Now shut your duct

The title here pretty much says it all: “Bus driver contests termination after Hello Kitty duct tape incident.”

Let’s look at that incident:

A bus driver will no longer be transporting students to and from Surry Elementary School after she was accused of putting Hello Kitty duct tape on students’ mouths.

Surry Elementary School principal Cathy Lewis said she became aware of the issue on Nov. 6 when two fourth graders came off the bus complaining that they were silenced with duct tape even though they weren’t the loudest students on the bus.

Lewis said she was shocked and immediately asked the bus company, First Student, that employs the driver, to investigate.

In fact, this duct tape is almost certainly Duck® tape, sold in ten- and twenty-yard rolls.

I wonder if any of these kids will be scarred once they realize that what was put over their mouths was an image of a character who has no mouth.

Warning: Those Bangor Daily News links may ask you some demographic question before letting you read.

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Glued to the showroom floor

Autoblog has compiled a list of the Worst-Selling Vehicles of 2013. To get on this list, a car or truck must have been priced under $100,000 — no limited-edition supercars, thank you very much — and must have been on sale for the entire year. The best-seller of the bunch moved fewer than 2,000 copies; it was the only domestic, and the only truck, in the bunch — and, oddly, it was up a couple of percentage points from 2012.

But enough about the Escalade EXT. What you want to know is the identity of the Absolutely Worst, and it’s an Acura, though not the RL sedan so roundly rejected by Canadians. Instead, it’s the ZDX sport-utility, spun off the successful MDX, offering less space at a higher price. In 2012, Acura moved 775 of them, versus more than 50,000 of its brandmate; in 2013, they unloaded a mere 361. Still, this is hardly the worst-selling car ever.

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Going to eleven

Nothing Tufnel about it: that just happens to be the number of questions being asked. (Blame Roger.)

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This stuff’s made in … Mexico?

It’s a tradition of long standing to mock purveyors of ostensible Mexican food who hail from, um, places where one might not expect to find purveyors of ostensible Mexican food.

I am amused to note, therefore, that Taco Bell’s branded supermarket-package taco shells, produced under license by Kraft Foods, are, according to the box, made in Mexico. In terms of flavor or quality control, it seems to make no difference; but by now, they could be making taco shells in Saskatchewan and nobody except ad agencies and obsessives like me would ever notice.

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Clankity-clank

Even a team strongly identified with defense, as the Thunder is, has to score now and then. When they don’t, well, it’s not pretty, and by “not pretty” I mean a thousand million times worse than horrible plug-ugly. In the first 14 minutes of the second half, OKC scored 15 points. Let me repeat that: fifteen points in fourteen minutes. At the time, Denver was up 25, without the services of either Danilo Gallinari or Wilson Chandler. None of the Thunder starters reported for fourth-quarter duty, Scott Brooks having decided that the bench needed the practice. Brian Shaw made no such decision for the Nuggets. In some weird form of Basketball Karma, Denver managed only seven points in the first ten minutes of the fourth quarter, but it was too late to make any difference; the Nuggets eased out of the building with a 101-88 win.

You want a Telltale Statistic? Try this one on for size: Ty Lawson had fourteen assists. Eleven Thunder players combined managed only eleven. Lawson also scored 16 points. Randy Foye hit six of nine treys on the way to 24 points. (The Thunder in aggregate made six of 24.) Evan Fournier headed the Denver bench with 19.

It was another case of Kevin Durant Can’t Do Everything, Guys. He knocked out 30 points in 28 minutes; Reggie Jackson, still trying to be something more than Westbrook Lite, gathered 13, and Derek Fisher tossed up four treys in eight tries for 12. (Which means that Thunder players not named Derek Fisher were 2-16 from beyond the arc.) Serge Ibaka was back, collecting his usual ten rebounds and three blocks, but he went 3-11 from the floor, and he was hardly the worst. (That would be Jeremy Lamb, who went 1-12.)

It’s tempting to say “Oh, well, at least we can beat up on the Bucks Saturday night.” At the moment, I’m thinking Milwaukee is about due for a win.

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Fast and frivolous

This may have all the plausibility of the Penthouse Forum, but trust me, this really came from Yahoo (now with no exclamation point!) Answers:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Where can i buy a powerful clutch for an R34 Skyline in the US?

