First one goes to Lazarus

Saab has built two cars this past week.

Yes, Saab, most sincerely dead Saab, the (former?) Swedish automaker which hadn’t been able to build any cars in a couple of years, has briefly gotten the original assembly line in Trollhättan going:

At an internal event hosted by the NEVS management and with some specially invited guests, [Saabs United] being one of these, people gathered at the end of production-line and witnessed this historic event. A silver colored Saab 9-3 sedan had its engine started and systems tested before it left the final station of the production line and was rolled off with admiration by the spectators. A lot of people had gathered in the final assembly building and everyone felt that the Saab-spirit truly was alive.

NEVS — National Electric Vehicle Sweden, a Pacific Rim operation which acquired the remains of Saab last fall — doesn’t plan to sell this car, or the one which followed it down the line: this was a test run only, and production vehicles, which will vaguely resemble the last 9-3, are expected to use Saab’s presumed-stillborn Phoenix platform instead of leftover GM bits.

Still, those of us who’d bet against NEVS ever getting even so much as a pre-production line started are dining on stir-fry crow.

Comments (1)

Cleaving to sanctions, literally

Roger has literally had it up to here with “literally”:

When Webster and other dictionaries announced that the second definition of the word “literally” means “figuratively” — “My head literally exploded” — I had some difficulty with that. Still I tried to shoehorn this new meaning into my vocabulary. Alas, I have failed.

There’s only one honest alternative left:

So while using literally to mean figuratively may be OK (for some), what do I use when I REALLY, REALLY mean literally? How can I make this clear to the reader/listener?

Therefore, I must sadly conclude that the word “literally” has been rendered useless to me. If it doesn’t mean one thing, but rather the thing OR its opposite, then it doesn’t mean anything at all.

Thus, I must purge it from my vocabulary — literally. And by “literally,” I mean the first, original meaning of the term.

While we’re at it, let’s move away from “democracy,” which in 2013 means absolute rule by a self-selected aristocracy via manipulation of 50.1 percent of the electorate, and from “upgrade,” which in 2013 means “whatever we feel like foisting off on you miserable whining users, so shut up and click Agree to the EULA.”

Comments (4)

Welcome to the desktop

My go-to video-clip player has been VLC, which handled most of the weird formats I’ve managed to encounter. However, the combination of aging hardware and software updates has rendered it unusable — picture’s fine, but the sound is horribly garbled, as though someone had tried and failed to correctly install slapback echo — so I went looking for alternatives.

Best of the lot seems to be something called Media Player Classic — Home Cinema, which I tried successfully on at least one of every file type represented in my 1,027-item video directory, including Flash objects, old RealPlayer stuff, and even 3GPPs. Barring catastrophe, this is the keeper.

Comments (3)

Flash sentry

No, not Twilight Sparkle’s sort-of-almost-boyfriend in Equestria Girls. This is an icon that, as of version 24.0, parks in Firefox’s URL bar (this is the one where you might actually type a URL, which is called the Awesome Toolbar everywhere except under View/Toolbars, where it’s called the Navigation Toolbar) to tell you that this page or that contains something running on Adobe Flash, and you may let it or temporarily disable it.

Now Firefox and Adobe don’t really play nice together; if there’s a problem, Adobe will always blame Firefox, and Firefox will always blame Adobe. So this is Mozilla being passive-aggressive, implying that it really is Adobe’s fault without actually forcing you to watch the crash.

Since the icon is not Flash-specific — it’s the generic Firefox add-on image that looks like a deformed Lego — presumably Mozilla could put this to work with other plugins as well.

Of course, this shows up after I’ve beaten 23.0.1 into submission by tweaking about:config to keep the dreaded Warning: Unresponsive plugin box from appearing.

Comments (1)

Against her grain

Miriam samples a loaf of bread from Whole Paycheck Foods:

I was going to say it tastes nasty, but that would be unjust. It doesn’t taste nasty; it doesn’t taste like anything. It is the anti-taste. If you make a tuna fish sandwich out of it, it kills the taste of the tuna fish. Likewise with egg salad. You can’t taste the butter on your buttered toast. And you can’t taste the bacon on a BLT. Criminal!

Oh, surely it must have some flavor:

Well, when I was a child in school I used to chew on Faber #2 pencils. This bread tastes sort of like that. Without the lead, of course.

Too bad. Graphite is gluten-free.

Comments (5)

Quote of the week

The last page of The Atlantic these days is devoted to the Big Question, posed to various luminaries, and for October 2013, it’s this: What was the greatest speech, historical or fictional, ever given?

