It’s scam-tastic!

There are times when I think the criminally sneaky aren’t even trying anymore, and this is one of them:

When Robert Kleven switched on the news for his drive to work two weeks ago, he had no idea he was about to sink a high-profile lawsuit against General Motors Co. and embarrass one of the best-known plaintiffs’ lawyers in the U.S.

The news anchor described a long-awaited trial starting in federal court in Manhattan that day, the first over a deadly defect in millions of GM ignition switches. The plaintiff was a 49-year-old postman named Robert Scheuer. Kleven, a real estate agent in Tulsa, Oklahoma, knew that name. Two years earlier, he said in an interview, Scheuer had pulled a fast one on him.

Scheuer had altered a government check stub to make it look like he had hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bank, Kleven said. On the strength of that stub, Kleven had let Scheuer and his wife, Lisa, move in to a new house in suburban Tulsa before they had paid for it.

Said Kleven: “I didn’t want them getting away with another scam.” Let’s look at that check stub:

Check stub allegedy faked up by Robert Scheuer

Of those six digits before the decimal place, only the last three were legit. You’d think this would have been obvious after a cursory inspection.

Scheuer’s attorney, Robert Hilliard, was apparently readying a strategy to portray Scheuer and his wife as the All-American Family whose lives had been ruined when their Saturn Ion went berserk and crashed into a tree. Unanswered: the question of why someone with 400k to toss around would be driving a Saturn Ion, fercrissake.

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Tacos 101

And really, it shouldn’t be a surprise:

At the University of Kentucky, taco knowledge is power.

And why wouldn’t it be? In a time when tortillas are outselling bread and salsa is outselling ketchup in the US, the last thing anyone wants to be is ignorant about tacos — especially in the state of Kentucky. The state has one of the fastest-growing Latino populations in the country.

This semester, the university is offering an undergraduate course called “Taco Literacy: Public Advocacy and Mexican Food in the US South.” Led by Steven Alvarez, an assistant professor in the university’s Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies department, the class aims to teach students about Mexican foodways in Kentucky and the broader South.

Asked about the syllabus, Professor Alvarez answered:

You can find everything you would like to know at our website. We’re examining transnational community food literacies and how these connect the stories of people and food across borders. We explore the history of networks of Mexican and Mexican-American food in Kentucky by writing about recipes and rhetorics that deal with things such as authenticity, local variations and preparations, and how food literacies situate different spaces, identity, and forms of knowledge.

And at least it’s not called “Chalupa Studies.”

(Via Cameron Aubernon, who notes: “Sonata Dusk will be enrolling ASAP.”)

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More useless advice

Recently arrived in the spam trap:

Have you ever thought about adding a little bit more than just your articles? I mean, what you say is valuable and everything. However think of if you added some great visuals or video clips to give your posts more, “pop”! Your content is excellent but with pics and videos, this website could undeniably be one of the very best in its field. Very good blog!

This might have carried a little more weight had the sender been identified as something other than “Free porn XXX Slut MILF.”

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High ferocity

It is a measure of the sort of game this was — “chippy,” said radio guy Matt Pinto — that when Dwight Howard was thumbed for his second technical foul, the first thought that came to mind was “Aw, crap, who do we get to foul now?” Howard’s lack of prowess from the stripe is legendary: he was 4-15 tonight. But the man can defend, and without him, the Rockets’ 12-point lead totally evaporated and an endless barrage of three-point shots failed to yield many points. Not that the Thunder minded: they hadn’t beaten the Rockets in almost two years, and when Houston called timeout with 3:25 left, OKC was up by 14 and the Thunder were actively mocking them. Seriously. After old nemesis Patrick Beverley bounced one off the backboard at the shot-clock buzzer, Russell Westbrook gave him a side-eye you would not believe; said Royce Young, “That needs to be GIF’d into eternity.” The Rockets rallied, as the Rockets will, but the Thunder prevailed, 116-108, evening the season series at 1-1 with two to play.

