Road ending prematurely

Cars in the scrapyard often end up crushed. Some of them end up there because of crushing debt:

According to a recent PEW study [pdf], one out of every nine title loans results in a repossession, with the titled vehicle eventually heading to auction.

And after that, maybe the car finds a new home, but maybe not:

One vehicle, a 1995 Chevrolet Blazer, currently shows 271,285 miles. Pulling up its history, we see it shows up at auction in December 2011 with 199,683 miles, then it’s sold with a lien attached in February 2013. Since it had almost 200,000 miles at the time, it is highly unlikely any traditional lending institution would have written a loan for it, meaning this loan was almost certainly processed by a subprime lender. The February sale comes during one of the bigger months for subprime and “Buy Here Pay Here” dealers as many potential customers are receiving tax returns that can give them enough money for a down payment on a new-to-them car.

The Blazer’s owner was immediately in the hole since they were likely taking out a loan with an annual percentage rate of 30 percent for a vehicle that was only worth its weight in scrap. We see three more liens reported on the vehicle with the last one hitting in October of this year. The vehicle’s owner could have taken out multiple title loans or refinanced his loan, the last one being too expensive to cover. Since the vehicle was not worth more than $300 or $400, they would have only been able to get a loan for $150 or so, which would have cost them double or triple the original amount once interest was added. The owner may have been in a tight situation or the car could have broken down, making default a more affordable proposition. Due to the mileage and condition, [the] next stop for this Blazer is likely a salvage yard.

Five will get you ten the guy who bought this Blazer in 2013 went scurrying to Yahoo! Answers to see if there was a chance he could plunge himself further into debt to get himself something newer. Not that it matters what anyone actually told him. (I started suggesting that people start pricing bus passes, a practice some would dub cruel and insensitive.)

Most of the other cars I checked on the run list followed a similar path where they spent a few years in the mainstream market before ending up at a subprime dealer. Some of them experience accidents that should leave them with a branded title, but there are loopholes that allow the title to be washed. Others live a long life with their first owners before reaching the subprime market. The second and third owners of these vehicles are usually underwater as soon as they buy the vehicle and the title loans just put them further into debt.

That Blazer, says the intrepid reporter, was “not worth more than $300 or $400.” What would a BHPH dealer have sold it for? I’m guessing $1999.


All becoming one

We are told that eventually all this Web stuff will be mobile, that desktops and laptops and tablets and phones will all handle the same material in exactly the same way.

That time has not come. American Express sent out a survey request to some of its customers (including me) that contained this warning:

Please note that this survey is best completed using a computer. You may experience some technical problems if you use a tablet or smartphone due to limitations with these devices and their software.

And the inequality goes in both directions. An editor at Merriam-Webster sent this up:

Happy convergence, I conclude, is a long way away.

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No straps, Sherlock

The following two paragraphs have more in common than you might think. First, from Wikipedia:

The ability of geckos — which can hang on a glass surface using only one toe — to climb on sheer surfaces has been attributed to the van der Waals forces between these surfaces and the spatulae, or microscopic projections, which cover the hair-like setae found on their footpads.

And now, from HelloGiggles:

We have a love/hate relationship with strapless bras, for sure, and by love/hate, we mostly mean hate; strapless bras pinch, push, and fall down. Oh do they fall down. Especially if you’re, uh, more gifted in that department, you’ll find yourself pulling up your bra all night when no one is looking (curse you, perfect dress!). Not fun.

This is where they met:

Kellie K Apparel 2015 Kickstarter Campaign Video from Anthony Roy on Vimeo.

They raised $26,921 in that Kickstarter, and they’ll be offering two versions of this garment, with or without underwire.

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Sheer pluck

At one point in the second quarter, the Thunder had a 17-point lead over the Hawks, despite the Hawks shooting well over 50 percent. By halftime, that lead had been whittled to 11; in the third quarter, Atlanta pulled to within one more than once, largely powered by reserve swingman Kent Bazemore, who made his first seven shots. But Bazemore eventually cooled off, and at the 1:40 mark Mike Budenholzer pulled his starters. The final was 107-94, surely adequate revenge for OKC’s loss at Atlanta a few days back. And I have to figure that Bazemore wouldn’t have gotten all those shots if the Thunder hadn’t done a good job of bottling up Al Horford and Paul Millsap. (Horford, in fact, didn’t score at all until the second half, and the duo, normally good for 30 points or so between them, were held to 16.)

The Big News, though, was Kevin Durant, who bagged his 1,000th career 3-pointer early on, and logged his first triple-double of the season (25-12-10). Both Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook picked up double-doubles with 23 points each. (All three of these guys outscored Bazemore, who led the Hawks with 22.) OKC had no real answer for guard Jeff Teague, who scored 18, often untouched. Still, Atlanta wound up below 45 percent shooting, and did not look good from the stripe, missing nine of 23 free throws. And if the Thunder has finally learned to close out games, well, it’s not a moment too soon.

