Saturday, May 24, 2003

I know what they say about blogging about why you're not blogging. That will not, however, keep me from extending my apologies to those few loyal readers who may be visiting. Last week was a bad week. I went to bed at 1900 last night, and woke up with a perfect replica of a hangover at 0900 today. Don't ever go without drinking any water for 14 hours when it's hot enough to make your air conditioner run at night.

Heard on the radio yesterday: "You know you're in Fresno when you discover that asphalt has a liquid state."

Summer is here, and I, for one, am happy to see it come. But today, I'm going to turn down the air a little, like the decadent child I am, and crawl onto the couch with a book. And drink some water. I may be back around nightfall.

If you're here for the first time, scroll down. You'll find some semi-coherent ranting, some damn fine writing, and lots of links to funny stuff. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 22, 2003

A serving of humor from On the Fritz, to remove the flavor of the semi-coherent rants from your palate. It was one of those days.
If you've never been to, you're missing out. The media almost never gets science stories right. Or, perhaps, it is simply that they don't stop to do a common-sense check on a lot of them. After all, if somebody with "Dr." in front of his/her name says it, it must be true, right? Here are the souces, with a dash of Milloy-style fisking, for your reading pleasure.
I can't resist one more story from SFGate. Amazingly enough, they've made the connection between tax rates and your paycheck.
There's a kind of sick poetry in this story that I can't possibly improve upon.
It is a truism around here that rain is always a good thing. It's a desert, right? Think again.

We could quit worrying about the water problem if the damned enviro-weenies would back off the fairy shrimp issue and let us build a reservoir or six, but it ain't gonna happen. Know why? Because obscure animals on the verge of extinction are always more important than people. After all, there are how many billion of us and how many dozen of them? Our very success proves that they must be entitled to life and we must stop showering, right?

I think this is actually an outgrowth of the mentality that says the less read a book is, the better it must be, and the fewer people buy a car, the cooler it must be. There is a vocal group of people in this place that think anything that is too popular must be bad. Lawns--gotta go. SUVs--gotta go. Why? The people who would have such things eat at McDonald's. That too must go.

Of course, their political opinions must be right, since so few people hold them.

There is some sort of confusion about the idea of scarcity here that isn't even worth sorting out. Which won't stop me from pointing out that something can't be scarce in an economic sense unless somebody wants it in the first place. Or, more specifically, more people want it than can have it, given availability. A small supply does not, in and of itself, make a thing valuable--there has to be demand for that supply, as well.

In any case, sometimes rain out of season is worse than no rain at all. Which is a nice metaphor, too.

Addendum: No, I'm not saying that we should kill in cold blood any species that gets in our way. I'm just pointing out that we have to work with the world we've got, not the one we wish we had. The attitude I'm talking about is the same one that says America deserved to be attacked because it's rich and arrogant. And it equates rich with arrogant. There is a subset of the population that is thoroughly convinced that if it is too successful, it must be wrong. Some of them extend this to include the entire human race. Now go back to the rain metaphor.
I love The Fresno Bee. I love the bad reporting, I love the bad writing, and I love that I can get it online for free. To be fair, from time to time they do a really bang-up job on something. From time to time they import something worthwhile. For the most part, though, they're just as much a mess as any other newspaper in the country. That's why I love them so.

Where, you ask, am I going with this? Why, to an example of the kind of reporting that makes the Bee great, of course: "Investigators hunt for clues..."

