Love, love me don’t

While Ann Romney might possibly have earned some Brownie points for her husband with that semi-stirring speech of hers at the 2012 Republican convention, its sheer popularity is more than a little disquieting:

Love? Most of us want love, to be sure. Some theorists claim that we need to love and be loved — that unless we succeed in loving and winning the love of another, we’ll shrivel neurologically and die miserably. But love isn’t a commodity for the acquisition of which we should turn to politics.

Ann Romney’s disquisition on love, on the love of mothers, and so forth might very well have been necessary to persuade undecided mush-heads that come November 6, her husband should be their choice. But to my mind, that speaks rather poorly of America. It suggests that we’ve forgotten completely about the imperative of respect and the terrible danger that emanates from any and every form of government. Political “love” is no support to American virtues. It’s far more likely to be used as a justification for aggressive intrusions on our rights, in the name of “what’s good for you.”

Winston Smith eventually learned to love Big Brother, after all. (We will not at this time get into the degree of neurological shriveling required to name an otherwise faceless state one’s Best Friend Forever.)

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More than I can say

This is actually two, two, TWO gripes in one, but I didn’t want to break up the paragraph, so here’s at least some of Scott’s explanation for not doling out the free ice cream this week:

I also took a week off partly because generating content over rural cellular service, the 21st century equivalent of 300 baud dial-up, is bloody well painful in this here age of endless javascript loading up six social networking site feeds so you can see what the rest of the world is dribbling out and drooling over. Speaking of which, does it irritate no one else that sports, live sports, regularly devotes time away from the live sport you’ve tuned in to watch in order to have a hairdo read 140-character messages, which are also helpfully displayed on the screen, from the idiot masses about that sporting event? No? I guess it’s just me.

This latter, of course, is what I consider further justification for sports on the radio.

Along these lines, more than once (which I suppose equals “twice”) I’ve discussed the possibility of a @42ndAndTreadmill Twitter account with the sysadmin, and a few days back he allowed that he was planning on doing some experimenting with the Twitter API so the thing could be fully automated. I pointed out that we couldn’t automate everything, inasmuch as inevitably some folks would want to tweet back at us, and he decided that maybe this wasn’t such a great idea after all.

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Not content

Funny thing: the first ads for Infiniti, which wouldn’t show you anything so gauche as an actual car, are now better remembered than the cars they failed to show. (In fact, apparently they’re so well remembered that no one has bothered to post them to YouTube.) Eventually Nissan figured out that they ought to show a car once in a while, even if the message was muddled otherwise.

Mazda, however, hasn’t had a really memorable TV spot since the old rotary days. I’m not sure what to think of this one, but I definitely approve the music (and the musicians).

Ray Davies should be smiling as he cashes his check.

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I walk the dinosaur

Big Blue is producing a new flavor of Big Iron:

IBM has unveiled a mainframe computer it hopes will help head off competition from lower cost PC-based servers. It said the zEnterprise EC12 had cost $1bn (£633m) to develop, producing a machine with processing cores 25% more powerful than earlier models. The re-designed machine also had better security and data-analytics tools than older models, said IBM.

Of course, there’s a hitch:

The launch comes at a time when, analysts say, the mainframe market is experiencing a long-term decline.

I haven’t worked on an IBM mainframe since System/370, which dates back to the Old Silurian, but I retain a certain perverse fondness for the creature despite its ridiculously huge footprint. (The current midrange I tend is larger than I, but unlike me, it has a whole lot of usable empty space.) Just don’t ask me to rewrite your JCL.

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World’s best product placement

From my 2001 World Tour log, an event for which I wish I hadn’t packed the camera in the trunk:

[S]omewhere near Effingham, Illinois, I spotted a tractor/trailer rig bearing the logo of Xerox. Right behind it was (yes!) another one.

Casey Cornett, manifestly, is more prepared than I:

Twitpic by Casey Cornett

If Tim McGraw — or, for that matter, “Tim McGraw” — had been on the radio at that moment, it would have been perfect.

