Archive for November 2006

Truthiness or consequences

If you ask me just how it is I came to pick this particular set of candidates, and some of you might, I might just refer you to The Caustic Tart:

The politicians, in the end, win. They’ve successfully muddied the waters. So how to decide who to vote for? Being a libertarian, I think I’m left with two solid options: pick the least lying liar, or make a choice based on who I dislike the least.

I haven’t yet resorted to flipping a coin, but I’m not entirely ruling it out either.

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The candy dish is full

No goblins this year, though someone felt compelled to call me on the landline at 5:46, 5:48 and 5:51 am, which I suppose qualifies as a trick: it certainly wasn’t anything resembling a treat.

Incidentally, I must object to the characterization of these minimal packages as “Fun Size”; no way is there enough in any one of them to qualify as Fun.

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The new Hostage Incentive Plan

News Item: Iran has said it would offer cash incentives to travel agencies to encourage Western tourists to visit the country, giving a premium for Americans, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Tuesday. The proposal is Iran’s latest bid to reach out to ordinary Americans in an attempt by the Islamic Republic’s political leadership to show that its quarrel is with the U.S. administration — not U.S. citizens.

The old American Embassy will hold 66 persons, more or less indefinitely.

(Via Francis W. Porretto.)

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Seeking a wizard

Oklahoma City is looking for an Urban Design Consultant.

More specifically:

Over the last decade the center city has benefited from $2.4 billion in public and private investment. In addition, several new design districts and specialized review of development proposals have been developed to address a growing and changing city. In order to ensure that new development of this scale, value and impact promotes sustainability and quality growth of our city, the City Council allocated resources for four new positions to support an enhanced urban design function as part of the FY 2006-2007 budget. The Planning Department has created an Urban Design and Planning Division to house this staff and oversee this function. A high-level professional advisor is needed to supplement the expertise of staff for guidance and advice in developing the City’s Urban Design Program, including review of high profile projects, and the development of design guidelines and procedures consistent with national standards.

The beginning of wisdom is the point where you realize you don’t know everything.

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Shoveling out the installs

Reprinted from Valentine’s Day:

[T]he Playboy Advisor once took on a three-pronged question from a reader who was (1) worried about sexually-transmitted diseases, (2) suffering from premature ejaculation, and (3) dissatisfied with the size of the unit. The Advisor recommended:

  1. Wear a condom.
  2. Wear two condoms.
  3. Wear three condoms.

This sort of additive protection, as it were, does not work on PCs. After reviewing some of the more questionable decisions made by our end users, we have determined that the efficiency of one’s antivirus protection varies inversely with the square of the number of antivirus products installed on any one box.

In other words, if you have two AV programs running, you have one-fourth the protection; three of them, one-ninth. (Spyware detectors and such interact differently, and cannot be so easily quantified.)

And no, you don’t want to know how many we found on [description of machine redacted].

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Construction on the Great Wall of China began around the year 215 B.C.

If you grew up in the South, you might recognize “B.C.” as the brand name of a headache powder. Kehaar is having aches and pains of his own, but it hasn’t stopped him from bringing you Carnival of the Vanities #215, the first (and still the oldest) of the blog compilations, awaiting your inspection as soon as you break away from this place.

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Stuff received (Wednesday)

Yesterday was all GOP; today the Democrats drop in.

  • A card with a photo of all the statewide Democratic candidates, with the tag “Experienced Leaders You Can Trust.” Brad Henry’s in the middle; the tall guys at the ends are Cody Graves and Lloyd Fields.
  • A letter from Dana Orwig, addressed to “Dear Neighbor,” complains about Trebor Worthen’s “misleading and untrue allegations,” and says, “In view of the trend of Mr Worthen’s mailings, I suspect his campaign has further plans to ‘go negative’.” (I’ve mentioned this tendency before.)

See the wire? That’s what we’re down to.

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I missed the game

Then again, I had a good excuse: dinner date. We hit the Elephant Bar east of Penn Square. No political implications, and the food was pretty decent: I had the misoyaki pork loin, she had something called the Shrimp Adventure Platter. I never thought of shrimp having adventures, but maybe that’s just me.

Meanwhile, the Hornets began the regular season with a W: 91-87 over the Celtics in Boston, and from a cursory look at the box score, I have to assume that it wasn’t pretty. Still, it’s a win, and I’ll take it.

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Serious resonance

Leo Kottke, guitarist extraordinaire, has also been known to sing, but he’s not fond of his voice: it sounds, he said, like “geese farts on a muggy day.”

Which brings us to the lovely Gwendolyn, who, after a cold start, emits a flatulent-goose sound of her own. I took this description to the Infiniti store, where they told me that it’s the starter getting old and (un)cranky, and so long as the car actually starts, I shouldn’t worry about it. “I’ve heard them go two, three years like that,” said the service manager. And, well, cold starts are going to be more common, what with November being here, so I suppose I should get used to the noise. I have about half a dozen Leo Kottke albums; maybe I’ll copy them to CD and listen to them during the warmup.

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It’s a Butte

There’s just no way I can pass up linking to a piece which includes “How to Meet Naked Montanans” in its title.

