More wee wheels

This is apparently a glance at the future Infiniti QX30:

Teaser for Infiniti QX30

A cousin to the Mercedes-Benz GLA, this little wagonlet is supposed to slot in under the QX50, which used to be the EX35. I expect a turbo four, and maybe a diesel, instead of the V6s farther up the line. And I figure both this and the QX50 will be uncomfortably close to $40k once I start shopping again.

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Fibbage

Lynn offers up some truth about lies:

Most of us know the difference between a truly bad lie and a merely kind or courteous lie. In between these are “lies of convenience” (I was stuck in traffic. The check is in the mail.) that we know are wrong but that somehow don’t seem so bad. There are, of course, people who push the limits, people who tell lies in order to sell us stuff, to sway us to their cause, or to get elected. We must expose and punish liars but this leads to finger pointing, witch hunts, and better, more careful liars. What more can anyone say? We are an imperfect species. Trying to get rid of our imperfections is like killing bacteria. The strongest bacteria survive and multiply but we can’t stop trying or the bacteria will wipe us out.

Yea, verily. The major advantage of telling the truth, of course, is that you don’t have to worry about keeping your story straight. And in this era of (anti)social media, there are always people to remind you what you said the first time.

Additional truth: There exists a game called “Fibbage,” from the makers of “You Don’t Know Jack.”

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You shall not watch us

Yes, folks, it’s Stupid Bill Time again. Oklahoma still has an Open Records Act, for now, though evidently some legislators dislike the very idea of such a thing:

Fees for public records would be significantly expanded and 10 exemptions would be added to the Oklahoma Open Records Act under a bill approved Thursday by the House Public Safety Committee.

Government officials could even refuse records requests that they considered an “excessive disruption of the essential functions of the public body,” under the bill.

Committee Chairman Mike Christian put forth an amended HB 1361 that kept only the original effective date of next Nov. 1.

Christian is an Oklahoma City Republican, but that doesn’t mean this is nothing but a GOP thing:

The original bill [pdf] by Rep. Claudia Griffith, D-Norman, was not much better. It would have undone recent progress in open government by removing access to all law enforcement recordings and removing statutory language confirming that law enforcement records must be made available for copying by the public. The latter nonsense was likely spurred by the city of Norman’s contention that it didn’t have to allow copying of police records prior to the explicit language taking effect Nov. 1.

I assure you, I didn’t vote for either of these jerks, or for the ones who voted it out of committee. But hey, guys, if you didn’t want the public looking over your shoulder, you probably should be doing something with your lives other than pretending to be public servants.

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A bag with a grin

Celine, the Shoe Girl, with new discoveries:

Fendi shoes and bag courtesy of the Shoe Girl

These are from Fendi, and I have some reservations about the shoes — exactly what the heck is going on there at the toe? — but that’s definitely a friendly-looking bag. As she says, “Too much cute.”

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It almost looked easy

In the upper right hand corner of the front page of this morning’s Oklahoman:

The Oklahoman 2-19-15: Does Reggie want out?

Upon hearing that he’s a Detroit Piston now:

I think we can take that as a Yes.

Anyway, we wish him well at the Palace, and we hope Kendrick Perkins, being bought out by the Jazz, and Ish Smith, dealt to the Pelicans, find happiness in new gigs. In the meantime, there were only ten bodies to suit up against the Mavericks tonight, none of the OKC New Guys — ex-Pistons D. J. Augustin and Kyle Singler, ex-Jazz Enes Kanter and Steve Novak — having arrived. (Okay, new Mav Amar’e Stoudemire hasn’t reported yet either, but both of the questionable Dallas guys, Rajon Rondo and Tyson Chandler, were considered well enough to play.) Didn’t matter so much: the Mavs managed only 19 points in the first quarter, 17 in the second, and the Thunder ballooned to a 22-point lead. Dallas recovered with an 8-0 run to start the fourth before OKC stanched the flow; the Mavs would never get within single digits, and the Thunder evened up the season series at 1-1 with a convincing 104-89 spanking of those Dallas fellows.