The scheduling weirdness continues: tomorrow night in Salt Lake City against the Jazz, then home Sunday against, um, the Jazz. And Rudy Gobert, Utah’s shot-blocker extraordinaire, has a bad sprain of the MCL in his left knee — it happened last week in practice, yet — and is not expected to play either of those games. Still, beating the Jazz in their house isn’t the easiest task in the world.


Too many quarks for Muster Mark

You say you were reading one of those science-y web sites today? You say there was all this talk about protons and neutrons stuck together for dear life while electrons go whizzing around them at a zillion miles per hour? You say they told you that you were mostly empty space but you still feel like you swallowed an anvil? You say they told you all about strong and weak forces and you just know the weak force is gonna win and the electrons are all going to fall apart and crash into one another and knock your hat in the creek? Is that what’s troubling you, cousin?

Well, forget that:

Scientists at the Borexino detector in Italy experimented to see if they could detect electron decay and predict how long it would take for one to actually break down. Turns out a single electron would take 66,000 “yotta-years” to break down. This comes out to 660,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years, or five quintillion times the current age of the universe. In other words, we will probably never see even one electron break down anywhere in the universe for as long as beings exist to detect electrons and see if they are breaking down. So you may strike “death by unexpected subatomic decay” from your list of possible concerns, and Merry Christmas to you!

Phew. That’s a load off my mind.

(Particle Man was not available for comment. The opening paragraph, of course, was inspired by the late Eddie Lawrence; the title was adapted from a line in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.)

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Featured features are buggy

Back in the summertime, the icemaker in my aging refrigerator went troppo; I finally got around to getting it fixed last week. There was, in the interim, a sensible workaround: the ever-popular ice tray, four of which got filled up daily to meet my cold-beverage needs. Not everyone, however, can solve fridge problems this simply:

I have a Samsung RF4289HARS refrigerator. The Google calendar app on it has been working perfectly since I purchased the refrigerator August 2012. However, with the latest changes in Google Calendar API, I can no longer sign in to my calendar. I receive a message stating “Please check your email in Google Calendar website”. I can sign in fine on my home PC and have no problem seeing the calendar on my phone. Perhaps this is a Samsung issue, but I thought I would try here first. Has anyone else experienced this problem and what was the solution?

Now maybe it’s just me, but I have this weird notion that the function of that big box in the kitchen is to keep stuff cold, not to remind you of your comings and goings. Then again, I paid less than $700 for my fridge more than a decade ago. Clearly it’s not going to have the incredible array of functions on — wait, what?

As announced since July, an old version of the calendar API has been shut down. (version 3 has been announced then, and version 1 has now been deactivated)

This effected everything that relied on the old version of the calendar API (that was even deprecated back then as v2 was already around!) Not only fridges, but everything that relied on v1. Everything provided with updates by the manufacturer should be fine as Google even provided a migration guide for the software makers (it’s part of the doc for v3), and of course the stock android apps for calendar have been updated directly by Google.

But it’s up to the device manufacturers to push those updates out to your devices. Google can’t and wouldn’t push firmware updates to other companies devices.

This thread started over a year ago. Apparently there are a lot of people with this problem:

I called the tech guy and he said that this part number DA97-11828A is the new part number (sorry got it confused). Apparently, the panel, board and dispenser paddles were originally sold separately and had their own older part numbers (pre 2013). I guess the dispenser paddles can still be ordered separately (for $50). But this new $300-$400 part bundle replaces the previously separate parts. I guess as it’s aged they don’t ship it separately anymore. So the guy said if you get this new part number, you are getting new stock. But the realist in me (who was told everything under sun by Samsung Support) feels obliged to tell you that it could also have been luck that I got a new one (if the service guy doesn’t really know what he’s talking about). I did look on the old part and there were no distinguishable part numbers or version numbers that I could discern. So I hope I’ve helped. Like I said in my first post, I had a few hundred bucks in my pocket and while I was fixing the other problem, I took a chance. The service guy did say that new part actually came with 2.690 (which my old one had 2.550) and it updated just after the installer replaced it. So the software update did work to 2.750 on the new board. So fingers are crossed that if there are new updates in the future, they will download with the new board.

At one level, I want to see these folks get the services they paid for, because dammit, that’s the American Way. Still, a part of me wants to see their mayonnaise spoil, just because.

(Via Popular Mechanics.)

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Blather, Reince, repeat

Another email from Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee:

You never activated your 2015 Official Republican Membership — and we’re one year out from the presidential election.

But I’m committed to bringing you on board, so here’s what I’ll do: If you register for 2016 Membership by TOMORROW AT 11:59 PM, you’ll get a $39.50 discount on the RNC Diamond Membership.

