Hey, it works in Nebraska

Gary Jones is pushing the notion of switching to a unicameral legislature:

The state auditor has a controversial plan to save millions of dollars by combining the Oklahoma House of Representatives and the Oklahoma Senate.

State Auditor Gary Jones says it may be time for a change.

“Just because we’ve done it that way doesn’t mean that’s the best way of doing it. If we believe in smaller, more efficient government, I think that government itself is what we need to look at,” Jones said.

Jones says each year, between offices, salaries and staff, the Oklahoma Senate alone costs the state between 15 and 20 million dollars.

This prompted some derision, mostly justified, from Patrick at The Lost Ogle:

I’ve asked Ogle Moles in the past why we have a bicameral legislature, and none of them really have a good answer. Even though it’s a dysfunctional mess, I can see why you’d want to have a Senate and House of Representatives for a Federal Government comprised of 50 states, but why does a state need one? It’s not like each county gets two state senators to balance out the population advantage of cities. Senate districts are determined by the same imaginary gerrymandered lines as the House of Representatives. It’s redundant. Right? Or am I totally wrong?

Well, no, he’s not totally wrong. As to those Senate districts, I refer you to a 2014 scheme specifically to abolish the Oklahoma House by Senator (of course) Patrick Anderson (R-Enid):

Anderson says he wants to save a few bucks, not the worst idea in the world, though it would have been nice if he’d said something about Reynolds v. Sims, in which the Supreme Court decided that legislative houses in the states had to be divided into equal population districts. (Before this 1964 decision, each county would have at least one House member, regardless of population.) In effect, this makes one chamber in each and every bicameral state legislature — all 49 of them — largely irrelevant. Then again, Reynolds was decided three years before Anderson was born, so it’s probably not uppermost in his mind.

And Patrick doesn’t think the Jones scheme has any future:

Obviously, our hypocritical small government state lawmakers want nothing to do with it, and I doubt the political parties want a unicameral legislature either, so this will need to be championed and passed by the people. Since the proposal has nothing to do with discriminating against gays or letting people bring guns to music festivals, I doubt anything will happen.

He’s probably not wrong about that either.

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Awash in backwash

We had rain out the wazoo last month, and after going a week and a half without any rain, the stuff has returned with a vengeance. Maybe more than vengeance, no thanks to slow-moving, tediously damp ex-Tropical Storm Bill, which visited about 11 inches on one hamlet down by the Red River. Still, this should not make us think that we’re never, ever going to have water issues again:

I learned that per capita, an average shower delivers 2-5 gallons of water A MINUTE. How many of us take 10, 15, even 20 minute showers, everyday? We use 25-40 gallons of water PER LOAD when we do the laundry. We are so ridiculously blessed to have clean water that appears at our command. For the past 24 hours, I’ve been obsessed with the following questions: Can you imagine hauling water from the creek like our ancestors did? What about third world countries in 2015, where women hike for MILES to deliver dirty water to their families … several times every day? I wonder how much water you could live on, if its price was comparable to gold?

My typical shower is down around three minutes. Then again, I do a lot more wash than some of you might imagine. Still, I keep the monthly usage down around 3,000 gallons, which is on the low side for Oklahoma City water customers but which nonetheless remains around 100 gallons a day.

Is it fair to mention that she thought of this while the plumbers were working on a broken water pipe?


Quote of the week

How will we fare under “fairness”? Hint: you have to define “fair” as the teachers used to, which is “not as good as good“:

Life is unequal and unfair but more equality and fairness came into the world because of people freely pursuing their self interest in free markets. Wise, loving, “enlightened” people had nothing to do with [it], unless it was those who created a legal structure of rationality, predictability, an even-handedness within which trial and error could slowly lead to amelioration of the harshness of life.

No attempt to cast aside workable legal restraints has led to anything more decent or more just. When was “revolutionary justice” anything but a satisfaction of individual revenge fantasies and bestial instincts that led straight to more slaughter? Handing more and more political power to what some like to think are the “right” kind of people has only led to horror in our times, not just mass killing but social decay that threatens civilization itself. Once-great American cities in our own time are being laid waste by uncivilized people and where is there a scintilla, a soupcon, or a smidgen of evidence that that will ever be turned around? Destruction of our cities is today the course that we pursue with determination. Each new fracturing draws not leaders but buffoons and other political jokes like vultures on the Ferlinghetti Plain.