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Popped culture

Brian J. finds a fulcrum under the record shelf:

[N]ote the tipping point in one’s music appreciation as demonstrated by the content of one’s musical library. At some point, and not some point when one’s body sags anywhere, that one will discover that more of the artists in his or her musical library are dead, many of old age and not drug overdoses or suicide at 28, than are alive. I’ve passed that tipping point already.

Despite being a regular Sagatha Christie, I haven’t done any such thing. Then again, since I already own just about any recording worth having between 1961 and 1972 (your mileage may vary), I might as well listen to the new stuff.

And besides, it’s 27 when they croak. Except Keith Richards, who will eventually know WALL-E personally.

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Under surveillance by the Food Police

“Absolutely everything, except a few roots, leaves and seeds from the forest primeval, is bad for you,” says Lynn. I dunno. Murmuring pines aren’t known for their food value, and hemlock — well, ask Socrates when he comes back from break.

Still, this seems pretty inarguable:

[W]hat I really hate is how this stuff gets into my head. I resolve to ignore it all and just eat sensibly but then I go to buy groceries and I can’t keep from thinking about the latest set of “rules” we’re supposed to follow and I feel like there’s nothing I can buy that’s safe. So I just buy what I always buy and worry that I’m bringing poison home to feed to my family.

I alternate between “The advice will change again next month so just ignore it,” and “There must be something to this; they can’t be completely making it up.”

“They can’t be making it up”? Of course they can. The worst tyrant is the thoughtful tyrant. The second-biggest problem, after the aforementioned tyranny, is the notion that if we just follow a few simple rules everything will work out fine. Two minutes on Google will give you counterexamples galore.

Mark my words: if we are ever smart enough to get rid of this stupid ethanol mandate, “they” will suddenly announce hitherto-undiscovered benefits to high-fructose corn syrup, because “their” gravy train is a hell of a lot more important than your gravy.

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Off the bubble

What I know about K-pop would almost, but not quite, fill a thimble. However, somebody in passing mentioned Kim Hyun-a’s “Bubble Pop” and how it had gotten insane numbers of views on YouTube, so I looked it up, and, well, it has some nice synthetic charm, if perhaps not as intellectually stimulating as, say, your average Rebecca Black video.

She is definitely sorta cute:

Kim Hyun-a

Which may or may not explain how she ended up in an updated version of PSY’s “Gangnam Style”:

On second thought, I probably don’t need any explanations.

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Up setting

My last two attempts at short fiction were admittedly on the talky side. This is because I can’t possibly write descriptive passages this good:

The skies were blue, blue, blue. I saw only one very small puffy white cloud … to the east. It was slightly mushroom in shape, indicating that perhaps a group of extremist mountain goats had detonated a suppository-sized nuclear device. But I didn’t see anything on the news about it.

The permanent link is here, once the first of the month arrives; for now, go here and scroll to the 27th.

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Approximately six Devons

The downside of building up, up, up? More stairs than you ever imagined, not to mention the potential problem with elevators:

A mile-high skyscraper, for example, is possible with modern design techniques and some small projected advances in building material. But the elevator to the top would have to be a speed demon in order to make the trip in a useful time frame. Remember, it has to go a full mile. At 10 mph, it would take six minutes. Not so long, perhaps, but I’m going to bet not many people are keen on the idea of standing in an elevator for six minutes. If the elevator ran at 20 mph, then it would make the base-to-summit trip in about three minutes, and according to the infallible internet, most elevators in tall buildings run about 22 mph with slowdowns as they approach the destination floor.

Given the general reaction of people stuck at 10 mph horizontally — I-35 south provides numerous examples of same every workday — I suspect they will not like it much going vertically.

For myself, I don’t get seriously claustrophobic — Trini can verify this — for about the first thirty stories. Anything much above that, though, and I expect the subconscious to dig up something primal and wave it in my face, with results no one wants to observe. Especially me.

And you know, “Approximately Six Devons” might have been a good Bob Dylan title, circa Bringing It All Back Home.

