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Founded 9 April 1996
It is written
"The outrageous becomes more normal every day." — John Drake
The Vent
#498: Vermont needs sunblock
(Posted 23 August 2006)
The complete series (1996-up)
3WC *
New Japanese toilet has built-in MP3 player: Thereby redefining "download."

Love letters to Castro: A Stalinist tradition.

All your snakes are belong to us: A base canard.

Indian man has two penises, wants to lose one: Anybody taking donations?

Dolphins aren't so damn smart: The mice knew.

Viagra apparently keeps cut flowers from wilting: Stamens with stamina!

Howard Dean and Cliff Clavin: Separated at birth?

Antibacterial mouse: Sorta safer surfing.

83 words you can't say on Verizon Wireless: "Dillhole" still permissible.

Banana guard: Not a condom.

The adjective is "Democratic," not "Democrat": You fawning publicans.

ESAD: Except for bunnies.

Hormonal functions of semen: Wasted on Kleenex®.

Mozilla reports that Firefox has been downloaded 200 million times: Seven by me.

Time Warner, Comcast dissolve joint cable venture: Moloch hates Beelzebub.

Waterbury, CT considering strict dress code for educators: Van Halen despondent.

Save the Union 76 ball: From Phillips 66.

Pepto-Bismol® ice cream: Reportedly tames hangovers.

Masturbate for Peace: Wanks a lot.

Gummi beers: No, not bears.

Ultra Slut Body Detergent: Goes on easy.

Ann Coulter has instincts similar to Sharon Stone's: Plus actual underwear.

"Mood sofa" lights change to indicate warmth or distance between its occupants: Where's the remote?

The Abercrombie & Fitch Trauma Center: Somebody's reading catalogs.

"Hose Nose" candy boogers: Snot for me.

Fruit loofahs: Contain no juice.

Sophia Loren will pose for the Pirelli calendar wearing nothing but earrings: Thank you, Lord.

Mick Cornett discovers YouTube: Voters stifle yawns.

The new Popemobile is a Volvo XC90: German automakers baffled.

It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings: Often, she is.

Some places, you can't even say [CENSORED]tail: What a [CENSORED]ry.

Cats that look like Hitler: Our führery friends.

Mariah Carey's legs reportedly insured for $1 billion: Voice, fifty bucks.

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24 August 2006
Because it's been a while

Michael Bates thought it was about time to tweak me again about Maureen Dowd, and he pointed me to this Fred On Everything denunciation.

I would remind him, and the rest of you, that I am aware of her, um, deficiencies. Except for the alleged resculpturing — "She probably gets more daily maintenance than a 747, but she still looks as though a vocational school held an injection-molding contest and everyone lost," says Fred — her deficiencies are fairly similar to my deficiencies, and therefore I'm inclined to cut her a bit more slack than she might deserve.

On the other hand, were I to decide that I must have a pundit around the house, I'd probably do better, or at least somewhat less badly, with the likes of Mary Katharine Ham, whose politics are a bit closer to mine, and who — never mind, this can't possibly be said with any degree of finesse.

And keep in mind that I don't consider myself in a position to look down my nose at Jacqueline Passey, either. (That is so last week, you know?)

6:09 PM | Warn Mode Due | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The smartest man in town

Whichever advisor told Mick Cornett, right around filing time, "Hey, don't quit your day job."

4:37 PM | Political Science Fiction | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Reorient your sweet tooth

From last August:

Russell Stover, the candy firm with a retail store on Northwest Expressway east of May, is putting in an outlet store around the corner, on May near NW 56th, in a building last occupied by an independent auto dealer and which looks to me like it started out as a Kinney shoe store.

Which, as it turns out, it had.

Now the outlet supersedes the original:

Tuesday, the candy shop will close. The company has decided to move into a bigger building a few blocks north at 5704 N May Ave.

There's just one problem:

The 1959 bungalow is one of only three left in the United States — the others are in Tulsa and Chattanooga, Tenn.

The red brick bungalow, with the wooden shingles that have never let water leak, has been sold and is likely to be torn down, [store manager Deborah] Wilson said.

Inasmuch as the candy was originally sold as "Mrs. Stover's Bungalow Candies," this is even more distressing than it sounds.

12:51 PM | City Scene | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Push, dammit

Gwendolyn's having a spa day, and in her absence, the dealer set me up with a G35, vintage 2004.

It took a while to adjust things — evidently the last person to drive this car was a member of the Lullabye League — but the G fits, albeit sports-car snug.

The growly VQ engine is here also, grown to 3.5 liters and 260 hp; there's a five-speed automatic at hand. On the way back from the shop, the G was docile and well-behaved; once shown an on-ramp, though, Dr. Jekyll jumped back into the closet.

For the G is rear-drive, the way God (or Karl Benz) intended cars to be, and the launch up that ramp was my first taste in ages of the sort of acceleration that hits you in the small of the back. Gwendolyn can do speed like that, but somehow it doesn't feel the same.

I've owned three front-wheel-drive cars in a row, and by and large, I've been happy with them; I know the limitations of the design, and I know how to get them to do what I want to do. But even the best FWD is no match for the best RWD, and the G (which, reskinned, is pretty much the current Nissan Z, a true halo car by my reckoning) is up there with the best.