Houston did not help itself with lousy shooting from the floor: 38 percent overall, and nine of 39 (!) treys, 23 percent. James Harden was, of course, James Harden-like when possible; his 33 points came from 8-22 shooting and 15 of 17 free throws, including four of five in the last two minutes. And generally, the Rockets’ defense was at least plausible. But this was a night for the home team: Kevin Durant logged another double-double (33 points, 12 rebounds) and Westbrook picked up yet another triple-double, 26-10-14. What’s more, two other Thunder players had 10 rebounds — Steven Adams and Enes Kanter — and Kanter, who’d scored only two points in the first half, bagged 20 in the second.

There were, of course, too many turnovers, particularly late when that 14-point Thunder lead started to erode. There will be time, though, to discuss that: the Wizards won’t be here until Monday, and the Magic two days afterwards.

Addendum: No GIF yet, but Bleacher Report captured it on Vine.

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New anchor at the Zombie Mall

Old trademarks must be going for peanuts these days:

Back in 2009, the medium-box consumer electronics chain Circuit City closed. Systemax, the owner of TigerDirect, acquired the brand’s website and customer list, and kept it going until 2012. Late last year, Systemax decided to shut down its technology business, and that included selling the twice-defunct Circuit City brand. Now yet another company has acquired the brand and wants to make a go of it as physical retail stores.

They are doing one thing differently this time:

Their launch plan, as described to TWICE, the publication that broke this story, will begin this summer with a website and one location in Dallas, and as many as 100 stores across the country in major yet affordable metropolitan areas over the next year.

I’m reading this as San Antonio, probably; San Francisco, probably not so much. And hey, at least they’re not subletting Radio Shack stores.

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Not so much shade

Two things happened yesterday: I contracted to have dead tree stuff removed from the back yard, in the interest of making it a more pleasant place to soak up the sun once temperatures get less wintry, and the AANR Bulletin arrived in the mail, with a cover story about drones.

Drones? Drones:

Since [the] Supreme Court’s 1946 decision (United States v. Causby), it has been generally accepted that the property rights of a homeowner end 83 feet above the ground — the height of an eight-story building. In a world of drones with telephoto lenses, this ruling now seems useless for protecting our privacy rights.

This decision held:

Cujus est solum ejus est usque ad coelum et ad inferos (“Whoever owns the soil, it is theirs, all the way to Heaven and all the way to Hell”) has no legal authority in the United States when pertaining to the sky. A man does not have control and ownership over the airspace of their property except within reasonable limits to utilize their property. Airspace above a set minimum height is property of the Masses and no one man can accuse airplanes or other such craft within of trespassing on what they own.

Then again, Google Street View can catch you even without going airborne.

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Bring your own flux capacitor

Otherwise, it’s almost as it was before:

Thanks to the wonderful-but-flawed low-volume “Low Volume Motor Vehicle Manufacturers Act” (H.R. 2675) , it’s now legal for the company that bought all of the old leftover DeLorean parts to start putting them together to make new DMC-12s. And this time it seems like it’ll actually happen, starting early next year.

Stainless-steel body panels? Check. Doors that rise to meet the sky? Check. 2.8-liter Peugeot-Renault-Volvo V6? Not a chance:

They’re looking at three possible suppliers, two domestic, one foreign. There’s one favorite though, and the engine that’s the frontrunner is a normally-aspirated V6 making between 300-400 hp.

As opposed to 130 hp from that old European boat anchor. And really, this is to be expected, says the company:

The vehicles must meet current Clean Air Act standards for the model year in which they are produced. The new law allows the low volume vehicle manufacturer to meet the standards by installing an engine and emissions equipment produced by another automaker (GM, Ford, etc.) for a similar EPA-certified vehicle configuration or a create engine that has been granted a California Air Resources Board (CARB) Executive Order (EO). This reasonable regulatory reform will also spur innovation, including advances in alternative-fuel and green vehicle technologies.

Said boat anchor wouldn’t come close to meeting contemporary standards, for emissions or for anything else.

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Not the original recipe

At least, I assume it isn’t:

But can you see the Russian Tea Room from there?

Note: 0161, if I remember correctly, is around Manchester.

(Via Liz Mair.)

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Presumably at premium prices

Wefuel is an app (iOS only so far) that enables the stranded or lazy (or both) driver to have gasoline delivered to wherever his vehicle happens to be, assuming that it’s in their service area. For now, it’s strictly a San Francisco Bay area thing, but if it finds customers, it’s sure to expand.