Much of this, of course, was Russell Westbrook’s doing. The All-est of the All-Stars, after knocking down 41 for the West, might have slowed down after a week off — in some other universe. In this one: 34-5-10. Serge Ibaka put together his first 20-20 game ever, with 21 points and 22 rebounds. Nick Collison, getting an actual start, scored two but retrieved nine boards; Andre Roberson scored four and retrieved 12 boards. You might conclude from this that the Thunder were just rebounding fools tonight, and the box score smiles: 62-39. OKC did turn the ball over a lot — 25 times — what with two of three point guards having been traded away; still, 20 assists on 38 made shots is not too shabby, and besides Westbrook.

As seemingly always, Dallas’ top scorer was Dirk. As hardly ever, Dirk had 14 points on 6-16 shooting and missed all three treys. Monta Ellis, who’d been on a point-scoring roll of late, was held to seven; Chandler, in the middle, did produce a double-double (10 points and 13 rebounds), but the times the Mavs were moving the ball well were few and far between, and the Thunder exhibited some enthusiasm for chasing down loose balls, something they’ve not been consistently good at.

The new guys may show up in Charlotte Saturday, or at the ‘Peake Sunday to greet the Nuggets. Either way, it’s going to be just slightly different from here on out.

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Whither empire?

The Romans, history tells us, basically pissed away an entire empire. Warren Meyer suggests the result of a theoretical urinalysis:

I have a theory about the Romans that is probably shared by nobody. The Romans were strong and powerful and vital when they were creating a variety of citizenship types to accommodate multiple peoples who entered the empire in multiple ways. In particular I think of civitas sine suffragio or citizenship without the vote. But this was just one of many variations. By the first century AD (or CE per the modern academic trend), a lot of people of a lot of cultures and races and over a wide geography called themselves Romans.

By the end of the empire, the “reforms” of Diocletian and Constantine purged all flexibility from both governance and the economy (in sum, their laws amounted to the Directive 10-289 of the ancient world). By the time the Empire started falling apart, they had lost all ability to integrate new peoples or innovate with citizenship models. What was eventually called the Barbarian invasions began decades earlier as the attempted barbarian migrations. The barbarians wanted to just settle peacefully. And Rome desperately needed them — their system was falling apart as their farms and countryside was depopulated from a combination of government policy and demographic collapses (e.g. plagues). Rome desperately needed new people to settle their farms and form the new backbone of the army and the barbarians desperately wanted to settle and had a lot of military skill, but they couldn’t make it work.

I’m not so sure Attila, for one, was interested in settling peacefully; then again, in most statistics of the era, he was pretty much an outlier.

For now, I’m waiting to see which of our ostensible leaders abdicates in favor of a barbarian warlord — and whether said leader was pushing for the word “barbarian” to be forcibly struck from the language.

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Contempt for one’s users

It’s hard, I believe, to work up more contempt than this:

Lenovo is selling computers that come preinstalled with adware that hijacks encrypted Web sessions and may make users vulnerable to HTTPS man-in-the-middle attacks that are trivial for attackers to carry out, security researchers said.

The critical threat is present on Lenovo PCs that have adware from a company called Superfish installed. As unsavory as many people find software that injects ads into Web pages, there’s something much more nefarious about the Superfish package. It installs a self-signed root HTTPS certificate that can intercept encrypted traffic for every website a user visits. When a user visits an HTTPS site, the site certificate is signed and controlled by Superfish and falsely represents itself as the official website certificate.

But that’s merely heinous and reprehensible. From there, it gets worse:

Even worse, the private encryption key accompanying the Superfish-signed Transport Layer Security certificate appears to be the same for every Lenovo machine. Attackers may be able to use the key to certify imposter HTTPS websites that masquerade as Bank of America, Google, or any other secure destination on the Internet. Under such a scenario, PCs that have the Superfish root certificate installed will fail to flag the sites as forgeries — a failure that completely undermines the reason HTTPS protections exist in the first place.

So Lenovo bows its head, quietly admits to not having thought this through, and regrets its actions, right? Wrong:

The company this morning issued an oddly tone-deaf statement addressing the controversy with equal parts innocence and chutzpah. The Superfish software, Lenovo says, was “to help customers potentially discover interesting products while shopping” — apparently by throwing up related ads while visiting encrypted retail sites, which would otherwise be invisible to the adware.

This might sound like garden-variety horse manure, but Lenovo doubles down with the claim that this purported consumer benefit was the primary reason for installing Superfish on its laptops. It wasn’t — as cynics might suspect — about the cash at all! Well, not much, anyway.