Choice tidbits:
With all the hot spots extinguished and only a few traces of smoke remaining, a team of investigators Wednesday combed the site of the burned-out University Village apartment project to try to determine what caused the blaze.
As opposed to combing the site for the fun of it, then going out for a cold beer, I suppose.
Investigators sifted through the burnt rubble hoping to learn where the fire started and how it developed. Lead investigator Don MacAlpine of the Fresno Fire Department said it was too early to rule out anything.
Imagine that! Fire investigators sifting through burnt rubble. Somehow I thought that they stood in one place, very still, closed their eyes, and psychically divined the cause. Silly me!
It is not uncommon for local authorities to summon help from ATF experts, who are equipped with special equipment and a vast knowledge of different types of fires.
Experts who are experts...we got a deal there! I hate it when those experts with no special knowledge or equipment show up. Glad we avoided that.
While air quality has been ranked as unhealthy for selective groups, officials at the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District indicated that the fire was not a significant factor. The main problem is ozone, not particulates that are generated by a fire.
We here at the Bee have a strict policy of never letting a story go to press without some reference to the fact that it is all of the SUV-driving assholes who are causing our air quality problem. Never mind that it isn't a fact. And never mind that you could smell the smoke from this thing on the other end of town. We said it, so it must be true! Bwahahaha!
Pending further investigation, the burned site is being treated as a crime scene to protect any evidence. Yellow tape has been strung up around the complex, and Fresno police officers have been posted nearby.
I don't know about you, but I am terrified of that yellow tape. Hey, at least we know where all the cops are so we can go knock off a liquor store in West Fresno. Let's go!
Cadwallader said he is not only opposed to a three-story building next door, but he also is concerned about what the additional traffic from 400 people living in the complex will do to the neighborhood.
It would take a crack house for every one of them to make the neighborhood any worse than it already is.

Of course, this being Fresno, the place was most likely wired wrong. That would be consistent with the general quality of construction 'round these parts. But that's a whole other rant.
A little California humor, to get the night started right. Or humor at California's expense, which is about right...seems to be the only kind we've got these days. But we'll make do, right, folks?

(Via Electric Venom)

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

Roundup (read "too tired to write a post of my own, so I will stay afloat on the lifeboat of the blogosphere"):

Michele is now writing commencement speeches. Nobody should be surprised that she's good at it. "Mr. Rogers lied. You aren't special." is the basic message of boot camp, and it's true.

Glenn has the events at Yale Law here and here. He is the true king of the roundup post.

Dean got his very first hate mail. Congratulations, Dean! (Yes, I'm jealous.)

Jim Treacher is still broke. Go buy a t-shirt, or a mug, or a blogad. Or just give him some money. He's funny even when he's blegging.

Visit The Volokh Conspiracy for Mr. Volokh's latest Bushisms in context lesson. Scroll down one post to discover a really cool mousepad.

Laurence Simon is blogging on blogging again, inspired by Dawn Olsen.

And finish your tour with ScrappleFace.

You know it's been a tough day when I don't even make it off my own blogroll. Anyway, enjoy.
One should never plan to blog...something is bound to get between you and your computer any time you do. Tonight it was the loan of my truck to my brother for some furniture-hauling duty...and myself stranded where I dropped it off to him. Service gladly rendered, but the post I was preparing on the air pollution control bills upcoming in the CA Assembly, and the Fresno City Council's support of them, will have to wait. I promise you, there's funny stuff there among the serious issues. It appears that I may have spoken too soon last night--it looks like they're preparing to go after the farm lobby after all.

Ah, but there is business to conduct tonight in the locating a new home for the blog category, and I must be to it, so that someday someone somewhere can actually link to this post, or one of its neighbors, or perhaps even one of its distant relatives. Quick roundup post will appear as soon as business is done.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

I just spent the obligatory 30 minutes battling Blogger, and that is prior to the part of the night where I try to get my archives straightened out. Excuse my new obession...I'm going to look for another home now.

I had a very clever post written around this little piece of completely unsurprising news, but since I was lazy and failed to put it in Notepad before entrusting it to Blogger, it has gone to that place where all good posts go. I'll leave it at "physics, people, physics."

If you're new to the site, scroll on down...there are some witty bits to be found in the last few days.

Thanks for reading, and goodnight.
Putting the taxpayers' money where your mouth is: as much as I hate to ever, ever give these people credit for anything, they get points today for consistency. I was passed today by a vehicle from the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, and it was a hybrid. Plus ten points for doing what you want us to do. You're still minus several thousand for refusing to take on the farm lobby, though.
I have stayed the hell out of the discussion over the BBC report that the rescue of PFC Jessica Lynch was some kind of stage-directed wanna-be reality TV show. I can't afford to spike my blood pressure like that if I want to make it to my next birthday. Glenn Reynolds, however, has a superior roundup on the thing. This is probably why he gets 80,000 hits a day and I don't. To replace the quotes he did away with recently, how about this one: InstaPundit: Blogging it so you don't have to.
I am not Ghyslain, nor do I know him. He is an Accidental Jedi, though. In any case, for anybody joining us via one of the search engines, there's your link to the thing. Seems to me like he's been a pretty good sport about it, which I admire him for. Or maybe I'm just geekiness *still* hasn't resulted in fame. Sigh.
This blog is officially an American Idol-free zone. Adjust your viewing accordingly. Thank you.

