Archive for July 2010

Jagger’s Law of Motor Vehicles

TTAC’s Cammy Corrigan, noting that “people have different ideas on what constitutes a good car,” is looking for cars that excel in all of the following categories:

[ ] Fuel Economy.
[ ] Driving Dynamics.
[ ] Price.
[ ] Reliability.
[ ] Quality.
[ ] Practicality.
[ ] Dealership Service.
[ ] Repair Cost.

These are all graded pass-fail, so scoring 8 out of 8 is likely to be unlikely. My own current ride manages a 5 or 6, maybe. (Things don’t break very often, and the dealer will generally get them fixed correctly, but the price will induce nosebleed.)

I suspect, in fact, that “Dealership Service” and “Repair Cost” are going to cancel each other out in most cases: if you want Lexus-level service, it’s going to cost you Lexus-level prices. I don’t even want to think what it costs to patch up a Mercedes these days. And yesterday afternoon, on the way home, I spotted an actual Porsche Panamera, an oil change for which involves three gallons (yes, gallons) of synthetic.

Hence Jagger’s Law: “You can’t always get what you want.” It applies far beyond automobiles, of course, but the car is the place I’m most likely to blow a 50-amp fuse.

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Is Ritz puttin’ us on?

What do you do with the infamous Ritz® Crackers Mock Apple Pie? If you’re Lisa, why, you mock it, of course:

It seemed, and still does, patently absurd. Why substitute overly salty, processed crackers for lovely crisp nutritious apples? Wouldn’t the result be soggy and horrible? If this was designed as a pie for people who didn’t like apples, why didn’t they choose cherry pie instead? And why was the result advertised as “just like homemade apple pie”? Why not, if you are going to the trouble of making a pie, just make an apple pie? My questions were never answered. Mainly because I never tasted a Mock Apple Pie or even knew anyone who had made one.

So I carried this idea unto Trini, who is a Comfort Foodie in the best sense of the word, and yes, she’s actually made one of these, and yes, it’s a reasonable facsimile, and not just flavor-wise: “After baking,” she says, “the consistency of the cracker mixture is very much like real apples.” She did say that she’d doubled the recommended quantity of cinnamon. (The Official Recipe is here.)

Granny Smith, however, was unavailable for comment.

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[insert something vaguely clever here]

Whenever I feel compelled to make some sort of reference to my alleged blog longevity, I should probably keep this in mind: Fillyjonk managed to post for eight and a half years without once putting a title on a post. Since she averages forty to fifty posts a month, this is a considerable achievement. (Besides, as most of you know, I am renowned for bad titles.)

Apparently this did not sit well with Blogger, which has decreed post titles from here on out. She has vowed to confine her titles to three words.

My idea of progress, of course, is to confine posts to three words.

And if you need really long titles, well, this is where Laura came in.

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Springer spaniels and publicity hounds

E. M. Zanotti is talking here about Levi Johnston, but I figure there are scores, perhaps hundreds, of people fitting this particular description:

Americans must stand up for their right to NOT have to deal with every talentless attention whore trying to get rich and famous by marketing their weird lives for public consumption unless they promise to fight it out on the Springer stage.

I figure, though, the best we’re likely to get is a WGAS button on Facebook.

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Across the greatest sea of all

The journey of Alan Sullivan, Seablogger, now proceeds from this world to the next.

We will miss him on this side of the divide, and we know he is being welcomed to a much happier place on the other.

Update: He’s crossed the bar.

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Lonesome, morbid and drear

And in San Antonio, yet:

Too bad it wasn’t a really great bar instead of a rather mediocre place with only bottled beer and unappealing fried food. (I mean really … how can you call yourself a bar when you don’t have ANY beer on tap? And I don’t even drink beer!)

Cue Slim Dusty, circa 1957:

I remember taping this off the Dr. Demento Show, probably around, oh, June 13, 1976.

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Heat-seeking missive

I haven’t figured out which is more pathetic: the fact that Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert felt compelled to write an Open Letter to Fans at the beginning of the Post-LeBron era, or the fact that he wrote it in Comic Sans.

Money quote:


You can take it to the bank.

If you thought we were motivated before tonight to bring the hardware to Cleveland, I can tell you that this shameful display of selfishness and betrayal by one of our very own has shifted our “motivation” to previously unknown and previously never experienced levels.

Some people think they should go to heaven but NOT have to die to get there.

Sorry, but that’s simply not how it works.