“The relationship with Superfish is not financially significant,” the statement says. “Our goal was to enhance the experience for users. We recognize that the software did not meet that goal and have acted quickly and decisively.”

“Throwing up related ads.” The users I know would throw up a hell of a lot more than that if you inflict crapware — excuse me, “potentially unwanted programs,” as the antivirus guys say — upon them. The idea that someone might actually want that crap is so utterly improbable that one almost suspects it came from Washington.

Meanwhile:

A sprint over there with a Dell produces “Untrusted Connection,” exactly as it should.

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In need of a lift

Two weeks after becoming, however briefly, the darling of the nation, James Robertson, the man who walked across Detroit every day for over a decade to get to his job in the next county, has been targeted by scum:

The story of the 56-year-old Detroit factory worker who walks 21 miles to and from work each day warmed the hearts of the nation after his tale of perseverance went viral. Some $350,000 was raised for Robertson — not to mention, a local Ford dealership gave him a brand-new 2015 Ford Taurus.

But shortly after the hype started to die down, Robertson told Vice News that he’d received death threats and that his fears increased when he learned that Arthur Neal, an 86-year-old who claimed he’d hit the lottery for $20,000, was found stabbed to death on Feb. 1 in a house not far from where Robertson was living.

According to Vice News, Robertson’s girlfriend, her adult son and her ex-husband — all of whom live in the boarding house where Robertson was paying $200 for rent — began pressuring Robertson, who hasn’t received any money yet, for a payday.

Detroit’s police have been helping Robertson out:

The Detroit police, who believed that Robertson’s car would be stolen, allowed Robertson to park in their lot and recently escorted Robertson back to the house to gather his belongings so that he could move.

“We had a meeting with him [and] he expressed interest that he did not feel safe,” Police Capt. Aric Tosqui told the Detroit Free Press.

File under “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

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Not necessarily frequency response

Joni Mitchell once sang “You Turn Me On, I’m a Radio.” This might have been one of her better metaphors of the day, though she admitted later on that what motivated her was not so much good old primitive lust as the desire to present her record label with a hit single so they’d quit pestering her. (This makes it the moral equivalent of, say, “Elenore” by the Turtles.)

Jack Baruth retunes that particular phrasing:

I’ve often said that female emotion is not FM, it’s AM. In other words, if you want to sleep with a woman, it doesn’t particularly matter whether she loves or hates you. What’s important is the strength of that emotion. If a woman tells you that you are the worst person on earth and that she prays for your violent death twice a day, you might as well start filing another notch on your guitar. If, on the other hand, she tells her friends that you “seem like a nice guy, I guess,” chances are you’ll be available for your nightly guild meeting in WoW after all.

I would contrast this with my own experience, except that no one listens to shortwave anymore.

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iWheels

Yours truly, mid-2006:

[B]y now everybody knows the joke about how if Microsoft built cars, they would run only on MS-GAS, and they would crash twice a day for no apparent reason.

(We will not discuss Bill Gates’ desire to reinvent the toilet.)

Now, all of a sudden, everyone is talking Apple as carmaker, presumably as rival to Google, and this is the new joke:

Windows vs. Apple cars

At least you can replace the battery on the Windowsmobile.

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One of the cooler jobs

A tour of duty in Antarctica today isn’t quite the death-defying adventure it was in Sir Ernest Shackleton’s day, but it’s hardly a sinecure either:

It is freezing, smelly, and you may be gone some time. Applicants to run the world’s most southerly post office have been warned about the harsh realities of the life they would endure in the Antarctic.

The successful candidates will spend five months on Goudier, an island “the size of a football pitch” just off the Antarctic peninsula, sorting the mail at Port Lockroy, a former British scientific base.

There is little danger of being savaged by a stray dog while handling the mail, but the post office workers must be able to “dodge” the island’s colony of 2,000 penguins.

For £1,100 a month, they will be expected to dig out snow, keep smiling in temperatures that dip below 5F (-15C), and go for a month without taking a shower, as there is no running water.

One takes a job like this, I suspect, to amaze the grandchildren thirty-odd years later. The image of the Antarctic appears on the television; you shrug and say “Been there.” The kids will be either utterly awed or completely dismissive, and if the latter, the generation in between will be all “No, really, he was.” (Or else, right?)

(Via Bayou Renaissance Man.)

