Four-wheeled bricks

The first time Renault’s Zoe EV got onto my radar, it was because someone named Zoe Renault objected to the name.

This, however, is a more serious objection:

Unlike the other EVs, however, the Zoe comes with DRM attached to its battery pack. In short: If you value your ability to drive the Zoe at all, then you will submit to a rental contract with the pack’s manufacturer. Should you fail to pay the rent or your lease term expires, Renault can and will turn your Zoe into an expensive, useless paperweight by preventing the pack’s ability to be recharged, consequences be damned.

Blame Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which may be the single suckiest section of that sucky statute: “No person shall circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.” Almost anyone with a computer has had to fight with DRM at some point, and cars are more computerized than ever.

I am not hopeful, but:

At present, Representative Zoe [!] Lofgren, D-Calif., is leading a bipartisan charge to bring about the Unlocking Technology Act, designed to limit the overzealous use of the DMCA and Section 1201 to cases where real intellectual property infringement has occurred. Should this bill become law, it would go a long way to preventing the abuses that have hindered progress elsewhere from infecting the automotive industry any further.

I’m about at the point where support for this measure will be required to get any votes out of me.

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Something short of nostalgia

Still, as the young people might say, this is a Thing:

Norton Records release event in Dallas

I mean, the event in question is not going to go unnoticed, and Norton Records, as record labels go, is definitely on the side of the angels, but something about this particular enterprise seems a little unsettling. But maybe that’s just me.

The vinyl version, incidentally, is pressed on grassy green vinyl. Of course.

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Check out the boobs on that goose

It’s apparently something you see only in St. Louis County:

The Chesterfield [Missouri] City Council on Nov. 4 amended a city ordinance that outlaws feeding certain types of wild animals within city limits.

Under the amended ordinance, it is now illegal to feed all wild mammals, including pigeons and Canada Geese.

Brian J. asks: “Does the writer need remedial science courses or simply remedial writing courses?” Yes. Next question, please.

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Deer cross

I believe we must start with this:

And any game where Scott Brooks draws a technical has to be weird, right? Now you have to give the Milwaukee Bucks this much: they held the high-powered Thunder to 40 points in the first half. Then again, that’s all they scored. Milwaukee was shooting a blah 37 percent in that half; OKC managed a pitiful 31. The Thunder then ran off a 32-25 third quarter, but the Bucks would not go away, and it took another Serge Ibaka Special to close it out: Ibaka had 20 rebounds, tying his career high, and 15 points. Thunder 92, Bucks 79, and good night, Milwaukee, thanks for playing.

Both sides were a bit depleted. The Bucks were missing Caron Butler, Carlos Delfino and Ersan İlyasova; the Thunder lost Thabo Sefolosha to the dreaded “flu-like symptoms,” and Kendrick Perkins was back. Rookie Andre Robberson drew his first start ever, and while he was in, he did a reasonable job of keeping O. J. Mayo out of the cylinder, though Mayo did knock down five treys (in 11 tries) on his way to a team-high 22 points. (The Thunder managed only five treys in aggregate.) The Bucks collected one more rebound than the Thunder (53-52), with Zaza Pachulia and Ekpe Udoh splitting 24 of them. Second-year man Khris Middleton started in place of Butler, and he did decently enough, with 14 points on probably too many shots.

With Ibaka making all the noise, no one noticed Russell Westbrook calmly — for Westbrook, anyway — dropping in 10 of 20 for a game-high 26 points despite bricking three free throws. Kevin Durant tacked on 24, and Reggie Jackson added 11 to lead the bench, though Nick Collison was the guy with the high plus: +16 for the night.

What makes you feel better after a fairly scary three-game road trip? Why, a six-game homestand, and that’s what’s coming, starting with the Nuggets on Monday night.

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DF the VJ

Someone asked the other day if anything good had happened in Cuba since the rise of Fidel. I was not quite quick enough to come back with “Daisy Fuentes was born in Havana,” which is certainly true and, to my way of thinking anyway, very good. If you haven’t seen her lately, well, here’s a shot from last fall’s New York Fashion Week, where she’s on the front row at the Carlos Miele show:

Daisy Fuentes - New York Fashion Week 2012

Not sure who her friend is.

