Making the tough choices

Such a dilemma:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: What car should I get next?
I currently own a Ford Focus and a sixth form student

I’d definitely trade off that student: they’ll never be worth more than they are right now.

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Meanwhile somewhere in Scandinavia

Two guys from Norway — Ulf Langsrud and Dag Hellem — make up the band known as Muteness, which reached out in my general direction yesterday on Twitter, presumably in the hopes of getting a mention. I figured the least I could do was punch up some of their tracks, and ultimately, the one I liked the best was “Inside the Outside,” which is compulsively danceable, especially if you don’t try to listen too hard to the words.

Newly learned from this experience: the iTunes Store in Norway charges 9 kr per track (about $1.05).

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Smoking Pol Pot or something

This may explain why CNN spends so much time trying, and failing, to track lost aircraft:

CNN screenshot: Operation Twisted Traveler

(Via Matt Drachenberg.)

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Tehran of things

The Z Man contemplates the proto-deal with Iran:

Even the parties to the deal are at odds over what is in the deal. They only agree that the deal is an agreement to strike a deal at some point in the future. The Americans take this to mean “soon,” while the Iranians have no understanding of the concept. Persia, in one form or another, has been around for five thousand years. “Soon” is measured in decades.

That has not stopped the 24×7 clown show that is the American media from having a food fight over the deal to make a deal. The Progressives are hailing the deal as the greatest achievement of man since the wheel. Conservative Inc. is condemning the deal and calling Obama Chamberlain. They have a Nazi fetish, comparing every Muslim with a bad attitude to Hitler. I watched a bit of Fox yesterday and it was clear that none of them knew more than my cat about this deal, but they were certain they were right.

However, at least one projected outcome is practically guaranteed:

The fact that every energy firm on earth is lining up to make a deal with the mullahs says the sanctions are sure to be lifted, no matter what Iran does or does not do. Western governments are the tools of their rich people and their business interests. Western business loves groveling to despots. It is their natural state.

That I don’t doubt in the least: business has, or at least has persuaded itself that it has, needs sufficiently urgent that just waiting around for government to address them would be tragic, or at least less profitable.

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Inter-track whiplash

Boy, do I know about this:

I’m sprawled across my lumpy dorm room bed, writing the words you see on this very page as iTunes shuffles through my vast music library when, in all its infinite digital wisdom, iTunes follows Ed Sheeran’s beautifully tender “Firefly” with … the Doors’ raucous “Roadhouse Blues?” What gives, shuffle function?!? This is like an ice-bucket challenge for my ears. My mind turns from fluffy pillows and candles to red lights and sticky barroom floors. I mean, I love Jim Morrison, but not as a companion to my pal Ed.

Let it roll, baby, roll.

I admit, some of my own jarring juxtapositions are my own fault. Normally I screen out all the stuff tagged as “Holiday” during normal parts of the year and start letting them filter in around mid-November; this year I forgot to reset the playlist criteria after New Year’s, and suddenly there’s “We Three Kings” — sung by Toby Keith, yet — in the middle of a Sixties-garage medley.

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Strange search-engine queries (479)

Easter week generally results in much-diminished traffic around here, mostly because people suddenly discover they have better things to do than Web surfing. Still, we trudge on through the routine, because that’s how we roll.

lyrics to dose your chewinggum lose its flavour by loney donigan:  But your father says “Don’t chew it!”

cd4e is there fluid when i drop the pan:  If there isn’t, you just bought a new slushbox.

images of tg&y on n.e.23rd street in okc in the 60s and 70s:  Really, all those TG&Y stores looked alike.

2008 mazda tribute has a noise in the front and nobody knows what is the problem:  Let me see if I have this straight. People who have looked at your car can’t determine the problem, so you’re going to try asking people who haven’t looked at your car. What’s wrong with this picture?

yellow times,november,2002:  A jaundiced age, to be sure.

reed krakoff 4 inch heel review comfortable:  Because if it feels good on some random Zappos user, it’s got to feel good on you, right?

poynhvb.(om:  You know, Junior, your mom can figure out your history log even when you misspell things.

