The author/brain connection

There are times when you look away from a book for a moment and think “Damn, I wish I’d said that. In fact, I think I could have said that.” You’ll quickly amend the thought ever so slightly, perhaps suspecting that the Karma Police will put you on a watchlist for thinking yourself on par with an author you admire, but the passage will stick in your mind. My own practice is to stop at that point and reread the passage out loud, just in case I missed something while jumping to whatever my conclusion might be.

Author Lionel Shriver is keenly aware of this sort of thing:

I’m convinced that it’s not so much that I’m so perceptive, but that occasionally I’m able to put into words what most of us think. That’s what makes it seem perceptive, but the talent is the getting it into words. Because when you say that your friend felt I had a direct pipeline to her head, that means that she had thought these things herself. One of the great satisfactions of fiction, when it works, is that you come across a passage that somehow articulates what you have already thought yourself, so that the author’s not ahead of you exactly, but has simply given you the facility to give the thought form.

It would have taken me several paragraphs, I think, maybe even several pages, to capture this:

[I]t had always been frustrating: if you put the two of them together — Lawrence’s discipline, intellect, and self-control, Ramsey’s eroticism, spontaneity, and abandon — you’d have the perfect man.

“I’ve sometimes wondered whether it really matters all that much, whom you choose to live with, or to marry,” she mused. “After all, there’s something wrong with everybody, isn’t there? Ultimately, we all settle.

“Oh, it matters,” he snorted readily.

Were I to tackle this subject I’d be wandering all around Robin Hood’s barn without actually getting anywhere.

That quoted passage, incidentally, is from Shriver’s 2007 novel The Post-Birthday World, which I finished reading over the weekend, and from which I quote the preface, in full:

“Nobody’s perfect.” — KNOWN FACT

Only Osgood Fielding III could have said it better.

Comments off

Nor does it sound good

The Tapeworm is a drink made from vodka, Tabasco sauce, black pepper — and, um, mayonnaise.

Expect a complaint from McGehee in 3 … 2 … 1 …

(Complete recipe here. Via TYWKIWDBI.)

Comments (5)

Badass hybrids

Lauren Harger tweeted this earlier today:

Notice how “green” car names sound so wimpy? Prius sounds like Prissy and Wuss. And the Leaf? Can you get more inanimate than that?

Jonathan Richman’s Dodge Veg-O-Matic was pretty inanimate, despite its industrial-sounding name.

Still, you have to figure that this is a case of Know Your Audience: no one in the history of the world ever cross-shopped the Prius against, say, the late, lamented Mercury Marauder. And you can be sure that John Q. Hypermiler isn’t buying a Prius to go hooning around.

Besides, none of Toyota’s vehicle lines, from misty Avalon to lumpy Yaris, carries a name that sounds the least bit menacing, with the possible exception of the home-market Harrier, which came here as the Lexus RX. (Nissan, which issues vehicles with such names as Armada, Titan, and Rogue, is apparently less concerned with appearing more concerned.)

And suppose we’d had the technology much earlier. Could there have been, say, a ’62 Buick Electrodyne?

Comments off

So much for that Teenage Witch business

Melissa Joan Hart, the live-action Sabrina for seven seasons, is now thirty-four. Still has a certain, um, magical appeal, though:

Melissa Joan Hart

She and hubby Mark Wilkerson have been together seven years; they have two boys. (This is consistent with Robert Stacy McCain’s contention: “It is vitally important that beautiful people have babies, because otherwise the human race would become progressively uglier with each succeeding generation.”)

Comments (2)

The trolls get their own village

Comments left on newspaper sites tend to be, in my estimation, about 1.5 standard deviations less readable than blog comments, for reasons we probably don’t have to go into here. No one, up to now, seems to know quite what to do about this without paying someone to moderate everything, or buying something to half-moderate everything.

Freedom Communications, owner of the Orange County Register, is trying a different tack at its northwest-Florida outpost. The news story here isn’t so important, but the comment policy is decidedly different:

From the editor: Many of you have expressed concerns about some of the harsh anonymous comments from readers. To remedy that, we are introducing new features. You can create your own blog, publish your news and share your photos with the community. Once you fill out a simple form and leave a verifiable e-mail address, you can set up your profile page. It will display all of your contributions and allow you to track issues and easily connect with others.