Especially, you know, since otherwise normal people are trying to persuade me that Montana sucks.

(Inspired, if that’s the word, by this Fark thread.)

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Don’t want no fancy funeral

And they didn’t get one, either:

Thieves last week led archaeologists to the graves of three royal dentists, located near to the Step Pyramid of King Djoser, believed to be Egypt’s oldest pyramid.

Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, told … reporters that the tombs date back more than 4,000 years to the 5th Dynasty. They were meant to honor a chief dentist and two others who treated the pharaohs and their families.

Although their services were in demand by the powerful, the dentists likely did not share in their wealth. The tombs, which did not contain their mummies, were built of mudbrick and limestone, not the pure limestone preferred by ancient Egypt’s upper class.

Back in the day when General Motors was struggling to keep its market share below 50 percent, dentists and lawyers and such, even if they could afford Cadillacs, tended to buy Buicks and Oldsmobiles, lest their clientele wonder if maybe they might be getting overcharged. The idea that there’s historical precedent for this sort of modesty is just this side of fascinating.

This is not to say, though, that the dentists weren’t protective of what was theirs:

[O]ne of [the tombs] included a curse warning that anyone who violated the sanctity of the grave would be eaten by a crocodile and a snake.

It could have been worse: the curse could have included root-canal work.

(Stolen from Scribal Terror.)

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Resisting boilerplate

Susan B., this past Sunday:

This evening, somebody (calling himself “Enlightenment”, natch) posted a long screed in the comments to the previous post that hit on every single 9/11 “truther” talking point imaginable. It was in one long chunk of text, rather than being split up into paragraphs, which just added to the craziness.

Let me reiterate…. this crap is not allowed on my blog. The main reason is it’s disrespectful of everyone who died in the 9/11 attacks and their families. The other reason is that it’s stupid, ridiculous nonsense. Anyone who posts this crap in my comments will be banned and will have their comment removed.

The individual in question arrived here today with the same screed. I read it over, was planning to approve it, then remembered where I heard the name.

I read it again. It’s medium-grade moonbattery, but that’s not quite enough, in my view, to warrant junking the comment. I’ve approved worse. (I daresay I’ve written worse.)

Then I pulled a phrase out of the middle of it and sent it to Google, and discovered at least four places where the entire screed has already been enshrined, indicating that it’s hardly needed here; it’s a traveling text dump, nothing more.

So I’ve decided on this incredibly sub-Solomonic compromise: I won’t post it here, but I’ll put up a link to a place where it’s already up, and you can read it for yourself if you so desire.

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Stuff received (Thursday)

One oversized card today, on behalf of Jim Roth, asserting that he “has made Oklahoma County safer,” a reference to road and bridge improvements in District 1.

Overall, I think I’ve gotten more mail from the Roth campaign than from any other this year.

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You’re too young to have an Inner Slut

There’s a scene in Bill Forsyth’s Gregory’s Girl that’s always stuck with me. It appears that someone has it bad for Gregory’s younger sister; in fact, the someone in question says admiringly, “She’s only ten, but she has the body of a woman of thirteen.”

At the time, this seemed innocent and goofy. Twenty-five years later, it sounds like a warning shot: somewhere between then and now it became de rigueur to turn tween girls into oversexed Bratz. A week doesn’t go by that I don’t get some Googler looking for risqué photos — even fake risqué photos — of twelve-year-old Dakota Fanning. One could argue, I suppose, that I don’t deal well with female sexuality of any sort, and maybe that’s even true, but I can’t see any upside to having middle-school students looking like tired call girls.

Enter Up Stream Girl, which aims to be the anti-Abercrombie and/or Fitch:

We founded Up Stream Girl with a desire to provide fashion apparel with a more feminine, classic look for girls, teens and juniors. The kind of clothes we had when we were younger, but with today’s fashion — the fashion which makes these clothes great! Fun and cool colors, new fabrics and great styles. We call these “Today’s Classics”.

We know today’s girls can be demanding when it comes to the clothes they wear. And they should be. They want clothes that make them look and feel both beautiful and feminine. We also know that our girls face challenges that we never had when we were their age. The clothes a girl wears says a lot about her. The confidence she shows, her beauty, her character, and her belief in herself, can all be inspired by the clothes she wears.

And surely there has to be a middle ground between the burqa and the “Who needs brains when I’ve got these?” T-shirts.

(Discovered here.)

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A shortcut in the paper chase

Life in Erica’s world:

We have this system for electronic document routing. You upload your doc, fill out some things, and then everyone who needs to review it gets an email. They make notes and sign electronically. You manage those notes, fix your doc up all purty-like, and then it goes around again for e-sigs for approval.

“Cumbersome” is putting it mildly. So why not this?

When you log into the system, you have a list of all your docs that are in review or approval, and you have a list of everyone else’s docs that you need to review or approve.

What I’m really really wishing for is an RSS feed for my list of docs, so that whenever someone leaves a note or signs off, I can aggregate that information somewhere, instead of having to go back to that list and refresh, refresh, refresh.

Yeah, it might be a pain in the tuchas to set up — once — but if people’s time is worth anything at all, and surely it is, the return on investment should be considerable.

