1 May 2006
Strange search-engine queries (13)
No matter what it is, or what it isn't, somebody out there is looking for it, and rather a lot of somebodies wind up here. Some examples:
Elmer Fudd with a toothache: Ow! This weawwy huwts!
brown things come from uranus: Moved to #2 on the list.
women are seen as invisible: If they're seen, they're not exactly invisible, are they?
chlamydia punishment: You'd think chlamydia itself would be punishment enough.
48 years old lonely: Hey, that was four whole years ago.
men don't like smart women: Actually, we worry that if they're that smart, they won't like us.
women are drawn to the sewer to take their clothes off: Doesn't sound like any sewer I've ever seen.
Compiles only because of luck
Back in the day, I actually had a COBOL compiler for the Commodore 64, and I can tell you, there were times when I couldn't tell a PICTURE clause from Santa Claus.
But there's a whole lot of COBOL code still out there, which is apparently what keeps Rocket Jones in incendiary devices:
I'm actually a young whippersnapper compared to a lot of the COBOL programmers still working, and that pool of talent is shrinking faster than the remaining need for 'em. One of the best skills to have for the massive Y2K effort was COBOL. Business needed them, and paid dearly because they needed them badly.
I must point out here that I work in an RPG shop, which means that I'm not in any position to snicker.
Guess we won't cry
A possibly-appropriate song for the day:
When I was small, and Christmas trees were tall,
We used to love while others used to play.
Don't ask me why, but time has passed us by,
Someone else moved in from far away.
It's the first of May, as noted above by the Bee Gees, and some of those who have moved in from far away will take pains to remind us of that fact today.
Actually, I anticipate things will be rather quiet around town. Latino high-school students in the city are expected to take to the streets after school hours. The city school district has put out no statement that I've seen. In fact, I didn't even see any rally notices at the local branch of Indymedia.
Which means, unless things change in a big hurry, that you're most likely to be affected if you're expecting a delivery from the Home Depot today.
Update, 8:50 am: KGOU reports that a pork processor in the Panhandle will close for the day.
9:45 am: Lonewacko points to this report that says Oklahoma LULAC is "not promoting a work stoppage." Director Ray Madrid: "It's not a good idea to risk either academic status or [one's] livelihood."
1:10 pm: KWTV interviews the leader of Hispanic Democrats of Oklahoma at the Capitol; he talks May Day before he talks immigration. [Brief ad before video clip.]
9:40 pm: AP reports about 4,000 turned up for a march through OKC's Capitol Hill; city schools report approximately normal attendance.
I thought it said "dude ranch"
Tucson's La Tierra Linda Guest Ranch Resort, a favorite getaway for Hollywood types in the 1930s, has changed both its name (it's now Mira Vista) and its dress code (you no longer have to).
As usual with clothing-optional resorts, you're expected to be on your best behavior regardless of your lack of attire: says co-owner Dave Landman, you shouldn't do anything you wouldn't do in your mother's living room. I'm sure my mother would have pitched a fit if I'd showed up without my pajamas, but that was, like, years ago.
Final proof the NYT is out of touch
Arthur Ochs Sulzberger, Jr., speaking to the annual shareholders meeting of the New York Times Company:
Before I begin, let me ask if anyone in this audience needs the aid of a sign language interpreter. If you do, please raise your hand.
In Pinch's defense, he didn't trot out that old joke about the time Helen Keller fell down a well and broke three fingers calling for help.
Feathers and flowers and flak
Louisiana apparently won't be banning cockfighting this year.
Meanwhile, the state's Horticulture Commission is in court today trying to justify the licensing of florists, a practice followed in no other state. (Cockfighting isn't quite so unique; it's allowed in one other state.)
In 2004, the Louisiana House voted to discontinue the florist license and the examination required to obtain it, but the Senate refused to go along.
Here in Oklahoma, where a cockfighting ban was enacted in 2002, florists aren't subjected to any regulations specific to their craft; then again, as we all know, florists just aren't driven to misbehave.
Life could be a dream
I hesitate to say that DreamHost, which has been the home of dustbury.com since the last day of 2001, ever takes my advice on anything, but they've definitely filled out one item on my wish list: they've put up an ongoing status page, off their regular network (in case they go down or get DDoSed), with RSS feeds.
If it saves me just one instance of "What the hell is going on here?" it will have been worth it, I say.
2 May 2006
Insert "Cherry Orchard" joke here
A Fox Reality (UK) series called My Bare Lady will ask four female porn stars to try their hand, as it were, at legitimate theatre you know, to see if they can really act.
David Lyle, general manager of Fox Reality:
It's a wonderful tale of redemption. Do they want lines that are a little more challenging than "Oh, here's the pool guy..."?
They apparently asked no men, and I suspect it's for the obvious reason: they already know the answer.
Things I've learned
Learning is something I value greatly, especially since I am convinced that during my younger years I didn't do enough of it. So any Cosmic Revelations I can find these days, I cherish.
Okay, that's enough information overload for one day.
What? We don't tax that?
Some of the fine print from Apple:
iTunes Music Store purchases will include sales tax based on the bill-to address and the sales tax rate in effect at the time of download. If the sales tax rate for the billing address changes before the song is downloaded, the new tax rate in effect at the time of download will apply. We will only charge tax in states where music downloads are taxable.
Oklahoma is not one of those states, and apparently isn't rushing to become one of them:
"I have not heard or seen any legislation," Oklahoma Tax Commission spokeswoman Paula Ross said. "I don't see it happening any time soon for Oklahoma."
How long the state can hold out remains to be seen, what with the market for digital music now running $1 billion a year, but the mere fact that the Capitol can read the news and not immediately think "Ooh, a new revenue source!" has to be considered a Good Sign.
Phoenix reborn, or at least resold
Alabama-based Community Newspaper Holdings Inc., which owns 15 dailies and a number of other newspapers in Oklahoma, is acquiring the Muskogee Daily Phoenix for an undisclosed sum.
No editorial changes are planned at the Phoenix, which has been owned for the last twenty-nine years by Gannett.
The Muskogee paper will be CNHI's third-largest in the state, behind the Norman Transcript and the Enid News & Eagle.
(Previous coverage here.)
Stuff and nonsense
I'm about 2.2 times the age of the average Stuff reader, but I figure, so long as they keep sending out the mag, I'll actually thumb through it once in a while.
Visitors to StuffMagazine.com were asked this question:
With which politician would you least want to share a hotel towel on a nude beach?
By a decent if not overwhelming plurality, respondents declined to be parked next to Dick Cheney (42 percent); 32 percent chose Ted Kennedy, 15 percent Bill Clinton, and 11 percent John Kerry. I'm inclined to think that the rationale here wasn't political what's the difference, voting-record-wise, between the two men from Massachusetts? but spatial; with the relatively gaunt Kerry, you'd presumably have a more reasonably-sized fraction of the towel than with any of these other guys, all of whom to greater or lesser extent qualify as Chunky Style.
One can achieve this chunkiness by way of overindulgence in BBQ, which you're likely to do at any of the 21 places they recommend as having the best such in the USA. Included is Leo's at 36th and Kelley in Oklahoma City, about which they said this:
If nice decor is what you're after, go to T.G.I.Friday's, yuppie boy. If kick-ass ribs with throat-scorching hot sauce are your thing, Leo's is your place.
Of course, the wondrous thing about BBQ is that no one is ever wrong about the best place to get it, though I tend to be suspicious of any place where all the flatware matches.
3 May 2006
Welcome to eHardly
Match low-earning, socially adept teachers with high-earning, socially challenged engineers. Good for the teaching profession, good for family income, probably a good mix for the gene pool.
This strikes me as just slightly problematic: the socially-adept educators might assume that they don't need a dating service, what with their surfeit of savoir-faire and all, and the nerds with the slide rules probably aren't as lonesome as the stereotype suggests.
Of course, even if this scheme comes with a money-back guarantee, there's no point in sending me the brochure.
Looking to the edge of the glass
You have the Academic hard left slashing away at each other, the Democratic Party hard left splintering into various bickering factions, the ruling Republican Party spending like drunken sailors (no offense meant to the Navy) and no one generating any enthusiasm, and a great mass of the populace in between who really aren't thrilled by any of the potential choices out there. I know I'm sure not. We may be at as prime a time for a serious third party run as we've ever seen, which makes it all the more important that the Evan Bayhs don't get to put their ideas on the Electoral College in play.
Actually, Bayh strikes me as somewhat sane, except for that Electoral College business, which is yet another in a seemingly-endless series of whines about the 2000 election and its clear-to-everyone-except-the-losers outcome. And given that 85 percent of the population is said to believe that the government can actually do something about gas prices, a notion two parts desperation and one part residual belief in the Tooth Fairy, you will find it difficult indeed to persuade me, and perhaps others, that wisdom is somehow inherent in majorities. Especially those majorities.
But the larger point stands: how, in 2006 or in any year, do we benefit by throwing out thieving morons and replacing them with moronic thieves?
A miner for a heart of zinc
(Via Tinkerty Tonk.)
The 1990 Clean Air Act directs the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions of some 189 chemicals considered to be toxic.
Not even slightly harmful is the 189th Carnival of the Vanities, hosted this time around by Dodgeblogium with a cameo appearance by Cthulhu. (Okay, maybe he's harmful. Cthulhu, I mean.)
Apple 1, France 0
The French government, says CNET, has apparently reconsidered a proposal to force Apple Computer to make the songs it sells through its iTunes Music Store playable on devices that compete with its iPods.
For those keeping score, the color of that flag in RGB is #FFFFFF.
(Courtesy of ZP.)
Sliding off to the right
Human Events Online has ranked the Ten Most Conservative Cities in the US, and Oklahoma City places third.
Very much a pro-oil city. According to The Almanac of American Politics, "Oil rigs were pumping crude on the grounds of the then-domeless Capitol until 1989; a derrick still stands sentinel outside the governor's window." Represented by GOP Rep. Ernest Istook (ACU lifetime: 94%; 2005: 96%) who says, "Oklahoma has the kind of values that the rest of the nation needs to have."
I dunno. I think the conservatism in these parts is probably more faith-based than oil-based. There's nothing inherently conservative about oil: its reputation as such seems to stem from its fondness for "business-friendly" policies, hardly remarkable for a major industry even Hollywood, considered a "liberal" sort of industry, grubs for whatever tax incentives and such it can get and the Great Combustible Satan image conjured up by the press and the Sierra Club.
As for Istook, I'm looking forward, as I always do, to voting for his opponent.
(Via former resident Cam Edwards, who also has questions.)
4 May 2006
In this age of True Love Waits (no relation to Tom Waits), a Sage suggestion for determining sexual compatibility:
I've discovered over the years that canoeing with a partner can generate a pretty good sense of what the sex will be like. Canoeing can be done solo, but it's much nicer with someone else there. Canoeing is different with every new person you're with. Both people in the canoe have to adjust for one another's stroking. Being with someone with a strong, slow, even stroke is very different than being with someone with a quick and excited kind of stroke. But if it's good, soon you get into a nice easy rhythm. Sometimes this happens without even speaking.
And one should perhaps be suspicious of someone who stands up at an inopportune moment.
Bacon in the evening
This evening was the annual community association meeting. In the front of the room sat the 6 board members. They talked a little business and then opened the floor to the people in attendance. One man came to defend himself. He painted his fence red without the written okay of the board. After he spoke, another person talked about the roots that are destroying the sidewalk in front of his house. When he finished, a woman quickly started complaining about the depth of mulch around her house. Once she finished, I raised my hand. I stood up, cleared my throat and almost said, "My name is Ren MacCormack and I would like to move on behalf of most of the senior class of Bomont High School that the law against public dancing within the town limits of Bomont be abolished."
Maybe it's just as well. Community associations tend to be humorless lots; they'd have looked at her as though she'd been sniffing spray starch or something.
(Actually, this might have gone over well in my neighborhood, or at least with the one or two people who would have gotten it.)
Yesterday, on the 16th floor of the City Place building downtown, a bottle of malathion was upended and crashed to the floor; the building was evacuated and 14 people were sent to the hospital.
This is fairly nasty stuff: I've had some squirted in my general direction (note: this is not the reason I am no longer married), and it was not an experience I would particularly care to repeat.
On the upside, the likelihood of a Mediterranean fruit fly infestation at the corner of Robinson and Park is now virtually nil.
The proper use of Googlebait
Of the last 41 pieces of MT-related spam to come through, 40 of them have pointed to something called drugsb.com.
I mention this just in case you might be Googling about for information about this particular firm. And I have no such information, except to point out that someone working on their behalf has spammed me incessantly, and to note that if there were left on planet Earth only one dose of the one miracle drug that would save me, and that they had it and were offering to sell it to me for 49 cents, and that they would have Monica Bellucci in a towel deliver it to my door at no extra charge, I would still rather die.
A view to a Thrill
The cover art for Dawn Eden's book The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On has been released, and to her great delight, it's not the sort of pastel line-drawing chick-lit thing she'd feared.
The obvious question, at least for me, is "Whose mouth is that?" I know it's not hers.
Publication date will be some time towards the end of the year. I will probably read it with my clothes off, just because.
5 May 2006
A day without flan
I have this sudden urge for something Italian.
(No, not Monica Bellucci. That's not sudden.)
Riding the learning curve
The Big Box from Adobe arrived yesterday, with Elements versions of both Photoshop and Premiere. I wasn't going to install this stuff until the weekend, but Geek Guy Mode took over, and I watched as somehow two CDs managed to eat up 5 GB of disk space. (Now that's compression.)
I haven't fired up the Premiere application yet, but I did a Photoshop experiment on one of my old (and bad) scans of a magazine page, where the bleed-through from the backside was a full-fledged hemorrhage. Cleaned it up in just under 55 seconds, including save time.
I do hope, though, that this small success doesn't induce me to try to clean up every last graphics file on this machine; there are literally thousands.
It's as easy as 73125
The Board of Governors has given its blessing, so it's official: the US Postal Service will build a new sort-of-central processing facility in the Reno/Meridian corridor and close its 40-year-old bunkeroid building at 320 SW 5th.
The new complex, over 800,000 square feet, is more than triple the size of the old one. The move is expected to take place in late 2008, or about the time serious redevelopment will be going on between the old and new Interstate 40 alignments, suggesting that the Postal Service, assuming it doesn't find another federal tenant, will have no trouble selling off the downtown property.
Where the downtown Post Office (not to be confused with the Downtown Post Office, west of the Memorial, or the Old Downtown Post Office, lately the Bankruptcy Court) fits into the city's plans for the redevelopment south of downtown remains to be seen, but I think it's a safe bet that it just won't sit there.
How does it feel?
The problems with Rolling Stone can be boiled down to one overarching illness: the magazine does not know what it is supposed to stand for anymore, and neither does its readership. It seems to be whatever publisher Jann Wenner wants it to be on any given week, whether it's a lad mag, a music source, a left-leaning political magazine or a generic culture watch pub. But it has not been an access point for bleeding-edge culture for many years.
And Wenner's not exactly giving his undivided attention to RS, what with the rest of his media sub-empire to oversee.
I remember when my subscription expired. Or, more precisely, I don't remember when my subscription expired: it was one day in the middle of the doldrums when I found a copy of RS lying around and thought, "Hmmm. I haven't seen one of these in quite a while." This can't be a good sign for a magazine, if a subscriber doesn't know if he's still a subscriber or not.
Maybe the future of the Stone is on the Web:
Rolling Stone righted itself somewhat and has stopped running peg-free "trend" stories on teenage sex addicts and out-of-place features on the latest in hot weaponry, but it still seems adrift, unable to tap into a culture that prefers Defamer over "Random Notes" and gets its record reviews daily from Allmusic.com and Pitchfork instead of waiting two weeks for that tired old thing to plop down on the newsstand.
I suppose one can wait for the second coming of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, but this seems a faint hope at best.
Everybody was feng shui fighting
KRON-TV is located at 1001 Van Ness Avenue in San Francisco. This number, said a station executive's astrologer, was some kind of bad juju, and so the station has pasted the digits 5-5-2 adjacent to its actual number.
Be it noted that here in Oklahoma City, when we screw around with a TV station's address, our motivation is more mundane: promotional value. KFOR-TV, channel 4, which continues to occupy the same building it's been in for the last thirty years through three ownership changes, has somehow drifted from 500 East Britton Road to, um, 444.
