Archive for February 2009

Aerial pandemonium ballet

The Army may be getting frickin’ Humvees with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin’ beds:

Boeing’s Direct Energy Systems project recently concluded a test in the New Mexico desert where the Humvee-mounted Laser Avenger system successfully shot down three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in a demonstration for U.S. Army officers.

The Laser Avenger was initially created to dispose of unexploded ordnance (bombs that didn’t detonate) lying on the ground, but given the proliferation of UAVs for both surveillance and weapons deployment, Boeing adapted the lasers to shoot the UAVs out of the sky. The benefit over shooting down the drones with guns or missiles — in startling contradiction to the red lines depicted in the old G.I. Joe cartoons — is that the enemy can’t see where the laser beam is coming from, thereby keeping the ground troops’ position secure. Pretty awesome, unless you’re a UAV. Fortunately UAVs are unmanned by definition, so what we’re looking at here is lasers shooting down flying robots.

Still pretty awesome, if you ask me.

(Title swiped from the late Harry Nilsson.)

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And the winners are…

…already posted for the 2008 Okie Blog Awards. It’s a good mix of old-guard and up-and-comers — I’m a firm believer in “Let’s not always see the same hands” — and best of all, the competition points the way to a lot of high-grade reading material that you, or I, might otherwise have missed.

Congratulations to the winners, to the almost-winners, to those who at least got a traffic spike out of it — and as always, thanks to Mike for putting it all together.

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Now I’m scared

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Peppered by treys

Sometimes you have to wonder how it is that the Sacramento Kings lost 40 games out of 51 with this dazzling array of shooters: they sank 12 out of 18 from beyond the arc, and shot 55 percent overall. Then you realize that weird things had to have happened, and indeed weird things happened tonight. With a 116-113 lead over this array of downtown snipers and next to no time to play, Jeff Green missed the second of two free throws, giving the Kings another chance once they called timeout, which they did. Thunder defense prevented anything resembling an inbound, so the Kings called another timeout. One problem: they didn’t have another timeout. Discussions were held, and a technical was assessed. Kevin Durant stepped to the line — and missed the freebie.

So 116-113 it was, the Kings lose their 41st out of 52, but oh, the points they scored. Beno Udrih had 29, including three treys; John Salmons had 23, including three treys; Kevin Martin had 23, including two treys; Spencer Hawes and Francisco Garcia were also in double figures, including three treys between them.

The Kevin Durant Show was in good form: 39 points, despite that missed technical. Four other OKC players were up into double figures: Jeff Green and Nick Collison with 15; Nenad Krstić, back from a bout with the flu, with 14; and Russell Westbrook with 11. As usual, the Thunder got the better of the boards: 41 rebounds to 34. But they had no real answer for the constant barrage of three-pointers from Sacramento. (OKC managed four of 11.) And before that collapse at the charity stripe in the final moments — Collison missed two, Green missed one of two, Durant missed one — the Thunder were 21 of 24 from the line. From the floor, OKC shot 52.9 percent.

Two out of three at the Ford, but now it’s on the road again, and it’s never a good sign when you have to start a back-to-back with the Lakers (Tuesday). Worse, it’s Portland on Wednesday, and you know they’re spoiling for a fight.

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Strange search-engine queries (158)

When in doubt, they say, fall back on something that works, and this has been working for quite some time now. And it’s so simple: look over the log of visitors from search engines, and pick out the silliest search strings therefrom.

politics “science fiction”:  Lately, it’s more like dark fantasy.

18 years old cutie verified by a doctor to be a virgin and then deflorated by the doctor’s husband at the clinic:  And they say there are no advantages to government-run health care.

immovable type:  Now you know why I run WordPress.

Lobo: I’d Love You To Wand Me:  Myself, I have no desire to be wanded.

opus bill the cat implant card:  Myself, I have no desire to have Bill the Cat implanted.

wesson oil on naked women:  Well, yeah, considering what it does to clothes.

met trent reznor and his wife:  Were they, you know, doing it like animals?

badass bible tattoo:  That Saul of Tarsus was meaner than a junkyard dog, I hear.

