiery needs satisfactorily from our large selection of silks, rayons and lisles.

In fact, the War Production Board commandeered silk first, then nylon, but silk, being pricier — the $2.98 you’d spend for three pair of silks in 1942 equals about $39 today — didn’t disappear as quickly from stores and catalogs.

(Via Found in Mom’s Basement.)

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Maybe we should diversify

Then again, maybe not:

The only way BP could be more hated: if they changed their name to HP and were spilling printer ink into the Gulf. At the current price that would be about a billion dollars an hour, probably.

On the upside, the ink flow would probably stop once two-thirds of the contents had been discharged, or at the very least you’d get a pop-up telling you that you were out.

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FIFA, fo, fum

This site runs a lot of basketball stuff, the occasional baseball item, and not a whole lot else, sports-wise. I don’t really follow football: I know what’s going on, most of the time, but this is due to the fact that there’s a TV in the break room at work, and when I wander over for lunch, half the time it’s tuned to ESPN.

Last week, it wasn’t, at all, so to the extent I was aware of the World Cup, it was because of vuvuzela coverage. It helps that so far, I haven’t had to put up with any “soccer scolds”:

The soccer scolds don’t understand that American football is something that grew up organically, out of a specific culture, at a specific time and place. That doesn’t make it either superior or inferior to soccer, it just makes it our game. Those hundred-year-old chants and ancient rivalries serve the same purpose as all other cultural traditions: they build valuable social capital.

Or maybe the soccer scolds do understand. Maybe it’s just one other aspect of the Kulturkampf attack on American exceptionalism. No wonder NPR has taken up the desperate cry that football must be replaced by soccer.

Well, of course. Social capital is insufficiently fungible to suit SWPLs Assembled.

And maybe they’ll succeed at wiping out our game, eventually. After all, the second-largest city in the country no longer even has a pro team, and the “demographic changes” so beloved by the global elite (i.e. mass, overwhelming immigration of Third Worlders into First World countries) are probably a major contributing factor. Maybe someday “demographic changes” will wipe our game completely off the map, and we’ll convert all our great college and pro stadiums into soccer fields. (I predict that LSU’s Tiger Stadium will be the last grim holdout.) But in the meantime, the soccer scolds can stuff it.

We’re Americans. We play football.

Now don’t ask me to defend Nascar, fercrissake.

(With thanks to Hit Coffee.)

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Tech avoidance

If you’re overly sensitive to Andy Rooney-type musings, please engage your filter now. Otherwise, proceed as follows:

Have you ever noticed that the folks who see Bigfoot, or spaceships, or the Loch Ness Monster, are never the folks with cameras in their cell phones? The Sasquatch never wanders anywhere near the research biologist who’s hiking through the woods with the high-rez digital camera with zoom lens. He always wanders into the rural backyard of the self-proclaimed ‘mountain man’.

Could it possibly be that these seemingly-other-worldly critters, stories of which go back many, many years, have evolved a sensitivity to our own species’ technological goodies, and have learned to avoid them?

Well, I don’t know. It just seems a kinder interpretation than “BoJo’s been hittin’ the ‘shine again.”

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