We want our site to be a place where people discuss and debate ideas that foster stronger communities. We built this for you. Please take care of it. Tolerate broad thinking, but take action against obscene or hateful material. Make it a credible and safe place worth preserving and sharing.

Upside: you can see if J. Random Dunderhead has basically the same reactions to everything with just a couple of clicks.

Downside: sooner or later, every offer of free blog space turns into a base for spammers.

Comments off

Strange search-engine queries (257)

It’s shoveling time, and while you’re clearing cold and damp unpleasantness from your driveway, we’re digging into the site logs in search of stuff that isn’t necessarily cold and damp, but which might be just as unpleasant in its own way. At least we don’t have to wear gloves — mostly.

legalarity:  A condition occasionally sought by George W. Bush before a strategerical imperative.

“the playboy advisor” body odor:  He’s against it.

papers of strom thurmond:  Typically, white, 8½ by 14. Nothing unusual for the period.

milfs for christmas:  Sorry, Mommy was busy kissing Santa Claus at the time.

manu ginobili looks like squidward:  Well, it all works out, since Russell Westbrook vaguely resembles Sandy Cheeks. Minus the helmet, of course.

“defend against plagiarism:”  Don’t write anything. It’ll be that much harder for them to copy.

backyard nudity legal in oklahoma:  It’s the third of January. You do not want to try to find this out for yourself for several months yet.

Dick van patten hairy:  It is not for you to speculate as to the hairiness of Dick Van Patten, or indeed of any other Dick.

I couldnt possibly hope to disagree with you:  Sure you could. You’d be wrong, of course, but you can’t have everything.

Comments off

W-2 review

Severian (in a comment at Freeberg’s) describes someone you also might know:

I have a good friend who, like all liberals, wants “Wall Street” to be “regulated.” I tried the old “which specific regulations would you like?” bit and he came back with stuff about executive compensation. Sad, but not surprising, since “not understanding how the labor market works” is just one phase of the grand liberal project of misunderstanding everything about basic economics until the end of time.

What was surprising, though, was his total lack of even the most basic financial knowledge. I’m not talking about the ability to price derivatives or discuss credit default swaps; I’m talking basics — as in, he really couldn’t understand how, if I bought a share of stock at $1 and sold it for $3, someone somewhere wasn’t getting screwed out of $2.

Although he’d happily tax you on that $2.

Executive compensation is based on the uncomplicated concept of “What can we get away with?” Always has been. TARP sought to correct this by imposing salary ceilings on recipients; recipients busted a nut to pay back TARP as quickly as possible to get out from under those ceilings. (This is an example of the Law of Unintended Consequences, Serendipity Subclause: it’s not common, but occasionally something stupid produces an acceptable result, or at least a result that wasn’t as bad as you could have predicted.)


I doubt that Alex Rodriguez, for example, really generates $300 million or whatever in revenue for the Yankees. But as a conservative I know that free markets include the right to make stupid decisions in the marketplace.

Or it could simply be that A-Rod is worth that much to the Yankees just to make sure he doesn’t fall into the hands of the [fill in name of hated rival team, probably the Red Sox].

There was a discussion locally to the effect that NBA players could not possibly be worth the amount they get. (The lowest-paid player on the Thunder roster, reserve forward D. J. White, makes $1,108,680 a year, and Oklahoma City is not known for overpaying people.) In vain it was argued that these dollars go to extremely few people — the NBA has no more than 450 roster spots — that the highest-paid players got that way because of perceived superiority, and that those salary levels exist because of collective bargaining between team owners and the Players’ Association. “Too high,” insisted the hardliners. I’m guessing they subscribe to the theory that at some point you’ve made enough money, and I infer that it’s okay with them if Washington tells you so — until the time that Washington tells them so, anyway.

For the record: I don’t really give a flying fish how much (or how little) someone is paid, except in the specific instance that “someone” = “me.” If some hedge-fund manager pulls down nine digits, how does that affect me in the slightest? If the answer is “Well, he doesn’t deserve that kind of money,” the only proper response is “Sez who?” Eventually, you find out who: what they want, evidently, is some sort of Federal Compensation Board, where “appropriate” salaries are determined, and from whom they presumably expect a raise, inasmuch as they’re so deserving and all. This is a slight variation on a theme previously noted by social critic Steve Sailer:

The most heartfelt articles by female journalists tend to be demands that social values be overturned in order that, Come the Revolution, the journalist herself will be considered hotter-looking.

