Archive for September 2013

Totally tubeless

One of many attempts over the years to make “support” hosiery look a little less clinical:

Mid-1960s ad for Vyrene fiber by Uniroyal

Yes, that’s the same Uniroyal that makes tires, though they’re now owned by Michelin. As U. S. Rubber, their one big success in apparel — you never see Vyrene anymore — was the casual shoe once known as U. S. Keds, now simply Keds. (Stride Rite, a Wolverine subsidiary, currently owns the brand.)

As for the lovely Valma Valle, we find her here sporting a Beatle ‘do.

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Strange search-engine queries (397)

It’s an all-automotive edition of SSEQ, what with a large number of people asking a stupid number of questions — or maybe it’s a number of stupid questions. Oh, well, we’ll figure it out in the editing pass.

what are the signs of a bad transmission in a mazda 626:  If you have to ask, you might as well get out the checkbook.

2002 mazda 626 overdrive light is flashing:  Have you ever, in fact, changed the fluid?

how often do you change the transmission fluid in a mazda 626:  If the overdrive light is flashing, it’s already too late.

1996 mazda 626 transmission has how many gears?  Assuming you have the automatic, there are four, unless you forgot to change the fluid, in which case there might be one. (If you have the stick shift, you have five, which is printed on top of the shift knob.)

what tranny oil does a 1996 626 use?  It’s too late for that, Bunky.

1997 mazda 626 wheel size:  Well, at least you didn’t say “rim.”

1997 mazda 626 stock tire size:  Did it not occur to you that there may have been more than one?

could a dirty filter cause mazda 626 hold light to blink:  How would you know it’s dirty? I’d lay odds you’ve never even seen the filter.

fix mazda jerky shift:  Hint: Don’t try to clean the filter.

why would a mazda have a fird transmission:  That’s a “Ford” transmission. Or, at least, some other four-letter word starting with F.

And, just to get away from this brand for a moment:

what happens when you cross the cables on your 1994 ford probe gt:  Apart from frying your entire electrical system, not much at all.

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Snooze alarmed

Maybe I’m getting all worked up over nothing — or maybe I’m not.

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The harder hard way

Angus MacKenzie is tooling about in a ’13 BMW 6-series Gran Coupe for a Motor Trend long-term test, and he seemed perturbed by this incident (see 10/13 issue):

The low oil level warning flashed on at 2600 miles, and checking the oil is a ritual. Park on a level service with the trans in Park or Neutral and the engine idling at operating temperature. Hit the menu button on iDrive controller, scroll to Vehicle Info, press the controller button again, scroll down to the fourth icon, and press the controller again. The revs will rise from normal idle speed of 750 rpm to 1100, and 72 seconds later, you’ll be told how much oil to add.

I figure one of the hardcore Bimmeristi will be along shortly to tell me why this is so much better than a freaking dipstick. (Oh, and MacKenzie was down a quart.)

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A folk remedy for our time

As discovered by Suzette:

I had a big swollen painful thing happening on the side of my right pointer fingernail. It started yesterday but was stupidly sore to the touch by late this afternoon. Then I used some spray paint and employed the affected finger to push the button on the spray can. Later on I noticed two things:

  • my finger was covered in a fine mist of Ivory Gloss
  • the big swollen painful area was no longer swollen and neither was it painful

Sounds promising. If only there were such a treatment for paper cuts.

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Press all the keys

Here’s a quick brown fox jumping over a lazy dog:

Fox jumps dog, film at 11

In other news, Mr. Jock, TV quiz PhD, bags few lynx.

(Via Fark.)

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We got 3.6 seconds to change that battery

The guys behind Formula 1 racing have come up with Formula E, for pure electric vehicles, and Tam is doubtful about the prospects:

[T]his has the potential to turn the proposed Formula E into the least exciting thing since the invention of competitive paint-drying during refueling stops.

Plus, the whole force-fed nature of the thing feels artificial. It feels like the American Medical Association sponsoring a High Fiber Vegetable Eating Contest, which just wouldn’t be as fun to watch as fat guys burying their mugs in blueberry pies.

There’s always the technology trickling down: racing, they say, improves the breed. On the other hand, I don’t particularly want to be a witness to activities that involve breeding.

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The war goes ever on

Mac vs PC

We must remember, of course, that Twilight Sparkle runs Linux.