You can’t tell from this shot, really, but Fuentes is one of the few celebrities who seems to have retained her fondness for the toe ring; in fact, she’s generally seen with two of them.

And this tidbit from her Wikipedia bio actually caused me to do a spit take:

Fuentes learned to speak English while watching I Love Lucy episodes.

Which is more, you know, than the late Desi Arnaz ever did.

Daisy Fuentes turns 47 tomorrow. “How is this even possible?” wails the guy on the cusp of 60.

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Used up

Repairs on everyday household items cost so much — when you can get them repaired at all — that you might as well toss one that’s broken, in approximately this manner:

I’m not great about fixing things. And by “not great,” I pretty much mean I’m awful about it. Once a thing stops working, I chuck it in the back of a closet somewhere and buy a new one.

I feel like there might be a story about how my lamp stopped working, so I bought a new one and then when my friend came to assemble the new one, he noticed that the old one wasn’t broken, the bulb had just burned out.

Then again, you can always use an extra lamp. This, though, might be going a little too far:

When my transmission went kaput, I bought a new car.

Or not, depending on what she was driving at the time: you roast the gears in a high-zoot Teutonic sled and you might as well buy a new car, considering the price they’re going to charge you for a rebuild.

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Insta-genuity

I have to believe that Instapundit has some fairly resourceful readers. At 6:36 yesterday, the Professor linked this piece, which got several dozen hits despite the link being broken, one of his commenters having popped the source window open and posted the correct link. (Which was actually correct all along; the anchor tag itself was broken.) I tweeted at him; he fixed it soon as he read the tweet, and of course then the floodgates opened. As of this writing, about 2100 have wandered by to read the piece, which is pretty darn good for a weekend.

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Hear, Here

Unexpected good news on the plastic wrapper of Here Media magazines Out and The Advocate this month:

YOU’VE BEEN CHOSEN TO GET A FREE RENEWAL COMPLIMENTS OF TLA VIDEO.

Of course, they exchange mailing lists, and I’ve bought stuff from TLA before, though not in the last year or so. Perhaps this is TLA’s way of trying to reattract my attention.

For those of you who were wondering why a beyond-middle-aged straight guy would be reading either of these mags — well, admittedly, they’re not aimed at me, but then neither is InStyle.

This started, actually, some time in the late Nineties while I was still getting the usual package of magazine stamps from Publishers Clearing House. For some reason, I decided to scrutinize the sheet a bit more thoroughly than usual, and to my amazement, there was a stamp for Out, listed as “the leading gay magazine” or something like that. And I figured it was worth my twelve bucks, or however much it was, to encourage this sort of thing, so I sent in the subscription order. In 2010, Here Media started offering a bundle of Out and The Advocate together at not much more than the price of Out alone, so I took that deal as well. And if the information therein isn’t always, as the phrase goes, relevant to my interests, it’s probably of interest to friends, and I have this weird idea that I ought to pay attention to such matters once in a while.

Incidentally, I never saw Out offered again by PCH. Go figure.

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Here’s looking at Liu

Today is the Day of the Imprisoned Writer, and PEN International’s Flanders outpost has chosen to mark this day by reading Liu Xiaobo’s 1999 poem “You Wait For Me With Dust,” one line by each of thirty-three writers. Liu, you’ll remember, is serving his fourth term in Chinese prison, this time for “spreading a message to subvert the country and authority,” such a wonderfully bland phrase that I expect it to catch on here in the States.

This reading is in Dutch, with English subtitles:

PEN first organized a reading of this poem a year ago:

Since winning the Nobel Prize in 2010, interest in Liu Xiaobo’s essays and poetry has grown in the West, leading to a number of new translations. No Enemies, No Hatred, a collection of essays and poems curated by scholar Perry Link, Liu Xiaobo’s wife Liu Xia, and Independent PEN Center’s current president, Tienchi Martin-Liao, was released in January [2012]. June Fourth Elegies, Liu Xiaobo’s collection of poetry in memory of Tiananmen Square victims, translated by PEN Member Jeffrey Yang, will be released in April [2012].