Update, 2:45 pm: Make that two spa days. Apparently everyone in town showed up today with service requests. So I'll have the G overnight. Tragic, isn't it?

8:37 AM | Driver's Seat | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Giving them no quarters

The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has revised those mysterious "Failure to pay toll strictly enforced" signs, and presumably now they mean business.

Then again, things happen. One of them happened to Steven Roemerman:

The other day I was forced to run a toll booth on the Creek Turnpike. I did not have exact change and the exit did not have a change machine.

Not wanting to get nailed to the wall for 60 cents, I called OTA Enforcement (1-877-774-9569). I was told to complete the following steps.

  • Write a check to the OTA for the amount of the missed toll.
  • In the memo field, put the offending vehicle's tag number, the date and time of the infraction, and the toll road.
  • Mail said check to P.O. Box 960029 Oklahoma City, OK 73196.
  • Wait for the OTA to mail you citation.
  • Call the OTA with the details of the citation and the number on the aforementioned check.

This sad story, of course, gives me an opportunity to recount this tale from my sordid past:

I got on the Kilpatrick Turnpike, duly stopped at the toll-basket, reached into my pocket, and did not find thirty cents. There was a Sacajawea dollar, though, so I grat my teeth and pitched the buckette into the basket.


This was not one of the toll stations with an actual bill changer, so I sat there. A truck pulled up behind me. I pondered running the toll light and sitting there waiting for the gendarmes, but decided this would be even more expensive. The occupants of the truck began to fidget.

Finally I flicked a second Sacajawea, my last, into the basket, and this time was granted admission.

I concluded at the time:

Yeah, I suppose this is a good argument for a PikePass. Truth be told, I was holding out until they came up with some measure of compatibility with the East Coast E-Z Pass systems, into which I pour a lot of coin during (some of) the World Tours. On the other hand, if I'm running a regular risk of spending $2 for a thirty-cent fare, the transponder will justify itself rather quickly.

I may get one of these critters yet, especially since Gwendolyn has some strategically-placed Velcro which might accommodate it.

5:26 AM | Soonerland | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
23 August 2006
Sphinx on a plain

Doug Bentin, in this week's Gazette, extolling the virtues of That Movie:

[Y]ou're either smacking your lips in anticipation or you're lamenting the fall of Western civilization. Sure, like Oedipus Rex is the model of dramatic good taste and restraint.

Of course! Samuel L. Jackson does Sophocles! They'll take liberties with the story, of course, but people will line up just to hear him say "I want this [obvious twelve-letter noun] off the [adjectival version of same] throne of Thebes!"

6:23 PM | Almost Yogurt | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

When I said earlier today that the industry in which I work "blows goats," I in no way intended to limit the activity to domesticated animals.

If you were there to hear it, I apologize for the confusion.

5:56 PM | Say What? | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (1)
Now with even greater down content

You'll remember that two weeks ago came up with the implausible value of $117,695 for the palatial Surlywood estate, which occupies a whole quarter-acre in northwest Oklahoma City. After a $3600 drop the following week, I predicted that "they're going to fix it a little at a time."

This week: $109,315, down $6232.

My own guesstimate remains at $96,200.

11:10 AM | Surlywood | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Okay, who's got the wand?

Jeff Jarvis said this in the wake of 9/11:

So you can sneak a bomb in your shoe. The only solution is to fly naked. You can't bring anything on board; it all has to be shipped separately on cargo jet.

(The old Buzz Machine archives — the ones on Blogger — don't seem to be working; I copied this from a piece of my own.)

He later added:

Now you might say to me, Jeff, don't be ridiculous. At least we can fly in our underwear. But no. If enough C4 to take down a jet could be shoved into a shoe, imagine what could fit into a padded bra. I can see the headline now: Man Arrested at Logan With Explosive Codpiece. Ouch.

No comment from Jarvis yet on this. [Not safe for work.]

Update, 1 pm: Comment from Jarvis.

8:40 AM | Birthday Suitable | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

This number probably doesn't mean much to you, unless you live in Alabama, in which case it is (or was) your telephone area code, and really, I don't think anyone will buy the notion that 205 is the atomic weight of the mysterious element dodgeblogium, which has affected Andrew Ian Dodge to the effect that he's now unleashed upon the world the Cthulhu of the Vanities.

Yes. R'lyeh. I am not making this up.

7:24 AM | Blogorrhea | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
And it's bronze, too

Add this to the Reasons for Side Trips file:

Recently, the [African American Hall of Fame] Museum commissioned Artist and Educator Preston Jackson to create a nine foot bronze sculpture of world famous Comedian and native Peorian Richard Pryor. The sculpture will be prominently displayed in front of our future home on the riverfront as part of the Peoria Museum Square. Mr. Jackson has recently completed the maquette and we will be unveiling the awe inspiring piece at the press conference. Please join us. We hope to see you there.

I don't think I can make it this morning, unfortunately, but there's something that just tickles me about a nine-foot statue of Richard Pryor, and inasmuch as Peoria is the largest city in Illinois I haven't seen up close, I'll have to keep this in mind for some future Tour route.

