Pedal closer to the metal?

Google’s been playing around with the Apache Web server, and they’ve announced a new module:

[W]e’re introducing a module for the Apache HTTP Server called mod_pagespeed to perform many speed optimizations automatically. We’re starting with more than 15 on-the-fly optimizations that address various aspects of web performance, including optimizing caching, minimizing client-server round trips and minimizing payload size. We’ve seen mod_pagespeed reduce page load times by up to 50% (an average across a rough sample of sites we tried) — in other words, essentially speeding up websites by about 2x, and sometimes even faster.

Well, we’ll just see about that. I actually installed it last night, and about half the time it sped up the load time considerably, and the rest of the time it refused to load at all. I’m still testing on some smaller sites, but I’ve pulled it from here for now.

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Handed to him on a paper platter

The next Oklahoma House of Representatives will have 70 Republicans and 31 Democrats. If this sounds like a rout to you, you ain’t heard nothing yet:

[Rusty] Farley ran for this seat in 2008, and lost to Democrat Dennis Bailey 56.7%-43.3%. House District 1 contains (and only contains) McCurtain County in far southeastern Oklahoma. A whopping 11.8% of voters are registered Republicans, and 5.2% are Independents. This time, Farley received 50.83% of the vote against Bailey.

Did I mention that Bailey spent over $20,000 on his reelection bid, while Farley spent … $100? Yes, Farley spent $100 and won the race.

In Little Dixie, yet, where “Republican” used to be a dirty word on the level of “grit-eating, scum-sucking, pencil-neck geek.”

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Quote of the week

Ladd Ehlinger, Jr., seeking an explanation for California’s continuing sojourn in the wilderness, decides that it’s not entirely a partisan problem:

The national GOP should spend a little more time thinking about the philosophy, and a little less time being impressed by the wallets of, potential candidates they will throw their weight behind. Quick thoughts on Carly Fiorina. Her company HP sold technology to Iran and outsourced high-tech jobs to China. Her best buddy in Congress is the uber-rich Democrat Jane Harman, whose company Harman Industries also sold technology to Iran and outsourced jobs to China. With friends like that…

Carly Fiorina was not a Republican, any more than Jane Harman is a Democrat. They are instead members of the Shakespeare Theater Donation Big-Wigs in Washington D.C. They run for Congress like the Jersey Housewives show off their cleavage on t.v.

They need something to do.

This explains much about Meg Whitman’s bidding war for the governorship.

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A whole lot of thorns

You may remember this from the Clippers game 24 hours ago:

The occasionally-erratic Fail Blazers aren’t about to lose to this bunch tomorrow night, especially at the Rose Garden.

Well, the Thunder weren’t quite as inept as they were against the Clips, and in fact turned downright competent in the final frame, but the Blazers were a long way from being erratic, and after several minutes on the teeter-totter, regulation time finished at a 100-100 tie.

And in overtime, things got ferocious. Four minutes through, it was only 103-100 OKC; with six seconds left, Russell Westbrook dropped in two free throws to put the Thunder up, 107-103; Armon Johnson made a trey at the buzzer to make it 107-106.

Is this the turning point for Oklahoma City? Who knows? But here’s the line: Kevin Durant, 28 points, 11 rebounds; Russell Westbrook, 28 points, 11 rebounds. And we’re still seeing the Good Jeff Green (19 points).

And now, back home to the Unsponsored Arena for a four-game homestand, and I won’t have to stay up so darn late for a while.

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Sir, you dropped your mask (2)

Tam sat through the President’s post-election prattling, and filed this report:

At best I fear yesterday’s election was a band-aid on a sucking chest wound, and at worst they’ll go right back to getting all knotted up in rearranging the “family values” and “law’n’order” deck chairs while the USS Dollar continues to slip beneath the waves… But while I was eating lunch I watched the Brat Prince keep trying to strike his favorite chin-uplifted Mussolini pose, with its haughty “Who farted?” moue of confident disdain, but it wouldn’t stick, and his facial expression kept drifting back to one that looked like a man chewing on a cat turd.

I suspect they’re required to keep John Kerry — who, by the way, served in Vietnam — at a safe distance from him, lest there develop a singularity of self-absorption so powerful it might actually disrupt a taping of Oprah, half a continent away.

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Sir, you dropped your mask (1)

I have often been perplexed by the world’s Climate Worriers, mostly because I never could figure out just what was behind their insistence that every single weather event, blazing hot or freezing cold, was a manifestation of exactly the same alleged phenomenon.