I’m not quite sure what I think of this. I am far more often lazy than stranded, but I have a schedule structured enough to hit up a Shell every other week. (Road trips aside, I drive maybe 7,000 miles a year.) On the one hand, I have to agree with Pete Bigelow of Autoblog:

There are two kinds of people: those who like to save money and those who like to save time. Wefuel will appeal to the latter. The app lets workers fuel up while sitting at their desks rather than adding time to their commutes. It allows them to plan for the road trip without making a special trip to the gas station to fill up.

Then again, I can also see the point being made by Sebastian Blanco of Autoblog:

Wefuel is the epitome of Silicon Valley nonsense. No one needs this (emergencies excluded), but now some people will want it. Silicon Valley wants us to think that our phones will solve all of our problems, but when that “solution” means that you get lazier and someone else does your work for you while adding extra pollution to the air, that’s an easy pass. Still, it makes someone else do your work for you, so Wefuel will undoubtedly be a tremendous hit.

Wait a minute. Our phones won’t solve all of our problems?

I’m thinking, we don’t flinch at paying $3 (plus a tip) to have $30 worth of pizza delivered. I’m pretty sure we won’t flinch at paying something comparably nominal for $30 worth of gas. And now I wonder if they can do custom octane blends.

If this premise has any possibility of hitting it big, there should be a rival, right? Here it comes.

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You ain’t seen nothing yeti

The Jonathan Richman/Modern Lovers studio recording of “Abominable Snowman in the Market” turned up on the shuffle yesterday, and it was so exasperatingly catchy I simply had to pass along some version of it. Ultimately, I opted for this live take from that wondrous year of 1976:

I’m not sure if this or “Lonely Financial Zone” is the weirder song. Maybe it doesn’t matter.

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Marked for death by Information Services (12)

All CAPTCHAs are annoying, but some are more annoying than others, and the one with the four-by-three grid of thumbnails — “Select all photos containing X” — currently sets the curve for Maximum Farking Irritation, especially if you have to go through several cycles to persuade it to shut the fark up.

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Question of the ages

Ages over 21, anyway:

I imagine it’s about the same reason we non-celebrities are similarly plagued, with the additional proviso that celebrities who are not so plagued — see, for instance, Zooey Deschanel — are considered to have “fat knees.”

Zooey Deschanel slouches a bit

Doesn’t mean, of course, that ZD is always going to look like this. (If nothing else, it encourages saving pictures; this shot is probably two or three hairstyles ago.)

Angelina Jolie in an LBDReading the actual Scottish Daily Mail article, incidentally, cost me 99 cents through PressReader: the not-Scottish (and therefore crap) Daily Mail doesn’t provide a gateway to this edition. It quotes a physician who blames sarcopenia, the loss of muscle mass that afflicts those of a Certain Age, and perhaps afflicts celebrities worse because they’re trying so hard to be thin and spindly. Included with the article was a shot of Angelina Jolie cranked down to Maximum Knob, as seen here, and examples which are, incredibly, even worse. (Do not go Googling any recent shots of, say, Catherine Zeta-Jones.) This is the sort of circumstance, I believe, that calls for a somewhat-lower hemline; however, Hollywood types are not known for taking my advice, and very likely never will. I do not know if high-heel abuse is a factor here, though it seems at least somewhat possible, given the distortions of the frame that seem inevitable with the elevation. The physician suggests that if you can’t rise from a seated position without using your hands, you’re already on the wrong side of the scale; for me, with my architecturally questionable knees, it depends on the height of the seat. Then again, no one, I’m quite certain, is wanting to see my legs, which, this being the dead of winter, are, in Johnny Carson’s phrase, “the color of a born gosling.”

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Fonts of non-wisdom

Typefaces in the news! (And how often do you see that?)

Font Brothers America has a perfectly dreadful set called Generation B, which has been used on almost everything Hasbro has issued from this generation of My Little Pony. Font Brothers is now suing Hasbro for, according to the legal filing [pdf], not less than $150,000 per infringement. This is a hell of a lot of money, especially considering that Font Brothers apparently was bragging about Hasbro’s use of the typeface before this legal farrago.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Highway Administration, which approved the use of the Clearview font on highway signs in place of the traditional Highway Gothic, has now rescinded that approval, pointing out that much of the improved legibility attributed to Clearview was actually due simply to having new signs made. Worse, on hazard signs, Clearview offers no improvement and may make matters worse. Fortunately, no one’s going to have to go back and retrofit the signs they’ve already replaced once.

