Archive for May 2010

Sinking penmanship

So I wrote to Humongous Bank and Trust Company (Member FDIC) to close out an old account. They wrote back to the effect that “we’re currently unable to complete your request because the signature on your request doesn’t match the signature in our records.”

Imagine that: my handwriting changed some time between age 21 and age 56. Who would have guessed?

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Hey, they’re paying the bills

A sponsor is a sponsor is a sponsor, right?

I’ve asked a few guys I know who race in various series (not NASCAR) what, if anything, would be their limit on sponsorships… I always found it hilarious that the oldest guy in NASCAR drove the Viagra car. Would a big tough race car driver drive a sparkly pink Barbie car? The Tampax car? The Valtrex car? Do they really give a sh!t what’s written on the hood when they’re making money hand-over-fist?

Short answer: “No, they really don’t”:

[W]hen you get one you’re so damn lucky to have it that you don’t care if you’re driving the KY Liquibeads Hello Kitty Pocket Vibe cup car, because you’re driving a cup car.

At the very least, it ought to be slippery. Aerodynamically, I mean.


But I, for one, would love to see the Talladega Tampax 500.

Let’s hope there’s no red flag.

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Phiduciary in Phoenix

Michelle Malkin was not impressed by that “Los Suns” bit worked up by Phoenix in Game 2 against Los Spurs. I figure this sort of thing is shrugworthy myself, but maybe that’s just me.

Malkin also pointed to this bit from the Phoenix New Times:

Forget the expensive business conferences: The greatest example of government bailout excess may just be Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver, whose banks have taken $140 million in Troubled Asset Relief Program funds.

Yeah, it must be nice to be the CEO of a couple of banks that need massive public assistance and still be able to afford your own a basketball team.

“Afford” being a relative term. With trade rumors raging, Sarver’s reportedly seeking to shed $40 million from his team’s payroll in order to make ends meet. In other words, you’re helping Sarver keep his banks even as he short-changes your team.

All of which sounds reasonable enough, except that the quote in question is over a year old: we’re talking February 2009. So has Sarver played Scrooge? In 2008-09, Los Suns’ payroll was $76 million, which cost Sarver $4.9 million in luxury tax. (Of the seven teams assessed the tax by the NBA, Phoenix paid the least; the Knicks and the Mavericks forked over more than $20 million apiece.)

This season, the Phoenix payroll ran $75 million. If Sarver was planning to shed $40 million in payroll, he missed by about, um, $39 million. The luxury tax threshold is lower this year, so Sarver will have to ante up another $6 million or so.

What about next year? Three of the Suns have early-termination options: Amar’e Stoudemire, Channing Frye and Grant Hill. If all three of them take a powder, Sarver is still on the hook for $40 million, and he’ll have to fill roster spots somehow.

For those more concerned with hardwood than high finance: Phoenix won their third straight against the Spurs last night, 110-96, led by second-year man Goran Dragić, with 26 points, all in the second half. Dragić comes from Honduras Slovenia and makes less than $2 million a year.

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Pressure points

It’s two women versus me. (Keep in mind that I’m outnumbered even when it’s one woman versus me.) I prevail, but just barely.

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It seemed like the right time

And hey, the picture is only sixty years old.

Betty White circa 1950

This is Betty White, all of twenty-eight in 1950, more or less how she looked on her first TV series, the Los Angeles local program Hollywood on Television. In 1953, she helped create, and starred in, the sitcom Life with Elizabeth, and things just grew from there.

(Seen at

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Mourning outside the bun

Taco Bell just isn’t the same without the Beefy Tostada:

I forecast the beefy tostada’s demise, you know. I did. I was eating that thing for lunch a couple times a week — oh this was years ago — and I noticed over time that the shell was always a bit stale. I saw the writing on the wall. A stale shell means people aren’t ordering the item enough to require opening a FRESH tumbler of pre-fab shells under a heat lamp. Sure enough, the day came when I went in and the beefy tostada was no longer on the menu at all. Tear-stained pillow. I don’t adapt well to abrupt change like that.

I admit to an excessive fondness for the old Bellburger (later “Bellbeefer”), which was a fairly-ordinary hamburger bun stuffed with the standard taco filling. It had to die, and it did.

Oh, and there’s this:

By the way, the hot sauce packets have undergone a Starbucksian change in labeling. There used to be “mild,” “medium,” and “hot.” Now they have “mild,” “hot,” and “fire.” So really, the medium is now “hot.” It’s not really that HOT. It really is still medium.