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See the library, room 101

I’m assuming respondents to this survey were actually telling the truth:

A recent survey of 2,000 people suggests that the majority of people pretend to have read classic books in order to appear more intelligent, with more than half of those polled displaying unread books on their shelves and 3% slipping a highbrow cover on books they’d rather not be seen reading in public.

Is there a market for book covers without actual books?

The book most fibbed about, says the survey, is George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, which seems forgivable in these Orwellian times: apart from some character names, reading the news is almost exactly like reading the book.

Just the same, Emmanuel Goldstein was not available for comment.

(With thanks to Fillyjonk.)

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Slightly less raw

Before the weekend, Nancy Friedman put out a call for “corporate or product names [that] make you shudder and cringe,” and I admitted to having, namewise anyway, a love-hate relationship with Cuppies & Joe on 23rd; the name itself was, I said, “awfully twee,” but not enough to discourage visiting the place, which serves up a decent joe and very nice cuppies.

If that’s twee, though, this is not quite ate:

I used to work in the Midwood neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, where I often walked past one of the best worst business names ever! It was a restaurant named “Half Price Day Old Sushi” — Mmmmmmmm … what could possibly go wrong?

I think I’m just going to leave it at that and tiptoe quietly away.

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Wronger wrongness

It would be difficult, I think, to get much wronger than this:

Jonathan Weil miscredited

This photo was duly pasted into a reprint from Bloomberg News: however, the article is credited to Jonathan Weil, and it’s pretty obviously Weil, not Virginia Postrel, in the picture.

I’m hearing laughter in the background:

I should say not.

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Why my host is adorable

I am told that some of the suits at DreamHost actually wear suits now, which makes me a little uneasy about continuing to refer to them as “surfer dudes,” but hey, they’re turning Sweet Sixteen this week, and since I’ve been one of their customers for roughly two-thirds of that time, I figure the least I can do is show them a little birthday love. Besides, they answer their tech requests pretty promptly, and while — like everyone else who’s ever had a hosting account — I’ve had occasional downtime, they’ve busted a nut (or other body part as appropriate) to take care of such matters pronto.

There is also, of course, a purely mercenary reason for posting this.

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California split

Not the Robert Altman film, but a tongue-in-cheek (I think) proposal by John Chase to split the Golden State in twain:

How to make California into two separate states

This is Chase’s Facebook page, where the map was originally posted. I really think they’d have to subdivide it into three segments, but then I haven’t been to California since my sojourn in Twerkywood a quarter-century ago, so my observations are likely dated, which is more than I can say for me.

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Last gasp of the phlopping phish

In about two weeks, Lloyds TSB, the retail bank formed by a 1995 merger of Lloyds Bank and Trustee Savings Bank, will cease to exist: the merger will be effectively undone, and Lloyds and TSB will go their separate ways. So this may be the last opportunity for this phish:

Dear Lloyds TSB valued customer,

You received this email as a notice for the database update for this month. This update is designed by our IT engineers to provide higher security to our customers online accounts, prevent unauthorized account access and other types of online fraud.

You are required to update your online profile by downloading the document attached to this e-mail.

“Required,” yet. Here’s a look at the document:

Phishing document received 10 September 2013

So much easier than picking pockets, am I right?

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Almost missed a stereotype there

Usually I screen-print Y!A stuff, but this is a bit long and I’d prefer the text to be searchable, Just In Case.

The question: “Is it weird to like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?”

Short answer: Maybe. But here’s the rest of it:

I would prefer a woman to answer this.

I am a 21 year old male, but I am not overweight or jobless. I am worried however that it is weird for me to like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. I don’t own toys or merchandise from the show. I take it as it is: an entertaining cartoon much like Bugs Bunny or Sponge-bob (before it started to suck). Will women think it’s weird if they find out? I try to hide that part of my life.

Let me make it perfectly clear that I do not obsess about the show or anything. If it is on, I watch it. But I don’t go out looking for a DVD collection.

Not being a woman, I’m not going to answer this poor fellow directly, but I’ll say this much:

(1) I can cite no instance where a woman who might have been interested in me suddenly lost interest after discovering my own involvement with pony — which, in most cases, takes about 45 seconds to a minute.

(2) Buy a plushie. It’s not a guaranteed key to her heart, but you might be able to wedge the door open.