If ever there were a year to become a member of our Party — it’s 2016 — and you can do it right now.

I dunno, Reince. I mean, geez, I’ve been a registered Democrat for forty-odd years, and every time I think maybe I might be better off in the GOP — well, hell, you can read the news as well as I can. Yeah, I might have said something nice about Carly Fiorina. Hardly makes me a Republican, you know?

I will concede that your Democratic counterpart, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, is slightly less clever than a bag of yak hair. But I’ll bet the DNC database kids didn’t generate any letters like this to my friends and neighbors in the GOP.

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The Draimanator

Once in a while, I’ll glare at the work box and wonder how the hell I got so many Disturbed tracks. Occasionally I’ll remember this:

Truth be told, I rather liked the Disturbed version of “Land of Confusion,” though this is not so much because it’s by Disturbed as it is the fact that Phil Collins doesn’t sing on it.

I think it’s mostly repeated exposure to David Draiman’s voice, both forceful and distinctive. And while the band writes most of its own stuff, their occasional cover demands my attention:

This band, apparently, is better than I’d been willing to admit.

(In regard to that Phil Collins dis, see also the Nonpoint cover of “In the Air Tonight.”)

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Manny, Moe, Jack and Carl

Feared investor Carl Icahn has offered $863 million for the Pep Boys auto-parts chain:

Icahn’s offer Tuesday of $15.50 per share is higher than Bridgestone’s offer of $15 per share in October for the chain of 800 stores. The Japanese tire giant offered to buy the chain to add to its 2,200 stores including Tires Plus, Firestone Complete Auto Care, Hibdon Tires Plus and Wheel Works to make one of the largest parts, tire and service chains in the U.S.

Before placing his bid, Icahn had acquired a 12-percent stake in Pep Boys. This is his second try at the whole ball of wax; he’d previously offered $13.50 a share.

Pep Boys has given Bridgestone until 5 pm Eastern on Friday to top this bid, or Icahn prevails.

(Title swiped from Fark.)

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Seriously. Albatross:

The world’s oldest living tracked bird has been spotted back on American soil where she is expected to lay an egg at the ripe old age of 64.

Wisdom, a Laysan albatross [Phoebastria immutabilis], was seen at the Midway Atoll national wildlife refuge with a mate at the weekend following a year’s absence.

She was first tagged in 1956 and has raised at least 36 chicks since then.

If your next question is “How do they know how old she is?” this is your answer:

Wisdom was banded by a US Geological Survey researcher in 1956, and in February 2014 she was seen rearing a new chick on Midway Atoll. Because Laysan albatrosses can’t breed until they are five years old, as of 2014 Wisdom was estimated to be at least 63 years old.

As noted previously, you don’t get wafers with it.

(Via American Digest.)

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Oh, sure, blame the booze

Several bad choices seem to have affected this outcome:

A naked man accused of driving 110 mph across Alligator Alley with three female passengers was arrested Saturday afternoon on a DUI charge, the Florida Highway Patrol reported.

Around 3 p.m., authorities began receiving calls of a Cadillac driving recklessly, on and off the road, near the middle of Alligator Alley, according to an arrest report. About 10 minutes later, an FHP trooper spotted the car as it traveled west toward the Naples area.

First problem: if you’re at the wheel and your clothing is somewhere else, your first order of business is to avoid attracting the attention of the police. Driving 110 in a 70 zone does not meet this standard.

The trooper stopped the car. He noticed the driver had no shirt on and an open 12-pack of Corona beer between the driver’s seat and the front passenger seat, reports said. He asked the driver, Noe Dejesus, 33, to step out of the car.

When Dejesus opened the door, the trooper saw he was naked, reports said.

Dejesus smelled of alcohol, slurred his speech and had bloodshot eyes, reports said. When he stepped out of the vehicle to put his pants on, he stumbled and nearly fell. Inside the car the trooper found several empty or nearly empty beer bottles and a nearly empty bottle of Crown Royal whiskey.

Second problem: if you absolutely, positively have to drive while half in the bag, you definitely don’t want to be toting around a large quantity of empty containers. It just looks bad.

Still, what I want to know is how this guy managed to get three female passengers, something I’ve never done even when clothed and/or sober.

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Different angle of approach

Received in the mailbox yesterday:

Dear Customer

Your invoice appears below. Please remit payment at your earliest convenience.

Thank you for your business – we appreciate it very much.

Edith Dejesus Courier Service

By “below,” they mean “inside this ZIP file,” and when I looked inside that ZIP file I saw a lone .js file.

O disfrabjous day! Now they’re sending out JavaScripts to wreck your computers and your lives.