I suspect lawyers had something to do with that.

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A thousand islands, perhaps

The American “melting pot” has apparently been supplanted by a salad bowl, much to McGehee’s annoyance:

If we’re a salad bowl, then we are not, nor ever can be, distinctly and irrevocably American; at some unforeseen future time, supposedly, we can each be sorted and separated once again into our original nationalities and sent back where our ancestors came from.

In short, “salad bowl” is a national suicide pact. And I say the hell with it.

The Canadian salad bowl is given a less-croutonous name: “cultural mosaic.” It’s a better metaphor, anyway: each of the several gazillion tesserae is firmly fastened in place, unlike those wet vegetables to the south, which can be given the appearance of unity only by pouring something over the top of them.

It would be well to remember that the current push toward multiculturalism is coming, not so much from immigrants, legal or otherwise, but from our homegrown class warriors: it’s an integral part of their divide-and-canker strategy.

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I expect a Wings Tax will be next

Buffalo, New York, 1976. Stanley Makowski is the mayor. He hasn’t announced whether he’ll run for a second term. But the question is ultimately answered for him:

The occupancy tax, enacted in 1976, proved to be a major downfall of his. He enacted an $8 to $12 per year tax that was levied on occupants of commercial and residential buildings to help fund a $1.5 million Municipal Housing Authority deficit. At one meeting in 1977 he had to defend it before 500 jeering citizens. Most people complained that it wasn’t so much the tax, as what it was used for.

Makowski decided against running again, and the tax, though upheld as legal, was repealed in 1977.

Which doesn’t mean it was forgotten:

For three decades, the city opted not to send out collection notices, choosing instead to collect the tax as properties were sold to new owners or refinanced. The unpaid tax becomes a lien on properties that must be settled before a sale occurs or a new mortgage is approved.

But city officials said Friday that the tax office has been converting to a new computer system. Transferring thousands of delinquent accounts to the new system would have taken a lot of time and money, officials said. A decision was made to send out notices.

The notice sent to property owners reads as follows: “… You are hereby notified that the 1976 Occupancy Tax, as itemized herein, remains unpaid, and if not paid on or before May 31, 2010, will be added as a delinquent accounts receivable invoice and subject to additional collection fees.”

Approximately 3000 Buffalonians were billed for that one year’s worth of tax plus thirty-three years’ worth of accumulated interest at 1 percent per month. A spokesman for current Buffalo mayor Byron Brown says that “the mayor was not informed that the bills were being prepared and mailed.”

(Via Fark.)

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Kicked in the crotch? There’s an app for that

Further evidence that Mike Judge’s Idiocracy was, in fact, a documentary:

Ow My Balls app for iPhone

Aw, nuts. I’m gonna go pound some Brawndo.

(Via Ex-Genius.)

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I assume this is pre-launch

Apparently they’ve found a format for 99.7 KZLS: Scott Shannon’s True Oldies Channel, which plays a slightly wider mix of stuff than does 92.5 KOMA. Or so it seems. It’s hard to be sure, since the signal keeps dropping in and out, as though someone were panning the volume control from zero to 11 and back again on an irregular basis, even occasionally during the commercials. It’s better today, though, than it was yesterday. Actual sound quality is meh, but that’s to be expected around here. (Tulsa stations generally sound better than Oklahoma City stations.)

This is the second satellite format offered by Citadel Media, the delivery service once operated by ABC Radio, to go on-air in the Oklahoma City market. (The first is The Touch, an old-school R&B format carried on 1140 KRMP.)

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Strange search-engine queries (223)

In this weekly feature, we peer into the site logs, look for visitors from La Google or El Bing or some similar outpost, and attempt to justify their presence on the basis of snark potential.

david ruffin penis size:  This adds a whole new dimension to “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg.”

shraga gafni danidin stories:  You got me. I’m guessing they start something like this: “Shraga, Gafni and Danidin walk into the Kaaba…”

goran dragic where is slovenia:  A long way from Arizona.

can floxstat be used for vaginal fishy smell:  For, or against?

greek boobs:  The new term is “drachma queens.”

bald shit gay dirty dick fudge:  I suppose this is what I get for complaining about “greek boobs.”

some men have Grape Nuts thrust upon them. quote:  Grape Nuts don’t have a whole lot of thrust, what with their irregular surfaces and generally non-aerodynamic shape, so at best they’re going to be poured over your head, which is no big deal unless they were sitting in milk at the time.