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You again, again

The third Thunder-Timberwolves game of the month — they previously met on the 12th and the 15th, and it means absolutely nothing that 12 + 15 = 27 — offered not-even-slightly-mute testimony to the value of a strong bench, something the Thunder didn’t have last night in New York. OKC, trailing much of the night, came up with a nine-point lead midway through the fourth quarter, which the Wolves promptly gnawed down to two. But OKC did not quite yield, and when Zack LaVine, who’d made 12 of 14 at that point, put up a ball from two feet beyond the arc that fell three feet short of the rim, that was it for the Wolves: the roller-coaster continued for a bit over a minute, which took about 10 minutes to complete, and when things finally ground to a halt, it was Oklahoma City 126, Minnesota 123, 3-0 in the season series (the fourth game will be on the 11th of March), and 3-1 on this road trip.

Strong benches. That’s where you find LaVine, who finished with 35 points, a season high and two points his career high, on 14-17 shooting, 5-8 from outside. The Minnesota reserves cranked out 57 points. The Thunder managed 45, and might have had more had not Cameron Payne taken a head shot that wound up looking awfully concussion-y; he, of course, did not return. Enes Kanter delivered 23 of those 45. Among the starting Wolves, Gorgui Djeng led with 21, with super-rooks Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns claiming 20 and 19. Meanwhile, it’s another Russell Westbrook double-double (24 points, 15 dimes) and 27 from Kevin Durant. Still, towards the end I got to wondering how anyone was still standing after all these shots. The Wolves hit 50 of 90, the Thunder 48 of 91, both comfortably above 50 percent.

Back at home, albeit presumably without Payne and definitely without Roberson, the next foe will be the usually-deadly Houston Rockets, who at this writing are being spanked by the Spurs. Of course, that won’t matter the day after tomorrow.

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A hunny of a job

This has to be somebody’s dream job:

Exhibitions Research Assistant — Winnie-the-Pooh, Victoria & Albert Museum

Fixed term position (4 days per week) position until July 2017

The Victoria & Albert Museum is the world’s leading museum of art and design. We enrich people’s lives by promoting the practice of design and increasing knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of the designed world.

The V&A is seeking an Exhibition Research Assistant for a fixed term contract to July 2017 to be based within the Word & Image department.

A practically-minded person is required to assist in the development and delivery of the exhibition, in particular to assist with research on subject areas and object cataloguing, object moves and curatorial administration. The Research Assistant will also assist the Exhibition Curators to deliver the accompanying publication and events.

“What do you do?”

“Oh, I’m the Winnie-the-Pooh specialist at the Victoria and Albert Museum.”

The sheer delight of saying that might make up for the relative emptiness of one’s pay packet: museum positions are seldom well-paid.

(Via Fern Riddell.)

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Half-chewed bullet

The Attorney General offers to take one for the state, kinda sorta:

Attorney General Scott Pruitt sent a letter Monday to Gov. Mary Fallin and legislative leaders, asking that about $6 million in state appropriations for his office be withheld in the next budget in view of financial problems affecting the state.

A hole of about $900 million is expected in the next state budget as revenues have fallen because of a downturn in the oil industry.

Asking for a decrease in the budget? Unpossible!

But that’s not quite the whole picture:

The current fiscal year appropriation to the attorney general’s office is more than $13 million, but the office’s overall budget exceeds $40 million when federal grants, revolving funds, case settlements and legal counsel contracts are considered.

The money Pruitt asked to be withheld represents operations expenditures. This year, operations funds totaled $6.4 million in his budget.

“We’re able to absorb the loss of that appropriations through cost savings in the office,” said Aaron Cooper, a spokesman for Pruitt. He said no salaries would be cut.

The fun part of this, apart from the spectacle of an actual state official asking for less funding, something you don’t see too often, is imagining Mary Fallin’s reaction. I mean, what’s she gonna do, turn Pruitt down?

Note: This was in the Tuesday Oklahoman, page 3A, but I couldn’t find it on NewsOK, and while I am a subscriber and can get through the Oklahoman paywall, you probably aren’t.

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