One piece at a time, as it were

A friend of mine, after running up against the fact that old cars that aren’t worth a lot still need maintenance, got rid of her ’94 Honda Accord and bought a somewhat newer Nissan Altima. It occurs to me that maybe she should have parted it out, since that’s what the professional thieves do:

Of the 52,000 Honda Accords stolen in 2010, more than 44,000 were 1990s models. Less than 6,000 were made in the 2000s.

When the pieces are broken out, the parts are worth more than the cars. The fuel line for a 1994 Honda goes for about $375, the air conditioner compressor sells for around $350, and an antilock brake part sells for around $450. Just those three parts $1,175. Comparatively, Kelley Blue Book says an excellent condition four-door 1994 Honda Accord is valued at around $1,900.

I’d like to know what “antilock brake part” can be had for $450. I can get two brand-new wheel sensors for that kind of money. (Never mind what the control module costs.) Maybe I should inquire at the nearest chop shop.

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And the leftovers were duly divided

You may remember this from early 2007:

The lawsuit is about the price cardholders of Visa-, MasterCard-, or Diners Club-branded payment cards were charged to make transactions in a foreign currency, or with a foreign merchant, between February 1, 1996 and November 8, 2006. Plaintiffs challenge how the prices of credit and debit/ATM card foreign transactions were set and disclosed, including claims that Visa, MasterCard, their member banks, and Diners Club conspired to set and conceal fees, typically of 1-3% of foreign transactions, and that Visa and MasterCard inflated their base exchange rates before applying these fees. The Defendants include Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club, Bank of America, Bank One/First USA, Chase, Citibank, MBNA, HSBC/Household, and Washington Mutual/Providian.

Some of those defendants, you’ll note, no longer exist as separate entities. I mentioned later that year that I was turning in a claim form; the expected payback was somewhere around $25.

Four years (almost to the day) after that post, a check for $18.04 arrived. Says the fine print: “All refund amounts are reduced because the full amount of all the claims exceeds the amount in the settlement fund.” You may be absolutely certain that the attorneys’ fees were not reduced in the slightest.

Still, it’s eighteen bucks and change, which, given the usual pitiful settlements in class-action suits — typically, $5 off something you wouldn’t buy in the first place — counts as a legitimate win. And apparently there is a second suit, for which I may already be enrolled as a member of the aggrieved class, inasmuch as they sent me instructions on how to exclude myself from same. We’ll see if any more dollars drop on my doorstep in 2015.

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Make and model, not necessarily in that order

The product specialist at the auto show may in fact be a lovely woman, but she’s not there to serve as eye candy. (Okay, she’s not there just to serve as eye candy.) She’s got to know the product line cold, if only to stay ahead of the wise guys who think they can stump her. (See, for instance, this one, who epitomizes the current standard.)

Turn the clock back a few decades, and there’s less emphasis on product knowledge and more emphasis on being decorative. Mandated clothing was generally either scanty or scantier. And Curbside Classic has photographic evidence of one particular show where two of the young ladies — well, okay, they might have been wearing earrings. Hard to tell at this distance.

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NME kills the video stars

Okay, they haven’t actually slain anyone, but their list of the 50 worst music videos ever is filled with, shall we say, some fairly harsh language.

This is what they had to say about “Friday”:

Perhaps it was the £5 budget special effects or maybe the fact that there were dental braces everywhere we looked or even the bratty stage school kids pretending to drive around in a car. Black herself came across as kind of sweet and naive, but the sense of an evil puppet master behind the scenes controlling everything couldn’t be escaped. In the end, there was so much to dislike it was quite overwhelming. This was the equivalent of repeatedly getting bitten on the ankles by a yappy dog.

Rebecca Black comes out for NOH8This not-especially-kind review is not, of course, the circumstance that led Rebecca Black to pose for the photograph at left. (This is.) And I’m reasonably certain that if she’s crying at all, it’s in the classic Liberace fashion: all the way to the bank. However, I note with some amusement that of NME’s three least favorite videos, two involve songs mentioned on this very site: “Friday,” of course, and Susan Boyle’s cover of Lou Reed’s “Perfect Day,” which wasn’t necessarily a Friday at all. (I have not heard the Kings of Leon track they disparaged, but then I figure if I need to, I would have no trouble coming up with reasons to disparage Kings of Leon on my own.)

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You want tofu with that?

One of the more amusing stories of late involves McDonald’s to-the-letter interpretation of a San Francisco ordinance that forbids eateries to give away toys: Mickey D has started charging a dime for the little plastic (or whatever) tchotchke, which is then donated to the Ronald McDonald House. The Board of Supervisors, I think it’s safe to assume, is on par with other governmental bodies when it comes to dealing with the Law of Unintended Consequences.