“whole foods” “6006 nw grand” oklahoma:  A reasonable assumption, though about a year early. Don’t forget the Grape Nuts.

sarah palin wears fake glasses:  The better to see through the likes of John McCain.

Science equations of how Violet Parr turns invisible:  You’re asking for the laws of physics to apply to a cartoon? Just get yourself some fake glasses.

Meredith Vieira orange dress:  I went through nearly 200 photos, and this is as close as I could get:

Meredith Vieira wearing something orange

Then again, as Duyen Ky reminds us: “Orange should be reserved for road-hazard cones by federal law.”

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As tiers go by

People who book conventions talk about first tier, second tier, down to nth tier; there’s presumably no point in going to some place designated as n + 1. Oklahoma City is somewhere around the third tier, and at least some folks around here aspire to climbing up to the second; the whole “Big League City” promotion, devised to sell a MAPS-y tax to improve the Ford Center to full NBA standards, was the poster child for those aspirations. The first tier, where you find places like New York and Los Angeles, is of course out of reach: these are our world-class cities, and they’re not looking for competition.

What world-class cities are looking for, apparently, is homogenization:

The joy of great cities lies in their differences. What’s special about Stockholm is different from what makes London or Vienna attractive. The “world class city”, and its gormless sibling, the “world class place”, is a political slogan, conjured by globally minded, air-travel addicted wonks, that has been adopted, sadly and dimly, by politicians, quangos and planners around the world. I’ve even heard, much to my disbelief, Ken Livingstone and Boris Johnson talking of London’s need to become a “world class city”. Blimey, mush, if London hasn’t been a top-drawer city for the past Gawd-knows-how-many centuries, I don’t know where between one and eight million Londoners have been living.

The dangers of the “world class” concept are particularly disturbing for cities smaller than London more readily harmed by globalised architecture and planning. The centre of Stockholm is under threat from a tide of thoughtless, shiny, air-conditioned architectural schlock, with politicians seduced by the idea that a “vibrant” city centre has to look like a computer-generated rendering of the most slickly dreadful and characterless place you can imagine, full of smiling people in casual clothes and with more witless shops dropped on them than the Luftwaffe dropped bombs on European cities a lifetime ago.

Remember this the next time someone tells you that what Bricktown needs most is more retail.

(Via Aaron Renn.)

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No sun up in the sky

In memory of Lena Horne (1917-2010), this clip is from the 1943 film Stormy Weather.

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The next text-delivery system

Elisson gets an advance look at the label:

PORTABLE INFORMATION STORAGE SYSTEM requires no batteries, stores images or alphanumeric characters with equal ease. Data retrieval uses principle of SELECTIVE REFLECTION™ in conjunction with electromagnetic radiation source (not included). Access any part of your database with simple manual operation! Available pre-programmed with large variety of software.

Store below 451°F.


I like it already.

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The use of URL shorteners, argues Costa, has gotten totally out of line:

[Politico] Author Mike Allen seems to be a compulsive user; it looks like every hyperlink in every one of his posts is shortened. Another URL-shortening abuser I’ve noticed is the New York Times’ David Pogue, although his most recent articles seem to be free of the embedded links (I’m pretty sure they come up in his emailed HTML newsletters, though). There are probably plenty more examples out there. I’m guessing this is coming about out of lazy habit: Some folks send out so many short-form missives that they automatically pass their referencing URLs through a shortening service, and use them regardless of need.

All this might seem like splitting hairs, but it’s ultimately bad form. Shorteners have a host of shortcomings, including potential spam/hijacking uses through their blind links, quicker linkrot, and slower click-thrus.

To put the best possible face on it: does count the clicks to a URL it’s shortened, so someone curious to see what sort of out-click pattern prevails among his readers might well use it for that reason alone.

But I probably won’t be among the clickers; outside Twitter and other space-limited zones, I tend to assume a shortened URL is an attempt to Rickroll me, or worse.

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Some day all homes will be like this

Well, maybe not yours or mine, but we can dream, can’t we? I mean, a water slide from the master suite down to the pool?

Now this is living

What’s not to love?

Sure, it sounds fancy and bizarre, but think about it — a century ago if you told people that in the future we’d all be pooping in closets in our houses and liking it… wait. Let me start that over.

Take two: if you time traveled back a century and told people that in the year 2010 we all have indoor plumbing in the developed world, they’d be surprised, right? But it’s gone from being just for the rich to completely standard. (Note: I have done no research and this is all based on faint memories of The Great Brain books.) So why can’t indoor water slides be completely standard, too? And why can’t we not bother waiting until 2110, but get them now?

