Fugmobile

The May Automobile Magazine has a Robert Cumberford article purporting to name the 25 greatest automotive designers. I’m not at all quarreling with his selections — hey, at least he found a place for Erwin Komenda — but this bit jumped out at me:

England is the home of the most extreme styling variations in the automotive world. For every magnificent Jaguar XK-E hit, there are three or four equivalents to the Lea-Francis Lynx.

I suspect the “XK-E” reference to be an editorial judgment on behalf of us Americans, since everywhere else in the world this car was simply called the E-Type, and Cumberford obviously knows that. More perplexing is the Lynx, a 1960 model which I had never seen in the flesh sheetmetal, not even in a photograph.

And apparently there’s a very good reason for that:

1960 Lea-Francis Lynx

Sorry, no eye-bleach dispenser. This vehicle, to say the least, was not a success:

Despite the high hopes of both staff and management, the somewhat unique styling of the Lynx failed to impress the car-buying public, and no orders were received. Three Lynx roadsters were built before Lea-Francis abandoned the project. It was unquestionably a very expensive project for the struggling factory, and doubtless contributed to the eventual closure of the factory.

Although it should be noted that all three cars survive today, indicating that the model wasn’t entirely unloved.

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Quote of the week

Governor Pence has already signed it, but this is what one of his constituents thought about it:

The Religious Freedom law wending its way to the Indiana Governor’s desk should have been easy for the Legislature to write. All they had to do is dig up some of the Jim Crow laws from the Deep and not so Deep South one hundred years ago.

One of his commenters elaborates:

I’m tired of people filing lawsuits because some dumbass narrow-minded idiot uses a religious reason to deny service to someone who violates their sense of right and wrong. The dumbass narrow-minded idiot has a right to his opinion, and the last I looked his business wasn’t owned by the government. A normal person thus dismissed would simply nod and walk away, and make it clear to everyone he met that the dumbass narrow-minded idiot was a bigot and should be boycotted out of business. That’s his right, too. Then the free market can take over and either the shop stays in business or goes out of business, depending on what the market thinks.

The lawyers who dominate legislatures, however, have thoroughly imbued the American public with the notion that anybody should sue anyone anytime over anything, down to and apparently including mere butthurt.

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1600 and all that

Mister, we could use a man like Calvin Coolidge again:

I want to see — just once! — a competent Chief Executive, someone who appoints the various Directors and Cabinet members on the basis of ability, not on how much money they donated, how stalwart a partisan they are or even plain chumship. I want a President who’ll hold ’em to account and send them packing if they screw up.

I don’t care if he or she is any good at giving speeches. I don’t care if the rest of the world loves them or hates them. I don’t care about the President’s age, ugliness, gender, ethnic background, marital status or religion. I’m hoping not for a hawk or a dove but for someone who is slow to anger and measured but decisive in action, who acts only when action is truly necessary.

The problem, of course, is that someone meeting this general description isn’t likely to run for high office: (s)he knows the primaries are going to be filled up with knaves and fools and such, and those who would be power brokers are attracted to those individuals and to no others.

A pertinent Coolidge quote, from an address he gave in Baltimore in 1924, at the dedication of a monument to Lafayette:

Great changes have come over the world since Lafayette first came here desirous of aiding the cause of freedom. His efforts in behalf of an American republic have been altogether successful. In no other country in the world was economic opportunity for the people ever so great as it is here. In no other country was it ever possible in a like degree to secure equality and justice for all. Just as he was passing off the stage, the British adopted their reform measures giving them practically representative government. His own France has long since been welcomed into the family of republics. Many others have taken a like course. The cause of freedom has been triumphant. We believe it to be, likewise, the cause of peace. But peace must have other guarantees than constitutions and covenants. Laws and treaties may help, but peace and war are attitudes of mind.

That “shining city on a hill” business still works, if we work to maintain its light. Otherwise, darkness spreads, and not the romantic sort with the full moon and the gentle breezes either.