Incidentally, one of the Office Babes (Senior Division) showed up yesterday in a pony T-shirt, and a Generation ThreeMLP:FiM is Generation Four — pony T-shirt, at that. There’s always the possibility that the object of your affections has already been assimilated into the herd.

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Legal cleanup

And another class-action suit settlement crosses my desk, though I stand to gain utterly nothing, instead of practically nothing, from it.

This lawsuit was brought by Plaintiffs Dawn Fairchild, Robert Nachshin, Brian Geers and Larry Gerrard (collectively “Plaintiffs” or “Settlement Class Representatives”) against Defendant AOL LLC, now known as AOL Inc (“AOL”). Plaintiffs allege that (1) the failure to inform them that AOL would insert e-mail footers in their sent e-mails and (2) the insertion of such footers, violate the law.

AOL denies Plaintiffs’ allegations and maintains that it acted in accordance with all laws and regulations.

The proposed Revised Settlement (“Settlement”) is on behalf of all AOL Members as of August 1, 2009 (“Settlement Class Members”). It resolves claims regarding advertising or promotional “footers” that may have been appended to the bottom of your e-mails by AOL.

This is the same case that you received a notice of in 2009. The Settlement was rejected on the ground that some of the selected charities receiving payments did not have a sufficient connection to the class and the subject matter of the lawsuit. The settlement has been revised to include charities that are connected to the class and the subject matter of the lawsuit.

AOL ceased its former practice of appending footers on or around August 1, 2009 and has not used them since that time. The proposed Settlement provides that if AOL re-establishes its former footer practice, it will provide notice to all Settlement Class Members of the footers and their ability to discontinue the footers via AOL Keyword: Footer and http://footer.aol.com and that, if AOL re-establishes appending footers to its Members’ e-mails, such notice will be provided to all new customers upon their registration of an AOL account.

The proposed Settlement provides that AOL shall make donations to several different charities totaling $110,000.

Mental note: Explain to these folks how to use a proper POP3 client with AOL Mail.

Anyway, Fairchild et al. v. AOL did in fact exist, and here’s the complete list of settlement-fund recipients:

Under the original Settlement approved by the Court, the Court awarded the lawyers for the Settlement Class $320,000 in fees and costs that they incurred over the course of this lawsuit. AOL has already paid these fees and costs, and the parties agree that no additional fees or costs will be sought in this case. In addition AOL will pay $110,000 in charitable donations and the costs of administering the Settlement, including the notice process. AOL’s payment of attorneys’ fees and litigation costs will not reduce any amounts paid or credited to the Charities.

Under the settlement, the Settlement Class Representatives do not receive any direct payment. Instead, AOL will donate money to the charity of each Settlement Class Representative’s choice. The relationships between the Settlement Class Representatives and their selected charities are as follows: (1) Dawn Fairchild is employed at her designated charity the New Roads School of Santa Monica; (2) Robert Nachshin’s wife is on the Board of Trustees of his designated charity the New Roads School of Santa Monica, (3) Brian Geers has previously personally supported his designated charity the Oklahoma Indian Legal Services; and (4) Lawrence Gerard has previously worked at his designated charity the Friars Foundation.

Mr. Geers’ charity of choice, as it happens, is right down the road a couple of miles.

A trip to AOLE-MailFooterSettlement.com will bring you a PDF version of the settlement, running 44 pages.

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Technically, it’s raspberry

From this past Sunday, we have Christina Hendricks getting a front-row seat at Zac Posen’s show during New York Fashion Week:

Christina Hendricks at Zac Posen NYFW 2013

Whatever the color, I like it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t scroll down to see what sort of shoes she’d picked out. Then again, there is never Only One Picture at any given event:

Christina Hendricks at Zac Posen NYFW 2013

Joining her on the very antithesis of the Group W bench: Karen Elson, Molly Sims and Stacy Keibler.

And yes, that’s a subtle blonde wash worked into her hair.

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The call of the Yankee dollar

The New York Mets are about to lose their radio flagship:

As reported by Neil Best of Newsday, the Yankees and CBS Radio are close to a deal that would put the Yankees on WFAN starting in 2014, a person familiar with the negotiations told Newsday.

The arrangement would bump the Mets off the station that has carried their games since WFAN’s inception in 1987.

Of course, it’s a matter of money:

The Yankees currently are carried by WCBS Radio, which like WFAN, is owned by CBS. The current one-year contract is believed to pay the team $13 to $14 million.

