Archive for Dyssynergy

This may not garner more dates

I do not understand this request in the slightest:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: How can I find a surgical body modification artist?

And this is the modification he desires:

I would like to ask a body modification artist if it would be possible to remove my testicles and use my scrotum to create a vagina below my penis. If it is possible, I’d ask if they have a rough guess as to cost. Any help in finding either the answers or an artist would be appreciated.

Please don’t tell me to think about it or give me alternative. I’ve thought about this and alternative for years and still have more time to think about it. Please only reply with answers, thank you.

Construction of the item desired is not, I am given to understand, overly difficult, though usually persons undergoing the procedure are having all the previous hardware — the exterior bits, anyway — removed. Last year I helped to fund one such procedure; the patient had asked for $6000, which she said was the amount not covered by health insurance. (In other news, some insurance policies apparently cover this sort of thing.) A subsequent patient without such coverage said that the price was closer to twenty grand, and was asking for fifteen.

While I can deal with those folks, I’m having trouble with the concept of Hermaphrodite After The Fact. British wiseguy Will Self wrote a couple of stories on the subject, neither of which could be said to end particularly happily. For now, I am working under the assumption that somebody told the questioner to go screw himself, and instead of taking umbrage he decided to fantasize about it.

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Proprietary crap

This is disheartening, but really not at all unexpected:

For those of you who have wondered whether a cat litter box could achieve the same functionality as an inkjet printer, CatGenie has the answer for you. Jorge Lopez covered his experience with his brand-new purchase at Medium, swiftly discovering the downside of the litter box that cleans itself. While it does take care of most of the nasty business (disposing of feces — although occasionally leaving one behind to be baked into “poop jerky” by the heated cleaning cycle), it only does so if properly loaded with specific products made and sold by CatGenie.

There is, for example, a cleaning solution, circulated through the machine’s permanent-ish granules. It comes in what is called a SmartCartridge. How smart is it?

Contained within the SmartCartridge is an RFID chip that tracks fluid levels and turns the automatic litter box into a useless stinkhole once the fluid runs out. It can’t be tricked into believing you’ve refilled it. It can only be replaced with a new one. Like any number of printers that won’t let you print/scan/copy without replacing an ink cartridge, the wonderful, self-cleaning litter box refuses to do anything but collect cat excrement until new cartridges are installed.

That’s a $200+ litter box that becomes indiscernible from the $6.99 non-auto version once the proprietary cleaning fluid runs out.

Hats off to Techdirt’s Tim Cushing for describing that particular condition as a “bricked shithouse.”

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Get this guy into a covered wagon

And then sew up the cover so he can’t escape easily:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Does an impala 2011 need a lift kit for 24s?

He compounds the atrocity:

24 inch rims on my 2011 impala with no lift or cutting ? Is it possible

Now you know my particular bias: I think anyone who calls ‘em “rims” ought to be buried clavicle-deep in the Alaskan tundra. But one of the answerers dealt this guy a solid, good enough to pass along here:

No, it just needs a hefty dose of good taste and some common sense to realize that even if it could be done, DOING THAT IS RETARDED. Why on Earth would you RUIN the ride comfort, resale value, handling, durability, gas mileage, and acceleration??? Take the drug money you would have spent on the dum-dum wagon wheels and set fire to it so you’re not tempted.

I don’t think I could have said it better myself.

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Steel your heart away

The American steel industry didn’t get its dander up when automakers started messing with things like aluminum spaceframes and carbon fiber: the vehicles so designed tended to be pricey, low-volume, and, well, un-American.

That was before Ford decided that what the world needed now was an aluminum F-150, and when the single largest-selling vehicle in the country makes a switch like this — well, there’s a full-page ad in the buff books, which I saw in Motor Trend, the first of the February 2015 issues I read, extolling the virtues of steel and not even mentioning That Other Metal. Inevitably, there’s a Web site, at autosteel.org, and so I figured I’d see who was up to this:

The Automotive Applications Council (AAC) is a subcommittee of the Steel Market Development Institute (SMDI) and focuses on advancing the use of steel in the highly competitive automotive market.

The SMDI Automotive Market program continues to be the catalyst for bringing together steel, automotive industry, and federal partners (such as the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation) to conduct research, provide technology transfer, and promote steel-intensive solutions in the marketplace. Advanced high-strength steels, which are the fastest-growing materials in automotive design, enable our automotive customers to deliver vehicles that are more lightweight, fuel-efficient, and affordable, while still protecting passengers.