Now if we can just get some of these Oklahomans to do something fitting for Woody Guthrie.

6:20 AM | Almost Yogurt | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
22 August 2006
They didn't say if it was kosher

Gatorade, schmatorade. What your body craves is ... pickle juice?

Apparently so:

Claiming 30 times the electrolytes of Powerade and 15 times that of Gatorade, the newly released Pickle Juice Sport already has major sports figures endorsing it.

Yes, you read correctly … pickle juice. Developed through market research that confirms many people sneak a drink of pickle juice from the jar. Apparently there was a market, after all, for a manufactured beverage that tastes of dill, salt, and vinegar. This was later reinforced by an NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys, which received national attention over the Eagles’ consumption of pickle juice to beat the 120 degree heat and led them to victory. Who knew?!

I plead guilty to taking a sip out of the jar once in a while, but it never occurred to me to pass it off as a sports beverage.

Then again, given my fondness for corn — on the cob, out of the can, out of the freezer — perhaps I need some extra green to offset all that yellow.

7:54 PM | Worth a Fork | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)
Meanwhile at the voting machine

Not much of a wait: at 5:15 pm I checked in at #375. For the brief period I was there, there were as many Democrats as Republicans — although two of each hardly qualifies as a valid statistical sample. The pollworkers seemed a smidgen cheerier than usual, perhaps because they'd been waiting all day to have as many as four people at the table.

If you're wondering why it took me an hour to post this, the few drops of rain that fell upon me during the afternoon commute provided just enough motivation for me to drag out the lawn mower and reduce the height of the weeds out front before the next round of stormage. Assuming, of course, there is a next round.

6:15 PM | City Scene | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
In summary

The usual Blogger template has a section called "About Me," and I admit, if I haven't read you before, I will read this first. Second at the latest.

And once in a great while I will encounter something as nifty as this:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and I, I took the one strewn with Cheerios and diaper wipes, in a sensible car and pair of old jeans. I wake up next to an adorably hairy computer geek and spend my days wiping snotty noses and admiring crayon drawings. You know what? Life has never been more full of romance than it is right now.

Now if that isn't compelling, I don't know what is.

1:25 PM | Blogorrhea | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
All thumbs

Thumbs up to SBC/AT&T/whoever they are this week for putting a wide variety of long-distance packages on display on their Web site; this is exactly the sort of information a customer needs.

Thumbs down to SBC/AT&T/whoever they are this week for making it impossible to order one of those packages over the Web if you already have one; you have to call the poor, harried service rep and give him the chance to do his spiel for the nine or ten other products they're dying to sell you, and then they'll talk to you about changing your LD plan.

Oh, well. They'll learn, one way or another.

Addendum, 3:40 pm: BStewart gives Bell Canada the finger. Maybe the whole darn fist.

9:46 AM | Dyssynergy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
Found on road, dying

Charlie Hughes and William Jeanes are two names I know well. Hughes was the president of Mazda during its transformation from an also-ran Japanese nameplate to a recognized purveyor of Zoom Zoom, and Jeanes was perhaps the sanest editor of Car and Driver ever. In their forthcoming book Branding Iron: Branding Lessons from the Meltdown of the US Auto Industry, the guys offer a restructuring plan for Ford that goes way beyond anything Dearborn can possibly imagine. Some of the details:

  • Three brands: mainstream, near-luxury, high-end. Ford, Volvo, Jaguar. Everyone else has got to go. BMW would probably take Land Rover back, and Mazda might well want to be free of blue-oval influence. Aston Martin surely would find a taker. And Lincoln-Mercury? "They spend $300 million a year to flog Lincoln and Mercury, says Hughes, "and what kind of return are they getting on that?"

  • Move out of Dearborn and away from all those people named Ford. Chicago would work.

  • Adopt one standard, companywide: "We build the best cars for the money in any segment you might want."

Ford might actually spin off one of their British marques, but anything beyond that seems unlikely. Still, the people who are eating Detroit's lunch — Toyota and Honda, mostly — seem to be getting by with a mere two brands apiece. Ford, now sandwiched between them in size, can't be reasonably expected to sustain eight.

(Via Autoblog.)

8:00 AM | Driver's Seat | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Jingle and/or jangle

One of the most mind-boggling bits of trivia extant, at least according to those to whom I've told it over the years, is that the second publisher of the Paris Review, one of the industrial-strength literary magazines of the last half of the twentieth century, was also the lead vocalist on "Sugar, Sugar."

Ron Dante, Renaissance Man. Darn few pop-music figures even come close to deserving the title. Since it's his birthday (he's 61), and persuaded as I am that anything this man does should be considered news, I thought I'd point you to his MySpace page and let you see (and hear!) what he's been up to lately. Or, what the heck, you can also play "Sugar, Sugar" — or "Tracy," ostensibly by the Cuff Links, Dante's second consecutive top-10 hit under a name other than his own. (His biggest hit as Ron Dante, 1970's "Let Me Bring You Up," topped out at a meager #104.)

Oh, and he has two Tony Awards, too: he produced both Ain't Misbehavin', Best Musical of 1978, and Children of a Lesser God, Best Play of 1980. I'm telling you, Renaissance Man if ever there was one. And we haven't even mentioned his commercials or his work with Barry Manilow yet. (Oops.)

