Barrier on the side of the road

The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard in question is Number 214, and the Feds will not yield:

FMVSS No. 214 incorporates a new test that replicates the scenario where a car slides sideways into a tree or pole. Finalized in 2007, the test began being phased in to new cars starting in 2010, but automakers that produce fewer than 5,000 units have been exempt from the phase-in period. That is until September 1, 2014 when all vehicles (excluding convertibles) are expected to be compliant; convertible have until September 1, 2015.

According to the petition [by several US Aston Martin dealers], the coupe and convertible models of the DB9 and Vantage will not meet this regulation within that timeframe, and claims that Aston Martin would require an investment of $30 million (€22.4 million) to make the necessary changes to the vehicles, which the petition says that automaker doesn’t have. Even worse, the next-generation models of both cars have been delayed with no specific time table for their arrival.

Feds: “Drop dead”:

So that would seem to be that. Formal statements are expected shortly.

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Dynaflub

I have occasionally grumbled about the four-speed automatic that sits behind Gwendolyn’s engine: the big(gish) V6 is happy to rev, but getting the slushbox to do a downshift when called upon occasionally tries my patience. This is done, I am told, to preserve fuel economy. I, of course, find this argument specious: we may or may not run out of oil some day, but I will definitely run out of time.

Still, however lethargic this Jatco unit seems to be, it’s way speedier than Dale Franks’ description of the Hydra-Matic 6T40 (I think) the General bolts into the Buick Encore:

As near as I can figure it, the engine writes out a 5-page shift request form in longhand, then walks down to the mailbox to send it off. When the transmission receives it, it properly logs the request — in longhand, of course — then proceeds to shift. You can speed the process up, as the transmission has a manual option, with a shift switch on the shifter handle. Don’t do that. You won’t like it.

And that’s a six-speed.

In the long run, it might be easier just to get the damn knee replacement and a car with an actual stick shift, while such contraptions still exist.

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Flesh tone

I’ve already said my piece on For God’s Sake Don’t Call It Nakedgate, but I couldn’t pass up this blast from Bark M.:

This has, undoubtedly, been the best couple of days ever for some incredibly disparate groups of people. The first group? Duh. The Cheeto-stained, white t-shirt wearing, involuntarily celibate basement dwelling males of the Internet. Up until now, if they had wanted to try to see Jennifer Lawrence naked, they had been reduced to watching X-Men: First Class frame by frame in high definition.

The other group having a field day with this? I bet you thought I was gonna say Feminists, right? Nah, too easy. It’s the Sensies… Sensies are those men who … just can’t wait to throw their full support behind any and all feminist cause, regardless of the merit (and of course, there are many, many serious and legitimate feminist causes). Sensies were the first ones this week to say “How DARE YOU!” when Redditors began posting galleries of nude photos of women that, frankly, men have been wanting to see naked for years.

“YOU VIOLATED HER PRIVACY!” Come on, this couldn’t have played out any better for dear old JLaw. She gets to show the whole world how smoking hot her body is, and yet, instead of being called a skank, she gets to be a victim.

I side with the “How DARE YOU!” guys, not so much because I have veiled feminist tendencies — I’m ultimately way too insensitive for that — but as a simple application of the Golden Rule. (To borrow a phrase, some of my neighbors are women.)

And I demur slightly on that bit about “women men have been wanting to see naked for years,” not because I question the existence of that want, but because historically men have wanted to see pretty much every available female naked, with the exception of Aunt Tillie and the girl who works the late drive-thru at Taco Bell, and I’m not so sure about her.

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Not too much monkey business

You could point a finger at Justin Timberlake for lack of originality, says Jack Baruth, but in fact you’re missing the point:

The second guy to use a bottleneck on a guitar wasn’t being original but today we recognize it as a style to itself and we can discuss the masters of that style without worrying about originality. Half of the licks on Appetite For Destruction are stolen from Chuck Berry — check out “Think About You” if you doubt that — and nobody doubts Slash’s standing as a guitarist and musician.