Continuing:

I was in my R34 last night on a long back road going for a top speed run and see how fast my car can go and see how far i can jump the bridge at the end of the road, so i was a mile from the bridge and i was going 205 MPH and it was in 6th gear and i had the Nitrous activated, after i got the nos blasted i jumped the bridge about 30 yards but when i landed, i heard a loud crash and i immediately started shifting down, i got out and there was smoke everywhere and my heart was pounding, i thought i blew the motor but i looked under the car and saw that i blew the clutch out, its a Fluke racing clutch that can handle the power my car has but since its out, i need a new one, where can i get a clutch for an R34 Skyline in the US?

How many actual R34s are there in the States? Pretty damned few.

An actual Nissan tech responded as politely as he could without going into guffaws.

And if the clutch could handle that much power, wouldn’t it still be there?

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So by-God stubborn

The Iowa State Fair is going cashless, and some people have a problem with that:

A plan to eliminate cash sales at food vendors and other Iowa State Fair attractions drew strong backlash from Iowans soon after the new system was made public Tuesday, with some threatening to boycott the iconic summer event.

Officials said Tuesday that fairgoers will go “cashless” in 2014. Instead, visitors will buy tickets to use at food concessions and to ride the Giant Slide. The Midway is not included in the new plan.

Many objections were raised, but this was my favorite:

“It’s a tactic to get people to spend more money than they normally would. Similar to theft but with funnel cakes,” Bill Heydenreich wrote on the [Des Moines] Register’s Facebook wall.

The Texas State Fair went cashless years ago; the Colorado State Fair started a refillable-card system last year.

Update: That which can be done can also be undone.

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On your mark

“They’re always changing corporation names,” sniffed Grace Slick in “We Built This City.” And they’re not always changing them well, it appears. In an effort to ameliorate this situation, from the very city Slick and the Airplane and/or Starship built, expert namer Nancy Friedman presents a new deal:

Need fast feedback about a naming dilemma? On a tight budget? You can now hire my expert naming services by the minute — yes, one-sixtieth of an hour — through Clarity.fm, a year-old San Francisco company that connects entrepreneurs with experts, over the phone, for advice on business challenges.

In a 15-, 30-, or 45-minute phone conversation (or longer, if you have the stamina), I can review your naming objectives and criteria, give you a quick professional critique of your top name choices, and point out areas you may have overlooked.

And if it should turn out that you actually need her full-service, not-over-the-phone advice, well, you can set that up too.

Clarity.fm’s How It Works page explains, well, how it works. To me, this scheme seems downright ingenious, especially since many of the folks who really need to consult some sort of expert may have no idea where or how to find one.

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H8ers again

According to various strings hidden hither and yon in the operating system, I’m running Windows 5.1. (You may know it better as XP.) Windows, say the wags, runs the opposite of Star Trek films: the odd-numbered versions are good, the even-numbered versions (like Vista, which was 6) not so good.

Warren Meyer of Coyote Blog complained about Win8 last year:

Like Windows Vista, it is an absolutely awful OS that our company has banned any employee from using on a company machine.

He kept it out of his house, too, until his son needed a new laptop. And now he reports that it’s even worse than he thought:

The system boots up into a tiled mess that looks like some cheesy website covered in moving gifs and viagra ads. To make matters worse, nothing on this tablet-based interface is organized at all logically. The interface is like the room of an ADD child that dropped all of his toys and books in random spots. I am sure these tiles have some sort of navigation paradigm, but it is completely different from any used in past windows versions. I could not, for example, figure out how to easily exit the store except to alt-tab out (there is no exit or quit option and right-click context menus which are one of the great advantages of windows over mac don’t seem to work a lot of the time). Again, I am sure there is some way to do it, but I have no idea what it is and no desire to learn new navigation commands. Perhaps Microsoft intends that one use a gamepad instead of a mouse — I would not be surprised at this point.

There are, I’m sure, third-party tools to avoid this particular pixelgasm, but I’m not sure I’d want to install them on a machine used by a tot.