(Why, yes, I do use Lotus Notes. How did you guess?)

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Look out, kid, it’s something you did

Zimmerman wasn’t exactly wroth, but he was definitely perplexed. He didn’t mind so much when somebody called “Bobby the Poet” put out a Hardly-Worthit version of “Positively White Christmas” or something like that, and he admitted to a guffaw or two when that Weird Al guy ran backwards and forwards at the same time. In the same song, yet.

But he didn’t quite know what to make of Chastity Rome-Sick Blues. Okay, the girl was way cute, if a tad fumble-fingered, and she looked the part. (Johanna? Forget those visions.) Besides, whoever heard of a music video made to promote a book? He shook his head in amazement and pressed the Watch Again button. “Funny,” he finally said. “And it beats the hell out of watching parking meters.”

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Hey, babe, easy on the Plutarch

Neil Kramer reads Cosmopolitan so you don’t have to, and finds stuff like this:

Guys are looking to avoid that overeager girl who goes out of her way to show everyone exactly how intelligent she is. If you find yourself using the names Hemingway, Dostoevsky, or Nietzsche more than once per conversation, you may be guilty of academic name-dropping, which reeks of insecurity.

The hottest woman I ever met had a Ph.D. in medieval French literature or some such thing. And you know what? Not once did it ever occur to me that she might be able to correct my misapprehensions (if any) about Molière’s Tartuffe, nor would it have bothered me greatly if she had.

I suspect Neilochka is dipping into the Double Secret Irony stash for this:

There’s a reason the librarian always TAKES OFF the glasses. We like the woman to be stupider than us. Of course, a woman should read, but preferably material like Cosmopolitan, chick-lit, or maybe a few mommyblogger blogs. Nothing too heady. Men are known to be better in math and science, so please don’t try [to] show off any of your math skills. It is a real turn-off. The only mathematical term you should be using in conversation with a man you are dating is “big,” as in “My Gawd, you are so big!”

Either that, or he’s letting the wang do the talking again.

Now if you’ll excuse me, Michel Houellebecq awaits.

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Stuff received (Friday)

In the waning days, it’s a GOP blitz. Here’s what showed up today:

  • A Trebor Worthen trifecta: three items from the Republican State Leadership Committee, all touting Worthen’s tax stances — and all citing the same bill: HB 1172, which scissored the top end of the income tax and repealed the estate tax. The RSLC’s mailer, Targeted Creative Communications, Inc., has yet to figure out that there have been three owners of this house since the one to which these items were addressed.
  • Another RSLC card, magazine-sized: “Oklahoma State House Republicans: They did what they said they would do.” See the previous item for address concerns.
  • Two cards from Cliff Branan in what appears to be somebody’s handwriting. (If it’s a font, it’s a good one; seldom do any two iterations of the same letter look alike.) One of these is actually addressed to me.

Question to the readership: Should I include items which due to mail delays didn’t show up until Election Day or after? Or should I knock this off after Monday evening?

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What? Another road win?

I am now prepared to argue that the Hornets have learned to play defense. The Bees picked up a startling 53 rebounds, led by Tyson Chandler with 15. (And after fouling out in the first game, Chandler was cooler tonight, getting called only twice.) And there was offense: five Hornets in double figures. There was just the faintest hint of Third-Quarter Drought™, but a 12-2 run at the beginning of the fourth put the Hornets back in front to stay, spoiling the Pacers’ opening night in Indianapolis, 100-91.

Thirty-nine of those 100 points (and 19 of those boards) came from the bench, another indication that maybe this team actually has depth. And since Peja isn’t hitting the 3-ball — he’s 2-9 so far this year — it’s a good thing that Rasual Butler can still drain the occasional trey. (He had two tonight in the fourth quarter.)

And there’s this: against the Celtics last year, the Bees were 0-2; against the Pacers, 0-2. Personnel changes or no, I have to believe that there was some sense of payback out there. Moreover, last year’s Hornets won only 14 road games all season. Getting two early has to be gratifying.

Having ruined opening night for two teams now, the Hornets will have two opening nights of their own: Sunday in New Orleans against the Rockets, and Tuesday at the Ford Center against the Warriors.

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I’m not sure this qualifies as a nightmare

It does, however, meet the part of the definition that calls for a dream that makes you sit up and take notice, so I’ll mention it here.

I’m on the periphery of a popular local eatery/takeout joint when I pick up on the crowd buzz, and what I’m picking up is implausible in the extreme: they’ve set up separate entrances marked “Straight” and “Gay.” Shades of the Southern South, I’m thinking, and what the hell for?

On an impulse, I went in through the “Gay” entrance and noticed that no one was checking credentials, assuming such a thing were possible. I walked over to the “Straight” entrance: nobody watching that door either.

And the crowd seemed about twice as big as usual, so obviously the artificial constraints, or whatever they were, weren’t discouraging customers.

I’m still puzzling over what, if anything, I am to make of this brief tale, except to note that people of any description have little use for attempts to pigeonhole them.

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This will cost a few bucks

I question the timing. About five months after Sandy and Bambi fought to the death on a lonesome Oklahoma two-lane, the Oklahoman comes up with a piece on deer/auto collisions.

