Because Castro

The new “opening” of the Cuban automotive market, you should not be surprised to hear, is not much of an opening at all:

Previously, Cubans were first required to request permission from the monopoly, in order to then try to purchase a vehicle from the monopoly.

Now, they can just try to purchase a vehicle from the monopoly without first requesting permission from the monopoly.

Oh, and there are additional charges involved: a 20-percent tariff (imports, you know), plus 10 percent tax, plus 8 percent surcharge. The result is a price list that looks like this:

Oh, and those prices are quoted in convertible Cuban pesos, which are officially worth US$1. So the Peugeot 4008, a small (think Honda CR-V) front-drive SUV, will cost nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

This is such a pathetic scheme, with such amazing potential for government graft, that I can’t believe some lunatic American legislator hasn’t already proposed something similar to inflict on the States.

(Via Fausta’s blog.)

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Strange search-engine queries (414)

Even colder than legendary Lambeau Field is the box where they store the system logs. Time to put on some serious gloves for once, and poke around for something to laugh at.

Troubleshoot Mazda 626 1989 transmission:  Son, the way we do things around here is simple: something gives you trouble, you shoot it.

convective exchange of cerebrospinal fluid with interstitial fluid:  Nice idea, but are the two fluids roughly compatible?

cd4e fill overflow:  Try 10 quarts of cerebrospinal fluid.

Wisdom:  Here? Surely you jest.

osu orange hummer h2 in stillwater oklahoma:  You were expecting maybe K-State Royal Purple?

www.whaddem porno.com:  Ah just don’ unnerstand whaddem porno sites is all about.

Результаты включают ссылки по запросу:  Yeah, that’s easy for you to say.

warr acres cop busted:  You know, it’s hard to see what town you’re in along that stretch of Route 66.

ed ames tennis:  His cup runneth over with sweat.

what is the origin of the term dirtbag:  Like a douchebag, but grittier.

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And back to Boston with you

Thunder vs. Celtics. Titanic defensive struggle, yes? Um, no: it was 66-56 at the half, and OKC opened up a 21-point lead over Boston in the third. Beantown closed to within 14, but the Thunder opened the fourth with a 9-3 run, and that was pretty much the end of the story: Oklahoma City 119, Boston 96, a verdict that was never really in doubt.

The Celtics admittedly weren’t at full strength, with Rajon Rondo out with knee issues and Courtney Lee about to be dealt to Memphis, but hey: no Westbrook. And Boston did bring as close to an A-game as possible, with Avery Bradley and OKC expat Jeff Green each dropping in 19. Jordan Crawford added 17 more, and Kris Humphries paced the reserves with 14. The Celts were decent from the 3-point arc (11-23), not so much from the 1-point line (15-24).

A couple of career highs on the Thunder side: Jeremy Lamb (13 points) recorded six assists, and Reggie Jackson, for the first time, knocked down 27 points. With all this going on, Kevin Durant could take it relatively easy: 21 points in 27 minutes, and he watched the fourth quarter from the bench, as did Kendrick Perkins, who scored 12 against his old team. (We will pause for a moment to savor the spectacle of Perk in double figures.) Maybe the secret ingredient, though, was actually hanging on to the ball: OKC recorded only nine turnovers all night. There have been games when — but never mind, let’s not go there.

Next: out West to meet the Jazz (Tuesday) and the Nuggets (Thursday), followed by a visit Saturday from the Bucks. After that, things get hairy.

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Spam upon spam

Now here’s something that’s probably happened before, but which I hadn’t noticed: comment spam directed at a post about comment spam.

And it’s almost amusing:

I drop a comment when I appreciate a post on a site or if I have something to contribute to the discussion.

It is triggered by the fire displayed in the article I browsed. And after this post I was actually moved enough to post a thought :) I actually do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind. Could it be just me or do a few of the comments come across like they are coming from brain dead folks? :-P And, if you are writing on additional social sites, I’d like to follow you.

Would you make a list all of your shared sites like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

Truly brain-dead folks have their comments shunted off to Akismet — as this one was.

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Look busy, Sam’s coming

Back in 2007, I noted:

They’re clearing off the lot on the northwest corner of 39th and May, which means that there will probably never be another Dodge dealership at that location.

Which there won’t; but it took six years to find out what will be there. Sam’s Club, assuming city approval, will occupy the lot, minus the actual corner, which contains a Circle K.

This means, of course, that the property owners gave up their idea for a strip mall on the premises, but you have to figure that Sam’s will draw a whole lot of traffic just by dint of being Sam’s.

The lot extends to 42nd; Luther Dulaney Park lies to the north and west. Area residents, at least on the east side of May, have long been calling for a traffic light at 43rd. This may be their best chance to get it.

Upside: That godawful “Cash For Gold” sign on the west side of May is good as gone.

Downside: The actual “Cash For Gold” place, in the Dakota Financial building along 39th just past this development, isn’t going anywhere.

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Presumably in the nuts

Now this is just sad:

Wife stabs husband with squirrel

On the other hand, I can relate: if I caught my spouse with a squirrel, I’m not sure I wouldn’t get all stabby.