Mary Fallin nude:  Finally, a Congressional stimulus package I can support.

justification for a statuette of limitations:  As sculpture goes, it’s necessarily a tad abstract, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

are there real woman that are care and under standing that would like date crossdree man and maybe married no games in new jersey:  Grammatical expertise not required.

Is the term “senior citizen” offensive?  No. Now get the hell off my lawn.

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A little song, a little dance

Fajita fixings down your pants:

I did a mystery shopping assignment at a grocery store back up here on the north side of the city. You know those things many stores have at the exits that go off if you try to steal items with sensors in them? Since when do grocery stores have them? The store now puts those sensors on their raw meat, like roasts, steaks, chicken, etc. I bought a package of fajita meat, and the cashier apparently did not wave it over the deactivator because the alarm went off when I tried to leave with my meat. Who would steal raw meat? I mean really? Those packages often leak blood. I wouldn’t want blood running down my leg if I stuck a package of meat down my pants (ok that sounds really bad doesn’t it?)

As regular readers will remember, lots of people steal meat:

Loss-prevention specialists note that a large number of meatlifting incidents, if not the majority, involve the pilfering of meats associated with luxury dining: rib-eyes, filet mignons, or lamb chops, among other treats. Stores have had particular problems with cuts bearing the Certified Angus Beef brand, which are often displayed near ostensibly less succulent offerings. With only enough money to purchase an ordinary chuck-eye roast, many otherwise ethical shoppers make a snap decision to lift the Angus instead. Store detectives speculate that these meatlifters feel entitled to have steak instead of hamburger on occasion, as a reward for their hard work; swiping an expensive bottle of dish soap doesn’t provide the same sense of satisfaction.

And women are more likely than men to filch the filet:

Though men and women shoplift in equal numbers, such aspirational meatlifters are most likely to be gainfully employed women between 35 and 54, according to a 2005 University of Florida study; men prefer to lift Tylenol or batteries, often for resale and often to support a drug or alcohol habit.

Then again, if batteries leak on you, you’ve got even more of a problem.

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Keynes unable

That said, there must be 50 ways to stimulate the economy, and Marcel lists eight, four of which are good, the rest not so good. This one might be the best:

Put a ten dollar bounty on newspapers — after the trash is all picked up, people will subscribe just to collect the money.

Beats the heck out of a formal newspaper bailout, I’d say.

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Slow death update

I was worse today, and the doctor does not know why. I am to be scheduled for a CT scan, and I’m getting a new set of pills. (Specifically, Darvocet, with which I have no experience.)

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Speaking of death

Those employee benefit plans can be wonderful things, provided they’re not administered at the employer end by complete and utter morons.

Which obviously lets me out. Received today from a life-insurance outfit:

Your policy has terminated because your premium due Nov. 1, 2008 has not been received.

You may apply today for reinstatement without showing evidence of insurability by remitting your payment of [amount redacted] to us immediately. Later application for reinstatement may require you to provide evidence of insurability.

I checked, and yes, they’re taking the prescribed amount from each paycheck, and have been since March 2005. Christ only knows what they’ve been doing with it lately.

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Assuming we aren’t being buffaloed

The new Oklahoma City Thunder mascot will be a bison.

I just hope they don’t name it “Tennial.”

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Presumably eligible

Candidate by Stuart Weitzman

“At the moment,” says the Manolo, “everyone is taking their cue from the new First Lady, and thus the Camelot-era-ish low pump has returned.”

This seems a bit pointy for Jackie, maybe a bit too blunt for Michelle, but there’s always a market for a low-frills, low-rise (two inches) pump in a neutral shade, and I figure Stuart Weitzman will sell lots of this model, which is called “Candidate,” even at a price point perilously close to $300. If you think it lacks flash, scratch this “soy” nappa finish and get it in kid, in either gold or pewter.

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Mr. Clean branches out

The bald guy with the single earring and the world’s greatest (or at least greyest) eyebrows would like to wash your car:

To jump-start plans for a nationwide chain of Mr. Clean Car Wash franchises, [Procter & Gamble] in December acquired the franchise assets of Atlanta-based Carnett’s Car Wash, which has 14 locations.