That last bit, about protecting passengers, might well turn out to be their best talking point, since a fair percentage of the public is familiar with aluminum only as foil or beer cans, neither of which is exactly known for puncture resistance.

Participants in the SMDI include three big domestic producers — AK (a merger of Armco and Kawasaki), Nucor, and US Steel, and major European producer ArcelorMittal. A quick glance at the financials indicate that all four of these firms have taken substantial hits to the bottom line of late, so it’s no surprise that they’re trying to keep things from getting worse.

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Wear them at night

From the “Are you telling me this is a real ad?” files:

Advertisement for Helen Keller sunglasses

Yes, it is:

Deliberate irony or innocuous oversight? Neither, apparently. A Chinese company now marketing Helen Keller-brand sunglasses said it found inspiration in Keller’s personal traits (rather than her blindness), the Wall Street Journal reports.

Still, though, it’s a bold (and perhaps questionable) move, especially considering the company’s motto: “You see the world, the world sees you.”

A slogan hammered home in the first commercial for the brand, which appeared in early 2012:

Google Shopping didn’t send me any US sources for the Keller specs. Quelle surprise.

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Distribution of misery

Off Morgan Freeberg’s Facebook page:

Localized poverty has always angered me. If it’s absolutely necessary for people to suffer economically, well, you know every once in awhile there are some things that are bigger and more important than an economy. People tend to get by with less when there’s a war on … something like that. But when the suffering is concentrated into a tiny area, that means it’s unnecessary suffering. Municipal suffering. Underclasses of economically underpowered people; classes created by politics, and maintained by politics, for the achievement of political purposes. While people suffer.

Of course, were there no poverty in these semi-United States, we would lose an entire industry: those who are paid to lament the suffering and to spend money on it, but who dare not eliminate it completely.

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Anything that’s part of you

A great song by Elvis, written by Don Robertson. Nothing to do with this:

A man is selling Elvis Presley’s pubic hair online.

This might just be the weirdest bit of Elvis “memorabilia” we’ve come across.

The man, from Ohio, is selling the pubic hair on Craigslist for $5,000.

The seller claims he has been holding on to Elvis’ pubes since 1965 saying: “I hate to part with them.”

He added that they come with a letter of authenticity signed by a man called Colonel Parker, a reference to, according to Playboy, Elvis’ manager Colonel Tom Parker.

Weirdly, this is classified as “for sale / electronics — by owner.”

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The cram factor

The first CDs for musical use were specified as 74 minutes/650 megabytes; eventually these discs were supplanted by 80-minute/700-MB discs, and there are techniques to squeeze in a couple more minutes, at the risk of possibly making the disc unreadable in some players. (Bear Family’s compilation of tobacco-related tunes, Smoke That Cigarette, reportedly crams 87:34 onto a single disc.)

This is a boon for the archivist, except of course when it isn’t. Roger explains a couple of instances where it isn’t:

One of the things I’ve realized is that because the artist, or the record company, CAN put more music on a CD, they DO. And some 14-song, 70-minute albums are just TOO LONG. It’s even more true on rereleases. I was listening to Who’s Next one morning — my family was obviously away — and I LOVE that album, but the rest of the “Lighthouse” project, save for “Pure and Easy” I could have done without. Lots of albums have alternative versions, which are historically interesting but do not enhance the listening enjoyment of the album; the second The Band album, which I also love, falls in that category.

The rule with alternative versions is that there’s a reason they weren’t released as the original. The Band runs a peppy 43:50 or so, and there’s a reason “King Harvest (Has Surely Come)” is parked at the end of side two; I can see the reason for adding “Get Up Jake,” which was pulled from the original album before release, but you don’t need half an album’s worth of outtakes.

Incidentally, Who’s Next in its original form runs 43:38. Is this some sort of Golden Mean for the LP? I note for, um, record that Smoke That Cigarette is as long as two 43:47 albums.

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Well, puck you guys

The current Oklahoma City Barons season will be the team’s last:

The Barons have made the playoffs all four seasons in Oklahoma City and this year’s roster appears capable of making a deep run in the American Hockey League playoffs.