(Via this l3ahpar tweet. Here’s the UPI wire story.)

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The shiftless mind at work

Something — all right, everything — tells me that she didn’t think this all the way through:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: When it comes to the Infiniti g35 coupe, is manual better than automatic?

“Better”?

And furthermore:

I don’t want opinions. I want facts, please.

I gave her a by-God fact, you may be sure.

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Warming to the situation

Strange and wonderful things sometimes happen in the Twin Cities. With the Thunder up 113-111 with 2.2 left, Kevin Love, who’d already clocked 30 points, went up for a trey; Kendrick Perkins went up for a block, drew a foul, and Love reported to the foul line for three free throws.

He got nothing.

Seriously. He bricked the first two, attempted a deliberate miss, and didn’t even hit the rim. Possession passed to the Thunder, the Wolves had to foul, and Kevin Durant, exhibiting preternatural calm, knocked down two freebies to close it out, 115-111. Forty-eight of those points came from KD, a season high. But while The Greatest Scorer on Earth, to borrow radio guy Matt Pinto’s phrase, was collecting buckets, the rest of the team was rising well beyond their recent fourth-quarter woes. (Be it noted that Minnesota had a 13-point lead early in the fourth.) Jeremy Lamb got four of his eight rebounds, a career high, in the fourth; Derek Fisher and Reggie Jackson managed to survive with five fouls (and Fisher, in 25 minutes, led the bench with 13); Nick Collison stemmed the tide of points in the paint for the Wolves. You want a Telltale Statistic? You got one: all the OKC reserves, but none of the starters, finished on the plus side of the ledger. (KD, despite his 48 points, turned in a zero.) Then again, all the Minnesota reserves were minus, and none of them even scored except J. J. Barea, who had five.

But the starting Wolves didn’t need that much help from the bench. In fact, all five of them landed in double figures, and Love wasn’t even the high scorer: that would be Nikola Peković, who scored 31 and picked off 11 rebounds, second only to Love, who collected 14. Ricky Rubio had the night’s third double-double, with 13 points and 10 assists. And who knows what Corey Brewer might have done had he not fouled out trying to defend Durant?

It’s warmer in OKC, but not enormously so: in fact, it will be warmer tomorrow in Boston. But the Celtics will be here at the ‘Peake, and one should not be fooled by their 1-6 record over the last seven.

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The bulb report

For each of the past six weeks, I have picked up a four-pack of 60-watt incandescent bulbs at the grocery store, which gives me a reserve of 24. (Actually 26, since I had two on hand at the beginning.) As of the first of January, these small and inoffensive creatures have been marked for extinction by the haters in Washington, so I made a point of stopping by the appropriate shelf at the store this afternoon.

The shelf was about four packages short of full, which is about where it always has been, so it’s too early to make any sort of prediction. (Most of them were branded Philips, with a single row of Westinghouse.) If, as has been suggested, the industry Big Boys themselves pushed for the extinction of incandescents, well, they haven’t made a great deal of headway at getting the spendy stuff into this store: there were plenty of off-brand CFLs going for about a third less than the GE-branded twirlers, and LEDs were conspicuous by their absence. Then again, this particular store draws mainly lower-income customers, who are not likely to be looking for ten-dollar bulbs.

On hand: 26 60-watt incandescents; two 40-watt decorative (for the bathroom); two three-way, 30/70/100; one CFL. (In use: three decorative; three three-way; three CFLs; two LEDs; the rest are incandescents, except for the floods outside.)

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Formerly Phil and Don

There was a stretch of about ten years — roughly, 1973 to 1983 — when the Everly Brothers were acting like perfect strangers to one another; legend has it that they exchanged not one word in that decade. (Possible exception: in 1975, at father Ike Everly’s funeral.)

Now Phil’s gone at 74; Don, two years older, is hanging on. While they’ll always be remembered as a duo, and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a unit, of the three biggest hits they had as songwriters — they couldn’t tap Felice and Boudleaux Bryant forever — Don wrote one (“Till I Kissed You”), Phil wrote one (“When Will I Be Loved”), and they wrote one together (“Cathy’s Clown”).

“When Will I Be Loved” has a weird history of its own. Left in the vault at Cadence Records after the Everlys moved to Warner Bros. in 1960, the success of “Cathy’s Clown” for WB (Number One!) led Cadence to dust off the year-old track and send it out. It made the Top Ten, and the B-side, a cover of Gene Vincent’s “Be-Bop-A-Lula,” picked up enough airplay to chart on its own. Now, of course, “When Will I Be Loved” is remembered as a Linda Ronstadt single, faster than the Everly original and with the verses shuffled. (The things you learn from karaoke.)

Anyway, given my penchant for live shows, or the appearance of live shows, beneath the jump you’ll find Don and Phil on Dick Clark’s Saturday-night show in 1960, singing over the backing track. (The audio goes wonky near the end.)

Read the rest of this entry »

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We are never ever getting snacks together

And here’s Taylor Swift coming out of Ralphs with her fifteen items or less — all alone:

Taylor Swift at Ralphs in West Hollywood January 2014

Time from seeing picture to coming up with title: 0.09 seconds.

