Unwestern uncivilization

You’ve seen ‘em, I’ve seen ‘em, and Julie has seen more than enough of ‘em:

Few things are as excruciating as reading and suffering through an interview of an artist or writer or performer of some sort who has unwittingly come to believe he or she has something valuable to say about broad, abstract things, filling intellectual magazines printed on heavy paper stock with a matte finish and an over-abundance of solitary photos of urban blight. There are moments when I think such written interviews, or even interviews on public radio, are little more than tear sheets for grant applications.

Of course, “urban blight” is something to which they must point when they feel like denouncing Man’s Inhumanity to Man, though actual cases of inhumanity — for instance, crashing a hijacked aircraft into a skyscraper — tend to go unnoticed in such screeds.

But the grantsmanship angle, I think, is worth noting, since pretty much every one of those sacred-though-secular causes highlighted in those publications depends on prying money out of either foundations or government treasuries. (It’s also de rigueur to scoff at the profit motive, despite the fact that neither foundations nor government treasuries would have much in the way of disbursable funds were it not for people actually making some money.)

Still, I suppose these folks have to do something with their time, and this sort of activity presumably keeps them off the streets and/or patios.

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I blame Rodgers and Hammerstein

Well, Hammerstein anyway, since he was the lyricist. “Once you have found her, never let her go…”

So here’s the hypothetical for the moment:

The next time you meet a graceful, shapely, six-figure-siren who has a white shoe pedigree and lights up a room with her sparkly, charming wit, instead of running in the other direction to your man-cave of insecurities (or more likely, to your unemployed hook-up buddy in Astoria), take a deep breath and realize that this untouchable legal goddess probably has IBS, cries herself to sleep at least once a week and wonders how much of this year’s bonus she should use to freeze her eggs. In other words, go get her champ! Trust me, you have nothing to lose.

I don’t have a hook-up buddy, but I have enough insecurities, at least in matters of the heart and related organs, to fill the Albert Hall.

I mean, really, is it so impossible to believe that a cute, successful woman would be interested in a cute, not-as-successful man?

Not being cute, I don’t have any frame of reference. So when I see such a stranger across a crowded room, I shrug. (As a rule, I don’t burst into tears until I get home.)

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Kilobytes of Rahm

One of these days I’m going to have to come up with a “Why We Love E. M. Zanotti” category. This time, she cracks wise on a Next Mayor of Chicago poll in which Rahm Emanuel is the front-runner. Pointing to a Chicago Tribune reference to Emanuel’s days as a ballet dancer, she declares:

If you have a picture of him in tights, I’ll trade you a dozen cupcakes for it. It’s a good deal. I make f***ing awesome cupcakes.

Judging by the subsequent update to her post, I’m guessing she spent part of last night baking.

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This week, Andrew Ian Dodge is “CoTVing to St Louis” for the 390th edition of Carnival of the Vanities.

Developer Paul McKee has proposed a multi-billion-dollar project on that city’s Northside; a circuit judge, however, has thrown out McKee’s request for $390 million in tax increment financing.

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A unit of force

I first saw Thandie Newton in John Duigan’s Flirting, a wonderful bit of Australian social commentary masquerading as a teenage-romance movie. Newton was, you should pardon the expression, the black sheep of a school for girls: she was a bit on the willful side, and they were not happy to find out she’d ventured across the lake to meet up with a lad from the boys’ school on the other side. I found this story fascinating for several reasons, not least of which was the fact that the boy in question (Noah Taylor, who’d played the same character in Duigan’s The Year My Voice Broke) was easily a match for me in dweebishness, and yet he landed a girl several locations above his station. And Duigan, unlike American vendors of adolescent fantasy, didn’t go out of his way to make you think “How lovely she is!”

Eventually, of course, someone would:

Thandie Newton

This shot dates from around the time of Crash, when Newton was being talked up as a potential Vesper Lynd for Casino Royale. (The role eventually went to Eva Green.)

Addendum: This is more recent, but perhaps more disturbing.

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Bless you, Energy Taliban

Some of you may have seen this yesterday:

I am about ready to rip this allegedly-programmable thermostat off the wall. No amount of dubious “energy savings” is worth this grief.

No way I could fit an explanation into 140 further characters, given the number of expletives I wanted to use at the time, so you get a marginally-calmer followup here.

This is, incidentally, not the thermostat I use at home, which is a simple, proper, fairly indestructible Honeywell eyeball. Somehow, a couple of years ago, the one in my office managed to frag itself — or the HVAC guy managed to convince the powers that be that it managed to frag itself — and it was replaced with a fiendishly-complicated device about which I said this:

Note to self: Do not buy a programmable thermostat that has the programs already set up and running in firmware. (And if they’re all like that, simplify this to “Don’t buy one.”)