What? My favorite Dante? Probably "Leader of the Laundromat," a Shangri-Las sendup from the end of 1964 recorded by the Detergents, that still makes me giggle. ("Who's that banging on the piano?" "I dunno.") Dante is one of the three hyper-clean voices, the others being Tommy Wynn and Danny Jordan. A subsequent Detergents nonhit, "I Can Never Eat Home Anymore," is currently atop my want list, mostly because Collectables, which did go to the trouble of compiling a Detergents CD in the late 1990s, managed to leave it off, possibly because it was released on a different label originally (Kapp instead of Roulette). And yes, it's more demented than even "Laundromat":

Listen, does this sound familiar?

You wake up every morning
With a hunger pain inside
Your mother makes you breakfast
But you wanna run and hide
You sneak out of the back door
And hang around the street
You know it's time for dinner
But you're afraid to go home and eat
And that's called ... hungry!

As much work as Ron Dante did over the years, he might not even remember this bit of, um, whimsy.

7:23 AM | Tongue and Groove | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
21 August 2006
Snakes on a shoe

Christian Louboutin sandalE. M. Zanotti found this slithering through Neiman's, and not only are there snakes on the vamp, the heel is snakeskin. From Christian Louboutin, around $690. This reminds me of his "Palace" sandal, worn by the likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, which I suppose should serve as a reminder that there's seldom any need to reinvent the wheel. (Aside: Speaking of snakes, I have to give some sort of props to whoever it was who thought it might be amusing to drape a rubber snake across the auditorium door at Tinseltown this past weekend. Very amusing in a tacky sort of way, rather like the film I came to see.) This is a very nice shoe, though I can't imagine anyone I know actually wearing it, what with the four-inch heel and all. (Those whom I know who do like four-inch heels generally don't like snakes, even stylized ones made out of shiny metal.) And yes, I swiped E.M.'s title; this was a case where I knew I couldn't improve upon it.

8:04 PM | Rag Trade | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack (0)
Sew what's old

A friend sent me this, and I have to admit it's kinda neat:

Past Patterns, one of the premiere pattern manufacturers of historical sewing patterns, covers Regency through 1930s fashions, engineered with historical accuracy, skill and come with detailed instructions and historical background. These patterns are suitable for novice through expert sewers. Highly recommended.

$60.50 Canadian will get you, for instance, a template for this:

Wedding Gown with Cathedral Train
Slight bustle created by metal stays in three rows from below the centre back waist to the knees, but can be eliminated without effect to the cathedral train which can be removed all together. This makes into a gorgeous gown. I have created this from ivory Duchess silk satin with antique (c.1860) lace for a client and found the pattern to be wonderful. Sizes 10-16 inclusive.

Only one thing perplexes me:

Weight: 971.00 gms

I've got to assume that this is the shipping weight for the pattern, because surely this gown weighs more than two pounds, doesn't it?

5:24 PM | Entirely Too Cool | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Snakes on a tomb

Not necessarily official doctrine:

We definitely have a huge problem with our mosques. Many of these mosque preachers never had any religious education; they could just be members of the congregation who know a word or two from the Quran and end up preaching to hundreds if not thousands every week.

Preaching against Jews and praying that God will orphan their children is not the only problem with these guys. Many of them, including even those who had religious education but are extremists in nature, say insane stuff that drive sensible minds crazy. For example, they might issue crazy fatwas on the nitty gritty things of life, things you'll find it very hard to believe that the almighty would be interested in. Other focus on hell and the "torture of the tomb." They think that by scaring the guts out of people, they'll pray more and visit the mosque more frequently.

I have a friend who one day decided that he had enough of his local mosque preacher. During the prayers, the man was telling the people about the "torture of the tomb" and what awaits the sinner when he dies. "And the bald snake will whirl itself around you in your tomb," he said.

The obvious question?

My friend raised his hand asking for permission to say something. "You said the bald snake, but is there a snake with hair in the first place." The guy's eyes popped out and several people started laughing.

I do hope the friend is still alive; some of those preachy types have no sense of humor.

(Via Scribal Terror.)

12:14 PM | Dyssynergy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
The Oracle of Premium Unleaded

Were I the nation's Energy Czar, the first thing I would do, of course, would be to abolish the position of Energy Czar. The second thing I would do is to suggest (since I no longer had any actual, you know, power) that everyone try to be nice to Trilby Lundberg.

The AP has a feature story today on the "guru of gasoline prices," whose biweekly Lundberg Survey is the best-known of all the petroleum indices. She learned this stuff basically by OJT: she was trained as a classical pianist, and wound up with the job when her father, Dan Lundberg, who developed the survey half a century ago, died in 1986.

And, she says, there's no Svengali manipulating the prices behind the scenes:

Are there five oil industry executives someplace deciding the price of gas? "That would be tragic because that would wreck the market," she said. "And it would be a comedy because it is impossible."

Lundberg said oil companies have no interest in helping each other; they want to increase their sales at the expense of the competition. "They all have no mercy," she said.

Oh, and don't ask her about the gas mileage on her Mercedes. She has no idea.