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Very shiny indeed

The General Motors FastLane blog has a feature this month on the first batch of female auto designers in Detroit, hired by GM Chief of Design Harley Earl. In 1958, Earl put together something called “The Spring Fashion Festival of Women Designed Cars,” which featured some of the ideas these women had, which may or may not have been scheduled for production:

The female designers from the Chevrolet, Cadillac, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Buick staffs modified two vehicles from each brand to demonstrate the female point of view. Vehicles displayed included six convertibles, a station wagon and three hardtops.

Not a sedan in the bunch. Then again, who remembers sedans from this era?

Along with stunningly detailed interiors and custom hardware, the designers proposed ideas that would lead to improved safety, including retractable seat belts and open door warning lights. The women also focused heavily on storage in the vehicles, and included a variety of compartments for umbrellas, maps, cameras and even picnic supplies.

In 1958, only one automaker had standard seat belts: Saab. And they were lap belts only; the three-point belt we see today was installed in every ’59 Volvo. GM and the rest of Detroit caught on eventually.

Just on the basis of sheer frippery, this might be my favorite of the bunch, designed by, and photographed with, Marjory Ford Pohlman:

1958 Buick Special Tampico

… the Buick Special Tampico convertible with an alabaster exterior and accents of flaming orange. The compartment between the bucket seats featured space for binoculars and a camera.

Obviously anticipating my needs half a century down the road. What’s more, no one does citrus-y interiors anymore, and besides, this is a ’58 Buick, which weighed something like 4000 lb, and about 400 lb of that was chrome.

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EssentialVision

“Fifty-seven channels,” mused Bruce Springsteen, “and nothin’ on.” And that was 1992. Today, there are more like 157 channels and still nothin’ on, or at least certainly nothin’ like this:

If I had a very large amount of money I wanted to possibly throw away — because I have no idea if anyone other than I would want this — I would start up two new cable channels: “Simply Weather” and “Simply News.” They would be as advertised. “Simply Weather” would be 24-hour-a-day weather forecasts. Each region of the country would get its own forecast at least once an hour (so it could be, for example: New England at the top of the hour, Mid-Atlantic at 10 after, Great Lakes at 20 after) and just repeat it, with the small variations needed as the weather changes, around the clock. And “Simply News” would be just that — half-hour broadcasts of world news. No commentators, no extended programs speculating on missing persons or forensics and no stupid celebrity news. (If a famous person died, that would be mentioned, but there wouldn’t be the idiotic, breathless, “BREAKING NEWS: Kim Kardashian changed her hair color!” stuff). Again, I don’t know if anyone else wants a channel like that but when it’s 8 pm and I kind of want to know what’s going on in the world, I have to go to the computer for that because, as far as I can tell, all the news channels have gone to either commentary programs or something like “Forensic Files.”

In other news, Kim Kardashian changed her hair color. Again.

I suspect, though, that the most effective way to end up with a small fortune in cable television is to start with a large one.

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Another M dashed

From several summers ago:

BMW for many years has affixed the letter M to its highest-performance cars, and they probably didn’t pay much attention when Nissan’s Infiniti division begat M35 and M45 sedans: the Bimmers, after all, had labels like M5 and M6, and anyway Infiniti had had an M30 way back when, which no one would have confused with anything Bavarian. It was probably not a good idea, though, for Infiniti to refer to the M35/M45 collectively as the “M.” And then Infiniti came up with the idea of an M6 sport package for the Canadian-market G35, and BMW drew a line in the legal sand.

A Canadian court has now ruled that BMW owns the M mark.

And now all Infinitis are Qs of some sort. I can’t prove that Mercedes-Benz was listening through the door, but the M-Class is no more:

As part of its efforts to re-brand crossovers, the Mercedes-Benz ML is now the “GLE,” the X5 to the GLE Coupe’s X6.

Along with a diesel 4-cylinder and a gasoline V6 (with or without turbos), there is an AMG version, the GLE63 AMG and an “S” version.

The new GLE is essentially the same W166 Benz it’s been, albeit with a facelift to go with the new badge.

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The many moods of Cindy

I think I’d be frowning too if I had to endure this:

Cindy Crawford gasses up

In other news, Cindy Crawford drives a Bentley. (And premium is $4.399 a gallon in Malibu.)