When the office A/C failed yesterday — I run the server farm, which has its own dedicated unit — it was suggested that maybe the long stretches of continuous operation might be wearing it out, and maybe we should think about getting that industrial-strength thermostat to do what they paid that absurd amount of money to have it do. (I’ve been running it in bypass mode all this time.)

So I pulled out the instructions one more time. The path of least resistance would of course be using the factory defaults, but the factory defaults are inconsistent with the office mission. (Eighty-five degrees at high noon? You’re buying me a six-figure tower, Buster.) Unfortunately, you can’t just change the ones you don’t like: you have to change all twelve. (You must have twelve cycles per week. It’s required. By whom, I have no idea, but I suspect Al Gore.) And no, you can’t just key in a time and a temperature: that would be too easy.

After a period of fumbling, I laid down as much law as I dared, which was enough to include “I want this effing thing off the wall. I want something that will turn it up to 76 late at night and back it down to 70 right before I arrive in the morning. Is that too much to ask?”

I have been assured that no, it isn’t too much, and anyway, the current HVAC guy will be out again next week to see if he can figure out who’s drinking all the refrigerant.

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Quote of the week

From each according to his needs, to each according to his, um, MasterCard limit. The evaporation of the middle class, by Amba:

[I]t is cruel — in a social-Darwinian way — to make survival itself contingent on success. Success is something different from the willingness to work hard; it’s an amalgam of many ingredients, fused by an ineffable alchemy. If you’re lazy you’ll most likely miss the gold ring, but missing the gold ring doesn’t mean you’re lazy. Even if everyone tried their best to be a successful entrepreneur or inventor, entertainment star, or bestselling author, relatively few would succeed. Yet we are moving toward this sort of jackpot economy where not even years of education or experience — only some kind of freak fame or empire-building — can lift us above a hand-to-mouth existence. For a while, in the industrial era, there was this thing called a “job” that was a pretty decent fit for a man’s needs, whether or not it fully tapped his abilities (gendered language intended). Now, we’re left with our orphaned abilities flapping uselessly in the breeze as we struggle desperately to stay ahead of our needs.

Possibly related, this:

Emotional well-being also rises with … income, but there is no further progress beyond an annual income of ∼$75,000. Low income exacerbates the emotional pain associated with such misfortunes as divorce, ill health, and being alone. We conclude that high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and that low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.

Also possibly related, this:

“Rich” is a relative term (except for my relatives, none of whom are rich). I hope only for positive cash flow.

Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp — and it would, too, were it not for the scoundrels who earn their keep by pushing everything away, and the blackguards who earn theirs by the manipulation of avarice.

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The almost-sixty-minute man

Now if you remember the song, you’ll recall that ol’ Dan was actually subdividing his activity into four discrete segments of 15 minutes apiece.

And he might have been a bit on the chubby side:

Fat men last longer in bed, while lean gym jocks are prone to premature ejaculation, a new study has found.

The scientific research, from Erciyes University in Turkey, found that men with excess body fat develop more female sex hormones that influence their sexual performance.

Men with high fat levels were found to have higher levels of the female sex hormone oestradiol, which disrupts the chemical balance in their body, making them last longer during sex.

Note to spammers: Screw the little blue pills. Send me donuts.

(Via Instapundit, and let’s leave it at that.)

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More items from my Wish List

And no, you can’t buy them for me. At least, I don’t think you can.

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Let’s hope they get the code correct

Otherwise, who knows what might happen?

Enter your email to recieve your Text Code

(Seen at Go Fug Yourself. It wasn’t their fault.)

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The legs are the last to go

Florence Henderson in Dancing with the StarsI’ve been saying so for years, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Consider the case of Florence Henderson, now seventy-six. On her talk show for Retirement Living TV, she’s usually sporting some mom-like trousers, but Dancing with the Stars this fall is going to require some sort of dress — and oh, what a dress! [Insert gratuitous Mike Brady reference here.] It’s not exactly a mini, the insistence of People magazine notwithstanding, but … dayum. And she’s gonna dance! I hope I’m still able to stand up when I turn seventy-six (which is a mere 19 years away, if you’re keeping score). Maybe I need to start hitting the Wesson Oil, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

Yeah, yeah, I know: Photoshop. But if they use it on everyone, which of course they do, it’s all pretty much a wash, isn’t it?

Disclosure: Barry Williams is about my age. See also Basic Instinct: the Brady Bunch Interpretation.

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Sounds recursive to me

It would certainly make me loopy:

Step 3. Futz with network settings on VFTP Command Central. Curse some. Try again. Curse some more. Reboot VFTP Command Central. Curse.

Been there, sworn that. Of course, it’s always worse on [fill in name of platform that always gives you grief].