As practice, P&G is running two car washes near its Cincinnati HQ. This isn’t their first brand extension into services, either; there are three Tide-branded dry cleaners in Johnson County, Kansas. And this makes me wonder:

[I]n 2007, P&G said it bought a minority stake in membership-based medical services firm MDVIP, based in Boca Raton, Fla.

MDVIP hasn’t been rebranded as yet. (I suggest NyQuil.)

For you Royale with Cheese fans, Mr. Clean is known in France as “Monsieur Propre.”

(Via Autoblog.)

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It’s what’s in the grooves that count

A long, long time ago, Michele had a little site called “I Have That on Vinyl,” which was devoted to music she had, yes, on vinyl.

I found myself thinking about that when I happened upon this factoid: the Beatles’ Abbey Road moved 16,500 units of actual grooved plastic last year, the second-largest selling LP in the, um, LP format. Leader of the pack? Radiohead’s In Rainbows, which you’ll remember was a download before it was even a CD.

Perennial catalog stalwart Dark Side of the Moon moved a hair over ten thousand copies on vinyl, but most of the top-selling titles were a bit more contemporary: Guns ‘n Roses’ Chinese Democracy placed third, with 13,600 copies, presumably sold at Best Buy.

Vinyl sales increased 89 percent from 2007 to 2008, though it’s still definitely a minority format: fewer than two million new plastic waffles were seen gliding onto the nation’s turntables last year.

(Title, ungrammatical as it is, swiped from Gordy Records.)

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Letting it slide

Google will claim about 6,000 results for “PowerPoint sucks”, perhaps because, well, um, PowerPoint sucks.

Okay, it doesn’t suck in and of itself so much as it enables its users to suck. Syaffolee describes one such type:

PowerPoint works okay for a seminar where the speaker’s aim is to give the high points and the take home message. But a lecture where every slide is going to count in the final exam? No. Not even if the slides are copied for all the students. PowerPoint condones laziness on all sides: the professor drops a bunch of figures onto the slide with a click of a mouse and babbles the info he already knows without much forethought about how the audience is going to absorb the information; the students treat the slides as an extension of their textbook (which 90% of them won’t read anyway) and don’t bother to take notes because, look!, the prof isn’t writing anything down himself.

Trouble is, to survive this sort of thing, you practically have to take notes:

I coped with such lectures by semi-transcribing the speech. I didn’t even bother looking at the pictures since I already knew I could scrounge out a copy somewhere.

Not having spent any recent months in the Groves of Academe, I have to admit that my particular bête noire is the forwarded email with a PowerPoint file attached; once in a very blue moon these are worthwhile, which leaves about 99 percent of the time when I want to hit the delete key the moment I see the file extension.

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Bloggage 101

Occasional “new media consultant” / old-school reporter Robert Stacy McCain offers advice to beginning bloggers:

  1. Link me often. This will prevent bad kharma. As a friend, I’m useless, but you wouldn’t want me as an enemy.
  2. Christina Hendricks.

Works for me, and I’m one of the alleged elder statesmen on this here block.

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Just this side of scant

The storms that swept through the city’s northwest side no doubt discouraged turnout for the school-board election — well, that and the “There’s an election today?” reaction I got from folks earlier today. I resolved not to miss this one, because I’d already shot my mouth off about it, and because my particular precinct has some comparatively-hawt pollworkers.

Besides, one of the candidates actually made my decision for me — by planting a crapload of those crummy wire signs along my way home. It was an easy matter, therefore, to vote for his opponent. (I cast ballot #186 at about 5:10 pm.)

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Epic Fail shall be rewarded

And richly, too:

Circuit City Stores Inc., now liquidating the last 567 of its 721 stores, says incentive bonuses are needed to dissuade 154 executives and other workers from leaving before the company is dissolved.

Bloomberg News reported today that the Henrico County-based Circuit City’s proposal came in a motion filed in federal bankruptcy court in Richmond.

Circuit City proposed that 16 executives would split $2.3 million if they all achieve their targets, and the remaining non-managerial workers would be in line for $1.62 million if the bankruptcy judge goes along with the idea at a Feb. 25 hearing.

Circuit City also wants an additional $750,000 to distribute as discretionary bonuses to the non-management workers and others who aren’t covered by the program.

A whole seven hundred fifty thou? Wow. How many people might qualify for that?