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This color seems familiar

Once upon a time there was a lad named Orchis, son of a satyr and a nymph, and once at a bacchanal he’d indulged a bit too heavily and forced himself upon a maiden, who turned out to be a priestess. Bad move, which resulted in his being torn limb from limb; after watching the replay, the gods decided to reconfigure the young fellow as a flower.

And a darn nice flower he was, it seems, though I have to wonder how much influence he has on 21st-century Pantone:

Pantone 2014 Color of the Year - Radiant Orchid“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid [PANTONE 18-3224] reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.

“An enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones, Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”

Hmmm. Have I ever been captivated by purple?

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Degrees of guesswork

I’ve looked at dozens of wind chill charts, both the old formula and the new one, and they always leave me scratching my head: “What does this really mean?” The answer, it appears, is “Not a whole hell of a lot”:

The weatherman’s favorite alarmist statistic has been around for more than 60 years. Its ignoble history began with a pair of Antarctic explorers named Paul Siple and Charles Passel. In 1945, the two men left plastic bottles of water outside in the wind and observed the rate at which they froze. The equation they worked out used the wind speed and air temperature to describe the rate at which the bottles gave off heat, expressed in watts per square meter.

In the 1970s, the Canadian weather service started reporting numbers based on Siple and Passel’s work. These three- and four-digit values meant little to the average person, however — the “wind chill factor” might have been 1,200 one day and 1,800 the next. American weathermen took a more pragmatic approach, converting the output from the Siple-Passel equation into the familiar language of temperature — statements like “it’s 5 degrees outside, but it feels like 40 below.” What exactly did these phrases mean? The meteorologists would figure the rate of heat loss in watts per square meter and then try to match it up to an equivalent rate produced in low-wind conditions. For example, the rate of heat loss in 5-degree weather and 30 mph wind matched up with the one for minus-40-degree weather and very little wind. So, 5 degrees “felt like” 40 below.

This might make sense, maybe, if we all felt the same way. But we don’t, and frankly, I am uncomfortable with substituting “To me, it feels like …” in the place of actual data. A corrected version was conjured up. Now just imagine why this might not apply to you:

[T]hey geared their calculations toward people who are 5 feet tall, somewhat portly, and walk at an even clip directly into the wind. They also left out crucial variables that have an important effect on how we experience the weather, like solar radiation. Direct sunlight can make us feel 10 to 15 degrees warmer, even on a frigid winter day. The wind chill equivalent temperature, though, assumes that we’re taking a stroll in the dead of night.

This is the current chart:

Wind chill chart circa 2001

Note the formula, which very nearly defies comprehension.

My own quick-and-dirty routine, which I’ve used for at least a decade, seems, if Wikipedia is to be believed, to have an official name: the McMillan Coefficient. Take the temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, subtract the wind speed in miles per hour. If it’s 25° out and you have a 10-mph wind, it’s gonna feel like fifteen.

Coming this summer, maybe: why the heat index also sucks.

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Reverse that scoop

“Graphic necklines,” said InStyle (2/14, page 100), and asked “Are you ready to dip?”

This is evidently the inverse of the classic sweetheart neckline:

Dakota Fanning in Valentino

Valentino has worked well for Dakota Fanning over the years, but this may be overdoing — or pretending to be overdoing — that whole “modesty” bit.

God (or Saks) only knows what the dress (from the fall ’13 collection) cost, but the shoes, also from Valentino, can be had for a mere $895. Stylebop says it’s a kitten heel, but if so, that’s a damn big cat.

(With thanks to Because I Am Fabulous.)

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Nanoe, nanoe

With any hair dryer, the operative syllable is “dry”; that’s what it does to your hair, and that’s also what it does to your hair, if you know what I mean.

Well, delete “any,” and say hello to Panasonic’s EH-NA65-K, which you can call “nanoe”:

Our unique nanoe™ technology takes the moisture from your hair and in the air, and uses it to create tiny, moisture-rich particles that are small enough to penetrate the shafts of your hair, helping to strengthen and protect it against damage from heat and brushing.

Just remember that it’s three syllables: na-no-E.

Geeknado reports from CES:

Panasonic will be showing off the $179 blowdryer at its CES booth, where journalists can spare a few hotel towels and have their hair dried at the conference instead.