And is this an acceptable trade-off for the flying cars we didn’t get?

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What’s at steak here?

Has this happened to you?

Let’s talk about steak for a moment. Was the last one you ate good? How about the one before that? Be honest.

The first bite, in all probability, was juicy and tender. Not bad. A brief hit of beefiness, enough to spur you on to bite No. 2. But by bite No. 4, there was a problem: grease. The tongue gets entirely coated in it. It is at this point that many hands reach for that terrible abomination called steak sauce. It’s acidic and zingy and cuts through grease, but it blots out the weak flavor of the steak.

Just incidentally, this weekend I noticed, right next to Heinz “57” Sauce on the grocer’s shelf, a lower-priced store brand labeled “59.” Now “60” would have been overdoing it: 59, after all, is prime.

Come to think of it, “prime” may be the problem:

In the 1960s, graders began cutting a side of beef and looking for the dots and swirls of fat within the exposed rib eye. This fat is called marbling. The more marbling in a rib eye, the higher the grade. Other than that, not much has changed at the USDA. What a beef grader prized in 1926 is the same thing a grader prizes today: fat.

And while fat is wondrous stuff, there’s a lot more to a steak than mere fat levels.

The government, of course, can’t give you anything resembling consistent information on the subject:

First, the government was pro-fat (to protect consumers against the scourge of lean beef) and then it was anti-fat (to protect consumers against capitalists responding to the earlier regulations) and now the pendulum is swinging to the fat end again (to protect the consumers against last decade’s government)…

I expect, though, that some misguided Federal loon will eventually come up with a new standard for steak — and, inevitably, for steak sauce, which, once adjusted for inflation, will be numbered something like 176.4.

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Beyond Goldfinger

Emily Garber, who runs Stupid Nail Polish Names, is interviewed by Salon, and offers this observation:

I’m happy to see some flexibility in the connection between nail polish colors and their names. How dull would life be if you woke up in the morning and had to decide whether to put on “Light Baby Blue With Fine Silver Glitter” or “Moderate Cerulean With Matte Finish”? Knowing that I’m wearing #57FEFF on my toenails is not likely to make me smile. On the other extreme, it’s pretty silly to have a name with absolutely no connection to the color it represents. Naming a nail polish is like titling a painting. A good name is complementary, not redundant, to what it describes. Just because your painting is of a guy on a horse doesn’t mean you have to call it “Man Riding Stallion,” but nor should you call it “Octopus Strangling Banana.”

I’m hoping that the reason she doesn’t smile is because she knows that #57FEFF looks like…


What would you call that? “Cyanotic” seems a bit extreme.

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New tests of sock retention

From Wikipedia’s article on the Yamaha Electone organ:

Playing the Electone is a physically engaging activity requiring considerable dexterity and coordination. The performer sits facing the console at a comfortable distance, with the lower manual at about elbow height and with their feet suspended slightly over the pedals. Their right hand typically plays the upper manual, while their left hand plays the lower manual, though in practice both hands may often play the same manual, especially if each mimics a different instrument or orchestral section. As they play, they may change registrations with conveniently-located finger controls located near the manuals. Their left foot plays the pedalboard with dancelike motions that can range from lively to languorous depending on the character of the music, Meanwhile, their outstretched right foot rests firmly on the expression pedal, which they pump gently in order to change the instrument’s overall volume or to accent their music dynamics. When they wish to make more pronounced dynamic changes, they simply use firmer heel or toe pressure on the pedal. They may also occasionally play the pedalboard briefly with both feet. (Many Electone performers play barefoot so as to achieve greater precision with the pedals.) Some Electone models also include a second expression pedal, known as an effects pedal, which can produce changes in pitch or other effects; toe switches on the main expression pedal with which the performer can change registration; and a knee lever, operated with the right knee, with which the performer can sustain notes (as with a piano’s sustain pedal) or produce other effects.

Which may or may not prepare you for the following:

(Seen at SF Signal.)

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Where to take this leak

Roberta X, on the urgency of stanching the flow from that Gulf oil well:

I wish ’em well in that effort. Darn it, I need that stuff for my car! Save the shrimp for cocktail sauce! Can’t we use a few of the zillions of Federal laws to stop up the leak? Surely the Congressional Record and the Code of Federal Regulations are printed on something fluffy and absorbent, aren’t they? They couldn’t be that blind and improvident, could they?

