Fix it again, Tadeusz

Have you gotten used to the idea of an Italian car sold in North America, built in Mexico? If so, get un-used to it, because that’s all about to change:

The next generation Fiat 500 will no longer be hecho en Mexico for the North American market. Faced with a modern plant and unused capacity, Fiat will consolidate all of its 500 production to its site in Tychy, Poland, in 2015.

The Mexican plant, in Toluca, also builds the Dodge Journey crossover; odds are, another Chrysler product will be moved in to keep the production lines busy.

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Never heard it before

From Monday night’s tweetstream:

Tweet by Dan McLaughlin

As it happens, the installation of iTunes 11 reset some of the play counts on some of my purchased tracks, and it appears I’m not alone.

Many of the thread participants blamed the crossfade feature; I’m not using it, so that can’t be the only issue.

And it hasn’t really affected my Randomator playlist, which shuffles the 700 tracks least recently played, because the last-played date is still correct, even if the play count is blacked out. (Regular readers will note that this is yet another increase in the playlist size, which I try to keep at around one-tenth of the total library.)

Curiously, the reset seemed to affect only tracks purchased from iTunes; it did not affect tracks bought elsewhere, or material I ripped at home.

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Broken chords

Six and a half minutes into the fourth quarter, Scott Brooks threw in the towel. Down only seven after three, the Thunder managed to score only four points in those six minutes, and it was apparently obvious to the OKC brain trust that things weren’t going to get any better. Then again, it’s hard to imagine how they’d have gotten worse: two Flagrant 1 fouls (one on Kendrick Perkins, one on Kevin Durant), no second-chance points in the entire first half, and, as the radio team kept mentioning, trailing badly in offensive rebounds, which would account for the dearth of second-chance points. I’d note that the Jazz outrebounded the Thunder on both flavors of glass (38-26), and that OKC uncharacteristically left ten points at the foul line — but had they sank them all, it wouldn’t have made any difference, as Utah administered a methodical 109-94 thrashing of the Northwest leader.

Lots of statistics to point to, notably that OKC shot nearly 56 percent and still lost, but this is the one that grabs me: Hasheem Thabeet had a block, a steal, and a rebound, didn’t take a shot, but wound up with a team-high +7. (KD and Russell Westbrook, by comparison, had 33 and 22 points, but neither broke -10.) Or look at Serge Ibaka: ten points, seven blocks, minus 28. If nothing else, this shows how dominant the Jazz starters — Al Jefferson (23 points, seven rebounds) and Paul Millsap (18 points, ten boards) especially — really were. And Utah’s next three highest scorers were from the bench. Somewhere Jerry Sloan is smiling.

Only that rematch with the Heat remains until the All-Star break. I suspect there won’t be much vacation time to be had.

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Cloudy turnout report

Much of the heightened interest in this year’s school-board election was negated by Old Man Winter, who presumably felt sorry for us in our drought and sent us some snow. And for once, there was some actual liquid to be had, unlike blizzards of recent years, which contained so little water they might have just as well dropped cornstarch on us. (If you follow me on Twitter you’ve already seen that comparison.)

Be that as it may, I reported in at 5:05 pm, and deposited ballot #95. Not what I’d call a big crowd. I’m thinking whoever wins these things will be agonizing over how many dollars per vote they actually spent.

(The report from the 2009 election, for comparison.)

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A model for the rest of you

The Speaker of the Oklahoma House used to have essentially absolute power over bills introduced in the House.

Repeat: “used to.” Rep. Jason Murphey (R-Guthrie) explains:

Over the past few weeks, I have enjoyed serving on a committee tasked with reforming House rules. I observed as Speaker of the House T. W. Shannon commissioned the committee’s work and seeded the idea for dissolving absolute power from the Speaker to the members of the Legislature.

Under the leadership of Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Jackson, the committee worked out a process for commissioning a House calendar committee with the responsibility of determining which bills are scheduled for a vote of the House. The committee contains House members from both political parties and holds public meetings where the members must hold a recorded vote on the slate of bills to go before the House.

These decisions are no longer behind closed doors, nor are they made by one man.