But when the Barons’ season ends, whether it’s hoisting the Calder Cup trophy in early June, or if they’re eliminated in the playoffs in May, it will be the end of professional hockey in Oklahoma City for the foreseeable future.

Citing a business decision, Prodigal CEO Bob Funk, Jr. announced Thursday Prodigal will be ceasing operations after a five-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers expires at the end of this season.

The problem? Insufficient butt-to-seat ratio:

Ranked in the bottom five of the 30-team American Hockey League in attendance the past four seasons, the Barons failed to gain a stronghold in a highly competitive market with a lot of entertainment options.

In addition to playing across Reno Avenue from the highly successful Oklahoma City Thunder, college football is huge in Oklahoma. There have been additional factors like high school events and a huge increase in casinos targeting disposable income.

Prodigal hired a marketing firm that indicated an estimated 200,000 people claimed to show some interest in hockey. But after drawing 4,155 fans a game the inaugural season attendance dropped to 3,684 and has ranged from 3,200 to 3,500 the past three years.

In other news, Oklahoma City is now considered a highly competitive market with a lot of entertainment options.

Still, this baffles me. The now-defunct Central Hockey League was clearly a step below the AHL, and the likewise-defunct Oklahoma City Blazers consistently led the CHL in attendance: for instance, in the 2006-07 season, the CHL averaged 4,388 per game, and the Blazers drew 8,902 — in a year when the NBA was actually here, the New Orleans Pelicans (then Hornets) being temporarily based in OKC, what with all that hurricane stuff. So I’m not convinced the Thunder have sucked all the fandom out of the room.

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Sometimes it even works

We are heavily reliant on systems that work not quite 100 percent of the time:

Our modern world runs on giant, soulless corporations that mostly work very well. They keep us supplied with food, water, power, transportation, entertainment and an endless variety of gadgets. A great many people have worked very hard to make these organizations productive and efficient. Problem is that in streamlining these operations they become more susceptible to grit in the gears. Their normal reaction is to just kick it out. That’s when your high-tech new ride breaks down, you find yourself stranded by the side of the road with a dead cell phone that wouldn’t work anyway because your account has been terminated for non-payment, because your credit card has been canceled because your number and 27 million others got stolen by the Romanian mafia who sold it to some grifters in Kansas City who tried to buy a boatload of Christmas presents over the internet.

And we will never, ever run short of grifters.

One corollary: inevitably, this sort of system-building leads to atrocities like the construction of voice-mail systems that can handle any conceivable inquiry except the one you’re trying to put in. Technology has only so much imagination.

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Non-smuggler’s blues

There’s a little listserv on an arcane topic that I’ve been part of for at least fifteen years; the founder/leader died back in 2005, but it continues, and occasionally someone new shows up.

A Canadian chap had tossed out a story idea consistent with the group topic, and over the next couple of years turned out a pretty decent story, vaguely erotic but not enough to upset anyone’s applecart, and after he finished it, he vowed to make a book out of it. Which he did: he hired an editor to go through it — a wise choice, we all thought — then went the self-published route.

Response was good enough for him to start thinking in terms of “sequel,” and while I’d read the serialized version, I figured the least I could do is buy one in hardcopy. I contacted him offlist; he said he had a few copies on hand, and quoted a price. Fine, said I, what are my payment options? Apparently what gets to him fastest is MoneyGram, the successor to the old Travelers Express Company.

This next bit of history matters more than I thought it would:

In November 2012, MoneyGram International admitted to money laundering and wire fraud violations. MoneyGram services were used by unrelated parties involved in mass marketing and consumer phishing scams that defrauded thousands of victims in the United States. As a part of the settlement, MoneyGram created a $100 million victim compensation fund. MoneyGram also retained a corporate monitor who will report regularly to the United States Department of Justice for a five-year trial period. If MoneyGram fulfills its obligations under the settlement, prosecutors will seek dismissal of the charges of aiding and abetting wire fraud. MoneyGram also terminated any agents complicit in the 2009 scams and invested more than $84 million in improvements to the company’s consumer anti-fraud systems and consumer awareness education.

And apparently they’re taking no chances in 2014, because it took me half an hour on their Web site and another ten minutes talking to an actual rep for me to fail to persuade them to accept my payment to this Canadian guy, inasmuch as well, no, we’ve never actually met, and national borders are involved.