Unfortunately, they don’t think that far in advance, and I suspect I could have cut off this sentence a lot earlier.

So we fall back on pre-sliced, rustproof, easy-to-handle, low-calorie, Simpson’s Individual Emperor Stringettes, free from artificial coloring, as used in hospitals.

It’s either that or hair.

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The David Brooks Brothers approach

The Republican party apparatus, suggests Stacy McCain, is a faux meritocracy:

When somebody’s college roommate doesn’t get the job, the next alternative is to hire “Joe Resume,” the immaculately groomed guy in the $700 suit who can deliver a persuasive 20-minute Powerpoint presentation. An ability to deliver the superficial appearance of competence, of course, is a poor substitute for actual competence, but Republicans place a lot of emphasis on looking good in a suit.

That the well-groomed Republicans got their asses kicked in 2008 by a campaign orchestrated by a slob like David Axelrod demonstrates the shortcomings of the Dress For Success school of political strategy. And before that, the polite Republicans got their asses kicked in 2006 by a campaign orchestrated by Rahm F***ing Emanuel.

To those of us for whom “persuasive 20-minute Powerpoint presentation” is a contradiction in terms, it’s yet another reason to resist the embrace of the GOP, though I suspect that Sarah Palin’s bullet points might actually have one redeeming social value: muzzle velocity.

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The wonderful one-hoss Ché

The world’s largest retailer is cordially hated by rather a lot of folks in its home country, a situation which Greg Hlatky proposes to solve with a bit of rebranding:

Stores in or near centers of enlightened thought should change their name to Wal-Martí. Instead of some little grey-haired grandma welcoming you there should be a bearded revolutionary in fatigues and beret (cigar acceptable). The face of management wouldn’t be some paunchy, middle-aged guy in shortsleeves but an Oriental in a Mao suit. This should send a thrill up the leg of every progressive customer. Nothing else need change.

Target practice, anyone?

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He’s gotta have it

Knicks fan Spike Lee has temporarily sublet his soul to the Boston Celtics:

“We need LeBron,” he said. “I feel we have a better chance to get LeBron James if Cleveland loses this series to the Celtics. The quicker Cleveland loses, the better our chances are of getting LeBron.”

There is, of course, a limit to Lee’s devotion:

“I’m not putting on any green and I’m not going to kiss the Blarney Stone or do the shamrock thing. I hate the Red Sox as much as I hate the Celtics and the ghost of Johnny Most and all those guys. This is the first and last time I root for Boston on anything, but for this one possible result it’s worth it.”

As always on this topic, King James had nothing to say, though the Cavs are down 3-2 to Boston at the moment.

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Higher reasoning power

The logic displayed here is utterly impeccable:

I stopped at the liquor store this afternoon to pick up a fresh bottle of vodka because, you know, it’s a day that ends with a y.

Could there possibly be a better reason? I suspect not.

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No point

They say there’ll always be an England, though evidently the youngest subjects of the Crown are in grave danger these days:

The traditional children’s party game pin the tail on the donkey is under threat because parents consider it a health and safety risk.

The claim comes from retailers and parenting experts who say mothers and fathers are increasingly reluctant to put pins into the hands of youngsters.

Inexplicably, the new party favorite has far greater potential for damage to one’s person:

Tesco claims that sales of pin the tail on the donkey games have been outpaced by the piñata, an import from Mexico.

Nicole finds this risible:

Seriously? A game where a dizzy blindfolded child swings with a bat at a suspended object is safer than a potential tiny stick with a pin? Bats give longer reach to the potential beaning trauma.

Then again, perhaps we shouldn’t say these things out loud:

[B]efore we get all smug about it, remember, there but for the grace of obnoxious pushy individualists willing to holler go we.

Of course, should it happen here, eventually the name “piñata” will have to be replaced with something less ethnic-sounding, lest someone take offense.

Let’s see: a figure, made of decidedly non-durable material, that distributes goodies when pressure is applied…

Got it. “Come on, kids, we’re gonna beat on the Senator!”

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All your bugs are belong to us

Spotted by Fightin’ Mad Mary in and around her Southern California neighborhood:

Government Insect Trap

California being a donor state, they’ll presumably get back fewer bugs than they contribute.

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To the surprise of no one

As mentioned last week, Whole Foods announced that yes, they would be locating a store in the Big Breezy, and yes, it’s where most of us (or at least Steve Lackmeyer, anyway) thought it would be.