Mental note: Going to Cleveland does not count as dying.

Gilbert does have one advantage: this year’s Miami Heat consists of three superstar players and, due to budgetary limitations, a dozen castoffs from the Washington Generals. All those pundits who pick the Heat to knock off the Lakers this year — well, let’s see ’em beat Orlando or Charlotte first.

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Lurking with intent to gouge

Lowering the Bar finds this on the docket:

Kim Kreis, et al. v. American Multi-Cinema Inc.; AMC Entertainment Inc., No. CGC-10-501102 (San Francisco Super. Ct. filed June 25, 2010).

Trip and fall lawsuit. The plaintiffs injured themselves on a stationary escalator at the defendants’ movie theatre, as there was no sign posted warning them that it was not moving.

Because I feel some sense of obligation to my readers, here are tips to remove spit from your screen.

(Via Coyote Blog.)

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Quote of the week

Greg Gutfeld, on the repurposing of NASA:

[I]f space exploration is no longer about space exploration, what exactly is it?


But you know what it should be about?

Blowing up crap. Fact is, we love movies like Star Wars, Star Trek and Star Jones — not for their emotion, but for their annihilation. In short: we need to weaponize space. Personally, I can’t think of a better way to excite a kid than giving him the chance to obliterate Pandora.

Then there was “Pandora,” the Commodore 64 game, which made a hell of a lot more sense than Avatar.

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This week, Andrew Ian Dodge is CoTVing in the summer fog, as he serves up the 381st edition of Carnival of the Vanities.

Of course, if you don’t much care for summer fog, you might look into, oh, Anchorage, Alaska, which doesn’t have a whole lot of it; at nearby Elmendorf Air Force Base, you’ll find the 381st Intelligence Squadron.

(Yes, I wanted to use the phrase “Intelligence Squadron.” Do you blame me?)

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Thinking inside the box

Hello SchroddyWhen I go into those occasional “sucks to be me” moods, I have to look for positive aspects to my existence as a countermeasure. (If one of them also works as blogfodder, so much the better.) One such positive aspect is the fact that I know several women who will not only get the joke, but might actually consider getting the shirt:

This might not be Hello Kitty. It might be Goodbye Kitty. We cannot possibly know without observing, and then we change the outcome.

Heisenberg may or may not have been available for comment.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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No sign of grade inflation, anyway

Something called has assigned letter ratings based on reader opinion to the 535 members of Congress, and I haven’t quite decided what I think of this. Surely at least 291 deserve an F, maybe more, but F is an awfully broad score: it’s hard to tell the difference between #247 Ben Chandler (D-KY 6) and #531 Henry Waxman (D-CA 30).

Only two As were handed out by the readership. Oklahoma’s seven-member delegation rates as follows: #60 Jim Inhofe, B-plus; #79 Tom Coburn, B; #113 Frank Lucas, B-minus; #115 Mary Fallin, B-minus; #155 Tom Cole, C-plus; #163 John Sullivan, C; #210 Dan Boren, D.

I looked more closely at Boren’s rating, since he’s the only Democrat on board from this state. Democrats rate him more highly than do Republicans or Independents, but not much more. Most of the individual comments are, as you might expect, blather — as is this, I suppose.

(Suggested by Smitty, albeit obliquely.)

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It’s the little things

Things like this, for instance:

So there I was, 820 this morning, sitting at the clearly marked bus stop at N Indiana and NW 21, waiting for the bus. 830 came and went, no bus. Oh well, I figured, he must have been running early and I probably just missed him. Fortunately, I had brought reading materials and that bus bench is nicely shaded by the foliage of the little Gatewood Park, so I sat and read for a while and then I noticed it was 940 and still no bus, so I decided to call the Metro number on the bus stop sign, and I was told, “Oh, we don’t stop there anymore. Outbound the bus turns west on NW 16 and then runs up Pennsylvania.”

“Why didn’t you take down the bus stop sign then?” “I don’t know sir, that’s not my job.”

You’d think it would be somebody’s job, wouldn’t you?

Isn’t it odd that Oklahoma City has ambitions to be a world class city, yet it can’t even manage to take down a bus stop sign after it discontinues a bus stop?

The trouble with COTPA — well, one trouble with COTPA — is that it has two different missions, and inevitably one must suffer: organizations cannot multitask worth a flip. (See, for instance, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, Explosives, Salt and Salt Substitutes, Light Bulbs, and Energy Drinks.) So we have (more or less) acceptable parking facilities, but transit is marginal at best.

