In the jungle, the mighty jungle

Possibly the greatest, and almost certainly the most eccentric, Guns N’ Roses cover ever:

For the record, this is the next most serious contender, for some values of “serious.”

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Subtotal recall

As was once said in a wholly different context, there can be only one:

Rolls-Royce have revealed what must be the world’s smallest ever vehicle recall.

Amid the millions of vehicles being recalled worldwide in the Takata air bag issue, BMW Group, the owner of the luxury Rolls-Royce brand, is recalling one — yep, one — of its 2015 Ghost models manufactured on January 23, 2014.

Perhaps it’s tied for smallest: supercar manufacturer Koenigsegg recalled one 2013 Agera for potential problems with its tire-pressure monitoring system. (Total ’13 Ageras sold in the US: one.)

(Via Fark.)


Hob knobbing

Sliders belong in ballparks and bags of cheap burgers. They do not belong on most people’s audio gear:

When it comes to audio equipment, sliders were popular with some people and maybe they still are. They got some cachet when big mixing panels used in theaters and recording studios came out from behind their curtain. Oh, cool! thought I and a bunch of other people. They might be okay in their original applications, or where space is at a premium and you need to cram in a bunch of seldom used controls into a tiny patch of panel, but for everyday audio controls they suck.

You grab hold of a rotary control it is easy to tell how far you have turned it, even if the knob is on a radio mounted in the dashboard of car that is bouncing down a pothole filled road. Try adjusting a slider under those conditions and you can’t, not with any degree of precision. You can’t even adjust a slider accurately without being able to see it so you can tell how far it has move. Okay, maybe this is a personal problem. Maybe sliders don’t cause you any difficulty.

Not that much, really, but in automotive applications, they’re pretty much useless because you have to look at them, while you’re supposed to be looking at the road. Those newfangled touchscreens have much the same problem, magnified further if you started digging into the French fries before you got home with the burgers.

That said, the Big Receiver in the house — forty years old now — has ten sliders to run the equalizer. I think I set them once in 2003 when I moved in, and haven’t touched them since. The volume control is a proper knob. And in the car, where Bose has festooned the head unit with no fewer than thirteen buttons (not including Eject), the volume control is a proper knob.

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Let’s do it again

While my attention was focused on the back yard and my presumably soon-to-disintegrate shed, the roses up front were assembling a final forward thrust for fall, and this was the first one out:

One rose, photographed on 14 November 2015

At center-bottom you can see one of the reinforcements coming in: there are a dozen buds at the moment, and temperatures look to remain above freezing for at least the next week.

As usual, there’s a bigger version at Flickr.


Recanting with vigor

In 2011, noting the general shrinkage of the Consumer Reports Buying Guide, I said this:

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.

Welcome to 2015. The 2016 edition of the Buying Guide has shipped, and you can call me Wrongo McWrongness. The book hasn’t grown any since last year — still 224 pages — and while some of the typefaces somehow maned to remain unshrunk, it’s still a real book.

Minor curiosity: Last year they claimed to have “1,999+” product ratings. This year, “2,000+.” I promise to be properly gobsmacked if the hitherto-unimagined 2017 edition contains “2,001+” of them.


Exterior matters

“The real belle of the automotive ball,” says a TTAC commenter, “is Vicki Vlachakis.”

Well, you don’t have to prod me twice:

Vicki Vlachakis on top of a tool chest

Vlachakis grew up in Pasadena, California, and studied at the Art Center College of Design. Hired by Mercedes-Benz, she relocated to Germany, but returned to take an offer by General Motors, eventually becoming the manager of GM’s west-coast Advanced Design Studio. Working from Franz von Holzhausen’s original concept, she developed the interior for the Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky twin roadsters.

Vicki Vlachakis in a Pontiac Solstice

After taking her leave of the General, she set up a handbag operation called Nooni, and then disappeared entirely. I’d love to see where she turns up next.

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No weirder than Steven Magnet

And Hasbro has put their imprimatur on it, so it must be so:

MLP game card featuring the changeling from Slice of Life

EqD suggests M. A. Larson had something to do with this. I’d believe that, maybe, if the little buglet had extra wings.