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Probably lacking in bodaciousness

Something just landed in my inbox from “TATA LOAN SERVICE.” Immediate thought: you can borrow those now?

I suspect there is no connection to India’s Tata Group, manufacturers of the Tata Nano. (Say that fast three times.)

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Of course, you already read about this

This may seem like an inauspicious beginning:

My boss has a blog. The little girl down the street has a blog. A local medium is typing my dead grandmother’s blog from beyond the grave.

Tam started there, seven years ago, and she gets better at it every day.

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When a guy’s trying hard to steal signs in your yard

That’s amore politics as usual:

[P]olice Sunday morning arrested a man accused of taking “Dean Martin for County Clerk” signs off of private property. Lee Belmonte, 58, of Bixby, was arrested just before 8 a.m. and booked into the Tulsa Jail on a complaint of knowingly concealing stolen property. He was released Sunday afternoon after posting $1,500 bond.

Pat Key, Martin’s opponent in Tuesday’s Republican Party runoff for Tulsa County clerk, described Belmonte as a volunteer on her campaign. “I did not authorize or instruct him to take down signs,” Key said Sunday.

How did they catch the guy?

Frustrated by weeks of seeing Dean Martin signs disappear — and nearly catching someone in the act last week — Jared Martin [Dean's son] said he got to thinking.

“I was like, you know what, I am just going to get a tracking device,” Jared Martin said. “So I bought this dog-tag tracking device. It was about $100.”

That was Friday. Martin said he used duct tape to attach it to a sign and placed it in a yard he knew had signs taken from it before.


(Via Mike McCarville.)

Update: The Martin campaign sent me a notification to the effect that they were requesting a recount, having lost by a mere 179 votes.

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The craft is ebbing

Robert Stacy McCain reminds us that Leopold von Sacher-Masoch was a journalist:

There are times when it seems as if the universe is organized as a sadistic conspiracy to inflict psychological punishment on me, to make my life an endless series of hassles and humiliations, to render excruciatingly difficult my attempts to earn a living as a journalist.

Life within this sadistic universe — really, could so many things go so completely wrong by coincidence? — might be pleasant for masochists, who enjoy suffering. But I lack that perverse appetite for punishment, and so am compelled to complain about the routine abuse that I seem unable to avoid, no matter how much I try.

At least it’s summertime, so he’s probably not going to have to deal with, say, [random female scribe] in fur.

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Yearning experience

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Little resistance

When Tesla announced a 300-mile range for the Model S sedan with the top-drawer battery pack, you might have been forgiven if you said “Yeah, right”; the EPA subsequently guesstimated the range at a more modest 265 miles. Still, this is way more than anybody else’s pure electric can give you, and this motivated Motor Trend to put an S — Elon Musk’s personal S, in fact — to the test.

Considering that they ran the car on a test track (zero to sixty in 3.9, quarter-mile in the mid-twelves) at the beginning of their mileage run, 238 miles is not at all shabby. But the number isn’t as important as the geography, they say:

We drove from Fontana on the eastern edge of the L.A. basin to San Diego and all the way back to L.A.’s Pacific edge on one charge. Five hours of continuous driving. This is a breakthrough accomplishment that ought to knock down the range anxiety barrier that’s substantially limited EV sales.

And if that doesn’t, this might:

During our drive, we used 78.2 kW-hrs of electricity (93 percent of the battery’s rated capacity). What does that mean? It’s the energy equivalent of 2.32 gasoline gallons, or 100.7 mpg-e before charging losses. That BMW 528i following us (powered by a very fuel-efficient, turbocharged, direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine) consumed 7.9 gallons of gas for a rate of 30.1 mpg. The Tesla’s electrical energy cost for the trip was $10.17 (at California’s average electrical rate); the BMW’s drive cost $34.55.

Of course, the Tesla as tested was twice as pricey as the Bimmer, but still: ten bucks for a couple hundred miles. About the only vehicle using less energy is a sailboat, and it’s not going to be moving much on the Pacific Coast Highway.

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