The GOP holds a 72-29 majority in the House. Speaker Shannon could easily have told the remaining Democrats to go pound sand. But that’s apparently not the sort of guy he is.

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Perennially hormonal

Oh, those randy, indefatigable, elderly Brits:

Youth is wasted on the young — so the saying goes — and doing their best to prove it are the over-50s.

They are more sexually active than six years ago, according to a survey which also found that a third of the age group enjoy sex more than in their youth. Four in five of those in their early 50s make love regularly, with a quarter enjoying a romantic episode under the sheets at least once a week.

For some reason this reminds me of those old commercial pitches involving four out of five doctors.

(Aside: There was a perfectly lovely power-pop band from D.C., circa 1980, called 4 Out Of 5 Doctors. I bought their first LP. They didn’t sound much different in 2008.)

Who were the respondents to this survey, anyway?

Nearly 9,000 people aged 50 or more were questioned about their sex lives by Populus on behalf of Saga Magazine for the survey.

This makes more sense if you remember that “Saga” was originally an acronym: “Social Amenities for the Golden Age.” Sort of a British AARP, without the annoying self-righteousness. I attribute this to Saga’s not being a non-profit.

And this little squib at the bottom of the article demands inclusion because … well, just because:

The Women’s Institute — better known for jam-making tips — released a sex guide in 2008.

Topics included the best positions for women to try if their partners had previously had heart attacks.

I am so not going there.

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With friends like these

Keep your politics to yourself? Bad idea, says Tat:

It will hurt you more at the end when you find out your jogging buddy is a statist. It will bring you more heartbreak when you learn a person you shared same hobby is someone who supports re-distribution of wealth. It will make you feel betrayed when your pal with whom you have common taste in jazz and, like, totally connect — voted for a current nuisance in the Oval Office, on principle. It will make your life at the office an everyday torture if your boss will sing praises for “heroic Palestinians freedom-fighting against blood-thirsty Israelis”.

On one level, this is fairly indisputable: you seldom see people on opposite sides of the aisle connecting at heart-to-heart level. (There’s Carville and Matalin, I suppose, but she was the brains of the operation, while he worked in, um, some other region.)

Then again, everyone on earth who agrees with me on everything would probably fit in this one room, and possibly in this one chair.

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Let’s do the Dash Warp again

When I got my first car, a 1966 Chevy II with a Nova badge, approximately the third thing I did with it was update the sound system from good ol’ mono AM to something resembling stereo FM. (We won’t discuss the issues with the cassette player.)

Of course, if I could have held out for several decades, I could have had something like this:

RetroSound Model 2

This is RetroSound’s Model 2 head unit with a custom bezel for this particular series of Chevy. It puts out 25 watts x 4, has one USB and two auxiliary ports, and is fully Bluetooth-enabled, including streaming.

The $400 price tag is about twice what I had to pay to get the Powerglide two-speed automatic rebuilt. Then again, one must have one’s priorities, and inflation screws up all these comparisons anyway.

(Via Engadget.)

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No dollars left behind

A statement by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

Nothing brings more money to the Treasury of the United States than investment in education of the American people, so we have to recognize that.

And Federal spending on education, by all the available evidence, has been utterly futile. So perhaps we should do it her way: instead of “investment in education,” we should do “nothing,” which brings in more money, or at least depletes the Treasury less.

What? You’re sure that’s not what she said? Well, she give her a break: she had to say it to know what was in it.

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Come for the bargains

Stay for the freshness, especially the pineapple:

Sparkle food ad from Criggo.com

Sparkle Markets operate in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

(Found at Criggo.com, which has lots of similarly inexplicable newspaper clippings.)

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Like snow business I know

And the Lord spake thusly unto Noah:

And I will establish my covenant with you, neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.

He didn’t say a damned thing, however, about snow:

[W]hen something like this blizzard falls upon my neighborhood, I don’t wait for some hireling to come to clear my driveway; I don my cold-weather togs and attack it myself.

But strength isn’t everything. There are other considerations to be respected in addressing an onerous task like clearing several tons of snow from an oversized driveway. One of them is endurance. Another is pulmonary capacity. Another is pain.