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Quote of the week

James Lileks engages in a brief act of cultural appropriation, just long enough to put it under the microscope:

It is entirely likely that a properly attuned individual will cast his or her or xer or yis’s eyes across a party and see many people unaware of the context, subtext, overtext and textual textosity of their outfit, and the very sight of someone draped in an incorrect variety of fabrics can trigger deep emotional responses.

I think that last point needs to be repeated, lest the full impact of the problem eluded you: people may experience unpleasant emotional responses.

The point of life is to never have an unpleasant emotional response. To anything. Note I didn’t say that the point is to avoid them. That suggests personal responsibility, when the onus ought to be on everyone else: offense of any kind cannot be made. What’s more, the definition of offense is the sole possession of the offended. To take offense is to proclaim virtue, to show your highly developed sensibilities, and the point of having these sensibilities is to find a job, or career, or office, or blog, or Tumblr, or some other platform where you can ensure that offense is never given. (If one gets a job doing this, it will be by appointment, not election.) The person will pass from the bubble of college to the bubble of social enforcement, keen on perfecting the world. And for the rest of his or her or xer professional life, they’ll be shouting BE QUIET to a calm, rational adult who is too terrified to say “you’re a terrible child who understands nothing. Go to your room.”

These people will produce nothing. They will create no great art, write no symphonies, conjure no novels that speak across the decades, sculpt nothing of beauty. The world outside the bubble is irredeemable. It cannot, of course, be remade all at once, but tomorrow’s a new day. Rome wasn’t wrecked in a day.

Of late, virtue signaling seems to be several times more common than actual virtue.

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Youngsters dispatched

The man behind Daily Thunder asked this last night:

The Sixers got off to a 24-18 first-quarter lead over the temporarily (we hope) Durant-less Thunder, and maybe Young got a little antsy. (Anthony Morrow got the start in KD’s place.) Eventually OKC righted itself, led by five at the half, and blew it open after that. There wasn’t quite as much offense as the home crowd was used to seeing — mostly, the Thunder shot below 40 percent — but there was pretty fair defense: Serge Ibaka blocked seven shots, and Philadelphia came up with exactly three fast-break points for the night. And there was Russell Westbrook, who put up yet another triple-double (21 points / 17 rebounds / 11 assists), adding a smidgen of credence to the notion that Westbrook is at his best when Durant is wearing a suit. (The seventeen rebounds, incidentally, constitute a career high.) The Sixers, derided as a motley collection of rookies and D-Leaguers, played with a fair amount of spirit, but not enough to avoid their ninth straight loss — or their nineteenth, if you count their 0-10 collapse at the end of last season. Oklahoma City 102, Philadelphia 85, and we will try not to notice that the Thunder won three, lost three, and then won three. OKC dominated most of the statistical categories, and kept the turnovers down to 11, about half what they were giving up earlier in the season.

There were signs of life in the Sixers: Nerlens Noel, doubtful before gametime, turned out to be available, and led all Philly scorers with 13 while collecting 11 rebounds. Vaunted rookie center Jahlil Okafor was held to six points on 3-18 shooting. Unheralded (and undrafted) rookie point guard T. J. McConnell looked pretty good, if pretty raw. Still, the Sixers are 0 and 9, and face the Spurs in San Antonio tomorrow, which doesn’t look like an opportunity to improve on that record. The Warriors, who have tonight off, are still 10-0. And the Celtics will be in OKC on Sunday.



This started out as a legitimate inquiry:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: What MPG does a 2004 Ford Expedition get?

And then it went downhill quickly:

Looking to buy an SUV and came across an ad for a 2004 Ford Expedition XLT NBX 5.4L 4WD. The first thing I wondered was what is it’s MPG? Online says it gets 14/18, but the same source says my Dakota gets 12/17 and it averages 16 mpg around town. I am hoping there is somebody out there who has/had one and knows the exact MPG … or what you get at least.

Anyone who believes there is such a thing as “exact MPG” deserves to get single-digit mileage. Or worse.