When the FCC forces everyone onto digital channels, I suppose KFOR-DT will have to move; I don't see any way to wedge a "27" into the mix.
The bad news Birds
This has not been a great spring for the Oklahoma RedHawks. After winning their first five, they've dropped to 9-18, which means they've been playing .182 ball of late.
Wednesday night in Round Rock, the 'Hawks and the Express were scoreless in the sixth, when John Rheinecker served up what looked like a called strike three. For some reason, it was ruled a wild pitch, and a runner scored from second. Oklahoma manager Tim Ireland was not pleased, and, says the Austin American-Statesman:
For a moment the scoreboard showed Round Rock with a 1-0 advantage, and it was around that time that Ireland came roaring out of the dugout and straight into the faces of the umpires. He was almost instantly ejected as he kicked dirt onto the umpires' shoes and then onto home plate. Eventually, Ireland made his way to the visitors' clubhouse, wiping out the chalk line delineating the third-base and left-field line on his way there.
The umps temporaries, as the regular Pacific Coast League umpires, who started the season by going on strike, won't be back until Monday eventually rescinded the call and voided the run. The Express won it in the ninth, 1-0.
The next day, Tim Ireland got the news from PCL HQ: he was being suspended for ten games for his "extended display."
I imagine the 'Hawks are happy to be out of Texas for now, but tonight they start a four-game series at Albuquerque, and the Isotopes are 19-9.
6 May 2006
It's another franchise election
If you're thinking "Didn't we just have one of these?" the answer is yes, we did, but that was for Oklahoma Natural Gas.
Now it's OG&E's turn. Tuesday Oklahoma City voters will pass judgment on a slightly-revised version of the 2001 franchise agreement, which will extend until 2031. There are a few interesting items on the table:
Turnout for these things, of course, is woefully low.
If it moves, tax it
Cigarettes cost Catherine Cavallo her husband of 25 years.
Now they might cost her $875.63.
Two years after her husband, Anthony, died of smoking-related illnesses, Cavallo got a New Jersey tax bill for the thousands of cheap cigarettes he had ordered on the Internet.
In 1949, the Feds enacted something called the Jenkins Act, which required tobacco vendors to report out-of-state sales to the buyer's state; originally intended as a means to shut down tobacco bootleggers, Jenkins is now being put to use by a number of states to get the names of online buyers which included the late Mr Cavallo.
Says Scheie of all this:
I remember the good old days when the very idea of "taxing the Internet" brought indignant cries of outrage from every geek and libertarian with a modem. Now it seems like a done deal. Ebay, Paypal, even virtual money the state has its mitts everywhere.
Not to be confused with Mitt Romney, governor of Taxachusetts, a state which three years ago began enforcing Jenkins on its own.
Down here in Oklahoma, we have our own variation on this theme: tribal smoke shops, which make up about 4 percent of our tobacco retailers, garner 50 percent of the actual sales. There are various tribal tax rates, the lowest of which is 6 cents per pack; the rate assessed outside the tribes is $1.03. The Oklahoma Tax Commission hurriedly passed some emergency rules, which for now are on hold, at least partly due to the possibility of litigation by the tribes, who see them as yet another encroachment on their sovereignty. Besides, this is not an area where the state has a strong record of enforcement; you want enforcers, you call New Jersey.
Who are these guys?
All we know is that they're from California and that they paid $21 million cash for the First National Center in downtown Oklahoma City.
Tim Strange of Sperry Van Ness, who handled the deal, says it "came together, from inception to closing, in 48 hours," which suggests that the Californians were really smitten with the place.
The original First National Bank building at 120 North Robinson was completed in 1931; the complex expanded toward Park Avenue in 1956 with the first of two add-on towers. (The second was built in 1974.)
While the Center hasn't exactly fallen into desuetude, it's only about one-third occupied; First National Bank itself failed in the 1980s, and today there is no banking in the fabled Great Banking Hall.
Downtown watchers are somewhere between guarded and giddy right about now.
Update, 8 May: These guys have been identified.
One in the Los column
Michelle Malkin seems peeved that the Texas Rangers would rework their uniforms slightly for
I can't bring myself to get worked up over this. There has been a substantial Hispanic presence in major-league baseball for decades, and there isn't anything wrong with tacitly acknowledging that fact. And while "Los Rangers" looks, well, sort of silly, this gesture strikes me as more "Oh, what the hell, it'll be fun" than "Let's do something for reconquista."
Although I think it would have been funnier had the visitors that night seen fit to replace their standard "New York" shirts with, say, "Damn Yankees."
I did like Rick Moore's barb:
Just for last night's game, stolen bases were known as "undocumented bases", and no one was allowed to be thrown out.
Incidentally, Los Rangers lost, 8-7.
And if we ever have a Cleveland/Atlanta World Series, expect the rhetorical fur to fly.
Not to get too graphic about it
I am at best maybe a semi-regular at New World Comics by this I mean, no one looks at me funny, and I spend somewhere around $150-200 a year and I wasn't in a particularly acquisitive mood this afternoon, what with yet another rainy Saturday on tap. But since it's Free Comic Book Day, I figured the least I could do is see what was going on.
And evidently they took it seriously. I arrived around three-ish, and there were masked characters on the curb exhorting passersby to come in; as I turned into the driveway, one of the misshapen messengers gave me what I calculated was a high 3.5.
Store traffic was about 50 percent above what I usually expect, and the clerk told me, "It was much busier earlier." Indeed, the stack of pizza boxes toward the back of the store told me that they had made a party of it.
These were the freebies on display; we won't mention the four mags I bought outright.
Well, okay, I'll mention one. Marvel's revived What If? series poses the question: "What if the Fantastic Four had been Soviet cosmonauts?" No way was I going to pass that up.
Yet another tech bleg
If you want QuickTime 7, you install iTunes; Apple has so decreed, and I have done so.
I now find myself increasingly tempted by the offerings therein, and indeed one marginally-obscure album track caught my eye this evening. (You'll never guess what it was.) I am no expert on AAC-format files, which is what iTunes serves up, and I own no iPod, but it's my understanding that they can be converted to the more flexible MP3 format, perhaps with some loss in fidelity, or burned directly to CD right out of iTunes. I do know that Nero (6.6) will not accept AAC files directly; however, I have to assume that once on a CD, the files are in normal CDA format and can be handled accordingly.
If you have experience superior to mine, which in this case is any at all, please feel free to pass along whatever enlightenment may seem appropriate.
7 May 2006
So hard to bear
Peggy Lee taught me all about sex. I was twelve at the time, and had just made the earth-shaking discovery that my father's record collection was of more than merely historical interest. This was in 1968, the year of the White Album, and I was still trying to figure out how to play "Rocky Raccoon" on my brand-new guitar, but I was also chewing my way through the selected works of Dave Brubeck, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Frank Sinatra and Peggy Lee, whose recording of "Fever" was shall we say instructive.
Not that she was obvious about it, or anything else. If a Hitchcock blonde could have raised her voice in song, then Peggy Lee, who died [in 2002] at the age of eighty-one, would have sounded pretty much like that, cool and self-possessed and ... amused. But even at twelve, I got the message, and then some: what the lady on the record had in mind was pretty much what I had in mind twenty-four hours a day, except that her point of view was more informed. That was when I realized my father knew a thing or two about music.
I wasn't, um, glandular at twelve, at least not to any degree worth mentioning; what's more, when I was twelve, the first version of "Fever" that I had heard was not Peggy's, or Little Willie John's R&B version, which had hit first, but a remake by the McCoys, the immediate follow-up to "Hang On Sloopy." It was a fun record, but not the least bit sexy. (Come to think of it, "fun, but not the least bit sexy" could be my tagline on a dating site, were I actually any fun.)
It took me a while to realize that while all this stuff may have been played on the radio for my adolescent self, the songs themselves, especially those from the R&B side of the shelf, were aimed at someone older and more worldly-wise. Probably why I liked so many of those bubblegum tunes: they assumed less of me.
But Peggy won me over, too. And when she died, while Terry Teachout was writing that, I wrote this:
Peggy Lee has left us, and were I a proper R&B purist, I'd probably feel compelled to point out that Little Willie John did "Fever" first, and of course he did it better. Approximately half of that is true. Not to slight Willie John, who never made a bad record in his short, unhappy life, but Peggy utterly redefines the tune. Confronted with the same temperature imbalance, Willie sounds like his usual bereft self, while Peggy, instrumentation stripped to the bare minimum, comes off as threatening, as though she were saying "You did this to me, and you will pay." Come to think of it, she said that to Walt Disney and Decca/Universal Records too. Clearly this was a woman with whom you did not mess.
I am not, I need hardly add, a proper R&B purist. And the fact that two guys about the same age (I turned fifteen in '68) could have such wildly-disparate responses to the same record well, maybe this is some of what Sly meant by "different strokes for different folks."
And one thing more: on a homemade CD, I once segued Peggy's "Fever" into Cream's "Badge," thinking that the prominent bass lines in both might form some sort of logical link. Not so; Max Bennett simply overwhelms Jack Bruce, and no amount of tweaking levels would equalize matters.
Quote of the week
Paul Zrimsek, commenting at Protein Wisdom, addressing an earlier comment which ended with "What of Ives' 4'33"?":
Ives' intent here was quite clear: he wanted to be mistaken for John Cage. (The giveaway is that Cage's piece is written for piano; Ives would have written it for two orchestras, one not playing "Marching Through Georgia" at the same time the other isn't playing "Columbia, Gem of the Ocean".)
I honestly can't think of any way to improve on that paragraph.
(The actual Goldstein post is pretty swift, too.)
I can't pass up an item titled "I ruined the Constitution":
We went to the National Archives to see the Magna Carta and Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. They're kept in a darker room under special lights in special glass cases and all that. No flash photography allowed. As we walk into the room, the guard says, "Ladies, there's no line system," and boy was he right, but there should be, because some people were seriously hogging some documents. One thing this trip taught me is that while I'm way into America, not so big on Americans. Like the one lady in front of me who wanted to take twenty pictures of the Constitution from every angle instead of just buying a postcard or looking it up on the freaking internet. So while I waited for my turn in the no-line system, I turned my camera off to save the battery, but when she moved suddenly, I saw my window, turned the camera back on, aimed and shot. And immediately realized that I had forgotten to re-turn off my flash, thus adding my name under Nicolas Cage's on the list of People Who Are No Longer Allowed Near the Constitution.
Wasn't Cage trying to steal the Declaration of Independence?
(Via This Fish Needs a Bicycle.)
Adventures in iTunes
I am now resorting to quoting myself:
I now find myself increasingly tempted by the offerings therein, and indeed one marginally-obscure album track caught my eye this evening. (You'll never guess what it was.)
Actually, it was a bit more dramatic than that; I opened up the Store and said, "If they have [insert song information here], I will sign up, and I will purchase that track, and no doubt there will be others to follow."
They had that track. It was, in fact, "The West Wind Circus," a narrative by Adam Miller that Helen Reddy cut back in '73 for her Long Hard Climb LP; it has stuck in the back of my head for lo, these many years, but never pushed its way far enough to the front for me to track down either the LP or the current CD release. (Yeah, yeah, I know: Helen Reddy. Forget those 45s you threw away; this is a lovely song, beautifully sung.) Ninety-nine cents well spent, I'd say.
There were some surprises in the Music Store, not all of them pleasant. No Johnny Nash tracks, not even "I Can See Clearly Now"; the wrong (which is to say, "not the 45") version of Gerry and the Pacemakers' "I'll Be There," and not even the usual incorrect version, but a different incorrect version; the crummy stereo mix (with the wrong vocals) of Marianne Faithfull's "Summer Nights." On the upside, they had Garnet Mimms' solo single "I'll Take Good Care of You," which I'd been wanting, and both 45 and six-minute LP versions of Bebu Silvetti's dance classic "Spring Rain."
I don't think I'm going to spend an incredible amount of money on iTunes; after all, I've spent the last forty years accumulating records in more tangible forms, and most of the ones I've wanted, I have. But once in a while, I have to assume that something there will demand my attention, and since Apple's DRM is a bit less annoying than it could have been, I'm not averse to giving them a buck for something I don't feel like searching for elsewhere or, as in the case of Quarterflash's "Take Me To Heart," something I'm too lazy to clean up from vinyl.
8 May 2006
Strange search-engine queries (14)
This is getting to be something of a habit, you know?
girls my shame is obscure nude: Inasmuch as this came from Yemen, perhaps obscurity is in the searcher's best interest.
font dongbats: That's dingbats. I hope.
I want to see nasty porn shots of Shania Twain: That don't impress me much.
six years dakota fanning eighteen: Do you think you could possibly hold it for six years? The girl is twelve, fercryingoutloud.
How to Send 1,000,000 emails for FREE: Just in case he finds out, I'm blocking his IP address (188.8.131.52).
how much are jackboots worth? That depends. How much dissent do you want crushed?
chlorethylene for warts: Sounds like a fair trade.
"mccain republican": Yeah, that's what they want you to think.
men have a higher IQ: Than what?
"avoid an overlimit" capital one: Um, don't charge so damn much?
I ate a whole pint of ice cream. What do I do: Wait for your head to stop hurting.
what is a type o personality: The type that makes lots of keyboard errors.
how to know how men feels: You could try feeling one.
The Gas Game (May)
The idea here was that the gas company offered a fixed price for 12 months of $8.393 per dekatherm, and I've been trying to calculate how much it cost me not to sign up. So far, it's been rather a lot.
I think we can safely rule out a break-even point between now and October.
Go this way and that way
If you don't go downtown a lot, you never quite get the hang of the seemingly-random placing of one-way streets. Of course, it's not really random, but it's not particularly intuitive either.
Public Works Director Dennis Clowers, asked about this, offered up some good news: half of the one-way streets downtown will be converted back to two-way over the next five years. The only remaining one-way streets downtown will fall between NW 6 and SW 3, from Walker eastward.
Clowers made his recommendations to City Council last Tuesday; the city, I assume, will eventually put out a map of the proposed changes.
New and improved gridlock
What if the Democrats actually retake the Senate? Fine, says Bill Quick:
From some conservatives' point of view, making sure that Mr. Rove and Mr. Bush are occupied with defending themselves from investigations and impeachment attempts for the next two years is a win-win: Bush will be too hamstrung to do much more damage, and the Democrats will be so occupied with trying to destroy him that they won't be doing much damage either.
For this to work, we need one branch of Congress in Republican hands. I vote to keep the House much more conservative than the Senate under GOP control, and use the Senate to teach the RINOs including the RINO in the White House a much-needed lesson about remaining loyal to the principles and the voters who put you in office.
The current conventional wisdom seems to be that yes, there's a chance the Democrats can unseat enough GOP Senators to take over, but no, they have no real shot at regaining control of the House.
My own idea paying the entire sorry lot to stay home for two years probably won't fly.
I've held out for over twenty years but I'm thinking that it might be time to lift my ban on compact discs. While I do have a few CDs, either left over from the days when I had a spouse with a CD player or purchased because Bruce Dickinson does not release his solo albums on LP, I generally avoid buying compact discs. I think they are sterile and unfriendly and the liner notes are too small, which I hate because I'm a compulsive liner note reader.
However, two things are making me think that I should add compact discs to my diet. I recently heard a rumor that MP3 sales are about to overtake CD sales. In fact, MP3 sales may have already overtaken CD sales. I wasn't paying such close attention to this new development. And then it hit me: if people are not buying CDs, CD stores will close and that is a problem because that is where I buy LPs.
Most of the stores that I frequent seem to carry LPs to humor people like me and not necessarily to make money. They make their money from the CDs. What happens if my stores do not make money from CDs? They close and I have no place to buy LPs or any future Bruce Dickinson solo CDs. I still prefer a CD over an MP3 any day, even if I did have the chance to download an entire album. Even if I could also download the art, I'd still have to burn a CD and create my own crappy label.
Some of us even do our own crappy art.
But there is a way out, sort of:
I'm thinking of getting a DVD player. I used to watch DVDs on the computer but now I'd rather have a separate player that actually faces a comfortable chair and gives me elbow room to play puzzles. Plus, you know, Bruce Dickinson DVD Anthology on June 20. Also, there are some episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 on DVD that I do not have on VHS and MST3K is best viewed from a comfy chair. And don't DVD players also play CDs? (Seriously. I don't know.) If they do that would give me access to something that plays CDs and I could still go through life claiming that I don't own a CD player. It's technically correct, and according to Futurama that is the best kind of correct.