I said screw it, went to his publisher, and ordered a copy from them.

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Meanwhile on the Mad River

Welcome to Springfield, Ohio, population 120,000:

That’s sixty thousand humans, and sixty thousand crows:

Residents, business owners and police in Springfield have joined together in a bid to get rid of the “dirty” birds, which leave droppings everywhere and create noise pollution.

Volunteer armies have been brandishing lasers at the buildings from dusk until early night, while a biologist also recommended using sound machines.

Crows, however, are not dumb:

“The crows adapted quickly and realized that’s just a fake,” Roger Sherrock, CEO of the Clark County Heritage Center and one of the leaders in the fight against the crows, told the Springfield News-Sun.

CROWCON 2: Flare guns.

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Emissions beyond control

When you get right down to it, nobody burns hydrocarbons like UN climate-change types burn hydrocarbons. And the next lovefest, in Peru, will burn the most of all:

The Lima conference is expected to have the biggest carbon footprint of any U.N. climate meeting measured to date. At more than 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide, the negotiations’ burden on global warming will be about 1½ times the norm, said Jorge Alvarez, project coordinator for the U.N. Development Program.

The venue is one big reason. It had to be built. Eleven football fields of temporary structures arose for the 13-day negotiations from what three months ago was an empty field behind Peru’s army’s headquarters. Concrete was laid, plumbing installed, components flown in from as far as France and Brazil.

Standing in the midday sun here can get downright uncomfortable, but the Lima sun is not reliable. That’s one reason solar panels were not used. For electricity, the talks are relying exclusively on diesel generators.

They’re claiming, of course, that all this is being offset elsewhere:

Nor is there a guarantee that the 580 square miles (1,500 square kilometers) of forest — the size of Houston, Texas — offsetting the talks’ carbon pollution won’t someday be gone. It must lie unperturbed for a half century in order to neutralize carbon emitted at the conference.

By which time, of course, all these self-appointed aristocrats will be long gone and justifiably forgotten.

(Via Tim Blair.)

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Usually a dollar extra

I have to wonder whether this was actually planned, or somehow just happened:

Workers fled a Tim Horton’s restaurant in Canada after a patron threw a live snake behind the counter during an argument over sandwich toppings.

According to the Saskatoon Police Service, two 20-year-old men are in custody after they allegedly engaged in the snake throwing incident at a Saskatoon Tim Horton’s Monday morning.

The report indicates the men wanted their onions diced and as the argument escalated, one of the men reached into the pocket of his friend’s coat, pulled out a live snake and threw it behind the counter. According to police, no one was injured, but employees fled the store in fear.

On the upside, you have to figure that had they diced it for him, a man eating a snake, even at a Tim Horton’s, has to go over better than a snake eating a man.

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Shift-4

“Ohio State?” spake the Twitterverse in disbelief, and accusations began flying: atavistic regionalism! religious prejudice! blinkered, Philistine pig ignorance!

Well, no. It’s something simpler than all of those things:

I can guarantee you that NOBODY at ESPN was excited about the idea of Baylor or TCU in the College Football Playoff’s inaugural game. Make no mistake about it, as far as Texans are concerned, TCU and Baylor are about the fourth and fifth most popular teams in their own state (after Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, and maybe even Oklahoma). TCU and Baylor fans (if there are such things) aren’t going to travel en masse to a championship game. They won’t buy $800 tickets to the game. And, most importantly, neither school’s brand will inspire fans from coast-to-coast to tune in.

But Ohio State? Oh, yes. They’ve got an alumni base that is more populous than the state of Wyoming. Literally. They have an international brand. They’ve won more national championship rings than you can fit on one hand. And their fans travel. They’ll buy every available seat in that stadium. They’ll gobble up every minute of televised coverage you can give them. They’ll buy every t-shirt you can make.

And hey, at least it’s not the odious Bowl Championship Series, am I right?

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Laziness knows no bounds

Exhibit D-plus:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Does turnitin.com check translation?

Further detail:

If I read an article in spanish and translate it to english will turnitin know that I copied it from the spanish article? Because I mean they’re not the exam same words because they’re in different languages but this technology **** is crazy so you never know idk

Based just on that paragraph, I think it’s safe to assume that just about any reasonably well-written passage in your paper will be challenged just for being reasonably well-written.