9:32 AM | Family Joules | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Proactive scum

When I switched to Movable Type back in 2002, the system numbered each individual archive, starting with 000001, and assigned a similar series to TrackBacks, though inasmuch as I didn't implement TB until a couple of hundred posts were in place, the numbers for posts and TBs don't match up. None of this presented any particular problem.

Then I popped open the Junk TrackBack folder this morning, and there was a TB to a post I hadn't even published yet. (This one, in fact.) Obviously they were just trying numbers to see what would stick, and of course it didn't actually get onto the site, but this is a definite drawback to the numbering system. Newer versions of MT allow post titles to be worked into URLs, and TB links are named accordingly; I didn't switch over when I installed version 3.2, for the sake of consistency. It would be, I assume, harder for a spammer to anticipate a post title than a post number. (Then again, I've had some fairly predictable post titles over the past four years.)

7:32 AM | Scams and Spams | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Strange search-engine queries (29)

Sooner or later, something you search for will bring you here. After all, you're not looking for anything weirder than these folks:

delusional women dating:  They're not dating me, so they can't be too delusional.

fairy envoy seat covers:  Who knew that GMC had dealers in the Land of Faerie?

google wayne walters okla senate:  What's funny about this is that "google" is a search term — and the search was sent through MSN.

industrial spray gun melts pewter, zinc instantly:  How well would it work against snakes on a plane?

definition geezer offensive:  No, it isn't. Now get the hell off my lawn, you young punk.

Allen Iverson Sixty Thousand Dollar Shoes:  If he buys one pair, does he get the second for half price?

"women who wear glasses" nearsighted:  Some of them, surely.

seattle goth lesbians:  Some of them, surely.

animaniacs fetish:  Yeah, that Minerva Mink is hot.

repressing sexual desires:  This isn't particularly amusing, but I found it a bit odd that I should be in the top 20 results.

walgreens call center in okc closing?  Actually, it's been sold to United Health Group. (Story here.)

switch bodies with jessica simpson:  Oddly, no one wants to swap brains with her.

why do I receive so much spam from unsavory sources?  Who else would send it?

"invisible woman" fantasy giggled:  Never actually seen one, you know, but I can imagine why she might want to giggle.

6:19 AM | Blogorrhea | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
20 August 2006
Welcome to the Panhandle State

Dan Paden meets the beggars:

Perfectly able-bodied — they don't all have bad backs, friends — people, often young, standing on corners or walking around parking lots, begging. I swear sometimes I've seen it all. I've seen people begging — in tandem! — on a corner in one part of town, and getting off a bus to beg on a different corner later in the day. I've seen the same guy show up on the same corner at regular intervals — usually Saturdays. I guess he'd beg all week long, but it must interfere with something else he's doing. He must be doing okay. He's not getting any skinnier, that's for sure.

Nice work if you can get it. Oh, wait, did I say "work"?

Tulsa has an unemployment rate of somewhere between 3.75 and 4.25 percent, if memory serves. Employers are screaming for people, often anyone who'll just show up and try. At this point, you practically have to hide under a rock to avoid getting a job in this town. Or you have to be way too dadgum choosy.

Or maybe you'd rather just spend your days playing the slots and Governor Henry's lotto and letting strangers buy your beer, cigarettes, and lotto tickets before you go back home to the city-subsidized apartment you share with the disabled lady.

One commenter wrote that "they come to Tulsa because they can't panhandle in OKC," which should be a surprise to anyone who's driven past Penn Square lately.

In the event that you saw this and immediately thought "But panhandlers are protected by the First Amendment," I note that (1) courts have indeed often, if not invariably, so ruled, and (2) such protection, whatever its extent, imposes no obligation on the general public: no one is guaranteed an audience.

6:10 PM | Soonerland | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
In the zone, maybe

The MAPS for Kids folks send out an eight-page newsletter every quarter to let us taxpaying types know what we're getting for our $650 million, and this time around, in addition to a feature on the new Martin Luther King Elementary (1201 NE 48th Street), there's a chart for figuring out the John Marshall/Centennial (formerly Eisenhower) breakdown, and it goes like this:

If you live in the NEW John Marshall attendance zone:
  • 6-9 grade students will attend the new John Marshall High School, 12201 N. Portland Avenue.
  • 10-12 grade students will remain at the original John Marshall High School facility, 9017 N. University Avenue.

If you live in the Oklahoma Centennial High School attendance zone:

  • 6-12 grade students will remain at the original John Marshall High School facility, 9017 N. University Avenue.

If you live in the Eisenhower Elementary attendance zone:

  • Students will attend school in the old Hoover Middle School facility (2401 NW 115th Terrace), which will become Stonegate Elementary School once it's renovated.

Got all that? Me either. I last discussed this matter here; since then, rather a lot of things have changed besides the Eisenhower name for the new high school. There was a map floating around that detailed the various attendance zones, but I haven't been able to find it online lately. (You can always call the district office at 405 587-0000, should you need one.)

I complained a couple of years ago about the proofreading in the newsletter, and it's not much improved. Sample from page 2 of the current edition:

In the next two years, the north section of Oklahoma City will have two new high schools to compliment the new Douglass High School and the new U. S. Grant High School.