Every DVD player I've seen also plays CDs. I believe this is technically correct.
$600 an hour
The bill has come in for my four-hour sojourn in the Emergency Room, and it's just under $2500.
Which, compared to the last time I was in this facility, seems almost cheap. Then again, that was full-fledged surgery.
Our insurance carrier, CFI Care (not its real initials), is presumably even now gleefully disallowing bits and pieces of the claim; how big a check I will have to write remains to be seen, but I will be surprised if it's under four figures.
Low-level high-level languages
Leave it to Lileks to write an operating routine for dogs.
Of course, Lileks is old-school: he wrote it in some dialect of BASIC. Naturally, this just screams out for conversion.
(Oh, and there's a routine for cats, also, though how you get a cat to parse anything is beyond me.)
9 May 2006
Break out the Elector Set
Today in the city, a handful of voters will decide if OG&E's city franchise will be extended another 25 years.
In Tulsa, expect bigger turnout as the third penny of sales tax comes up for renewal.
Addendum, 5:15 pm: Did I say "handful"? At 5 pm, I was the 27th voter in our usually-busy precinct.
One pill makes you something
This Washington Post story asserts that college men are turning into candidates for Viagra, what with all these forward, forceful women putting the move on them.
If you really want a psychosexual explanation for this putative phenomenon, you could start with the pernicious myth that all normal men are rarin' to go 24/7. In the old days, men always had to ask women for sex, and so they asked for sex when they felt like it. Nowadays, women feel entitled to initiate sex (gasp!) when they feel like it. Maybe macho culture is teaching guys that natural ebbs and flows in sexual desire are pathological.
Steve Martin: "You know 'that look' women get when they want sex? Me neither."
And if you won't buy psychosexual explanations, how about a purely mercenary one?
Doctors know that [the] vast majority of impotence complaints can't be linked to identifiable pathology of any kind. Often, it really is "just one of those things." There's no bright clinical line between recreational and therapeutic Viagra. (Nor should we be overly concerned about establishing one, except for insurance purposes.)
However, society isn't comfortable with the idea of recreational sexual enhancers. At least for older dudes it's plausible that there's some organic problem, if only the aging process itself. So, there's a lot of nudge nudge wink wink in the ads and the promotions about how this is a SERIOUS DISEASE, but that if you treat it your patient just may have a LOT MORE FUN.
So far, there's no comparable fiction that would allow Pfizer to market to twenty-somethings under the guise of medical need.
"So far." And wouldn't it be handy for a cohort of twentysomethings to show up at a time like this with exactly the need, as it were, for exactly this drug?
I don't have this issue myself: the flesh is willing, sort of, but the spirit is mostly bored at the moment. Still, I'm an Older Dude and presumably could get the Magic Bullet in wholesale quantities were I so, um, inclined; I'm simply not persuaded that it's the answer to my particular question. For someone not quite half my age who's thinking he should be up for anyone, anytime, anywhere, "It's not your fault; you just have this condition" might have powerful appeal indeed.
I hasten to add that this is just a theory; while Beyerstein has done pharma marketing in the past, she hasn't tapped into some double-secret plans deep within Pfizerland. But if I see more stories of this sort, I'll start to wonder.
Birds do it, unlike some of us
In some respects, nice guys really do finish first, according to Sharon Begley's story in Friday's Wall Street Journal. Or at least nice birds do.
The findings, based on research with male flycatchers, essentially blow Charles Darwin's theory of sexual selection out of the water. The so-called sexy-son hypothesis holds that a female who mates with an attractive male will have cute offspring. They, of course, will be just as charming, able to get the girl and give their mother a gaggle of gorgeous grandkids. As time went on, the most desirable genes would survive since females would covet them.
In the case of the flycatcher, however, the hot male birds were so busy getting their groove on, they ignored their little ones. The busted birds, on the other hand, were better fathers, creating sons who later had no problem getting the ladies to lay a few eggs.
The idea that females choose mates by getting an eyeful of how they look in their genes is being increasingly challenged. "Instead of choosing mates who will increase the genetic quality of their offspring, females make choices that will increase their number of offspring," Stanford biologist Joan Roughgarden told Begley.
I long have had reason to distrust that hypothesis: my kids are cute, and their kids are cute, despite the fact that all of them are related to me. Maybe it's the other side of the family whose genetic material prevailed.
"Each kind of male has its own way of going about its life. Each works out fine," stresses Roughgarden. So what does this tell us? Well, for starters, women are not always won over by all the male genetic bling out there. Maybe it explains why human females are so fond of the sweet guys with the soft bodies and bald spots, who make us laugh, and take good care of their little flycatchers. Now, that's sexy!
I don't think anyone's likely to accuse me of sweetness.
Watch those standards
I've started several posts, but can't seem to complete any of them. While there's been much in the news lately that interests me, nothing interests me enough to write about it. I have, however, managed to produce several pages' worth of whiny, self-pitying bulls-t. These charming little vignettes of despair started out as posts, but are currently banished to Diary Purgatory while I determine their blog-appropriateness. I can't quite muster up the necessary level of self-indulgence needed to post them.
Is she kidding? Were it not for whiny, self-pitying BS, there'd be maybe 200 blogs instead of 200 million, and Dave Sifry could run Technorati off a Treo.
(I am not, incidentally, volunteering for Poster Child. Though I could.)
I did actually spot this as a fake when I saw the original magazine article, although not right away; what's bizarre is that I still want one.
Not that I expect Bill Ford to sign off on production plans, but I think they ought to build one for the show circuit, just to make people shriek.
There is no news until 10 pm
KOTV is reporting that the third-penny sales tax in Tulsa has passed.
Interestingly, none of the major media outlets in Oklahoma City at this writing seems to have any numbers on the OG&E franchise election: I checked 4, 5, 9/NewsOK, 25, KTOK and KOKC radio, and not one has anything to say about it.
And it's not like it would have taken a long time to count the ballots or anything.
10 May 2006
I'm taking it slow through Fred First's Slow Road Home, because I think he would have wanted it that way.
And I don't think he'd mind if I shared this little fragment, inasmuch as we're still a bit behind on the rain this season.
Floods are cataclysmic, sudden, drastic and evident in their consequences. Drought like this is chronic and insidious. It drains life invisibly, quietly, leaving no record in the sand of geology's time. But it is an abundance of water that has carved the hollow of the creek bed and made the valley wide not water's absence. It is an abundance of water that has nurtured the broad-leaved forest that covers these mountain hillsides and allowed them to persist in this leafy biome. Drought has not formed this landscape, and it seems reasonable to have hope that it will not subdue it now.
We will miss the rains for a few more weeks, for maybe one more season, or two. But we must learn to see the cycles of wet and dry as the land sees it, and be patient. If history is any lesson, water will tell the story.
Fred's back east in the Blue Ridge, but it's just as true here on the edge of the west: water and destiny are inextricably bound together.
On the ropes but not down yet
KFOR-TV news guy Brad Edwards, famous for his "In Your Corner" segments, now finds himself backed into a corner of his own. Monday he did a broadcast from his hospital bed; Tuesday he suffered an aneurysm and lapsed into a coma.
The culprits: endocarditis and vasculitis, inflammation of the heart and blood vessels by a bacterial infection.
KFOR has set up a forum for Edwards fans and well-wishers.
Will they stay or will they go?
I sat on this for a while, wondering if I might hear some stories in the interim, but it didn't happen.
Anyway, Clark Matthews, who writes "Strictly Hornets" for OKCHornetsCentral.com, has taken a stab at guessing what happens to the half-dozen free agents on the Bees' roster. He expects five of them to be gone, with only Rasual Butler sticking around (and getting a fat raise, to about $11 million over three years).
He's probably right about Speedy Claxton: the 6th man for the Hornets, he could be a starter for rather a lot of teams, and he could get paid like a starter, too. Picture him gone.
I'm not so sure about Aaron Williams. A-Train isn't quite the bruiser Byron Scott wants to see in the lane, but he's steady, and he has a commendable work ethic, which counts for a lot with this team. (Might even be enough to justify keeping Linton Johnson around; he's not so steady, but he busts his butt.)
Jackson Vroman has already been waived; the team could pick him back up, but I somehow doubt it. And really, we didn't see enough of Marcus Fizer to know whether they want him for a whole season (he was signed for only two 10-day contracts).
Meanwhile, of the players still under contract for next year, I'm thinking we can say goodbye to J. R. Smith and Arvydas Macijauskas, and there's this nagging suspicion that P. J. Brown will ask to be traded, just so he can be on a playoff contender in what is likely his last year in the league. On the other hand, NBA Rookie of the Year Chris Paul isn't going anywhere. Thank heaven.
In 190 BC, the Romans under Lucius Cornelius Scipio defeated the Seleucids at the Battle of Magnesia, placing Greece under Roman control and no doubt contributing to the Empire's future heartburn.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the calendar, Mark A. Rayner, with the assistance of General Kang, presents Carnival of the Vanities #190, a week's worth of bloggage in a single handy compendium.
Niceness: threat or menace?
We need a definition of the Nice Guy, says Paul of York, and this is his:
Nice Guys ... are guys women do not want to meet but have to sometimes and will never get serious with or be seen with, if possible. Look it up, if you don't believe that.
Nice guys are the ground feeders of the male gender, a suffering gene pool, the male seals kept off the beach, a wandering group of optimistic hopefuls fooling themselves, thinking their likability can convert into love.
Looks like I missed on a couple of counts.
Compare this to Leo Durocher's definition:
"The nice guys are all over there. In seventh place."
The media managed to screw up Durocher's statement, which is remembered as "Nice guys finish last," which is off by at least one position, inasmuch as the major leagues had eight teams each in those days. And I once twisted that 45 degrees or so and came up with "Nice guys let her finish first," which perhaps unsurprisingly played better in theory than in practice.
Then again, to quote Zen master Yogi Berra:
In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.
Which, I have to admit, has a nice symmetry.
I lost a tree today.
The storms ripped through the area just after midnight; I slept through most of it because, after all, it's an Oklahoma spring, and storms are part of the background. And since I didn't go into the back yard this morning, I didn't see it.
This afternoon, I was carrying some broken limbs from the front yard back to the patio, where the trash barrels reside, and there was the west sweetgum, ripped literally in two, its trunk intact to about five feet, half of its crown leaning on its sister to the east, the other half twenty-five feet away, parked next to one of the evergreens.
This is the very tree beneath whose leaves I did my best quiet time, whose shadow marked my sunbathing area, whose shade kept my patio from turning into a concrete grill.
And when it's cleared away, it's going to leave a hole a lot larger than just the circumference of the trunk.
11 May 2006
Today's Sign of the Apocalypse
Ann Coulter is interviewed in Vanity Fair (June).
Okay, it's a George Wayne Q&A, which inevitably means that the topic turns to sex before the second column, but Ann is equal to the task, and what's more, the photo of her is actually flattering, unlike, say, that infamous Time cover.
Oh, and she prefers 24 to Arli$$.
You won't feel a thing
Governor Henry has signed Senate Bill 806, which legalizes the fine art of tattoo, putting the Sooner State out in front of ... well, nobody, actually, since every other state has already taken tattooing off the Forbidden List.
Since the provisions of the bill don't take effect until the first of November, the only immediate effect is to reduce by one the number of gripes from those who believe that if there's a bright center to the universe, they're in the state that it's farthest from.
Despite the law, those under 18 cannot go under the drawing pen, and body piercing for minors (except ears, presumably in the usual place) still requires a note from the parental units.
And, to no one's surprise, the state is contemplating annual licensing fees for tattoo artists and their establishments.
The Oklahoma tattoo ban was enacted in 1963, possibly motivated by health concerns; other states had bans of their own, but all fell by the wayside over the next four decades.
An expensive avocation, this
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wrote this piece on NBA playoff officiating before the playoffs began, but didn't publish it.
Sunday, an incident at San Antonio: apparently disturbed at the absence of a foul call, Cuban ran onto the court and was ordered back to the bench. Cuban went back to his laptop and posted the article, which contained statements like this:
[T]he NBA has a huge problem. It doesn't view the playoffs as a place where the very best of the best of officials go to work. It views the playoffs as part of a reward system for officials.
Some people really, really don't like to be criticized.
Ever so slightly wistful
This is identified as "Abandoned Gas Pumps, Water Valley, MS," by the immensely-talented Bayou, and of course, it captures two different bygone eras at once:
No points for guessing which I miss more.
And they say I'm having no impact
As of this writing, I am #2 on Google for "irritating bloggers".
(Should this change, here's a screen capture of my lofty position.)
What I'd like to know is this: is "irritating" being used as an adjective (in its capacity as a participle), or as a verb?
I've got to admit it's getting better
Exhibit, um, well, not A: Venomous Kate returns with the Letter of the Day.
12 May 2006
Replacing the Mick
With Mick Cornett now officially running for Congress, the logical question apart from "What, is he nuts?" is "So where's the next Mayor?"
It's hard to imagine any of the eight current Council members moving to the middle of the horseshoe, though if it came down to that, I think I could live with Sam Bowman from Ward 2, or maybe Patrick Ryan from Ward 8. (Disclosure: I live in Ward 2.)
Although if I had my druthers, I'd like to see Jim Tolbert, who ran against Cornett in 2004 after Kirk Humphreys took off in search of a Senate seat, try it again.
And a note to Persons Concerned: This is a non-partisan choice. Try to keep it that way this time, wouldja please?
Coming around again
I'm more or less repeating this item from January 2004, since the tenants are on the way out, which means that the house next door to me is becoming available again. I went over to look for a flyer in the InfoTube, but the supply was depleted. Still, the house likely hasn't changed much since then.
What you'd get: Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, central heat and air, washer/dryer connections, 1340 square feet of space by my decidedly-unscientific guesstimate, decently huge back yard, the dubious privilege of living next door to me.
What you wouldn't get: A garage (this one has been converted to actual living space), much of a view.
What they want: Well, last time they wanted a twelve-month lease, $650 deposit, $790 a month.
What they don't want: Probably same as the last time: smokers, pet owners, Section 8.
Zillow.com thinks the place is worth just under $92,000, which doesn't seem out of line for this block.
The Arborist arrived in good spirits; I have to believe, especially since he spent rather a lot of time over the past year working on Katrina/Rita damage, that it's probably pretty hard to shock him anymore.
Anyway, he inspected the sweetgum, and decided that it's as good as dead, and bring on the chainsaws.
So that answers that. Is the tree next to it in trouble? Apparently not. "And it's weird, how you'll sometimes have two otherwise identical trees, and one grows well, and the other never does much of anything."
Not an unknown characteristic in other species, you'll note.
Make that suspension permanent
Seven games through his 10-game suspension, RedHawks manager Tim Ireland was sacked by the parent Texas Rangers over what Rangers management called "philosophical differences."
Mike Boulanger, hitting coach for the 'Hawks, who has been filling in for Ireland, will take over the position full-time. This is his first managing job at the Triple-A level.
Sometimes you gotta improvise
There's nothing more I can add to this:
There is more money being spent on breast implants and Viagra today than on Alzheimer's research. This means that by 2040, there should be a large elderly population with perky boobs and huge erections and absolutely no recollection of what to do with them.
This is not, incidentally, the MacGuffin in Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting.
We can stand it
There are, admittedly, some people whose judgment might not be the most trustworthy in such matters, but I tend to doubt the scary scenarios invented by the usual cluster of anti-gun groups, simply because there's no scenario they can imagine which isn't scary.
The law takes effect on the first of November, which is just as well, inasmuch as there will be a lot of people in masks and such the night before.
Adventures in iTunes (2)
I've started snagging podcasts via iTunes.
What motivated this, actually, was a statement from Lileks to the effect that he'd maxed out his bandwidth, and I wondered, "Hmmm. If I don't download it from the site myself, but get it through iTunes, maybe that will help."
Which, as the discerning reader has already discerned, it won't.
Still, it's a handy way to get the podcasts (except Lileks, who apparently has maxed out his bandwidth) without juggling a bunch of bookmarks, which means more to me than you'd think.
13 May 2006
A little higher on the scale
Oklahoma City, said Arbitron last year, was the 53rd largest radio market, with a 12+ population of 951,000.
