The lightbearers of Fog City

In an Automobile magazine (October ’14) multi-page article about driving the BMW i3 through Silicon Valley, tucked into a sidebar, I found a little chart: “2013 Vehicle Sales by Fuel Type, San Francisco vs. U.S.” This oughta be good, I thought, and noted that ordinary, garden-variety gasoline-engined cars made up 76.41 percent of the total American market. In San Francisco? 76.88. How unspeakably, improbably … normal.

How is this even possible? SF buys three times as many hybrids (11.39 vs 3.66 percent), four times as many CNG cars (0.04 vs 0.01, no big deal) and nine times as many pure electrics (3.16 vs 0.37). Diesels are about even: 2.69 in SF, 2.98 for the nation as a whole. What they refuse to buy in the City by the Bay, apparently, is so-called “flex-fuel,” gasoline-powered cars that can run on up to 85 percent ethanol: only 5.83 percent of SF buyers opted for flex-fuel in ’13, versus 16.57 percent nationwide. I surmise that on this issue, if perhaps on no other, San Franciscans agree with me: the proper place for ethanol is not your fuel tank, but your shot glass.

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Strange search-engine queries (451)

Or, in Celsius, (233), give or take a smidgen. This week’s search strings:

domo arigato visage:  Bet you a dollar it’s really Kilroy.

kaos wife forced to strip:  Max would never allow that to happen to 99.

William saroyan and ross bagdasarian became the brains behind which novelty act:  What some people won’t do to improve their score on some worthless Internet quiz. (And it was the Chipmunks, who have now been together longer than you’ve been alive, for most values of “you.”)

how to fix FN4A-EL:  You’ll need a pen and a checkbook. No chance you can do this on your own.

antediluvian carbon dioxide levels:  What we’re expected to aspire to by the fat cats with the private jets.

jailarity:  What the fat cats with the private jets want to threaten you with for your insufficient deference to their Better Judgment.

2001 mazda 626 auto trans slips is the trans a sealed unit or does it have a dipstick:  If you didn’t find the dipstick, this tells me that you never even tried to open the hood, since it’s pretty damned obvious from above the engine.

swap mazda 6 transmission with 626:  You’ll have to pass the Dipstick Location Test before you can even think about this. (Which, by the way, won’t work.)

tuba Buyukustun and onur saylak in divorce?  Gee, I hope not.

Blogger at Tales From Under the Moonroof:  Her name is Louise. The rest is none of your beeswax.

scrotum flapping:  A noise you might hear in the Capitol if anyone in Congress actually possessed cojones.

www.nineinchespenis.com:  So that’s why everyone’s wanting that bigger iPhone.

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Doing it from Pole to Pole

When’s the last time that happened?

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Fourth among many

George Hamilton IV — yes, that was his real name, and no, he’s not related to the guy with the preternatural tan — was one of the guys who taught me how to rewrite songs on the fly for satirical (I hoped) purposes. Of course, neither Hamilton nor the writers of his biggest hit song (Bob Gibson and John D. Loudermilk) ever intended such a thing: it just happened.

This was that biggest chart hit, hitting #15 on the pop chart and #1 country in 1963:

Which I promptly turned into an auto-parts advertisement:

Valvoline,
Valvoline,
Slipperiest oil that I’ve ever seen;
All my engines run real clean
With Valvoline —
Try Valvoline.

Hamilton himself made mockery of “Abilene” in the four-dollar-a-gallon days:

Hamilton’s other big hit, “A Rose and a Baby Ruth” — well, let’s not get too blatant here.

George, a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1960, died last week of a heart attack in Nashville at seventy-seven.

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They said “meh”

In June of 2010, Amazon moved one step closer to Total World Domination by buying Woot from founder Matt Rutledge for somewhere in the low nine figures. Rutledge eventually wearied of being a cog in the Bezos machine, and decamped in 2012 to found Mediocre Laboratories, floating several ideas, one of which was code-named “Pavlov”: “The simple fun of a single daily event store went downhill with the added clutter of selection — is a rebirth possible?”

It is. Rutledge shelled out moderately big bucks for meh.comwe said “meh” — and resumed doing what he presumably loved best. If anything, it’s even more barebones than the original Woot. From the FAQ:

Q: Ok, got it, simplicity and focus, one thing for sale each day, no hype, a community. So where do I follow you, like you and sign up for daily emails?

A: You don’t. If you want to find out what’s for sale, come to the site. Shit, meh.com is a 3-character domain, just type it in already.

Shipping remains $5, but new products now come on at midnight Eastern time instead of Central. And Mediocre is “concocting other experiments to rid you of excess cash,” perhaps as elegant as Rutledge’s Kickstarter for the site, which raised $14,000 in four days.