"Hey, Douglass! Looking good!"

(In passing: Managing Editor of the newsletter is Drew Dugan, whom you may remember from such wonderful House campaigns as "Mexican Meth".)

2:40 PM | City Scene | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
And now there's Rehm Watch

Actually, it's called "What You Did Not Hear on the Diane Rehm Show," and this is its mission statement:

Diane Rehm hosts a show that is civil, "classy", intelligent, varied, relevant, and completely different from the "shout you down" "run-of-the-mill" shows that pass for “talk-shows”. But there is a slight flaw: it leans liberal. Let’s be frank.

Besides the fact that most guests are of a liberal bent, and the fact that most topics are introduced by way of adjectives which betray that bias — there’s not one week that goes by that one doesn’t hear a topic introduced as "the Bush administration..." — the best example of the bias is in the weekly News Roundup (hereinafter called the Weekly Gang-up). The composition of that panel is typical of what can be seen in the rest of the mainstream media (hereinafter called the Old Media, or Liberal Media). It is usually a 3 against 1 ratio, that is, three liberals including the host and one token conservative.

Usually (although not done so much anymore) the three liberals are introduced without the nomination of liberal before their names, while the conservative is customarily introduced as "conservative commentator or writer so and so." The implication is that the firsts are, of course, neutral and objective journalists. Because we enjoy The Diane Rehm Show and because we believe that a healthy unbiased media is healthy for Democracy, and because we contribute with our taxes to the airing of The Diane Rehm Show we therefore declare ourselves "Self-Appointed Ombudsman" of the best variety show on radio.

I have to agree that it leans a tad to the left, but I'm not convinced that this is a "flaw": otherwise, all those "run-of-the-mill" shows, unless demonstrated to be smack dab in the middle, wherever the middle might be these days, are comparably flawed. (On the larger question of media bias in general, I tend to believe that most people are smart enough to apply their own filters as needed, and those who aren't, well, how likely are they to read this?)

The Ombudsman himself is José Alejandro Amoròs, and here's his vantage point:

I have spent half of my life in the US and one half outside. I did not grow nor was I intellectually formed in the bipolar ideological struggle of the present generation of Americans. I have a different experience. Liberals think [I] am Conservative and Conservatives think [I] am Liberal. I am a proud American citizen and consider myself an American Revolutionary in the tradition of the Founding Fathers.

Not a bad place to be, all things considered. (Is there an All Things Considered Watch?)

Disclosure: In addition to the aforementioned taxes, I write a check each fall to the NPR affiliate that carries Diane's show.

1:33 PM | Overmodulation | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Poll-ish jokes

Sean Gleeson has a complaint about the royal Timese machine:

The cover of the magazine shows Hillary's face, and underneath it only two choices, "LOVE HER" and "HATE HER." Purchasers of the magazine are invited to check one or the other option, and mail in the cover.

Since I will not be buying a copy of Time to register my choice, I will cast my vote here instead. And I vote for "LOVE HER."

No, I would not vote for Hillary, for any office. That's because I oppose her positions in matters of governance, and do not trust her to make decisions on my behalf. But I do love Hillary Clinton, and I hate no man, woman, or child. I am disappointed in Time's cavalier use of "love" and "hate" as a sort of shorthand, meaning approval or disapproval of the political opinions or actions of a human being. Is anyone else disgusted by this?

Political speech being debased almost by definition, and polling as a form of political speech being the most debased of all, I think I'm more frustrated than disgusted — what else could I expect?

And on the real poll, as Gleeson puts it:

... the one conducted with real statistical sampling. This poll didn’t ask the respondents whether they "love" or "hate" Hillary, but that didn’t stop [Ana Marie] Cox from pronouncing that "Republicans hate her." She knows this because most Republicans wouldn’t vote for Hillary. This poll did ask some pretty pointless questions.

As do most of them, I suspect, and I think Xrlq might agree:

Recently we've read that 38% of Americans polled believe the U.S. government is withholding information about UFOs proof of the existence of intelligent life from other planets, and 36% think 9/11 was an inside job. Now, E&P reports that 39% of Americans polled think Muslims should be required to carry a special ID.

Time for my own poll. Is there any question so wacky that one-third of the population will not answer it in the affirmative?

I have long believed that people are fed up with the endless stream of polls, polls, polls, and will tell pollsters literally anything just to shut them the hell up. You want to know what the electorate thinks? Watch what they do in November.

9:27 AM | Political Science Fiction | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
19 August 2006
Saturday spottings (you gotta look)

If there's a universal Guy Utterance, it's "Hey, watch this!" (If he asks you to hold his beer, trouble may be in the offing.) Close behind, at least among those who are single and straight, is "Where are all the women?"

Well, as of noon today, they were at Stein Mart. I wandered over in search of sheets and towels, and the place was like Estrogen Central: wall-to-wall women, twentysomething through sixtysomething, each of them presumably engaged in serious bargain hunting. I am no bargain, but I did say something to a clerk about coming down with Only Male In The Store Syndrome, and she smiled just long enough to give her a chance to remember the script: "Oh, but we have many customers who are men." Maybe some other day.