This year, four counties (Grady, Kingfisher, Lincoln and Seminole) are being added to the Metro Survey Area, bringing the 12+ population up to 1,059,600, good for 48th place, jumping over Jacksonville, Memphis and Hartford/New Britain.
Nielsen does not refigure television DMAs until later in the year; we remain 45th, with 655,400 TV households.
I think what bothers most me about this whole NSA telephone-research business and this could probably apply to some other activities, governmental and otherwise, almost entirely intact is the bland reassurance that the operation was conducted within the specifications of the law and therefore Everything Is Just Fine.
I demur. It's no particular trick to design something to conform to the letter of the law, and I'm reasonably sure that NSA knows how to do such a thing. But as Captain Ed notes, that's no guarantee of governmental goodness:
In my opinion, the effort is reasonable and limited. The calls themselves do not get monitored, and the records do not contain billing information or even names in their raw form. With the US still in danger of terrorist attack and with the rational possibility of sleeper cells hiding in our communities, the use of this tool makes sense and provides security for a reasonable loss of privacy.
However, that does not make the collection of this data completely benign under any circumstances. This kind of data could be used for purposes other than finding terrorists. For instance, it could be used against whistleblowers to discover their contacts. It could get deployed against opposition parties to determine their scope and the location and number of their supporters. People could get blackmailed for their phone calls in ways that have nothing to do with national security. If the CIA or State Department (which has its own intelligence service) had this program rather than the NSA, many on the Right would feel much less sanguine about its implications.
Indeed. And this is what blows a hole in the much-bandied-about notion that "What do you have to worry about? As far as the government is concerned, you're not that interesting."
I'm plenty freakin' interesting. I'm so interesting that the Founding Fathers thought I was the most interesting person in the country, and they wrote a whole list of things the .gov couldn't do to me, some of which involved searches and warrants and stuff. Anything that makes folks twitchy on that angle deserves a better defense than "They won't stick it in too far."
Which, so far, has not been forthcoming; at best, we're getting "At least we're not telemarketers!"
Which inevitably leads to this:
Even in a perfect Libertarian wolkencuckcuckland, the telcos are private entities and you won't own the wire your call is going over or the electricity that's vibrating it. What's to keep Ma Bell from selling that data to a market research firm, or your boss, or Dr. Evil?
If you're really upset that Third Parties might have a line on you, get ready to lease a private mailbox, cancel your credit cards and media subscriptions and bank accounts and your MySpace page, and start buying disposable cell phones. Even if the government isn't looking directly at you, somebody is.
Quote of the week
Feline disdain for humanoids dates back at least as far as the Pharaohs, says Joe Goodwin, and not Sam the Sham's Pharaohs either:
I can see it now. Ramses II, Lord of All He Surveys and the Pyramids too, crooks his Egyptian-crook thingie at his loyal pet and bids him come forth to the throne for a little "scratchy-watchy", at which time the cat slowly turns its head and blinks, exactly once, as if to say "Uh, not in this dynasty, bub" and then proceed to dig scratch marks in the Royal Coffee Table of Ra.
Along these lines, otherwise well-meaning folk have occasionally suggested that I bring a cat into Surlywood. My usual response has been "If I wanted to be spurned, I could just try dating again. Same results, no litter box."
It's the repetition, stupid
I don't think any phrase in entirely too common usage irritates me more than "it's the _____, stupid."
It began 14 years ago as a prod to keep Clinton campaign staffers from losing focus on the fact the economy, which filled in the blank then, was what voters cared about in the 1992 election. If it's condescending beyond its merit (if you have to be constantly reminded what's most important, how self-evident is it, really?) and needlessly coarse, it was supposed to be jarring and intrusive on your consciousness a way to inspire people of common cause to success, as much as a reminder of something they forgot at their peril.
Now it's just a lazy phrase used by lazy writers. ALL THE TIME. Not only to remind readers of something they shouldn't forget. Usually, writers are avoiding the work of convincing you they're right and skipping straight to their conclusion. "As you can see, you reader-moron, everybody knows this by now but you, for I have spaketh and said all that needs be said. Eth."
I've never been particularly fond of this construction myself, except of course when I can work it into a post title, but definitely it's way overused. (Entirely too many examples at the linked article.) I'd rank it about even with "Could [noun or pronoun] possibly be more [adjective]?" but behind that entire "speaking truth to power" trope.
Saturday spottings (sorta random)
The first bit of signage is up for American Indian Boulevard, at the exit from eastbound I-40. The new name, of course, is intended to bring some added attention to the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum, which obviously won't be ready in time for the 2007 state centennial but which is going to be fairly spectacular when it does get done.
The Boulevard extends past the Center site all the way to SE 15th, which presumably will make things interesting for Eastern Avenue Video and Novelties (1109 A.I. Blvd.), which dates back to the days (that is, before Thursday) when this was still Eastern Avenue. Eastern north of I-40, you'll remember, has long since been renamed for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.; the only stretches still officially identified as Eastern are north of Wilshire and south of SE 15th. I'm waiting to see which street in the city is ultimately renamed for Cesar Chavez.
Speaking of streets, the city's Pothole Posse has yet to find the monstrous semi-sinkhole I managed to miss today, in the middle of the intersection of Oklahoma Avenue and NE 26th. A couple of feet in diameter, easy.
The remains of Harper's Sinclair at 63rd and May have unceremoniously been hauled away; no indication as to what may replace it on this hugely-busy corner.
About a mile to the south, the former KFC between 50th and the Almost (But Not Quite) Super Target store is apparently being reworked into another chicken place this time, a Popeye's. Inasmuch as this is barely half a mile from home, I could be in serious trouble.
There's a Bricktown Auto Center with a three-car showroom, including, for the moment, a classic mid-50s Chevrolet. Where in Bricktown is this? The answer is "Not"; it's actually on Broadway north of Automobile Alley, more testimony to the apparently infinite extensibility of Bricktown as a brand.
And a note to the lovely lady in the Infiniti who followed me through downtown and up Broadway: I know you weren't actually following me, of course. (Then again, when we both turned right on 23rd but never mind. I'm just being silly.)
Oh, the manatee
Three words not even I ever imagined in sequence: "sea cow nookie".
(No, this isn't going in 3WC.)
14 May 2006
From the Department of Nomenclature
Ever noticed those striped areas that are typically between a ramp and driving lane that may come in handy if you're suddenly forced out of your lane? If so, you just found yourself in the middle of a gore.
Given some of this state's way-short onramps, one might be forgiven for expecting some sort of gore. But apparently that's the name of this zone:
[A] gore is a buffer zone. A little more technically speaking, a gore is the "nondrivable space between divisions of the roadway."
We can presume these were not invented by Al Gore, or surely he would have mentioned them by now.
I told you to stop staring
The Electric Cinderella shoes idea began as part of Simona Brusa Pasque's thesis at the Interaction Design Institute in 2002 and was inspired by a beautiful woman who Simona interviewed for her thesis who wanted to be able to "intimidate her intimidators." She wanted to be empowered without losing her femininity, to have the freedom to be sexy without fear. The shoes certainly achieve that, offering 100,000 volts of high fashion stun gun power which can be activated by a control on the matching necklace. The weapon is hidden and when the wearer taps on the matching necklace an electric spark is displayed in the transparent tip, warning the would-be assailant to back off. The weapon is designed for a one time use, in case of emergency, by breaking the tip of the shoe.
The prototype shoe is Plexiglas; the heel contains the electronics and a battery, and two wires run to the toe the "business end," if you will.
Reaction to the prototype, as detailed in the inventor's thesis, can be characterized as mixed:
"I'm not sure that wearing this kind of shoes would be enough to defend myself, it would be only a psychological effect on me but not so useful in case of aggression."
"I'd prefer another kind of shoes, that's not the style that I normally wear. Something more comfortable that can hide the spark and that people can't see."
"It could be a very strong signal! Better than a knife because you wear it. Showing or not showing the electric spark is really crucial in the communication of you, I always try to avoid conflicts so I'd turn it on only if needed."
"The only problem is that if you use them you have to buy another pair."
I'd say this fits nicely into MIT's notion of wearable hardware, and that I should probably avoid trying to annoy someone who might be wearing these shoes.
(Found at Annika's Journal.)
Changing of the guard
In 2004, the pecking order was pretty clear: the blue jays owned the back yard, patrolling from two nests, and woe betide any other creature which dared to trespass. (I once saw them escort a squirrel off the premises, and not gently, either.)
Last year, the jays abandoned their nests but kept close by; the robins saw this as an opportunity, and one day the robins and the jays held a face-off over by the gas meter. The jays, to my surprise, backed down.
This year nobody rules the turf. The front yard, of late, has been a veritable PigeonFest; pigeons being sort of phlegmatic, all manner of other birds have been stopping by for brief visits, knowing they will meet with token resistance only. And squirrels, even the occasional roaming cat, wander onto the premises with no fear of reprisal. Out back, with no dominant birds, the variety is seemingly greater; this past week has been filled with some form of flycatcher. (It's not the scissor-tailed; this one has a somewhat-truncated tail, by comparison, and lacks the reddish front.) The serious singers are usually at it around sunrise, but I don't get up on weekends until seven, and by seven I mean eight-thirty.
Boy, do I know what this is like:
I have decided I am sick of this, and as soon as I can I am moving into a house, preferably one I own. I want a freaking yard between me and the specimens of humanity I have to share the earth with.
Especially if they're specimens like this:
[T]he idiots upstairs had another all-night party, which apparently involved playing hackey-sack, and the constant drunken, shouted conversation of some idiotic, flat-voiced woman.
I've never regretted it, not even when I saw the property-tax bill.
15 May 2006
Strange search-engine queries (15)
This has gone on for about four months now, and shows no sign of abating. The fact is, with well over a million words on this site now, the likelihood of catching odd requests like this continues to increase, which means that I'll generally have at least one post a week on the subject(s).
amazon women dating: And to think they started out selling only books.
who was the dumb ass that originated the pseudoephedrine legislation: Though this be madness, yet there is meth in 't.
the truth is so cruel: Which is why it's so easy to find comfort in lies.
dating less educated: Otherwise I'd have been a 40-year-old virgin. (Twelve years ago.)
christianity in bullfights: "Jesus, that's a big bull!"
cut or uncut, what do women like better: Did it occur to you to, um, ask some actual women?
"george shinn" "henry viii": I don't see the connection. Shinn has had only two wives.
mary rode joseph's ass: Ah, these young couples.
illegal korean obtain CAL drivers license: Wait a minute. There are illegal Koreans in California?
Stepford underwear: Not real underwear, but an incredible simulation.
Yet another odd angle
A number of spams have come in recently in which the first part of the URL you're supposed to visit is enclosed in angle brackets. (Example: http://<G8>.evildweebs.net.) This is easy to filter out, but I don't see what advantage it gives the spammer: there's nothing concealed behind it, even if you pull up the raw message text, and so far as I can tell, it doesn't translate to binary or hex code or any of the other asinine tricks commonly used to obfuscate URLs. (The string enclosed in the brackets might be interpreted as an HTML tag, of course, but I have yet to see one of these with an actual HTML tag as an enclosed string.)
One of the mysteries of life, I suppose, along with why we don't shoot these people in the first place.
Glutton for punishment
For some reason, last night about 8 I got the idea to install Windows XP Service Pack 2 on my notebook.
Took about two and a half hours just to run Setup (from a CD, mind you, not from Windows Update), almost half of which was taken up by something called "Performing cleanup."
I suppose I'll find out later this week if I regret this action.
Things are starting to Fester
The Oklahoman's "Mr. Monday" sums up Hornets owner George Shinn:
George Steinbrenner might be Darth Vader, Mark Cuban might be Richie Rich, but our owner is Uncle Fester.
Mr. Monday has yet to see Shinn and H. Ross Perot in the same place at the same time.
Heck, Mr. Monday hasn't seen Shinn and Roscoe P. Coltrane in the same place at the same time.
I bring this up mostly to note Mr. Monday's pronoun usage.
Cloud 10 or higher
From the Holy Office in deepest Connecticut, an explanation of what's beyond the gates of pearl:
Heaven is a term referring to the ultimate destiny of a certain number of souls. Depending on who you listen to, heaven is either: where all of us will end up (Origen); where many of us will end up (St. Gregory of Nyssa); where some of us will end up (John Calvin); where a small portion of us have, in some sense, already ended up (John of Leyden); where precisely 144,000 of us will end up (Charles Taze Russell); or where Jack Chick will end up (Jack Chick). Theologian Belinda Carlisle once posited that "Ooh, baby, heaven is a place on earth," but explorers combing the globe have yet to confirm this.
Other complicated Christian terms are also explained at this page.
(Poached from the divine Jane Galt.)
In the Lord's corner
KFOR-TV newsman and "In Your Corner" host Brad Edwards, in a coma since last Tuesday, died this morning.
Edwards filed his last report from his hospital room the preceding Monday night. He had worked for Channel 4 for thirty-three years after serving in the Air Force as a military broadcaster in Southeast Asia; he was one of the last staff members who had worked for the station when it was WKY-TV and owned by the Oklahoma Publishing Company. (OPUBCO sold the station in 1975; the new owners took over in January 1976 and took on the call letters KTVY.)
(Previous coverage here.)
And that was that
The Arborist's cutting crew came by today and put the suffering sweetgum out of its misery; only a narrow wooden disk, more or less level with the surrounding soil, remains to mark its former presence.
I had discussed with the Arborist, on the way back from the back yard, that I had a tree in the front yard with a split personality: half of it was clearly dead, and yet the other half was flourishing. Excessively so, even. (No, it wasn't an elm.) He pointed to a couple of saw marks which predated my arrival and said something to the effect that "This is what happens when people who don't know trees try to control them."
The chainsaw kittens, while they were on the scene, duly excised all the dead stuff and trimmed the live stuff back to something resembling a sensible state: the volume seems to have shrunk by a quarter, maybe a third. Perhaps more important, it's now well away from the power line. (I suspect this is why I got rather quicker service than I might have expected; avoiding power lines is a major issue for tree guys.)
If I've learned anything from this, it's that I can't let things run too awfully wild; while there's some not-so-vague satisfaction in letting nature take its own time about things, this isn't exactly the rainforest here, and the usual methods of removing dead plant material slow decomposition, or speedy forest fire have distinct disadvantages this close to downtown.
And I don't think I dispossessed any birds at least, I hadn't seen any nests in either of these trees but birds are pretty resilient.
16 May 2006
This site has been added to Blogs with a Face; sensibly, the proprietor thereof has chosen to ignore my personal fizzog, and include instead The Bird™ from the site logo.
Well, they never said it had to be a human face.
(Aside: Huffington is kinda cute at low resolution.)
Snap to it
Having once watched in horrified fascination, or maybe fascinated horror, while a petting-zoo goat ate a diaper bag don't even ask I can't say I'm surprised by this:
[T]he alligators have been doing their part to keep Florida's reputation as the State in America Most Likely to Become the Location For Cthulhu's Eldritch and Tenebrously Horrible Summer Palace intact. Of course, it helps that a fresh crop of stupid people has moved down here. Any Florida native can tell you there are a number of reasons we don't jog alongside canals in the evening, every once in a while relaxing on the banks with our legs dangling over the water while chatting on our cell phones, and large reptilian creatures with a taste for raw meat is only one of them. For myself, though I am usually on the side of humanity against evil Ma Nature, I feel rather sorry for the alligators. They were just doing what they do. What would you do if a tasty cheesecake or filet mignon just walked right up to you and practically said "eat me"?
Well, you can always try reasoning with them:
The record-breaking spike in fatal alligator attacks in Florida is hitting women and minorities the hardest, the very people who can least afford fatal alligator attacks. The Gleeson Bloglomerate is strongly opposed to fatal alligator attacks, and calls upon the leaders of the Amphibian-American community to put an end to the cycle of violence.
Of course, to make this stance work, you have to figure out some way to blame Bush.
Perry continues to grow
Russell M. Perry, publisher of the Black Chronicle in Oklahoma City, started out with one radio station: a thousand-watt AM daytimer.
He's now picking up his eleventh: KACO (98.5 FM) in Apache, which he's buying from a Dallas group and converting to a country format. Perry owns his own tower facilities northwest of Anadarko, where he will likely move the KACO signal once the sale is completed; this is the same transmitter site used for Perry's flagship KVSP, licensed to Anadarko/Oklahoma City.