The Consumerist version of the story drew this comment from one “squinko esq.”:

Anyone who doesn’t feed their children organic, free-trade, gluten-free, sugar-free, fat-free meals made fresh from scratch for every single meal is a fucking monster. Children shouldn’t be allowed to eat anything that might possibly taste good, nor should they be allowed to play with cheap plastic toys. Handmade, hypoallergenic crafts made from sustainable sources that don’t have sharp corners and don’t promote the cisgendered, heteronormative, neurotypical White patriarchy is good enough for my kids and should be good enough for everyone else’s.

Question: Did “squinko” miss anything there?

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Yes, I do get shoe spam

Just a few excerpts from a very long piece which occasionally lapses into (I’m assuming) Russian:

Footwear on weighty to a scamp — how correctly to choose these sex pumps?

Obvious women like to look soberly in footwear on высокогом a heel. Anyhow, there are certain secrets about which each the missis should advised of, carrying these sexual pumps. Here some of them as a last resort to offer on correctly.

Tough and roughcast surfaces

If you force planned prowl in greensward the oldest clear-sightedness will talk to you to push footwear on intoxication to a heel. As places with rough and unjust surfaces or a formless party line are iffy reasonably, as you could lose easily balance, effective on these surfaces. By itself, you would not like to winding up with an anklebone or bruises if you secure fallen, after all so? So record unswerving that you punctiliously know where you go and outfit in order footwear also in behalf of each one by one entranced case. This acuteness takes place also for the sake places with a estimable amount of a snitch, external parks and woods. To you good palpate of feet and extensive relax in return feet after such walks can be demanded.

This advice is, I think, reasonably iffy. There’s also a reference to what to do when confronted with “apertures of drainage for the benefit of water.”

(That string of Cyrillic characters will probably look like hell in any character set other than UTF-8).

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Big Macintosh says “Ayup”

This surprises me less than you think:

Pony Personality Test

The complete analysis:

A real hard worker you are, yup. If there’s one thing you hate, it’s being inactive or coming across as lazy. You’ll put in more effort than anyone else, even if it may be against your better judgment or even if delegating your work is a smarter option. It’s not surprising to see you working all day long, even if it’s to help friends out. However, friendship is still important to you, so you will always, always stick to your commitments and keep your promises.

You’re a tell-it-like-it-is pony, not holding your tongue and telling whoever whatever’s on your mind or what your true thoughts are. Thankfully, you can still pick your words carefully and still keep some sensitivity towards what you say. But, others may find you irritable in appearance if you’re not getting your way or you feel against something.

You are also most likely to be athletic and into staying fit, knowing that if you’re not, you won’t be able to keep up with your work. Fashion and looking good aren’t on the top of your priorities, to say the least. You also tend to be very protective of your friends, standing up for them against anyone who is causing them problems, and usually succeeding in warding off any foes. You’d gladly lose a limb if it meant saving a friend’s life.

Well, I’m not particularly athletic, though I suspect I could make some fruit fall from the tree if I kicked it hard enough. F=ma, y’all.

(I blame this on Fluttershy Fillyjonk.)

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It’s disposable!

Steve writes to the Consumerist:

A few years back I bought my mother an Epson Artisan 800 all-in-one. The Artisan line is generally well reviewed and performs well. A few months ago we had a nasty surprise. Turning the printer on resulted in an error message on the screen that the ink pads were at the end of their service life and to contact Epson for assistance.

The printer was 100% unusable at this time, even for non-print related things like scanning. By whim of a bit of software code, my all-in-one was non-functional. It is worth noting that even immediately prior to this error message the printer performed flawlessly in all respects.

So he contacted Epson for assistance, with the following, um, results:

Upon working my way through Epson’s “support” system I was told by a representative that repairing the printer would cost $180 plus shipping. Considering that a new printer with similar capabilities could be had for the same amount or less, I turned them down. Now, by itself this isn’t so surprising; the printer manufacturers want you to buy new printers all the time so they engineer them to be cheap enough to discard and replaced. Epson’s own web site even says that “Epson recommends replacing the printer” when the ink pads are at the end of their service life. Yup, that’s Epson: A few pennies worth of disposable cotton pad gets dirty and you need to replace the entire printer. I sometimes try to imagine what Epson employees do when they run out of clean underwear.

This, of course, assumes that they actually own any clean underwear: one does not expect attention to minor details like that from the manufacturers of Today’s Crappy Printers™.