Things I didn’t know:

  • October and November are the prime months for such things around here, inasmuch as it’s mating season.
  • Nationwide there are about 1.5 million accidents involving deer, resulting in $1.1 billion in damage. (This works out to $733 per incident, a figure at which I wince: my insurance adjuster told me they just stopped counting at six thousand.)
  • So-called “deer whistles,” which are supposed to repel the critters, don’t.

I may buy one of those whistles anyway, since friends swear by them; but I’ll pass it off as a tiger whistle.

“But there aren’t any tigers for ten thousand miles!”

“See how well it works?”

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Stuff received (Saturday)

It’s yet another GOP blitz, with basically the same mailing issues they’ve had before (see prior installments), and these items fall into three general categories:

  • Cliff Branan (positive): “Why We Believe Cliff Branan is a Great State Senator,” with paragraphs by seemingly everybody from David Boren to the owners of Bennett’s Decal and Label. Two copies received.
  • Trebor Worthen (positive): A handwritten card similar to the one I got from Branan yesterday. I don’t think the text was machine-generated, and I note in passing that Worthen’s penmanship is worse than Branan’s, though still far better than mine.
  • Trebor Worthen (negative): This was the first look I’ve had at the “misleading and untrue allegations” Dana Orwig says Worthen has made. The most obvious problem with the list is that Worthen provides a source for only one of four alleged Orwig statements, and makes an unwarranted extrapolation from that one: one’s position on medical marijuana is not an infallible indication of one’s position on other proscribed drugs. (And that source, incidentally, is the 2006 Libertarian Candidate Survey, which Worthen apparently couldn’t be bothered to take himself.)

On these mailing matters: Assuming that these addresses are obtained from voter-registration records of some sort, I’m wondering if maybe Mrs T (not her real initial), who lived here until 1997 or so, is still listed on the rolls at this address. Maybe I’ll ask a staffer at the polling place on Tuesday if she’s still in the book. (Better yet, maybe I’ll ask Don Danz to come down and vote on her behalf.)

Addendum, 1 pm: As the block captain for the Neighborhood Association, I deliver the monthly newsletter on my block, and as I made the rounds today, I noticed a couple of flyers that had beaten me to the front doors. Here’s what I found:

  • A card with Dana Orwig’s photo and a sticker giving the location of the polling place.
  • A pair of sheets from Dave Mehlhaff, the larger of which complains that Jim Roth is getting outside-the-area contributions from the Victory Fund, a national GLBT PAC, and plays the by-now-dogeared “radical homosexual agenda” card. The Fund is indeed taking contributions for Roth; as for the “agenda,” well, I attended the United States Holocaust Museum’s traveling exhibit of gay and lesbian Holocaust victims, which Roth helped to bring here, and which Mehlhaff presumably would have preferred to be kept under wraps.

I have one concern: that people will come home, find all this stuff on their doors, and suspect they are in some way connected. They aren’t. Orwig and Mehlhaff are political opposites; what’s more, the Mayfair Heights Neighborhood Association has endorsed no candidates for office, and the arrival of its newsletter on this date was timed to remind residents of the monthly meeting Tuesday night, at which Ward 2 Councilman Sam Bowman (not up for reelection this year) will speak.

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Sad songs say so much

Venomous Kate is looking for the 50 Most Depressing Songs, apparently to inspire her upcoming novel. Please feel free to make recommendations to her.

I suggested Jimmy Ruffin’s “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” which is a world-class downer, but I didn’t mention this: at one time the song contained a spoken-word intro which was perhaps intended to set the mood, but which didn’t make it into the version released to the general public. After listening to it, I don’t miss it at all:

A world filled with love is a wonderful sight
Being in love is one’s heart’s delight
But that look of love isn’t on my face
That enchanted feeling has been replaced

Somebody, maybe Berry Gordy himself, heard that and thought it was just too much.

This isn’t quite an isolated incident: right before the last verse of the Shangri-Las’ heartrending “I Can Never Go Home Anymore,” at about the 2:30 point, Mary Weiss originally half-cried, half-whispered, “Listen, I’m not finished.” The line was mixed out of the 45 and wasn’t heard again for decades. (And this, too, is a Depressing Song, what with mother dying and runaway daughter contrite.)

Still, if we want Serious Discomfort in a pop tune, we call upon King Crimson, which in its first two albums was wont to work up implausible titles like “‘Epitaph’ including ‘March for No Reason’ and ‘Tomorrow and Tomorrow’,” from which we extract this example of finely-crafted angst:

The wall on which the prophets wrote
Is cracking at the seams
Upon the instruments of death
The sunlight brightly gleams
When every man is torn apart
With nightmares and with dreams
Will no one lay the laurel wreath
As silence drowns the screams

Confusion will be my epitaph
As I crawl a cracked and broken path
If we make it we can all sit back and laugh
But I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying

This might be laughable were it not so perfectly orchestrated: the song (which runs over eight and a half minutes, with only one more verse and a repeat of the verse/chorus above) is carefully calculated to resonate against your last nerve, making seemingly-adolescent rubbish into a true Tale of Terror.

(Lyricist Pete Sinfield, incidentally, is responsible for the unofficial name of my workplace, but that’s another tale of terror story.)