In all, the company will cut about 34,000 employees by the time the liquidation process ends by the first of April. A skeleton crew will stay on for as long as two years to finish winding-down operations.

Let’s see. The big shots average $143,750 each; the little guys might get $22 apiece.

Tell me again why these invaluable executives, having succeeded in running the company into the ground, aren’t being boiled in oil ($39 a barrel).

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Now I’m impressed

Backup of WordPress database started: 9:02.

Backup of WordPress database (5.3 mb compressed) complete: 9:07.

Update to 2.7.1 started: 9:08.

Update to 2.7.1 completed: 9:09.

Everything should work this well.

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We’ve been Laked

That’s what Lakers do, right? The Thunder’s trip to the Staples Center started out promising, then turned sour late in the second quarter when L. A. put together a 19-4 run to go up 60-47 at halftime. At that point, Kobe Bryant had a mere 22 points. Oklahoma City spent the third period whittling away at that lead, getting it down to four, but the Laker bench spent the first half of the fourth reinstating it, leaving not a whole lot for the starters to clean up: Los Angeles 105, Oklahoma City 98, Bryant finishing with 34, three ahead of Kevin Durant.

However good the Thunder have been lately on the boards, the Lakers were better: Lamar Odom hauled in 18 rebounds, Pau Gasol 14 more, the team finishing with 56 overall, including 16 offensive. OKC gathered in only 46 boards. The Lakers shot only about 45 percent, but the Thunder didn’t break 40.

Apart from Durant, nobody from Oklahoma City broke 20; Russell Westbrook had 17, Jeff Green 16. Durant got the only OKC double-double with ten boards.

The Rose Garden awaits.

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Fark blurb of the week

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Kings of industry

That would be the Sacramento Kings, who, according to this account at SportsByBrooks, are just about ready for a bailout:

Are the Kings done in Sacramento? It’s looking increasingly likely, as the team is horrible and playing to a sparsely-populated Arco Arena on a nightly basis. It doesn’t help that Sacramento is also one of the hardest-hit areas in the housing crisis, and cities like San Jose and Anaheim that already have arenas are stepping forward as possible destinations.

Arco is the second-oldest arena in the league, but finding local funding for a new arena project is proving to be very challenging. There is one avenue that could be pursued, though: What if the Maloofs, the NBA, the city (ex-NBA player Kevin Johnson is now mayor), and the state can convince the federal government that a sports arena is a worthy recipient of stimulus funds?

There are political questions, to be sure:

If George W. Bush was lambasted for supposedly helping out all of his rich friends with his fiscal policies, how would the country react if Barack Obama and Congress started doling out government money to help subsidize wealthy owners when millions of people are out of work? The number of jobs a new arena would create might not be enough to overcome that obstacle.

The country in general doesn’t want any government money doled out to anyone if at all possible. Still, if it comes down to, say, a choice between Arco Arena v2.0 and another stone building full of meddlesome bureaucrats, I’d just as soon they paid the Maloof brothers and be done with it: at least there’s consistent entertainment value, something you don’t always get with the Executive branch.

Lacking that, perhaps the government could adopt an NBA rule: up to three players may be shifted in and out of the Inactive List as needed. It wouldn’t save any money directly — inactive NBA players still draw their salaries — but idling twenty percent of the government at any given moment is bound to reduce the number of Bad Ideas.

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Up close and personal

The two greatest things about Blossom Dearie were:

  • That voice, which sounded like it ought to belong to someone named “Blossom Dearie”;
  • That name, which was her real name.

Okay, they gave her “Marguerite” as a first name. She got over it. And in a career that stretched over six decades, she made dozens of records and thousands of friends.

If your taste in jazz runs to the small ensemble and the whatever-it-is of bebop, you’ve almost certainly already discovered Dearie. (If you haven’t, here’s about nine minutes of her in the middle 1980s.) One thing I did not know: she provided vocals for some songs for Schoolhouse Rock.

And now she’s gone, at eighty-two.

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The Tide of Pink and Flowery

Not to be confused with “red tide,” this is an annoying February phenomenon:

Most of the “typical” valentine’s day gifts are not things that would particularly charm me. Cut flowers — they die, and also with my allergies many of them are not enjoyable to me.