Here at PEN, we believe that keeping Liu Xiaobo’s words alive is the best tribute to our imprisoned colleague.

You can imagine what China thinks of all this:

On 8 October 2010, the Nobel Committee awarded Liu the Nobel Peace Prize “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China,” saying that Liu had long been front-runner as the recipient of the prize.

China reacted negatively to the award, immediately censoring news about the announcement of the award in China, though later that day limited news of the award became available. Foreign news broadcasters including CNN and the BBC were immediately blocked, while heavy censorship was applied to personal communications. The Chinese Foreign Ministry denounced the award to Liu Xiaobo, saying that it “runs completely counter to the principle of the award and is also a desecration of the Peace Prize.”

Because, you know, the Nobel Peace Prize had never, ever before been desecrated in such a manner.

(With thanks to Tumbleweed.)

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The first rule of the ruling class

A reminder from Bill Quick:

Conservatives in government are in government first, and conservatives second. Their power comes from being in government, rather than in being conservative.

And, according to the vast majority of consensus opinion, right, left, and middle, in government, the task is to use government to do things. That’s what they all mean when they say they want to make government work. Because they sure as hell don’t mean that they want to make themselves work.

I’d just bet the smallish sum I sent to a local shelter this week will do more immediate good than the decidedly larger sum that various levels of government vacuumed out of my paycheck this week, if only for reasons of lower overhead.

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A fine example of recycling

The following landed in the spam trap last night:

If only you could have known what unholy retribution your little “clever” comment was about to bring down upon you, maybe you would have held your fucking tongue. But you couldn’t, you didn’t, and now you’re paying the price, you goddamn idiot. This copypasta will shit fury all over you and you will drown in it.

Not that anyone is actually threatening me with furious fecal matter: that paragraph seems to have been adapted from this prodigious load of ragged braggadocio. God forbid a spammer should write something of his own.

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Quote of the week

Maureen Johnson fields a question from a young reader who aspires to be a young writer:

I’ve been looking into the whole male authors are treated better then female authors, how books are categorized as being boy books that girls can read or just girl books, how female authors seem to get more push back and hate. I’ve been reading quite ALOT of articles and such on this and I was just wondering: What are the perks of being a female YA author?

Apart from not having to pretend that “alot” is an actual word, there are some distinct joys:

The perks of what I do are so numerous as to be like the stars in the sky. Don’t weep for me. I’m ridiculously lucky.

But there’s also this:

Is it ALSO true that female writers tend to have a different FATE than our male counterparts? Yes, that’s true. It’s true in a thousand different ways that I often can’t even talk about, because it would involve talking about people and encounters and conversations. And it’s true in ways I CAN talk about, like when people ask me if I’ll ever write something boys can read (my books carry COOTIES that will make their penises fall off) or if I have an idea and a guy has the same idea, he is likely to get the credit (if it is good) or the fact that what I do has a far greater chance of being called slight, or breezy, or fun, or escapist, or a guilty pleasure, or light, or beach-worthy … and if a guy wrote it it is likely to magically become a masterful work of comic prose, or a subtle and humorous exploration of life and love the likes of which has never been seen before!

[insert vague Dave Eggers reference here]

I suppose, in some totally distended sense of the word, I write YA stuff: the median age of the readers of my fanfiction universe of choice seems to be well short of twenty, though my own material skews older. (Which doesn’t surprise me, given my relatively aged protagonists.) Gender considerations notwithstanding, however, I will insist that it’s slight, maybe even breezy in spots.

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We like your plan just fine

Our Insurance Commissioner weighs in:

The number of health insurance policies canceled in Oklahoma as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been minimized due to the efforts of Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John D. Doak.