Where the babes are:  Or when you don’t.

how to reset a mazda 626 o/d sensor:  (1) Remove the old sensor. (2) Set a new one in its place. How hard can that be?

science fiction sextubes:  If they’re anything like the Jefferies tubes aboard Federation spacecraft, no big deal.

transmission oilpump seal on 2001 mazda 626:  That’s why they fired that guy at SeaWorld: he blew a seal.

porsche 911 carrera named after Barbara carrera:  Just wait until Taylor Swift finds there’s a Suzuki named after her.

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Enabling escape

We begin with a quote from Oleg Volk:

I’ve followed the development of this mess for a couple of years now. A former competitive air gun shooter, Stacey modeled for several of my RKBA posters, and I got to hear a bit about her situation. My advice was “get out now!” but the reality proved more difficult.

And this is the reality:

In 2001 I married a man I believed to be the one who would love and protect me for the rest of my life. He had a volatile temper, but I just chalked it up to us being fairly young and didn’t worry about it much. A couple of years went by he began to not only punch holes in the walls and doors of our apartment but he also started to be physical toward me. While I was pregnant with our second son in 2004 my husband went out drinking with his friends and came home drunk.

After that, things got worse. And now it’s come to this:

He was arrested again but he has his attorney again and will probably get another light sentence. I tried to get help filing a divorce through the Legal Aid Society but they have not done anything to help. I recently started working outside the house again to be able to support my children and myself but have not been able to make enough to cover all the attorney fees and divorce filing fees so we can finally escape this completely. A few friends of mine have used gofundme.com in the past and suggested I try it. I hate asking for help, especially help with money, but I need it badly right now to get my children and myself out of this mess. So I’m setting my pride aside and humbly asking for help from my friends and family. I love you all and appreciate you more than you could ever know. Bless you!

This fundraiser went up this afternoon, and has already reached nearly more than a third of its goal.

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Truth in variety

Not approved by the Staff of Sameness:

[T]ry to remember that 99 percent of the people around you are just people trying to get by. They are like you: all the colors of dirt, from pale dry dust to red clay to dark loam and everything in between. They are gay and straight and not-all-that-interested, religious or atheistic or doubting; they are happy and sad, angry and calm, often opinionated; they are clever and dull, amusing or scary or pitiable. Each one of them has got the same one vote you do and there are no prizes to be won in this life or any other by treating any of them badly.

If all your friends think exactly the way you do, you’re due for some new friends, as Starlight Glimmer has not learned.

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Not your tags to pop

I hadn’t heard this argument before:

Recently a lot of rich kids in my town have started shopping at the local thrift shop looking for cheap hipster clothes. I think this is wrong as thrift shops only have a limited amount of clothes and they should go to people who need them.

To me it seems like going to a thrift shop is like going to a food bank.

Patti, a thrifter for a decade and a half, begs to differ:

There is no used clothing shortage, as far as I can see. Our thrift has a back room piled with donated clothing to be sorted, priced and hung up. We are never going to be caught up, no matter how many “rich” people come in to shop. Used clothing, we has it.

And what’s more:

Well-off customers not only shop at our store, they donate. A lot. And they donate many items that less fortunate people don’t often buy, like pricey silverware and china sets, and valuable furniture and art. Hooray for that — and for the “rich” folks who buy them. They pay for a lot of cat food.

Besides, one grouch’s trash is another grouch’s outfit:

Awesome.

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Early burnout

The story of this game was written fairly quickly: the Thunder jumped out to an early 10-3 lead, and yet were down 27-17 after the first quarter, the Rockets having burned them with an 18-0 run. After that, it was not quite catching up for most of the rest of the afternoon, hindered by foul trouble and the failure to connect on several shots right at the rim. Still, with 3:06 left, the Thunder did manage to catch up, a Russell Westbrook trey tying it at 100-all. James Harden scored the next eight Houston points, and then fouled out; it was 108-104 Rockets when Harden retired from the game, and Houston kept making free throws. On the last blast, it was 115-112 with 3.4 seconds; the last Thunder shot was two feet short of the rim, and that’s the way it ended.