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Occasionally hounded

Weighing in on the Westminster results, Ann Coulter:

This is true. The following periods had no Beagle wins at all:

  • 1907-2006
  • 2008-2014

I mention in passing that there have been 18 Fox Terrier winners: 14 wire, 4 smooth. (The 1992 winner, Ch. Registry’s Lonesome Dove, once growled at me.)

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Opening salvo

City Council elections are the third of March, and I expect a deluge of mail and more phone calls than I can possibly answer, even if I were going to answer them, which I’m not. And if you’d asked me after the filing period ended in January, I’d have said that basically it was a two-man race, between incumbent/loose cannon Ed Shadid and OCU professor James Cooper, and it was just a matter of which one strikes first.

First strike, in the form of the first mail flyer and the first phone call, came Tuesday, from Major Jemison, senior pastor of St. John Missionary Baptist Church. He’s about sixty, I’d guess. And he has credentials out the wazoo, as the jrank.org Major L. Jemison Biography reports:

A political activist, an innovative church leader, and a bridge-builder between African-American denominations, he has addressed a great variety of issues that are central to the development of the modern black church. President of the Progressive National Baptist Convention since 2002, he stepped into a position once held by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. In 2003 Jemison was recognized by Ebony magazine as one of the 100-plus most influential figures in black America.

He has, of course, retired from that position by now. And his issues page looks almost like my issues page, especially with this paragraph:

The last four years have seen bitterness and divisiveness infect the business of the council, where before there was unity and collaboration. Major Jemison seeks to restore the council to a positive working environment where disagreements are handled professionally and each council member works together in the best interests of the people.

So far, I’m liking what I’m hearing.

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Purely by coincidence

I don’t think there’s anything particularly unusual about this sales pitch:

Last 10X Longer In Bed
It has never felt so good

And they’d like you to think that “10X” is being cautious, because:

I took this on Valentines Day and went from lasting 2 minutes to over 35.

So: a factor of seventeen, then?

I wouldn’t have noticed it at all, in fact, except for the minor detail that the bogus name they conjured up for the sender accidentally duplicated the name of someone I never actually took to bed — but might have wanted to.

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Outdoctrination

Last year, Oklahoma barred the use of any of that greasy Common Core stuff; said Governor Fallin, “We are capable of developing our own Oklahoma academic standards that will be better than Common Core.”

Maybe we are, and maybe we aren’t. This incident makes me wonder:

The legality of teaching Advanced Placement courses in Oklahoma public schools was raised Monday during a House Common Education Committee hearing on a bill aimed at the AP U.S. history guidelines.

That measure, House Bill 1380, by Rep. Dan Fisher, R-Yukon, would direct the state Board of Education to review those guidelines and bar the use of state funds for AP U.S. history courses.

Where Dan Fisher lurks, can Sally Kern be far behind?

It was also suggested that AP courses violate the legislation approved last year that repealed Common Core, with state Rep. Sally Kern, R-Oklahoma City, saying she has asked the state Attorney General’s Office for a ruling on the matter.

I sat down and read the actual course description in question — you can too [pdf] — and I think this guideline explains the knotted state of the GOP’s BVDs:

It is the nature of history as a discipline that claims and statements about the past are subject to differences in interpretation. But because the concept outline is the result of careful research into colleges’ requirements for credit and placement, it is essential for the AP Program to provide teachers with visibility into these findings.

And as we all know, for certain values of “we,” colleges today are primarily tasked with turning out neo-Bolsheviks for the New World Order, or some such business.

Fisher’s objection, basically, is that there’s not enough “We’re great! And they suck!” Like anyone would take his word for it. My most reasonable conclusion: yes, there is a reason for American exceptionalism — and there are also exceptions to it.

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Day after Day

At some time point while I was seriously undergrown, I had an insufficiently mild crush on Doris Day. I have no idea why; I do know, however, that one day I was watching something she was doing on television, and I couldn’t look away to save my life.

It wasn’t this image:

Doris Day: The Essential Collection

This is the artwork for a Warner Home Video DVD to be released in April. Curiously, there is a second set, due out the same day, with a different set of pictures, released by rival Universal. It contains Pillow Talk, whence cometh this iconic screengrab:

Doris Day in Pillow Talk

But by the time I’d seen this image for the first time, I’d already been inundated with pre-adolescent hormonal whatever.

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