Yours truly, from 2008:

I am not hopeful that we’re going to create a public-transportation nirvana in Oklahoma City, unless we can figure out some way to keep the turbo-doofus types who run our current system from ruining our future system.

Two years later, this position remains unchanged.

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Hard NOx

You probably don’t want to snort titanium dioxide, no matter how much you think it looks like cocaine. On the other hand, various industries rely on the stuff: it’s a major pigment, a common component of sunscreens, and Hollywood’s favorite fake snow.

And when you mix it with concrete, the air over your roads gets a smidgen cleaner:

According to Eindhoven University of Technology, a roadway made of concrete blended with titanium dioxide can effectively remove up to 45 percent of the nitrogen oxides that it comes in contact with. The titanium dioxide, a photocatalytic material, captures airborne nitrogen oxides and, with the aid of the sun, converts it to nitrates that are harmlessly washed away by the rain.

The conventional three-way catalytic converter produces a substantial reduction in NOx emissions, provided everything is working correctly. Often it isn’t. (Drivers are often reluctant to make repairs, simply because of the cost.) While the concrete/TiO2 combination costs about 50 percent more than ordinary concrete, the cost of materials is a relatively small portion of the cost of building a road; the University says that a road using TiO2 will cost about 10 percent more to build.

And yes, apparently you can use it with asphalt.

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I’m sorry, did I break your Magic Mirror?

I always thought Quentin Tarantino should do a remake of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Snow White and the Assault Weapon

Then again, maybe we should have shotguns for this kind of deal.

(Via Hawtness.)

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A portable call screener

And best of all, it requires very little setup time:

I have a category on the phone now labeled, “Asshole.” It’s for spammy calls.

Which, regrettably, are on the rise. But here’s the best part:

I add them to my “asshole” category as a contact. The contact is assigned a super-special double-secret rainbow ringtone all its own: a 30-second loop of total silence. So all these jerkoffs can call and I don’t even hear it.

If producing your own ringtones, even silent ones, seems daunting, spend a little coin for any individual movement of John Cage’s 4’33”. (I’ve seen it at the iTunes Store.)

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Last one across is, um, me

In front of me at the intersection: a Mercedes-Benz S500 with the AMG badge. On the rear deck: a John Deere hat. (Only in Oklahoma, right?) Amount of time I expected to take getting across the cross street: next to nil.

Not even close. The previous record for slow observed acceleration in non-diesel cars was held by my daughter’s old ’81 Ford Escort, known familiarly as “Muff, the Tragic Wagon.” This guy, however, evidently a life member of the Anti-Destination League, crawled across the lanes as though he’d been forcibly injected with snail DNA, and finally signaled a left turn into the gas station on the corner, fifteen feet into the next block. It apparently never occurred to him to hang a left at the intersection — it’s protected — and then do a quick right into the station.

“Why isn’t this guy in a Buick?” I asked myself. Further puzzlement came when I got home to look up the number of ponies who weren’t getting exercised, and apparently the Benz boys didn’t actually build an S500 AMG; there was indeed a W220 S500, but the AMG-enhanced model was the S55. Maybe he bought the AMG body kit — or just the badge. Who knows? Now I’m wondering if that was a real John Deere hat.

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We knew his pants were on fire

The Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts has ruled, says The Boston Globe, that “local governments can hire companies for public works projects even if the firms misrepresented their track records, provided there is no sign of corruption in the bidding process”:

At issue was the decision by Hanover officials to hire Callahan Inc., a Bridgewater-based firm, for the high school project even though it was discovered that the firm had provided fraudulent information to qualify for bidding. The company took credit for a North Andover high school building project, even though another corporation held the lead role, according to the court.

Losing bidders said Callahan should be disqualified from bidding for violating ethical rules. [Attorney General Martha] Coakley recommended that Hanover end its contract with Callahan and accept the next qualified bidder. Town officials refused, saying they took Callahan’s misdeeds into account.

The important thing here, folks, is that there were no bribes. Unlike, for instance, this instance:

The State House was engulfed in scandal in the 1970’s over bribes given to legislators by the contractor building the University of Massachusetts’ Boston campus. The Senate majority leader, Joseph J.C. DiCarlo of Revere; a ranking Senate Republican leader, Ronald A. MacKenzie; and James A. Kelly Jr., the Senate Ways and Means chairman, all were convicted in federal court and sentenced to jail time.