The other thought I had was "Does no one have a full-sized bed anymore?" The vast majority of the offerings, including the spiffy 500-plus-thread-count packages, were queen or king only, and much as I'd like to buy a new bed, I can't see spending that much money on something that benefits me only when I'm asleep.

This past spring, an almost-new sofa appeared by the side of the road, on Grand Boulevard just north of NE 29th. Over the months, it accumulated debris: first a discarded bottled-water container, then bits of blown-in paper. I wanted to get a shot of it last time I was by there, but Grand had been closed; the city was redoing the railroad crossing south of the Oklahoma Railway Museum. (This is presumably going to be part of the spur line from downtown, or at least Bricktown, to the Adventure District.) Today Grand was open, but the sofa apparently had been attacked by something: one of the cushions was ripped open, and there was a whole new layer of garbage at that end. Wee, and not so wee, forest creatures abound in this part of town, so I'm guessing it was one of them rather than the occasional fatigued pedestrian or cyclist.

6:28 PM | City Scene | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Those Oedipal airborne serpents

What we need here is Leona Anderson, and some new lyrics to "Rats in My Room":

Snakes on a plane
I am bothered by those snakes on a plane
By those [word deleted] snakes on a plane
I have had it with those snakes on a plane

On one level, Snakes on a Plane delivers: you've got your plane, and there are by-God snakes on it. Beyond that, by all rights it should suck, should suck harder than the poor soul trying to extract venom with a razor blade and olive oil, and yet somehow it doesn't suck: the story makes sense, more or less; the scenes that were pasted in after the fact to push the film into R-rated territory seem only slightly obvious; the crowd (smallish, but it was an early Saturday matinee) was appreciative, even of lines like "Time is tissue." It's as though the filmmakers decided, "Yeah, okay, we'll give the fanboys what they want, but while we're at it, let's make a movie."

And of course, there's Samuel L. Jackson. The man has serious gravitas, and Snakes wouldn't have worked if he hadn't; this is the sort of material which, if you try to tack on even the slightest bit of synthetic irony, would dissolve into self-parody almost immediately. So Jackson plays it straight, and even the ostensibly-humorous characters avoid fourth-wall snickering, which is how a film which is basically Airplane! with reptiles instead of punchlines comes off as workable, even likable. If it's not truly first-class entertainment, well, you can still get quite a ride in coach.

4:48 PM | Almost Yogurt | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
The evil that men do

Particularly men who want to live off the efforts of others. I saw this in the new Wired this morning, and while most of the tale was familiar, towards the end it took a turn I never would have — but probably should have — expected. From Charles C. Mann's "Spam + Blogs = Trouble":

Blogger and other blog hosting sites now require users to prove they are not spambots before posting comments by identifying a series of distorted letters and numbers. The protection codes are called Captchas, which stands for "completely automated public Turing tests to tell computers and humans apart." In theory, sploggers' autoposting software can't figure out the distorted images, thus reducing the flow of spam. But Captchas also make commenting harder. "It's a big pain for legitimate users," Blogger's [Jason] Goldman says, "and there are many visually impaired people who can't do it at all." (Google recently introduced an audio-based form.) Nor are Captchas completely effective. Sploggers are believed to be hiring squads of low-paid people to type through the tests. "We're seeing Captchas solved in bursts, which suggests they are working in shifts," Goldman says.

Emphasis added. (Could this account for what appears to be a recent upsurge in "work-from-home" schemes?)

I have been reluctant to get into pay-per-click ads on this site, at least partially because of my reservations about the ultimate viability of the concept: if the system is so easily gamed, how long can it survive? (Besides, if someone is so moved by my purple prose to want to support my efforts, there's always actual linkage, or maybe a few cents routed to my PayPal account.) I'd hate to think the whole structure can come tumbling down because of a few people who insist that their lunch be free.

11:38 AM | Blogorrhea | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Beyond the mixed bag

It's not like I've never had odd juxtapositions before:

The clerk looked at this Bee Gees thing, looked at the other disc I was buying, which turned out to be beautifulgarbage (Interscope), and looked at me, and I said, "There's a punchline here somewhere, I'm sure."

So try to imagine yesterday's shipment.

First, the music, by Scottish composer James Dillon (1950-    ), three pieces that don't go out of their way to be accessible but will eventually find their way into your synapses. East 11th St. NY 10003, it is said, is where John Cage once lived, and this 1982 work for six percussionists is indeed dedicated to Cage. This doesn't sound like Cage, particularly — its most obvious antecedent is Edgard Varèse's Ionisation — but the wild variations in durations and rhythms make it necessary to listen to the rests as much as to the notes, a very Cage-y idea indeed. East 11th St. was the first completed section of Dillon's Nine Rivers cycle: some of those rivers are relatively placid, some of them are turbulent, but all of them flow. Also part of Nine Rivers is La Femme Invisible (1989), the fourth section, a river flowing underground through caverns and tunnels and creating echoes and harmonies therein, the body of a woman rendered in rock and water. The piano and the percussion maintain the current; the winds define the surface. Windows and Canopies (1985) lie atop the rainforest, and sometimes you can see your way to the sky (winds and percussion) and sometimes the forest is so thick you can see nothing at all (strings scored as a veritable thicket of interlaced threads and glissandi). The recording dates from 1992 and was released on NMC, a non-profit English label funded by the Holst Foundation.