The Mets are believed to earn about half what the Yankees do in rights fees but have been a money-loser for WFAN, which inherited the team when it took over WHN’s 1050-AM signal in 1987. The Mets then moved down the dial with WFAN to 660-AM in 1988.

Where the Mets would end up is still unclear, though I’m betting on WEPN, the ESPN Radio outlet in New York at 98.7 FM.

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For future Pontifexcursions

I always thought it was a shame that the Pontiff never got to drive a Pontiac.

Pope Francis has already taken delivery of the official Popemobile, a modified Mercedes-Benz M-Class, but that’s really not his style, and he’s now gotten a personal vehicle more in tune with his tastes: a 29-year-old Renault 4 with a stick shift — I don’t think they made any with automatics — received as a gift from a parish priest in Verona.

To me, the niftiest aspect of the 4, which none of the wire services have mentioned, is that the wheelbase differs depending on which side of the car you’re measuring: the rear suspension consists of two full-width transverse torsion bars, and of necessity, one is mounted in front of the other. (The difference is 1.8 inches, the right side being the longer.) Since the 4 is front-wheel drive, this doesn’t matter a whole lot for handling, but it’s the sort of thing that sticks with you, and by “you” I mean “me.”

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Thanks to our BFF Vlad

A reasonable stance on the Syria deal, courtesy of the Crimson Reach:

1. We don’t attack Syria, which would be pointless, wasteful, kill innocent people, possibly unconstitutional (given what I assume would be a “no” House vote), risky, and of course — by design — accomplish nothing tangible.

2. Lefties get to go around pretending that the “deal” is real and the [chemical weapons] ban it imposes is meaningful, that the Russians are a trustworthy partner, and that this is a victory — in short that this outcome is what the Obama administration planned all along.

Which, in the final analysis, is fine with him:

I’ll do that trade all day long. I literally do not care about the politics or political-point-scoring angle of this. I do care about the not-using-our-military-to-engage-in-pointless-wasteful-attacks aspect.

I guess we’ll have to live with that.

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Neither shalt thou haze

Leipzig University issued this rule just in time for the fall semester, 1495:

Statute Forbidding Any One to Annoy or Unduly Injure the Freshmen. Each and every one attached to this university is forbidden to offend with insult, torment, harass, drench with water or urine, throw on or defile with dust or any filth, mock by whistling, cry at them with a terrifying voice, or dare to molest in any way whatsoever physically or severely, any, who are called freshmen, in the market, streets, courts, colleges and living houses, or any place whatsoever, and particularly in the present college, when they have entered in order to matriculate or are leaving after matriculation.

Senator John Blutarsky was not available for comment.

(Via Pejman Yousefzadeh.)

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License with the plates

The first book of Nephi, which opens the Book of Mormon, as told by Will Truman:

God tells Lehi to get the heck out of Dodge (Jerusalem) because there is some bad stuff coming. Lehi tries to round up his family, but a couple of his sons (Laman and Lamuel) object. God picks Nephi, the youngest (at the time) son, as his favorite. This causes much trouble and murmuring with the other brothers. Laman and Lamuel are tagged as bad apples, though God (through Lehi and/or Nephi) alternates between telling them that they are bad apples and that they should behave. There is another son, Sam, who seems to be a swing vote between good (Nephi) and evil (the other two). God gives Nephi some shapechanging powers and gives them a magic compass. After some time in the wilderness, Nephi builds a boat and they sail off to America.

That murmuring can get you into a lot of trouble.

As I recall — one of my best buds in the Service was LDS — the descendants of his brothers, Nephi envisioned, would be a “dark, and loathsome, and a filthy people, full of idleness and all manner of abominations.” Mind you, this was written before MTV.

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Scrubbing the scribes

On the off-chance that some of you are curious about my none-too-secret side activity, here’s a look at where a lot of it happens:

I’ll vouch for, um, much of that.

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The short version

Does this meet the disclosure requirements of the Securities and Exchange Commission?

Then again, do disclosure requirements even mean anything anymore?

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Same old, only samer and older

Does this sound like you? Because it definitely sounds like me:

[T]here are a couple of blogs I’ve been checking in on periodically over the last couple of years. It doesn’t matter how long the span of time is between my visits because their latest post says exactly what they wrote three months ago. It’s a deafening and nauseating regurgitation of glowy self-effacement. Personal disclosures and shock-jock phrases are the de rigueur for bloggers.