Anyone want to guess DiCarlo’s and Kelly’s political affiliation? Didn’t think so. And besides, it doesn’t matter here, because there were no bribes.

(Via Fark.)

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A poke in the McRibs

There’s an operation out there called Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the only word I’d trust in its name is “the”; they make their living bashing companies that have the temerity to listen to their customers rather than to CSPI decrees. One recent hissy fit noted that McDonald’s actually placed toys (gasp!) in Happy Meals, a practice they deemed “creepy” and “predatory,” and threatened to sue if said practice was not discontinued forthwith.

McDonald’s, as politely as they could, told CSPI to Filet-O-Fish off:

CSPI is wrong in its assertions and frivolous in its legal threats … CSPI’s twisted characterization of McDonald’s as ‘the stranger in the playground handing out candy to children’ is an insult to every one of our franchisees and employees around the world.”

Even though my brief career as a burger flipper wasn’t a particularly joyous one, I have to hope that Mickey D’s wins this one, and wins it big.

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Modern mid-century storage

Daystrom dining furniture

The ad here is for the dining table and chairs (a mere $155), but what’s really spiffy about this setup is the cabinetry above: it’s accessible from both the kitchen and the dining area via sliding doors.

I was delighted to see this, because here at Surlywood I have a similar storage arrangement, although it’s located between living/dining room and hallway, it sits on the floor, and it’s six feet, six inches tall. There’s a divider between upper and lower halves, so there are eight access doors in all, though they’re not translucent: I actually have to open them to see what’s in there. Still, it was a selling point when I was house-shopping, since I’d never seen anything like it before and I’d been looking for some improbable combination of “distinctive” and “not expensive.” (When I found it, I jumped.) I suspect rather a lot of similar cabinets were installed in the postwar period, and likely most of them are now gone.

(Found in Mom’s Basement.)

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Paging ex-PFC Wintergreen

If anyone could possibly have anticipated the Obama administration, it was Joseph Heller:

Years from now, when the artists try to define this era, they will point to President Obama as the catalyst for a resurgence in sublime irony. This is, 3000 years later, a perversion of Socratic irony, somewhat captured in Joseph Heller’s Catch-22, wherein the people we assume are smart and in charge insane. He is not, as Socrates did, challenging the student or uninformed to seek the answers to a teacher’s directional questions, but subjecting the student or supplicant to embrace the absurdity and futility of life. They use their stature and authority to distort and confuse as they massage the listener into believing they are as smart as the speaker/teacher because they understand certain phrases, though not the whole message.

He is not teaching you how to think. He is not leading you through carefully orchestrated steps of information to help you make educated conclusions which you can look back at and question to better conclusions as you mature. He is doing the opposite. He is standing inside of reality and constructing a house of mirrors and deconstructing your ability to think logically. He’s telling you that what you “know” is not real … and some people are inclined to follow him down into a final state of babbling, blithering idiocy.

Certainly Obama learned his economics from Milo Minderbinder:

“But I make a profit of three and a quarter cents an egg by selling them for four and a quarter cents an egg to the people in Malta I buy them from for seven cents an egg. Of course, I don’t make the profit. The syndicate makes the profit. And everybody has a share.”

Although his real inspiration, I suggest, is General Peckem:

“Just pass on the work I assign you to somebody else and trust to luck. We call that delegation and responsibility. Somewhere down near the lowest level of this coordinated organisation I run are people who get the work done when it reaches them, and everything manages to run along smoothly without too much effort on my part. I suppose that’s because I am a good executive. Nothing we do in this large department of ours is really very important, and there’s never any rush. On the other hand, it is important that we let people know we do a great deal of it. Let me know if you find yourself shorthanded. I’ve already put in a requisition for two majors, four captains and sixteen lieutenants to give you a hand. While none of the work we do is very important, it is important that we do a great deal of it. Don’t you agree?”

I suppose this makes Rahm Emanuel into Major ——— de Coverley.

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Strange search-engine queries (232)

The task: to find the funniest bits in last week’s referral logs. The goal: to get this task supported by NASA, if they have time after addressing all of Islam’s self-esteem issues.

jayne mansfield ballet:  A lot of emphasis on port de bras, I imagine.

naked toreadors:  A lot of emphasis on “run like hell,” I imagine.