I have an HP DeskJet at work that arbitrarily decided last week that the black cartridge was defective. Not empty: defective. I duly replaced it; the brand-new one did not work either. I conclude that HP really wants this printer to die, and was too [insert term for poultry droppings] to say so up front.

Meanwhile, my turn-of-the-century HP DeskJet at home has never failed me. Were they building them better back in the Nineties? What do you think?

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In the proper Carlinian sense, you may be sure.

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Renewed in public

Not that anyone was really expecting me to go away, but I did extend the existing web-host deal for one more year yesterday, and while I suppose I could find something marginally cheaper, the time it would take me to move everything would more than offset any savings. Besides, uptime has been upticking of late, which is always a Good Thing.

It would also have helped if I’d remembered to record the fee in my check register, but that’s another matter.

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I second that emulsion

Amy Alkon was not actually speaking to me here, but it sounds about right:

Some people’s photos look best with some clever cropping. Apparently, yours look best if you crop out your head.

No, she wasn’t trying to be snarky. (I think.) And she does follow up with useful instructional material:

Part of your problem is that you probably think of taking “a” picture (or three) instead of doing as professional photographers do — taking maybe 1,000. This basically means staging a photographic accident, meaning in at least one of the 1,000 shots, you should accidentally look like yourself or even better.

I have a standing offer from a pro, should our paths happen to cross. At the very least, I’ll find out how many takes it requires to make me presentable.

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Non-title wave

Jacob Rubin complains in Slate that Hollywood, if not necessarily out of ideas, is definitely out of titles:

This week Fox premieres a new half-hour sitcom starring Jaime Pressly and Katie Finneran titled I Hate My Teenage Daughter. Early semiotic analysis indicates it’s about two women who hate their teenage daughters. As such, the premise is unlikely to surprise viewers of CBS’s 2 Broke Girls, which — spoiler alert — follows the lives of two broke girls. Indeed, the two shows are but the latest in a cavalcade of Hollywood products outfitted not with a title but a blunt abbreviation of a concept.

Of course, it’s the concept that got the production greenlit (greenlighted?) in the first place; rather a lot of them boil down to Existing Property A crossed with Existing Property B and/or relocated to Presumably Desirable Location C. Given that tenuous connection to originality, it’s no wonder so many films deserve a D — or lower.

Legally, you can’t copyright a title, which perhaps explains the lack of enthusiasm for coming up with good ones. Not that, say, Pacific Air Flight 121 was a good one; Samuel L. Jackson certainly didn’t think so, and probably under his breath denounced those marblefarting producers for their fecklessness. Truth be told, I don’t think I could come up with a better title than Snakes on a Plane, and I have to come up with four to six titles of some sort every day of my life. (Every January first I do a wrap up of the worst titles I’ve inflicted on the readership during the previous twelve months. Some of them are indeed dire.) Then again, I’m not getting paid for this, so I can think in terms of something other than Potential Income. I suspect this actually disqualifies me for work in Hollywood.

(Via this Nancy Friedman tweet.)

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I was told there would be no polymath

You probably remember this bit from the notebooks of Lazarus Long:

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.

Which brings us to one Thomas Ackerman, charged with arson at an Oklahoma City coin laundry:

When police arrived, Ackerman said he wanted to be put in leg shackles for their safety because his feet “were certified weapons in Nevada.”

He also claimed to hold seven college degrees and said he worked as an architectural engineer, truck driver, mixed martial artist, traveling disc jockey, phlebotomist, stuntman and sex toy engineer.

There is, however, no indication that he has ever been married to Morgan Fairchild.

Addendum: Jennifer is not surprised:

Clearly, with that resume, he was the least qualified member of the security forces. Obviously, burning down the laundromat was the only option he had left.

That’s gonna leave a mark.

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Neither funky nor cold

We have here Danish singer Medina (last name Valbak, if anyone cares) standing in the middle of an L.A. sidewalk:

Medina in Los Angeles

I swear, sometimes I actually miss Los Angeles.

Medina hit it big at home in 2008 with “Kun For Mig” — “Only for me” — which she redid in English in 2009 as “You and I.”

“You and I” crashed the Top Ten on Billboard’s Hot Dance Airplay (now “Dance/Mix Show Airplay”) chart; it was the first of six singles from Welcome to Medina, which gave her something resembling international stature.

Our title here, of course, is Loc-ed after dark.