I suspect that half of the licks everywhere can be traced back to Chuck Berry: rather a lot of British Invasion stuff, for instance, relied on Chuck’s back catalog. Also about this time, Berry and Brian Wilson (!) “collaborated” on “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” a blatant rewrite of “Sweet Little Sixteen.” Then again, Chuck’s own “No Particular Place to Go,” also about this time, was a blatant rewrite of “Sweet Little Sixteen.”

For extra credit, hunt down “Licks Off Of Records” from Martin Mull and His Fabulous Furniture in Your Living Room! (Capricorn, 1973), which is best known for the parody “Dueling Tubas”; “Licks” features a session guitarist who prefers not to be lionized, inasmuch as everything he does comes from somewhere else.

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The emetic in your refrigerator door

I am not fond of mayonnaise. (Then there’s McGehee, who is really not fond of mayonnaise.) Still, your go-to person for mayo hatred is Amelia:

When is it appropriate to use mayonnaise?
@BrianFaughnan

Dear Brian,

Never. Well, never as condiment, anyways. Mayonnaise is acceptable if you’ve ingested poison and need to induce vomiting, but only if other means are not available and time is truly of the essence.

Amusingly, this is the top of the Wikipedia page for “Vomiting”:

“Vomit” redirects here. For other uses, see Vomit (disambiguation).

“Emesis” redirects here. For the butterfly genus, see Emesis (genus).

“Heaving” redirects here. For the up-and-down motion, see Heave.

“Puke” redirects here. For other uses, see Puke (disambiguation).

When the aliens come, as they must, I’ll remind them that this world of ours is so incredibly diverse that there’s a disambiguation page for “Puke.”

(Typed while eating a ham sandwich. No mayo.)

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The last Saab story ever?

Maybe. The company that makes Saab cars — except, of course, that it’s not actually making any cars right now — has won protection from its creditors, but at a dear price:

China’s National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), which bought bankrupt carmaker Saab in 2012, won protection from creditors from a Swedish court on Friday while it concludes funding talks.

The decision gives the company, which has not built any cars since May because of a shortage of money, breathing space from creditors to whom it owes some 400 million Swedish crowns ($57.56 million).

There’s just this one minor detail:

Separately, Saab AB, the defense firm from which Saab Automobile was created in 1990, added to NEVS’ troubles on Friday by saying it had withdrawn its right to use the brand name Saab.

Swedish business daily Dagens Industri quoted a Saab AB spokesperson as saying NEVS’ application for creditor protection gave Saab AB the right to cancel the brand agreement.

So there will be cars from NEVS, maybe, but with a new brand name — unless they can pull off something miraculous like persuading General Motors to sell them Pontiac or Saturn. Fat chance of that.

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But the flash is weak

One of the advantages I have as a person of indifferent — or worse — appearance is that there is little or no demand for pictures of me in the altogether, though you may be certain that on those rare occasions when there was a demand, I saw to it that there was a supply.

I find it highly curious that guys, the same half of the species that collects pictures of unclad or marginally-clad actresses, might suggest that “Hey, maybe you shouldn’t do that sort of thing.” This translates, without much difficulty, into “We are assholes and cannot be trusted”; the fact that this may well be true does not impose an obligation on the starlet wishing to show off — after all, she’s not doing it for their benefit.

This is not to say that precautions should not be taken before — and after — the photo session, but you probably ought not to rely on mere technical advice:

Well, of course it’s unsafe. Almost anything worth doing is: “Speedboats, racecars, fine shotguns, whiskey, and love are all very dangerous.”

Noted for reference: The picture source I tap most frequently, SuperiorPics, has refused to accept any of the leaked nudes, consistent with their ongoing policy, and will block any attempts to post them on their forum.