As a rule, there are only two types of elitist: those who are part of an elite and believe they deserve to be, and those who are not part of an elite yet believe they deserve to be. And you can take that to the bank.

Comments (3)

Going somewhere

After two and a half weeks, during which it was either on my desk or in the car, I figured it was probably time to file Freezepop’s Imaginary Friends (reviewed here) on the appropriate shelf, which is the big CD tree (it’s five feet high but not presently rising) in the living room.

Filing rules:

  • Pop (as distinguished from classical) is (mostly) filed by artist.
  • Various-artists compilations are filed more or less at random, though they’re all on the same face, and series — Time-Life, Rhino’s Have a Nice Day, anything from ERIC — are grouped together. Pop soundtracks from films also go here, near the bottom.
  • Classical discs are filed by composer. If there are two, I pick the one for which I bought the disc. Multiple-composer compilations are (mostly) filed by artist.
  • The Beatles get a shelf to themselves. It holds all the canonical albums, the two Past Masters discs, the Live at the BBC set, and all three Anthology sets. It does not, however, have room for the greatest-hits disc 1, and I have bought no Beatles stuff since then.

So where does Freezepop fit in? Right between Aretha Franklin and Jane Froman. Yes, that Jane Froman. There are other acts who’d fit in there, but they’re on the vinyl shelf.

Comments (2)

New improved Remote Parental Unit

A couple of years ago, you may have read about this Ford feature:

Ford Motor will roll out a feature on many 2010 models that can limit teen drivers to 80 mph, using a computer chip in the key.

Parents also have the option of programming the teen’s key to limit the audio system’s volume, and to sound continuous alerts if the driver doesn’t wear a seat belt.

Technology marches on, and now Ford’s MyKey system has a few more features of this sort:

[P]arents can now block their children from listening to certain radio stations — say, for instance, Howard Stern or Playboy Radio on satellite. In fact, there are a dozen stations listed as explicit by Sirius, and all of them can be blocked using MyKey starting in 2011.

Also seeing an upgrade for 2011 is MyKey’s speed-limiting technology. Previously, the top speed of a properly equipped Ford vehicle could be capped at 80 miles per hour (with chimes sounding at 45, 55 and 65). Now, users can preset a desired speed limit at any of four different settings — 65, 70, 75 or 80 mph.

In other news, there’s a Playboy Radio on satellite. (Question: Do you have to turn the car 90 degrees to hear the centerfold?)

Alas, the feature most desired by parents — the ability to deny entry to their teens’ dubious acquaintances — is probably still a long way off.

Comments (8)

Frigid air

The Met Office in the UK reports:

As December draws to a close, early provisional figures from the Met Office suggest that this December is very likely to be the coldest across the UK since the national series began in 1910.

This December the average temperature for the UK has been -1.5 deg C, 5.7 deg C below the long-term average of 4.2 deg C.

The current coldest December was in 1981, with a mean temperature of 0.1 deg C.

That 1981 figure wouldn’t get you into the top (bottom?) five in Oklahoma City. And even -1.5° C is shruggable; the monthly record here (going back to 1891) is 25.8° F, which is -3.4° C. Which is pretty cold for a place at almost the same latitude as Crete, fercrissake.

But start heading north from here — Kansas, Nebraska, the Dakotas, Manitoba — and those Oklahoma City numbers, cold as they are, look increasingly laughable. So I suspect the Brits aren’t going to get a whole lot of commiseration from these parts, although I’m rude enough to suggest that they might consider looking into increasing their carbon footprints.

(Found at Steven Goddard’s Real Science.)

Comments (7)

A whole bunch of cookies

Lurking in the Oklahoman’s real-estate recap yesterday: Girl Scout-Western Oklahoma Inc. has bought an office building at 6100 North Robinson for the not-inconsiderable price of two million dollars, or about 816,000 boxes of Thin Mints. (Before you ask: I’m figuring $3.50 per box, of which 70 percent goes back to the local council.)

