Some limit that was

By any reasonable standard, Oklahomans could have been considered enthusiastic for term limits; when State Question 632 made it to the ballot in 1990, it passed with more than 67 percent approval. Has incumbent turnover increased? Not so much:

One knock on term limits is that they artificially remove lawmakers with institutional memory, people who’ve been around the block enough times to anticipate problems. That point is not without merit, but Oklahoma’s 12-year term limit for state legislators is hardly draconian. This year provides a reminder. In the House of Representatives, 19 lawmakers are being forced out by term limits. But another 11 are leaving voluntarily, meaning more than one-third of open seats have nothing to do with term limits. For many people, the allure of legislative office is eventually outweighed by the perceived benefits of running for another office or returning to the private sector well before term limits kick in. This is one reason the Oklahoma Policy Institute found the average length of service for House members was greater in 2014 than in 1990. While term limits may slightly increase legislative turnover, their impact appears marginal.

I wonder how much the fat raise given to legislators in 1997 — they now make $38,400 a year plus per diem — might be a factor; some of these guys, you wonder if they could survive in the private sector.

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Child loses race, pitches fit

It’s hard not to laugh at this twerp:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: I got smoked by a BMW m3 on my 2003 maxima

The sob story, as only an SOB can tell it:

thursday afternoon while i was cruising on the freeway at 75 mph, BMW m3 voluntarilly pulled up to my side. while we cruised i honked the horn counting from 1 to 3 and the minute i finished counting, i pulled from 80 mph to 122-125 mph in like 2-3 second but despite that i STILL GOT SMOKED by the m3!!!! my question is there anything else that i can do to make a my maxima faster?

i mean i spent AT LEAST 6K modifiying and customizing my car. is i have put money into parts like a new cold air intake, 20″ rims, better struts, different chip, radiator and much more. could a supercharger help my car go any faster?

Well, dumbass, for one thing, you can lose those stupidly large 20″ rims, which add a whole bunch of weight, and unsprung weight at that: they’re the very antithesis of speed. Five will get you ten your intake isn’t any better than stock, and at 125 mph you’re running into aerodynamic drag: you will not get appreciably faster than 130 or so no matter what sort of crap you shovel into the engine compartment. (I drive one of these little darbs. I know.)

But by all means, drop a supercharger in there. And while you’re at it, pick up a spare engine and transmission.

Fiduciary note: $6000 worth of “upgrades” to a $2500 car leaves its value at, um, decidedly less than $2500. Nobody buys beaters with boyracer detritus all over the place, except for people even dumber than the seller. I suppose such people do exist, but this can’t be good for the human race.

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Checking one’s hindsight (1)

Note: The following originally appeared in Vent #10, from this week in 1996.

Occasional Baptist counterexamples notwithstanding, the true religion of Oklahoma is football, which explains why two of the state’s Representatives (out of six) are former college football players who have little else to recommend them. The First District’s Steve Largent, recently stroked by America’s leading political magazine — People Weekly — is owned and operated by the Pat Robertson crowd, and this always plays well in Tulsa, which is, after all, Oral Roberts’ home base. Largent, therefore, will probably survive this fall. More troublesome for the GOP is Julius Caesar Watts, installed in the Fourth District seat after spending a couple of years on the Corporation Commission shilling for utility companies. In the House, he rails against all government programs except the one that enabled him to buy a distressed Midwest City apartment complex dirt-cheap. And remember all that yammering about how Congress shouldn’t exempt itself from the laws it inflicts on the public sector? Our friend J. C. has managed to exempt a mere 94 percent of his staff from the Fair Labor Standards Act. (Steve Largent, by comparison, has fully a third of his staff covered, which by this state’s standards borders on commendable. The Tulsa World covered all this during the spring, if anyone is curious.) Word is now out that Watts turned a profit on his investment with Hillary-like speed, which automatically arouses suspicion around Dustbury, and this could well cost him his seat come November.