Here’s the press release:

Whole Foods Market recently signed a lease enabling Chesapeake to move forward with the construction of a 35,000 square-foot store along North Western Avenue between North Classen and N.W. 63rd Street to anchor the next phase of Chesapeake’s development activities around its 50-acre Oklahoma City headquarters.

Whatever Aubrey McClendon wants, sooner or later he gets.

Scheduled to open by year-end 2011, the new Oklahoma City Whole Foods Market will be the largest natural and organic supermarket in the state. In keeping with Whole Foods Market’s recently announced national initiative to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 percent by 2010, the supermarket in Oklahoma City will be built to strict green building standards. The Oklahoma City store will incorporate an energy efficient design, alternative refrigerants and advanced eco-friendly systems.

WFMI is trending toward slightly-smaller stores: in today’s earnings report, they report that “since the Company’s first quarter earnings release, the Company has reduced the size of three stores in development by an average of 14,500 square feet each.” And with limited space available at that end of the Classen Curve, 35k may be pushing it, especially with all those people from Edmond looking for a place to park.

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Not a snap judgment

Given contemporary culture’s preference for the edgy over the edifying, it seems almost anticlimactic to report that scratching a serious artiste often reveals a person with serious issues.

Model Rie Rasmussen, on the subject of fashion photographer Terry Richardson:

“He takes girls who are young, manipulates them to take their clothes off and takes pictures of them they will be ashamed of. They are too afraid to say no because their agency booked them on the job and are too young to stand up for themselves.

“His ‘look’ is girls who appear underage, abused, look like heroin addicts … I don’t understand how anyone works with him.”

Rasmussen actually confronted Richardson:

“I told him what you do is completely degrading to women. I hope you know you only [bleep] girls because you have a camera, lots of fashion contacts and get your pictures in Vogue.

“Instead of arguing with me, Terry ran out of the bar. Then the next day, he called my agency and complained I called him names in front of clients in Paris. It was the most cowardly thing I have ever seen.”

The Jezebel blog went out looking for models with complaints against Richardson, and had no trouble finding them. Not that Richardson is inclined to be particularly penitent [link seriously NSFW] these days.

But of course he has his defenders:

[H]e’s such a sweetheart that I can’t understand how people can be so mean. I don’t even see their point.

This is apparently a definition of “mean” that hasn’t occurred to most people, including Tavi:

I don’t think I or anyone else who was so disgusted upon hearing about such awful experiences were just trying to be “mean.” It’s not bullying or trolling or the same as writing “Miley can’t sing!!!1!” in the comment section of a Youtube video. It’s being concerned and infuriated at how jaded someone has to be to actually find this kind of thing acceptable. Some of the models could barely speak English.

And, let’s clarify: you don’t love women just because you have sex with them and like taking pictures of their ladyparts. I’m not saying that’s all Richardson does, but “love” entails “respect” and also “the basic human decency to not use pictures of someone’s ladyparts for your photography show without her permission” and also “the basic human decency to not pressure a girl into giving you a hand job because OH MY GOD I WILL LITERALLY NOT BE ABLE TO PRESS THE FLASH BUTTON ON MY CAMERA UNLESS YOU TAKE NOTICE OF THE FACT THAT I HAVE NO PANTS ON. ALSO I’M A PROFESSIONAL.”

As I finished this up, Radiohead’s “Creep” oozed through the speakers. Evidently the Karma Police are paying attention.

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Do not ingest at 3G speeds.

Cupcakes in iPhone mode

(Via My Food Looks Funny.)

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Fashion clippings

Who knew? “The further south you drive in Tulsa, the more layers of clothing people wear to mow their lawns.”

Apparently you have to get all the way down to 31st just to find people wearing shirts.

I don’t live in Tulsa, so I can’t really map myself onto this grid, though there have been times I’ve been worthy of 61st or so and times I’ve been way the hell out in Owasso, IYKWIMAITYD.

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Mrs Hill

We didn’t always have a spiffy Museum of Art down there by the Civic Center. The original Oklahoma Art League, founded in 1910, had no permanent location at all; it took the Depression (and the WPA) to find a home for the League’s collection. The Oklahoma Art Center was finally incorporated in 1945, and in 1958 moved to what is now State Fair Park.

Then: the schism. In 1968, the OAC bought a substantial collection of the dreaded modern art, prompting several members to set up shop elsewhere as the Museum of Conservative Art. The C-word was eventually dropped, and the two groups were eventually reunited in 1989.