Harden was something like 0.03 points ahead of Westbrook for leading scorer in the NBA; The Beard will gain some infinitesimal fraction after his 41-6-6 performance. Westbrook finished at 40-11-13. Thunder shooting was fairly blah at 44 percent, a little better (14-30, 47 percent) from downtown. OKC had a 51-42 edge in rebounding, 17-12 offensive, but what mattered more were those 18 turnovers; the Rockets gave up only 10. And while big numbers were gotten by some — Enes Kanter had yet another double-double (21 points, 17 rebounds) and Anthony Morrow still hit from outside (22 points, 6-8 for three), big stops were still hard to come by, what with the best defenders still on the injured list.

Speaking of injured, Dwight Howard, who had been for several weeks, came back with a minutes limitation; in 23 minutes he scored 22 and hauled in eight rebounds. Trevor Ariza came up one board short of a double-double, scoring 12; Josh Smith led the bench with 14. But the difference was Harden, who was pretty much everywhere for 38 minutes before incurring that sixth foul.

The Spurs will be in on Tuesday. Nobody said this was going to be a breeze.

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Be sure to show your lack of work

Joseph Brean writes in the National Post:

Psychologists have a quip about IQ tests — the only thing they measure is your ability to do IQ tests. They are not, as they purport to be, an objective measure of intelligence, like the air temperature of a room. Rather, they are variable, and vulnerable to luck and circumstance, like the score of a hockey game.

Exams are the same. They are cruel in their way, in their pose as objective measures of a student’s worth.

If hockey were so dependent on luck and circumstance, surely the Maple Leafs would be better than 29-43-7, and a dismal 8-27-5 on the road.

But that’s not really the point. This is:

We show what we know when we can remember information when prompted. Writing essays and doing projects display communication skills and an understanding of concepts, but, without committing the content to memory, I’m not convinced we can say we’ve learned it. If you can’t tell me anything about WWI — when it happened, who was involved, worldwide implications… — without looking at your notes, then you don’t know anything about it. Then when you watch Downton Abbey, and a date flashes on the screen, “June 1914,” you have to look it up to grasp the significance. It’s useful to know things, and it’s useful to our society if everyone has a common knowledge of basic facts about history, geography, multiplication tables, the carbon cycle … Without a display of memory, we can’t assess learning. And a good test or exam can be a clear indicator of knowledge.

So why not just have tests without a final exam? The nice thing about exams is that kids do them. They don’t whine or try to bargain or chat or even think of taking out their phones during exams. Because exams are held up to a higher standard, and the whole school stops for a week for them to happen, and the kids only get one kick at the cat, students take exams more seriously than tests. I’ve had in-class tests with a third of the class AWOL then had to spend days tracking them and getting them to write a make-up. I once had a student take a make-up test home for three days to write it, and I was instructed that I had to count it because he showed he knew the content — ignoring the obvious fact that he had ample opportunity to Google the material. For exams, they all show up and do the work. Period.

Okay, sometimes they all show up and do the work.

Furthermore, while one should certainly be concerned with a student’s worth, I’d argue that one should be substantially less concerned with the student’s perception of her worth. There are those who think it’s the instructor’s job to cover the class with a shiny veneer of self-esteem, the way one might spritz PAM on a saucepan. Yes, exams are stressful. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be worth bothering with.

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Forward to the weakened

The life of a supermarket checker is not always a happy one, and while some grocery operations frown on this sort of thing, I’d much rather go someplace where the store staff don’t appear to be Animatronic.