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Oh, it’s in the shop

TTAC’s Edward Niedermeyer writes the check for an old BMW M Coupe, and tosses off this slightly-scary observation:

[T]hough buying an 11 year-old BMW with nearly 90k miles and no warranty is a bit like playing Russian Roulette, the S52 engine has a far better reliability record than its more powerful, but more-stressed S54 cousin. Besides, you aren’t really an enthusiast until you’ve spent [your] car’s purchase price on maintenance, right?

Hmmm. I spent way over $4249 (original Monroney sticker) on that ’75 Celica I had, but I had seventeen years to do it.

Come to think of it, I’ve spent upwards of $4249 on this Infiniti in a mere four years, but its sticker price is a long way off.

Maybe I should save up for a Boxster with three miles of factory warranty left, or something crazy like that.

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Watch that space

It is an article of faith among some folks that central Oklahoma City in general (Bricktown in particular) is somehow lacking in parking. I strongly suspect that these are the same folks who will drive three laps around Walmart in the hopes of finding a parking space within a few yards of the entrance. (Good luck with that.)

While I don’t find the situation here at all problematic, I must point out that several cities are wrestling with the question of how much parking is really necessary. From Tulsa, Michael Bates said last year: “It’s quickly apparent that our high minimum parking requirements act as a barrier to new commercial development.” I mentioned that here along with a report from Austin.

Should there be minimum parking requirements at all? Sonic Charmer is persuaded that the answer is “No, there should not,” but “Who cares?” (Actually, he was a little more emphatic than that.) SC’s objections to the concept apparently are purely philosophical, unlike the ones one might attribute to urban hipster types:

Here is your classic upper-middle-class concern in a nutshell. Let me just encapsulate what motivates the Matthew Yglesiaseses of the world to care about parking requirements: “When I get Persian in downtown DC with my friends, which I do like every weekend, I want it to be 3% cheaper. If that Persian restaurant didn’t have to provide parking spaces, it could be. Or if we drive to, like, Bethesda for Pad Thai, I want less other cars on the road cuz that makes it take 7 minutes longer for us. If there weren’t free parking, more people in Bethesda would walk downtown, making it easier on people like me.”

Which doesn’t really sound all that much like Yglesias himself, but this gives me a chance to recycle an old Oklahoma Daily complaint, circa 2006, which I quoted here (and a good thing, since it’s now 404ed):

I periodically hear a lone Oklahoman in the company of outsiders dogging the Sooner State. The sellout Oklahoman will get exasperated and say, “You all are so fortunate to live in civilization. I live in Oklahoma.” (At which point they roll their eyes.) “I would kill to live in a place with culture and literati.”

What’s really being said is this: “I am an insecure person. In order to appear sophisticated and astute, I will draw a distinction between myself and all the people I assume you look down upon. By removing and elevating myself, you can realize that I, too, am intelligent, and accept me. Please, please accept me.”

On the other hand, we don’t have to drive very far for Thai. Or pay a lot to park.

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Blogdom tagonistes

The truth about tags:

“Tags” are just an attempt to pimp pre-classification schemes to search engines to draw in traffic. In my opinion 99% of SEO (search-engine optimization) advice is snake oil, and the rest is outright fraud. And don’t even get me started on things like GPR (Google Page Rank).

I dunno. I think it might be entertaining to get him started on things like GPR (Google Page Rank).

I tagged no posts here until 2009, on the reasonable basis that it was unnecessary. When I did start tagging, I made a point of not including the tags in the page templates, since (1) they’re not very interesting, even compared to my dubious categories, and (2) the reason I started using them in the first place was to find stuff I’ve written, inasmuch as neither categories nor post titles can be counted on to help much with that task.

It is possible to be amusing with taglike devices: consider, for instance, Tam’s “Horton hears a Hoosier” label. Not everyone, however, can be Tam.

And SEO, of course, is the 21st-century version of phrenology, but you already knew that.

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Giving it all away

Try this on for size:

“the foregoing sentence shall be interpreted and applied in a manner most favorable to the Concessionaire”

The Concessionaire? ACS. The nature of the concession? Operation of Indianapolis parking meters. The result of the concession? Wholesale screwing of the people of Indianapolis.

The general belief has been that it can’t be as bad as the ACS/Chicago deal. In fact, it’s worse.

We have no idea what the world will be like in 10 years, much less 50. This isn’t something like a water system where all it is really useful for is delivering water and it is pretty reasonable to assume we’ll still want plenty of safe, clean water tomorrow. This is general purpose real estate. This is one of the most precious assets of any city — its public space — a policy area that is experiencing rapid innovation. In fact, Indy is on the forefront of that with the Cultural Trail — but perhaps no longer. No matter what the contract might say, this is a de facto ground lease on the streets of downtown and Broad Ripple.

You’ll have to read the whole thing. It includes links to the contract and all sorts of scary analysis.

Update, 12 September: The plan has been delayed just a bit.

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