Search jump roping nude:  Shall we tell him that the DD refers to “double Dutch”?

tattoo on the head of dick:  They don’t like that. Especially Dick Van Patten, I hear.

mary fallin lying slut:  Okay, who gave Randy Brogdon the wi-fi card?

“penny loafers” “masturbate”:  And to think some people consider me to be overly interested in shoes.

npr begging bowl radio:  On the other hand, where else would people get these wonderful canvas bags that they then forget on the way to the store?

jennifer warnes “be my friend”:  I’ll consider myself Warned.

get out of my bath tub:  Come to think of it, you had to get on my lawn to get here, didn’t you?

how do i poison a grackle:  It helps to be smarter than the bird. Now get out of my bath tub.

planned obsolescence hairdryer:  Because nobody keeps a hair dryer for twenty years.

things that used to be normal and no longer accepted:  I’m betting you’re looking for something other than 20-year-old hair dryers.

what would happen if dow corning blew up barry:  Which Barry? Manilow? He’d probably love it. Obama? Probably not so much. Goldwater? He’s dead and doesn’t care.

signs of stupidity:  Did you happen to notice that this feature is now in its 232nd edition?

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Well, maybe she’ll like my car

Women won’t date a guy unless he has a hot ride? Not true, says the Booth Babe:

Yes, there are some gold diggers and Polly Prissy Pants who won’t get into anything that costs less than $60K, but most of us aren’t total douchettes. Our desires for your vehicle are as follows: It is clean. It doesn’t smell. It doesn’t belong to your mom. It is representative of your station in life.

That latter deserves some further exposition:

If you’re CIO of a major tech firm (and yes, we Googled you to make sure you weren’t lying) and you roll up in an old rusted out VW Rabbit, we know you’re cheap. I don’t have a problem buying my own dinner, but I would have a major problem living with a miser who splits two-ply toilet paper into one. That is the first image in our minds when you pull up in a cheap old car far below your pay scale.

On the other end of the spectrum, please don’t think you can trick us by rolling up to the club in a Bentley. A man’s shoes and/or watch always give him away. We can tell in an instant if you’re really a baller or if you’re a $30,000 “millionaire” that rented a car for the night to try to score some chicks. Pretending to be someone you’re not will get you no love.

On the upside, neither the Rabbit nor the Bentley is likely to belong to the guy’s mom.

Disclosure: I drive a $30,000 car (for which I paid $13,000) and wear a $30 watch (for which I paid $30).

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That old Cleveland plantation

Understandably miffed at not having been consulted on the deal, Jesse Jackson decided to make his presence known while the LeBronathon goes on:

[Dan Gilbert] speaks as an owner of LeBron and not the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers,” the reverend said in a release from his Chicago-based civil rights group, the Rainbow PUSH Coalition. “His feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave. This is an owner employee relationship — between business partners — and LeBron honored his contract.”

After which Jackson retreated to his Chicago compound for further contemplation of his ultimate goal: to get his name added to the Martin Luther King, Jr. birthday holiday in January.

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Take this, Jobs, and shove it

Apple’s explanation for the signal-degradation issue on the iPhone 4:

We will issue a free software update within a few weeks that incorporates the corrected formula… We have gone back to our labs and retested everything, and the results are the same — the iPhone 4’s wireless performance is the best we have ever shipped.

Consumer Reports begs to disagree:

[O]ur test engineers connected the phones to our base-station emulator, a device that simulates carrier cell towers (see video: IPhone 4 Design Defect Confirmed). We also tested several other AT&T phones the same way, including the iPhone 3G S and the Palm Pre. None of those phones had the signal-loss problems of the iPhone 4.

Our findings call into question the recent claim by Apple that the iPhone 4’s signal-strength issues were largely an optical illusion caused by faulty software that “mistakenly displays 2 more bars than it should for a given signal strength.”

(Seen at The Consumerist, which, like CR, is a Consumers Union operation. Title courtesy of Alfred E. Neuman.)

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A veritable word machine

Murray Rothbard, apparently, could turn out eight pages of more-or-less final-version text in one hour, a level of productivity that makes me even gloomier as I sit here staring at a blank editor screen waiting for some actual words to materialize.

And I suppose I’d feel even worse had Rothbard been blogging:

Granting that the 8 pages per hour were double spaced, will translate the roughly 300 words per page to 2,400 words per hour. According to marketing research, the average blog is less than 249 words.