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Regression to the meanest

We’ve all seen them: cars barely worth $500, thumping along with $1000 worth of audio equipment. It never occurs to us that the reverse could ever be true:

Yahoo Answers screenshot:

You have to figure that every dime he has is tied up in that S-Class. And the only generation of S-Class that had an S320 is the W220 series, roughly 1998 to 2006, so I’m betting he doesn’t have an AUX input or a USB port and is desperate for anything that will incorporate them but won’t actually break him. Given this example of Walmart pricing, though, I’d suggest he shop elsewhere.

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Not related to Hugh Jass

This piece came from a TV station in central Florida, so I’m wondering who drew the short straw and had to read “Phuc Kieu charged with sexual battery in Gainesville”:

Police in Gainesville say a man tried to rob and rape another man Sunday.

According to police, the victim made a withdrawal from an ATM and was walking through the bank parking lot when a man identified by Gainesville police as Phuc X. Kieu allegedly grabbed the victim, punched him in the mouth then grabbed the victim’s money.

Police said Kieu, of Orlando, then pulled the victim into his vehicle, straddled him and attempted to undress him.

I think maybe I don’t want to know what the X is for.

Surprisingly, Heywood Jablome was not available for comment.

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Hair apparent

Apparently this was quite the rage, circa 1904:

The Evans Vacuum Cap for baldness

Although I suspect that like many hair-restoration schemes, it sucked.

(Via Weird Vintage.)

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Degrees of discomfort

Lifted in its entirety from Morgan Freeberg’s Facebook wall:

Furnace just came on. I’m going to go get myself another beer and shut off the furnace.

An idea for an invention that will pay for the seven-building mansion: A secure electronic lock you put on the thermostat, that can only be unlocked with a SCROTUM. Let’s just face it, okay? This time of year, every married man North of Tijuana who pays bills, wishes for something like that.

And if she wants it to be 72 degrees all-the-time-everywhere so badly she’s ready to chop off your balls, you probably weren’t going to keep ‘em anyway.

This is probably not the time to note that I keep my house around 74 unless the HVAC is audibly straining to maintain that temperature.

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That crap is dangerous

The year I started grade school, my poor choice of base-running options during a game of kickball landed me about waist-deep in a metal can of raw sewage. I suppose it’s a good thing that at almost seven, I hadn’t started smoking or anything:

A cesspool filled with excrement exploded in a central Chinese city, injuring 15 residents and toppling a building on Saturday, police said.

Police in Zhangjiajie city, Hunan Province, believed it was an accident when a man surnamed Ding was burning waste outside his derelict house and near the cesspool at about 5 p.m.

Police said the fire ignited the methane emanated from the pit and caused the blast. The house has been abandoned since 2006.

Fortunately, China’s sterling environmental record insures that incidents of this sort are few and far between.

(Via Daily Pundit.)

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Time your shopping accordingly

Lynn perhaps dreads doing the routine shopping for this particular week:

Today I need to go to the store and I’m in a bit of a panic about what to get and about remembering everything I need for the whole week so I won’t have to go back out on the day before Thanksgiving, or worse, the day after. Although, the grocery stores shouldn’t be too bad on Black Friday? Also, I’ve noticed in previous years when we drove past Walmart later in the afternoon on Black Friday that the parking lot is almost deserted so I guess all the craziness happens early in the morning then everyone goes home and passes out or something.

I generally avoid anything that smacks of retail on Black Friday myself, but then that’s just me.

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Buncha gubers

The Z Man, I surmise, would just as soon take a cab:

The new buzz phrase is “sharing economy” which is as devoid of meaning and value as the people who like to use it. The vapid hipsters love prattling on about Uber and how it is “disruptive” as if that’s always a good thing. Earthquakes are disruptive. The Black Plague was disruptive. Like everything else today, Uber is about signaling. You’re a beautiful person if you think Uber is the best. You’re a loser if you think it sounds like a handful of sharpies convincing hipsters to be gypsy cab drivers at below market rates.

That’s the thing about the “sharing economy.” It is not new. Ross Perot got rich doing much the same thing in the 70s and 80’s. In the old days, computers were expensive. Companies would sell their idle time to guys like Perot who would find customers in need or processing power, but lacking the money to buy their own mainframe. It was the technological equivalent of the oxpecker bird and rhino. The bird picks ticks and parasites from the hide of the rhino and functions as a warning system. The rhino can live without the bird, but lives better with him.