They think if they abandon discretion they will prove how genuine they are. And, even if we’re not convinced, we might hang around long enough to observe the train wreck. For a blogger, that means traffic and we’ll do anything for hits, right? We’re constantly trying to figure out how to be awesome, how to go viral.

Let’s see. What was I talking about three months ago?

Dead to rights, folks; I haven’t changed a thing. The train wreck goes ever on.

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Quote of the week

Voyager 1 has left the solar system, and as major achievements go, this one has its drawbacks:

Anyone else bothered by the fact that we sent a thing into space that contains a map to its origin planet and an open invitation?

“Hi, we’re a barely space-faring civilization that you could probably conquer and subjugate with your equivalent of a Boy Scout troop! Here’s a map to our home planet. Stop by anytime!”

Oh, they will.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Maybe a little truth

But this time, it’s mostly dare, and as you’d expect, some of those dares are marginally disgusting, albeit still funny.

SDK, incidentally, stands for Settle Down Kids. I think.

I saw the original Little Brother Fake Tweet, although I didn’t recognize it as such. (And really, this one would have seemed more likely, but it happened after the fact.)

Also this week, since RB is back in school: essential school supplies.

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Take that, fanboys!

A fairly tepid review by Derek Kreindler at The Truth About Cars of Jeep’s new Cherokee drew a call from someone at Allpar.com, perhaps the largest Mopar fan site, to have TTAC barred from future Chrysler press events.

To which Jack Baruth, in his capacity as TTAC Editor-in-Chief pro tempore, replies:

When the administrator of a major Mopar fan site calls for Derek’s voice to be silenced because he doesn’t like the review, what he is in effect saying is this: “I value the sales success of a Chrysler product over the individual experience of Chrysler owners.” He’s siding with the corporation, not the driver. I suppose that’s fine for some people. It doesn’t wash here. The English car magazines used to whitewash the failings of cars like the Rover Metro and Jaguar XJ6. Today the companies that made those products are in non-British hands. Because you cannot lie and whitewash your way to success in the automotive business. In the long run, the customer will find out. Every cheat, every slip, every cut corner, will eventually show. You cannot wallpaper a bad product forever. Eventually, the truth will come out and the manufacturers will fail. If you love Chrysler, then you’d better hope that they make a good car. That’s all that can save them.

TTAC will continue to give positive reviews of Chrysler products — when the product is good. When that is not the case, we will continue to alert our readers to problems. We do not apologize for that, we will not walk that back, we will not change. If that means that we are no longer invited to evaluate Chrysler products, we will rent Chrysler products. If that means that we don’t get to party with the cool kids, we can live with that.

The Allpar poster, I am told, is not actually an admin on the forum.

And lest anyone think Kreindler is all ate up with Mopar hate, this is the end of that review:

The current Grand Cherokee is my favorite SUV at any price. All trim levels, from the lowliest Laredo to the insane SRT, shine with excellence. I wish I could say the same for its baby brother.

First few Google hits for “TTAC hates”: domestics generally, the Ford Focus dual-clutch automatic, the XAP Zebra (damn!), Lexus, the Ford Fusion, the Volkswagen Eos, VW TDI models generally — and we’re still on the first page. Evidently nobody’s happy.

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That’ll do, pigs

Bill Quick has changed his mind on term limits:

There was a time when I opposed term limits, on the theory that the right to vote guaranteed the application of term limits if constituencies desired to do so. In other words, while term limits might automatically remove “bad” legislators and executives, they might also force the removal of “good” ones against the wishes of their supporters.

I no longer feel this way.

We have created a political and cultural situation — or, rather, the progressive movement, expressed through both of our major parties, has created it — that more or less guarantees the impossibility of removing any legislator at the federal level, no matter how atrocious their record or behavior, by means of the ballot. Only in the smallest and most egregious instances do we ever see malefactors in high office removed by vote, and even when that happens, voting districts have been so gerrymandered that a more or less carbon copy is guaranteed to achieve succession. And in the end nothing ever changes, and the progressive project marches ever onward to greater and greater power, and greater and greater tyranny.

We’ve had term limits for a while here in Soonerland, and while they haven’t been an unalloyed joy — some of the replacement pols have been even more disappointing than their predecessors, and it sometimes seems that the revolving door between lobbyists and legislators is moving faster than ever — I still prefer them to the alternative. At least the replacement pols will be replaced themselves in due time.