Therefore, at 249 words per blog and 2400 words per hour, Murray Rothbard would post about 10 blog entries for every hour he wrote.

I take exception to the conflation of “blog” and “blog post,” but I’m still startled at the numbers. (The average post here is about 222 words; I manage five or six a day, maybe.)

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I shall still call him Brian

Whether that’s his name or not:

News stories noted U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin’s absence from some campaign events where her gubernatorial opponents were appearing, and Tulsan Brian Bates is concerned that the day after one missed event, an opponent claimed she was meeting with lobbyists. “Fallin may feel she has to avoid head-to-head comparisons between herself and (Randy) Brogdon to hold on to her lead and win the primary. Brogdon comes across as knowledgeable, passionate, positive, and personable. Fallin seems distant, detached, almost robotic at times,” Bates wrote. “We’ve had to fight against special interests influencing Republican local officials, trying to raise our taxes and cut special deals. Thanks to his tax problems, we were able to dump Lance Cargill before he could do too much damage to the Republican brand, with accusations of a pay-to-play operation being run out of the speaker’s office. A state government run by the lobbyists and special interests is no better with Republicans in charge than with Democrats. As a matter of fact, it’s worse, because Republicans ought to know better than to sacrifice the general welfare of the people they were elected to serve in favor of the interests of a favored few.”

Um, the Tulsan in question was Michael Bates. Brian Bates runs in Oklahoma City. Whoever is running the op-ed page in the Oklahoman needs to get with the program.

And yes, this is a repeat from March.

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Consider it floored

The Professor admits to this one burst of speed: “A shade over 135, on U.S. 50 in Nevada, back before I had any dependents. . . .”

He’s got me beat. While I’ve had a few moments over 110 — not many — the fastest speed I’ve sustained for several minutes is 102.5 mph, assuming the speedometer was accurate, which is a lot to assume on a ’70s Japanese sport coupe.

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Biggus Diggus

The price tag on the Crosstown Expressway seems to go up every other week: once a hundred million dollars or so, it’s now closer to five hundred million, and insiders suggest that when all is said and done, this little strip of freeway is going to run somewhere around $1 billion.

Which is nothing compared to what Seattle is planning to do to itself:

On a Monday between now and the middle of August, the Seattle City Council is likely to approve a contract that gives the State of Washington permission to dig a 54-foot-wide tunnel under downtown Seattle. It will be the widest deep-bore tunnel attempted anywhere, ever.

It will cost an estimated $4.2 billion to replace the dilapidated Alaskan Way Viaduct on Seattle’s waterfront, making this underground highway the most expensive megaproject in state history. The state has committed up to $2.8 billion, the city has pledged $937 million, and the Port of Seattle is supposed to pay $300 million. The single most expensive element, the tunnel portion itself, will cost about $1.9 billion.

Geez. You could buy a whole bunch of NBA teams for that kind of money.

But this is where it gets scary:

A state law passed in 2009 says Seattle property owners must bear the expense of any cost overruns on the state’s project. This is unprecedented. “The cost overruns on a state highway should not be borne by the citizens of Seattle,” says state senator Ed Murray, whose district includes Capitol Hill and parts of downtown. “We have never done that to any other jurisdiction in the state.” The law also says, unequivocally, that the state won’t pay more than $2.8 billion. We simply have no plan for who will pay cost overruns. Under the current rules, if something goes wrong, Seattle taxpayers are on the hook for cost overruns.

And what are the chances that everything will come in on budget? Right.

The Viaduct, moreover, is junk: it was already outdated when it was damaged in the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, and the alternatives aren’t that much less expensive. Still, I remember a Barney Frank quip regarding Boston’s Big Dig, the model (and not necessarily in a good way) for all such projects: “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to raise the city than depress the artery?”

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To heighten your dudgeon, press 2

Widge suggests a couple of flags that should be affixed to your cable account and mine, though perhaps not someone else’s:

You need a “Not An Asshat” flag. I used to work at a tech support help desk, I used to run a tech support help desk, and I used to train tech support help desks. Am I saying this to impress you that I am some kind of tech support guru? No, I’m a shmoe. But I am a shmoe that appreciates what tech support people have to go through: namely, those lovely folks that call in and want to unload on whoever works for the company. So I try to be nice and calm and collected, no matter what’s going on. I want to be the best, most easy going call they have that day. However, it doesn’t make me feel good to hear the dead voice of a tech support person who’s Taken Too Many Calls on the other end of the line. Flag my account to show that it’s safe to talk to me like a human. Save the defensiveness for people who deserve it. That would be nice.