As it happens, neither Largent nor Watts had anything to worry about in the ’96 election, or the next two. Largent gave up his seat in 2002 to run for Governor, but was beaten by Brad Henry. Watts left in 2002 to sort of return to the private sector; he’s now CEO of the no-longer-scandal-ridden charity Feed the Children.

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Dole House cookies

The Swiss voted down a measure to give every legally resident citizen of Switzerland an income of CHF 2500 (about $2555 US) every month. The Z Man considers the issue:

There are some good arguments in favor of the guaranteed basic income. One is it is simple. Like the flat tax, the GBI replaces the myriad of welfare programs and the government vipers that come with them. The other point in its favor is it addresses the growing problem of mass unemployment. In the robot future, most people don’t work so this solves the problem of people not having a way to earn money. There’s also the fact that it is value neutral. People get the money to spend on whatever they wish, without the nanny state harassing them.

There is, of course, a downside, at least from the US point of view:

There are many arguments against it, with the most obvious being that welfare programs never go away. In America, the US Congress has repealed exactly one welfare program in the last century. The WPA was passed in the 1930s and later replaced by Comprehensive Employment and Training Act, which was such a hilarious disaster, it was replaced by a program called the Jobs Training Partnership Act. That was eventually repealed in the 90s. That’s a long time to kill one horrible welfare program.

The most likely result, at least in America, is a basic income on top of existing welfare programs. There are 79 means tested welfare programs in America. Everyone of those programs has a federal agency employing thousands of people who do nothing but administer welfare programs. Congress will get rid of those right after they do something about the unicorn infestation. Until the inevitable fiscal crisis forces a mass retrenchment of industrial era government programs, there will be no reform of welfare in America.

I’m not holding my breath. Still, it would be amusing to have a referendum on the matter, the way the Swiss did:

There was little support among Swiss politicians for the idea and not a single parliamentary party came out in favour, but the proposal gathered more than 100,000 signatures and was therefore put to the vote under the Swiss popular initiative system.

What percentage could such a referendum get in the States? Thirty percent, maybe?

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Strange search-engine queries (540)

Until the dog days of summer get here, it’s cool for cats to peer into their logs and see what kind of stuff those mysterious tall bipeds have been looking for. Sometimes it’s even amusing.

garden state cable tv wpix-tv 11 new york schedule for june 1973:  Oh, did you get one of those new time-traveling DVRs?

in recent years, political commentators have lamented that the cultural and political divide between the so-called “red states” and their blue counterparts has become a chasm. technological advances such as the information superhighway and, more recently, social media have only exacerbated this trend:  Although the main contributor to this phenomenon is the desperate attempt by political commentators to get paid for something.

waiting for universal lawn care:  And we’ll end up with a two-tier structure, the insured paying a $50 copay, the uninsured being soaked for whatever the market will bear.

http://www.microsoftshitbrick.com/:  We told you you ought to install Windows 10.

suppose that at an official ticket price of $480:  You can watch forty-five seconds of Super Bowl LI.

a woman, alone in a house, ignores the creaking sounds she hears and experiences no stress. another woman might hear the same sounds, suspect an intruder, and thus become alarmed. these different reactions illustrate the importance of:  Xanax.

foreskin puns:  Protip: don’t tell foreskin puns.

angelica is an unpaid homemaker who works as a volunteer at the local red cross and is currently not looking for a paid job. the bureau of labor statistics counts angelica as:  Whatever it takes to make the numbers look good that month.

web toys for your procrastination pleasure:  Most of which you’ve already bookmarked, am I right?

brian is very creative. if he goes a week without seeing another person, he doesn’t even notice. he likes to garden and is currently redesigning the entire landscape around his property. according to holland’s theory, what type of person is brian?  A real asshole, inasmuch as he put the side fence two yards over Holland’s property line.

by the _____, 35,000 people had been lobotomized in the united states:  “O’Reilly Factor.”

russell westbrook crossdresser:  You get Russ on camera, he’ll be cross, dressed or not.

gypsy chickens:  They cross the road, and they owe you no explanation why.