Hmmm. Maybe “fair” is too good.


One very small step forward

What hurts, I think, is that it was a 3-2 vote:

You hate getting robocalls. The FCC knows you hate getting robocalls. And so [Thursday] the Commission voted to move forward with a proposal that would allow consumers to block all those annoying calls and texts.

The commissioners were agreed on one major theme: seriously, everyone hates getting calls from “Rachel at card services” during their family dinner hour. Outside of that, reactions were less universal, and individual commissioners each presented a mixed bag of affirmations and dissents.

FCC chair Tom Wheeler says that part of the problem is the Commission’s own rulemaking:

“Technology has made it cheaper, and as a result there’s been an explosion in the number of calls — an explosion which has been aided by exploiting the wording of our rules to claim a loophole. Clever lawyers have [spurred] the explosion in robocalls by claiming if the company substitutes software for hardware to drive the calls and/or does not call from a list, they are exempt from our rules.”

While I am moderately hopeful, I am fairly sure the FCC will not authorize the ritual disembowelment of offenders, as recommended by, um, me.

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You shall not Escape

Once again, Donald Trump is taking advice from the ferret occupying his scalp:

Republican presidential hopeful and billionaire Donald Trump wants to bring the pain via punitive tariffs to Ford for manufacturing vehicles in Mexico.

During his announcement of his 2016 campaign Tuesday, The Detroit News says Trump vowed he would levy a 35 percent tariff on Ford parts and vehicles imported from Mexico if the automaker presses forward with a $2.5 billion investment in the nation, claiming the move would “take away thousands” of jobs from American workers.

Ford, being Ford, shrugged; they’ve heard this sort of noise before. And besides:

Of course, Trump wouldn’t be legally able to punish Ford for building its plants wherever it wanted, let alone single out Ford with his plan without also doing the same to General Motors and FCA (how he would deal with Fiat owning Chrysler would be a whole other round of metaphors and hyperbole altogether).

Now if The Donald comes back and says he can so do this, via executive order — well, he’s cut his own throat, and we will definitely thank him for his quick disappearance from the campaign scene.

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Fulfilling time

A lot got done at Happy Acres this past week:

Gave daughter her first driving lesson. Consoled son after first serious heartbreak. Went to the gym everyday, and a 4 mile walk every evening. Worked on genealogy and uncle’s ebook. Hardened my passwords on two dozen sites. Made a will. Sprayed star thistle infestation. Had carpets cleaned. Building a pile of junk to take to the dump. Timing belts replaced on 2 cars. Pruned & weeded. Ordered gravel to line driveway.

Goodness, that’s quite a set of accomplishments. How in the world was this even possible?

The past week I went internet-dark.


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Wait until the old man finds out it’s not actually a vacation package:

Store display for Stayfree Maxi-Pads

I think I’d leave home first.

(Found on reddit by Miss Cellania.)


Getting the bugs out

Question of the day: “Wasn’t someone, somewhere, working on an opera based on Kafka’s Metamorphosis?”

Creeped out as I was by the original story, I figure I could take maybe two minutes of such a production. Fortunately, that’s as long as this excerpt lasts:

Then again, this is properly a ballet, by Arthur Pita; it was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Dance Production in 2012, and Edward Watson (as Samsa) won an individual Olivier.

In 1969, Steven Berkoff adapted Kafka’s short story for the stage; Berkoff’s work became the libretto for Brian Howard’s opera Metamorphosis (1983).

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Can this truly be just?

Inquiring minds want to know:

We’ll get a Wiring Justice Warrior right on it.

(Via Nancy Friedman.)

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A largish complaint

The plus-sized woman, says Fern Olivia, gets short shrift, when she gets any shrift at all:

Why the hell are the biggest clothes in just one little corner of any shop nowadays, surrounded by gorgeous pictures of plus sized models? I feel like 1. this is so embarrassing, especially if people are self conscious about their size, and 2. I felt like I was being shoved to one side away from all of the pretty clothes in to a selection of ugly maternity looking old women clothes. I found a few sized 16 things in the “normal” section, let’s say, because that’s basically how it made me feel, and they were skin tight and definitely not a size 16 at all.