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Bite the wax, tadpole

Theunis Bates, managing editor of The Week, has an 18-month-old toddler who behaves like, well, an 18-month-old toddler. The problem with that is that the Bates family lives in “the world capital of obsessive parenting”:

My neighborhood’s online message board is filled with moms and dads worrying over the latest studies on toxic chemicals in plastic sippy cups and the urgent need to enroll their newborns in music classes that will stimulate their brains into genius. Of course, every parent wants to give his or her sprout the best start in life, but there is no scientifically correct child-rearing method. Science is constantly evolving — not so long ago, it was thought that pacifiers turned kids into sexual deviants; now Binkys are thought to be effective pain relievers — and findings can often be reversed. So until the experts figure out how to raise the perfect kid, relax, and let her eat crayons.

Where is this “world capital?” Brooklyn, New York.

(Seen in issue 684, 5 September 2014. Not yet on line at this writing.)

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The autumn un-empire

There are those who would prefer that summer stick around a bit longer:

I keep seeing all these things on Facebook that say, “Share if you are ready for fall?” No! No, I am not ready! I’m a summer person. Yes, fall is nice — pretty colors and all that — but it doesn’t last long. You get four to six weeks of nice weather, maybe two or three weeks of pretty colors and then the leaves all fall off and it gets COLD long before official winter arrives. And don’t tell me, “Cold is better than heat because when it’s cold you can put on more clothes.” That’s not a feature; it’s a bug! That’s part of the problem. I don’t want to put on more clothes! As long as it’s just “shirt sleeve weather” that’s okay but I hate coats and jackets.

Not for her the layered look.

Then again, anyone who doesn’t get annoyed by that “Share if” crap on Facebook isn’t paying attention; you’d think by now someone would have shot the “Share if”. (Consider yourself deputized.)

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This could go on for a while

“Bengü” is a Turkish adjective commonly used as a given name: it means “eternal” or “endless.” Meet Turkish singer Bengü — last name Erden — born in İzmir in 1979, who has been making records since the turn of the century:

Publicity photo for Bengu, circa 2003

Album art from Saygimdan by BenguIf I’ve counted correctly, Saygımdan (“Out of Respect”), released in 2013, is her ninth album; the title song is up on YouTube but for some reason — presumably, the desire of her record label — is not embeddable. The lyrics are vaguely Taylor Swift-y:

I don’t bow before anyone, but with you I am leveled to the ground,
I always leave and walk away, it is for the first time I stopped and turned around,
I cried, I silently gathered it all within me,
I raged, but then I calmed down.

(Translation found here; it was better, I thought, than Google’s.)

An earlier song, “Unut Beni” (“Forget Me”), from her 2007 album Taktik, which means pretty much what it sounds like:

And a more recent photo:

Publicity photo for Bengu, circa 2014

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Finally a use for Comic Sans

I admit, I wasn’t expecting this:

Yahoo Answers screenshot:<br />
Whats they best text font and size for this letter?

What it’s all about:

im turning 18 and leaving a verbally abusive home in 9 days. ive thought of it for a while, saved up money, got new clothes and food. im leaving my parents house and the state and im writing them a letter explaining why im leaving, what caused it. that ill be with my boyfriend ive kept secret for 2 years and so on. i want them to know that im not “running away” but living my own life, my parents and i have different religious beliefs (they are southern baptist and im pagan) and im going off to be myself. i dont want it to sound too angry but i want them to understand ive been hurt (im a girl and once i forgot to brush my hair and got my head shaved etc)

Before you ask: yes, I’d have said the same thing were this a boy sending this sob story.

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Where the girl singers are

Duane Doobie of RadioInfo, on the present-day It Girl:

I think Taylor Swift is a lovely and talented young woman who makes appealing pop music in the long tradition of a seemingly endless string of similar artists that goes all the way back to the silly-but-effective teenage love songs that triggered the golden era of rock ‘n’ roll. She is every bit as good as Connie Francis, Lesley Gore, Helen Reddy and Olivia Newton-John in their heydays. Well, maybe.

Minor differences: Swift, until recently, wrote or co-wrote almost all of her own stuff: Gore had the peerless Quincy Jones producing her; Francis covered a much wider range of material, though I suspect this was her record company (MGM) throwing everything against the wall in the hopes of seeing something stick; weirdly, Newton-John was informed of her big break — her role in Grease — while at a party at Reddy’s house.