Yes indamndeedy. I have sort of learned to pace myself, but impatience shows up rather rapidly when I look to see how much is still left. To cite the most recent Major Winter Event at the palatial estate at Surlywood, thirty-five feet of driveway times a 12-inch depth times seven feet wide is 225 cubic feet of the stuff, not counting the sidewalk; it does not relocate willingly without help from the sun, which of course takes the day off because of bad weather.

And God, in His mercy, has spared me since then:

In that horrible month of February ’11, I broke my snow shovel; after waiting for the spring price break, I bought one of those not quite industrial-strength, but still formidable-looking, pushers, and dared the stuff to occupy my driveway. Total snowfall for the winter of ’11-’12: 1.8 inches. The thing is standing in the garage, still wrapped. If I thought for a moment this would work again, I’d buy another one.

Total snowfall for the winter of ’12-’13 through today: 1.4 inches. (Seasonal normal is around 8-9 inches.) I have yet to unwrap the Mystery Device. And yes, this is a dare, since they’re predicting widespread misery for tomorrow.

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Strange search-engine queries (367)

This weekly feature contains the best, or perhaps the worst, of the search strings by which people arrived at this site during the last few days. No drones were used to collect this information.

the firefly platform:  Used by Joss Whedon for development ever since Serenity.

vent to suck in pant:  Pants with vents almost always suck.

“tennessee prison for women” “deborah gibson”:  Now that’s a foolish beat.

who is Matt Pinto from Thunder dating?  I have no idea, but it’s probably not Debbie Gibson.

mariska hargitay has a quote inside a heart:  Matt Pinto, you might want to take notice.

is christine baranski double jointed:  I have no way of knowing. Should I ask Matt Pinto?

enlarge penis upto 40% china capsoal:  You just keep right on believing that, child. The Chinese are counting on you to support their economy.

okc to get rail transit:  If it’s anything like the bus system, it will run 20 hours a week, 15 of which will be used in getting you to work late.

i have a mazda 626 and i need to know is the engine a 4 cylinder or a 6 cylinder:  Yes. Definitely.

if a value exists copy to another worksheet:  If no value exists, tell Ben Bernanke to print some money to compensate.

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Near-total eclipse II

Night before last, I suggested: “Maybe [Marcin] Gortat will have recovered his mojo by then.” Or, you know, not. Mojo was definitely not in evidence in Phoenix tonight: only one of the Suns — Markieff Morris — even managed double figures tonight, as the Thunder coasted to a 97-69 win, sweeping the season series.

Once again, it was the Suns bench who did all the heavy lifting: the starters came up with a total of 26 points, or two more than Russell Westbrook. Unlike last time, though, the bleeding started early: OKC was up 27-16 after the first quarter and looked back only to see who was still breathing dust. The Suns didn’t exactly lie down and die — they pulled in a remarkable 53 rebounds, way ahead of the Thunder’s 40 — but they couldn’t manage the ball-to-rim interface with any degree of efficiency: we’re talking 30-91 from the floor for 33 percent. (OKC made four more shots while taking 15 fewer.) Phoenix was dead solid perfect from the foul line, but they took only five foul shots. (Only Kendrick Perkins and Reggie Jackson had as many as two fouls; Perk earned a tech, but Goran Dragić got one simultaneously, so no trip to the line.) The Thunder had only five offensive rebounds all night, though Phoenix did hardly anything with the 17 they got.

And the man with the biggest minutes for the night was Thabo Sefolosha, who played 34 and scored a season-high 20, right behind Westbrook and ahead of Kevin Durant, who put up 18. Kevin Martin had the night off with the classic “flu-like symptoms,” which made more time for Jackson and DeAndre Liggins. Perk, who had 17 Friday night, didn’t score tonight, but he was busy blocking shots (three) and stealing the ball (also three).

Tuesday night, the Thunder will be in Utah; Thursday, they’ll be home to greet the Heat.