Candy is OK, though most of the “heart box” candy is frankly kind of cheaply made and is not that good. And there’s SO MUCH of it. I’d rather have a couple of nice truffles from a gourmet counter, or maybe a really good chocolate bar, instead of one of the big plushy hearts full of over-sweet creams and caramels. (And some caramels, I can’t eat any more: dental work.) Or for that matter — I really don’t NEED to be eating candy; I’d probably be more thrilled to have someone call me up and say, “I’m going to make some hot soup that you like and bring it over to your office so you can have a nice hot lunch.”

As for jewelry — the ads show all kinds of fancy diamond jewelry. Beyond the concerns I have about the treatment of the people who mine the diamonds (at least in some parts of the world), I have absolutely nowhere I would wear a fancy pendant or ring. I have two very nice pieces of jewelry — both gifts from family — that I almost never wear because they are too fancy for my everyday life. I’d be much more likely to wear — and in fact, to be charmed by — something a bit idiosyncratic and incorporating my interests — jewelry made out of old typewriter keys, for example, or something out of turquoise made by a Native American artist that was actually purchased FROM the artist at an art gallery.

If you blinked at “jewelry made out of old typewriter keys,” take a look for yourself.

Speaking as someone who has never quite comprehended what it is that women want, I consider it a boon when one will say what she doesn’t want.

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The old familiar places

It was an exceptionally long day at the salt mine, and when I pulled into the garage, I found something waiting for me: the newsletter of the neighborhood association, which I deliver to twelve homes on this block. (Well, actually, ten at the moment: we have two vacancies.) I plucked the sack from the Basket Of Incoming Stuff, went back inside, and closed the garage door.

Shortly thereafter, I went back out to the garage, on the basis that as long as I’m walking the block, I may as well start with a downhill stretch, and some semi-infernal mewling arose from the corner, rather quickly traced to a grey cat which had managed to sneak in before the door came down. Kitteh was duly led to the back door, and traversed the threshold of same.

A dozen houses later, I climbed the uphill stretch, and here’s that same grey cat, presumably waiting for me, definitely demanding my attention; not even my best vaudeville-audience hiss would dispatch the creature. One possibility struck me, so I searched the garage, and found no kittens; I’m guessing that this poor soul was just trying to get out of the cold. I am doing my best to overlook the (admittedly small) possibility that this was someone who knew me in a previous life.

Neighborhood cats, as a matter of course, slide through here all the time, especially this time of year, when the sort of birds that would dare give them grief have yet to arrive from their winter homes. Seeing one on the premises, therefore, is nothing unusual; seeing one that acts like it wants to move in, however, is exceedingly rare.

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They never promised us a rose garden

Well, Greg Oden still gets into foul trouble — he had five tonight — but at home, the Trail Blazers were expected to be tougher opponents than they were at the Ford Center, and indeed they were, leading almost the entire game to torch the Thunder, 106-92.

The Blazers pulled this off by skilled deployment of the trey, hitting 8 of 19, and by keeping Kevin Durant more or less bottled up. The Thunder shot a woeful 39 percent, and it got to the point that players who “weren’t in the rotation” — think Chris Wilcox and Damien Wilkins — actually got minutes in the hope that something might actually fall through the net. (Weezy, in 17 minutes, got 11 points and five boards; the OKC bench shot 48 percent, which should give you an idea of how woeful the starters were, although the Three Amigos still wangled 58 points among them, Russell Westbrook leading with 21 and knocking down 12 rebounds.)

Meanwhile, six Blazers were in double figures: Brandon Roy had 22, and Travis Outlaw, who came off the bench for 35 minutes, had 21 more. Oden was good for 16, ten rebounds, and three blocked shots. Overall, Portland shot 48.8 percent, not great, but more than good enough for the night.

The fun resumes at the Ford Center on Tuesday, with the return of the New Orleans Hornets and the introduction of a large, even-toed ungulate.

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The 321st edition of Carnival of the Vanities is dedicated to Andrew Ian Dodge’s late father, the “vagabond engineer”:

While my path in life did not follow his, except maybe to end up in the UK for a while, we did share a common bond of rabid desire for knowledge.