And when computers became commodity items — well, Perot Systems is now owned by Dell, which has come a long way from the parts-assembly operation Michael Dell ran out of his UT Austin dorm room.

So this is where things are:

Back then, the companies renting the time had an expensive asset they want to maximize. The renter was looking for a lower cost alternative to the million dollar mainframe. Cabs are cheap. No one gets rich driving a cab. How desperate do you have to be to be an Uber driver? How hard up are you if you want to take a ride from some hard up weirdo you met on-line?

Forty years ago a symbiotic relationship between mainframe users was a temporary solution to bridge the gap between the now and better future. Uber represents a desperate attempt to squeeze the remaining juice from the lemon of the modern economy. It is the equivalent of a widow taking in laundry and boarders in order to pay rent. It’s not something signaling a better future. It is a desperate attempt to delay the inevitable decline.

It doesn’t help that technology scourge Al Franken is now pressing Uber’s CEO Travis Kalanick over alleged user-privacy violations.

(Disclosure: My son has occasionally driven for Uber. He is not, I assure you, a hard-up weirdo.)

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I need all the help I can get

This Ridiculously Small Handrail might be useful to, say, some geezer with bad knees:

Ridiculously Small Handrail

It does, admittedly, look a trifle absurd.

(From Twisted Sifter’s The Shirk Report via Coyote Blog.)

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Unsatisfactory crap

It wasn’t a fresh idea, exactly, but it filled a perceived need:

On-demand fecal delivery (or “shit-tech”) is one of the hottest sectors around. And leading the way is Shit Express, whose super-simple elevator pitch is that for $16.95, or 0.05 bitcoin, it will anonymously send a piece of shit to someone on your behalf.

You might think “That’s some expensive shit.” And it is carefully packaged, including a slip of paper containing a gentle rebuke. But it misses out on one quintessential component:

[T]he thing that makes shit so supremely offensive isn’t just the fact that it came out of someone or something’s asshole. It’s the smell. And so I had to unseal the Tupperware, not only to verify to the best of my ability that it really is shit, but also to determine how powerful an insult this gift really was.

One sniff. Nothing. Hmm maybe the odor-causing chemicals and bacteria of the manure need a minute to steam off. Two more big inhalations and still nothing. According to other testimonials, the shipments gave off an appropriately unpleasant barnyard stench. It certainly looks like manure, and to be honest, it’d be a lot harder to fake manure than to just buy some from Home Depot or wherever. But it would seem that my delivery came from a bad batch of perhaps over-aged manure.

Could distance have been a factor? This parcel was shipped from Slovenia to Brooklyn. (Slovenia? “What did they put on the customs form?” asks Consumerist.) Anyway, this particular steaming pile proved to be, um, insufficiently steaming, suggesting an area where the company may need to work on its quality control.

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That third year is the killer

I’m filling out the renewal for MAD, and while I noticed almost immediately that the magazine’s subscription pitch hasn’t changed in the past two years, the actual pricing contains a trap for the unwary:

  • 1 year (6 issues) — $19.99
  • 2 years (12 issues) — $29.99
  • 3 years (18 issues) — $44.99

They’ll let you have that second year for ten bucks, but the third one costs fifteen? Why, that’s … that’s utterly MAD.

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Just get up and leave, Steve

On the 27th of June, a particularly hazardous new flow of lava emerged from Pu’u O’o, a cone in the eastern rift zone of Kilauea, modestly described by Wikipedia as “perhaps the most active volcano on earth.” Last eruption, say sources, was in January 1983 — and is still going on.

It’s possible, I suppose, that residents of Hawaii’s Big Island, which is basically five volcanoes glued together, have gotten jaded about such things. Still, reportage is cautious:

Hawaii County Civil Defense says that several lava breakouts in Pahoa are advancing Friday morning.

These breakouts are located in the area of the cemetery below Apa’a Street; above Apa’a Street in the area west or upslope of the transfer station; and 300 yards upslope of Apa’a Street.

Officials say the breakouts currently do not pose an immediate threat to area residents and will be monitored closely. The breakout near the transfer station has stopped flowing and is not active at this time. There is no burning asphalt at this time and all other burning with other breakouts is limited to vegetation only.