Then Roberta X got her gas bill, and now the game’s been given away.

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Hanna-Barbera shot first

Daphne BlakeSo this five-year-old boy wanted to go out on Halloween as Daphne from Scooby-Doo, and parts of hell — not “all hell,” fortunately — broke loose. “Inappropriate!” clucked various Moms. (For some reason, the local Dads weren’t heard from, or at least weren’t quoted.)

I find myself falling into the Not That There’s Anything Wrong With That camp, for the following reasons, and perhaps some others:

  • He’s already once portrayed the Scoobster, which suggests he’s well-versed (for a five-year-old, anyway) in the series canon.
  • Not everyone can aspire to Velmahood.
  • What’ll you bet he has his very own Mystery Machine?
  • If some girl dressed up as Shaggy or (God forbid) Fred, nobody would have said a word.

Besides, as his mom notes, the kid rocks that costume, especially the wig.

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It’s all just mastication

There’s a vague but palpable sense of exhilaration after you’ve completed your ballot, and apparently this is why:

People spend a lot of money to get elected to public office. They buy ads, they buy signs, they pay campaign staffs, and so on. And yet, for free, you and I get to tell more than half of them, “Bite me.”

You can’t get much more American than that.

Indeed.

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Condigram

Once in a while, someone wanders in here looking for shots of former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, and hey, who am I to turn him away?

Condi Rice on the Late Late Show

This was scissored out of a screenshot from Dr. Rice’s appearance on The Late Late Show last month; Craig Ferguson, obligingly, has uploaded the video. (Two parts, approximately 16 minutes.)

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Here on the dumb grid

Few things are quite as disconcerting as a letter from a utility company that arrives the day after payment is due; I invariably go into “Did I forget to pay them?” mode, even though I don’t think I’ve ever been late on this one and they sent me back my deposit half a decade ago.

But no, this isn’t an accounting matter. Yet. OG&E wants me to know that my current electric meter is too stupid to live:

For the next few months, OG&E employees and contracted personnel will be crisscrossing the community to install smart meters on virtually every one of our customer’s homes and businesses, including yours.

I wonder who that one customer with all the homes and businesses might be.

This is the first step toward the so-called “smart grid,” which for right now will support modest enhancements like remote connection/disconnection and meter reading, but which somewhere down the line, I assume, will be used to make sure I’m paying as much as possible for running the A/C on an August afternoon when it’s actually needed, and not so much on an April morning when it’s not.

OG&E says this will enable them to “delay the building of a new power plant until at least 2020.” Whether this affects the plan to quadruple the amount of wind power they produce is yet to be determined.

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Clipped, reclipped, then shorn

With 4:30 left in the third quarter at the Staples Center, the Thunder were down by 21 points (73-52), and radio guy Matt Pinto solemnly reported that the Clippers had at that point made seven of twelve treys, OKC zero of twelve. He didn’t have to mention that this was a difference of, yes, 21 points.

It wasn’t technically over then — right after that timeout, Daequan Cook actually sank a three-ball, and Russell Westbrook got one on the next possession — but Oklahoma City never pulled within ten points again, and the previously-winless Clippers hung a 107-92 loss on the punchless Thunder, who once again failed to break 40 percent shooting.

Oh, yes: Blake Griffin. Definitely puts the “power” in “power forward.” In 32 minutes he contributed 18 points and hauled in nine rebounds, four of them off the offensive glass. Eric Gordon had the game high of 27.

Who led the Thunder scoring? Jeff Green, with 19 points and nine boards. Kevin Durant had sixteen on 6-24 (!) shooting, including an amazing 0-10 from beyond the arc. I’m starting to think that Mathias Murphy is starting to get to him.

The occasionally-erratic Fail Blazers aren’t about to lose to this bunch tomorrow night, especially at the Rose Garden.

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Show me the logic

Missouri had amendments to its Constitution on the ballot yesterday, and this one, Number 1, struck me as curious:

Official Ballot Title:

Shall the Missouri Constitution be amended to require the office of county assessor to be an elected position in all counties with a charter form of government, except counties with a population between 600,001-699,999?

It is estimated this proposal will have no costs or savings to state or local governmental entities.

Apparently it passed. Brian J. Noggle explains that this was a measure to force St. Louis County to elect its assessor, which I suppose would be a Good Thing, but I’m perplexed that this apparently requires all 114 counties plus the City of St. Louis to pass judgment on the matter. Then again, it’s probably wise to assume that every state constitution has at least some bizarre provisions.