The word that seems to stand out here is “few”:

Even looking through the sized 6-14 selection of clothes, everything was like a size 6/8. I know a lot of girls are this size, but if larger sizes are the ones that are selling more, why not restock quicker or at least order more just in case? There is nothing more disappointing than finding something you really like and not being able to pick out your size. I also guarantee that if you go on online websites you’ll see about 2000 pieces of clothing, if you then refine it by size to 16, 18 etc, you’ll see about 10 different items.

Were I of a conspiratorial mindset, I might think that this was a plot by the sixes and eights to discourage traffic by those Larger Folk, whom they would rather not see if they can help it.

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Scam via scum

Remember this number: 917-675-3332. Two calls from them today in relatively rapid succession. The people behind it need to die a horrible death, live on YouTube.

Apparently they’ve been active for only a couple of days, but already they’ve justified their termination with extreme prejudice. Says Ragator, who heard from them Monday:

Received a partial voice mail about calling in reference to a lawsuit and provided a phone number of 917 675-3332. I called the number and reached a gentleman stating to be “David Frost”. When I asked what company he was with he stated the IRS. I challenged him several times and he continued to claim he is with the IRS and contacting me in reference to a lawsuit. After I continued to challenge his affiliation with the IRS and I vehemently declared that I did not believe he was an employee Internal Revenue Service and pushed him even harder to reveal the company he actually works for he said he can not say and hung up.

The lawsuit claim is, of course, horseshit of the highest (or lowest) order. “Mr. Frost” is obviously a scamster out to make a fast buck off fearful people. Whoever is behind him needs to be named, exposed, and then culled from the species. It doesn’t even have to be in that order.

Remember that number: 917-675-3332.

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Mow it alone

Remember that town in West Virginia where no cell phones or Wi-Fi signals or even radios are allowed? Robotic lawn mowers are right out:

The saga started in February, when iRobot filed a waiver request with the FCC seeking approval to use a portion of the radio spectrum to help guide its robomower. The problem with grass-cutting bots, according to iRobot’s filing, is the only way to get them to work is to dig a trench along the perimeter of a lawn and install a wire that creates the electronic fence needed to ensure the automatons don’t wander beyond the property line.

The iRobot people also produce the Roomba, a robotic vacuum cleaner, and the Scooba, which maintains hardwood floors. (I covet the Scooba.)

As a less arduous solution, iRobot proposes using stakes, driven into the ground, to act as beacons. The beacons will talk to the lawnbot, helping it map the area and stay within the designated boundaries. A typical user with a typical lawn (a quarter to a third of an acre) might need between four and nine beacons.

But the system requires special permission from the FCC due to its restrictions on fixed outdoor infrastructure. In a nutshell, the FCC doesn’t want people creating ad hoc networks of transmitters, which could interfere with existing authorized services like cellular and GPS systems. In its filings, iRobot says it should be exempt because it doesn’t set out to establish a broad communications network — its lawnbot networks would be tightly contained.

The problem, though, isn’t the network, but the frequency on which it operates so wirelessly:

Astronomers say that’s not good enough. The frequency band proposed for the lawnbot (6240-6740 MHz) is the very same one several enormous radio telescopes operate on.

And they don’t want that sort of interference, in West Virginia or anywhere else they may happen to operate.

(Via Hit Coffee.)


Ongoing Rachel issues

You remember I. P. Freely, don’t you? Of course you do. Allan Sherman did, and in The Rape of the A*P*E* he mentioned several other punridden types, such as the author of The African Princess, Erasmus B. Black.

Except that this particular joke no longer makes sense in the post-Rachel Dolezal era, and Jack Baruth contends that poor Rachel could only pull off that masquerade of hers by dint of being Less Than Gorgeous. (5/10 max, he says.)

No, really, he’s serious, and not even all that flippant:

Had she been attractive, she could not have passed as black. And what does that say about how we view black women in this society? Why are black women always portrayed as in media as either crack whores or state court justices or elementary-school principals? How much of the crisis currently facing black women can be laid at the feet of a media that promotes the black-guy-with-white-woman idea all day, everyday but can’t be bothered to show images that reinforce the idea of black female beauty?