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Cold in one’s hose

Now here’s a catchy title: How Freezing Your Tights Will Change Your Whole Damn Life.

Oh, they mean it, all right:

Those opaque bad boys are a lifesaver when the temps start to majorly dip … if only they stayed run-free for longer than, oh, a day. Good thing there’s a super-easy trick for extending the life of your tights.

You freeze them.

Yes, it sounds crazy, but hear us out: The next time you buy a new pair (and before you wear them), run them under water until they’re damp. Then place them in a plastic bag and freeze overnight. Take them out and give them a day to defrost and thaw out.

You only need to do this once — after that, you’re good to go. The chilly temps firm and strengthen the individual fibers of your tights, making them less susceptible to runs later on.

Hmmm. Wonder if this works on sheer, or at least non-opaque, varieties.

(And why am I hearing about this only now?)

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A child across the seas

The Small Kindness humanitarian organisation requests your attention for a moment:

As the world’s TV attention and news programs focus on the masses, commenting on the millions of refugees filling Europe, the real human tragedy and story of one single life is missed.

Our video focuses on the suffering of just one solitary boy who wants to go back home, but loses his life while searching for humanity. The campaign #YouAreNotAlone calls on us all to reach out and support these innocent of war.

The video is by Small Kindness founder Yusuf, otherwise The Artist Formerly Known As Cat Stevens:

It’s not quite the same voice that sang to Lady D’Arbanville four decades and odd ago, but it’s still compelling.

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Tomorrow the wrinkles

Actually, I thought they were supposed to be wrinkled, but apparently I am falling behind the times once again:

Move over manscaping — the latest trend in male groin grooming is a scrotal lift.

The procedure, otherwise referred to as scrotoplasty or reduction, is performed to reduce, repair or reconstruct the scrotum to get rid of excess scrotal skin.

And with men more body conscious than ever, doctors say the op is rising in popularity as word spreads.

The nip and tuck procedure was first carried out to correct abnormalities, treat cancer patients or those who had suffered an injury down below.

But clinics now offer it as a standard cosmetic treatment alongside more established procedures such as moob surgery or a nose job.

In other news, guys are having moob surgery.

I wonder how many men are having this operation specifically for trompe l’oeil purposes; as Myra Breckenridge used to say, some guys are all potatoes and no meat. Or maybe that was Myron.

(Via Fark, with a blurb right out of Carla Ulbrich.)

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What happens when you don’t let it go

British comic Philip Green has developed a small cottage industry on the side: making fun of Meghan Trainor. A sample:

I don’t think I saw quite all of that coming.

Green also takes on “Me Too,” with comparable results.

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Can kicked slightly further

I wasn’t all that surprised to find a Washington Post app on my tablet; the tablet came from Amazon, and Amazon chair Jeff Bezos is the owner of the WaPo through his Nash Holdings operation. Six months, no charge. This is the follow-on deal offered me:

We hope you are enjoying your 6 months of free access to The Washington Post. Your limited-time trial will expire on June 17, 2016.

In order to continue enjoying the same access to The Washington Post, we would like to offer you the following special subscription rate: 6 months for only $1.00. Once your 6 month promotion comes to an end, your subscription will continue to renew for just $3.99 monthly.

Since Amazon has been dealing on lots of things, even sacred Prime, lately, I suspect the price this December might actually be a tad less than $3.99. I mean, I wasn’t expecting any kind of discount at this point.

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Not to be confused with the Crackers

You (by which I mean I) gotta love this:

Since you asked, the Montgomery Biscuits are in the Northern Division of the Southern League (!); they’re the Double-A farm club of the Tampa Bay Rays. (On that Friday, the Biscuits rode a five-run second inning to a 6-3 victory over Jacksonville.) Wikipedia advises that “during games, biscuits are shot from an air cannon, into the stands.”