What you want to know, though, is this: Do they still have the infamous, um, Bags? Yes, they do.

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Filling in the blanks

While I’m Clark Kenting around here doing the bloggy stuff, my (not all that) secret identity is churning out pony stories. (They’re on the sidebar, in case you’d somehow missed them.) Turns out, there is historical — and religious — precedent for this sort of thing.

(A tip of the tiara to Fillyjonk, who sent me this idea four days ago and probably wondered if I was going to do anything with it.)

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You can never plant enough trees

Nicole goes digging into deepest tax lore, and comes away annoyed:

[T]hat whole “Paperwork Reduction Act” that is cited on all IRS paperwork? That’s just insulting. The only thing the IRS is good at (besides being used as a tool of political vengeance) is killing trees. If all of this is reduced paperwork, I truly shudder to think of what it would be like prior to reduction.

The problem here is that it’s called the Paperwork Reduction Act, but nothing in the Act actually mandates the reduction of paperwork:

The Paperwork Reduction Act mandates that all federal government agencies receive approval from OMB — in the form of a “control number” — before promulgating a paper form, website, survey or electronic submission that will impose an information collection burden on the general public. The term “burden” is defined as anything beyond “that necessary to identify the respondent, the date, the respondent’s address, and the nature of the instrument.” No one may [be] penalized for refusing an information collection request that does not display a control number. Once obtained, approval must be renewed every three years.

The process created by the Paperwork Reduction Act makes OIRA into a centralized clearinghouse for all government forms.

And of course, OIRA generates paperwork of its own.

Consider: were this Act actually going to reduce a burden imposed by government, there wasn’t a chance in hell that Jimmy Carter would ever have signed it — especially since it was December 1980 and he knew he’d be out of work in a month’s time.

“The man whose life is devoted to paperwork has lost the initiative. He is dealing with things that are brought to his notice, having ceased to notice anything for himself.” — C. Northcote Parkinson

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Cookie grail

I remember reading this for some now-forgotten reason:

In the United States, Mallomars are produced by Nabisco. A graham cracker circle is covered with a puff of extruded marshmallow, then enrobed in dark chocolate, which forms a hard shell. Mallomars were introduced to the public in 1913, the same year as the Moon Pie (a confection which has similar ingredients). The first box of Mallomars was sold in West Hoboken, New Jersey (now Union City, New Jersey).

Mallomars are generally available from early October through to April. They are not distributed during the summer months, supposedly because they melt easily in summer temperatures, though this is as much for marketing reasons as for practical ones. Devoted eaters of the cookie have been known to stock up during winter months and keep them refrigerated over the summer, although Nabisco markets other fudge-coated cookie brands year-round. Eighty-seven percent of all Mallomars are sold in the New York metropolitan area. They are produced entirely within Canada, at a factory in Scarborough, Ontario. The issue of Nabisco’s choice to release Mallomars seasonally became a parodied topic on a sketch delivered by graphic artist Pierre Bernard on Late Night with Conan O’Brien.

I do remember my reaction, though: “Yeah, like I’ll ever see any of those here, in the land of nine-month summers.”

Today, I have a box of Mallomars, courtesy of Crest Foods. Now Crest usually discounts Nabisco stuff fairly heavily: the standard bag of Oreos is typically $2.50, occasionally as low as $1.99. I paid $4.50 for this. I’m wondering if I should keep them in the fridge — or in a safety-deposit box.

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The divine Sophia

“Nothing makes a woman more beautiful than the belief that she is beautiful.” — Sophia Loren

She’s eighty today. I know my duty when I see it:

A Sophia Loren retrospective

As you may have come to expect, each of these may be enlarged with a click.

See also Roger Green’s Sophia retrospective.

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And they said it couldn’t be done

“Have you noticed,” the pundits point out, “that you’ll never see workaday Muslims denouncing the atrocities routinely committed in the name of Allah?”

Anti-ISIS demonstrators in Oklahoma City“Never” is a long time. And yes, yes, I know: taqiyya. But once in a while I feel like I ought to be giving someone the benefit of the doubt, so this smallish demonstration yesterday at one of the busier intersections in town — on the northeast corner of Pennsylvania at Northwest Distressway, putting it squarely on my route home — was ever so slightly heartening, especially in a town where mosques are occasionally defaced by persons unknown.

From Red Dirt Report:

[T]he majority of signs held by the pro-peace crowd at Northwest Expressway and Pennsylvania Avenue by Penn Square Mall, were to drive the point home that terrorist group ISIS is not a representation of Islam, as some held the sign saying “ISIS DOES NOT REPRESENT ME!”