It’s not often, but when I venture into the realm of rectal millinery, you can be sure that the situation has gotten to at least DEFCON 3.

Then again, if it’s reached that point, it might be because either the intake person or the robot voice pretending to be the intake person has decided, on the basis of God knows what, that I’m the sort of clueless git who needs to start the script at “Is it plugged in?” In which case:

You need a “Not An Idiot” flag. Again, I’m no tech genius, but I do know how to unplug a modem and do basic problem determination. I’m reminded of the time that I could not seem to get it through the head of the person I was talking to that if I had bypassed my entire apartment and plugged into the line coming in from outside then they didn’t actually need to test the wiring in my apartment. So I don’t expect you to believe everything I say or skip to the end or anything, but just find a level and work with me on it. And then flag my account that I’m slightly savvy. I promise the call will go faster.

An extension of this latter point:

PLEASE DON’T CUT-AND-PASTE ME A BUNCH OF CRAP I CAN READ ON YOUR SITE ALREADY. And of course the very first response to my contact was nothing but cut-and-pasted crap I could read on their site already.

I’ve done customer service. I once took a pay cut to get out of it. If you’re still doing it, I have no overwhelming desire to make your life a living hell. But there are more important things in life than sticking to the script, no matter what the Big Book O’ Metrics says. And yes, it also helps if you speak English like a native.

(Another Consumerist suggestion.)

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Pushing the Want buttons

Trini sent me this with the tag “Is it wrong of me to want one of these?”

Of course, she’s the type who would carry a soldering iron.

(More on Make.)

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Your girlfriend wants steak

Zooey Deschanel is abandoning the whole vegetarian thing:

[She] gave up meat some years ago but recently turned her back on her vegetarian and non-dairy regimen after discovering she couldn’t eat soy or wheat products.

She tells Bust magazine, “I gave it a good try, but sometimes you just need a little something, a little meat.”

Last I heard, husband Ben Gibbard, leader of Death Crab Cab for Cutie, would eat seafood, but nothing mammalian.

(Via Fark. You may have seen me tweet this earlier.)

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Zombie development

No, we’re not actually developing zombies here in the Big Breezy. (And if we are, I don’t know about it, okay?) But Steve Lackmeyer is classifying downtown projects as living, dead, or undead, the latter being defined as “seemingly not alive, but not willing to die.” An example of same:

Developer Chuck Wiggin’s proposal to build a [109-condo] complex valued at $62 million was chosen for the old Mercy Hospital site controlled by Urban Renewal. Wiggin said he hopes to see his development contract with Urban Renewal extended. JoeVan Bullard, director of the Urban Renewal Authority, says talks with Wiggin have indicated “it’s not realistic” to continue to have the project on hold another year.

Who would have thought that JoeVan Bullard would ever be in a hurry?

This is a prime zone, too: 12th to 13th, Walker to Dewey. You want to see something there, but not if it’s going to die a horrible death in the marketplace when the New Depression ghouls get their next ration of fanservice.

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Afflictions not entirely random

The weekend, generally, is two days out of seven: not quite 29 percent of the average week.

Which doesn’t explain in the slightest why it is that major appliances and such seem so much more likely to fail during that tiny sliver of time:

Why this always happens on a weekend is beyond me. Do appliances know that they can make your life miserable if they shoot craps on a Sunday? Is Sky Net giving them orders already?

I’ve had the guys out to repair (as distinguished from “maintain”) the A/C twice in seven years. So far, the score is: Weekend 1, Non-Weekend 1.

At least around here they’ll come out on weekends, and make you pay only slightly dearly for the privilege. There are some parts of the world where you have to schedule your emergency services, or some such nonsense.

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Besides, they don’t like immersion

Why you should not try to baptize a cat:

I think that if you tried to baptize a cat, it would probably burst into flame as soon as it touched the holy water font. Cats are pure, concentrated, fur-covered evil. Satan’s oven mitts, one and all. I’d be surprised if they could pass the threshold of a church without spontaneously combusting.

Not to mention the fact that they appropriate all your base:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Shaken bake

Finally, what I’ve been waiting for all summer: commentary on the tanning tax, from E. M. Zanotti:

[A]side from the fact that I, too, oppose the tanning tax — though on an admittedly principled basis only (my legs could blind someone) — last I heard the sun was still a free source of healthy, skin-frying UV rays and will prove just as much of an efficient vehicle to skin cancer.