Which now may be seen as a great legacy.

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FICO, schmico

A Forbes pontification from a couple of months ago:

It is the all-important credit score that lenders use to assess what kind of a credit risk a borrower presents.

“All-important,” they say. Sheesh. My own sentiments run closer to these, from a letter to the editor of the Oklahoman:

I no longer care what my credit score is. I’m 59, I’ve timely paid all my bills for 40 years and my credit score has been excellent. Recently my banker told me there was a ding on my credit report and my credit score was now below average. After many letters and phone calls I discovered that a medical provider mailed a bill for less than $50 to an address I hadn’t lived at for 10 years, with a phone number I hadn’t had for 10 years. Obviously I didn’t get the bill and therefore didn’t pay it.

When credit rating companies change my score from excellent to below average because of a trivial bill, unpaid through no fault of my own and after a long history of timely paying bills, I know their score for me is meaningless.

I have a rule: if you’re going to represent something to me as the next best thing to the Word of God, you’d damned well better be prepared to justify a review of whatever you’re passing off as Scripture.

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Rule of thumb, sort of

One Percocet is not enough; two is too many.

(Parameters: 7.5 mg oxycodone, 325 mg acetaminophen per tab.)

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Pole update

Nobody makes Polish jokes anymore, muses Lileks:

I couldn’t figure out why they were made in the first place, but at some point they were awarded the Idiot Sash, and that was it. This was the early 70s, too — had we been swamped by thick Polish immigrants recently? No. Did anyone have any actual evidence to back up the joke? No. Not that it matters; the Polish Person in the story was an interchangeable moron from a culture of morons, and the only reason they work is because Poland had no previous cultural identity. (They were briefly accorded the status of Romantic Oppressed People in WW2, with a government in exile and aristocrats swapping the monocle and champagne glass for the bomb-sight and the rudder stick, but that didn’t last.)

Everyone else had a broad cliche. The French are sensualists, the Italians are excitable. The Spanish: languorous. The Swiss: precise. The Belgians are stolid, the British are eccentric, the Greek are . . . dancey-drinky types who love life and smell of fish, the Eastern Europeans are all Counts or Vampires. The Polish had no such tag.

And I suspect after John Paul II, nobody was anxious to hang one on them.

I’m thinking that the reason the Polish joke died out was because the Poles, by and large, didn’t give that much of a damn: they were busy [insert Industrious Immigrant stereotype here] and couldn’t spare the time or effort to take umbrage.

Extrapolate as you will.

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Monson season

It’s official: Angela Monson has defeated Kirk Humphreys for chair of the Oklahoma City school board.

The returns were somewhat delayed because of Tuesday storms, and Mike McCarville notes:

Humphreys could have been hurt by the storms, which hit northwest Oklahoma City areas considered to be his strongest area of support.

Well, let’s see. Here’s the Oklahoman’s storm-track map:

Track of the 2/10/09 storms

The southwestern stretch lies within Putnam City Schools; up north you get into Edmond. Only a small area — roughly, north of Lake Hefner to half a mile south of the Kirkpatrick Turnpike — actually is within the Oklahoma City school district.

There wasn’t much turnout at my northwest-side precinct, which is in OKCPS territory, but it wasn’t what you’d call solid for Humphreys either. McCarville isn’t wrong here, necessarily, but I’m thinking that Monson might have won this thing even if there hadn’t been a cloud in the sky. And Humphreys doesn’t strike me as the sort of guy who’d blame the weather for an election loss — in public, anyway.

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Life imitates me

Well, it’s not exactly imitation, and it’s not exactly life, but here’s the bit [link goes to video]:

Made by Pfizer, Despondex (fluxotine syndrochloride) is the first drug designed to treat the symptoms of excessive perkiness.

If this trade name seems familiar somehow, you must be a regular reader since, oh, 2004 or so.

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Where there’s a Will

Rogers State University’s athletic teams are called the “Hillcats,” which Lynn believes to be a fatuous euphemism:

Oh come now! We all know what they really wanted to call them.

The University begs to disagree, but they’d have to, right?