Incidentally, reports 12/16, so I have no idea what this character means by “online.”

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So close, yet so far away

I have been mourning about this — at a lowish level, because appearances — pretty much all week:

Digitour Slay Bells Tour 2015 featuring Rebecca Black

And the tour is coming here, except that it’s not: there’s the Ice segment, as advertised here, and there’s the Fire segment, which is the one we’re actually going to get (on 9 December). The closest Ice will come is Omaha, on the 22nd.

So no Rebecca Black for me this fall. Would I actually have shelled out one hundred twenty-five American dollars for VIP admission to the Diamond freaking Ballroom?

You better believe it.


A full-fledged river

And now, boys and girls, the single most-often streamed song in the entire history of streamed songs, at least on Spotify:

Yep. Five hundred twenty-six million streams since its release in March. Must have made the creators at least fifty bucks by now.

At first, I was wondering if “Lean On” got so many streams because it was catchy enough to listen to but not enough to buy, but its #4 charting in Billboard suggests otherwise. And the video, which has something like 750 million views, has Turkish subtitles, which fascinates me, given that this is an American group with a French DJ, the singer is Danish, and most of the exterior photography was shot in India. (This is positive multiculturalism, dammit.)

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No more Hassel

The Hoff he has been, and The Hoff he shall remain forevermore:

Actor David Hasselhoff has “dropped the Hassel” from his life, officially changing his name to David Hoff.

The Baywatch and Knight Rider star, whose nickname is The Hoff, made the announcement in a video uploaded to YouTube.

And why the hell not? I mean, it’s less dramatic a change than, say, that undergone by Jack Roy.


No such luck

I have generally steered clear of online dating, mostly for the same reason I have generally steered clear of offline dating: my expectations dance just barely above the null set. And I don’t know how well I could take something like this:

Then again, my life has had its similarly Dangerfieldian moments. And now that I think about it, poor Rodney’s headstone reads: “THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD.”

(Via the presumably datable — though not by me — @SwiftOnSecurity.)

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All this and World War III

Severian on the possibility, or lack thereof, of World Peace:

Let’s be generous and say that Trump, Carson, Rubio, Sanders, and Clinton are all viable candidates. Sadly, if “preventing World War III” is your top priority, your best options are the Kumbayah Kids, Carson and Sanders … and they might inadvertently provoke it by unilaterally disarming (Carson is a gun-grabber from way back, and Sanders, bless his senile old soul, really does think you can trade in an aircraft carrier for some inner city midnight basketball programs). Trump and Rubio might let the missiles fly because they think that’s what they’re supposed to do, and Clinton might do it to show she’s got a bigger dick than any of them. (Admittedly, Vlad and the Chinese can do whatever they want in the world provided they send a big enough check to her “charitable foundation,” but the danger there is that she might think the US Army is her own personal collection agency.)

A coherent policy, forcefully stated by a credible spokesman, prevents all of this.

Yeah, but what are the chances of getting either of those? Arguably the hardest of the hardasses in the campaign is Carly Fiorina, and vis-à-vis Vlad the Exhaler she’s basically Trump 2.0.


She don’t lie, she don’t lie

Wait a minute. Maybe she do lie:

The humble potato may be a good source of carbohydrates and vitamins, but few would turn to the vegetable in search of a high.

However, a man stopped by police on suspicion of taking narcotics in Brest, western France, turned out to be sniffing nothing other than mashed potato powder.

The attention of the police was aroused when they spotted two men, one of whom was holding his phone horizontally and appearing to sniff something. They were able to make out a white line on the surface of the phone, and suspected that the man was taking cocaine.

In a twist the late Roger Ebert would have characterized as part of an “idiot plot”:

[O]ne of the men had just bought some LSD from the other, who had offered him a line of cocaine as a “bonus.”

But the inquiries took a turn for the bizarre when the powder was formally examined. In a stroke of luck for the accused, he was let off when the powdery substance proved not to be cocaine, but mashed potato starch.

The vendor, meanwhile, was held for questioning over the LSD matter, since it is not illegal to snort spuds, even in France.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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