In 1994, Carolyn Hill (no relation) took over as director of the renamed Oklahoma City Art Museum. The museum’s finances, hitherto parlous, were eased into the black, and the search for a new location began. Ground was broken in 2000 on the new Oklahoma City Museum of Art, on the site of the old Centre Theater. Contrary to popular mythology, this was not a MAPS project: all the funding ($40 million or so) was private, and Mrs Hill was instrumental in getting it lined up.

After fourteen years at the helm, Carolyn Hill retired; she died yesterday, aged seventy-two. The groundwork she laid will outlast the next half a dozen directors combined, I suspect.

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Destination: WTF

We don’t care if you are a family, you can’t sit together on the plane:

So we booked our flights to England back on April 3rd, and at that time requested seats all in the same row — three people traveling together, seats in the same place — makes sense right?

In double-checking our flying information today, we discovered they had moved our seats and placed my mom about 10 rows behind us on one of the flights, and several rows away on 2 others. I called Orbitz customer service (where we had purchased our tickets) and after an hour an a half on the phone discovered that the only way we can get in the same row is if we have medical identification saying that we must all be in the same row together for medical reasons.

This made absolutely no sense to me until I stumbled across this:

I flew Northwest airlines home for Christmas. My companion and I tried to select seats online. We were each randomly assigned a seat. When we tried to switch them so we could sit next to each other, we discovered that the surrounding seats were blacked out as “special upgrade” which cost $15 extra. None of the other seats were “special upgrade” EXCEPT the 4 directly next to each of our assigned seats. Basically, NWA effectively rigged it so if you wanted to sit next to your companion(s), you were forced to pay the extra fee.

I haven’t bought an airline ticket in years, so I can’t swear to this, but I wouldn’t at all be surprised to find that there’s something in the fine print to the effect that “Fares are subject to change, without recourse, without explanation, and without any conceivable logic whatsoever.”

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So fine, it can’t be beat

Washington state, starting the first of June, will add candy and gum to the list of items subject to sales tax. Gum, presumably, is self-explanatory, but Olympia now has a statutory definition [pdf] of candy:

“‘Candy’ means a preparation of sugar, honey, or other natural or artificial sweeteners in combination with chocolate, fruits, nuts, or other ingredients or flavorings in the form of bars, drops, or pieces. ‘Candy’ does not include any preparation containing flour and does not require refrigeration.”

Girlhacker notes:

Yes, we’re now living in a state where Twix and Nestle Crunch bars are not considered a candy by the government. Not only that, but regular Milky Way bars are not taxable (wheat flour) and Milky Way Midnights are.

You can get the entire list in an Excel spreadsheet from the Department of Revenue.

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Andrew Ian Dodge invents the word “ConDem” for this week’s Carnival of the Vanities, the 373rd edition, a reference to the sort-of-coalition government of Conservative David Cameron and Liberal Democrat Nick Clegg.

Of course, it sounds like some other word, one which comes into play, for instance, when an old building in disrepair is ordered to be replaced by a new one, preferably as quickly as possible for safety reasons. This was not the policy of ancient Greece, where forty-three years elapsed before the rebuilding of the temple of Apollo at Delphi, which had been destroyed in an earthquake in 373 BC.

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The lease you could do

If you own a house, sooner or later something’s going to cost you, and it’s never at a convenient time. Pretty much everyone who owns a house knows this; pretty much everyone who doesn’t own a house knows this also, and as a result prefers to rent.

“Sooner or later,” however, is an awfully wide range. I’ve argued in the past that construction techniques took a sharp downward turn at some point following the building of my house in 1948. Exactly where that point is, I’m not entirely sure, though the new house my parents bought in 1969, while it had its issues, was a hell of a lot better assembled than the infamous CrappiFlats™ in which I lived for a decade or so. Those buildings were thrown up, in several senses of the term, in 1972.

When did this trend bottom out? I’m not sure it has. But Daphne probably figures the nadir was 1978:

My house is in a state of severe entropy… Whoever said homeownership is the epitome of the American Dream should be shot straight in his hairy, crab infested crotch. I’d happily volunteer to man the gun line. Roofs, water heaters, dishwashers, ice machines, driveways, windows, toilets. Every last damn thing needs some sort of fixing at my place, all at considerable expense.

I’d mention something about my own experience (and expense) over the last six and a half years, but the word JINX comes immediately to mind.

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Get a look at those polygons

Regular readers will know of my long-established disdain for fishnets, which was first detailed here back in the Old Silurian times, and then occasionally repeated when I was short of material.