The Perry broadcast group includes two stations in Oklahoma City, two in Tulsa, three in Duncan and three in Lawton.
I suppose "Z29" is out
General Motors hasn't committed to building the new Camaro, which they showed in prototype form at the Detroit Auto Show in January, but the Oklahoma House has passed a resolution to encourage the General to (1) build this bitchin' Camaro (2) in the presently-unused Oklahoma City Assembly plant.
Rep. Richard Morrissette (D-OKC) noted that GM has been contemplating a Canadian plant (Oshawa, Ontario) for this platform, and complained:
If they are going to build the all-American sports car a car as American as apple pie and baseball are they really going to build it in Canada? Please.
My own requests for the new Camaro:
Besides, Ford's Mustang shouldn't have the pony-car market to itself.
Did they mean Mark Cuban?
Cuban president Fidel Castro says that Forbes' estimate of his wealth $900 million or so is about $900 million too high, and that if the United States can prove that he's this rich, he will resign.
Forbes noted in its original article that "Castro, for the record, disagrees, insisting his personal net worth is zero."
Inasmuch as my personal net worth is greater than zero, though not much, I'm inclined to believe Forbes over Fidel.
Reboots and jackboots
A poll has revealed what sobbing IT operatives already know only too well: their chosen profession is the most stressful on God's Green Earth and Iraqi A&E doctors should consider themselves lucky not to spend their days at the sharp end of a relentless assault of clueless users and badgering bosses.
That's the conclusion of a probe of 3,000 "IT experts" carrried out by "online learning provider" SkillSoft, which reveals the staggering fact that "97 per cent of people working in IT claim to find their life at work stressful on a daily basis".
Indeed, four-fifths of IT consultants "feel stressed before they even enter the workplace", while a quarter of the poor buggers "are under such enormous pressure to perform at work they have taken time off suffering with stress".
Further "comment" from me would obviously be superfluous.
17 May 2006
The advantage of Anytime Minutes
In the previous entry, I reported that some poll or other had determined that IT is the most stressful job on earth.
This determination may well have been premature. It certainly looks like customer service in Gaza might be worse:
Palestinian gunmen stormed the headquarters of mobile company Jawwal in Gaza on Tuesday in protest at having their phones cut off, employees said.
They said around 20 gunmen entered the building saying their cellphone memory cards were not working. A short while later they began shooting, damaging over 10 computers but causing no casualties.
Jawwal is the mobile subsidiary of Palestinian telecoms firm PalTel, which operates in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
I can't imagine this happening Stateside. Not even to Cingular.
(Via Snoopy the Goon.)
We are none of us perfect, but this seems a bit much:
I think we girls do have to accept those imperfections that slightly crooked nose, that awkward gait, the bad taste in shirts, a tendency to be late, propensity to lose keys, the inability to fix things, the ineptitude in hanging anything straight, the annoying sneeze, irksome in-laws, the sloppy cereal eating, the choppy lawn maintenance, the need to have shoes lined up or enjoying slopping muddy shoes across the floor you know, every single happily married person I know has mentioned one of the above and many many many more.
Just for the record, I am very seldom late.
The decline of the parental unit
Having children buys you no social status these days, says the Professor:
My mother reports that when she was a newlywed (she was married in 1959) you weren't seen as fully a member of the adult world until you had kids. Nowadays to have kids means something closer to an expulsion from the adult world. People in the suburbs buy SUVs instead of minivans not because they need the four-wheel-drive capabilities, but because the SUVs lack the minivan's close association with low-prestige activities like parenting, and instead provide the aura of high-prestige activities like whitewater kayaking. Why should kayaking be more prestigious than parenting? Because parenting isn't prestigious in our society. If it were, childless people would drive minivans just to partake of the aura.
How did we get to this parlous state? There are plenty of obvious answers, most of them wrong. In terms of cultural phenomena, I'd think the most likely might be the general refusal of my generation (yes, Virginia, I am one of those hated baby-boomers) to let go of its adolescence, thereby providing a Bad Example for the generations to come. But it might be as simple as this:
Parenting was always hard work, of course. But aside from the economic payoffs, parents used to get a lot of social benefits, too. But in recent decades, a collection of parenting "experts" and safety-fascist types have extinguished some of the benefits while raising the costs, to the point where what's amazing isn't that people are having fewer kids, but that people are having kids at all.
Think of that high-zoot car seat (which you'll have to replace two or three times as the youngster grows) as an unfunded mandate.
Blogging the Bible
Plotz, n. To burst, to explode: "I can't laugh anymore or I'll "plotz." To be aggravated beyond bearing.
The grimmest verse so far: "All in whose nostrils was the merest breath of life, all that was on dry land, died. All existence on earth was blotted out man, cattle, creeping things, birds of the sky; they were blotted from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those with him in the ark."
What a chilling account of the flood, and of the loneliness of Noah. Even the good man, even the righteous man, is alone in the world, and always subject to God's awesome power. This is pretty raw. It seems clear that the Pre-Deluge evils were not crimes of men against other men, but crimes of men against God. As men mastered agriculture and metalwork and built cities, which earlier verses suggest they did, they felt they didn't need God. They came to see their laws, achievements, and prosperity as their own, accomplished independently of God. So, perhaps the point of the flood was not to restore ordinary moral behavior day-to-day decency, law, etc. but to restore faith, or at least fear. We thought we didn't need God, and that was what angered Him. The Flood this verse in particular reminds us (or at least the one righteous man who is permitted to live) that we are never independent of God, but always floating alone, vulnerable, at His mercy.
At least we know Plotz is taking this particular task seriously.
As of this writing, the United Nations comprises 191 Member States.
Don't turn around
Ban Nguyen is cooking up something new.
After more than 20 years of serving up bacon and omelets, the chief executive officer of Jimmy's Egg has entered the market of upscale dining.
Nguyen recently opened Casablanca American Bistro, 13801 Quail Point Drive in Oklahoma City.
"This is about a 360-degree turn over from Jimmy's Egg," Nguyen said.
Over easy, I assume. In fact, he could have turned 720 degrees and not moved a silly millimeter.
18 May 2006
Maybe you can get there from here
I have some grave doubts about this contraption, but if it ever gets built, I am there, Jack:
Jargon aside, a Trekker (n. a Trekkie who objects to the term "Trekkie") will tell you up front that the first transporter really doesn't matter.
Now the second transporter, that's the important one.
(Beamed up from Tim Blair.)
Don't be this guy
And by that, I mean this guy:
A labourer was jailed for a month and put on the sex offenders register for seven years after he slapped the bottom of an off-duty policewoman.
Anthony O'Neill, 22, was stunned when he was given the sentence. His relatives are furious and say the punishment is over-the-top for, what they say, was a silly joke. They say he has lost his job and been branded "a pervert".
After he was arrested, O'Neill admitted: "I have done it before. Some women like it, others don't."
I suspect they may not like it as much as he thinks. Lesley analyzes the matter:
I hate to break it to any man who doesn't already know this, but sometimes women pretend to be okay with something a man has done to avoid what we fear might be a worse consequence if we react negatively.
Having said that, maybe there are some women who like it. So what? How do you identify the ones who do from the ones who don't until after you've committed the act? You can't, unless you know them. The better part of simple civility dictates you don't commit an act that a lot of people might not like on the chance you might find someone who does.
Absent a placard that reads "Please fondle my bum," it would seem prudent to assume that this sort of action would not be welcomed, and pleading silliness will not help your defense.
Don't wanna be all by myself
They used to say (you remember Them, don't you?) that you could always tell the musical highbrow in the crowd: he was the one that heard Rossini's overture to William Tell and didn't think first of the Lone Ranger.
It may be time to modify this slightly:
I used to be a huge fan of Barry Manilow and even now I still don't hate his songs. There's really just one problem with Manilow: Chopin's Prelude in C Minor. Every time I hear it I still hear "Could It Be Magic?" I don't have that problem with anything else. I no longer think of the Lone Ranger when I listen to the William Tell Overture; I can hear Liszt without thinking of Bugs Bunny; I can even listen to the Dance of the Hours without picturing dancing hippos or singing "Hello Mudda, Hello Fadda." (Well, most of the time.) But when I listen to the Prelude in C Minor, one of Chopin's loveliest works, it's just about impossible for me to hear only Chopin.
For me it's Rachmaninoff and Eric Carmen. I suspect there are plenty of other folks in similar straits.
Marked for death by Information Services (9)
The instruction "Do not run these jobs on Friday" does not in any way suggest "Queue these jobs on Thursday night after the operator has left."
Unless, of course, you want to wait until the following Tuesday. Farging tool.
19 May 2006
But of course
My camera expertise is somewhere between Not Much and Hardly Any, but I do know what a cable release is, and this made me laugh:
[There are] two types of "cable release" attachments available for my Canon Rebel: One is wireless, one actually runs a cable between you, the shutter release and the camera. I opted for the latter.
The shutter release with wire was ten dollars more. I thought that wireless technology would be more expensive, but the expert explained it this way: "It's because of all that extra, you know, wire and stuff."
I once had a VCR with a remote control attached via a cable. I think they charged $59 extra for it. Nowadays that will buy you a handful of "universal" remotes that will run half a dozen different devices, and not a cord in the bunch.
Then again, JVC used to sell a joystick (with wire) for my stereo receiver: it served as four-channel balance control. Or that's what they say in the manual, anyway, since I never bought it.
Quoting a spokesperson
It's Bike to Work Day, and there really hasn't been a lot of promotion locally, possibly because it's supposed to get up to 95 this afternoon.
I didn't see an unusual number of bicyclists this morning, but then most of my commute is along the freeway, where bicycles are discouraged. KGOU radio is supplementing its traffic reports with reminders ("look out for bicycles"), which seems sensible.
A book at bedtime
I have read ten of these, as it happens. (And frankly, I thought Mantissa, being more of a head trip, was more erotic than The Magus, but nobody asked me.)
There are a couple of these I have not read about which I am curious, and, well, there's only one way to satisfy said curiosity. Or so they say.
Meanwhile, Leonardo snickers from a cloud
The Baptist Messenger recently devoted a near entire issue to "combating" the message of the Da Vinci Code. Including how and when to use tracks w/ the unbeliever. It also suggested that newly "saved" believers may need to be discouraged from viewing the movie, so as not to endanger their souls.
Of all the things to get worked up over. Poverty? Nah. Discrimination? Nah. Senseless War? Nah. Nepotism in Politics? Nah. Corruption? Nah. A work of Fiction? Well gulldarnit, now the collective masses are worried.
Then again, Bad Santa ruined Christmas for me, so maybe their fears have some basis.
Ever so slightly suspicious
Twice in two days, I have received basically the same email from two different names at the same domain (pointofimpact.com), and it went like this:
I am looking to purchase 5 text link ads on dustbury.com. Each ad is two to three words in length and can be placed anywhere on your page as long as the ads are visible on the majority of pages on your website. I would be willing to pay for 3 months of advertising up front. Would you be interested?
I responded to the first with "I have no open slots, but thank you for thinking of us," or something to that effect; I blew off the second.
These guys seem legit, or as legit as an operation can be and still use phrases like "leverages its unique capabilities with strategic partners to create new business opportunities", but there's still the question: "Why me?"
20 May 2006
Beyond all that
I've never met anyone who I'd respect or even really like who disdained his or her origins. These are the folks who think their hometown is provincial and boring, that the people in their home region are intolerant, rude, bad drivers, and/or uneducated. They are derisive of their parents' religion and condescending to those who have not escaped it. They often claim that education freed them from religion, as if it were a vaccine.
In my experience, these folks are deeply unhappy and universally unpleasant to be around.
I've been here thirty-odd years, and trust me, the drivers are bad. Not that their task is made any easier by the perversities of road design out here.
And I don't believe that these folks are necessarily any less religious than they were before: they're just trying to connect to something spiritual that doesn't make them have to listen to all that icky business about God, who, after all, tells people what to do, among His other unforgivable lapses in tolerance. (I suspect some of them wound up as environmentalists: the Sierra Club has rather more than ten commandments, but none of them involve sex, so it's okay.)
He'd recently quit his job, didn't want to look for another. He'd taken a vow not to cause suffering. Seems simple enough: So That I May Not Cause Suffering. And at first it had been something simple. His goal was to contain his habitual mean streak, the little comments that passed for humor but were intended to belittle: Nice shirt. Ha, ha. You can't really like that band. Ha, ha. You're not that fat. Ha, ha. I guess you haven't read Ginsburg. Simple, but pretty soon just containing his mean streak hardly seemed enough. He learned to hold his tongue when he wanted to use words to wound, but as soon as he'd gotten a handle on that, other ways in which he caused suffering presented themselves. He had to stop eating meat, of course. Couldn't even kill a spider. He had to close his bank accounts. His savings were being invested in unjust enterprises all over the world. He stopped buying clothes made in sweatshops. He'd never realized how hard it was to find a T-shirt that hadn't been dyed or sewn in Thailand or Honduras. He couldn't keep his job at the flower stand workers in Ecuador were being poisoned to havest those gorgeous, scentless roses. He had to convert his little diesel hatchback to run on grease because he saw the blood of innocents flowing from every gas pump. So That I May Not Cause Suffering. Within a month, Tony had become just another organic-cotton-wearing unemployed vegetarian street musician who couldn't pay the rent on his six-foot-by-six-foot walk-in closet-turned-bedroom three blocks from the beach in Santa Cruz, California.
I have rather more sympathy for this chap, fictional though he is, than you might think: at least he's striving for some sort of consistent worldview, which I interpret as a mildly-modified Jainism. And I doubt he's "deeply unhappy."
Still, one can be sincere, said Charles F. Kettering, and still be stupid. And on a hot Oklahoma day, I tend to heed the words of the guy with the first air-conditioned house in America. (It's my mean streak. Enjoy it. I generally do.)
I do believe it's true
Something told me it's all happening at the zoo, but Jax and Laney, it appears, are calling a temporary halt to the proceedings. (Embiggened version here.) Try not to notice that the three-year-old seems to have pierced ears, fercrissake.
Half of a dark horse
An unexpected semi-hemi-demi-endorsement from Sean Gleeson:
Q. Name one Democrat you'd vote for president in 2008.
A. Blogger Charles Hill (writer of Dustbury.com) is the only registered Democrat I would even consider voting for any office, and even then it would depend on who the Republican opponent was. If Hill ran against Arlen Specter, sure.
This declaration, of course, will be of invaluable importance to other Oklahomans concerned with Pennsylvania politics.
My potential as a Senator, I suspect, would be decidedly limited:
I have a simplistic (if correct!) view of the big issues, a tiresomely detailed view of the small things that matter not, and no time for the big muddled middle where most of life actually takes place.
If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve. If mailed the paychecks nevertheless, I will cash them with a heavy heart: really, the people of Oklahoma (or Pennsylvania) deserve so much better.
Actually, this speech was swiped from James Lileks, declining to run for Senator from Minnesota in aught-six; I suppose that my mentioning it here demonstrates my own qualifications, in that I can plagiarize at least as well as Joe Biden. (Or maybe not, since I did link to the original.)
And I don't have any political plans: I'd hate to have to build an extension to a closet just to accommodate all the skeletons.
Frantic Freddie fades
There are four patterns to doing the Freddie, as derived by the late Freddie Garrity, leader of Freddie and the Dreamers. The song lists them as follows:
Not that Freddie ever limited himself to these four steps, as this video demonstrates.
The Dreamers wound up being categorized as a band for the kiddies, mostly because they recorded this relentlessly happy stuff in an era when pop was starting to discover the Dark Side. (And, well, "A Windmill in Old Amsterdam," the tale of rather a lot of Dutch mice, didn't exactly portend a change in the band's fortunes.) Their last release as a band was "Susan's Tuba," composed by fellow Mancunian and erstwhile Mindbender Graham Gouldman, produced by Ritchie Cordell.
After an American tour in 2004 with a revamped set of Dreamers, the original band having long since retired, Freddie fell ill; the end came yesterday, during medical treatment in North Wales. Freddie was sixty-nine years old, which somehow seems improbable: he should be forever twentysomething and dancing.
Obligatory Blogorrhea: Perennial heartthrob and rock maven Dawn Eden once wrote the liner notes for a Freddie and the Dreamers compilation.
(With thanks to Jay Solo.)