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We demand a sugar rush

Laney and Jackson in costume

And the Princess of Darkness and the SpiderLad mean business. (Ages: Laney, 3½; Jackson, 8 months; furnishings in the background, God only knows.)

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Peer pressure

Each issue of The Week has a section called “Good Week For…” and “Bad Week For…”, usually with four of each.

This is apparently a Bad Week for Men, and here’s why:

[A] British study revealed that the average man spends a full six months of his life staring at women in a slack-jawed trance of frustrated desire.

Finally, I’m above average at something.

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The young-prisoner hypothesis

Kent Hovind, evangelist and proprietor of Pensacola’s Dinosaur Adventure Land creationist theme park, is facing 288 years in prison after conviction on 58 counts of tax fraud.

Hovind and his wife Jo, who could draw up to 225 years, had argued that they were working for God and that therefore their earnings, and those of their employees, were not subject to taxation. The park itself was closed in April because it had been built without a permit and because Escambia County authorities had never been allowed to inspect the premises. “Right now Caesar demands a building permit,” quipped Mike Whitehead, chair of the County Commission.

Sentencing will be on the 9th of January.

(Via Secular Blasphemy.)

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Our world is blue

Paul Mauriat, the orchestra leader whose 1968 recording of “Love Is Blue” is, to these ears, the second-best French instrumental ever, has died in Perpignan, in southern France near the Spanish border.

Born in Marseille in 1925, Mauriat led his own band during the 1940s, subsequently working with Charles Aznavour and honing his own reputation as a classical pianist. Maintenance of that reputation perhaps led him to release his pop records, starting in 1957, under various pseudonyms; in 1962, as “Del Roma,” he got his first hit as a composer, cowriting (with Franck Pourcel and lyricist Jacques Plante) “Chariot,” a massive hit for Petula Clark. (The next year, an English-language version was a smash in the US for Little Peggy March, under the title “I Will Follow Him.”)

You might figure from that particular example that Mauriat was an exponent of strong melodies, and let the words come in where they will, and you’d be correct. Pierre Cour’s lyrics to “L’Amour est Bleu,” first sung by Vicky Leandros at the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest — it placed fourth — were clearly secondary to André Popp’s music, and when Mauriat recorded it in 1968, he cast it as a sort of neo-Baroque string piece with harpsichord accents. It sold zillions on the Continent and (as Philips 40495) made #1 in the States, the fifth-biggest instrumental, as Casey Kasem says, of the Rock Era. I’m on my third copy of the single.

Starting with Blooming Hits, the LP containing “Love Is Blue,” the next few Mauriat album covers, at least in the US, could be described as Blatantly Sexy, peaking with the late-’68 Mauriat Magic, which produced two minor singles: “Même si tu revenais,” otherwise known as “Love in Every Room,” and a version of John Phillips’ “San Francisco,” which you remember with Scott McKenzie advising you to wear some flowers in your hair.

Mauriat also built a name for himself in the Far East, signing with the Japanese Pony Canyon label in 1994 and touring in Japan as late as 1998. His orchestra, still bearing his name, continues to perform. “Love Is Blue,” to my knowledge, has never gone out of print, and Blooming Hits was just reissued on CD by Collectors’ Choice Music.

And that first-best French instrumental? Right here.

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Quote of the week

GMO Urban Ministries is an offshoot of Greater Mount Olive Baptist Church on Oklahoma City’s largely-black northeast side. They’ve scheduled five public forums through the next year in an effort to “reconnect and revitalize” the black community. The first of them was Saturday, at which OU Black Studies instructor Kevin McPherson laid it on the line:

Why would you expect the very people who made you slaves to save you?

Okay, there’s just a hint of Distrust Whitey in there, and it’s not like I’ve haven’t heard it before. Cue the Temptations’ single “Ball of Confusion,” as they rattle off sound bites from the incessant media blitz, and pick up on Eddie Kendricks: “Vote for me and I’ll set you free!”

But I don’t think Dr McPherson was baiting anyone, especially when you look at what he said in the context of, say, this:

Much of northeast Oklahoma City, formerly the geographic heart of the black community, is no longer owned by blacks, said John Pettis of the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency.

“Until we go back to owning this community, we can’t determine its destination,” Pettis said.

Or this:

Parents have to regain control of their families, discipline their children and instill character and morals, said Wayne Reid of the Eastside Capitol Gateway Main Street program.

“For so long, we’ve allowed the community to raise our children, then we wake up one morning, and we don’t know who that person is in the house,” Reid said.

So jump a couple years forward in the soundtrack of the city, to the point where James Brown says “I don’t want nobody to give me nothing / Open up the door, I’ll get it myself.” Abject declarations of white guilt, however well they may play on the nightly news, don’t mean a thing to the Hardest Working Man in Show Business. And I suspect Kevin McPherson doesn’t want to hear them either: there’s work to be done.

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A price far above rubies (2)

A couple of years ago, with crude oil in the $52 range and my DeskJet at work demanding yet another ink cartridge, I sat down with a calculator and determined the price of HP ink per 42-gallon barrel. The results were predictable yet still amazing: $292,900, more than you’d pay for even Dom Perignon in this quantity.