Let’s try a happier location:

Cindy Crawford on the red carpet at the Golden Globes

I bet she didn’t drive herself to the Globes, either.

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The gentleman’s D

You’re probably sick of hearing about the bullet I didn’t actually dodge, but inasmuch as I got to see the actual numbers from my PSA test last month — 0.25 ng/mL, which is not too shabby — I’m sort of curious as to how come I did that well.

And then this turned up:

Taking vitamin D supplements could slow or even reverse the progression of less aggressive, or low-grade, prostate tumors without the need for surgery or radiation, scientists say.

How this was determined:

In a new randomized, controlled clinical trial, [the research] team assigned 37 men undergoing elective prostatectomies either to a group that received 4,000 U of vitamin D per day, or to a placebo group that didn’t receive vitamin D. The men’s prostate glands were removed and examined 60 days later.

Preliminary results from this study indicate that many of the men who received vitamin D showed improvements in their prostate tumors, whereas the tumors in the placebo group either stayed the same or got worse. Also, vitamin D caused dramatic changes in the expression levels of many cell lipids and proteins, particularly those involved in inflammation. “Cancer is associated with inflammation, especially in the prostate gland… Vitamin D is really fighting this inflammation within the gland.”

And as it happens, about four years ago I was somehow showing an unexpected deficiency in Vitamin D, and began taking 1,000 units a day, since increased to 2,000. Did this help? I don’t know for sure.

Then again, Bill Quick, a few years my senior, points out: “Luckily, I already take 10,000 units of D3 a day.” The Feds say 4,000 is as much as you should take, but they’ve had to back off so many claims recently that I find it hard to take them too seriously.

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Chacun d’entre vous me mordre

There is “Freedom and Unity,” the English-language motto of the state of Vermont, and then there is this:

An eighth-grader at the Riverside School in Lyndonville, Vermont, interested in the history of her state, wrote to her senator requesting that the state consider adopting a new official state motto — Stella quarta decima fulgeat. The phrase, which means “May the fourteenth star shine bright,” references a motto that was printed on old Vermont coins, as well as the pride Vermont has as the 14th state admitted into the union.

Unfortunately, when local television station WCAX covered the story, using the headline “Should Vermont Have an Official Latin Motto?” their Facebook commenters lashed out, seemingly interpreting “Latin Motto” to mean “Latino Motto,” and decrying the proposal as another step in the immigrant takeover of our great nation.

According to the 2010 Census, 1.5 percent of the state population is Hispanic, and 1 percent of Vermonters speak Spanish at home. (By comparison, 2.54 percent speak French.) I suspect a fair number of our present-day Green Mountain Boys are overstating the Brown Peril.

(Via Hit Coffee.)

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Better than revenge

Last year, Taylor Swift withdrew her catalog from the Spotify streaming service, purely as a business matter:

“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for,” Swift said earlier this year to The Wall Street Journal. “It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.”

Apparently she’s found an agreeable number for that price point:

The pop star’s music will once again be available to stream online, on Jay Z’s newly acquired TIDAL music service.

According to Digital Spy, Jay Z bought the service earlier this month for $56 million, and TIDAL distinguishes itself from the competition because of its premium, “High Fidelity” sound. The service charges users in the United States a monthly subscription fee of $19.99 — which Swift clearly sees as a better potential pay-out than the fees Spotify pays to artists.

Reportedly, the TIDAL library contains 25 million lossless tracks and 75,000 high-definition music videos; TIDAL has approximately 550,000 users.

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Dumb, dumb filter

This is why filtering for Improper Strings is ultimately a losing game:

Screenshot from OKCTalk 25 March 2015

I suppose it’s a good thing this happened on Wednesday and not on Sa****ay.

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Considerations of taste are irrelevant

At this writing, the stuff has two five-star reviews on Amazon, mute testimony to the sheer emptiness of some people’s lives.