So full faith and credit does work
From my archives, March 2004:
The story so far:
They did, and what they did has now been undone: U.S. District Judge Robin Cauthron ruled on Friday that the state law banning recognition of out-of-state adoptions by same-sex parents is unconstitutional.
Health will duly reissue the certificate.
And with all other state issues now resolved, expect a GOP House member probably Balkman, Kern or Williamson to come up with a slightly-reworded version of the unacceptable bill (a Williamson production) in an effort to save face.
Some people are absolutely nuts
I'll believe this when someone shows up with a check.
21 May 2006
So much for that bright idea
I decided to hook up the old scanner to the new box last night, and Windows sneered: "You dare to present me with this lame excuse for a TWAIN driver? Have a screen. Guess what color it's going to be."
One Last Known Good Configuration later, I was back up and running again, but it appears I will be in the market for a new scanner after all. Unfortunately, I got the bill from the Arborist this weekend, and that must be paid first.
For those interested: It's a UMAX Astra 600P, which runs through LPT1. Maximum resolution is 4800 x 4800 dpi. Sample depth: color, 30 bits; greyscale, 10 bits. Output depth: color, 24 bits; greyscale, 8 bits. Runs on W3.1 or 95/98; will apparently not run on XP SP2. How old is it? The install CD comes with Adobe Reader version 2.1.
Younger and darker
Based on no personal experience whatsoever, I figured that the primary market for nude recreation is, well, me: an old more-or-less white guy. This notion has been continually reinforced by endless discussions on message boards of the ongoing failure to attract a younger and/or more ethnically-diverse clientele at the parks and resorts.
Color me wrong on all counts:
15% of adults consider a resort that offers a nude recreation experience extremely desirable;
Significant differences stand out with Echo-Boomers and Xers interest in nude recreation overtaking that of the Boomers and Matures. The percentage of adults who consider a nude recreation experience extremely/very desirable include:
Non-whites (28%) and African Americans (30%) find nude recreation experiences more desirable than their white counterparts (13%).
I should point out here that I have two children, a very early Echo-Boomer and one of the last of the Xers, and both of them would be horrified at such a thing.
With a certain relish
Jack Bauer calls WFMU's William Berger and explains this very difficult procedure in great detail:
William, this is Jack Bauer, Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit have you ever cooked hot dogs before? No? Well, don't worry 'cause I'm going to talk you through it. We are dealing with especially volatile materials here Nathan's Famous Cheddar Cheese Beef Franks, so I need you to follow my instructions to the letter; I don't need to remind you that thousands of lives are at stake, and I imagine that you're pretty hungry. Chloe obtained an extensive file detailing your hunger rages, Mr. Berger, so don't play games with me you and I both know we haven't a second to waste.
As you may already have surmised, there are three paragraphs to follow.
[Insert "perfect wiener" reference here]
Don't play that song!
This is not a reference to the Ben E. King record from '62, the follow-up (with almost the same instrumental backing) to "Stand By Me," in which the singer seeks to avoid being reminded of unpleasant memories of a love affair gone sour.
Instead, it's an instruction to the machines that program radio stations today: some tracks should simply be skipped over, lest they give offense to the sort of people who sit around waiting for opportunities to be offended.
I'm working on a compilation of such tunes for personal, um, enjoyment, and I have just about enough to fill up a CD. The tentative track list follows:
Which, in its 75-minute aggregate, is one hell of a program, though I sense that it could still use some fine tuning. Suggestions will be entertained, and (I hope) entertaining as well.
Where life meets Trek
There is an old Vulcan saying: "Only Nixon could go to China." The follow-up to this is "Only Kirk could meet the Klingons halfway."
As for the Klingons themselves, perhaps their best-known phrase is "It is a good day to die." David Fleck reports that it, too, has terrestrial origins:
Googling the phrase itself, I came across a few sites that listed Crazy Horse as the speaker that's the kind of bad-ass thing you'd expect Crazy Horse to say but the overall consensus is that it was the Oglala chief Low Dog.
(I'd never heard of him before either.)
And now we have.
Tastes great, more filling
Now here's some marketing. Old El Paso (which, despite its name, is neither particularly old nor in El Paso) put out a square-bottomed taco shell a couple of years ago; I didn't harp on it at the time, seeing no compelling need for a premium-priced product of this sort.
Until this week, when the usual yellow box appeared with a promotion I'm starting to see on lots of products these days: one free iTunes download.
The Stand 'N Stuff (a name it's now probably too late to change) comes ten to a box instead of twelve, and it does, in fact, stand up straight. And I verified experimentally that you, or at least I, can indeed cram a lot more into it before its structural integrity is threatened. The flavor is indistinguishable from what you'd get from the regular shell basically, five-hole notebook paper with a hint of corn but I didn't expect anything in the way of actual taste improvements, since none were promised, and besides, what matters here is the stuffing and the seasonings; the shell is merely a means to an end.
No, I haven't picked out my free song yet.
22 May 2006
Strange search-engine queries (16)
And what better way to start a week than with a collection of last week's weirder search strings?
florence henderson sans clothes: Bringing up three very lovely girls does cut into the time for this sort of thing.
side effects of snap crackle and pop poster: I suppose this guy is researching cereal killers.
how to make love on a table: Hint: don't use the good china.
where to buy vibrators in hattiesburg, ms: I suspect Sam's Club is out.
you can paint a turd gold: Better use two coats.
What sex was triple crown winner Secretariat? Would it help if I said he was hung like a horse?
faith hill almost nude: "How bad do you want it?" asks Tim McGraw.
penis nv: On the opposite side of the state from Pahrump, NV.
What did you have for breakfast this morning, carnation instant bitch? Actually, it was a Pop-Tart. Not cherry, either.
British Toads with Hamburger: And hold the mayo, too.
wrung official: Oh, hell, let's wring them all.
why are there no models in coldwater creek catalogs: Most of their customers are invisible, so they design their catalogs accordingly.
illuminati and Halle Berry: Finally, an explanation for Catwoman.
From out of nowhere
This morning's commute was punctuated by an unexpected sight: a Pontiac Solstice roadster. Inexplicably, its top was up; even more inexplicably, it bore special manufacturer's plates.
GM rep showing off the new toys for the dealers? I didn't get a look at the driver, but if ever there was a time to sell convertibles, this is it.
Still, this encounter wasn't as weird as one I had Saturday in Midwest City, at the intersection of 15th and Midwest Blvd. The encountee: a beautiful red Honda NSX. Of all the recent Japanese supercars that actually got imported to the States, the NSX was arguably the super-est.
But what's this? It was my understanding that the NSX was badged in North America as an Acura, assigning it to Honda's luxo division. But this one bore no Acura insignia, only the classic Honda "H".
I would have loved to ask the driver about this, but alas, we were going in different directions.
Adventures in iTunes (3)
So I did my daily trip to the Music Store, and waiting for me (with the dreaded "Beta" notation) is "Just for You." Here's what they decided was Just for Me:
I am more impressed with this than I might have expected: I have only six of these already, and none of them have an automatic emetic effect, although I should note that I haven't spun the Thriller album in probably ten years.
There are also a few full-length albums they'd like to sell me, which are a bit more dubious. I pushed the "Tell Me More" button, which served up more albums and 15 more singles, one of which I actually bought, even though I have the 45. (Never underestimate the drawing power of a good stereo mix of something you've always heard in mono.)
The Leonardo da Vinci Picture Show
Sarah and Dwight check out The Da Vinci Code and observe actual Audience Participation:
I was entertained in between bouts of distraction courtesy of the morons sitting behind us. These people reminded me of why I dislike going to the movies. They felt compelled to provide a running commentary to everyone within hearing distance. Some of the more priceless gems included:
In reference to The Da Vinci Code: "I heard this movie wasn't true ... it's like Superman." (Huh?)
At the beginning of the film, when the murder victim is discovered on the floor of the Louvre: "He's naked!" (Accompanied by a gasp.)
When we're shown a sweeping overhead shot of London: "Isn't that a pretty scene?"
In response to that comment: "That's the River Thames." (Pronounced THAYmes.)
When Ian McKellan first appears on screen: "That's the guy who plays Spock!" (Note: Leonard Nimoy appears nowhere in this movie.)
When we first hear the theory that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene: "That's not true!"
Wait a minute. Superman isn't true either?
I never quite imagined Midnight Movie status for The Da Vinci Code, but I have no doubt that someone will eventually come up with some good audience responses to the onscreen action. (Although I suspect this film is just crying out for Joel and/or Mike and the bots.)
Which, of course, means Freaking Big Install.
I decided to update OpenOffice.org (that's apparently the correct name of it now) to 2.0.2, and it's just about twice the size of 1.0.1, which presents a delightful symmetry to the eye even as it wolfs down disk space.
I should note here that I am primarily a Lotus user: 1-2-3, WordPro, stuff like that there. But development on these products seems to be at a standstill, and worse, people persist in sending me Microsoft Office files, which Lotus SmartSuite used to be able to import before New and Allegedly Improved versions were foisted off on the computing public by the ant armies of Redmond. (Heck, even lowly WordPad, which is still my text editor of choice, used to be able to do MS Word 6.0 files.)
Now if I can just stall that Firefox 1.5 thing, I'll be sitting, if not pretty, at least marginally comfortably.
23 May 2006
The greats of Roth
David Lee Roth didn't last too long in Howard Stern's spot, but, says Rich Appel in Hz So Good, he oughta be in something with pictures:
David Lee Roth belongs somewhere in this crazy multi-channel-choice media world. And if you don't mind, I'd like to tell you where: either Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC or C-SPAN. Why? Because all four of those issues-bending outlets need someone with both a fresh perspective and an unusual schtick. During his short stay on radio, DLR not only proved that he can take a stand but that he can also take the ball and run with it about 17 blocks. You may love or hate his yap, but I found that Dave was like a bad traffic accident: messy, but you always find yourself stopping to look (or listen, in this case). On TV, where you could see Dave in action, what he's selling would therefore be a much stronger product. I'd sooner watch John McCain or Ann Coulter being interviewed by Dave than I would by O'Reilly or Colmes or anyone but maybe Bill Maher and Jon Stewart.
Maybe you're saying, or thinking out loud, that I've picked the wrong guy from that sphere, and that the rock star doing political talking heads on one of those cable channels should be Bono. Well, there's one problem with giving Bono the job: that show would suck. Sure, he's got something to say about every issue facing the world today, but, have you actually listened to Bono speak? Bono rhymes with mono, as in monotone. Which rhymes with drone. With a capital 'D' and that stands for dull. Hello, hello? It's even worse than vertigo. Plus, with Bono you know what he's gonna say before it even comes out. You'll never have to worry about that with ol' Dave.
Hey, it worked for Don Imus. Sort of.
(Get your own Hz So Good once a month; write to Rich at audiot-dot-savant at verizon-dot-net.)
A roof way over your head
With the possible exception of Dubai where even if you could afford the purchase price you couldn't afford the air conditioning the one place on earth where the real-estate prices seem most out of whack is the San Francisco Bay area. (I say "seem" because I'm really not in a position to judge the market at this great a distance; still, if a mediocre one-bedroom condo in Mountain View, half the size of my house, sells for over $300,000, I daresay someone is getting screwed, and I don't think it's me.)
Enter Boycott Housing, which suggests you do exactly that:
By all agreeing to boycott buying a house for a period of time, and telling our friends to boycott buying a house, we CAN make a difference. We can show that once people stop paying insane prices, the insanity goes away. It's going to happen anyway let's just speed it up so more people don't get hurt, and so we can get our house sooner!
Were I the cynical type, I'd suspect that the bubble is about to burst anyway and these folks would like to be able to take credit for it. And we all know how well other people's boycotts work, which is to say "not very." Still, California housing prices have tanked before, and at least some observers expect them to do so again, more likely sooner than later. The question then becomes "How long can you hold out?"
(Via Burbed.com, which offers some tongue-in-cheek (I think) suggestions for giving the bubble a few sharp stabs.)
The official WT06 FAQ
When does the World Tour actually happen?
It begins on 12 June, and continues for somewhere between two and three weeks.
What makes it a World Tour, exactly, since you're not leaving the States or anything?
Two things: it's awfully damned long, and much of it is through relatively unfamiliar territory.
How long is "awfully damned long"?
I expect somewhere between 4500 and 5000 miles.
You've done this five times before. Why do it again?
Because I can. More to the point, it's good for me to get out of town, and it's good for my car to get a serious workout once in a while.
Will you be blogging every day?
What's the shape of this year's route?
Still vague and inchoate, though it's headed toward the south and east; there is a definite Dixieland flavor.
How much of this is copied from previous World Tour FAQs?
Rather a lot, actually.
Usually you start these in July. What's different this year?
They haven't said so, but 42nd and Treadmill is probably wondering just why it is I've always ducked out of their pet July projects; this year I'll actually participate in them.
Is there any chance you'll say "Screw it" and not go home?
I would have to be extremely fortunate, in the winning-lotto-ticket sense, or extremely smitten, in the "I've been waiting for you all my life" sense. Don't count on either of these actually taking place.
Note: Feel free to post additional questions in the comments box, or by mail if you'd rather.
I thought I was calling Acme Fence
Late at night, Dennis Dale tangles with the White House voice-mail system:
Gracias por llamar el Casa Blanca. Para Ingles marque el cinco.
Thank you for calling the White House. Your government is currently unavailable.
If you are calling for today's Border Patrol schedule, press one. If you are calling for the daily Minuteman forecast, press two. If you are calling for copies of current immigration proposals before Congress, press three. If you are calling for locations of potential employers, press four. If you are calling for instructions on how to use your beacon homing device, press five. If you are calling for instructions on how to register to vote Republican, press six. If you wish to return to the main menu, press seven.
Oh, and shouldn't that be La Casa Blanca?
(Update: It is now.)
Where there is no fast lane
The Oklahoman reports that improvements to the Pennsylvania/Memorial intersection will cost around $1.5 million.
This is about $2.80 per city resident, which isn't an enormous sum, especially considering the city's budget of $750 million, but I'd happily pay $2.80, maybe even $280, never to have to go through there again.
Never say "Bite me" to a dog
Trust me on this.
The limits of design
There's been a lot of second-guessing around town since an eighteen-wheeler jumped into the median and through the cable barrier on the Lake Hefner Parkway today. The truck hit an oncoming car, killing the driver of that car; a second car crashed into the truck.
The question for some is whether the cable barrier, manufactured by Brifen and discussed here, is inadequate to the task. I don't think it is. Granted, it didn't hold back the truck; on the other hand, had the truck met the usual concrete Jersey barrier, it likely would have bounced back into its lane and hit more cars. ODOT's Faria Emamian noted that the cables have taken some 400 hits since their installation in 2001, with no secondary collisions from bounceback; in the three years before the cables were put in, there were six crossover fatalities on the Hefner.
Short of filling up seven miles of median with foam, I really don't see what could have been done to ameliorate matters.
24 May 2006
Thriving in a culture of corruption
Those thieving, conniving, unprincipled bastards! Precisely whom we want in office, says Matt Barr:
[Y]ou want to elect the type of people who sweat, pant and otherwise secrete over the idea of being elected to something. This accomplishes a couple things. It ensures to the best extent possible, which isn't ever much, that once elected they'll do what's necessary to get re-elected, which is often what most of his constituents want him to do. Also, it removes him from the pool of people you might have to deal with on a daily basis. Since most Congresspersons are lawyers, all the better.
Power-hungry, corrupt, selfish people make the best governors (small 'g') and legislators. They're generally transparent. I know of no serious person who's been fooled into believing the Senate is full of statesmen and the House is the People's Chamber. Start electing the kind of people you want to be in charge and you might start giving them the benefit of the doubt. (You see this happen sometimes, especially this century, if you catch my drift, in the presidency.)
But what about Doing the Right Thing?
If power-hungry, corrupt, selfish governors and legislators don't do what their constituents want them to do so as to get re-elected, the other alternative will not be doing something unpopular but right, it will be doing something unpopular but a felony. You might object that we want people in government doing what's unpopular but right, to which I say, then you don't want a President and a legislature, you want a king.
Ah, if only those damned citizens could be made to do what they're told to do. (It may be literally impossible to count how many Federal programs are based upon sheer blackmail: you want your funding, you do this. The proper response, which is "Blow it out your ass," is seldom forthcoming.)