It should be noted that RSU came up with this tag after hiring a branding consultant, which makes me wonder what they might have done on their own. Surely they would have rejected these:

  1. Claremorons
  2. Damninators
  3. Turduckens
  4. Shuckydarns
  5. Shotkickers
  6. Hellenic Scholars
  7. Cigar-Store Indians
  8. JurassicRaptors
  9. Fuchsias
  10. Flying Buttresses

Suddenly, “Hillcats” sounds almost good.

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Steep Tarpeian death for them all

Soubriquet addresses a spammer in the manner of Coriolanus:

You common cry of curs! whose breath I hate
As reek o’ the rotten fens, whose loves I prize
As the dead carcasses of unburied men
That do corrupt my air, I banish you;
And here remain with your uncertainty!
Let every feeble rumour shake your hearts!
Your enemies, with nodding of their plumes,
Fan you into despair! Have the power still
To banish your defenders; till at length
Your ignorance, which finds not till it feels,
Making not reservation of yourselves,
Still your own foes, deliver you as most
Abated captives to some nation
That won you without blows! Despising,
For you, the spammers, thus I turn my back:
There is a world elsewhere.

More prosaically:

This coprophilic slitherer posted a “comment” that was just a heap of links. No, I did not follow or examine any of them. I just deleted them, as I will with all others of the spamfilth ilk.

I don’t know who follows these links, I assume the pillocks who perpetrate this abomination make money somehow out of it, but not with my help.

Would that deserved vexation were visited upon them.

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March and August, sitting in a tree

Mostly because “May/December” seems not only overused, but disproportionate.

This letter, to The Atlantic’s advice columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, was signed by “Anne” in Monroe, New York:

My friends call me “Dorian Gray” because I don’t seem to age. I’m 63, but I tend to attract men in their mid-to-late 40s or early 50s. I believe in “truth in packaging,” and anyway, I don’t believe that such an age gap bodes well for a long-term relationship. So on the first date, or first encounter, I bluntly tell potential swains that I’m too old for them. If they ask my age, I tell them the truth. This is an ethical necessity, right? Or is it their problem to figure it out?

Goldberg suggests at first that she might be yanking his chain:

I’m not acquainted with too many 45-year-old men who are wildly stimulated by 63-year-old women.

Two words, Jeff: “Helen Mirren.”

It occurs to me that when I was 45, Sophia Loren had just turned 64. But no matter. Goldberg, albeit still dubious, comes to his senses:

[W]hy not go out on a date without worrying about long-term prospects? Unless, in addition to being superhot, you are obstetrically exceptional.

I guess what I want to know is this: Am I overly credulous for believing this woman’s story?

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We built ’em better in those days

Even a six-foot fence, such as I have, is no defense against flying garbage in high winds, and the day after Tuesday’s Big Storms, I wandered around to the east side of the house to pick up some bits of trash I’d seen through the window.

Most of the windows in this house are fixed in place: they don’t move up or down or sideways, and they’re not supposed to. But they’re flanked by pairs of louvered shutters which operate by hand cranks: open the hatch, turn 90 degrees, and you’ve got fresh air coming through the screen. These things are marvelous, and one of the selling points for the house was the fact that they all still worked more or less correctly.

And one set was open. (Cue sound of jaw dropping into wet dirt.) Last time I remember any of them being open was about three weeks ago, when I was airing out the place after an unusually stench-ridden kitchen bungle. The wind couldn’t have blown it open: the geometry makes it unlikely — you don’t get much vertical wind shear in that small a space — and that particular unit tends to be a tad sticky. So this sucker had probably been open for three weeks, including several days below freezing. The room in question hasn’t been any colder than usual, and the hatch showed no signs that it had even been wet.

If the next question is “Do these things really work?” the answer is yes: open merely half of them, crank up the attic fan, and you can practically fly a kite in the living room.

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Quote of the week

How much “stimulus $$” will you get? Tam sets you straight:

All the monosynaptic folks out there who think that money comes from the butts of government-owned unicorns think that the government is going to Give Them Money!!1!one! How awesome is that?


You’re going to be paying for passing out this Monopoly money for the rest of your lives, even if you were just born today and live to be 100, and in return, they’ll graciously allow you to keep a little bit extra of your own money. The only people to whom this could sound like a good deal probably get outwitted by flatworms on a regular basis.