“Correct me if I’m mistaken, but I think we’re the first to offer a salon service on the CES floor,” said Julie Bauer, President of Panasonic Consumer Electronics, who clearly wasn’t lying earlier in the morning when she said Panasonic was more than just a TV company.

They also make digital cameras, one of which I have owned for several years now.

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Sub-rosa spaceway

He’s not saying that they’re aliens, mind you, but — oh, wait, he is saying that they’re aliens:

It’s not necessarily shocking to hear somebody claim that at least four different species of aliens have visited the Earth, for thousands of years. But it is somewhat more shocking when that person was once in charge of much of Canada’s military, Paul Hellyer. In a wild interview with Russia Today, the former Canadian Minister of National Defense said that aliens would give us more technology if we would be less warlike. As it is, they are concerned about the effects our nukes might have on the universe.

And apparently the visits have become more frequent since Hiroshima:

There has been more alien activity since the first nuclear bombs were detonated in 1945, he said. “They are very much afraid we might be stupid enough to start using atomic weapons again and that would be very bad for us and them as well.” If we were more peaceful, they would be more willing to share their technology with us, he said. According to his website, in September 2005 Hellyer “became the first person of cabinet rank in the G8 group of countries to state unequivocally ‘UFO’s are as real as the airplanes flying overhead.'”

Klaatu was not available for comment.

Incidentally, Hellyer, if asked, will tell you that the most important issue of the age is monetary reform; perhaps the Canadian dollar will soon be convertible to quatloos.

(Via this Jennifer Ouellette tweet.)

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It’s an email from your pot roast

Wait a minute. Isn’t the whole idea of a Crock-Pot to avoid constantly fiddling with dinner?

If ever there was a sign that the “Internet of Things” is finally here, it’s the internet connected Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker launched at CES in Las Vegas this week.

Costing $99 (£66) when it launches in the US in the coming weeks, the internet-connected slow cooker uses Belkin’s WeMo connected tech to connect to the internet and then be controlled via your phone when you are out of the house.

Once it’s connected to the internet, you have full control over the cooker via the WeMo app, be that in your home or anywhere in the world for that matter.

I dunno. Goes against my grain, I guess.

Goes against Bill Quick’s grain, too, but for a different reason:

Great. Now the NSA will be monitoring what you’re having for dinner tonight.

They’ll probably just hand it off to HHS, so Sebelius can see if you’re eating an Approved Diet.

But yeah, that’s enough to kill the deal right there.

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Jazz handle it

This can’t be the same Utah Jazz who lost 25 of their first 36 games, can it? But here they are, up 30-28 after 12 minutes, 59-47 at the half, 90-74 going into the fourth after leading by as many as 24 — and then Something Happened. Were there gloves, the gloves would have been off. Both sides were out of fouls within three minutes. Just after the halfway point, Oklahoma City pulled to within eight; they would close to within five before a pair of Gordon Hayward treys put it permanently out of reach. Final: Utah 112, OKC 101.

In fact, Hayward managed to make a 48-point Kevin Durant performance look insignificant: the Jazz swingman rolled up a career-high 37 points, including 17 in a row, on a mere 16 shots and 13 free throws. What’s more, he gathered 11 rebounds and served up seven assists. And five other Jazzmen scored in double figures; the only player who didn’t make at least half his shots — the Jazz were over 50 percent all night and finished at 59 — was rookie point guard Trey Burke, and he still collected 10 points and six rebounds while delivering six dimes.

Admittedly, the Jazz didn’t have to get past Serge Ibaka, who was sidelined with flu-like symptoms. Perry Jones III, who got the start at power forward, is, to be charitable, green: in the 15 minutes he played, he got three rebounds and three fouls, and missed his only shot. And missing shots was something OKC did a lot of: the Thunder took 25 more shots than the Jazz, yet hit five fewer. That’s 39 percent, folks, and if that looks bad, look beyond the arc: six of 34. Miss Beveridge’s School for the Deranged can hit six of 34. If you’re keeping score, Durant’s 48 came on 14-34 shooting, Reggie Jackson was 6-14 for 20, and nobody else broke even ten.

Meanwhile in Denver, the Nuggets were thrashing the Celtics, 129-98. Guess who’s going to Denver Thursday night? Prayers may be in order.

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