Then again, P. J. O’Rourke might have been right all along: “Term limits aren’t enough. We need jail.”

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And not a moment too soon

Respondents to Oklahoma City’s annual survey (you can see it as a PDF, if you’re so inclined) are generally pleased with city services with a couple of notable exceptions: the transit system is inadequate, and the streets are worse.

One of the worst streets, however, is about to become less so:

Look for the work to start in January on rebuilding four miles of May Avenue between NW 36 Street and Britton Road. Roadbed will be reconstructed, wheelchair ramps will go in at 14 intersections, and the street will be resurfaced with asphalt. Drainage will be improved on the west side of May between Summit Place and Britton.

Drainage would first have to exist in something other than Public Works’ imagination for it to be “improved.” I’ve always assumed that this was their way of telling southbound drivers that they’ve just left The Village.

Cost of the project: $3.8 million. That’s $950,000 a mile. And they’ll have to do it again before the decade is out. The Feds — meaning, of course, people from Fairbanks to Fargo to Philadelphia — will put up 80 percent of that.

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A generous hardware review

Testing this new notebook with Windows 8 is busy fashion designer and efficiency expert Rarity.

Well, at least it wasn’t the Worst Possible Thing.

(Plucked from an EqD Nightly Roundup.)

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Play or be played

Opening later this month is a film titled Runner, Runner, about which Vanity Fair interviewed female lead Gemma Arterton:

She plays Rebecca Shafran, the right-hand girl of nefarious poker-Web-site owner Ivan Block (played by Ben Affleck), who is forced to contend with Richie Furst (Justin Timberlake), a Princeton student who has lost his tuition money on the site. Embroiled in the billion-dollar online-gambling industry, Rebecca “finds herself trapped and in too deep in a world of crime she doesn’t really enjoy,” Arterton says of her character. “She is the only female in the movie, so I had to make her earthy and give her a lot of substance,” Arterton adds. “I made her a little more female — she was a man’s idea of a woman before I brought some of my ideas to the writers.” As for the plot, it’s when Block takes Furst on as an apprentice, and Furst and Shafran fall in love, that, she says, “it gets messy and complicated.”

We’ve seen that concept before: “a man’s idea of a woman.” Any similarity to an actual woman is a coincidence and not intended.

Then again, I seldom get to see actual women wearing Donna Karan New York in NYC townhomes, so:

Gemma Arterton in repose

Complicated, perhaps, but not the least bit messy.

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You’ll note it’s not the Y-Trail

Doug DeMuro’s Frankfurt Auto Show recap for TTAC contained the following paragraph:

Nissan revealed the all-new X-Trail, which will be sold stateside as the Rogue. Female drivers rejoiced, while male car shoppers thought to themselves: Am I comfortable enough with my sexuality to like this?

No photo was offered, so I went out hunting, and came up with this rendering courtesy of Australia’s The Motor Report:

2014 Nissan X-Trail

It’s not as bizarre as the Juke, but scarcely anything is as bizarre as the Juke. Still, I continue to maintain that a Real Man™ drives what he damn well pleases. Were I buying in this class, I’d probably rather have a Mazda CX-5, which is similarly devoid of the sort of boy-racer styling cues that DeMuro suggests, possibly tongue-in-cheek, that the lads covet.

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Piratas de radio

Doc Searls finds something unexpected, or at least unlicensed, on the radio in New York:

I went to RikaFM.com, where a graphic at the top of the page says “‘FCC Part 15 Radio Station’.” Part 15 is what those tiny transmitters for your mobile device have to obey. It’s an FCC rule on interference that limits the range of unlicensed transmissions to a few feet, not a few miles. So clearly this is a claim, not a fact. I’ve listened in the car as well, and the signal is pretty strong.

“A few feet” is putting it mildly: the rule specifies a maximum field strength of 250 microvolts per meter at a distance of 3 meters, down in the microwatt range. My wireless router has more coverage than that. Then again, it doesn’t operate on the FM band.

And they’re streaming live, albeit in mono, on their Web site. It’s a bit more interesting than the canned regional-Mexican stuff we get down here on the legit Spanish-language stations.

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So superior

Is she too good for me? Perhaps she thinks she is.

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My brane hurts

If you, like me, have long suspected that the “Universe” is merely one of several, or of several billion, this won’t change your mind in the least:

The standard Big Bang model tells us that the Universe exploded out of an infinitely dense point, or singularity. But nobody knows what would have triggered this outburst: the known laws of physics cannot tell us what happened at that moment.