Meanwhile, how come Jackson, the only county meeting those population requirements, gets a pass?

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Attack of the homonyms!

Tam tells us what it’s like, though I suspect we’ve all been through it more times than we’d admit:

The brain tells the fingers to type “capitol” or “principal”, and they wind up typing the much more frequently-used “capital” or “principle”, and the brain never notices because it’s halfway into the next sentence. I usually catch this in proof-reading, but sometimes it’s early and you haven’t had any caffeine and you just want to get something up on the blog before you’re off to do other, more chore-like things, and you walk away from the keyboard leaving a hanging curve belt-high over the plate. Sigh.

The operative phrase here, of course, is “I usually catch this.” Which makes it that much worse when you don’t. And you may be certain that your spearchucker spellchecker won’t notice; it’s the wrong word, but by damn, you spelled it correctly.

If I had a dime for every horrible thing I saw on this page after hitting the Publish button, I could probably pay my hosting bill for the next year.

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Speaking of dead makes

Oakland logoWhen Billy Durant created General Motors back at the Dawn of Automotive Time, he had exactly one brand name to work with: Buick. In the next few years, he added Oldsmobile, Oakland and Cadillac, in that order, before he was forced out of the company. During his absence, Durant partnered with Louis Chevrolet, subsequently buying him out; eventually, Durant was able to retake control of GM, integrating the Chevrolet brand into the GM mix.

After Durant was dethroned a second time, Alfred E. Sloan formalized the GM hierarchy: Cadillac at the top, then Buick, Oldsmobile, Oakland, and Chevy at the bottom. The idea was to have a car at every conceivable price point, so you had no excuse for not buying from GM. By the middle 1920s, though, the General detected space for even more in-between brands. For a time, GM had nine nameplates; Chevrolet was still at the bottom of the hierarchy, but each of the other four marques was assigned a “companion” make to fill those gaps.

This worked about as well as you think it would, which is hardly at all. Cadillac’s kid brother LaSalle ran great through most of the Depression, but was expelled in 1940. Buick and Oldsmobile barely got to know their Marquette and Viking siblings. And it’s no wonder, really; between mid-priced Olds and top-line Cadillac, GM was trying to push four separate brands.

And then there’s Oakland, which had to share its room with something barely above a Chevy, fercryingoutloud. Worse, that something was paying all the bills for the division. GM saw the writing on the cylinder wall, and euthanized Oakland after a brief run of ’31s. Junior — otherwise known as “Pontiac” — was on the endangered-species list in the early 1950s, but lived to the ripe old age of 84 before being deemed nonessential. At the time, it was outselling Buick by about 50 percent.

See also “Gutless supreme,” some thoughts on the death of Oldsmobile (1897-2004).

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Two hearts in sync

Were there a specific genetic pattern which produced klutziness, I’d be a (marginally) happier man: I could blame my utter lack of grace on previous generations. And I wouldn’t feel compelled to stare longingly at stuff like this:

[T]hough I don’t watch it often, I do kind of like the couples’ figure skating or the ballroom dancing competitions. I think I figured out why. It’s the fantasy that it presents, and it’s a very “girly” fantasy I think: the fantasy is that you have a partner, and he understands you and you understand him to the point that you can execute these complex moves without even talking. It’s like it’s this pure communication, or something. Oh, I know, in reality, it takes many agonizing hours of working through choreography to make it look good, and some “couples” are not only not actual couples, they don’t necessarily like each other all that much. But still. It’s an appealing fantasy, to have someone strong enough to lift you up and dip you and who will hold your hand and not be embarrassed about it.

It’s not exclusively girly.

Then again, I have, all by my lonesome, enough communication barriers to relationship-proof the New Jersey Turnpike, so it’s probably just as well that I can’t dance worth a flip.

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Refudiation Day

The only thing that puzzles me, really, is that State Question 750, which would have reduced the number of signatures required for initiative petitions, just barely squeaked by; I can only conclude that people saw that and ten other questions on the ballot and decided that they wanted fewer such things in the future. And I’m hoping they didn’t decide that because the other ten went my way.

(Yes, I know: most of those questions originated with the Legislature, not with the electorate. I suspect most people don’t care one way or another.)

Otherwise: a little above meh, but way below happy happy joy joy.

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