Gizmodo is now reporting that HP ink costs even more than human blood: 71 cents per milliliter for the contents of an HP 45 cartridge, versus 40 cents for the claret, Barrett.

And actually, it’s worse than they say, because they’re comparing with the 45, a relatively old unit (I use them in my ancient 720C at home) that has less-predatory pricing than newer models. My work box takes the HP 56, which holds a mere 19 ml (versus 42 for the 45) and costs even more than $30. So 42nd and Treadmill has to fork over, not $0.71/ml, but $1.84.

Does this mean that nothing on earth costs more than HP ink? No, it does not.

(Observed at Scribal Terror.)

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Last-minute roundup

I’ve already posted my endorsements, such as they are; regular readers may have ascertained the level of enthusiasm from the context, and have certainly noticed that I didn’t mention any party connections.

So here’s the Shorter Version, with party designation included, and 1 through 5 to indicate the firmness of my support. (Something about which I don’t care in the slightest would score zero, but then it wouldn’t get an endorsement, would it?)

5th Congressional District: David Hunter (D) (3)
Governor: Brad Henry (D) (4)
Lieutenant Governor: Jari Askins (D) (4)
Corporation Commission: Bob Anthony (R) (5)
Treasurer: Scott Meacham (D) (3)
Labor Commissioner: Brenda Reneau (R) (3)
Attorney General: Drew Edmondson (D) (3)
Insurance Commissioner: Kim Holland (D) (4)
State Auditor: Jeff McMahan (D) (2)
District Attorney: David Prater (D) (2)
Senate 40: Cliff Branan (R) (4)
House 87: Dana Orwig (D) (4)
Assessor: Leonard Sullivan (R) (5)
District 1 Commisioner: Jim Roth (D) (5)

Of people not on my ballot, I like Andrew Rice (D, Senate 46), Fred Jordan (R, House 69), Jennifer Seal (D, House 85), Lance Cargill (R, House 96), John Trebilcock (R, House 98), and J. M. Branum (I, House 99).

State questions:
724: Yes (5)
725: Yes (1)
733: Yes (5)
734: Yes (4)

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Rocket science

The revamped Houston Rockets are way better than they were last season, and the Hornets found that out early, falling behind in the first quarter, fighting back with a 16-2 run, and watching an 11-point lead evaporate in the second. But the Bees once again showed some serious D, and David West sank two free throws in the last five seconds to ice it, 96-90.

Chris Paul managed a double-double in the first half, scoring 10 and dishing 10 in 18 minutes; he wound up with 16 assists, tying a career high. Tyson Chandler swept 11 boards, and David West dropped in 22 points, raising his season average to an even 20. And Peja’s mojo put in an appearance: Stojakovic hit five of eight treys. In fact, the Hornets shot better from beyond the arc (9 of 16, 56.3 percent) than from inside (33 of 70, 47.1 percent).

The Bees still can’t hit consistently from the charity stripe: they improved markedly in the fourth quarter, yet still wound up at 60 percent. This is, notes Russ Eisenstein of the radio crew, only the second time the Hornets have started a season 3-0; they’ve never started 4-0. Will history be made this week? The Warriors will be coming to the Ford Center Tuesday, and it’s probably not too much to hope that the Mavericks will thrash them the night before.

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Strange search-engine queries (40)

And the stranger they are, the more likely they are to be cut out of Site Meter’s list and posted here.

switch bodies with Cameron Diaz:  Something tells me this isn’t Roseanne Barr’s wish list.

aesthetic classics/oldsmobile/vodka:  It would take roughly half a bottle of Ketel One to make a late-Seventies Cutlass look good.

how do magicians saw someone in half:  Traditionally, with a saw, though modern three-way slicing techniques call for large panel-like blades.

short hair ohio bats:  During lake-effect snows they flee to Kentucky.

did southern belles wear makeup?  You’d never know it if they did.

blocking spam from senders with jumbled consonants:  You mean “zvtbhqxl@npltzjh.qzw” isn’t a real email address?

how to firm slackened labia:  Two parts alum, one part Summer’s Eve.

konqueror coding error icon illuminati:  Did you run the fnord job?

biting beaver “male sexuality”:  It is considered bad form actually to bite it.

is yogurt colored with crushed red beetles:  Well, not the plain varieties.

ursula andress concave:  I remember her as being delightfully convex.

microsoft allegory:  It ends with Bill Gates saying “640k ought to be enough for anyone.”

women nude in back yard:  Not in my back yard. I checked.

maids that do more than clean in okc:  You can’t afford them.

magical quatrain to have a big bombshell breasted sexy wife:  “O spirits and powers / Grant this unto me / Adjust her rack outwards / No smaller than C.”

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Now this is tricky

If you believe the Independent, this is what’s going to happen:

2050: The last drops of rain fall to earth

World hunt for food as India faces starvation after monsoon fails and harvests are doomed

2060: Tsunami horror hits Britain

Methane ‘bubble’ blamed for catastrophic seabed slide as wave wipes east coast off map

Well, it certainly can’t have been because of water; it hasn’t rained in ten whole years.