The rally was largely led by CAIR-OK and their executive director Adam Soltani and Imam Imad Enchassi. Both have spoken out against Republican legislator John Bennett of Sallisaw, who recently made very bigoted and inflammatory remarks against Muslim Americans and has since refused to back down or apologize for his hurtful, hateful statements.

“Hurtful” and “hateful,” verbally anyway, are turning into this century’s Frick and Frack.

I admittedly didn’t get really good looks at most of the crowd, but I didn’t see anyone giving off an aura of “Kill!” Our old friend Jennifer James took photos for RDR, and they look similarly benign. And the planners were astute enough to bunch everyone together, unlike the usual approach for demonstrations at this intersection, which is to take over two, even three, corners; this creates a sense of unity.

Update, 23 September: A response from Charles Pergiel.

Update, 26 September: Then again, civilized people do not engage in beheadings.

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Incomplete dataset

I spotted this last night on Fark:

Hot Pockets advertisement claiming premium meats and real cheese

Anyone want to guess how many products are in this line?

No, seriously, I have no idea:

There are more than 20 varieties of the traditional Hot Pocket, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner varieties. Nestlé also offers Lean Pockets, Pretzel Bread Hot and Lean Pockets, Hot Pockets Croissant Crust (formerly called Croissant Pockets), Hot Pockets Breakfast items, and Hot Pockets Sideshots. Nestlé formerly produced Hot Pie Express, Hot Pocket Pizza Minis (originally called Hot Pockets Pizza Snacks), Hot Pockets Subs, Hot Pockets Calzones, Hot Pockets Panini, and Hot Pockets Breakfast fruit pastries.

Then again, I often pay the long dollar at lunch for Stouffer’s, another Nestlé product, so maybe I should shut up already.

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Quote of the week

Tam’s thoughts on EbolaCorps:

I was going to get outraged and say “The military is not there to boost the president’s poll numbers!” but that would be disingenuous; of course they are, and presidents have been using them for that since George had to make a standing army to go shake down Pennsylvanian farmers. But they should at least be used for military-type missions.

The administration says that the troops in West Africa will be there for logistical support reasons, to build hospitals and refugee housing and whatnot. But haven’t I just spent a whole damned Iraq war hearing about how KBR and DynCorp and Spacely Sprockets can do that stuff cheaper and more effectively than the lumbering dinosaur of the DoD?

Are we sending 3,000 personnel into even theoretical danger so that congresscritters in tough races can go pose with carefully-selected-for-diversity photo-op platoons of ACU-clad troopies stacking rice bags and building hospitals among throngs of smiling wogs right before election time? It’s cynical of me to think so, but if true, then for shame! (As though the parties responsible would know shame if it bit them on the ass.)

At the very least, we should be sending congresscritters into theoretical danger. Or maybe not so theoretical; if they’re so damned important, let’s have their boots on the ground.

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Social shoes

The canonical Explanation of Social Media, up until now, has involved donuts: on Twitter, you’d see “I’m eating a #donut,” while on LinkedIn, it’s more likely to be “My skills include donut eating.”

Now I like donuts as much as the next guy, maybe more if the next guy has an impacted sweet tooth, but I don’t write about them very much. By comparison:

The shoes, incidentally, are by Gianvito Rossi, stand 4.3 inches high, and run $1135; they’re from the ’14 Cruise collection.

Ms Mallet came to Zindigo from Neiman Marcus, where she was the senior fashion director.

(Via @PatriotsOfMars, whom you may know under another name or two.)

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An Arr-free zone

“There is no point,” says Roger, “to Talk Like A Pirate Day.”

This, of course, is true. However, it does give me the opportunity to trot out a favorite comedy bit: “The Pirate Alphabet,” from Michael Nesmith’s 1981 comedy video Elephant Parts, which I still have on LaserDisc.

You’d be surprised how many of these letters aren’t R.

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First cud is the deepest

Looks like Ronald Reagan called this one right on the nose:

Argentina’s National Institute for Agricultural Technology (INTA) has invented a way to convert cow flatulence into usable energy, and it involves putting a plastic backpack on a cow.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cow flatulence and burping, accounts for 5.5 million metric tons of methane per year in the United States, that’s 20% of total US methane emissions.

Yeah, but how much is that per cow?

According to the INTA experimentation, tubes run from the backpack into the cows’ rumen (or biggest digestive tract). They extract about 300 liters of methane a day, which is enough to run a car or a fridge for about 24 hours.

I’m guessing really large fridge or really small car.

I’m still not buying ketchup as a vegetable, though.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

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This violates at least two rules

And the first two, at that:

Fight Club Facebook page

They’ve changed the page style slightly since then, but rules are rules.

(Dodd Harris saw this before I did.)

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