When we, as a society, relentlessly pound home the idea that white women are the only legitimate objects of desire for black or white men, why should we be surprised when black women feel unwanted? When we turn black women into stereotypes and caricatures, both negative and positive, why be surprised when they feel like outcasts in the culture and country that is supposed to be both my land and their land? And why, then, be surprised when, after we spend all this effort turning black women into outcasts, an outcast like Rachel Dolezal feels more comfortable among their numbers?

At least this gives me part of an explanation for why I was loath to condemn the poor woman. If anything, my reaction to the incident boils down to “Well played,” packaged with a reminder to myself that my ability to spot this sort of thing at a distance is decidedly limited.

Yes, yes, I know: she doesn’t have the “authentic black experience.” But she tried awfully damned hard to get it.

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A great deal of nothing

Think of it as a loss leader, at least at first:

Apple’s streaming music service is coming to a device near you at the end of this month, since it’s likely that there’s some kind of device with iTunes on it near you right now. Yet while Apple is promising musicians over 70% of the revenue from the service as royalties, that also means musicians will get around 70% of nothing for the first three months of Apple Music, since the service will be free to users.

I’m pretty sure Taylor Swift, for one, has done the math.

Still, it’s not like recording artists will receive all that moolah even on Day 91:

Those totals include payments to the people who own the sound recordings Apple Music will play, as well as the people who own the publishing rights to songs’ underlying compositions. That doesn’t mean the money will necessarily go to the musicians who recorded or wrote the songs, since their payouts are governed by often-byzantine contracts with music labels and publishers.

I pulled out my copy of 1989, and it says pretty clearly: “Ⓟ©2013 Big Machine Records, LLC.” Big Machine, therefore, owns the actual recordings. (It is said that Swift and/or her family own a piece of Big Machine.) Swift’s songs are published by Sony/ATV Music, so they too get a cut. Exactly who gets what is established by contracts I will likely never see.

Update, 19 June: Big Machine will not be streaming 1989 through Apple Music, though Swift’s earlier material will be available.

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Zett zwei: nein

There will be no Z2 roadster, BMW declares:

The Z2 would have gone toe-to-toe with the Mazda MX-5 Miata and Fiat’s Spyder beginning in 2016, Car reports, but was deemed “inessential” in the face of both booming SUV sales and a sluggish sports car market by chairman Harald Krüger and R&D boss Klaus Fröhlich, a move in line with sales boss Ian Robertson’s belief the sports car market may never recover.

The roadster would have slotted under the Z4, come with a £20,000 ($31,000 USD) starting price tag, and been limited to three- and four-cylinder engine options delivering their power to the front wheels.

Now I’m imagining a Z2M with an inline six and a price tag closer to 50k. But that’s the existing Z4, except for wrong-wheel drive.

And truth be told, I wonder how many people are going to choose the Fiat Spyder over its Japanese cousin. (Then again, Mazda isn’t sending us the new 2, but it will show up as a Scion. It’s all a mess.)

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Well, ****

Just watch your mouth when you’re in Arlington, Virginia, okay?

Uttering some of the more expressive words in the English language will cost you up to $250 if you say them in Arlington, now that county officials have upped their fines on public uses of profanity. The Arlington County Board just approved a measure increasing penalties for public intoxication and blue language from $100 to $250.

Odd that those two offenses should be paired — or maybe not:

Even if Arlington is sacrificing its reputation as an urbanist’s dream community, its leaders have not given up their mission to clean up its residents’ sometimes-naughty antics. The code change adopted during Saturday’s board meeting came after the Arlington Police Department reported making 664 arrests for public inebriation and foul-mouthed talk in 2014.

About 230,000 people live in Arlington’s 26 square miles, and it’s not like they can’t go somewhere else to cuss:

While the District [of Columbia] bans abusive language designed to provoke a physical response from another individual, it does not prohibit casual profanity. Maryland also offers safe harbor to the salty-tongued, except for Rockville, where the city charter reads, “person may not profanely curse and swear or use obscene language upon or near any street, sidewalk or highway within the hearing of persons passing by, upon or along such street, sidewalk or highway.”

Still, for the sake of traffic, let’s hope the [redacted] don’t all go at once.

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