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Display error

The idea seemed sane enough: if we (by which I mean “they,” since this didn’t happen to me) actually had a car here, we could sell more car stereos, since shoppers would be able to hear the equipment in its proper environment.

A deal was struck with an automaker, and as the new store began to take shape, the contractor was called in to remove one of the pillars near the entrance so that the car could be moved into the store.

He declined, and of course store staff wanted to know why:

“You don’t have a car.”

Patiently the staff explained the deal with the automaker and how everything was supposed to go.

“But you don’t have a car.”

“It will be here soon.”

“Uh, no, it won’t. It’s on the bottom of the ocean.

Last I heard, salvage operations were continuing.

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Off Point

Former Sinclair Broadcast Group vice-president Mark Hyman, who has been delivering daily commentaries on Sinclair stations’ news broadcasts, is giving up his slot at the end of the month, saying that he’s “exhausted” and wants “to focus more on family activities.”

Hyman’s “The Point” was a regular feature of Sinclair’s NewsCentral offerings, and was regularly applauded and/or excoriated for its distinct right-wing flavor. (Modest excoriation here.)

Sinclair CEO David Smith said that “The Point” has “invoked thoughtful discussions on many topics and across all demographics.”

My own take, from January 2004:

Hyman leans decidedly right, which doesn’t bother me; however, he has that patented Fox News snarkier-than-thou smirk, which does. (Note to television executives: If you’re gonna rip off the Fox News Channel, rip off its most appealing feature: news babes in outfits that seem scantier than they really are.) I’m not sure how well this will play in markets less conservative than Oklahoma City, which is, well, almost all of them.

“The Point” airs locally on KOKH, a Fox affiliate.

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Phrases I never want to hear again

No more of these, please:

  • Anything of the form “A B, C [something that rhymes with B]
  • “But think about the children”
  • “Speak[ing] truth to power”
  • “Anna Nicole Smith,” unless followed by “was found dead”
  • Anything of the form “He was A before he was [something opposite to A]
  • “Rosario Dawson’s dong”
  • “It’s the [noun], stupid”
  • “Our exclusive poll”
  • “I’m [name] and I approved this message”
  • Anything containing the word “Federline”

I would be so grateful.

Addendum, 8 February 2007: I regret to note that Anna Nicole Smith was never mind, it’s just plain mean. Kevin Federline, you may want to know, is still alive.

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A poll of unlikely voters

I suspect they’d sound like Deb:

[A]s for the argument that it’s somehow un-American not to vote, I’d say it’s un-American to shut up and do as you’re told even if it makes you throw up a little. If you’ve got to hold your nose to even get near the ballot, maybe it’s time to retain a little dignity and stay home.

Or, as Jim Hightower used to say, “If the gods had meant us to vote they would have given us candidates.”

Update, Election Day: Jenn*fer rec*mmends th*s sh*rt.

Further update: This is probably what Deb means by holding one’s nose.

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Stuff received (Monday)

These constitute last-ditch attempts, and truth be told, I wouldn’t be surprised to find some of these in the last ditch in the next couple of days.

Anyway, here’s what we have:

  • An expanded version — with family photos, yet! — of basically the same Leonard Sullivan flyer received last week.
  • A sort-of-amusing GOP flyer with a picture of a tombstone and the caption: “The Democrat Controlled State Senate. Where good bills go to die.” Which may even be true, though some of the ones they cited didn’t strike me as all that good, and a couple of them date all the way back to 2003, which is a long time to carry a grudge. (And, pace Dwayne, enough with the “pro-values” tag. If I ever am insane enough to run for office, I promise to run on an Anti-Values platform.)
  • An actual phone call, which I did not answer and wouldn’t have had I been here at the time it came in, from Sheriff John Whetsel, singing the praises of Jim Roth. It gets mentioned here because Whetsel was canny enough to make the entire spiel fit into the meager thirty seconds I allow on my machine.

The polls are open from 7 to 7 tomorrow. [Insert joke about “twelve-hour election” here.]

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A second look

Yale Hollander lives in St Louis these days, but he remembers Oklahoma City; he studied law at OCU back in the early 1990s. He came back through for the first time this past week, and posted some observations, from which I excerpt the following and throw in some commentary of my own:

When I was at the airport on Sunday (November 5), there were 23 flights scheduled between 2 and 5 p.m. None of the gate areas were crowded; there was virtually no line at security. It does appear that the existing concourse is not yet complete, so there should be plenty of room to handle present flight loads and even a healthy increase in flight volume should that situation arise. I see no reason whatsoever to go to the expense of building another concourse which will likely go underused or completely unused.

Barring the sudden disappearance of malefactors from the face of the earth, I don’t see any huge upturn in air travel; I have never quite subscribed to the “If we build it, they will come” theory inasmuch as it applies to airports.

If OKC does aspire to host larger and more consistent convention business, there will probably need to be one more large scale, higher end hotel within proximity to the Cox Center. This might be the perfect opportunity for the Drury chain to break into the marketplace with a Drury Plaza.