However, there is no way that I believe she or so many of the other big pop artists of today are truly resonating with the zeitgeist of the millions of young people presently coming of age.

I don’t give a damn how many “spins” these artists are getting on the centrally-controlled robotic radio stations of America. These numbers do not necessarily represent an organic, street level, grassroots reality. And THAT’S what has ALWAYS determined REAL success in radio — resonating with what large masses of people are really feeling in their day-to-day existence and deep inside their souls and psyches.

Except that large masses of people aren’t tuning into the same things. Take a look at the summer ratings book. Stations with ten, even eight shares are few and far between; where I live, even a seven is practically unheard of.

Of course, this was the plan all along for the centrally-controlled robotic radio stations of America: surround and control, engulf and devour. Want to snatch 0.2 away from your two competitors in the market? Put something obscure, or at least somewhat less overplayed, on your HD channel that no one listens to anyway, and then simulcast it on a hundred-watt translator somewhere in the middle of the dial.

The usual excuse is that Gen Y has a short attention span and can’t deal with anything more complex than chirpy girl singers. It ain’t necessarily so:

If Millennials are so riddled with ADD and limited by shallow concentration — why have they triggered the phenomenon of binge watching on the television side of media things?

And if they are so dumb — as implied by every attempt at music and radio geared by corporate media in the past couple of decades to attract their attention — that it would be considered suicidal to serve them up helpings of meaningful stuff, how do you explain the fact that successful television shows that have earned their loyalty are, in fact, complex as hell? Shows with multiple story lines and long arches that unfold over multiple seasons!

When TV is smarter and hipper than radio, something is very wrong with the world.

Still, winning the hearts and minds of Gen Y is not going to return us to those wonderful days of Top 40: there are too many niches, and niches within niches, and they are never, ever getting back together. Like, ever.

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Pity the needy corporation

I have been a member of the American Automobile Association for some twenty-odd years. I pay my Plus fee every year; I even follow the local incarnation on Twitter. What’s more, they follow me. You’d think this was enough interaction for both of us.

Then in comes an email that begins “It feels like we’ve grown apart.” I saw that in the preview pane, looked up at the subject bar, and there was this plaintive wail: “We’ve noticed… our emails are going unnoticed.” By “unnoticed,” they apparently mean that once a month they send me a metric buttload of links, none of which I ever click on.

If this is a scheme to get me to verify my email address — for which they did in fact provide a link — it’s a pretty pathetic one. And if it’s not, it’s even worse.

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Fark blurb of the week

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There was always the need

Even if Londoners of the Thirties didn’t know @jack:

I wonder how, or if, they checked it for spam.

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Gunning for the Russians

At least, someone in Denver who speaks Russian thinks we are.

SnoopyTheGoon translates, “with apologies for possibly garbled scientific terms”:

I shall explain why the monstrous genocide of Russians is happening. Russia owns most advanced technologies that allow to cure incurable diseases, even at a distance, multiple the agriculture produce and manage the weather and the geophysical processes. These technologies provide an unlimited access to energy, resources and food via the process of transmutation of quantum vacuum. There are scientists in Moscow that already extract gold from quantum dislocality. The Perestroika in USSR was created because of the Russian technological leadership. Russia has these technologies because indeed Russians are the root of civilization on this planet. Only Russians are able to return to life the technologies of our ancestors. If Russia will be destroyed, the civilization on this planet will be destroyed with it — by a nuclear war or simply by chip [implants] in the brain. The responsibility for humanity’s survival lies on us, on the Russians. We don’t have a choice besides victory.

I think this is basically a ploy to position Moscow for a good showing when the Nobel people work up an annual prize in alchemy — which, unlike “peace,” has something resembling a legitimate definition.

Still, I admit I love the concept. Gold from “quantum dislocality”? Call it “Schrödinger’s bullion.”

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