This USGS photo suggests several things:

Lava flow toward Pahoa, Hawaii, November 2014

To me, it suggests “Run for your life.” On Monday, the lava engulfed a house:

The first home has been claimed by the Puna lava flow, just across the street from the Pahoa Transfer Station along Cemetery Road/Apa’a Street.

Hawaii County Civil Defense officials confirm it ignited just before noon, the home was completely destroyed and collapsed around 12:45 p.m. Officials say the property owner was on site when the lava reached the 1,100 square foot home.

Cemetery Road? Excuse me while I facepalm. (Actually, I did that about “no burning asphalt at this time.”)

The next question: Are there, in fact, 50 ways to leave your lava? In the short term, time is on your side: lava speed has been variable, but it hasn’t gotten up to 1,000 feet per week lately. Still, it’s not like you can stuff it back into the volcano, and this eruption has been going on since, well, this:

An accord with Moscow is possible, the Reagan Administration said in response to a detailed Soviet criticism of the American position in the strategic arms talks that was carried in Pravda, the Communist Party newspaper. Administration officials repeated their optimism that an accord could be reached. There are two sets of negotiations in Geneva. One is focused on the medium-range missiles of the two sides in Europe. The other deals with longer-range strategic weapons. Both negotiations are in recess and are scheduled to be resumed later this month.

Moral: Always bet on the forces of nature.

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Sweet spot apparently preserved

I repeat myself verbatim from this date in 2013:

A couple of years ago, I did a piece on The Incredible Shrinking Consumer Reports Buying Guide Issue, which over a five-year period had dropped from 360 to 221 pages. The following year, I noted that the Buying Guide had actually grown to 223 pages.

How big is it now? [#twss] Once again, two hundred twenty-three pages. (As with last year, that last page is devoted to the mandatory Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation.)

This issue is dated 2015, which means that I’m on record as predicting it’s the last hard-copy edition:

By 2015 at the latest, you’ll have to be subscribing to their Web site and/or installing their app to get any of this information. Count on it.

If there actually is a 2016 issue come November ’15, I will recant with vigor.

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Hearts strong as horses

It doesn’t happen very often, but now and then Car and Driver will put together a comparison test of the sort that boggles the mind. In the December issue, it’s a comparo between a horse-drawn carriage in New York’s Central Park and the electrified buggy that’s been proposed as its replacement. The new horseless contraption has a couple of advantages, including an 84-hp electric motor — the original carriage has, um, 1 horsepower — and comparatively easy rechargeability. The horse, meanwhile, gets a minimum of five weeks’ pasture time each year by city ordinance. But both vehicles have rigid axles and leaf springs underneath.

C/D, as usual, presented their test results — the carriage with an actual horse, an 11-year-old gelding, was 1.2 seconds faster from 0 to 3 mph — and their conclusion box. For the original horse-drawn carriage:

+ Quaint, quiet, semi-autonomous, pleasantly furry.

- Occasional stubbornness, no emissions controls.

= Working horses built civilization. Here’s one of the last that still has a job.

In terms of experience, the old-fashioned buggy outpointed the new one, 51-36:

Having two brains at the controls allows the driver to interact with his customers, face to face; that’s impossible with the eCarriage. A horse just makes it a better tourist experience, even if you’re looking at the back end of it.

And speaking of horse’s asses:

In the long run … NYCLASS [New Yorkers for Clean, Livable and Safe Streets] will likely win this battle, if not because it’s able to get the horses banned, but because the land under the horses’ stables is so valuable that the stable owners won’t be able to resist selling.

Those stables are located just off the West Side Highway in Hell’s Kitchen, an area of Manhattan that has been rapidly gentrifying of late.

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Instructions to the victor

If we ever actually win another war — and believe me, there exist people who would burst into tears if we did — we should not repeat an earlier mistake:

The Odious Wilson stuck his oar in the peace process and mucked things up, as was his wont, and the eventual Treaty of Versailles has mostly gone down in history as an example of how not to treat a defeated foe. Either plow the ground with salt and sell the population into bondage, or give them a magnanimous hand up, but don’t leave a beaten enemy to nurse grudges while inflicting gratuitous and punitive punishments on them.

On the whole, our handling of the second World War, which fell mostly on the “magnanimous hand up” side of the spectrum, was much better than what we did after the first.

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