Penn Square is clearly the marquee shopping mall in OKC. To put it politely, Fifty Penn is in terribly sad condition. There’s essentially four operations driving that mall (Full Circle Books, Harold’s, Balliet’s and Belle Isle Brewery) and that’s way too few to make the center a viable destination. One thought I have is to incorporate the three retailers into [a] possible mixed use center on Western… A bookstore like Full Circle would do very well in such an environment and Harold’s and Balliet’s would certainly play well into the hands of the demographic that would work and/or live near there.

Full Circle, after starting out in what is now the Asian District, was actually on Western during the 1970s, in the old Veazey Drug. later VZD’s. A fire at VZD’s drove them out.

One thing I noticed while driving up and down NW Expressway and N. May as well was the proliferation of new or recently built strip malls within a stone’s throw of abandoned ones. Some of the abandoned locations weren’t even built when I last lived in the area — so they’ve gone up and gone bust in a mere 13 years and already been supplanted by new strips nearby! This just seems to make little sense to me and really clutters up the area. NW Expressway west of Independence and pretty much past Council Road is an absolute hodgepodge if not [an] outright mess in places. It’d be nice if the abandoned strips could be razed. And yes, I realize that there are a couple or three different municipalities responsible for the zoning in that area. Something needs to be done to clear the clutter.

Two municipalities. Warr Acres has a strip of the Distressway, roughly 5400 to 6000.

I don’t see this area improving much over the next few years, since right now its most distinctive characteristic is horrendous traffic, not exactly a selling point for anything New and/or Different.

I don’t think OKC’s downtown is situated well for a true urban mall along the lines of an Indianapolis Circle Center nor do I feel like an urban arcade along the lines of what you see on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue or even a 50 Penn style format would be very successful without full time high end residences in the area or a substantial, sustained retail tourist trade (again, highly unlikely outside of NY and Chicago). The raw infrastructure certainly seems to be plentiful to lure more office business to the area. And while Bricktown certainly seems to be a logical and attractive area to locate restaurants, it wouldn’t hurt to land a couple of higher-end dining locales to the central business district of downtown. Notwithstanding Bricktown’s relative proximity, it’s not the same as having a Ruth’s Chris within a block or two of the major office towers downtown for business lunches and dinners. Surely downtown can support a couple of these types of places.

Restaurants are spreading out away from Bricktown; I expect this trend to continue. And really, I envision Ruth’s Chris somewhere along Western, in the manner of its Kansas City restaurant, which is on the Plaza, five miles south of downtown. Then again, I suspect we’re not on their radar just yet.

I am firmly convinced that Bricktown needs a healthy mix of national and local operations to be a success. As much as it may be nice to be able to have a district that’s exclusively “local flavor,” you need name recognition in order to get a certain segment of out of towners to even consider the area. The addition of the area’s second Cheesecake Factory together with something along the lines of a Houston’s or Houlihan’s would be a good infiltration of a nationally recognized brand to complement the local entities already present. Some street food vendors, especially ethnic ones, would also be a nice touch, especially during the warm weather months. I’m not sure retail is ever going to take hold in Bricktown and I’m not sure it needs to.

I can go along with this, though I’d prefer a Houston’s to another Cheesecake Factory; if you’re going to pitch a restaurant as a destination, it’s more plausible if you only have the one.

Retail, I suspect, is more likely to materialize on Automobile Alley (which I see as having Restaurant Row potential) or in the to-be-cleared area between old and new I-40 alignments.

Back in the revived [Blazers] franchise’s first season back (92-93) we were astounded by the reception the team got. It wasn’t unusual to see crowds of nearly 10,000 on weeknights and packed houses of 13,000 on weekends when Tulsa was in town. We were both a little taken aback to witness crowds of what must have been about 3,000 to 4,000 on Friday night and Saturday afternoon — attendance was never announced.

According to the CHL, the Blazers averaged 7,154 for their first five home games, which is a little off pace: last year’s season average was 8,609. (The Ford Center seats 18,036 for hockey, so it’s usually going to be half empty, or half full, depending on your frame of reference.)

Politically risky suggestion #1 — do something about the liquor laws so that grocers can at least sell wine. If that restriction is modified I’d be willing to [bet] that Trader Joe’s drops 2-4 stores into the area. Wine sales make up too much of their revenue to justify opening stores anywhere that they can’t have a wine department. I think TJ’s would be a great addition to the area and would certainly improve the present grocery landscape. Politically risky proposal #2 — open more businesses on Sundays and open the ones that do operate that day a little earlier. I was really surprised to see that Will’s Coffee Shop was closed on Sundays. What better day to sit and relax with a coffee and the paper than Sunday? I wanted to grab a burger at Irma’s before catching my plane out of town — no dice.

I’m firmly behind #1, though it will take some serious finagling to get such a measure through the Legislature. As for #2, we don’t have much in the way of blue laws, so it’s going to take some substantial increase in demand before the supply appears.

There’s lots more in Mr Hollander’s piece, which I suspect will be sliced and diced over at OKC Talk; inasmuch as there is almost no overlap between their readership and mine, I figured I’d post some of it here and see where the chips fall.

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Archie Bunker: SUV owner

Well, okay, no, he wasn’t really. But there’s one parked outside his house.

(Probably not a LaSalle, though. Via Pop Culture Junk Mail.)

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