The Biscuits won back-to-back Southern League championships in 2006 and 2007, both times defeating the Huntsville Stars, who in 2015 relocated to become the, um, Biloxi Shuckers.

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No static at all

Rather a lot of us grew up in circumstances like these:

If you were born a few years before the era of Teen Death Songs, as I was, you might remember when AM radio stations played music. The greater fidelity of transmission and reception provided by FM radio put an end to that, of course. Yet some of the hits of the early Sixties don’t sound quite right in high fidelity. They seem to have been designed to be heard on tinny, staticky AM radios … specifically, the sort of radio that was built into the dashboard of a 1965 Chevy Caprice.

The result is a seeming loss of authenticity when those early AM radio hits are reproduced on modern equipment. The listening experience just isn’t the same. Why, to this day I can’t abide hearing “Walk Away, Renee” in remastered digital quality sound. My wife, that heretic, suggests that it might be because of the wear and tear fifty years of sitting in front of a computer monitor has put on my ears, but I know she and all my other friends are just trying to make me paranoid, and I’m not going to let them!

For what it’s worth, there is no known original stereo tape of the Left Banke’s third single, “Desiree”; all versions in release are the 45 single mix. That said, the “Renee” version linked seems a bit more heinous than usual.

And that said, rather a lot of Sixties records were cut specifically with auto audio in mind. For (one very big) instance:

In his still essential Motown history Where Did Our Love Go? Nelson George writes, “Motown chief engineer Mike McClain built a miniscule, tinny-sounding radio designed to approximate the sound of a car radio. The high-end bias of Motown’s recordings can be partially traced to the company’s reliance on this piece of equipment.” They knew people would be listening on their car stereos and on their transistor sets and they were going to do what it took to make their songs sound good and memorable. Even if you couldn’t put your finger on it, when a Motown song came on, you knew it.

I have a copy of “Dancing in the Street,” carefully de-noised, painstakingly remixed, and lovingly remastered. It has about one-sixth the impact of the mono single.

And I may as well admit here that our local Top 40 AM station had a simulcast on FM. The FM was a little cleaner, but not enormously so; more to the point, AM radio sets of the era were simply better than they are now. When seemingly all the music started moving to FM, receiver manufacturers found the idea of cheaping out on the AM sections irresistible. I have Bose audio in my car. CDs are great, FM is fair to good depending on station practice, and AM is not much better than an old Princess phone. Yet there are still some good AM sets to be had, if you look around.

More worrisome is the prospect of being stuck with remasters hereafter:

Last fall, we wrote about the record labels moving on from streaming companies to instead suing CBS over its terrestrial radio operations playing pre-1972 songs as well. CBS hit back with what we considered to be a fairly bizarre defense: claiming that it wasn’t actually playing any pre-1972 music, because all of the recordings it used had been remastered after 1972, and those recordings should have a new and distinct copyright from the original sound recording. As we noted at the time, an internet company called Bluebeat had tried a version of this argument years earlier only to have it shot down by the courts (though its argument ignored the whole derivative works issue).

Now, in a somewhat stunning ruling, the court has agreed with CBS that remastered works get new copyrights as derivative works of the original. You can read the full court order here [pdf]. The court, correctly, notes that for a work to get a new copyright, it must show originality beyond the initial work — and that originality “must be more than trivial.”

Will somebody at whoever the hell has the rights to the Mercury/Smash catalog now order a new version of “Desiree”? I’d bet on it.

(With thanks to Roger Green.)

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When greatness calls

Muhammad Ali, we remember, had a decidedly activist side:

“I will not disgrace my religion, my people or myself by becoming a tool to enslave those who are fighting for their own justice, freedom and equality. If I thought the war was going to bring freedom and equality to 22 million of my people they wouldn’t have to draft me, I’d join tomorrow. I have nothing to lose by standing up for my beliefs. So I’ll go to jail, so what? We’ve been in jail for 400 years.”