On the other hand, I’d be most amused if someone managed to get this thing zapped by reason of disparate impact.

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New York muse

Anyone want to take a shot at explaining this?

I am not sure I fully understand the logic behind driving a convertible with the top down, parking said vehicle, and then rolling up the windows without putting the top up. Rolling up the windows in such a vehicle will stop a potential car thief for less time than it takes a Democratic politician to propose a tax increase and thus has little or no deterrent effect on the criminal classes. Nor will rolling up the windows and keeping the top down prevent sun, rain, wind, or the occasional incontinent bird from soiling your nice new leather seats. There must be a point to performing such an action, but clearly I am not grasping the Aristotelian depths of the logic involved and no one wants to explain it to me. I also find it impossible to detect the difference between minutes in New York and minutes in any other state, but I usually ascribe my ignorance to my limited knowledge of Einstein’s theory of general relativity, which can, no doubt, explain all the mysteries of the universe, except, probably, why a man in a convertible would roll his windows up while leaving his top down.

Beyond speculating that the guy’s never had a car stolen before, I have no idea what might have been going through his head: force of habit makes sense if you believe that he didn’t realize he had the top down.

On the question of the New York minute, here’s a letter on the subject I received back in the summer of 2001:

“Funny how people say New York Minute, meaning a minute that is somehow shorter than a real minute. If you’ve ever been to NYC, the phrase to find out the time isn’t ‘What time is it?’ or even ‘Do you know what time it is?’ The phrase that pays is ‘Do you have the correct time?’ People in Manhattan are anal about this ‘correct time’ business… If anything, the 60 second New York minute is normal, and everyone else has 90 or 120 second minutes.”

So that’s how it works.

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And they are mild

All hybrids are not created equal, notes Ezra Dyer in Automobile (August):

The Chevy Malibu Hybrid, for instance, doesn’t deserve the label. Calling that car a hybrid is like calling a woman with Lee Press-On Nails a cyborg.

Ezra’s column, incidentally, is called “Dyer Consequences.”

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A museum, virtually

Opening tomorrow:

Retro Metro OKC is pending 501(c)(3) organization whose goal is to create an online exhibit of thousands of photos and documents relating to our city’s history, culture and heritage. The website debuts with more than 1,200 such materials, and thanks to a cooperative effort with the Oklahoma Historical Society and other area historical organizations, we hope to be adding many more historical Oklahoma City images in the near future.

Retro Metro OKC operates differently from other organizations in that we have no museum, we have no physical collections, and in most instances the materials we display remain in private ownership. In a typical situation our volunteer crews go to a home or business to scan an owner’s collection and the owner participates in the project by sharing information about the photos and documents as they are being scanned. The materials never have to leave an owner’s possession — the owner is simply asked to sign a release that allows for the materials to be displayed online.

The owner of such materials is given a disc of the digitized images and documents — and copies also will be given to the Oklahoma Historical Society and the Metropolitan Library System to ensure they will be preserved for future generations.

What’s the bane of the historian’s existence? Right: useful material forever locked away in someone’s vault. I have to figure the owners will happily share if they don’t actually have to give up physical possession.

Retro Metro OKC’s founding members include historians, authors, planners, a preservation architect, a retired Greater Oklahoma City Chamber executive, a city councilman, a city clerk, business owners, graphic designers and filmmakers. Our common history is Oklahoma City history. Our youngest member is 17; our oldest members are in their 70s.

Somewhere in the middle of that range is Oklahoman reporter and occasional reader Steve Lackmeyer, who is president of the new organization.

Nobody, not even Doug Loudenback or Pendleton Woods, knows everything about what’s happened in this town; I’m hoping the hive mind can fill in a lot of the blanks.

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Which one’s Beavis?

Wikipedia normally excises listings for people who are not “notable” — I remember King Kaufman, then writing for Salon, discovering that (1) he had an entry and (2) it was pending deletion for lack of notability — but a lot of weird things can happen before someone notices.

I was looking up July 15 births, with the intent of finding someone I could propose for Rule 5, and found this at the bottom of the section:

Wikipedia screen cap

I suspect these last two guys aren’t too notable, inasmuch as they have no other links within Wikipedia.

King Kaufman, incidentally, is now considered notable enough for an entry.

Addendum: The real Beavis returneth.

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