Monday, May 19, 2003

Spent some time tonight trying to fix the archives again. The Blogger-folk say they have this fixed in the next release. If they don't, I suppose I'm going to have to scrape up the money and the energy to move.

Speaking of people who are broke, if I *did* have any money, I'd give it to Treacher before he has to design another thong.
Go read what Charles has to say about Michael J. Totten's elaboration on the term "anti-idiotarian," then follow his link and read Totten's piece. Folks who can think clearly give me hope, whether I agree with them or not. It is a thing of beauty to see one rational thought after another in support of a larger point. All too rare, as well.
Bill Whittle has a new essay posted. He is well worth the time and trouble to will feel cleansed by the river of rationality after spending some time with him. And besides, he's a hell of a writer.

Link via just about everyone. I am so behind sometimes.
I am totally entranced by the Wal Mart vs. Target debate Michele has started over at A Small Victory. Follow-up posts here and here.

This is an issue I consider vitally important, having just come from a place where Wally World rules into a place where you're scared to go into one. It has had an emormous impact on my shopping habits. I am still bitching about not having any Super Wal Marts in town, despite knowing that before I moved here and having been here for eight months...and knowing that in this city, I wouldn't want to shop there anyway. It just seems so...hmmm...20th century...somehow, to have to go to one store to buy groceries and another one to buy a cheap pair of jeans. I'm holding out for a Super Target, myself, or even a Super Wally World well placed. 500,000+ people in this city, and we don't have either one. There's something wrong there.

There's a reason they call it FresNO.

Actually, there is a habit among retailers of underestimating this market. They look at the unemployment figures and build small, or something. We have, for example, one Borders and one Barnes and Noble. When I was a Grad student, I worked at the Borders. It's been open about 6 years now, and a year ago they had to replace all the bookshelves because they couldn't hold enough stock for the volume they were doing. But that they could fix with relative ease.

Picture this: you have a bookstore designed to encourage people to stay in it as long as possible. In support of this goal, you include a cafe. This cafe sells large amounts of various caffeinated beverages. Said bookstore also has a large and successful children's section, where various storytelling events are held.

But when you built the thing, you expected it to do maybe half of the volume it wound up with. And you sized the bathrooms accordingly.

I doubt I have to paint the rest of the picture, but I will anyway, at least to this extent: when I left there almost 3 years ago, employees were going to other stores to use the bathroom on their breaks. A break is only 15 minutes long. You literally could not pee within those 15 minutes if you joined the line immediately upon being turned loose on Friday or Saturday nights, Sunday afternoons, Tuesday or Thursday mornings, or any time between Thanksgiving and New Year's.

That's the kind of pathetic underbuilding I'm talking about here, folks.

And it afflicts the whole city. We have no Super Wal Marts. The area of Florida I moved out of had less than half the population, and they had six. And you could actually buy food there without wondering what misfortunes it may have met while waiting for you.

We have no Super Targets.

We have no Super anythings. We just got the first theater with stadium seating in the area 5 years ago, and it (and the additional one they built) is still sold out, sometimes hours before a show, most of the time.

If there is anybody out there thinking of expanding to Fresno anytime soon, let me tell you this: if you build it, they will come.
Just as relevant to folks in Fresno, who have yet to master the city traffic they're now stuck with: Getting There: Maddening Merging in Minnesota.

(Via Steve Gigl)

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Wow. The weekend is always too damned short.

I started Friday physically exhausted, ended it emotionally exhausted but happy to be so. Even my brother, who makes the next Governor of California look like a wimp, admitted to getting choked up, experiencing, Have You Forgotten live.

So here's the Sunday night roundup:

Go give money to Treacher before he embarrasses himself any further. Go check out Kevin Parrott's new digs. Go download Dr. Frank's latest, Institutionalized Misogyny. While you're at it, leave him a tip, too.

Also, Roger L. Simon criticizes the French as only he can do, Laurence Simon has some additional tips on "how not to sneak into America", and Scott Ott reveals Wal Mart's next strategic move.

As for me, I'm going to go back to reading this now.