Turning a prophet

The editor/publisher of The Federalist gets an eyeful in his email:

There’s no reason on earth, of course, why the Messiah can’t be Canadian, but a trip through Moorman’s Facebook page turns up several iterations of this paragraph:

This is The Revelation of Jesus Christ 1:1. A masterpiece in symbolic writing about the birth of the Second Coming of Christ Luke Oviedo and his twin sister Katherine Moorman on June 22, 2006. The Revelation occurring 49 days after their 3rd birthdates on August 10, 2009 in Costa Rica and 8 days after the 2nd birthdate of Lucas Tse born August 2, 2007 who is John The Baptist. August, 10, 2009 the rape and murder of a woman at an event attended to by Jan Hommen and The Group. I am a 3 telepath, 6 6 6 a Walking with God human. 3+1 proves God exists.

The Vatican and Catholic Church are compromised in Revelation

Never you mind how Lindsay Lohan fits into this.

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Do not feed the Bears

The Grizzlies had basically one thing going for them tonight: Mario Chalmers, who scored 29 the last time these two teams met and led Memphis this time with 19. Other than that, it was an all-Thunder display: up three after the first quarter, up 12 at the half, up 35 after three, and by then empty seats were appearing at the FedEx. Lest he be accused of running up the score, Billy Donovan then put Kyle Singler in. (Okay, I stole that from Clark Matthews.) That putative lapse aside, the Thunder could do no wrong: third-string point guard Cameron Payne, a Memphis hometown hero, came on halfway through the fourth quarter and promptly sank a trey. At the last timeout, inside the two-minute mark, it was still a 35-point lead, and the final was a sort of embarrassing 125-88.

Once again, OKC played mostly small ball: Steven Adams and Enes Kanter got fewer than 30 minutes between them. Batman and Robin retired gracefully after the third quarter, with Kevin Durant producing 32 points and 10 rebounds, and Russell Westbrook serving up 16 assists to go with 13 points. (Payne claimed a new career high, with, um, five, and Singler knocked down a bucket somewhere.) The Griz had a rough time of it generally, with Mike Conley scoreless and Marc Gasol appearing to mess up his left leg at least twice. Dave Joerger, understandably — this was the first half of a back-to-back for Memphis — put most of the burden on the reserves, and they collected 52 points for him.

For the Thunder, the schedule gets even weirder for a moment: home for a rematch with the Hawks on Thursday, off to Utah to play the Jazz on Friday, and then back home on Sunday against those same Jazz. (“That” same Jazz? Whatever.) Next week: the Trail Blazers, the Cavaliers (in Cleveland), and the Lakers.


At least HAL has a job

Assuming, of course, that General Motors can build this particular structure:

General Motors this month filed a patent application for a navigation system that can gauge how effective it is in frustrating guiding drivers based on their eye movements and how well those drivers follow directions.

The patent application filed Dec. 3 details a navigation system that watches “visual focus, the driver vocalizations and the driver emotions, along with vehicle system parameters from a data bus … to evaluate driver satisfaction with navigation guidance and determine driver behavior.”

Ideally, this should improve the performance of the nav system. But what’s more likely to happen is this:

The patent application also details a location-based “promotional offers for businesses near a destination or route of the driver,” to offer you a cookie at a nearby Arby’s to forget that it ever got you lost in the first place.

You do this to me, OnStar, and you’ll get more than eye movements, if you know what I mean, and I think you do.

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Saddle be the day

If this description is anywhere near accurate, we need to turn all our Axe jokes up to eleven. In fact, make that thirteen:

Translated, literally, as “skin of the beast”, Peau De Bête aims to capture, of all things, the animalic smell of horse sweat. The press blurb, with descriptions of hands brushing against hot, still damp horse necks, is positively Equus. “A hot, enveloping and sensual fragrance through its fusion of animal and human,” it says. Imagine riding through the forest, bareback, possibly butt naked and you’re three quarters there.

It’s not all about horse though. If you’re wondering what the “human” bit of the fragrance is, well — and there’s no polite way to put this — it’s pretty much the unmistakable smell of man bits (“ball musk” if you will), an odour recognisable to all men (and plenty of women) and one whose “attractiveness” divides opinion even more than current series of the X Factor.

But you’re still not there yet:

If that wasn’t enough, it also features an ingredient called skatole. Don’t know skatole that is? Well, you’re probably more familiar with it than you realise because it’s the molecule which gives faeces its characteristic smell.

“What’s brown and sounds like a bell?”

They’re asking £230 for this, um, stuff. And I suppose it could be worse:

[I]f you’re not impressed by horse sweat and man-musk, there’s always the notorious Sécrétions Magnifiques by Etat Libre d’Orange: that smells of blood, sweat and semen. But that’s a whole different ball game.

Though possibly the same, um, ball.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man, definitely not interested.)

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