The usual suspects — Shakespeare, Churchill, JFK — are duly listed, but the last one throws us a bit of a curve. You probably know it better than you do most of the others, too:

General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of American forces in Afghanistan:

“Great speeches can inspire nations, armies, and teams to win against the odds and to take action when things seem hopeless. In that tradition, an entire generation can recite the simple message delivered by a slovenly fraternity brother: ‘What? Over? Did you say over? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!'”

Thank you, General McChrystal; and thank you, Senator Blutarsky, wherever you are.

Comments (1)

Something old

The third of August — the third of August 2012 — was the last time there was an Ask Rebecca video, until this week:

Two observations: her comic timing is fairly decent, though it’s hard to tell with the extremely close editing, and her makeup bill probably looks like a Pentagon procurement order. And the latter, I suspect, might really be unnecessary, based on this selfie in which she says she’s not wearing any.

In other news, I actually used the word “selfie.” Two months extra purgatory for that.

Comments (2)

The phone has been doubled

I spotted this on Derpibooru, tagged “Seems Legit,” and went hunting.

Nokia phone promotion

And the following turned up at Windows Phone Central, supposedly in an email to a forum poster:

I’m getting highlights for the upcoming Nokia Press Conference:

1. The Nokia Tablet will named “Nokia Harmonia” and it’s powered by Windows 8.1.

2. The Nokia Lumia Phablet and it’s powered by Windows Phone 8 GDR3.

Why the Nokia Phablet still part of Nokia Lumia series? it’s because of Nokia Lumia 625.

3. (For the brony fans.) It will unveil the MLP:FiM Season 4 Nokia Exclusive Trailer showing Nightmare Moon Returns.

4. Your favorite apps such as Instagram, Vine and My Little Pony will coming to Windows Phone.

5. Nokia Lumia 1020 will promote MLP:FiM Season 4.

Guess whose wireless contract just ran out?

Comments (2)

Keep your crummy slides

Allow me to endorse this stance wholeheartedly:

Give me the task to be done, let me do it to the best of my ability, and then let me scram. I don’t need to be cajoled into it, I don’t need dancing ducks and explosions on a PowerPoint presentation to tell me how it’s important. I just need the guidelines of how to do it and to be turned loose to do it. (One way I know I’d never survive the corporate world is that all those enforced-fun and team-building things bring all my cynicism and bad attitude to the fore. I become a combination of Daria Morgendorfer and Raven from Teen Titans).

Actually, I don’t care if you allow me or not. As the phrase goes, there is no I in “team,” but there are three U’s if you spell out “STFU.”

Comments (5)


Lynn read over the Peculiar Paint Colors item from earlier this week, and challenges with even less-palatable palettes:

Now if you want to talk about weird color names you gotta look at nail polish.

Well, you don’t gotta, exactly:

I had to look and see what I have in my collection. I don’t pay a lot of attention to the names. Maybe I should so I don’t buy something embarrassing. Most seem pretty tame. I have colors like Fire Opal, Copper Glamor, White Diamond, and Virtual Violet. One of the more imaginative ones is Poetic, a bright pink. The weirdest I have are Solid Rock, weird mainly because it’s a very delicate pale pink which does not make me think of rock of any kind, and Feelin’ Hot, a peach frost, not a “hot” color at all. Oh, and there’s Pumping Iron, a silver metallic.

By “something embarrassing,” she perhaps means “raunchy.” [Probably not safe for work, at least some of them.]

Not that anyone needs to care what I think on this subject, but I’ve pretty much made my peace with most of these colors, with the notable exception of blue.

Comments (2)

In your face, as it were

You should know that there is a film called Kamasutra 3D, and this is from the IMDb summary:

Set in the backdrop of the ancient, Kamasutra 3D is about the journey of a beautiful Indian Princess, who sets sail in the search of her husband. In her voyage, she undergoes through the transformations in her body, mind and soul with a fellow passenger who takes her by the forbidden world of sexual love and sensuality.

Takes her by, but not into? Let’s assume something was lost in translation.

The Princess in question:

Sherlyn Chopra

That’s not, I should note, a still connected with the film. And there’s a reason for that:

Director of Kamasutra 3D, Rupesh Paul, is considering to replace Sherlyn Chopra with Hollywood stars Eva Longoria or Mila Kunis for the film.