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Give snorts to the shorts

Laura explains Say Yes to the Dress as only Laura can:

It’s a reality show that centers on a bridal shop in New York and women who make appointments to find just the right dress for their wedding. I LOVE that show because, like I’ve said before, the idea of dreaming about a wedding since you were a kid and spending thousands upon thousands for a wedding dress is so foreign to me. It’s like watching a National Geographic show on some bizarro lost tribe or something. I guess I get that for a lot of women this is their big chance to be an attention whore before they start popping out babies and chauffeuring chillens to soccer practice in a minivan, but to spend $3,000 to $11,000 (YES $11,000!) and up for a damn boring-ass dress you’re going to wear one day? Hell no.

I spent one hour in a David’s Bridal once, at the request of my daughter. I swear, they had hot and cold running estrogen in the rest room.

And no one has ever said “I only wore it once” like Benjy Stone’s Aunt Sadie.

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Someone made a Schrute deal

Or, um, something like that:

The struggles of fictional paper company Dunder Mifflin to compete with real-life office-supply chains like Staples Inc. are a running joke on NBC’s The Office. Now, an online outlet owned by Staples is using the Dunder Mifflin name to try to sell more copy paper.

Staples’, based in Lincolnshire [IL], has struck a licensing deal with NBC’s parent company to launch a Dunder Mifflin brand. Priced largely above private-label copy paper, the Dunder Mifflin packages will be emblazoned with slogans such as “Our motto is, ‘Quabity First’” and “Get Your Scrant on,” well-known phrases from the comedy series.

NBC will rake in about 6 percent of the proceeds, which is probably more than they’re getting from actual prime-time television.

(Via the Consumerist.)

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The squire seems well-meaning enough

A spammer specializing in Russian mail-order brides — I guess they’re not actually ordered by mail anymore, but you get the idea — sent along this advice:

Do not be timid of expressing your bona fide feelings and thoughts: the Russian piece of work is naturally very fervid and sensitive. Beseech questions and riposte hers in return. Your questions influence be like following: Why are you single? What well-meaning of a squire would you like to see close to being you? How do you gather your post-wedding life? What is more influential for you: kids or business career? Ask how she out form week and tell her what you did all this time. A postcard about the whole kit you find interesting. Seek on the side of her advice on this or that subject or difficult ball game in your life. Due your plans to the prospective with her.

Had this been written in English, rather than translated from German to English by a native speaker of Kazakh, it might almost qualify as Good Advice.

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A certain adhesive quality

This is the random-ish CAPTCHA served up by a page at National Review Online:

Sticky Wicket

One imagines William F. Buckley, Jr. himself ordering insertions into the little gizmo’s presumably limited vocabulary.

Either that or some Jerseyites on the staff are sneaking out to this place in Mercer County.

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Third-world problems

The JerseyNut reports on an innovation of sorts:

Green fans are getting a buzz out of a new hand-cranked vibrator that makers say could help save the planet.

The eco-sex toy — dubbed the “Earth Angel” — uses a small wind-up handle to power up rechargeable batteries inside the casing.

Truth be told, I had no idea that vibrators generally had such a big carbon footprint.

The JerseyNut, in the meantime, would like to know:

[C]an someone explain to me, incidentally, why battery-operated cars are good, but battery-operated vibrators are bad? Or is that only the type of question only a dumb ol’ Republican would ask?

Trust me on this: if there were a clockspring-powered car that could get out of its own way, people would buy it, especially if they could persuade the yardman to do all the winding.

(Via Robert Stacy McCain, who notes that this product is not yet available from Amazon.)

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Just plain “maintain” drains mainly from the brain

Given the price of service these days, knowing how to fix stuff around the house is an absolute necessity these days:

If I didn’t have the ability to make a lot of basic repairs to my own appliances and devices, I’d have been out thousands of dollars more over the past several years, replacing the lemons that US corporations seem to manufacture so well.

Then again, manufacturers would much rather you not be able to fix things at all:

[T]he hippy washing machine threw a code. Yes, a code, because while our dryer is circa 1996 and uses the same technology as 1970 dryers, our washing machine has the pants of fancyness. It has CODES, people. Codes that tell you nothing. We basically will do anything to avoid another visit from the Hippy Washing Machine Repair Guy, if only because his Mercedes-Benz makes my Murano feel ashamed of itself. Again, to the internet, where the root cause was either a Faboozle or a Schlamozzle, but to get to those things, Ward actually had to build wooden stands so that they could tip the washing machine on its side. I am not making this up. The man built temporary wooden STANDS to fix our washing machine.

Suddenly I have these almost warm feelings toward Sears, Roebuck and Company, from whom I bought all these big bulky appliances just packed full of “obsolete” technology, on which I’ve managed to spend $0.00 on repairs in the last eight years. (Let’s see if the Appliance Jinx kicks in.)

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