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There’s no days like snow days

A teacher surrounded by snow offers a suggestion:

Here’s a thought on a trapped-inside day: when school is cancelled, why do we make it up? Shouldn’t it be “postponed?” When you cancel something it’s gone forever. So maybe the terminology needs to change. “School postponed until a later date when you can suffer an arduously painful day in sweltering humidity and heat.” Pick your poison.

Schools generally are not designed for comfort, though the three years I spent in class at the Brokaw Mansion in Summerville were arguably less painful than most.

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What retirement income?

Perhaps some comfort may be derived from seeing a species that considers itself superior doing basically the same thoughtless things we do:

Note the fine print, which declares that this can’t actually happen.

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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First round at Bataan

A final score of 104-101 suggests a Clippers/Thunder game: these are teams that score quite a bit and tend not to run away from each other. You don’t expect totals like that from the college game.

Unless the college game runs 65 minutes, as did last night’s Louisville/Notre Dame clash, in which the Irish finally emerged with the win after five overtimes, the longest game ever played in the Big East. Not that this was entirely unexpected — only two of the last eight Cardinals/Irish matchups ended in the regulation 40 minutes — but how can you possibly prepare for five overtimes? That’s a third half and then some.

First thing that came to my mind: did anyone foul out? NCAA allows five fouls (the NBA limit is six) before you’re disqualified, and four players on each team were gone before it ended. (Only nine players were listed for Notre Dame; did they have anyone left in case Pat Connaughton got his fifth foul?)

And where there are a lot of fouls, there are a lot of foul shots: from the charity stripe, Louisville made 30 of 48, Notre Dame 33 of 49.

I think we can safely conclude that everyone was tired when this one was all over.

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No, it doesn’t wind up

Bose and Nissan have been working together for some time; Gwendolyn, at the advanced age of thirteen, sports a Bose-designed system (built by Clarion in Japan) with a speaker in each door, tweeters in the A-pillars, and a subwoofer dangling from the rear deck. Power is ostensibly 200 watts, though as a hi-fi buff for most of my adult life I have learned to treat amplifier power figures with the same mistrust with which I regard fuel-economy numbers.

The laws of physics being what they are, it takes some serious current draw to run these puppies at gut-thumping levels, and it is always better to have more amplifier power, not just for reasons that Tim Allen might endorse, but also because a high-powered amp that isn’t running flat out doesn’t produce as much in the way of distorion as a lower-powered amp that’s constantly bumping up against its limits. “Serious current draw” would seem to eliminate this sort of thing for electric cars, in which every extra watt cuts into your driving range.

Just the same, Bose is coming to the Nissan Leaf, with a similar speaker deployment but a head unit that uses half the juice. The press release doesn’t say, but I’m betting they’ve also removed the CD player, reasoning that the motor has a current draw of its own and that your average Leaf buyer is going to rely on his iPod to supply tunes anyway.

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Your slash ain’t nothing but trash

There’s a button in the WordPress editor that says “close tags,” which, conveniently enough, closes all open tags in the document, because Horrible Things can happen when you don’t.

Behold: not a WordPress product, but still Exhibit A H.

(Via this @tjic tweet.)

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Impractical hearts

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But oh, so Swede

Anna Svensson is a noted Swedish equestrian who in her younger days was a competition show jumper, and who still loves to ride.

Only “Anna Svensson” is not her real name:

Princess Madeleine of Sweden

This is in fact Madeleine Thérèse Amelie Josephine, Her Royal Highness Princess Madeleine, Duchess of Hälsingland and Gästrikland, youngest child of King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden, currently fourth in line of succession to the Swedish throne. This shot was taken on a suitably royal occasion: the 2011 wedding of Albert II, Prince of Monaco, to former South African Olympic swimmer Charlene Wittstock.

Madeleine herself has a royal wedding coming up in June, to Christopher O’Neill, head of research at London hedge fund Noster Capital, a name I recognize only because their managing partner sent a nastygram last summer to the board of Chesapeake Energy here in Oklahoma City which called for the ouster of then-chairman Aubrey McClendon.

That’s two princesses this week. (The first, if you’ve forgotten.) I suspect I have now outed myself as a monarchist.

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