Obviously it’s time for Planaria B.

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Meanwhile at 34th and Vine

It’s true, I might have been a flop with chicks — I’ve been this way since 1966 — but this alarms me somehow:

This time of year, people of all ages are either on Cloud Nine, dismissive of the consumerist event called Valentine’s Day or constructing voodoo dolls of past significant others.

For those who fall into the category of love haters, a new drug that can make people fall in and out of love is in the early stages of testing, and its development may be a one-way ticket to controlling romantic emotion.

The idea for this drug — and prospective vaccine — is based on the research of neuroscientist Dr. Larry Young. Young worked with animals called prairie voles, which are among the small minority of mammals — less than five percent — who share humans’ propensity for monogamy.

However, prairie voles don’t share humans’ propensity for beating themselves over the head in February for being dateless again, dammit. Still:

When a female prairie vole’s brain is artificially infused with oxytocin, a hormone that produces neural rewards comparable to those created by substances such as nicotine and cocaine, she will quickly become attached to the nearest male. A related hormone, vasopressin, creates urges for bonding and nesting in male voles.

The research also revealed that male voles with a genetically limited vasopressin response were less likely to find mates. Young’s corresponding research found that men with a similar genetic tendency were less likely to commit.

Theoretically, if used to its fullest potential, the drug could effectively harness these chemicals and be used to make people experience emotions of love. Conversely, it could also be used to prevent people from feeling such sentiments simply by receiving an injection of the substance.

Of course, guys who want to limit their vasopressin response on the fly, as it were, need only to get stinking drunk, which will indeed make them less likely to find mates.

Given my long-standing propensity to fall exceedingly hard for people who aren’t the slightest bit interested in me, I suppose I’m a candidate for the negative version of the drug, though I bet it smells like turpentine and looks like India ink.

(Via Fark. Thanks to Leiber and Stoller.)

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Taking the field

The owners of the Minnesota Vikings want $700 million in public funding for a new stadium. Minnesota doesn’t have $700 million to spare right this minute.

Compromise position, advanced by Lileks:

The state pays $700 million, but we get the team, too. Every play will be put through a subcommittee. Games will occasionally adjourn for a week. The Senate and the House will hammer out a compromise resolution that agrees to pass for 16 yards on the third down, but gives up five yards for a penalty. “I think we have a play we can all live with,” said the House majority leader, signaling an end to a stalemate that had kept the game going for six weeks. The bill also calls for one yard to be distributed to high school football teams throughout the state, provided matching federal funds kick in another two inches.

This would never work in the NBA, if only because there’s a 24-second shot clock: no legislator ever voted on anything other than a pay raise for legislators in less than 24 seconds.

Besides, as those of us here in Oklahoma City spending $125 million to spruce up our $90-million sports arena must admit, it’s a never-ending process, as Lileks already realizes:

Not only are we five years behind building a new home for the Vikings, this means we’re five years behind building the one they’ll want after that. The one with holographic refs and an anti-gravity field in the end zone for really spectacular touchdown celebrations.

And anyway, it’s not like a team from Minnesota is going to flee to Los Angeles or something.

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Tweets for you

I hadn’t noticed, but it’s true: the city of Oklahoma City is now using Twitter for various municipal updates and such.

They’re also on Facebook, which means I may have to bite the bullet just to stay on top of things, and by “on top” I mean “at least better than two months behind, like I was on this.”

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Cancel that “presumed innocent” jazz

Can you prove that isn’t your garbage? Norman says you have to:

A new ordinance unanimously approved Tuesday by the Norman City Council will require residents to prove, in a court of law, they did not litter, rather than having the city attempt to prove they did.

The council unanimously approved the ordinance that holds businesses and individuals accountable for unlawfully discarded trash or litter.

The rationale for this:

The ordinance creates a “rebuttable presumption” that an individual or business is littering if two or more items at one location bear a common address or company name “in a form which tends to identify the latest owner of the items.”

With approval of the ordinance, anyone convicted of littering will be subject to a fine of $50 to $750 and/or up to 60 days in jail.

And I said, “Yes, sir, Officer Obie, I cannot tell a lie, I put that envelope under that garbage.”

(Via Fark.)

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