Some found this disquieting. But Ali was working with ideas, not with buzzwords: no matter what he said, kidding around or deadly serious, he was never just going through the motions. And even when he told you he was The Greatest, he knew, and would willingly acknowledge, that there was Someone Even Greater.

A little bit of bombast, a whole lot of humble:

And the President said exactly the right thing:

He wasn’t perfect, of course. For all his magic in the ring, he could be careless with his words, and full of contradictions as his faith evolved. But his wonderful, infectious, even innocent spirit ultimately won him more fans than foes — maybe because in him, we hoped to see something of ourselves. Later, as his physical powers ebbed, he became an even more powerful force for peace and reconciliation around the world. We saw a man who said he was so mean he’d make medicine sick reveal a soft spot, visiting children with illness and disability around the world, telling them they, too, could become the greatest. We watched a hero light a torch, and fight his greatest fight of all on the world stage once again; a battle against the disease that ravaged his body, but couldn’t take the spark from his eyes.

That spark lives on, even as the man who brought it travels to a higher plane.

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Tried and retried and true

It wasn’t her idea, but Fillyjonk has gone back to a normal thermostat:

The new one is not programmable or wi-fi linkable, but I am okay with that. I figure fewer brains in the thing means less chance of those brains getting scrambled by power blips. Also, I used the programmable feature for a while when I first had the thing, but I quickly learned that if we had a power outage of anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes, the thing “forgot” what time it was and I had to reset the clock, and if the power was out for more than five minutes, the thing forgot ALL its programming and I’d have to go through and painstakingly reset the times (there were four times per day: wake up time, leave-house time, return-home time, bedtime) and the temperatures for them. And the thing would default to a temperature of 85 F (if the ac was on) or 60 F (if the heat was on) if it lost its programming and you didn’t reprogram it. So that would not be too cool when you were away for an extended time.

It was 1953 when Honeywell introduced the T-86, better known as the “Eyeball,” thermostat. It is programmed by turning a knob to the desired temperature. More than that, I will not ask of a thermostat. Yes, they do make the fancier stuff. I don’t care.

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We got your counterexamples right here

Everybody and her sister knows Rule 34 of the Internet: “If it exists, there is porn of it — no exceptions.”

They say you can’t prove a negative, and maybe that’s true, but there are at least 34 known exceptions to Rule 34. Now whether they will remain exceptions, we do not know.

(Via Selena Larson.)

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Meanwhile on Choctaw Ridge

“It was the third of June, another sleepy, dusty Delta day…”

Everything you know about Bobbie Gentry starts with that one line, and of course you know the song:

That half-raspy belle-but-not-of-the-ball voice of hers became instantly recognizable, and it saw her through a few smaller hits on the way to oblivion.

Bobbie Gentry for Top of the Pops circa August 1968

Bobbie Gentry goes slightly wild

This is about the place where I’d insert a recent picture. But here’s the catch: there aren’t any recent pictures. Some time after her 1978 single “He Did Me Wrong (But He Did It Right)” failed to catch on, she withdrew from the public eye almost entirely.

Neely Tucker went looking for her:

Bobbie Gentry lives about a two-hour drive from the site of the Tallahatchie Bridge that made her so famous, in a gated community, in a very nice house that cost about $1.5 million. Her neighbors, some locals and some real estate agents know who she is, although it’s not clear which of her many possible names she goes by.

And no, we still don’t know what was being thrown off that bridge before Billie Joe consigned himself to those muddy waters. There was a film sort of based on the song, but there’s no reason to suspect it’s canon; it’s not even spelled right. Nor is the death of Billie Joe the worst thing that ever happened on the Tallahatchie; Emmett Till wound up there, and he was murdered.

(I am indebted to Roger Green for turning up that B&W picture, which apparently the BBC had in one of its libraries.)

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