And there's the ongoing problem of pork, which is defined as "any governmental expenditure not in my district." It's an election year, which means the voice that will be heard most often is the voice of Janet (Miss Jackson if you're nasty): "What have you done for me lately?"
For the cynic, this is a wild and wondrous time. I'm amused at the possibility of the Democrats actually winning control of one house or the other perhaps even both! because conservatives are supposedly threatening to stay home rather than endorse the current collection of feckless Republicans. This was, of course, predicted by that wise old populist/left-wing nutball [choose one] Jim Hightower, who said: "If the gods had meant us to vote, they would have given us candidates." Me, I don't bet against the gods. They can be downright vengeful.
I suppose, in aggregate, this makes me the Anti-Charlie Brown: People I love, but mankind gives me a stiff pain. Not that I have any greater success with girls with red hair.
Let me take you down
Here we are, well into Century Twenty-One, and I still occasionally ask myself "Where the hell are the flying cars?"
The answer, to my surprise and his, comes from Lileks' beloved Gnat:
"When I was a kid, today was my future."
She thought about that for a while, then smiled, and honest to God, she laughed and said:
"You thought you were going to have flying cars!"
I almost drove off the road.
"Oh nothing. That's just a thing in the future on shows, cars in the skies. But it's really not real."
"Nothing is real," said Lennon. But neither Lennon nor Gnat would countenance getting hung about it.
What I was really wondering, of course, was how much chicken there was in your average McNugget, but the real surprise was the prodigious amount of corn.
And rosemary? Who'd have guessed?
(Found at The Consumerist.)
My typing is teh suck
Persons fluent in 13375p34k, I imagine, already have such scripts in reverse.
Danforth Road through Edmond is also known as 192nd Street.
(It was either that or "192 is the sum of ten consecutive primes [5 + 7 + 11 + 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29 + 31 + 37]".)
One way or another, the 192nd Carnival of the Vanities is up for your inspection at Blog d'Ellison, and one might say it's especially protein-rich this time around.
Blues of an advanced degree
Blues albums are like BBQ joints: you get suspicious if they're excessively neat. Of course, you don't want something so sloppy that you start to wonder if maybe you should have put the Department of Health on speed-dial, either.
So the trick is to split the difference, and transplanted Chicago bluesman Shouting Thomas pulls off this trick nicely on his indie CD Innocence, which arrived at my listening station this afternoon. Backed by a solid band, Thomas offers up thirteen tunes, nine of them originals, all of them sung with verve and played with just the right degree of Let It All Hang Out. The best of the lot might be the hard-edged "Been Losing," with a tasty slide guitar (by Thomas) and an evocative harp (by harp legend Sredni Vollmer). Of the covers, the one I liked the best was "You Can't Spend," which turns out to be Muddy Waters' famed "You Can't Lose What You Never Had" with some new words.
Thomas bills himself as "The Professor of the Blues." I'd say he's earned tenure.
25 May 2006
They also surf who only stand on waves
So how's that giant tsunami in the Atlantic working out?
Pushin' too hard
One of the axioms of Life As I Know It, or at least as I've known it for the last couple of years, is that it takes 40 minutes to mow the back yard. Start along the west fence, start where one of the sweetgums used to be, start anywhere you like, and forty minutes later it's over. (The front yard, half as large, takes 20 to 25 minutes; the terrain, however, is far more treacherous.)
Yesterday afternoon, tackling this chore before dinner, I wound up stopping about halfway through, fearing I was going to overheat. (It was 92 degrees; humidity was maybe 40 percent, which is good for about two degrees extra on the heat index.) I grabbed a folding chair out of the garage, sat out on the patio for three or four minutes until I could feel my pulse returning to some semblance of normal, then got up and went back to work.
Elapsed time, including the break: 36 minutes.
I don't feel like I'm going any faster, and certainly the mower isn't going any faster. (It's nominally self-propelled, but inasmuch as the Nanny State demands that to engage said propulsion I have to work a lever with my left hand while I'm holding onto something else with my right lest the engine die, most of the time it isn't worth the bother, and besides it's front-wheel drive, which strikes me as an even goofier idea on a mower than it is on a car.) But the numbers don't lie.
The most reasonable assumption here is that today, a year and a half after knee surgery, I'm no longer making allowances for my putatively-reduced mobility. This might be a good thing, or it might be asking for trouble.
Some people are just so zoned out
Tulsa's historic zoning is a plastic latch: it's there, and it makes a satisfying click sound, but sooner or later you know it's going to break.
A Tulsa developer decided he didn't want to wait for the mechanism to fail, and so he prevailed upon a member of the legislature to introduce a bill to provide what is in effect a system to bypass zoning overlays altogether. (I grumbled about it here.)
Yesterday, the state Senate, in as close as I've ever seen to unanimity on a matter that didn't endorse Mom or apple pie or baseball, voted 42-3 to kill it. History suggests that it won't stay dead, that a similar measure will be prefiled for next session, but for now, consider this one well and truly stomped.
It's a conspiracy, I tell you
News Item: The Nike iPod sports kit is a joint venture between Nike and Apple, mixing fitness and music.... The sneaker sends a wireless signal to the iPod, telling you how far you've gone, how long you've been working out, and how many calories you've burned.
Is this really what we want? Tam has her doubts:
And now your personal electronics can snicker about you behind your back with your sneakers and, for all we know, get together with your Blackberry and con the ATM machine into pulling your account down around your ankles while your back is turned. At what point do we just say "Stop! This is crazy! Don't put a computer there!"
Right before you have to do this, I guess:
I'd type about this more, but I have to go press Ctrl+Alt+Del on my toilet seat.
[sigh] Remember levers?
Next, I suppose, is a GPS insert for your shorts, so you'll always know exactly where your ass is.
I suppose I should feel better
A fiftysomething Welsh woman has been cleared of an indecent-exposure charge after a male neighbor videotaped her sunbathing nude in her back yard and took the tape to the police.
The magistrates ruled that she did not intend to cause "harm or distress" and dismissed the charge; the woman said she was relieved by the ruling, and was planning to move to another presumably less-prudish neighborhood.
What strikes me as odd about this is that the incident, as it were, took place last July: it took them ten months to rule on this case? And I thought American courts were overloaded.
26 May 2006
Moderation in all things
The previous entry generated some seven hundred comments not here, of course, but at the British Broadcasting Corporation, where they're beta-testing something called "Have Your Say."
The Beeb's comment system is set up for two different levels of moderation, as follows:
1 Fully Moderated.
This is also known as pre-moderation. Every comment submitted to a fully moderated discussion has to be checked by a BBC moderator before it is published on the site. We try to publish as many comments as we can but unfortunately, due to the volume of comments we receive every day, we cannot guarantee that all comments submitted will be published.
2 Reactively moderated.
Since at some point I expect to be forced into comment moderation by the sheer volume of spammage, I'm hoping to be able to implement some variation on theme #2 in preference to #1, inasmuch as most of the regulars here have generally demonstrated themselves to be trustworthy, and besides, I don't get nearly the traffic that the BBC does.
Time to burn the hydrocarbons
There are two service stations along my daily commute whose prices tend to be a few hours in front of everyone else's, and in the past few weeks those prices have tended to change on Thursday, so with the Memorial Day drivefest coming up, I was wondering yesterday just what sort of unpleasant surprises were in store.
And as I passed by yesterday afternoon, one station had dropped its price by two cents, while the other was unchanged. Curious, I thought. Maybe they're waiting until tomorrow.
Comes the morning. Prices are exactly what they were 14 hours ago.
Surely we're not actually going to catch a break this weekend, are we?
We got us a big box here
The new owner of Tulsa's dead-in-the-water Eastland Mall has apparently requested a zoning change from Commercial Shopping to Light Industrial.
Inasmuch as everyone seemed to be thinking that the mall would be converted to an office complex, like Oklahoma City's Shepherd Mall, this comes as something of a surprise.
Steven Roemerman details the differences between the two zoning classifications.
Update, 1 June: Then again, maybe not.
Let there be less-expensive light
I am a big fan of compact fluorescent bulbs, even if they do look rather like the wrong end of a glass boa constrictor. The one unsolved problem with them is that they give off a fair amount of heat, to the extent that the packaging now tells you in letters less small than before that you should not install them in closed fixtures, such as the recessed ceiling lights I have in the hallway and the living room.
The answer, or at least an answer, is a lampshade designed to accommodate the twisty tubes of light. I have two such: they're a bit more conservative than these, but they do seem to work, and the meager 22-watt bulbs, once up to speed they're kind of dim at power-up, but give them a minute produce plenty of that lovely dark-banishing stuff. Assuming that's what the mood calls for, of course.
Slaving for bread, sir
There are those who believed that Desmond Dekker's out-of-left-field hit "Israelites" was some sort of anti-Semitic screed. I don't know if these were the same people who believed that the Kingsmen were saying something filthy with "Louie, Louie," but Dekker's Jamaican patter rivaled Jack Ely's mumble for lack of intelligibility, until you'd heard it seven or eight thousand times and it finally started to sink in.
And anyway, Dekker was singing about himself; it is a principle of Rastafarianism that black folks were scattered for their sins exactly in the manner of the Jews in the Old Testament, so Dekker's assumption of the term "Israelite" makes a certain amount of sense.
"Israelites," recorded in Jamaica and licensed to MCA/Universal's Uni label (!) in the States, made #9 in Billboard, something ska records simply did not do in 1969. The follow-up, "It Mek," did not chart; a cover of Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It If You Really Want," did, barely. Dekker moved to England, where the rude boys idolized him; he continued to perform, with a European tour due this summer.
From the anonymous liner notes on Dekker's US LP (Uni 73059):
Although the majority of his recordings have been in the "SKA" or "Rock Steady" bag, his live performances show that this twenty-seven year old, shy, slightly built boy can handle any song with confidence and get tremendous response from all types of audiences.
To underscore this notion, the ten tracks include Stevie Wonder's poppy "For Once in My Life" and Bill Anderson's "Tip of My Fingers," clearly demonstrating some sort of fearlessness.
"I don't want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde," sang Dekker in "Israelites," and while he didn't face a hail of bullets or anything like that, he's now joined them on the far side of eternity. He was sixty-four years old.
Instead of Dr Pepper
Not that they'll have it at the drive-thru, but you get the idea.
27 May 2006
My cash ain't nothin' but trash
This morning's nightmare (I was awake at 4:30, so it had to start after that) repackages a familiar theme in new surroundings.
Unable to obtain any consistent Net connectivity, I had left home and wound up at the door of some humongous concrete box that looked like it had once housed a Wal-Mart, but Beelzebub of Bentonville had evidently fled for larger quarters elsewhere, and so what I found inside looked sort of like a flea market. There were a couple of dozen women near the entrance; I exercised my usual "Talk to one of them, anyway" directive, and got a tight-lipped smile for my trouble.
In the far corner there was an elevated section, about six feet high, and beyond it a breakfast bar. I decided the Net could wait, and loaded up a plate with items of dubious healthfulness. There were about twenty of us chowing down when someone looked up at that elevated section, and there were those women I had seen near the entrance, ready to launch some sort of rally. I never did quite figure out what they were supporting, or opposing; the language started out as some semblance of English and ended up being totally incomprehensible, at least to me. And the thing ground to a halt when it dawned on them that the logistics of their position left a great deal to be desired, inasmuch as those of us down below could quite easily see up their skirts. Sensing the makings of an Incident, I departed quickly.
I made that wrong turn at Albuquerque, or something, and after threading my way through some remarkably ill-marked streets and at least one hardware store, I found myself at the side door to this country-clubbish joint with faux-classic architecture and carpets worn more than you'd think. Curiosity won out over WTF, and I decided to stay for an event, which turned out to be some sort of dance routine (for lack of a better term) for what looked to be the world's smallest dogs. (Breed? They looked like scaled-down papillons, but without that breed's characteristic ear shape.) I paid the admittance fee with Visa and found a spot on a suitably-overstuffed sofa from which to watch the critters, though admittedly I paid more attention to the occasional child wandering through, and even more to the mysterious woman two seats over, wearing long gloves and a full veil and a form-fitting veil at that. (Think "Claudette Rains".) I got a couple of words out of her, in a gruff Tallulah Bankhead voice, but no more.
Refreshments were served after the dance, and I snagged something vaguely cruller-like. Not wishing to run up my credit card any further, I popped open the other side of my wallet, where the actual bills were. Closer inspection proved them to be bills, but not actual; they were fakes, and not especially convincing fakes at that. (One of them, I swear, looked like its reverse side had been clipped from the Tulsa World.) I scraped together enough change to pay for the donut; amid mumbles of notifying the sheriff, and I just knew it was about me, I decided I'd better get the heck out of there.
Which wasn't going to be quite so easy, inasmuch as I'd found myself in some sort of wax museum, presumably honoring former members of this operation, and the figures, some of which weren't wax at all but bronze, were placed so close together that it was impossible to see the exit, and I don't think I'd ever have found it except that some guy on the next street over decided it was a good morning to fire up his chainsaw and I stumbled out of bed.
I've seen this counterfeit-money bit a couple of times before. Generally, I've attributed it to my own subconscious belief in some sort of caste system, with the implication that my credentials for rising out of my own not-so-lofty social stratum are at least somewhat bogus. Money, of course, is merely a means to an end, unless you're Scrooge McDuck, or perhaps the host of The Money Programme, so I tend to take it as a reminder that social acceptability and cash flow have only a nodding acquaintance at best (cf. "Federline, Britney S.").
Further analysis is left as an exercise for the student.
Is this a moving violation?
In the same spirit, let me point you to the 10 Most Irritating Things Women Do During Sex, none of which I have ever actually seen.
(Via Venomous Kate, who admits to one.)
Parenthetical military observation
Actually, my DD214 is correct. I know this because there was a crusty old Warrant Officer looking over my shoulder as I typed it.
(I was a better typist then, I think, probably because I hated what passed for error correction in those days.)
It's cow-tippin' time!
Actual dialogue in Fantastic Four #536:
Reed: Ben. Up and at 'em. We need to be in the air in five minutes.
Ben: Yer kidding me....
Reed: Four minutes, fifty seconds.
Ben: In the air? Where're we goin'?
Ben: Oklahoma....? We're goin' ta Oklahoma? On purpose?
Reed: Three minutes, fifty seconds.
Geez. You'd think the place was fulla Yancy Streeters or somethin'.
Saturday spottings (with dozers)
Rumors that [Bradford] Commons would be sold have persisted, and KGOU radio reported this week that the University of Oklahoma, one rumored buyer, isn't interested. I haven't heard that the Commons are going to be Cabrini-Greened out of existence, but at this point, I wouldn't be surprised to see bulldozers heading down 8th Street.
They've been there, and for the most part, they've done that. About two-thirds of the ill-fated apartment complex has been razed in anticipation of expansion by the Presbyterian Health Foundation, which up to now has stayed on the west side of Lincoln. When I lived out northeast and worked downtown, I passed by this place pretty much every day, and I never quite imagined it gone; then again, by all accounts it had become a hellhole in recent years, and, well, you know how people feel about hellholes.
Another known but somehow still unexpected vacancy was at 10th and Martin Luther King, this big empty space where Douglass High School used to be. Of course, the new Douglass is just to the south, and eventually this space will be filled by new athletic facilities, but it's still jarring if you haven't been by there lately, which I haven't.
After all this destruction, I was in the mood for some construction, so I made a point of checking, one more time, the new ultra-modern Blankenship residence going in at 7th and Oklahoma, which is just about complete. I still think it's incredibly cool, and I hope that it inspires others in town to build similarly nifty houses, if only because our really different-looking buildings (the Golden Dome, Stage Center, and such) tend to be public institutions rather than private homes, and had I a whole lot more money than I do, I'd like to live in something that doesn't look like anything else. (This picture is an artist's conception, snatched from Downtown OKC's Skyline Snapshot and cropped ever so slightly.) Not that I'm unhappy with where I am, which is one of the more charmingly eccentric single-story houses in town, but there's a lot to be said for going beyond charmingly eccentric to outright weird, especially if it's done well. (God forbid I should ever hire a decorator; she will wash her hands of me within mere minutes.)
28 May 2006
This is a TrackBack test
It is only a test. If this had been an actual TrackBack, it would have pointed to this protein wisdom article.