This building is over 20,000 square feet, more than five times bigger than the old GSHQ at 121 NE 50th, which was sold off for $330,000. I’m guessing that the Scouts don’t need all that space, and that some of the tenants currently leasing at 6100 will continue to do so.

Comments off

Let there be garbage time

And there was twelve minutes of garbage time, as San Antonio won its twelfth game in a row at home in the face of a massive display of what can only be called Thundersuck. In three of four quarters, Oklahoma City failed to come up with as many as twenty points — they did manage 21 in the fourth — losing to the Spurs to the tune of 101-74, the sort of tune you don’t want to hear too often against a conference rival. This one was in doubt for maybe three seconds after tipoff.

In the face of this level of futility, the Spurs didn’t have to do much more than show up, but they turned in a worthy performance, shooting an okay 47 percent and grabbing 52 rebounds. Tim Duncan was his usual solid self, dropping in 21 points; Tony Parker had 14 points and 10 assists. (Telltale statistic: The Thunder in aggregate came up with only 10 assists.) The Spurs weren’t too wonderful from beyond the arc, but they didn’t have to be.

When your most impressive line belongs to Serge Ibaka, you had a rough night. The OKC bench scored as much as the starters — 37 points each — which should tell you how badly the starters were doing. Ibaka, though, kept his chin up and his fouls down, recording 14 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. Kevin Durant (remember him?) was held to 16; James Harden had 12, and that’s it for the double figures.

Mullens Report: Byron put in nearly eight minutes in the final frame, hitting one shot (of four) and one free throw (of two) while reeling in one offensive rebound.

Neither of the next two road games — at Memphis on Tuesday, at Dallas on Thursday — is exactly a gimme, and then the Grizzlies show up in OKC for a Saturday game. It’s going to be a long week, I suspect.

Comments off

We got your earworms right here

This is one of those tracks that’s been kicking around in the back of my head for several months now; I only just found the video last week.

This is from her 2008 album Hello…x, one of the more inscrutable titles I’ve seen lately. Also, she’s just now (as in the last week or so) engaged to Jason Mraz. (If you’d followed my Twitter stream, you’d have known that.)

Comments (1)

Hard to find, oh well, whatever, nevermind

You may recall that I actually moved the registration of this particular domain for reasons having to do with the desire to save a few bucks, and by “a few” I mean twenty-five over the course of a year.

Which doesn’t stop some enterprising operation with manifest contempt for its customers from offering me a far more expensive deal:

Domain Name Registration Price Term
DUSTBURY.COM Dec 20, 2010 – Dec 20, 2011 $75.00 1 Year

Say what?

Turns out that this really isn’t a domain-name registration at all. From the finer print down the page:

This letter is to inform you that it’s time to send in your search engine registration for DUSTBURY.COM.

Failure to complete your search engine registration by Jan 4, 2011 may result in the cancellation of this offer (making it difficult for your customers to locate you using search engines on the web).

Your registration includes search engine submission for DUSTBURY.COM for 1 year. You are under no obligation to pay the amount stated above unless you accept this offer by Jan 4, 2011. This notice is not an invoice. It is a courtesy reminder to register DUSTBURY.COM for search engine listing so that your customers can locate you on the web.

Their links go to something called, which evidently hoovers up email addresses from actual registry lists and then hopes to hit on someone who isn’t paying attention.

Incidentally, I’m probably easier to locate on the Web than they are. PageRanks, per Google:, 6;, zilch. I would get better results holding my wallet open over the toilet. (How do I know it’s better? The wallet contains only $51 at the moment.)

Comments off

IP unfreely

This showed up on Yahoo! Answers last night:

How can I ban liberals from my blog?

is this impossible. its through blogspot. would an htaccess file do the trick if blogspot allowed it

Well, it’s not like they’re cluttering up his comment section; as of the last time I looked, he had nine posts and no comments at all.

And no, you can’t do this in .htaccess. (What would the server look for to identify a liberal? Text styled as justified left?)

I am disinclined to give this guy a link, but if you read the question link and pull up his profile, you’ll get the URL.

Comments (7)

The shape I’m in

All things considered, I’d say it’s about average.

Comments (1)