Saturday I was doing my usual weekly run, and in between whisking things from conveyor belt to bags, checker (curvy black girl) and sacker (skinny white dude) were cracking wise on the misery of their lifestyles, albeit with just enough grin to remind themselves, if not necessarily the baffled customers, that this is done as a rhetorical exercise, not as a cry for help. At some point, they apparently lost track of what day it was — was it Friday? Saturday? Those of us in regular nine-to-five jobs don’t even have to think about such things.

Finally, they decided it was in fact Saturday, and I piped up: “And Sunday comes afterwards.”

The checker, who couldn’t have been much more than nineteen, gave me an “I can’t believe you actually said that” look, but she was smiling just the same.

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Arithmetic, how does it work?

It seems to work better for some than for others:

Emmanuel Goldstein wonders who these Koch Brothers are.

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How hi the fi?

Earlier this week while babbling on about Taylor Swift, as I have been wont to do of late, I made reference to the TIDAL music-streaming service, which offers higher-fidelity streams for roughly twice the price. Em’s not sure it’s worth it:

The first of which is does the majority listener demographic of the music artists who were part of the brand push own the kind of equipment where listening to uncompressed audio actually reveals greater fine detail and fidelity. Or (shameful stereotyping warning) are they more likely to think that a pair of Beats headphones is the pinnacle of the music listening experience (they might be good for some types of bass heavy music. But I seriously doubt they are the best item for discerning the subtleties of lossless audio streams)?

I don’t know. But I’m unsure enough people care enough to pay twice the asking price of a service like Spotify.

Not having wired my mid-1970s stereo rig for Internetty stuff, I do most of my streaming in the room where I do most of my typing, with decent but not inspiring equipment, and truth be told, I’m generally content with, for instance, the iTunes AAC 256 stuff.

And there are other considerations:

[N]ot all music demands greater clarity (Have you heard the Blu Ray audio remaster of The Sex Pistols Never Mind The Bollocks? That kind of previously unheard fidelity almost sounds wrong applied to classic punk rock).

You already know my standard for such things:

In the 1980s, Steve Hoffman assembled a Gary “U.S.” Bonds compilation for MCA, and with decades of accumulated muck cleared away, we could hear the real muck [Frank] Guida was producing. The focal point was “Quarter to Three,” arguably the noisiest recording ever to top Billboard’s Hot 100. Rock critic Dave Marsh had focused on its “peculiar unity,” claiming: “I’ve played it on stereo systems ranging from $49.95 to $10,000, and the equipment makes no difference.”

Although I might make an exception for this YouTubed version with massive tube hum.

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Not that I care

Who didn’t see this coming?

Apathy discussion marked by lack of interest

(Another joyous clipping from Bad Newspaper, found, from the looks of it, in the OU student paper. Oh, and that should be “fewer than 15 people.”)

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Running on vapor

The Elio Motors three-wheeler, to borrow an old phrase, is the car of the future, and it always will be. I mentioned the little ultra-econobox last year, and quoted its ship date as “next spring.” It’s not going to happen in the next eighty days, guys.

Still, Paul Elio is thinking from a place where you can’t even see the box, and his scheme for financing sales of the carlet is crazy enough that it might actually work:

To encourage sales, Elio said the company has a plan to make the Elio trike extra affordable called “Let Your Gas Savings Make Your Payments.” Under this plan, when you buy an Elio, you drive away with a special credit card in your pocket. You use this card every time you gas up and then Elio charges you triple what you paid at the pump. So, if your gas costs $10 (remember, this is an 84 mpg car, so you’re not paying a lot at the pump), then your total cost to Elio will be $30. The extra $20 is applied to your loan payment. “As long as you drove into the dealership with something that was 27 mpg or less, your monthly fuel bill will go down,” Elio said. “Three times 27 is 81 and we get 84. So, you got a brand-new vehicle under warranty that’s fun to drive and you don’t have a car payment and you’re guaranteed to spend less on gas.”

Still, even at Elio’s rock-bottom (and possibly unattainable) price of $6800, it would take over ten years to pay off the note at $84 a month, after which time the vehicle will be neither brand new or (presumably) under warranty.

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