The book has English roots as well, but far different ones. Marianne Mancusi's A Connecticut Fashionista in King Arthur's Court (2005) doesn't quite mix Mark Twain and Candace Bushnell, but it's a cheerfully preposterous read in its own right, and while some will tag it with the hated term "chick lit," I, a guy-type person, found it quite entertaining, perhaps because Mancusi's Kat is every bit as anxious as I am to work pop-culture references into everything, and besides, she's prettier. What's more, as is no secret, I am a sucker for off-kilter romances, and for sweetening, there's an absolutely shameless Back to the Future ripoff in Chapter Two that floored me: "I suppose Armani is not your surname either," says Lancelot.

Of course, the sort of person who thrives on breezy fiction like this is generally not the sort of person who buys contemporary music by self-taught Scotsmen either, but I've been out of sorts for most of my life. (And oh, there's a sequel to Fashionista due next year: A Hoboken Hipster in Sherwood Forest. How can I resist?)

9:38 AM | Almost Yogurt | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
18 August 2006
We're all OK

In case you thought you were the only one who noticed:

Seriously, what is it about Oklahoma that there are so many, and such interesting, blogs?! I check these three daily as I'm sure many people do (dustbury, numskullery, sweet familiar dissonance) and finally realized that they're all Oklahomans. Sheesh, is there something in the water? the air? the soil??

It's a hundred and five outside. No wonder we're at our keyboards, our tumblers of [fill in name of preferred libation] at our sides, our tongues loosened just enough to tell you things like this.

(Were this January, amend the first sentence to "It's twenty-seven and drizzling outside.")

7:48 PM | Blogorrhea | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)
Scroll up

A monument engraved with the Ten Commandments is to be installed near the Coal County Courthouse, though not actually on the courthouse grounds: it's on private property and was built entirely with private funds — "to keep some of these protesters away from it," said County Commissioner Johnny Ward.

I'd like to get a look at it, but given what happened the last time I was in Coal County, I'm thinking I can wait a good long time.

3:49 PM | Soonerland | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
An army of Davids indeed

Diane Rehm's guests for the Friday news roundup, as always, came from various points on the political spectrum. But somebody went to a lot of trouble with this week's panel, all of whom were named David:

  • David Cook, Washington bureau chief, The Christian Science Monitor
  • David Gregory, chief White House correspondent, NBC
  • David Ignatius, associate editor/columnist, The Washington Post

Perhaps to compensate, the second hour of the show was scheduled to include Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Arianna Huffington and Paul Mirengoff.

9:59 AM | Overmodulation | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack (0)
I suspect I've been there

At least, this sounds somewhat familiar:

We wanted to try someplace new, so I suggested Anne Stuart’s Food-a-teria (not the real name) because we had heard from a bunch of people over the years that the food was really good, blah blah blah. It didn’t open until 11:00 AM, so we killed 45 minutes at Border’s, and arrived back at the food-a-teria at 11:15 AM.

So far, so good. But then:

"Don’t you feel odd being here?" she asked.

"Why? Because I’m the only young guy in the room not wearing an Izod shirt? And we’re probably the only people that didn’t come here directly from church? Or that everyone is white white?"


"I think if this place only served mayonnaise, these people would be okay with it."

Naw. This place is on the north side of town. It's Southerners who embrace mayonnaise to excess.

(Is this an effort to get McGehee to repost his December 2002 mayonnaise rant? What do you think?)

7:27 AM | Worth a Fork | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
Quote of the week

How efficient, really, is the Efficient Market Hypothesis? Lance offers some illustrative dialogue:

Economist: That looks like a $20 bill lying on the ground over there.

Other Economist: It couldn’t be. If it were, somebody would have picked it up already.

And they call it a "dismal" science.

6:18 AM | QOTW | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)
17 August 2006
Stocking up

Washington Post fashion editor Robin Givhans notes in Harper's Bazaar (September, the one that weighs eight or nine pounds):

The difference between fashion in Washington, D.C. and New York can be summed up in two words: panty hose. In New York, panty hose are an accessory that can be worn — or not — according to whim and weather. In D.C., panty hose are political.

Although I now live in Manhattan, for almost five years I lived in our nation's capital. I never wore panty hose in D.C. I made this decision based on personal comfort and my inability to get into a pair of sheer nude hose withour poking a hole through them. Years ago I mentioned my disdain for panty hose at a ladies' luncheon. My dining companions — each a power woman in her own field — gasped. A rebel was in their midst, and they were intrigued. Was I making a feminist statement of personal freedom? Was I snubbing my nose at personal propriety? Well, no, I just didn't like panty hose. "But don't you wear panty hose with your suits?" asked one woman. Did I dare admit I didn't wear those either? In a town filled with social secretaries and protocol specialists, flouting decorum is a serious matter.

Two thoughts:

  • I always thought it was one word: "pantyhose," except at JCPenney, which persisted in spelling it "pantihose" for many years.

  • Costa Tsiokos doesn't care one way or another.

I would, however, like to hear from some actual women on this matter.

8:29 PM | Rag Trade | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)