“For all physicists know, dragons could have come flying out of the singularity,” says Niayesh Afshordi, an astrophysicist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, [Ontario].

A possible explanation, based on a 2000 model:

In that model, our three-dimensional (3D) Universe is a membrane, or brane, that floats through a “bulk universe” that has four spatial dimensions.

Afshordi’s team realized that if the bulk universe contained its own four-dimensional (4D) stars, some of them could collapse, forming 4D black holes in the same way that massive stars in our Universe do: they explode as supernovae, violently ejecting their outer layers, while their inner layers collapse into a black hole.

In our Universe, a black hole is bounded by a spherical surface called an event horizon. Whereas in ordinary three-dimensional space it takes a two-dimensional object (a surface) to create a boundary inside a black hole, in the bulk universe the event horizon of a 4D black hole would be a 3D object — a shape called a hypersphere. When Afshordi’s team modelled the death of a 4D star, they found that the ejected material would form a 3D brane surrounding that 3D event horizon, and slowly expand.

The authors postulate that the 3D Universe we live in might be just such a brane — and that we detect the brane’s growth as cosmic expansion. “Astronomers measured that expansion and extrapolated back that the Universe must have begun with a Big Bang — but that is just a mirage,” says Afshordi.

Besides, you can never find a dragon when you need one.

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The cycles come around

You’re never going to get everyone in this town onto bicycles, but this is a heartening sight just the same:

It doesn’t hurt that it’s actually mid-September, which means the heat usually is not enough to blowtorch the tops of your arms. (I said “usually.”)

And it proves that the nascent bike-share service begun in the spring of ’12 has had a measure of staying power, despite an abundance of naysayers.

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Strange search-engine queries (398)

Just another manic Monday, and just another panic-filled list of actual search strings from the past week or so. Pour your coffee first. This will wait.

Will a epson artitian 800 print us curency:  Not legally, no. And if you spell like that, they’ll laugh you all the way to the Big House.

heartless society:  Not here. Now if you were looking for a brainless society, all you need is a television and a few hours to kill.

lexus rx late led head light drl previous period of pre-diversion:  This must be that post-modern lamp display I keep hearing about.

How long should I wait to purchase 24 hr sudafed if I have reached my monthly limit in tulsa oklahoma:  Until the first of the month. Duh.

We are not exposed to proper music:  Have you tried 104.5 KRXO?

can’t receive 104.5 krxo:  You must be from way out of town — like, say, Harrah.

my 2001 contour switches gears on its.own at wrong speeds:  Would you rather it didn’t switch gears at all?

word salad dressing:  The chef recommends a light but satisfying vignette.

your younger brother just started using computers. he is trying to create a directory in windows 7 named lpt1 but windows does not allow him to. this:  is obviously not my younger brother, who would have shot the machine for its insolence.

Search kgb’s extensive database of human-researched answers sex aides like viagra etc:  Call NSA. By now they’ve copied every database on the planet.

what is hegemonic distortion:  If you have to ask, you must be one of the oppressors.

pantyhoseonyoutube:  Not a good idea. The picture’s blurry enough already.

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A kinder, gentler SUV

Of course, it comes from Honda:

I have a Acura MDX 2012 and while I was Driving it my dog pushed it out of drive and it went into Nurture

Mandatory dog seats are just a couple of sessions of Congress away.

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An almost-new Leaf

You will now be able to get Certified Pre-Owned Nissan Leafs (Leaves?), assuming some are actually traded in:

Beginning in September, Certified Pre-Owned Nissan LEAF vehicles will be backed by the company to provide years of quality and performance at a great value.

In addition to the existing 8-year/100,000 mile battery warranty coverage protecting against defects in materials and workmanship, and 5 year/60,000 mile coverage for battery capacity loss below 9 bars of capacity as shown by the vehicle’s battery capacity level gauge, Nissan will extend the EV system and powertrain warranty coverage to 7 years or 100,000 miles.

All warranties, of course, are Whichever Comes First.

The battery gauge has 12 bars, but this does not necessarily mean that capacity eventually drops to 75 percent; if I’ve learned nothing else as the owner of a Nissan-built vehicle, it’s that the gauge calibrations, other than speedo/tach, are more arbitrary than linear.

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