Forget tracks; give us grooves
Just try to download this:
Beset by digital piracy and increasing customer reluctance to pay for CDs, the music industry is fighting back with its latest technology black vinyl records.
Music labels and high street retailers are busy turning back the industry's clock to a time not only before internet song downloads, but also before CDs or even audio cassettes. The irony is that the vinyl revolution is being led by teenage consumers who are prepared to stand in line for the latest 45 rpm single or 33-1/3-rpm LP (long-playing record) in much the same way that their parents, or in some cases their grandparents, did.
According to Rob Campkin, the head of Music at Virgin Megastores, vinyl is now outselling CDs when it comes to the latest records.
"Up to 70% of sales of new releases are vinyl. The fans of popular new rock bands like Arctic Monkeys and The Raconteurs prefer vinyl to CD," said Campkin. "When the Raconteurs' latest single was released, 80% of high-street sales were for seven-inch vinyl and only 20% were for CDs."
From 2001 to 2005, sales of vinyl 45s in Britain rose sixfold.
Maybe Roger Daltrey was right:
We threw away an art form that was so much more than the record. The size of the cover was perfect for art work. Sometimes the covers were more important than the music. The more fingerprints you got on it, the more it was a part of you. With a CD, you start with a nice plastic box and end with a scratched plastic box; it has no character whatsoever.
And with a download, you start with what, exactly? A dialog box?
No, I'm not abandoning iTunes. Or CDs. Or whatever inevitably replaces them. (Probably won't be wax cylinders, but otherwise I'm not guessing.) But the idea that vinyl, almost twenty-five years after the invention of the CD, is still considered The Standard, is curiously gratifying.
You have to figure that when street gangs take over a shopping mall, that's it for the actual shoppers: they won't get near the place. No doubt this is why Sheriff John Whetsel has declined to fix the blame for yesterday's shooting at Crossroads on gang involvement.
Meanwhile, Wild Bill watches the video footage so you don't have to. One witness interviewed on camera:
I hear a shot pop off and next thing I know I see two comin around the corner. One got shot here in the shoulder from the back and he ended up layin inside the Garfield's entrance and then another one comes around the corner and he gets dropped in the back of the head. There's been animosity between them all day. It was either the Southside Locos and the Jaritos or the Centrals.
Then there's this:
Oklahoma City Police are well aware of how bad the conditions are at Crossroads. One of my instructors at school who is an officer with the Santa Fe Division told us in class that it was only a matter of time before a shooting happened at Crossroads. He said he could go in there at any given time and identify groups of gang members. On a couple of occasions, he has gone in there for lunch and could see the tension between the rival gangs. He also stated that the police have contacted the management and they act as if the police are over reacting and it is not a problem.
Crossroads has four anchor slots, three of which are filled with actual anchor stores. (A casual-clothing outlet doth not an anchor make.) With JCPenney reportedly planning a new store in Midwest City, the Crossroads location may become expendable; Macy's, which is inheriting the local Foley's stores, might also reconsider whether it needs this one. (Dillard's just closed Heritage Park and presumably is not in a mood to shut down more stores right away.) Add to this the trend away from enclosed malls in general, and you can start counting the days until this big box empties out for good.
We are but simple creatures
And it is the Y chromosome that makes us so:
Your last name stays put. The garage is all yours. Wedding plans take care of themselves. Chocolate is just another snack. You can be President. You can never get pregnant. You can wear a white T-shirt to a water park. Hell, you can wear NO shirt to a water park. Car mechanics tell you the truth. The world is your urinal. You never have to drive to another gas station restroom because this one is just too icky. You don't have to stop and think of which way to turn a nut on a bolt. Same work, more pay. Wrinkles add character. Wedding dress: $5000.00. Tux rental: $100.00. People never stare at your chest when you're talking to them.
Although I balk at this one:
Your underwear is $8.95 for a three-pack.
Don't I wish.
(Via miriam's ideas.)
We got stubble! Right here in River City!
The National Organization of Social Crusaders Repulsed by Unshaven Faces seems to be a viral campaign by Gillette to push razors by threatening men with a scare right out of Aristophanes: either you shave, say the women, or we won't.
While bonus fur on a male (with the possible exception of the overblown business about back hair) is seen as "scratchy" at worst, on women it's a complete nightmare on Elm Street. Look, you can make your own decisions about grooming choices and what they "mean" and about whether this doofy campaign is worth fussing over to begin with (I think it deserves maybe 300 words, which is right where I'm gonna stop) but still. Can't say it ever helps to remind women (and the men who love/hate them, depending) that whatever their body does naturally is probably something they need to fix.
Which, in turn, reminds me of something the late Allan Sherman once said. In his later years, he grew a beard, and at least one woman demanded an explanation of why he would put such a horrid thing on his face. Sherman explained that it wasn't his idea, but God's, and after forty years or so of scraping it off every day and finding that God had replaced it the next morning, he had simply decided to let God have His way.
From the Screwing for Chastity Department
The letter opens:
Call 1-888-[redacted] and be on your way to becoming debt-free!
And how do I do this? Why, by borrowing a ton of money, of course.
The terms aren't particularly arduous, although they're careful to quote only the numbers for those folks who qualify for 7.49% APR. (At least it's a fixed rate, assuming you keep your nose clean.) Still, based on their table, and presuming that they'd grant me this rate, which is not impossible inasmuch as they don't charge me much more than that for a MasterCard, borrowing, say, 30k would cost me somewhere around $480 a month, which is more than my mortgage payment (P&I, anyway), and there's a transaction fee of 3%, which is nine hundred bucks, which technically doesn't figure into the APR.
All that and it would still take seven years to pay it off.
29 May 2006
US, Drill Sergeant
Spring 1972, and we were in line we were always in line outside the mess hall, and as each of us passed by the man with the stripes and the wide-brimmed hat, we sang out something like that. Those of us who'd come in through the usual enlistment routine recited "RA": Regular Army. Others reported in with "ER" or "NG": "Enlisted Reserve" or "National Guard."
And about a third of the company sounded off with "US," which was a truncation of "AUS," which meant the Army of the United States, which meant draftees.
It wasn't hard to spot them early on in BCT: while we were all disoriented and perplexed, most of us figured that well, we'd asked for it when we'd signed the papers. The AUS fellows hadn't asked for it, manifestly did not want to be there, and while they didn't say so, at least within the hearing of anyone with any actual rank, they'd be sure to mention it during our less-than-copious free time.
We assumed, given our limited opportunity for assumption, that The Powers That Be would single them out for grief. It didn't happen. All of us E-1 types were equal, though we obviously weren't equal to much at that point. A few days into the training cycle, though, it started to sink in that none of us, regardless of how we'd gotten there, were going to get away with slacking off; somewhere farther along, we noticed to our surprise that none of us were even trying to.
And that, of course, was what our trainers and our officers were counting on: the career man and the conscript, when the chips are down and the bullets are flying, must rely on one another, and little matters like what we'd done before we wore the uniform simply vanished into insignificance.
We don't have a draft these days; the AUS was officially disbanded in 1974. And unless the barbarians are pounding on every available gate from Seattle to Sarasota, I'm not particularly keen on reinstating it. But on this Memorial Day, while we remember those who went before us, I'd like to say a special "thank you" to those who never desired the call of duty, but who answered it just the same.
(Roundup of Memorial Day postings at Wizbang!)
Strange search-engine queries (17)
By now I'm sure you know the drill on this bit: these are actual search strings which somehow dropped the searchers somewhere within this domain, as reported by those wonderful folks at Site Meter.
fake bleached blondes: As distinguished from real bleached blondes?
"traffic tickets" hertz: They certainly duz.
friend bra panty dress attic: This had better be a really close friend, you know?
old macdonald had a fram: Sometimes an ordinary oil filter just won't do.
how do you do a no handed cartwheel: Um, very carefully?
slut business card: Presumably easy to obtain.
do blue jays attack baby quail? Blue jays are ornery; they'd probably even attack Dan Quayle.
starting sentences with dont: Don't do that.
unattractive people are bitter: I assure you, I would be bitter even if I were cute.
are the democrats doomed: Not if the Republicans keep screwing up.
weapons of mass consumption: Pass the Doritos and watch the game.
"Baja Kansas" is out
Fake news item: "Responding to mounting public pressure that the name of the nation's 46th state is offensive to Native Americans, the Oklahoma Legislature has passed and Governor Brad Henry has signed into law legislation that will change the name of the state of Oklahoma effective November 16, 2007. The law, which was drafted by Oklahoma State Senator Polly K. Rekt (I-Bowlegs), calls for a blue-ribbon commission, selected by the Governor, to propose three new names for the state."
From my own Pabst Blue Ribbon commission, the Top Ten Unlikely New Names for the State Previously Known as Oklahoma:
New signage will go up about as soon as we finish cleaning up the rest stops on the Interstates.
Ban won't wear off (part deux)
Unfortunately, a succession of dubious TrackBacks was starting to wear on me, and in frustration last night I banned rather a lot of IP ranges I'd seen connected to them. (I briefly entertained this idea, but decided against it.)
This means, even more unfortunately, that some of my regular commenters may have been caught in the spam trap. If you suddenly can't respond to anything here, email me (chaz at thisheredomain) and give me your IP address, and I'll defuzz the ban list.
Another bullet bitten
About two years ago, I resolved to get myself a digital camera, if for no other reason than to improve the production values (such as they are) of the travel logs from the World Tours. One should never underestimate my capacity for procrastination, however, and I managed to delay the purchase of one of these contraptions until this morning.
The contraption in question is Panasonic's Lumix DMC-LZ3, and while its image quality, by most accounts, is no better than average for this price class ($200ish), it had one gee-whiz feature I thought was worth having a built-in optical stabilizer, for when the camera is being operated by Mary Anne with the shaky hand, or worse, me and there's the fact that, unlike my experience with some brands, I have never had any trouble figuring out all (okay, "most of") the bells and whistles on a Panasonic product.
Still to be acquired: suitable memory expansion, in the form of SD cards.
30 May 2006
All over the place (4)
They aren't truly random, but they are, in fact, links.
Expect a (5) eventually.
Is it just my imagination, or is there something that causes Cox to go down right before eight o'clock every night?
This plays hell with my connectivity, as it were.
I'll have you know I paid for this
Somehow you have to figure that Microsoft put a lot of effort into the name "Genuine Advantage": it sounds like it bestows benefits on the user, when of course the real advantage accrues to Redmond, which is a regular Sir Francis Drake on meth when it comes to policing piracy.
The newest incarnation of the program actually points an accusing finger at the pirate, which wouldn't bother me particularly, inasmuch as I have a legit purchase of XP, except that this being Windows, sooner or later something is going to break, and there's no reason to think that Genuine Advantage will cut me any slack when it does. (Ask this guy.)
And you can be sure Microsoft is tracking this stuff: 35 million validation failures, including a disproportionately-high number in western Oklahoma for some reason known only to God and/or Chairman Bill.
I don't see any way to excerpt this without running the risk of misstating Lynn's case, so here's her whole post:
Last night I watched a re-run of the Stargate Atlantis episode, titled "Michael," in which the humans stationed at Atlantis were experimenting with a "retro-virus" that would turn the Wraith (life-sucking alien humanoids) into normal humans. The Wraith that they tested it on did not like the idea at all.
That started me thinking. What if, here in the real world, scientists came up with a "weapon" that would make our enemies less inclined toward fanaticism and aggression without harming them in any way? Not something that would turn them into happy zombies, just something that would make them completely un-interested in fighting. Would it be ethical? Why or why not? Let's have a discussion.
To start things off ... I, personally, can't see any big ethical problem with this idea since the alternative is to continue killing and being killed.
What's wrong with happy zombies?
Actually, I have some qualms about this process, if only because respecting the dignity of a fellow human, such as it is, is not, or at least should not be, dependent on whether said fellow human is willing to reciprocate.
That said, though, better to leave him with "benign" brain damage (cf. almost any scene in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) than to leave him lying in a pool of blood, isn't it?
At best, this strikes me as the lesser of two evils, which makes me wonder if there can ever be some sort of non-evil choice to make, given the limitations of the Real World and of its inhabitants, and inasmuch as "turn the other cheek" is somewhere between fatuous and suicidal in this context.
Cheezit, the fuzz
"Defoliating a Victory Garden sure works up an appetite." George Tirebiter, Sr.
Sunday I brought up the possibility that women might suddenly decide that depilation isn't worth the bother.
In a wholly-unrelated survey, Treehugger is asking its female readers if they shave.
You might assume that because it's Treehugger, there is going to be a substantial percentage (though not, as of this writing, anywhere near a majority) that wouldn't dream of such a thing. And, for the same reason, there just about has to be a response like this:
Don't forget those of us who use heated tree-sap wax to remove our "unwanted" hair. Legs are left smooth and supple, and the wax is tossed into a "green bin" as part of the local recycling program. Though it hurts more, it does last longer and there are no plastic razors or disposable blades to toss out.
Waste not, want not.
31 May 2006
Higher than SubPop
Jools Holland presents The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.
What? Oh, nevermind.
The perils of stock photography
Send Bill to Turtle Bay
Late last year, Parag Khanna of the Brookings Institution argued in Harper's (January '06) that the next Secretary-General of the United Nations ought to be William Jefferson Clinton. Said I at the time:
I'm not saying I think this is a wonderful idea, but the more I think about it, the less I dislike it. I suspect I may be quite alone in this judgment, though.
Standing in Clinton's way is a gentlemen's agreement not formally enshrined anywhere in UN rules which says that the Secretary-General should not come from a permanent member of the Security Council. (Presumably this was a response to the extant UN rule which gives said Security Council members veto power over the General Assembly, which appoints the Secretary-General.)
Not standing in Clinton's way is Wizbang's Jay Tea, for a number of reasons, including these:
It should thoroughly scuttle Hillary's presidential campaign, and permanently sink her chances of ever becoming president.
On the slight chance that the United Nations can actually BE reformed and become relevant, someone like Bill Clinton just might be the kind of person who can do it. For whatever reason (and for me, the name "Faust" comes to mind), Bill Clinton has an enormous reservoir of good will. He has a head for bureaucracy and detail. And he has the kind of energy that such a Herculean task would require Turtle Bay has always reminded me of the Augean Stables, for some reason.
[insert image of East River being rerouted through Secretariat building]
Faust indeed. Perhaps this is the case of the devil you know.
And, well, the UN can do worse, and very often has.
You can check out anyone you like
But you can never leave:
I got the email from Match.com this afternoon with the Match.com discount, Subject: Someone Wants to See Your Profile!
While there was no potential date in the message, there was a Match.com promo discount with legs: "Just For You! Find love this Memorial Day with a 72-hour FREE trial!"
I'm not doing much this weekend, and like many others, I would like to find love. (Again.) And of course, there's always more research. I clicked through the forms as I ran a few calls. I put "cancel Match.com" on my calendar, and was about to hit "send," with my credit card number as required, when something in the back of my head said to be sure I knew how to cancel Match.com. The notice was on the last sign-up page, in the middle of 4 paragraphs of small type.
"Mail or deliver a signed and dated notice, or send a telegram" to an address in Plano, Texas.
No email. No phone calls, toll free or other. No forms on the site, or the internet for that matter. And, not a single acceptable reason for this. (The phone rep acknowledged it and then went into lilting infinite scripted loop of, "The terms are there and you can decide not to take this promotion, but you sound like you are interested...")
My last experience of this sort not with a dating site, of course came when an email informed me that Real SuperPass would be going up by five bucks a month so they could bundle the service with McAfee's security package. I called Bangalore to cancel; the young lady at the other end was utterly flummoxed that I would even consider canceling a subscription that had six months left to run, and she didn't seem to believe that my regard for McAfee is right up there with my regard for bedbugs.
I am paid up through November, so I backed off from the cancellation. For now.
(Via The Consumerist.)
Points on a curve
Okay, here's the deal: I have seventeen days (plus or minus one) to cover as much of the South as I can, with two criteria in mind: to meet up with readers, should they be interested, and to avoid endless stretches of Interstate, which won't be interesting.
Projected boundaries: Nothing north of Richmond or south of Orlando, or within 40 miles of New Orleans. (Otherwise, I could be looking at 6,000 miles, which is a bit much.) Either inbound or out (not both), this trip must go through Nashville.
Otherwise, things are pretty much open to suggestion at this point.
Click the Permalink on an individual entry to read comments and TrackBacks if any