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Quote of the week

Jamie Kitman, New York bureau chief of Automobile Magazine, writes in the February ’14 issue about the difficulty of being a left-of-center car buff:

Many of my more extreme fellow travelers on the left end of the dial disdain any interest in cars, much less full-blown habits like mine. Automobiles, they’ll tell you, are vulgar, polluting mechanical expressions of the will to power and male sexual insecurity, hence emblematic and highly beloved of the patriarchal, capitalist war machine.

“Well, duh!” I reply. But cars are useful, sometimes essential, and often a lot of fun.

Critics on the right brand me and my kind as freedom-suffocating communists, because we like cars but believe the law ought to require that air and water be clean, that cars be safe, and that manufacturers who break those rules or are found guilty of gross negligence in the design and manufacture of dangerous machinery and fuels ought to be held accountable.

The tricky part here is coming up with a definition of “safe” — or, for that matter, of “gross negligence.”

Okay, there’s one thing trickier: finding a suitably female counterpart to some phallic sports job like Jaguar’s original E-Type.

Then again, in my neck of the woods, both men and women tend to drive humongous trucks or cars that try their darnedest to look like humongous trucks; there are, of course, parts of the country that find this practice somewhere between inscrutable and inflammatory.

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Future hate

Canadian author Sheila Heti has spoken (or tweeted, anyway) positively about Her, the Spike Jonze film about a fellow who falls hard for the disembodied voice in an operating system. I’ve been avoiding the film, officially because it hasn’t opened locally yet, but really because I know I’m susceptible to this same sort of crush and I’d just as soon not be reminded of myself, though of course I’ve never looked anything like Joaquin Phoenix.

Then she sent this up:

What did he mean by that? I suggested that this merited further thought, to the extent that what I do can be considered “thought,” and she replied:

by “this” I’m pretty sure he meant the scenario in the movie. Kill so many so only computers are left to love? Who knows?

It looks to me, down here in Third Hand Alley, that the chap really doesn’t want to kill anyone, but fears that the film might lead him — or, perhaps more likely, someone else of a type he recognizes with a different set of values — to bring about this binary dystopia. Then again, guys in love do some incredibly foolish things at times.

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Respect my butthurt

Once again, we have someone unclear on the concept:

Yahoo Answers screenshot: Find a anonymous ask.fm ip address?

Continuing:

Someone asked me a question on ask.fm and its pissing me off because i don’t know who it is.. I know how to find IP addresses and all but I don’t have a computer that can download programs ( I have an Acer C720 Chromebook and It only runs on Google Chrome software so..) I know how to find IP addresses but I need to know who this person is. I also know about the whole “block them and in a few days you’ll see the user” but I don’t want to wait and I don’t want to block anyone. Is there a way I can find out who the person is by only using Google Chrome?

It occurs to me that if you don’t want to be asked things, you probably shouldn’t be hanging around ask.fm, but maybe that’s just me.

And what are the chances that this character actually knows “how to find IP addresses,” or what to do with them once they’re found? I mean, if you consider this some sort of Vital Skill, it’s ludicrous in the extreme to confine yourself to a machine that you think won’t do it.

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Teetering on the edge of damage

Lynn takes exception to a recent television commercial:

The worst of the car commercials are those for Lexus. This year they had one in which they showed a woman using a treadle sewing machine. They showed a quick close-up of her feet and she was wearing stiletto heels! I cheer the use of a treadle sewing machine but in those heels? Not happening sweetie.

Besides the implausibility of that little scene, it greatly annoys me that that style of ridiculous, uncomfortable and possibly even dangerous footwear is considered an essential part of the standard Attractive-Female Uniform. While it’s certainly not as extreme as the old Chinese custom of foot binding it comes from the same mindset.

I must give her props for consistency. I occasionally report on shoes in this space, and she happily denounces anything with a sufficiently high heel.

Girls, you can’t call yourselves modern, liberated women as long as you are slaves to fashion. It is hard to find shoes that are both comfortable and attractive but they do exist and if you buy them shoe designers will respond by making more. Do us all a favor and stop stuffing your feet into overpriced torture devices.

Not at all incidentally — I am a firm believer in second opinions — I brought up that same commercial to a friend yesterday at lunch. Her objection was different: “If you can afford a Lexus, you can afford an electric sewing machine.”

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Liquid admiration

One of the Time blogs pulled this out of Craigslist, presumably to let it dry:

You — 5’8 scruffy, glasses, wearing a blue hoodie outside the Vid and I asked you for a lighter. You lit my cigarette and we talked about our wishes for the new year. We heard the countdown starting and decided to stay outside. I started to cry and you kissed me, and then we started to make out. After a minute I felt something warm and realised that you pissed yourself. I pushed you away and that’s when you ran but I wish you had stayed. You peed on me but it’s OK! I just want to know who you are! Please reply and when you do tell me why I started crying so I know it’s you — if you remember.

I shudder to imagine those two taking a shower together.

(Via Voodoo Princess Daintyhooves, aka Erin Palette.)

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