I am semi-sufferably pleased, therefore, to note that “hot author” Sloane Crosley (I Was Told There’d Be Cake) has little use for them either. As she writes in the June InStyle:

The flapper-era favorites start out strong at the toe but can quickly work their way up to awkward. Assuming the thighs in question are of a healthy circumference, what seemed like the ultimate retro peekaboo garment morphs into a square-by-square measuring system for how much bigger your thighs are than your calves. So if you can find a pair of fishnet knee-highs, you’re in business. Otherwise, just throw the fishnets overboard.

This rule does not necessarily apply if, for instance, you happen to be Angelina Jolie:

Angelina Jolie in fishnets

Photo by Mark Seliger. Was I short of material? What do you think?

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Replacements for displacement

Rank heresy, right? Yet we somehow keep getting more ponies out of smaller engines. My old ’84 Mercury wheezed out 120 hp from a 3.8-liter V6; my current ride has a mere 3.0 liters and 227 hp.

Time was, the benchmark was 1 hp per cubic inch, achieved in the 1950s (in SAE gross terms, anyway) with a small-block Chevy V8: 283 cubes, 283 ponies. Eventually this became routine: my second Mazda 626 produced 130 hp from a fairly-ordinary DOHC four of two liters, around 122 cubic inches.

Now the number to beat is 100 hp/liter. The Mazda, at 65, falls short, as does the Infiniti, at 75. Still, there are cars meeting this spec that can be bought by mere mortals: GM’s turbo Ecotec four, bolted into the Chevy Cobalt SS, produces 260 hp from two liters. That’s 130 hp/liter. Then again, Chevy was intent on building a boy-racer; you won’t see numbers like this on workaday econoboxes.

Or maybe you will. FEV is showing what it calls the Extremely Downsized Engine, a turbocharged, direct-injected inline three of a meager 0.7 liters, which churns out something like 94 hp, about 134 hp/liter.

Now 94 hp doesn’t sound like a whole lot; after all, Honda bolts a 1.5-liter four with 105 ponies into the Fit. FEV is saying, though, that the EDE will produce 12 percent better gas mileage than conventional 1.5-liter fours like the one Honda bolts into the Fit, and the little Honda is downright abstemious with fuel unless you drive it like you just stole it, a characterization obtained from a former neighbor who owned one.

There are motorcycle engines that beat 134 hp/liter, some of them by rather a lot. I suspect, though, they’re too pricey to drop into an economy car.

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Quote of the week

Health care costs to stabilize or even decline? Pie in the sky, says Jenn:

[W]e have a better chance of Osama bin Laden converting to Catholicism and becoming the next Pope than this current health care reform act does of actually containing costs.

There are such things as miracles — though that’s seldom the way to bet.

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Cullen from the spam filter

This bit of boilerplate was left on another site I run, by someone assuming the name “Robert Pattinson.” I’m assuming it’s shown up elsewhere, given its lack of specificity:

lol one or two of the reviews most people write make me laugh, many times over i ponder if they realistically read the pieces and content before writing a comment or whether they pretty much skim the title of the post and write the very first thought that drifts into their minds. anyways, it is actually useful to read through intelligent commentary every now and then in contrast to the same, traditional blog vomit that i mostly observe on the net

In my capacity as an Ur-blogger, I am compelled to point out here that to the extent that blog vomit is a tradition, I’ve done my part to make it so.

If you’re curious, this was the post for which that comment was intended.

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Well, this bites

Coral snakes lack the ruthless efficiency of some other venomous snakes, but they have a couple of factors working in their favor against the likes of you or me. One is the sheer toxicity of the venom, which starts out slowly (so you don’t notice it so much) but finishes with a grand flourish: it paralyzes the lungs.

The other? Six months from now, there may not be anything that can be done about it:

[A]fter Oct. 31 of this year, there may be no commercially available antivenom (antivenin) left. That’s the expiration date on existing vials of … the only antivenom approved by the Food and Drug Administration for coral snake bites. Produced by Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, the antivenom was approved for sale in 1967, in a time of less stringent regulation.

Wyeth kept up production of coral snake antivenom for almost 40 years. But given the rarity of coral snake bites, it was hardly a profit center, and the company shut down the factory that made the antivenom in 2003.

A Mexican manufacturer, Bioclon, has developed its own version of a coral-specific antivenom, but apparently they can’t afford the level of clinical testing demanded by the FDA.

The alternative? Weeks on a ventilator, until the effects of the venom wear off, or maybe a call to Samuel L. Jackson.

(Via Scribal Terror.)

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