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Outward blown

After the 32-28 first quarter, this game was looking like typical Thunder-Spurs: fierce competition, and just wait until you see the fourth. Yeah, right. This one was over at halftime — 71-50 — and it just kept getting worse. Can you say 100-74 after three? About three minutes later, the benches were cleared, and Scott Brooks probably spent the rest of the time trying to come up with synonyms for “defense.” The final was 130-91, and if you think a 39-point lead is tremendous, well, you should have seen it when it was 44. Last time the Thunder visited the Alamo City, they administered a beating to the Men In Black, so this is payback and then some, with one game yet to play in the season series.

How dominant? Only at the very end did the Spurs drop below 60 percent shooting, falling to 58. (They hit 51 of 88; the Thunder, 36 of 90. What does that tell you?) They even hit 62 percent of their treys. Rebounding? Spurs, 50-36. Assists? Spurs, 28-16. Turnovers? Spurs, 11-10. (Oh, well, you can’t have everything.) San Antonio got to play all 13 active men, 12 of them scored, and seven of them scored in double figures. Even more remarkable: one of them was Patty Mills, who has not been having a great year. Tony Parker led everyone with 21; sixth man Boris Diaw had 19. And the only Spur on the minus side of +/- was Manu Ginobili, a modest -3 in 15 minutes.

Still, of all the minuses, the minusest was Russell Westbrook, with 16 points, seven assists and four rebounds, a -30 in 26 minutes. Enes Kanter started out with a bang — 10 points in the first quarter — but finished with a whimpering 16, though he did once again collect a double-double, having retrieved 10 rebounds. Dion Waiters got 14; after that, it’s a big jump to Jeremy Lamb’s nine.

What does this mean? Only that the Thunder’s defensive woes continue to be, well, woeful, and that they’re not going to breeze through the last ten games.

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The kind of evening it was

This picture almost says it all:

What this doesn’t tell you: KOMA (the AM side, anyway, which now uses a different call) is 50,000 watts directional, and to achieve the proper nulls — they must protect WWKB in Buffalo — they used three such towers.

Two of them are lying on the ground at this moment.

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You want that with fries?

The title of this spam was nothing remarkable: “Attention: Our Lowest Home-Rates Expire 3-25-15.” (And a possibly amusing domain: loancashbefore.work.) But this was the text hidden behind the HTML:

The fries themselves are not bad … a bit plain maybe, but not bad. The creamy spicy tuna dipping sauce they serve with the fries is stupidly bad. That stuff doesn’t even belong on sushi; on fries it’s ridiculous and downright trashy. If you like that stuff, stop having sex with your cousin. I’d like house-made mayo or aioli options, or even a really refined, light, bbq sauce seems like it would pair well against the slaw. Traditional ketchup, for me, is a no and their whole grain dijon is meh.

If this was swiped from somewhere, and I always assume it is, I didn’t find the source.

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Heaven on earth and other jokes

Various outcroppings of what is occasionally called “progressivism” are perhaps best understood as religions without all that tedious God business. There is, however, one distinct difference:

One of the things about these Rousseau-ist cults is they always end up handing power to the worst elements in their cult. From The Reign of Terror forward the pattern has always been the same. The movement grows increasingly fanatical until control is in the hands of psychotic lunatics.

The reason for this is that utopian religions have no natural limit. There’s no line that reads, “This is enough.” Christianity has those lines. Judaism has those lines. Once you do certain things, show you believe certain things, you are pious enough. Built into the religion is an upper bound and a caution about trying to go beyond it. The Catholic Church burned more than a few heretics for trying to immanentize eschaton.

In Rousseau-ist cults, no such limit exists. They are premised on the firm belief that there is a way to arrange things just the right way to create heaven on earth. They don’t call it that, but the echos are there in discussion of health care or poverty programs, for example. Obama spent three years talking about his plan to have more people on government health services while also lowering the cost, a mathematical impossibility.

And it’s inextricably bound up with a political impossibility: everyone, with the possible exception of Ted Cruz, has pretty much decided that reducing the number of people on government health services, irrespective of cost savings, can’t be allowed to happen, because optics. Do not wait by your window for the postman to bring you word that the ACA has been repealed: it will not happen. This bothers me less than the idea that the next scheme by the Rosseauvians — and there’s always a next scheme — will be something much, much worse.

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