“Here in Oklahoma, my office has always focused on the consumer,” said Doak. “We recognized the possibility of cancellations early on and worked with the state’s largest health insurance companies to lessen the consumer impact. That collaboration led to our approval of their requests to modify policy renewal dates, which allowed a majority of Oklahoma policyholders to keep their existing coverage through 2014.”

Technically, this does not extend their existing coverage, but does permit renewals at some figure resembling the previous premium.

Doak, of course, is not impressed by the administration’s shenaniganza:

“After yet another failed initiative, President Obama is just passing the buck,” said Doak. “How can the federal government make this decision without offering any guidance to the state insurance departments or the insurance carriers? Cancellation notices have already gone out. Rates and plans have already been approved. How is this supposed to work? There are a lot of unanswered questions right now. This is what you get when you pass a bill you haven’t read.”

This is consistent with the NAIC statement earlier yesterday. Very consistent.

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Well, it wasn’t jet lag

The second night on the Left Coast looked as though it would prove no more fruitful for the Thunder than did the first, and the unwinding was eerily similar: OKC and Golden State were tied 62-all at the half, and the Thunder went pretty much to pieces in the third quarter, dropping back by nine; at a couple of times in the fourth they were down 14. (How bad was it? Kevin Durant, who made his first four shots, missed his next seven, and by then he’d piled up five fouls plus a technical.) And then Russell Westbrook decided he’d had enough. With OKC down two and time running out, Westbrook ignored both the clock and the defenders and sank the coldest-blooded trey he’d done all season, putting the Thunder up 115-114 with 2.3 left. But the Warriors weren’t done yet: Andre Iguodala’s fadeaway almost on top of the horn made it Golden State 116, OKC 115.

The Telltale Statistic for the night is this: the Warriors, worst in the league in turnovers — averaging somewhere around 23 a night — managed to cough up the rock only seven times. That and Golden State’s 3-point prowess — they went 14-23, the Thunder 9-22 — managed to offset a career night for Serge Ibaka (27 points, 13 rebounds), 31 from Westbrook on 13-20, and KD checking in with 20, somehow never having fouled out.

But it’s not like you can score a bunch of points in Oakland and expect a W to be handed over. The Warriors score every way there exists, and several that seemingly don’t. Klay Thompson had 27 to lead Golden State; Stephen Curry and David Lee were right behind. The Ig’s last-second hit gave him 14.

Still: seven turnovers. The Thunder handed it over nineteen times, not far off their average, but not at all good in front of an enterprising bunch like the Warriors.

The Thunder will be in Milwaukee Saturday night; the Bucks will have just arrived from what may have been an epic trouncing at the hands of the Indiana Pacers. Maybe.

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Sweet spot apparently found

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.)

I said in that first piece:

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.

I mention this mostly to make it impossible for me to backpedal, should I be proven wrong.

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Strewn about

In 1937, Sylvan Goldman invented the shopping cart, which someone probably left in the parking lot:

For many years I have used every platform and every tool at my disposal to fight against the terrorists who leave their shopping carts chaotically strewn about the surface of the Earth. Every time I drive into a supermarket parking lot these days it looks like 9,000 people were raptured into heaven right as they put their last grocery bag in the trunk. Or maybe they’re all bomb technicians and they had to go diffuse explosives somewhere. Or maybe they’re Batman. Yes, maybe they saw the Bat Signal and had to go find the Penguin and foil another of his dastardly plots. They must be SOMETHING important if they couldn’t carve out the requisite half-minute to shuttle those cart back from whence they came.

Or, or, or maybe they’re just lazy.

There are exactly two ways to deal with this. One of them is used by the German discount chain Aldi: charge you a nominal sum for the cart, which is refunded when you return it to the proper location.

The other is a bit harder to pull off: it requires (1) a store with a marginal cart supply and (2) a weekend when EBT cards and such are recharged. If there are no carts waiting at the door, people can, and occasionally will, fetch them from the lot themselves. (Hard as this may be to believe, I have actually seen it happen.)

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