According to a report in a leading daily, Rupesh Paul decided to replace the actor, after Chopra left him miffed by uploading a video clip of the photo shoot of the film on her YouTube channel without seeking his permission.

“I was shocked to see the video. While sharing the video, I had specified it’s not for public viewing, but she still went ahead and uploaded it without our permission. We were so upset with her unprofessional behaviour that we decided to start considering other heroines. So far, we have shortlisted Eva Longoria or Mila Kunis.”

I’m guessing that the video in question is this one, which I’m not even about to embed (so to speak) here. However, Wikipedia notes:

Sherlyn Chopra has reportedly patched up with director Rupesh Paul and after her apology to Mr. Paul with a writing, stating that she will not say or write anything about the film without the consent of the producers.

Which is not to say she’s shyly retiring to the background or anything like that. Says this headline about a recent Twitter pic: “Sherlyn Chopra goes on a horse ride wearing nothing”.

Not so, tweeted Sherlyn: she was wearing “Guilty” by Gucci.

(Photo via Bollywood Mantra.)

Comments (2)

I think they’re stretching it

InStyle (October ’13) is reporting the results of an online reader poll: fully 53 percent of respondents said yes, at least once they’ve shaved their legs at the bathroom sink.

This sounds implausible to me, for one of the following reasons:

  • I don’t know the grooming habits of very many women;
  • I have a very small and/or ill-placed bathroom sink.

Or possibly both.

Comments (9)


Cover of Hesitation Marks by Nine Inch NailsOn the basis of Hesitation Marks, the first Nine Inch Nails album since 2008, I conclude that Trent Reznor has decided melody might actually be slightly more important than noise, a decision possibly based on the prodigious success of his soundtrack work with Atticus Ross. Nothing here actually hurts my ears on the level of, say, the crescendo near the end of “Hurt.” And let’s face it, “Various Methods of Escape” is the definitive NIN song title, in which Reznor sounds just as desiccated as he did around The Downward Spiral, accompanied by this-side-of-glitch backing and some genuinely creepy guitar work by Adrian Belew. “I cannot trust myself / I gotta let go,” indeed.

The track that reminds me most of “classic” NIN, oddly, is “Copy of A,” which spills out of the 50-second opening thrash “The Eater of Dreams” with a pounding Depeche-Mode-at-78-rpm rhythm pattern and a reminder that “Everything I have said has come before.”

The least typical track here has to be “Everything,” for lack of a better description “Pop Industrial.” It’s downright upbeat: “I survived everything,” Reznor sings at the beginning. But the repetitions of “I am home/I am free” and such toward the end seem less and less convincing with every bar, until the whole thing grinds to a halt. Maybe this is Reznor’s attempt to deal with the unfamiliar concept of life not sucking.

And if that isn’t, surely this is: Hesitation Marks came out on Columbia Records. Columbia, fercrissake. This is not exactly like Anthony Bourdain showing up at Arby’s, but it’s close.

(Review copy ordered from at the standard price. Different editions may have different cover art.)

Comments off

Tanks for nothing

One of the more fuelish practices of the global auto industry:

Now who remembers those 1970s models with the filler behind the license plate?

And I recall some heroically finned Fifties sleds which hid the filler in one of the fins.

Comments (10)

That uncertain je ne sais quoi

Tim Blair’s sojourn in la belle France has produced a long list of cultural observations, of which this is not at all the most salient:

I haven’t translated the health warning on my packet of French cigarettes, but I think it says: “We are here for but a short time. Please, go right ahead.”

If only. I’m guessing he drew this one: Fumer peut diminuer l’afflux sanguin et provoque l’impuissance.¹

¹ “Smoking can cause low blood pressure and impotence.”

Comments (1)

It’s a G3 thang

Federal responses to the Freedom of Information Act range, generally, from lethargic to nonexistent. Once in a great while, there’s even a justification, sort of, for the latter:

[T]he Pentagon will not be honoring any of your requests until at least mid-October.

This is not because they have a hold on their encyclopedia of budget information until they’ve voted on their building-wide Halloween costume theme, but rather because it receives all of its FOIA requests over a single fax machine, and like most fax machines, this fax machine has officially hit the end of its life cycle. And like most governmental bodies with a bureaucratic process that needs to be undertaken in order to purchase even the simplest office supplies, it’s possible the Pentagon will not replace this fax machine for at least two months because of some sort of complex bidding and application process.

I’d be happy to offer my lightly-used fax machine to the cause, at a price that is probably far less than Pentagon procurement would obtain on its own: $2,450.

Comments (3)